Thursday, April 30, 2009

Even more ridiculous

Just when you thought we couldn't be any more ludicrous, scientists began doing research via YouTube.

These words should date.


Here's to the memories.

The place always looked like it was going to fall down anyway.

Saratoga Winners has burned to the ground.

No more whiney pop punk concerts. No more crowd surfing and free fondling. No more moshing. Not there anyhow.

Oh well. Kinda sad. Not overwhelmingly so. I doubt I will shed a tear. Some memories need to burn.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I've said it before, I'll say it again.

You clean up nice, James Kehoe.

Less than awesome.

Yesterday I arrived at a certain Middle School in Schenectady to substitute for a certain Special Ed teacher. I follow sub protocol: arrive, sign in, wait to be told room number, arrive at said room, look for sub plans.

So this room is in the basement. It is a single digit. I enter the classroom, and there are already 2 students present. Each is sitting at a table (for some reason, behaviorally challenged students always seem to get large working surfaces). Neither is talking, but one has headphones on, and I can hear his music from the other side of the room.

There is a paraprofessional (read: aide) in the room. He is wearing cargo shorts, a striped polo shirt, and skater sneakers. He is watching Lil' Wayne videos on YouTube.

"I'm here for such-and-such a teacher," I tell him.

"You're in the right place," he tells me, hardly looking up from the computer.

I look around for some sub plans, a blue and yellow folder, a typed or written piece of paper that says "plans" on it, anything.


There are stacks of papers on one of the front desk-tables. There aren't any instructions included with these.

"Did she leave me any plans?" I inquire.

"No, she forgot to write 'em." It is as if I am bothering this guy.

At this point I am just standing there, pissed. Usually, if I am the only adult in the room, I will take this time to put my things somewhere and familiarize myself with the plans. If there are other adults in the room, they will usually give me a rundown on how the day will go, tell me where I can keep my things, etc.

But he is still watching music videos on YouTube. Lil' Wayne, The Used, and other great musicians in the whiney-rock category.

I am staring at a bulletin board across the room, at remnants of wood-grain contact paper clearly left from a half-hearted attempt to remove said paper by tearing. I am gritting my teeth.

After what must have been five minutes, I turn to him and ask as sweetly as I can muster: "Is she going to be e-mailing her plans?"

"No, we'll manage" he assures(?) me, unconcerned.

"Well then can you at least give me an idea of what the day is like?"

"Sure, First period is math, second period someone comes in for science, third is home ec, fourth english, fifth is their lunch, sixth is health, seventh is sort of a free period, eighth is history and ninth is gym."

Never was I told when my breaks were, what my responsibilities were, any classroom rules, consequences, what I should or shouldn't do.

So I sat down at the table with all the stacks of paper on it. I rotated a chair so I could be facing the students, and I took out my book.

A second para-professional arrives. She takes a seat at a table in the back of the room. A third student arrives.

Unlike the students already in the room, this student is a bit chatty. He talks about his track meet to them, scolds the noisy-headphone boy for having his music too loud. I decide I like this boy. I think about this quick decision in my head, dwell upon it for a moment.

This boy opens up his backpack and pulls out what appears to be a bagel with cream cheese.

"Smells like sweaty balls!" he exclaims.

With an expression both disgusted and concerned, I ask him if he is referring to his breakfast.

"No! Ew! What?"

"Oh, if it was, I was just going to say, don't eat that!"

"Why, you know what sweaty balls taste like?"


By the way, the punishment for that gem of a comment was this:

both paras said his name in a disapproving manner.

Never sub for such-and-such a Special Ed teacher at a certain Middle School in Schenectady.

Alright, alright, here you go...

This is my new blog:

Improper Apostrophe

Please feel free to submit.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Smaller than I realized

And I wondered why this small size wasn't displayed in his gallery.

Changing The Way We Do...

It is no news to anyone with a computer that the way the news is made has changed radically, and the distance between people has dramatically decreased. No longer are we subject to the opressive, deaf television of yesteryear. If only Nam June Paik could see it now.

