A Brief Recap

...So here are some pictures of previously described events... ...eat your heart out, Batman! (Um, er, we already did.)

L to R: Kali, Amy and I find that frisbees make spiffy hats, my self portrait at the UNT freshman orientation fair, and my gorgeous two-dozen yellow (birthday) roses from my thoughtful & affectionate husband!

The DFW Fan Force Star Wars Game Party, featuring Alex, Helen, Jon, Dianne, and Dennis.


Birthday Girl

So... it's my birthday. Yippee, and stuff!

So far, it's been a quiet day, though better than not--Alex and I spent a longish morning goofing about before getting around to work--he driving to Richardson, I actually working from home for the first time in awhile. Before he left, Alex gave me the second of my nifty birthday shirts this year--this following the past two years of nifty-shirt tradition that put Last Unicorn, Oscar the Grouch, the Two Towers and the Matrix at the heart of my wardrobe--the first, this year, being the incredibly apt "I'm blogging this" shirt from ThinkGeek. The second shirt reads:

Roses are #FF0000
Violets are #0000FF
All my base
Are belong to you

Awww... humorous and yet sentimential, in a geeky sort of way (for those unknowing of the "all your base are belong to us" joke: become enlightened). I finished (sort of) my cataloging homework that had been plauging me--trust me, you don't know befuddlement of historic proportions until you've attempted to learn the secret ways of Reserved Cutter Numbers--and proceeded to answer numerous questions from lost students seeking wisdom regarding online courses at UNT. Ah, some days I really like my work.

So far, I've had four birthday calls--my husband, my mother-in-law, my mom, and my dad, in that order (and not forgetting my three-year-old nephew as well). It's been a fairly relaxing day, even though there is a huge work project that I'm not quite sure can be easily finished in the remaining week or so that I have--but it's my birthday, I'm in a positive sort of "what the heck good does it do to worry myself into a frazzle over it, anyway?" mood.

I'm quite looking forward to this evening. We're having the 'gang' over--Amy, Jaime, Kali, and Joel--for some games and some dandy shish-ka-bobs a la Alex. We'd been quite social last week--some frisbee golf, some fishing said frisbees out of creek, some movies--and I have some great pics on my phone, but alas, I have still not found the knack or removing the phone cover to get to the memory card--my fingernails are a little long for detail work--and so, they will have to wait until Alex is home. I also included a few amusing self portraits I took yesterday, while I babysat the CDL booth at a UNT freshman orientation fair.

This is how this event goes: I dress professionally and try not to sweat too much on the way over. Karl and/or Jake is roped into getting all the booth equipment for me. Then I proceed to stand in front of it for two hours while freshmen drag their parents by as fast as possible. See, the thing is that their parents, like most mature adults, don't get the point of the event, which is to stop at as few booths as possible, even those that have giveaways or free food. I think there's some point system, like golf, where the freshman with the least points--i.e., the fewest booths visited--gets some kind of Campus Coolness Award to sit on top of his gaming console of choice.

When the poor kid does fail, as sometimes happens, the parents tend to glance at the booth from afar--just enough so that to greet them cheerfully I'd have to shout, and that's somehow less than inviting--and this is how that goes:

The mom looks back and forth at the signs with the UNTeCampus logo and the old wordy-yet-vague slogan, "Not just teaching students... reaching students." After a few minutes reading the same signs repeatedly, she says over her shoulder to her freshman child--who is looking shamefacedly at the floor--"Oh, that's the website where I check up on how you're doing in all your courses."

Not that there is anything remotely close to this that would indicate such a service to her. In fact, I put up less signs this time and prominently situated the "web-based courses" sign precisely to avoid such conclusion.

Meanwhile the dad--both parents being completely oblivious to each other's interpretation of the booth--reads all of the signs in succession, once, and then either immediately says, "Oh, online courses," or strides up to me and says confidently, "So what is this booth about, anyway?"

