Thursday, January 30, 2014

Commercial Levity: Fruits and Veggies are Tough!

This is the latest ad campaign by one of the big grocery stores in Sweden. It's much sillier than any grocery store ad I remember seeing back home in the states.

My favorite part is probably the dirt bike footage and its obvious watermark. Is this what the kids are calling "post ironic"?

Monday, January 27, 2014

101 in 1001

Forgot to post this yesterday!

In progress:

I'm making progress towards Rivendell every day. (6 - 1) I surpassed 300 km this weekend!

Another post and comment. (1 - 3) (7 - 3)

I watched a documentary recommended to me by a friend, The House I Live In. (9 - 6) I want to say that it was eye-opening, but it's no surprise to me that America's "War on Drugs" has terrible implications for the fabric of our society.

I also listened to another episode of "The History of Rome." (9 - 7)

I donated 3000 more grains of rice on FreeRice as well. (12 - 7) (56,000 / 70,000)





The entire list is after the jump.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Etsy Find: UpShirtsCreek

The whole "circles" thing on Etsy wasn't necessarily a bad idea, but it could too easily go to crap. I found myself following people turned out to have incredibly dull taste, so my feed was stuffed with ugly coffee cozies and poorly photographed children's clothing and other things that weren't really of interest to me. I took the time to unfollow maybe two-thirds of the people I had been following, and suddenly my feed was full of really great, interesting items again. A shirt from UpShirtsCreek was one of them:

book nerd t-shirt to kill a mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books of all time. Atticus Finch, what a stand-up guy:
I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.
I love the design of this shirt, too. I love how subtle it is; if you didn't catch the reference, it would look like the kind of design a real attorney would put on a t-shirt (if an attorney felt like they needed to advertise via t-shirts). But there's more than just literature references.

funny physics star wars t-shirt

For your favorite physics enthusiast!

funny t-shirt shakespeare love quote

Okay, another literature reference, but the execution on this one is too good. In case you forgot the whole quote from Merchant of Venice: "Love is blind, and lovers cannot see / The petty follies that themselves commit."

rush fan t-shirt

One of the more understated band fandom shirts I've seen. Even though I'm not a huge fan of Rush (or missing Oxford commas!), I like it.

A couple of these are definitely going to be gifts for people in my life. Maybe even myself, if I'm feeling generous. I followed UpShirtsCreek on Facebook to keep up on new designs, and you should too!

Monday, January 20, 2014

101 in 1001

My little soapbox yesterday meant I had to wait until today to post progress on my 101 in 1001 list.

In progress:

I'm making progress towards Rivendell every day. (6 - 1) This week marks over 200 kilometers.

Another post and comment. (1 - 3) (7 - 3)


I finally got to Skatteverket to submit the paperwork for my ID card. (1 - 7) I don't have it in hand yet, as I have to wait a week or two before I can go pick it up, but since I've done the difficult part I'm counting this task as finished.



The entire list is after the jump.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

On Indiemade, Etsy, and "Do What You Love."

The oft-referenced Rae linked to a really fascinating article on the exhortation to "follow your dream and do what you love!"; so fascinating was it that I wanted to discuss it in more detail.

Working in the name of love.

The Jacobin article up there did a great job articulating all of the privilege inherent in these kinds of operations. In a nutshell:
  • Most people working in the world don't have the economic means to shift from a noncreative job to a creative "do what you love" job.
  • It often requires the exploitation of others at some level or another. (Steve Jobs could do what he loved with Apple because Foxconn could make iPhones for him on the cheap.)
  • It encourages people to think of those who opt to do tedious, noncreative work (the article mentions "home care" and "personal care aides") as somehow less developed and individual as a person.
  • Most importantly, perhaps, by conflating "work" and "love," the "do what you love" ethos makes it harder for people who are purportedly following their passions to ask for proper compensation. After all, if they loved it they would do it for free, right? The money's just an afterthought.
There's one more bullet point I feel is missing from the article, and it is this:
  • It sucks the joy out of a hobby by infusing it with guilt and obligation. 

When I first started selling on Etsy, I wasn't really planning to make it a living. I wanted to make some WAM, as Lawyer Mom calls it ("walking around money"), and to keep the results of my hobby from taking over my space. When you write, you can keep it all on a thumb drive that fits in your pocket; if you make music, all you need is your instrument (and whatever accouterments it entails); when you bake, you can eat your results. But when you create physical objects, whether they're sculptures or paintings or jewelry, they are there; as Descartes would say, they have extension in space. There is joy in creation but there is no joy in having a library of dust collectors.