It is easier to get your message out to more people, if they care, as Ian discussed in his 2 year blogiversary. Technology is such that any old fool can make things of the same quality that was only possible for a select few in years past. The twenty minute neon-color-computer-crash-esque scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey says it all, I think. And then people who don't need to rely on such base technology do so in a way that makes them more relatable. I'm thinking about you, Andy Samberg, my love. Maybe these guys are famous, but probably not; check out this video highlighted by GirlShawn. Either way, they will be soon.

And then there is the Craigslist Killah. A new way to be a serial killer, and a new way to report about it. I was sent the following message on Facebook. I bet some of you received it too.

Hi Emily,

My name is Nate Schweber and I'm a reporter helping out with a story for the NY Times about Philip Markoff.

I know this story has dominated the news but what we're trying to do is write the most fair, honest and accurate profile of Phil that's out there.

I wanted to ask you if you know Phil? (I spoke to a couple friends from college already, James Kehoe and Olivia Fagan). Do you think Phil is the person the media has made him out to be? Are there are any stories about him you could share?

My deadline is Sunday. If you could please get back to me before then I'd greatly appreciate it. I can promise to take down only the information you're comfortable giving out.

Phone, e-mail or Facebook works great. Thank you.


Do you think that doing your reporting research this way makes it less credible? If someone Facebooks you a quote, do you trust it?

Oh, and I'm still mourning the death of a loved one.

.....and resenting the rebound.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Goodbye Cruel World: My Favorite Block in Troy

Since 1915, Trojan Hardware has occupied my favorite block in Troy, adding character and stability to a city which has seen its ups and downs. Now, due to a steady decline in business as well as an owner who is ready to retire, Trojan Hardware will close.

I feel sick.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

100 (Serving is hard)

I realize that it isn't the privileged I despise so much as the complainers. Today I (along with 3 others from my church, a 'meal team') prepared a meal for 50 people at a local homeless shelter. We do this about 4 times a year.

You really can't please everyone. We do our best to mix it up, we know a lot of people make the shelter guests baked ziti, so we stray away from that. The guidelines are that we keep it a balanced meal - a protein, a starch, a vegetable.

The meal we prepared tonight was one of my conception: black bean soup, crusty bread, tossed salad (with avocado!) and caramel brownies. I did the shopping, which wouldn't have been a big deal had it not been a trying week, and if I didn't have two serving commitments fall on the same evening. I felt I should probably do the shopping because, as my friend Gerri Sherry puts it, I'm a purist. (The brownies were boxed, only add water nonetheless, and the caramel was pre-made cubed. Does it make me more or less a purist that I did that, and that I'm bringing it up now?) I thought home made bread would be cheaper and more delicious. And, if you've checked out this dutch oven long-rise bread thing, you'll know that very little elbow grease is required.

But I never considered how awesome it would be to prepare a quantity of long rise bread for 50. Hmmph.

Oh right, complainers.

So I get there and there is a guest sitting down watching TV, and she asks me what we're having for dinner. "Oh. Vegetarian." She grumbles, clearly disappointed. I correct her and explain that it technically is not, as I'm using chicken stock, but she has stopped listening and probably doesn't care. Apparently, she is from the school of gourmands who consider any meal without a meat course Not A Meal (a snack?).

So the four of us use the entire two hours allotted to prepare this meal (and then some), and when we serve it and sit down to eat, the woman from earlier reappears. She is angry at the lack of colored beverage in the dispenser. There is plenty of water, but the flavored 'drink' is really low, because the staff is about to change flavors, so they are watching carefully for it to run out.

She walks in, yells "THERE'S NOTHING TO EAT AND NO KOOL AID!" and slams the door on her way out to the patio. The four of us do our best to suppress our reactions. There is a full pot of Panera quality (or better!) black bean soup two feet tall and wider than the circle I can make with my arms, a huge mound of fresh baked crusty bread slices, and a very large bowl of salad, tossed greens, spinach, carrots, celery, cucumber, tomatoes and avocado.

Nothing to eat.

The guests sitting with us think she's ridiculous, and let us know. "She's never satisfied," they say. 'Oh yea, what does she like?' I ask.