...All of which, at the last fair, led me to suggest to my superiors that maybe our current slogan wasn't cutting it in the "communication of ideas" department. We spent a meeting last week coming up with much clearer ones, and our newer slogan is, in my opinion, much catchier, pithier, and doggone it, it makes more sense: "bringing education closer to home." Which will be accompanied by a nifty updated logo and some illustrative graphics.

So, then, that was my two hours of the fair. That, and a mild flirtation from two entering freshmen that caused a near-birthday surrealist not-quite-panic. I realized, as the last kid walked off, that although we looked quite similar in age, and he thought I was maybe a junior at most, I was in fact quite likely a decade older than him (shameful, I've spent a whole decade in college managing to avoid being a contributing member of society). Ack, to realize the day before your birthday that kids that you still reasonably think of as your peers are, in fact, so much younger than you that they were, in fact, born after Back to the Future was released in theaters--and, most likely, on VHS--heaven forbid Beta! Oh my gosh, they weren't even teenagers when Episode I came out--Aaagh, is that a heart seizure I feel coming on? Get my phone, would you dearie; I have Medicare on speed-dial.

Heh, heh, just kidding. I'm not sooo worried about age on my birthday--after all, I did have that Batman birthday cake last week--but the presence of peers with children old enough to talk is getting unsettling. I think I need to go eat some graham crackers, or read a comic, or go to Chuck E. Cheese's or something, to confirm my non-geezer-status.

Man, I am waaay too garrolous lately. I apologize; my birthday resolution--yes, there IS such a thing!--is to make more frequent yet pithier posts. Adieu.


Superpower of Choice

I could have easily called this "Invisiblity vs. Flying," but thought this was a more straightforward title.

This week, I've been listening to This American Life during my transcription work at the Digital Projects Lab. Yesterday, I listened to an episode titled "Superpowers." The host, John Hodgman, asked a bunch of random people which superpower they would choose, if they could have just one--either invisibility or flight. The answers were funny and interesting, and brought up an old question I'd discussed with a few of my friends in those amazingly philosophical discussions you tend to get into at 3am your junior year in college (discussions that a lot of adults I know call "silly" instead of "philosophical," but that's just semantics).

So, since I know you're all just dying for my choice, because you actually think reading a blog about my silly life is worthwhile...

I would choose flight, no question. On the show, the host said that most of the time, people debated for awhile between the two and had a hard time choosing--not me. Flight--instally, don't even blink. I mean, to me, unless you want to a) shoplift or b) spy on other people's conversations, there's not a lot that you can do by being invisible. But to be able to fly--think of what you could do! If you were simply bored one afternoon, you could just fly around, for fun. If you wanted to visit your Grandma in Kansas City, you could just get there, no matter where you were at the moment. You could amaze your friends, astound your relatives, and make the evening news on a regular basis.

A lot of people on the show seemed disappointed that other abilities didn't go with it--for instance, super strength. And they seemed to go for the practicality of it in daily life--no more taking the bus to work, no more wondering what the coworkers talked about when you were gone. I think that to fly would be something extraordinary, beyond shortening your daily commute. It's a super power, for heaven's sake, show some imagination!

I called Alex this afternoon to ask him his choice--a cruel thing, since Alex has an aversion to picking "favorites" of anything besides baseball teams--and we ended up talking a lot about invisibility. Alex said he didn't know what he'd pick now, but that as a kid, he would have chosen invisibility. So I told him how I didn't really understand the appeal--he cited how as a kid, "sneaking around" in general seemed fun, which I have to agree was a big kid-time goal--and we instead got sidetracked into a discussion about the limitations of invisibility. For instance, what rules is your invisibility bound by?

