Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Is This a Bandwagon Worth Jumping Onto?

Some movies or TV shows or books become inescapable; they suddenly explode in popularity and no matter where you go, you’re surrounded by this pop culture phenomenon. It then seems like everyone is talking about the story or the characters with a fiery passion and you’re suddenly an outsider that has no idea what they’re all talking about. But they want you to understand and they do their best to convince you that it’s quite fantastic and you must watch/read it.

Sometimes I’ll instantaneously balk at whatever’s captured the public’s interest and avoid it as much as humanly possible until its moment in the sun eventually passes. While other times I’ll be curious enough to the join the majority in experiencing this mainstream phenomenon. It tends to be a mixed bag; sometimes I’ll discover something wonderful while other times I’ll sit in wonderment of why it’s popular at all. But hopefully I avoid the worst of the bad mainstream movies, TV shows and books; it all comes down to the crucial decision moment of whether or not I’ll give something a chance.

I can’t watch or read everything that becomes popular (and nor do I want to). While it’s nice to be in the pop culture loop (especially to understand when it’s being alluded to or parodied), I can’t care about everything. I won’t just blindingly throw myself into a story merely because it’s popular; I have to weigh my knowledge of the topic at hand and think if it’s worthy of my time and consider how interested am I in it really. Knowing which bandwagons to jump onto and which to avoid saves much time and annoyance. So I always ask myself if this bandwagon is worth jumping onto, because there are some that just aren’t worth it…at all. If the current bandwagon doesn't appeal to me, I can just wait for the next one, because if I'm going to jump on a bandwagon, I'd like it to be a good one. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What’s the Difference?

Having some options is usually a good thing. You don’t want to be stuck with something just because it was the only thing available. However sometimes I find it overwhelming the shear number of options available to me when I’m shopping for something. Obviously there are different brands, but then within a brand there are usually numerous versions of the virtually the same product. Sometimes I’ll stand in an aisle and stare at the various products and wonder how different are they really? (Perhaps the company just added an extra ingredient to an existing product and put it in a different box and just marketed it as an entirely new product.)

If you already know what you want when you walk into a store, then you’ll ignore all of the other options and just pluck out your chosen item. However, if the item you usually buy gets discontinued or they change it in some way that you dislike, then you’re forced to find a replacement. And then comes the staring in the aisle. Then comes reading the copy on the boxes to compare the products. Then comes comparing the prices. And it all turns out to be quite a bit of work. [Sigh.]

I was in the toothpaste aisle at a store and was overwhelmed by all the choices there. Besides fighting cavities there were so many other decisions to make: paste or gel? Whitening toothpaste? (And if so, which kind of whitening toothpaste? Whitening that fights tarter? Whitening that uses baking soda? Whitening that’s clinically proven?) Or do you want toothpaste that reinforces enamel or helps gums stay strong or germ fighting for 12 hours? I’m surprised there's not a little chart in the aisle so you can compare all the toothpastes to find just which one is right for you…because I kind of felt like I needed one.

Sometimes I wish things were more streamlined because it seems like any item you might need in your daily life has at least ten different options (e.g. toothpaste, soap, shampoo, detergent, etc.). It’s just such an ordeal to select anything. And while I don’t want too few options, I also don’t want too many—especially since most of the options seem fairly redundant to me. [Pause.] Redundant.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

DIY: Plastic Canvas Bangle

A bangle doesn’t require a clasp, so this bracelet takes only a few materials to create. The hardest part is figuring out the size that’s appropriate for your wrist.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

From Eww to Ooh

When I was a kid, there were certain foods I hated to eat. I don’t think I was a particularly picky eater, but there were definitely some foods that made me scrunch my face in distaste. Lima beans and peas spring to mind, as I would often do my best to avoid tasting these vegetables by swallowing them like pills. Green onions were another vegetable that I had little appreciation for; when they appeared in my miso soup, I would try to get them to cling to the inside rim of the bowl so I could avoid consuming them. Yet, as time passed, my tastes changed (at least some of if). While I still dislike lima beans, I love green onions and eat them all the time.

Supposedly the lifespan of a tastebud is about ten days, so it seems inevitable that eventually our taste preferences shift. I’ve grown to love many foods that I previously loathed. I’m not sure if it was because I was forced to consume them so many times that they naturally grew on me or if my tastebuds just magically decided one day to love them. I can’t really pinpoint the exact turning point from hate to love, I’ll just realize one day that I’m eating (and enjoying) something that I used to avoid like the plague.

