Wednesday, September 30, 2009

...

So, the other day, I had my laptop on my lap and my sketchbook on top of that for the purpose of animal sketches. I set my sketchbook down for a second on the keyboard, leaned over to take a drink, and when I picked up the sketchbook I heard a very ominous "CRACK!" I looked down to see that the "G" had completely parted company with my keyboard. I found it and tried in vain to reconnect it, but it refused to snap back into place. I can still type G's by lifting up the key cover(which just went flying off again) and pressing the plastic button underneath but this makes me extremely uncomfortable for some reason(maybe because it feels like my computer dies each time I do so) and I'm going to do my best to avoid doin' so, even if it means replacin' every "g" I can with an apostrophe. This is goin' to be tough. I'm already annoyin' myself.

I have nothin' else I want to say, mostly because bein' jeeless is drivin' me crazy. Will post some sketches at later bar, night or day sometime.

I'll bake cookies(or some other delicious type of baked good) and give you one if you get that reference!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday

Follow me on twitter!

http://twitter.com/MissNyssArt

First round of sketches:


















This one is called:
"Ada! Doesn't Look Like Her, But I Like the Colors!"
















I call this one:
"Ada is Snow White"



















"Carrie Argues the Merits of Independence Day"













"Nude No. 1"


MaybeLink more later-my stomach is telling me that it is food time for sure. Also, the fact that the sun set without my noticing coupled with the fact that I don't have any lights on in my room means I'm sitting in near darkness. This chair needs to be far less comfortable.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Getting in gear...

Finally satisfied with my blog's appearance(except for the header- that will be adjusted soon!).

Get ready for the Super Sweet Sunday Blog! Will contain my favorite sketches since the beginning of the year!

Friday, September 25, 2009

TGIF

Fridays are such lazy days. I woke up around 9:30(late, for me!) in order to get ready for my advising appointment, only to receive a call informing me it was canceled. I was already about to leave, so I just pedaled on over to campus regardless, and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast. Shafer Breakfasts, by the way, are supreme. I did a small amount of sketching before my math class, but it didn't amount to anything special. Class, then home for(I'm ashamed to admit) an hour and a half nap. I've decided that from now on, napping is only permissible on Fridays.

This is going to be a good year.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Beta

Big Dog didn't always operate so smoothly.

Big Dog Beta


All lovable/creepy robots aside, I've taken up a new hobby: wand carving. It all started with Halloween. My roommates have an almost unnatural love for halloween, and it's starting to rub off on me. I'm putting more effort into my halloween costume than I ever have before, which includes creating my own wand, in order to complete the "Luna Lovegood" look. I bought a small balsa dowel rod from plaza, and then went to town on it with the leftover wood carving tools I had foolishly purchased in afo. And I found it was surprisingly fun! Then I started thinking money. People would pay for hand-carved wands, right? So I'm going to give this little side-business a try, and see what happens.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sniffle

Not two days into Fall and already my throat is scratchy and I can't smell a thing. If I get swine flu again, I swear... it's just not going to be pleasant.

My professor told us the other day about a government-sponsored initiative by Boston Dynamics: a four-legged, walking robot called Big Dog. It's being developed as a sort of mechanized pack horse, can walk on just about any surface and keep its feet. Enjoy!

Big Dog

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

...Tiger?

Over the summer, I worked at a camp at William & Mary with 4 other people who I got to know rather well. It was a a surreal situation; my director, 3 other coworkers and myself basically became the parents of 19-36 different kids every week for 6 weeks out of the summer. You would get to know some of the kids so well, just to see them leave on Friday, know you'd probably never see them again. That wasn't always a bad thing- there were definitely some campers you weren't sad to see go, but there were also the kids you wished were your little brother or something. We always joked about having a "Counselor's Pick" week, where we could choose all the best campers and screen the rest out. Seriously though, that would be amazing. In any case, in the course of this job I got to know my coworkers fairly well, which included hearing endless amount of stories and bits of trivia from my loquacious director. One thing in particular has stuck with me; his theory on awkward silences. He claimed he'd read somewhere that awkward silences were actually thought to be an evolutionary holdover from when we were still prey. If one person goes quiet, that becomes a kind of signal that something is up to the people around them, and thus silence descends as you listen for anything out of the ordinary. So now whenever there is an awkward silence, I always pause to listen and wonder, "...Tiger?"


Lately I've been doing... not so well in terms of motivation. Which is ridiculous, since I absolutely love about half of my classes, and am fond of the teachers in the other three. More later?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mullet Madness

I've been utterly failing at this "a post per day" deal, so this is my attempt to get back on the wagon. Or off. Whichever one works.