In the show, John Hodgman limited the invisibility to yourself and whatever you were wearing, but not objects that you merely touched. We discussed if this seemed logical--if you eminated the invisibility from your skin, were items in contact with your skin only invisible if they touched a certain percentage (for instance, clothing touches you 100%, so it becomes invisible; your purse touches you 10%, and is therefore not invisible)--or would only portions of items you held become invisible? And the old discussion we've had before--if everything you touched became wholly invisible, as it's been explained in numerous TV shows and cartoons--yes, Batman Animated Series Season 1, I'm talking about you--doesn't it logically follow that the floor, or at least the portion of the floor touching your feet, would become invisible? What if you wore shoes? Where does the invisibility power end?

Related to this, the power of flight was also limited, to a certain speed, within Earth's atmosphere, and you could only take someone with you if you were physically capable of holding them. Which led Alex to ask me if I would still want to fly if I could only float around slowly, like a hot air balloon. To which I repy a resounding "YES!" --any kind of flight at all, I believe, would be incredibly fun. Plus, it'd be practical, like a parachute, if you fell from a great height. I could finally jump the railing at the mall and slowly float to the ground, my pathological fear of throwing myself off of heights (not really a fear of heights themselves) permanently aleviated.

So, all of this stirred an idea in the back of my head--one of those ideas that sounds really fun and then you realize it might involve time and work and hey, isn't this all something fun for your spare time? I was thinking maybe I could take short videos--not high quality, maybe even from my phone, to capture a more candid feel--of friends telling which power they'd choose and why. I'm interested, and it seems like something that would be fun to post on a website, and just peruse what your friends' opinions are. So, since some of you reading this blog are some of the people I'd bug to be a part of the project--are you interested? Is it worth me spending 10-20 more minutes a week on something other than school, work, or making dinner?

And feel free to post lengthy, conflicted arguments about invisibility versus flight as a comment. In fact, do so, now--I command you!

I've had a lot of comic-related themes lately--I guess it's that summer-movie comic theme dominating my mind. That, and the fact that everytime I walk into Walmart, I see another awesome Batman shirt I want to buy.


Technicolor Dream Comix

Currently Reading

Understanding Comics
By Scott McCloud

Actually, I just finished this book today. It was really, really interesting--a combination of art history, philosophy, the origins of the written language, a look at western and eastern culture, printing processes, the role of expressive line and color... I could go on and on. My favorite, however, was its exploration of the amazing ways that comic creators can use the "gutter," the blank space between panels, to cause the reader's imagination to fill in "invisible" action--called closure. Very kewl.

The book's interesting take on the combination of images and text to communicate ideas reminded me a lot of another interesting book, one that my Dad gave me for Christmas several years back:

Envisioning Information
By Edward Tufte

If you are a visual person at all or interested in the visual communication of ideas, check these books out!

(Note: click on the titles in bolded green to find links with more information about each book.)


Sound in Space

Just had to post this Serenity-related gem...

"When quizzed about the 'sound in space' argument, the always witty [Joss] Whedon responded: "'There will be no sound in the blackness of space. On the edge of space, there will be some sound... and on the planets there will be lots of talking.'"

Thanks to ComingSoon.net for another great article!

Hot Stuff

Today was a very different day! First, I was up until 3:30 am working on a library school assignment (one that I am ignoring for the amount of time it takes to write this post) and trying to get rid of both a sinus headache and the caffeine buzz obtained in an effort to (rid) said headache.

Then, I got up bright and early at 8am to shower, style my hair--gasp!--then left a sleepy Alex in our bed and drove over to Joel & Kali's place. We spent a funfun day taking photographs. That is, Joel took them with both 35mm and digital cameras, and Kali and I alternately posed and held up foamcore boards and a car sunshield to bounce the light onto each other's faces. We took the photos in the McKinney square area, which is really pretty and has lots of unexpectedly beautiful corners.

Anyway, it was good company and good fun, and I am glad they asked me to tag along. I now have a slight sunburn on my shoulders and a high-heel-produced blister on either heel to show for it, but it was worth it. We started out with a cloudy sky and cool morning, and ended up with a bright, sunny, and blazingly hot afternoon!