"I don't know and frankly, I don't care!" exclaims an old man I have trouble hearing (or maybe just understanding). We share a slight chuckle and the other guests go on to say that this woman would only be satisfied with steak or lobster. One suggests she hitchhike to Maine. "This isn't a hotel. This is a shelter. You're lucky you've got food," one notes. It is good to hear that most of the guests are level-headed and appreciative. They praise the meal, telling me how it was delicious and filling. One guest even talked to us for a while, sharing with us how our presence was a real Godsend for him, as he discussed spiritual things with some of us. He detailed his appreciation, for our company, for the meal, for the fellowship.

Serving is hard, but sometimes, there are moments that make it all worth while.

Tom Haverford: How do I know that face?

Aziz Ansari now stars alongside Amy Poehler in NBC's Parks and Recreation.

Why does he look so familiar to me?

Oh right, he was the racist on that episode of Flight of the Conchords

Friday, April 17, 2009

This Week Sucked.

Why? 10 hour days essentially babysitting private school kids....and every kid I've ever disliked (below fifth grade) at that school showed up. A few kids I'd never met before proved themselves to also be annoying, or perhaps annoying and later cute.

Highlights, Lowlights, Things I've Observed:

1. Playing cards with cheat peekers is lame. Peek Sneeker. Pete Seeger.
2. Playing battleship with liars, or kids too little to realize that they are lying is lame.
3. Hungry Hungry Hippos is the noisiest game that does not claim to be noisy.
4. Hungry Hungry Hippos does not fit in its box.
5. I took my favorite kid to help me feed the K/1 frogs. He dumped sooo much food in that the next day one could not make out the frogs through the water. Oops.
6. I can predict what a child will grow up to be based on little things they say (which are essentially direct quotes from the people I know that they will grow up to be like)
7. Electronics out doors is super lame. One fourth grade girl, showing off her fancy new iPod touch seeks shade during playground recess so she could play with her apps. Or watch WALL-E. Oh, the irony.
8. Lame app: toast. Who wants to toast digital bread, add digital toppings, and digitally eat it? Wouldn't it be better to have actual toast? It is cheap, quick, and delicious.
9. One boy, who would become my favorite and the cutest (he is five) kept getting stuck in this part of the playground. I would lift him up and out. One time, he called me "Emmmilly!" 'Stuck again?' I say, and as I get close to him he jumps free of the playground equipment and taunts: "tricked ya, tricked ya, now you've gotta kiss me!"

10. One little girl (4yr old) asked if she could go to her cubby. Another little girl told the first girl that she would be joining her on the walk to her cubby. 'Wait! You have to ask" we tell her. "Oh Sorry!" and turning to the first little girl: "Can I go with you to your cubby?"

11. Guess Who is racist. There is not a single non-white person on the board. Some may disagree. I always thought she was Italian. Furthermore, how many redheads are in this crowd of people? How many redheads are usually? Don't get my wrong, I love me some redheads, but c'mon. (Also, only a handful of women....)

We made bread, hummus, and butter. I almost lost my head at one little girl in particular. She is say....five, and I would do an impersonation of her but I can't bring myself to vlog. So try this: put on your whiniest, most high pitched voice. Be sure to annunciate all your consonants. Now pretend that you are a five year old trying to argue your point to an adult who has already told you 'NO'. Try one of these on for size:

- Why cant we go on the little kids playground?
- But I don't want to make butter. I don't want any butter on my bread.*
- But I want an oompa loompa now Daddy!

*This one really pushed me over the edge. Let me tell you that the only reason bread was made that day (today) was so that there would be something to put the butter ON. If you can't even have the decency to shake the container with the marble, you don't deserve any bread. I just started mocking her and going off:
"ohh, ohh, I hate this, I don't want to do this and Emily sucks and Emily is lame and the activities that she prepared are totally boring and I'll have no part in them" and the other little kids said "Emily, your face is getting all red" while the little girl I was...attacking?...(ohh, no! who am I?) stammered her explanations.



and when I got home I actually used some of my compost (for the first time ever)

to plant cattle beans.

By the way, the "compost-able" Ben & Jerry's corn cup came out looking the same a year later.

This is why I facebook.

Dear Michael Foley,

When did you become an attractive hipster guy? Or Devendra Banhart? Does it have to do with Vegas?