What's new? My brother finished his trek home on Saturday afternoon, and I went home too to see him. He spent his summer in California working as a Wildland Firefighter for the government. He has plenty of stories to tell, but what had the most impact on me when I first saw him was the striking resemblance he held to Sawyer, from Lost. Shocking, since I'd never seen him with hair longer than my own. I should have expected it, taking into consideration the distinct lack of hairdressers in the middle of the desert. Even so, I was even more mortified when he told me his ambitions concerning a new haircut did not include something crisp and clean, but rather a mullet.

"......," I said when he proposed this idea to me.
"But mullets are so awesome!" he replied to the look I was giving him.
"Nate, awesome is not the word I would use."
"But it would be so great, everyone would know me as the mullet-man at Drexel."
"Speaking as someone in college at this moment in time, I don't think this would be a good thing."
"Yeahhhhh..."

I thought I had convinced him to drop the idea, although he brought it up hopefully throughout the rest of the weekend. But to my utmost horror, I received a picture-text with him proudly showing off a mullet of magnificent proportions. I have no further details as to the status of his haircut but I am dearly hoping that this was a simple pit-stop on the way to a clean-shaven head.

In other news, I have a new addition to my plant pets. One of the first things my dad asked me when I got home was, "Do you want an avocado tree?" One had apparently sprouted from our compost pile, the result of a summer full of guacamole production. I'm frankly surprised there haven't been more, considering the amount of guacamole my dad makes. He used four avocados this weekend alone for guacamole(a cup of which I got to take home to Richmond! Highlight of my LIFE). My father is a cooking fiend.

I think that's all for this morning. Now, back to forms in Web Design. Hoping I don't fall asleep on this beanbag.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Aaaaand Vacation ends

That's right. The weekend ends with 1.5 mile walk to class through the rain.

Okay, the morning's trip was miserable, but the jaunt home was actually pleasant by comparison. It wasn't raining, and the walking warmed feet that had been damp for several hours. PLUS, the houses along park are gorgeous. I was so caught up in looking at them, critiquing the color choices, and generally falling over myself with admiration that the trip went by in a flash(and I ran into a tree branch). That's about the most interesting story I have from today, so here's half the story of our exodus from New York:

By Friday night we were all more than ready to take a break from the seemingly endless days filled with innumerable children. “Meet outside tomorrow at 9:45?” was the text I received from Christian, and I was on board with that. Living and working in New York is a far different experience from visiting it, and I would be completely happy if I could keep my future contact with the city limited to the latter. The next morning, I dragged all of my bags to the elevators, turned in my key and meal card to Neil, and knocked on Christian and Zach’s door. No response. “Good,” I thought. “This is starting off well.” I decided to send Christian a text letting him know I’d wait for them outside, but right as I reached the elevator, their door opened and Zach’s very bedraggled head appeared.

“Uh, we just woke up,” he said. “Oh, and there’s a boot on Christian’s car, so he has to call conference services about it.”
“Of course. Of course there’s a boot on his car,” I said. “Well, I’ll just wait outside, it’s nicer.”

Shortly thereafter, while I was eating one of the many Valencia oranges I had acquired that
week, Zach appeared with some of his luggage in tow. We started loading up Christian’s car,
and then milled around it, waiting for him to finish bargaining with the Conference Services. They came, removed the boot, we plugged the destination into the GPS, and we were on our way a mere hour behind schedule.

One thing I want to say about GPSes is that they don’t handle cities with lots of roads that converge and break away all at once very well. Our drive out of the Bronx went smoothly enough, until we made a slight wrong turn and our GPS started to get confused. It plotted a new course quickly enough, but it was one which unfortunately took us straight into stop and go traffic. And you may think you’ve been in bad traffic, but until it takes you over half an hour to move two blocks while you’re hungry enough to seriously weigh the pros and cons of eating the person next to you, then I don’t want to hear it. On a separate note, probably the only thing that saved Christian was the fact that if I ate him, I wouldn’t be able to drive home in his manual car. Which wasn’t sounding very excited about the stop and go traffic either. It growled and jerked every time Christian urged it closer to the tunnel which was the source of the backup; three lanes of traffic were attempting to merge into one to get into the tunnel just on our side of the street, so you can imagine the overall merging madness occurring all around us. Even so, the sight of the tunnel brought with it a hope of moving more than 5 mph and escape from the traffic hell. I was so relieved to be finally moving that I didn’t notice at first how bad Christian’s car sounded until Zach commented. As hard as he was trying, Christian couldn’t get it to move faster than about 10 mph, needles spinning up to 5, 6 rpm as he tried to accelerate. Cars sped past us in the Holland tunnel as we inched along, the Kia groaning angrily and emitting foul odors that smelled suspiciously like smoke into the car. That was when the car broke.
We rolled gently to a stop.