I came back to pick up Alex in the afternoon, and we drove over to his parent's house for my family (early) birthday bash. The most amusing, yet cool-in-an-extremely-geeky-way part? I'm a (soon-to-be) twenty-seven-year-old girl who had a Batman-themed birthday party. :-) I had a Batman cake, banner, balloon, candle, napkins, and plates, and I also received the Batman Animated Series Season 2 DVD set (DUUUUUDE!) and the Batman Begins movie art book (again, duuuude!). I particularly liked the fact that the Batman cake frosting utilized two "likes" of mine--the yellow moon background was lemon frosting (it's traditional for me to have a lemon cake my on birthday), and the Batman-ish parts were all daaaaark chooooocolate (DUUUUDE!). We also had mint chocolate chip ice cream, and lots of family laughter at the two smallish nephews (13 months old and 3 years old).

Hopefully, I should be able to add photos of at least one of these events later in the week. I'll post at least one model-ish pose of me, once edited by the talented and gracious team of Joel & Kali. :-)

Oh, AND I got Scott McCloud's book, Understanding Comics, which is all ABOUT comics as an art form, and IS written in comic form itself--awesome! (That distinction between ABOUT and IS will get grins only from any fellow SLIS 5210 class members, I think, working hard on their cataloging homework. Go, library nerds!) Anyway, this book was high on my wishlist after I took SLIS 5223, a course on metadata, where we had to create a final project that was a report on creating metadata for a specific collection. I picked sequential art, specifically a fictitious collection of comics/animation/etc. that I pretended was housed at the San Francisco Cartoon Art Museum (my second librarian dream job, after the Metropolitan Museum of Art and before the Library of Congress). So I'm planning on reading this book, then launching myself into a few Batman graphic novels to begin my "serious" comic-reading career--er, hobby. I've always been into comics from the animation side, but I think it's high time I see what has been and can be done with the static page.

Starr's List of Alternate Careers, version 3.1

1. Graphic Novel Artist/Writer (...that's an inker, not a tracer...)
2. Children's Book Illustrator
3. Tango Instructor
4. Italian Shoe Designer (for this I would have to have an Alternate Nationality, as well)
5. Nursery Owner (plants, not babies)

Banky: "I just want you to know that I respect your work as an artist. I'm something of an artist myself. I... I was the inker on the comic book."
Chaka Luther King: "Yo, man, you a tracer, okay? Nobody else got the heart to tell you. You trace. You go around the lines. You are a tracer, okay? You think Fat Albert had a tracer? No! Bill Cosby did the whole thing with a roller, and it was excellent!"
--Chasing Amy
(in truth, Mallrats is by far my favorite Kevin Smith movie, but you just can't beat this quote)


C'est Finis!

Alex and I finally took the finished photographs of the undersea nursery mural! Here I am next to the whale for scale… (I’m standing in the corner of the room. Can you tell that the whale wraps around the corner? Yippee for forced perspective!)

Over the next few weeks, I will try to edit the photos and Alex will then get them uploaded to Snazzy D├ęcor so you can see the complete room. It was really nice that for once, my husband got to see one of my completed works in person! It’s odd to have painted these big things that most people I know can only see in photographs.

Library Student Vices

All hail the annual Plano Friends of the Library Booksale, going on this Friday and Saturday. We went to the earlybird special last night, and ended up with ten--count 'em--boxes of books. Hardbacks are $1.50, I think paperbacks are $.75, and children's book are $1 for a fistfull.

Our Spoils...

We even topped last year, when I think we got around eighty hardbacks (something like six boxes). This year, three of the boxes were two different encyclopedia sets, and one was paperbacks.

It's always fun and interesting--you find odd books, popular books, beat-up books, old books, and books that you loved in childhood and had forgotten about.