Even though my ambitions were low, I still wanted to do a good job. I wanted to achieve some level of "success," however that was defined. So I spent time learning to take better pictures, reading about SEO and targeting your niche market and writing engaging descriptions, and on and on. I don't like doing something unless I'm at least good at it.

The sources I was using for this (which came down to a handful of sites, all targeted at "indie biz" types, all of which you probably read yourself if you've also tried to improve your handmade shop) carried a tone of desperation that I couldn't quite pinpoint. So many interviews and articles by people who had quit their dayjobs to make upcycled doggie sweaters or whatever it is that sang to their heart. The encouragement they handed out was positively Pollyanna-ish: it's hard work but rewarding! I wouldn't go back for anything! I'm so fulfilled in a way I wasn't before! And so on.

Those messages begin to alter your thinking. You start to think that maybe you could make that switch too. It progresses until you start to think that you should do that; that if you have a noncreative job you nonetheless really like, you are somehow "part of the problem." The problem is never really explicitly defined or described, either; just implicitly assumed. It's the Voldemort in every indiemade business's life, "that which cannot be named." From what I can gather, it seems like the nightmare reality infomercial actors inhabit before they purchase the miracle product.

Sorry Brooklyn hipster "do what you love" acolytes: work is work, and should be work. The problem isn't that people aren't doing what they love. The problem is too many people are caught in an exploitative, hypercompetitive capitalist system that only values people for the jobs they perform instead of their whole person and personality. "Doing what you love" does nothing but reinforce that hegemony.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Science Saturday: "What scientific idea is ready for retirement?"

The Edge Foundation asks a question of the science community every year; this year the question is, "What scientific idea is ready for retirement?" There are some really fantastic answers. In particular, I like the responses from Nina Jablonski ("Race."), Martin Rees ("We'll never hit barriers to scientific understanding."), Fiery Cushman ("Big effects have big explanations."), David Berreby ("People are sheep."), Dean Ornish ("Large randomized controlled trials.") and Laurie R. Santos & Tamar Gendler ("Knowing is half the battle."), but there are too many for me to list them all here. The link is worth reading (or bookmarking for reading when you have a minute). I wanted to highlight one from Kate Clancy over at Scientific American:

Last year, I spearheaded a survey and interview research project on the experiences of scientists at field sites. Over sixty percent of the respondents had been sexually harassed, and twenty percent had been sexually assaulted. Sexual predation was only the beginning of what I and my colleagues uncovered: study respondents reported psychological and physical abuses, like being forced to work late into the day without being told when they could head back to camp, not being allowed to urinate, verbal threats and bullying, and being denied food. The majority of perpetrators are fellow scientists senior to the target of abuse, the target themselves usually a female graduate student...

When the payoff is millions of dollars of research money, New York Times coverage, Nobel Prizes or even just tenure, we often seem willing to pay any price for scientific discovery and innovation. This is exactly the idea that needs to be retired—that science should be privileged over scientists.
Of course, part of the problem in what could be described as typical (though not systemic) abuse is scarce resources. When federal grant money dries up and the private sector is only interested in "profitable" research, the scientific community is bound to turn into some version of The Hunger Games. (The Funding Games?)

What more funding wouldn't stop is the historically and perpetually chilly atmosphere women in science often face—prejudice, assumptions, or just plain bad habits exist irrelevant of money. Still, it would be a nice first step.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Jewelry Inspirations: Southwestern and Boho

I haven't made any jewelry in ages. We (I) have been lax in getting a larger table for the kitchen, where I would have room both for Regan (my laptop) and for beadwork. It's been long enough now that I am really itching to to string up some new things. Browsing Pinterest for design inspiration and color schemes, I find myself drawn towards the "boho" and Southwestern: earthy neutrals with bright jewel tones, chunky cuffs, layers of strands....sharing here is the next best thing to sitting down and working out my own stuff.

Truth be told, I'm also desperate to branch into a new look and style, jewelry-wise. Not in terms of my own personal style, but what I make. At the edge of my brain there's the realization that no one's really combining these styles with the techniques I use.  Something about these styles and concepts feels like a next step or momentous occasion. Is there a market for math versions of the following? Who knows?

tiger eye citrine african

I love the colors, but especially I love the random (pseudorandom?) chunks of citrine in there as a complement. The natural, earthy effect is exactly what I strive for in some of my pieces, but I don't really achieve it to this degree. The large beads and big chunks are perfect for working with physical constants, since I only have a handful of numbers to work with.

turquoise silver agate boho bracelet

The colors. The colors! Turquoise has been all over Pinterest lately, or at least it was the last time I was seriously ODing on pins. The combination with bright oranges and deep reds is always so stunning. I also love the chunky multistrand look in bracelets. The variety in beads is great, too: there are so many, but yet they all thematically work together. Variety is an area I know I need to start working in, as an artist ("artist"), but done wrong it can just be distracting chaos. Reminders like this about how to do it right are important. (Note how almost every strand alternates a gemstone bead with a silver bead or spacer. I think that's part of this bracelet's secret.)