I can't remember the exact dialogue, but here's an approximation:
"Shit, the clutch won't move!" said Christian.
"Is it stuck?" asked Zach.
"It physically won't move. It's stuck up," replied Christian.
"Sounds like your transmission's dead. That's not good, dude," said Zach.
I said, "Shit."
"I guess I'll call the police," said Christian. "Hello? I've broken down in the middle of the Holland Tunnel. A white Kia. I think it's my transmission. You're sending someone? Great," Christian said, then hung up.
He turned the vents on high to cool off the engine, then thought the better of it as noxious gases started pouring in. He started to roll down the windows, then stopped and asked, "What do you think, is the air worse in here or out there?
"Better keep them up, man," replied Zach.

We waited.

"Man, I hope they come get us before we pass out from the fumes," said Zach.
"For real," I said, laughing a little nervously.

Cars continued to whiz angrily past, bleating their horns obnoxiously. Finally, we saw flashing lights behind us, and a cop car came around the bend and blocked off all traffic behind us about 40 feet away.

"Sooo, now what?" I asked, watching the cop car sit motionless behind us.
"I guess they have to set up a perimeter in case the car explodes, or something," said Zach.
Wondering privately if this was a likely event, I turned around and saw flashing lights ahead of us.
"Oh, I guess a tow truck is coming from the other way!"
But what came around the bend was not a tow truck. It was very short in length, but also as tall as the tunnel would allow. We stared at it in confusion as it pulled up beside us and rolled down the window.
"Hey there, what seems to be the problem?" asked the driver.
"My clutch is stuck. I can't get the car to move," said Christian.
"Okay, then what I'm going to do is go ahead and push you out of the tunnel. As soon as you're out, pull over to the left, off the street."

The odd vehicle drove past us, and we looked at each other.
"Did he say he say... push?"
We all craned around in time to see the compact truck pulling forward behind us.
"You good?" shouted the driver.
"Yeah!" said Christian, giving him a thumbs up.
And then we started moving. It was, hands down, the most ridiculous situation I have ever been in. The end of the tunnel appeared within a couple of seconds, and we all groaned about how close we had been to the end of it. As we emerged from the tunnel, the truck backed off and we coasted to a stop outside of a Shell station.

"Now what?" asked Christian as the truck drove off.
"I'll tell you one thing," I said. "I'm getting something to eat.

It was around 12:45 at that point.
Taken while being pushed out of the Holland Tunnel

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Welcome

I must warn you that unlike most blogs on the internet, the author of this one has almost absolutely nothing to say about life, the universe, or anything important in particular. I don't deny it, and, following in the grand tradition of every one of my past blogs, I intend to fully embrace it. Thus, this blog is dedicated to everything that is mundane in life: chance encounters, odd incidents, and basically whatever pops into my head. I'm also thinking that I might try to post some of my sketchbook pages, because my sketchbook is turning into a bit of a visual diary, albeit not a very linear one.

My writing skills are pretty rusty, but I think I want to start this off with tales of my summer. I worked at a technology summer camp at William & Mary, which, in and of itself, was an experience, what with swine flu one week, teaching three classes at one time in another, and basically being a parent to 20-30 different kids a week. Those are stories destined for another post; tonight is all about the week after camp ended, when I was transferred, along with two of my coworkers from the W&M crew, to work at a camp in New York City. Christian was to go to Fordham University, while Zach and I were all set up to live at Fordham for the nights, and commute to none other than Columbia University to work during the day. It sounded like an amazing opportunity; what we weren't aware of was how cursed we were in regards to getting into and out of the city.

Prologue: Mostly Useless Background Story

Saturday rolled around, leaving behind a bittersweet closing of iD at W & M. The drive started off smoothly enough. Zach picked me up from my apartment, and together we set off in his red pickup for Christian's. We were both a little apprehensive of riding the rest of the way to New York in Christian's little kia, especially taking into consideration the amount of pure STUFF that was in it last time I rode with him. We need not have worried; it was completely emptied out by the time we pulled into his dad's driveway. I volunteered to take the back, imagining foolishly for a moment myself sprawled out on the back seat, napping all the way to New York. Instead, after we managed to shove everything into place, I found myself kept company by Zach's highly inconvenient iMac and several pillows which did their best to be consistently in my face throughout the trip. Still, everything went smoothly enough as we passed the time talking about everything from crossing cats with lemurs, to the benefits of commercial medicine versus alternative methods.