This year, I found two Reader's Encyclopedias (I bought one last year and it proved imminently valuable for reading Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series), which is exactly what I wanted to find, The Sunflower Garden--a book that I read as a kid and had completely forgotten about, The Story of Ping--a book about a bad Chinese duck who gets spanked for being last back on the boat that I hated as a kid but have been wanting to read again, and a hardback copy of George and Martha--a book about two rich hippos who are friends, which is a childhood favorite of Alex's.

There were also, inevitably, a few we bought because of cool titles or interesting dust jackets--including this intruigingly bizarre-looking science fiction novel from 1957, Space Cat Meets Mars:

This reminds me; if you have ever wanted to find a children's book for which you don't know the title or author, check out Loganberry Books. This website features Stump the Bookseller, a directory of children's book stories that you can search by theme, character, etc. to find the title--or search by title if you don't know an author. And if you don't find your book, you can submit it to Stump the Bookseller for $2, and either the bookstore owner or one of hundreds of online readers may find the answer for you!


War of the Worlds

I completely forgot to mention that we went to see War of the Worlds on Saturday!

Which perhaps gives you a clue as to my thoughts on that movie...

The first half was good. Not great, because there were too many distracting illogicalities to be able to fully focus on the story, but still very good. The acting was good, and my favorite aspect was how convincing the human reactions to such a situation were--rioting crowds, the disbelief, what people in desperate circumstances might come to. I really, really liked this.

But shortly after a dramatic EMP blast supposedly leaves nothing electronic working, people are using digital cameras, camcorders, and somehow simply replacing one part in a mini-van enables the rest of the computer circuitry in it to work. (This, even though Tom Cruise had a perfectly nice, beautiful vintage Mustang down the block that could have worked with only minimal part replacements.)

(slight spoiler about alien appearance)
Also, I thought the spaceships were nicely done and a nice retro-alien look, but the aliens themselves looked like friendlier versions of the ID4 aliens. I found myself sympathizing with them; out of their ship, they didn't seem so bloodthirsty. (Which brings up a whole "What?" issue about the red branching stuff, but I won't get into that.)

Then enter crazy Tim Robbins and the extra-lengthy pointless segment in his basement. It's long, tedious, and needless, leaving me wanting to shout at them, "helloooo, why aren't you running anymore?"

The end was abrupt, if mostly true to the book, and there were a number of vaguely unsatisfying aspects to that ending.

In Brief:
acting: good
effects: great
ending: unsatisfactory
story: strong first half, slow second half

A decent summer movie, but I'm glad I didn't spend $8.50 on it at the nice theater.


The Great Outdoors

Saturday, we spent the evening playing frisbee golf at a local park--OUTSIDE, I love to be outside!!!--with six of our friends. (See pal Kali's take on it...) I WON with the most points--oh wait, it's golf; that means that Alex actually won. :-) Anyway, it was great fun and I plan on doing it more often--if nothing else, it's an excuse to be outside, with friends, and no chance at ALL to be on a computer being productive with work or schoolwork. Ah, escape!

For evidence of how cool my rockin' new phone is, check out the pix I took while we golfed--er, frisbee-ed--um, what verb do you use in this case?

Hammy, Hammy Amy... huh, I wonder if she gets that from me?

Jaime's Triumph!

Afterward, we all went out to CiCi's for pizza--and really funny/dumb home videos. Then Alex and I bought a gallon of Bluebell cookies and cream and ate it while watching more episodes of Cowboy Bebop with the guys. Ah, good times.

My birthday is approaching, although right now I am more looking forward to the weekend following it because Alex and I will be in Abilene for a HSU BYA (Board of Young Associates) meeting. We get to see Hardin-Simmons friends and raid the bookstore for something on sale--yippee!

