Friday, January 30, 2009

In the News

Everybody knows Virgin airlines, right? Which is headed up by Sir Richard Branson? We're all on board? Good.

Virgin received a letter of complaint recently, and for some reason it was forwarded all the way to Sir Branson himself. His response? He actually called the guy up to talk about it.

Now what, you must be thinking, could this letter have contained to be so deserving that Sir Branson would call Joe Schmo?

Read it for yourself.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

7 days so far...

It's day 7 and I'm 7/7 on my workout schedule. A couple of days ago the wii asked me for updated information on weight, measurements, how many push-ups/crunches/squats I can do now, resting and elevated heart rates, etc. I'm slightly improved in every category (okay, all but one - thigh measurement, which is exactly the same. But there was also one category that I vastly improved in - number of squats. Coincidence? You decide.)

14 more days to a habit...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

21 days to make a habit

I heard recently that it takes 21 days of doing something for it to become a habit. Seems reasonable. So I thought, "If I picked one goal and did it everyday for 21 days, maybe when I'm done I'll keep going because it'll be a habit by then."

So guess what I picked for my first goal?

That's right. Maya!
(original post here)

I'm on day three. I'm shooting for at least 15 minutes every day, but today I did a half hour. And it was so fun that I'm even thinking about doing another 15 minutes right now... hold back... don't want to overdo it...
Really, it's fun. And today I became a "bronze member" which basically means I unlocked a new workout area and music choice! But the cool thing about today was that I finally got past "Omg, I think my arms may fall off" to the point where my stamina kicked in and that warm glow goes up and down your limbs and you think, "Omg, I could keep going." Plus, I'm hurting in all sorts of muscles I didn't even know I had! It's not so bad, whenever I move and a muscle hurts, I feel proud of myself.

...Another 15 minutes won't hurt. (much?) [tosses laptop aside]

Friday, January 23, 2009

Happy Place

The other day I was trying to think of some place relaxing and peaceful. I finally thought of one: the ocean outside my grandparent's house in Maui in the morning. Early in the day, the waves are mellow and hardly move you at all, and that makes the water so clear that you can see right to the bottom. It's the only time of day that happens. I was feeling so good just from the thought of it that I put a little movie together from the video I took on my last morning there. For the full effect I threw a little Coldplay on there, too.

Now when I watch it I get a happyyy feeling {complacent smile here}.

Note: It's not enthralling, especially with this low resolution. But mellow out and watch the ripples... you might enjoy it. (In the clear video, you can see the ripples of sunlight on the sand at the bottom of the water, and all the coral floating around)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Newsletter from the American Library Association

Each week the ALA releases a newsletter, but today I got a "Special Tough Economy Issue"

Scrolling down, looking at the headlines, it starts to tell a story:

What would you tell President Obama?: What library issues are the most important for ALA members to share with the incoming administration?
ALA requests stimulus funding for libraries
Why federal funding matters to libraries
Contact Congress now
ALA releases tough economy toolkit
Seven ways the public library can help in a tough economy
House releases stimulus bill . . .
. . . but lacks aid to public libraries
State funding for public libraries on decline
Surge in library usage covered by national media
Folks are flocking to the library
The role of libraries in hard times
Recessions and their impact on libraries
The small public library survival guide
The quality library: In an environment of budget cuts and freezes, librarians must keep a tight rein on costs and inefficiencies.

Sounds rough. It's especially ironic that library budgets are being cut (including budgets at my library - in a bad way), and yet library usage is way up, and arguably more important now that it ever has been before. At my library, recent cuts include a big chunk of funding for our summer reading program, the annual Valentine's day ball has been scrapped, book-buying budgets have been cut (and halved for some sections), and my personal least favorite, the program that held free family movies every Friday night has ended. I've also been reading about library closings all over the country, especially in heavily populated areas.
Here's a link to my favorite article on the list, which talks about 7 big ways that libraries help in bad economic times. But if our funding continues to be cut, all that usefulness goes down the tubes. Keep libraries in mind when you're making your mental lists of economic crisis losses.

Librarian Serendipities

The title of this book makes me giggle.

Mr. President

I'm excited!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The funniest joke that no one will get

Don't you hate it when the time it takes to explain a joke totally negates how funny it is? The longer it takes for you to explain it, the less funny the punch line is, in my opinion. So lots of times I just don't even try. Maybe we could make an equation?
y = the time it takes to tell the joke
x = the joke
if y > the value of x, then x = pleh.