Chapter 1: Finding Fordham
10:00 pm

The first signs of trouble didn't start until I tried calling Fordham's director to let him know we were leaving Christian's house. The inbox is never a great thing to get when you have plans dependent on the other person's knowledge of your existence; however, we were still hours away, and I figured we(or he) had some time before we needed to start panicking. We had a GPS(three, in fact) and the address of the college, so we should've been set, right?

Instead of smooth sailing, I think we actually wandered through a wormhole into a different dimension that night. Traffic into and out of New York is always bad, but at night, it's ten times worse. Everything is dark, there are about a thousand lights constantly flashing into your eyes, horns going off everywhere, and in the case of the bronx, there are people all over the streets, and they all look like they want to eat you. It was only about 10 when we arrived in the Bronx, so we were feeling pretty good about ourselves despite the overwhelming sensory information pillaging our brains, right up until the moment when, in the middle of a very busy street, our GPS tells us, "You have reached your destination."

That was when we started getting worried. The director hadn't picked up his phone yet, the lead instructor hadn't been able to get a hold of him either, and we had no idea where to go. We found what we thought was Fordham, which would have been great if there hadn't been a chain link fence extending as far as we could see, or at least if there had been a gate to get in. We parked illegally on the street and attempted to get our bearings in what looked like a shady back alley beside a Jesuit mission house, and called around desperately, trying to find something a little more specific to go on. We finally got in contact with Fordham security, who told us that instead of looking for something on Fordham Street, the building we needed to find was on South Boulevard. "Just drive on down, you can't miss it." Luckily, South Boulevard intersected Fordham, so we found it, but then we happened upon another problem. We didn't know which way to turn. So we picked a direction and drove. And drove. And drove some more. By this time we were starting to feel a bit frustrated, so Zach handed the phone to me and I called security back.

"Hi," I said, figuring it was as good a way to start out as any, "we're in the Bronx trying to find O'Hare Hall. Could tell me how to get there?"
"It's right on South Boulevard," replied a disinterested voice, "you can't miss it."
"Okay," I said, struggling to keep my voice natural, "but the thing is, I'm from Virginia. Those would be great directions if I knew the area, but I'm not from around he-."
"Look, it's right on South Boulevard."
"Right," I said,"but we've been on this street for about the last ten minutes, and we haven't seen anything. Do you have, like, a rough street address or something?"
"No."
"Okay, then. I... guess we'll drive up and down South Boulevard again. Thanks anyways?"

So we proceeded to circle the Bronx, searching with increasing desperation for a way into Fordham. There were still people running around in the streets, cars stopped in the middle of roads, and even a few jaywalking kids on scooters, at whom Christian yelled, in what I can only assume was a temporary bout of insanity, "Get off your damn scooter, boy!"


Chapter 1.5: Still Finding Fordham
11:50 pm

We finally could take no more and parked along Fordham street. We approached what appeared to be a pedestrian entrance to the college, and waited for the security guard to finish with his call so we could ask for directions. It was one of the most awkward situations of my life. He kept pacing back and forth, shooting us shifty glances all the time, while we leaned against the fence staring at him. Finally, he paused his conversation with the cell phone and said, "Who are you waiting for again?"
"Umm, you," said Zach.
"Oh! I thought you were waiting for someone inside!" the guard replied, looking a bit abashed. He hung up his phone and suddenly became the most helpful person we had talked to. He explained to us exactly how to get to O'Hare from where we were, and even gave us some landmarks to go by, such as the botanical gardens. I let Zach and Christian handle the directions, since I had been in the back and was the least informed of all present anyways. My brain was feeling pretty shot, and in the interim, I had decided I needed some semblance of sanity which I found by letting the world, aka Jordan, know of our troubles via text.

The rest was a blur that involved many more minutes of driving in circles around the Bronx. We were all feeling a little loopy by the time we pulled into the Botanical Gardens and were directed right across the street to an entrance into Fordham, where we triumphantly pulled up to the guard box.

"Hi, we're trying to get to O'Hare Hall. We're with iD Tech Camps," said Christian.
"Oh, I haven't heard anything about that," replied the guard. "O"Hare is right up there to the left. If you pay me ten dollars I'll give you a parking pass."
He watched pitilessly as we emptied our pockets, dug through backpacks, and looked under seats for loose change, only to come up with $6.45 between the three of us.
"There are ATMs all over," said the guard.

So we ventured out into the city once again, found an ATM, then realized we didn't know how to get back to the entrance. Thus, it wasn't until around 1:00 in the morning, and after a flurry of phone calls between conference services and Fordham's lead instructor(we still hadn't gotten in contact with the director) that we finally got to our rooms.

Further details of our adventures coming soon.