Again with the variety and controlled chaos. There's so much going on there and yet they all work together. I love the jewel tone colors in this one, as well as the fascinator/dangle thing going on at the end.The length and the multiple strands of this one would be perfect for irrationals; I think truncating them too early (like I do for single strand necklaces and bracelets) takes away from some of the beauty. Being able to stand back from a piece and see the whole (well, "whole") number, or multiple parts of it working together is neat, and probably why I like my memory wire cuff bracelets the best. It's like collage work, but with beads.

Seen any good jewelry lately?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

101 in 1001

Finally, the weird spring thaw weather has lifted and here in Stockholm we're getting proper snow. It's little more than a dusting, but it's something.

(From Joy Evangeline, here in Stockholm.)

And I'm still chugging along on my list!

In progress:

I'm making progress towards Rivendell every day. (6 - 1) I broke 100 kilometers this week, though, so that's something!

I listened to a few more episodes of "The History of Rome." (9 - 7)





The entire list is after the jump.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Friendly Reminder During The ~Polar Vortex~

The weather where you are on one particular day, or during one particular season, is not sufficient proof against climate change!

Every time you make a global warming joke during a cold snap, a child in Ethiopia dies of starvation.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

101 in 1001

A new year means, entirely coincidentally and yet so appropriately, a revision and review of my 101 in 1001 in one list.

I think one of the most important goals on any successful 101 in 1001 list are the "list maintenance" goals: whether it's the commitment to weekly updates, periodic revisions, or sharing goals with others, goals that are about the list itself keep you focused on the rest of the goals you want to achieve. I've noticed a definite difference between this list and my last list in terms of staying on task, and I credit that entirely to my list-oriented goals.


I finished Star Trek: TOS. (5 - 12) I'm watching some of the movies now, and also looking forward to starting on TNG. But considering how much Dr. Who and MST3K I still have left, I'm going to save making TNG a proper goal for my next list (which is due in 2015).

In progress:

Went over my list to make sure all my goals are still relevant/good, and added some more: (1 - 1) (1 - 2)

1. I changed "Read one chapter of 'Doktor Glas' in Swedish" to three chapters. (1 - 6) I forgot how short some of the chapters (diary entries) are! 
2. Now that I am bereft of a treadmill and too private a person to go to the gym or run outside, I suppose it's time to retire my ambitions to complete the Couch to 5K program. (6 - 1) Running blows, anyway. I made a valiant effort, really, and I've decided that it's just not for me. However, to replace this goal, I've decided to walk to Rivendell. Or in this case, ride: I may be down one treadmill but I am up one exercise bike, so I have that going for me, which is nice. I'm retroactively including the ~75 km I've done on the bike already (which is a conservative estimate). 
3. Emailing Rodolfo (7 - 1) is kind of a moot point, since we're still in contact on Google+. Counting it as "complete" seems like cheating, but I didn't really fail it either. Instead, I'm just removing it to make room for other goals. 
4. I added "Get my Swedish ID card," though it feels like cheating to add something to the list I HAVE to do. (1 - 7) I've been so lazy about it, though, that making it part of the list will maybe motivate me to finish this paper trail circus. 
5. I also added two historical podcasts as goals: The History of Rome (9 - 7) and The Ancient World (9 - 8). For each one I've made roughly one third of the episodes my goal (so 60 episodes of Rome and 12 episodes of Ancient World), though I have no idea if that goal is too easy or too ambitious or anywhere in between. 
6. Considering the ease with which I cranked out 5 articles for WhatCulture, I thought it would be good to add 5 more to keep me on my game. (10 - 16) I already have rough ideas for a couple more! 
7. I'm unsure what to do about feedback for Kat and Familiar, since I left my hard copy at home and don't have a printer. :( (7 - 4) I don't want to count it as failed, yet, since we might get a proper printer yet.

Another update and comment, of course. (1 - 3) (7 - 4)

I also realized that some of my number counts on the weekly goals were way off. There were a few missed ones I had accounted for, but so many weeks of forgetting to update the number in the list left me 24 (!!) behind in both counts.

I also started working on my ENG CRW story again, clocking in at over 23,000 words. (5 - 10) This goal will be crossed off soon—though considering it was my NaNo project of 2012, I really should have finished this goal much sooner.