Haven't I known you since elementary school? I never saw it coming.

Oh well,

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How I feel about where I live

So I live in South Troy. Many people have choice words for this area, but I am quite fond of it. I live right where they stop taking such nice care of the sidewalks and foliage, and my rent reflects this neglect, which I quite like. I really enjoy being able to afford living alone. My upstairs neighbor is adorable. Proof:

I mean, I always keep my doors locked and I don't leave my windows open at night or when I'm not there. I take my precautions, and I'm not stupid, but I'm usually not afraid of where I live.

A couple months ago, one of my neighbors attacked one of my other neighbors. "She's crazy" we said, and now we all do our best to avoid her, and maybe we carry mag-lites when we think she might be around.

Monday night, I went jogging with Beth (in another super safe neighborhood) and when I got home, I was alarmed to find someone in my backyard shining a flashlight into my window, and on my door and into the windows of the house next door. I immediately called both of my upstairs neighbors: is that you? They called me back a half our later: "we're in Albany! Are you alive?"

I turned on my back yard light for a while, and stayed away from the windows, locked my doors. Other people share our yard. Could have been any one of them.

Wednesday night, I hear what sounds like my upstairs neighbor's door slam closed (we've gotta slam doors around here or they don't shut all the way). Immediately my phone rings. It's her: "are you making a lot of noise?" she asks.

I mean...I was sawing apart metal about a half hour ago...

"no, no, just now. It sounded like you were going out of your door maybe?"

I thought that was you, coming in.

"I haven't been out all day...omigod there are people trying to get in my house!"


"The house is surrounded by people yelling......oh! there are four policemen arresting one man in our yard"

At this point we are both standing...most the same spot on different floors, watching four nondescript policemen kneeling and handcuffing a large black man.....somewhere between my garden and my compost bin.


Apparently, he had jumped on our roof while evading arrest. That was the noise.

But still, I think I'll stick around. I'm just glad the police where right there to deal with the matter.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I made a new blog. I'll tell you about it when there is actually some content on it.

Ten hour days. All my least favorite kids. Some that are OK.

I come home and it is time to go to bed. !!!!!!!!!! I don't know how people do this.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Makeshift band-aid

I cut myself today. With Scissors. Who does that?

Also, whilst procrastinating writing my packet (this ideally would be finished already), I begin to toss around the idea of selling some handmade clothing on Etsy. Maybe I'll make some more tunics. I've got a ton of fabric busting out of chests in my sewing room. But! Would anyone even buy them? Is it worth the 20c listing fee? I just had a few items expire, and since no one buys my stuff anyway, I'm hesitant to re-list. I may just tack all of my stuff to a blanket and hawk my wares on the street. What are the fines for that sort of thing?

Richard McGuire

I first experienced (that I am aware of) Richard McGuire's work in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, a literary journal of the comic persuasion. I really with I could share with you the comic of McGuire's included in #13, as it is brilliant. His clean, stylized narratives only contain type in order to describe sound. His use of scale adds dimension, as well as visual interest and movement.

His website is pretty skeletal, so perhaps you should try to get your hands on a copy of this 2004 journal, which at this point is owned by the library and is selling from $4 on Amazon. That it was edited by Chris Ware will come as a surprise to no one.

Richard McGuire also works in animation. Never before have I felt so inspired.

Peur du Noir from Richard McGuire on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Do *you* have any crystals?"

Whilst subbing today I got into a conversation with a rather heavy-set and socially awkward boy. The conversation began with the boy complimenting my ring. What kind of stone is it? he asks. I told him that it was sea glass, and he began to describe to me all of the crystals that he owns. He held his hand about shoulder height. "And one this big..."

I asked him if he just liked collecting them, knowing that this wasn't the case. He told me that crystals have a spiritual significance to him.

I asked him if he had ever heard of Devendra Banhart. He said he thought so. I told him about the crystal budget.

Not surprisingly, this boy is big into fantasy, 'dragons and all that.' He told me that he is currently in the process of writing ten books. He told me that his mother got him into all of it, that she is also a writer, but she likes fantasy that includes vampires. This apparently is too much for him. When asked about Twilight (which I have not seen the end of), he made a disgusted face, told me that he had seen it, and that his mother watches it "forty times a day."