That reminds me, I just ordered Alex's HSU Alumni Ring--shhh, don't tell. :-) I'm very excited; now we'll have matching wedding rings and matching college rings--awwww. I've wanted to buy it for him for a long time, with my own money, so it was a special present, and finally I made enough from a mural job that I can. I really want him to have this special piece of memorabilia from our college years to remember what great times we have and what great friends we still have from that school--and as a side bonus, it will be really nice to have a ring in our family large enough to read the words printed on it!!! ;-)

The guys are now in process of cleaning up all the fireworks debris, and Jared and Justin are packing for home. Sigh. I had to drive Bryce to the airport Wednesday evening, and James left on Monday. It's always slightly depressing, after having had over a week of company, and then everyone leaves, leaving the house strangely quiet. Yet another reason to break out the board games and/or frisbees and invite people over for fun! :-)

...And that's it for another fun-filled installment of Starr's Life. Tune in next week for more daring-do, thrills and chills, and all-out whacky fun from the grad student who will never grow up!


Dream a Little Dream...

I'm at work, and let me tell you, it's pretty darn quiet in the library.

That may seem like a really obvious statement, but let me tell you why the third floor--and actually, much of the UNT campus--is deserted.

1) it's 3pm on a Friday
2) it's the week between the end of Summer I and that start of Summer II courses
3) it's the week of July 4th, aka National Vacation Week

Add all of that to my sinus-medication-induzed haze, and I'm getting pretty sleepy here. And since transcribing letters in a language that you are not particularly familiar with is a fairly abstract process, as you can't really read the letter content, I have very little focus. Sigh.

I am still struggling against the near-constant urge to paint and write (creatively), since I have zero free time for such creative pursuits at the moment. I'm also turning my thoughts more toward my employment situation for Fall 2005 and Spring 2006, to figure out what my internship/practicum requirement for Library Science will consist of.

...And I think about sleep alot. :-) I can remember those days before January 15th, when six hours a night was a small amount of sleep, not a lot. I keep wondering if pushing myself will really be worth it to graduate in May, and then I remember--I'll finally be done.

So in the meantime, whenever I get a chance to sleep, I'll dream of... sleep. :-)


ID4 (Sorry, No Will Smith)

Yes, yes, I've been neglecting the blog. Since it is the week of July 4, we had our usual, semi-annual huge party on the 3rd, and since then (actually before then as well), we've had company staying at our house, and Alex is taking vacation time. Which means, since I cannot currently take any vacation time, that I am trying to work my full-time hours, cram in some schoolwork, and still spend a few hours a day having fun with Husband & Co. It makes for little sleep--but it's a nice change from the usual way of things.

The party was, as usual, Whopping Great Fun. The fireworks show was our best organized ever, and one of our most impressive to date. (I say "our" as if I have anything to do with the process besides filing fireworks receipts and making large meals for four-five men.) Alex, James, Jared, Justin, and Bryce were the main pyrotechnic wizards arranging the show--and risking life and limb in the front row, as these photos of Alex and Jared show... (Btw, in the photo below, there was no outdoor lighting--that was entirely brilliantly lit by a mortar going off!)

We took our traditional group photo, enclosed below for your viewing pleasure... (Missing four latecomers, but that's the majority of the group. And any partygoers reading this; I can burn CDs/DVDs of photor for this and other parties, if you email me and request nicely.)

We enjoyed many good rounds of Fling-N-Ring, both during and days after the party--thanks Seth for introducing us to this awesome game! (Jared's winding up as the guys look on...)

We also played Twister--ah, harking back to the good old, flexible days of youth--Scattergories, Taboo, volleyball, and a game called Citadels that I want Brandon or Adam to bring over later and show me how to play. :-)

Thanks to everyone who came, brought and/or ate food, played games, "ooo-ed" at fireworks, and in general contributed to the spirit of fun! (Special thanks to Andrew for the geeky-cool use of dry ice in the drink coolers and for bringing those awesomely cool glow-in-the-dark bracelets!)

Andrew, Mad Scientist Extraordinaire...

Alien Boy, Glowing Logan!