However, I’m still waiting to love some foods. I’d really like to love green peppers. I made some headway when I eventually grew to love roasted red peppers, but green peppers are another story; I’m not a fan of them raw or cooked. It’s really too bad because it would be so convenient to love them as they seem to be everywhere, in stir-fries, salads, sandwiches, pasta and pizza, and they’re used in a ton of different cuisines, like Chinese, Mexican, Italian and Thai. Not loving (or even liking) green peppers really limits what I want to eat (and eliminating them completely from a dish can change the overall flavor profile—which I’d rather not do). [Sigh.] I keep hoping that I’ll wake up one day and love green peppers…only it hasn’t happened yet.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

2013 Calendar Re-issues: Idiom, Fake Ad and Chinese Zodiac

While the Retro Fake Ad Calendar and the I’m a Chinese Zodiac Animal Calendar art and format remained the same as last year, I decided to alter the Idiom Calendar. The format is now a small wall calendar where the pages are stapled together in the middle. In addition, there are two new idioms included: Tip of the Iceberg (cover) and Day in the Sun (last page).

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pattern Stamps

Recently, I spent a chunk of time carving stamps. I did some sketches of different patterns and chose some of my favorites to make into stamps. The faster and less involved way would have been to have a stamp company make them for me, and that would have made the most sense if they were highly intricate or type heavy, but my patterns were fairly doable to hand carve. Plus, I really like the imperfections and slightly off lines that make the stamps feel handmade and unique. It wasn’t exactly fun carving all my patterned stamps, but I’m happy with the results. I think they’re quite nice. Simple. Geometric.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

You’re #2 Card

Everyone wants to be number one. Number one is (obviously) the best. We play to win; we don’t compete to be number two. We want to be number one with the prestige and big trophy (that we can then lord over everybody else).

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Fine Cheese

Cheese is delicious. And a fine cheese should be savored. It’s all about quality, consistency and flavor, and some cheeses are just better than others. There’s quite an array of cheese to choose from, but while some cheeses never impressed me much with their bland flavor, others I love and just can’t seem to get enough of.

Just as actual cheese varies in quality, so do cheesy movies. I admit that I enjoy a good cheesy movie from time to time. Sometimes I’m not in the mood to watch something with depth. Sometimes I just want to watch something that’s light and amusing and utterly absurd. Yes, I like the occasional low budget made-for-TV sci-fi movie…if it’s a good one.

Usually I’ll see promising commercials for these low-budget sci-fi movies, but once I watch the first ten minutes I’ll often get bored and give up. However on rare occasions I stumble upon a fine cheesy movie. A movie that has an entertaining (and highly implausible) premise, with actors that have just the right dose of ham, dialogue that’s over the top in a good way and gory inventive deaths (and plenty of them). I tend to like the genetically mutated animals that are larger, smarter, faster and stronger than normal (and generally seem to be bullet proof for some reason). I like these types of movies because the enemy can be seen and killed, unlike natural disaster or epidemic plots that the characters tend to have a more cerebral and a less physical battle against.

I want my cheesy movies to be a good time—light-hearted gory fun with almost cartoon-like violence. A good cheesy movie isn’t going to win any prestigious awards, but it’ll make me laugh at its absurdity and I’d say that in itself is an accomplishment.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ten Sheep Limit

While I may have trouble falling asleep at times, I recently I had a different sleep trouble that disrupted my slumber. I had fallen asleep well enough, but then in the middle of the night I was aware of being in that half-conscious state and somehow a stray thought about a project crept into my mind and nested there. All of a sudden I was groggily thinking about this project and then other thoughts decided to join in and my mind just didn’t want to turn off. I’m not sure how long my cluttered mind was distracted for, but when I started to hear birds chirping I knew I’d been half-awake too long and desperately wanted to get back to sleep.

So I did one of my simple tricks to clear my mind: I counted to ten. I count really slowly. One. [Pause.] [Pause.] [Pause.] [Pause.] Two. [Pause.] [Pause.] [Pause.] [Pause.] Three. (And so on.) The slowness of counting helps me to breath more slowly (which makes my heart rate decrease) and thus relaxes me.

Once I count to ten, I start counting from one again. It’s like counting sheep, but with a sheep limitation. I can’t count endlessly because then I’d start doing math. I’d get to a number (e.g. 242) and then divide it by sixty (seconds) and think of how many minutes I’d been trying to get to sleep by counting. And then my frustration would build because I still wasn’t asleep yet and irritation always makes me more alert. So by counting to ten repeatedly, I lose track of what total number I’m at and am therefore less apt to get distracted by unnecessary thoughts. And luckily this trick worked well enough for me to get a couple more hours of actual sleep before I had to wake up.