Totally possible.

This boy tells me that he bakes bread, crochets, works on cars....he goes on and on about all of the things I could wish a person would do.

I should mention that he asked me what I do for a pastime, and I told him I like to make things.

This whole exchange was starting to have the awkward-first-date vibe, you know, the date I would totally go on with an unattractive socially awkward boy 7 years my junior. Then came the clincher.
He started telling me about all of the things he has learned from his mother, skills mostly. Then, he started mentioning the activities he does with his father, skills he learns from his father. It was starting to seem that he had great respect for the man. He started rattling off the hats that his father wears: "...yea, he's a plumber, a mechanic, an all around handyman, an adulterer..."

I beg your pardon?

In other news, I accidentally shot a roll of slide film. This isn't really a big deal, but it freaked out the CVS photolab attendant after the film was processed. Until this point, neither he nor I realized that the film wasn't standard C-41. Woops.

While I was waiting for this to happen, I sat in a chair near the doorway reading a book. I believe these chairs are for people waiting for their prescriptions. A man in his late fifties with a hard face, no eyebrows, and a winter (hobo?) hat came in, hit me on the knee and said (in a thick accent): "I hope you no read dirty books!"
I beg your pardon?
"I hope you no read dirty books, I say"

I screwed my face up into the best disgusted look I could muster. He started stammering about being "only kidding."

So I did what any self respecting person would do. I scolded him as though he were a middle school student who honestly didn't know any better.

...."That's really inappropriate. You don't even know me. You should not joke with strangers that way."

Kids always love to say that they are kidding when they get in trouble for something that they do. You can't be retroactively kidding. It doesn't work that way.

Also not possible: to be kidding about a physical action.

Don't you wish you had an extra $150 dollars lying around? I know I do.


Don't tell me you don't know about Marcel Duchamp.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dry Soda

Dry just seemed like a cute name, but the reality is, Dry implies Not Sweet.
This soda is not sweet, but it is sweetened. The packaging is really beautiful, but the flavor didn't win me over. Lemongrass seemed interesting, but I'm a beverage wuss and really wanted sweetness. It was certainly bubbly, and tasted a bit like one drop of flavoring in a glass of spring water (actual spring water, the bubbly, mineral-y stuff I grew up....disliking). The Co-Op also has kumquat and rhubarb. I like to try things that are exotically flavored, but I can imaging that my experience with these other two will be pretty much the same, just a little more acidic.

I suppose it is like my disinterest in beer. I could finish a bottle eventually, but I don't enjoy the flavor at all so it is really wasted on me.

In conclusion: I won't buy another bottle of DRY soda, but that doesn't mean you wouldn't like it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Some thoughts about Tech Decks


It's not so bad being trendy...

Everyone who looks like me is my friend.

I tried to explain art school to a student who asked why I always "dress so exotic." My attempt failed, I think.

This morning students in the class I was subbing for were instructed to find a news article, a current event. Instead of looking in the newspaper like we did back in the day, I was to bring these students to the library to use the computers. One student, reading an article in which "Six Gay Men" were killed, pondered why this was mentioned, and began to engage other students in a discussion about homophobia. He expressed that he would not be friends with a gay male, and asked a female student if she would befriend a gay female. I wanted to engage him by asking him if he refuses to be friends with females that he is not romantically interested in, but the other teacher (TA? Remedial Help?) made him drop it. Not long later, she redirected another girl who was leafing through a dictionary to go on This woman and I are inherently opposite in our educational philosophies. C'est la vie.

Second to last period of the day I had a duty in what is known as "short term ISS", which apparently means 1 period. There were no instructions, and there were no students in the room when I showed up.

Slowly, monitors showed up with students and instructions. Apparently, this is where they stick kids waiting to speak to their principal. I had been working on my rug the whole class. More monitors with more students, students whose names I knew. One of these is a small boy with a name in which a "shh" sound is spelled C-H. This boy seems to strive to be a pain in my neck. He asks me if I'm going to put said rug in my house. When I say "I beg your pardon?" because I didn't quite hear him, he says nevermind in such a way that I am aware he was just picking on me. He started asking me about my attire. "Like, who else would even wear that shirt?" he jabs. "No one," I reply "because I made it last night. No one else could possibly own this."