My brother made me laugh a good one today, but I don't even want to start trying to explain it. I'm posting it as a good example of the principle above (while also saving a good gem):

me: if I need to change the styling, should I make a whole new style sheet, or should I just put the styling changes into the index pages themselves?
Adam: if it's styling that's only ever going to affect one page, then I'd probably just go with embedded styles
(that's styles declared in the < head > section)
me: remind me what the syntax is in the head section
< style type="text/css" >
.Breanne { goggy:looooong; }
< /style >

This has to do with the fact that I just bought a basset hound.
We use the term "goggy" instead of "doggy" out of affection for lolcats and loldogs.

I thought I'd also throw in another part of our conversation:
me:I can never remember which one is greater than > or < ?
Adam: the first one
Adam: the expression is relative to the first operand
me: look at you using words like operand
me: if mathematical intelligence was sexy, you'd be fabio
Adam: I can't believe it's not an integer!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Worth a Thousand Words

Remember that library in Prague?

This one with the blob design.

It got scrapped.

You can read about it here:

It looks like a lot of prominent members of the art community came out in spades to try to save the project. Which leads me to ask: why? what makes it great art?

This is a question that I've thought about a lot over the years as an art history major. What makes great art is much debated, and I think a definite answer will continue to elude us because we all feel so differently. In fact, through my major, whenever I came across another professor's explanation for why something was great, I'd jot it down in a special file on my laptop. And after doing this for awhile, I started writing down my own reasons, which eventually became a whole paper on what I thought about "great art." Here is a condensed version of some of the conclusions I came to:

The art history field seeks out a vast variety of methods to explain why something is important or has significance, and I think in doing so they are subtly stamping their “recommended for great art books” seal onto their theses. One professor focused on how great artists were the ones who influenced many other “great” and even not so great artists. Other definitions are: “this is important because it influenced the culture around it; it influenced later generations; it revealed things contrary to its contemporary society; it flew in the face of its society; it revealed secrets about the artist himself; it revealed more about the society it came from; it was never thought of before; the style, the form, etc. were revolutionary for its time; it was unlike anything else from its period;” and I could keep going on.

But the ultimate question here is: how do I pick my own “great art”? I think the art history field has taught me how to analyze art and to appreciate it for its contributions, meaning, and importance. Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Polykleitos, Vermeer, Courbet, all so important in many ways. And in a way, I feel as though I have been turning my back on everything I've been taught, because those revolutionary pieces are not on my walls.

So what is my "great art"? You can try to define it, to put it down in a textbook and encourage others to agree with you. But I think it's ultimately a very personal set of rules that binds us to a work of art and makes us call it great.
I came up with some of the ways that great art is defined for me:

First: I think that great art is something that you can't take with you. There is something special about seeing a work in person, and it builds a connection between the viewer and the piece. But that connection has to have a power that can't be re-created by viewing a three-inch version in your wallet.

Second: Is there any truth here? (Even if it's truth about how there is no truth - thank you contemporary art). Have you ever looked at a painting and nodded? You're looking at it and you just get it. I think if there's any bit of truth in a painting, then the piece will speak to you in some way. I think you can find truth in any format, from a venetian landscape to Polykleitos to Mozart, and on to yellow umbrellas, Rothko and U2. I guess I'm referring to "truth" here as a sort of "je ne sais quois," something about a work that speaks to you personally, that communicates something about the world to you and enhances your perception of it.

Third: Great art lives! It stands the test of time, it remains significant throughout time.

Fourth: Great art says something about it's own time. It is significant as a representation of the context in which it was produced, even if it was revolutionary for that time.

Fifth: Great art exposes who and what we are! It can help you to better understand and define yourself, even if it's so simple as to say: "I do/don't like this!" That is you. The point is that it made you think, it made you make a decision about where you will stand and what you will say.
And 5b: Great art has the capacity to reveal some truth about human nature, even if it's simply your own nature.

I think there are connections that we make with a work of art that are based on personal interpretation (before we know anything about the piece), and then there are connections we make once we know the history behind the work, its context, the artist, the intention. I think both are important and we cut ourselves short when we place emphasis on one or the other. Here's hoping that the next time you go to a museum, you think about what it is that draws you to certain works of art, and how that can tell you more about yourself.