He tells me I don't match, and I try explaining to him that I don't care, it doesn't matter to me, I'm not trying to impress 7th and 8th grade students. I don't subscribe to the [Student's Full Name] School of Fashion. Said student was wearing a white T Shirt and Jeans. BORING. Also, C-H makes the sound chuh, like choo-choo. You can't say anything. (Not that I told him that) Finally I did tell him, "Well, I like it," which was conclusive enough for him, as he shouted "OH NO! DON'T EVEN SAY THAT!"

It is easy for me to not fight with students when I can quickly recognize it as such, but the discussions that lead to fighting.....I've got to work on.

So, yea, I made this tunic last night...

It was super easy, and right now, I'm super into tunics. The trim on this tunic is from a tshirt I cut up to use in my rug. I otherwise discard the hems, cuffs, and collars because they are too thick to use in cutting threading and knotting. However, like the native americans, I like to use every bit of a thing.

And you know what that sack of bananas means...

or do you need another hint?

Therefore, you should really come learn to embroider tomorrow. Thanks.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Comic Con: Worth $3?

I'm not sure.

Young Life

I'm planning my camp schedule for a private school I used to teach Spanish at. They've asked me to lead their April break camp, which I really appreciate, because at this point, trying to pay my bills and save for my road trip, I can't afford to take another non-paid (forced) vacation.

When I asked what sort of structure or schedule I should have for the day, the director mentioned 1 cooking and two arts/crafts activities a day. She gave me a rundown of a typical schedule from the time they arrive (7:30) until the time everyone goes home (5:45), and in it were two different sections of recess. Feeling that some of this time should probably be more structured, I started trying to remember all of the mixers and skits we used to do in Young Life, both when I attended as a high school student, and when I served as a leader. I found this website, along with a document filled with great things. Reading through, I really started to miss it. Just the little things, and then on to the bigger picture.

I should go back and be a leader again. Someday. Not necessarily someday soon.

The Rain in Spain

What do you get when you place 5 beautiful talented musical people in one band?

Amazingness. At least, I think so. The Rain in Spain played their second show last night at the Muddy Cup in Albany. This debuted two new members, which includes two new vocalists, a beautiful compliment to Caroline's beautiful voice.
I could tell you all my favorite musicians that The Rain in Spain sounds like, but why don't I just let you listen for yourself?

I apologize for the poor sound quality.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Letter of Recommendation

I was subbing the other day and I noted to a few people that the kids seemed especially argumentative that day. I'm not sure what it was. It started first period, when one student, at the end of class, asked me to make sure to give this note directly to her teacher. "Why don't you hand deliver it? That way, you'll be sure it makes its way directly to her"

She would have none of that. We all know she just wanted me to read it. After all, who delivers a demerit against themselves? What about the fifth amendment? So, I pocketed it to scan and post on the internet and point out how lame she is.

Speaking of amendments.....though I've been working on not arguing with students, they've gotten me on this one bit.

When I ask them to stop talking, more and more they claim the right to "free speech".

I know that it does not give you the right to run your mouth in the middle of my class, but more of the right to express yourself without censorship. But how, exactly, is that? Isn't it some part of something that students are supposed to follow school rules to enable education for all? Thoughts?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A few random thoughts.

I have at least one friend who is on his way to becoming a movie star. I'm excited for him and the little Granny-Smith-Fourth-Grade-Play part of me is a bit jealous and a bit kicking myself for not attempting to be an extra. It could have been fun.

I've finally got my house to the point where I could have guests. So you are invited over. I don't know what came over me. Perhaps it was the longer daylight hours, maybe it had something to do with not being behind on my grad school work. Either way, I cleaned places that have been cluttered since I moved in. And it feels good.

I have shared my working spaces in other places, but incase you are interested, both small rooms of my apartment are dedicated to making art or working, studios if you will. Since they are once again work-in-able, I've taken some shots. Here is where I make my arts at:

Sewing / Drawing / Cutting / Computing Room

Print Room.