Today, I woke up and asked Alexa, my Echo Dot, what time it was and went back to sleep. I woke back up around 10am, confused as to why I was so tired, and how I had managed to sleep so late (A lot of sunlight comes through my windows, and I live next to an elementary school so if I don't wake up to my room being bright as day, I usually wake up to the first couple bells.). Then, I remembered I had been up past 4am working on this.
Need design options? I'll give you options.
Now, to find where I can get a protein shake near DTLA for less than $12.
World's Most Off & On Tofu Maker here.
SO Y'ALL, first off, I had seriously sworn off of figs when I found out they were pollinated by fig wasps who die and disintegrate within the fruit. Like, so gross! I'm so severely bugaphobic that my fear of figs and honey has nothing to do with being vegetarian. At the same time, I was really questioning why so many vegan mags and bloggers choose to eat the fruit! I realize that we unconsciously consume millions of microscopic critters in a lifetime but, why consciously eat something a bug crawled into and died in? Blarf. Sorry, I just gagged a little.
You're not fooling me, Thrive Magazine! I know what those figs contain!
Don't know what I'm talking about? Well, here are a couple of helpful vids.
However, I've been needing to get back into my tofu-making moves, and something I'd long experienced trouble with is getting the soy milk to properly coagulate and curdle. It's such a frustrating hit or miss! I've had the best luck with magnesium chloride and the worst with magnesium sulfate. Vinegar and citric acid are supposed to also be able to be used but, they haven't done much for me.
Meanwhile, a chef once told me about an accident he had with fig leaves turning a sauce practically into butter. While researching rennet, the enzymes from the stomach linings of cows used in cheesemaking, I was once again reminded of this. Fig leaves are a known coagulant and can be used in place of chymosin, the main enzyme in rennet.
There is a problem with the use of chemical pesticides in agriculture, and it is due to the fact that pesticides don’t just attack the nervous systems of insects but, the nervous systems of humans and other creatures as well. In an effort to kill and deter pests from ruining crops and to create higher profits for farmers who can often lose up to half or more of their crops each year, these chemical poisons have seen widespread use since the 1940s, much to the detriment of public health. Pesticides have caused respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, strokes[¹] and more but, today, chemists are now searching for safer answers in nature that might more targetedly affect insects and pests only.
Some such naturally-occurring substances include Dihydrorotenone (C₂₃H₂₄O₆, a natural pesticide used on organic produce)[²], Beauveria bassiana (a fungus used to control bedbugs and mosquitoes), Isaria fumosorosea (a fungus used to control moths, aphids and mites), Steinernema feltiae (parasitic nematodes)[⁴] and Capsaicin (C18H27NO3)[⁵]. However, even though these are naturally-occurring, this does not mean they are entirely harm-free. Dihydrorotenone, for instance, while 5 to 8 times safer and less lethal than Rotenone, is still known to cause apoptosis, or cell death, in human plasma by causing stress to the endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondrial dysfunction and even Parkinson’s Disease in mice subjected to long-term exposure.[²] It is possible then, that some of these natural biopesticides that are supposedly "better" than their chemical counterparts could one day go out of use as well.
Meanwhile, on the not so other end of the spectrum, are the chemical pesticides that were so bad they’ve been banned for life. These include Toxaphene (C10H10Cl8), a chemical meant to control insects affecting cotton crops that ended up causing liver, kidney and nervous system damage along with thyroid cancer[³], Aldrin (C₁₂H₈Cl₆, an organochlorine insecticide and confirmed animal carcinogen with unknown relevance to humans), Endosulfan (C9H6Cl6O3S, a polychlorinated insecticide found to be extremely toxic to fish[⁸]), Endrin (C12H8Cl6O, a pesticide used to control insects, rodents and birds that when swallowed led to convulsions and death within minutes) [⁷,⁹] and, most infamously, DDT (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, C14H9Cl5) whose toxicity was highlighted in the book Silent Spring and was banned by the EPA in 1972. The publicity surrounding DDT’s carcinogenic properties and long-lasting damage caused an uproar in the Sixties and Seventies that forever changed the regulations and legislation concerning pesticides.[⁶]
There is another major issue with harmful chemical pesticides though, and that is them being banned in the United States and other developed countries and instead of them going away entirely, they simply relocate and market even harder to underdeveloped and developing countries where illiteracy rates and poverty are high. Even amongst those possessing a secondary education, attention to safety is shockingly low. In a poll amongst 97 pesticide applicators in Trinidad and Tobago, a whopping 81.4% admitted to rarely reading the application instructions or labels on the chemicals they used.[¹] Between 70 and 90% also reported not using respirators, face guards or safety goggles either.
Clearly, there is still a ways to go with creating safe, easy to use and understand pest deterrents but, with new advances in science every day, we are hopefully getting closer.
[¹] de Verteuil, Priscilla, Isaac, Wendy-Ann P., Legall, George, “Risk Factors for Chronic and Acute Pesticide Poisoning among Waged and Licensed Farm Workers in Rural Trinidad and Tobago”
[²]Journal of Rural & Community Development. 2016, Vol. 11 Issue 2, p89-109. 21p.
Zhang, Jieyu, et al. "The Natural Pesticide Dihydrorotenone Induces Human Plasma Cell Apoptosis by Triggering Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress and Activating P38 Signaling Pathway." Plos ONE, vol. 8, no. 7, July 2013, pp. 1-9. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069911.
[³]Quade, Vicki. "Congress Considers Ban of Hazardous Pesticide." American Bar Association Journal, vol. 68, no. 11, Nov. 1982, p. 1352. EBSCOhost, lsproxy.austincc.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com.lsproxy.austincc.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lgh&AN=4790018&site=ehost-live.
[⁴] Buitenhuis, Rosemarije, et al. "How to Start with a Clean Crop: Biopesticide Dips Reduce Populations of Bemisia Tabaci (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) on Greenhouse Poinsettia Propagative Cuttings." Insects (2075-4450), vol. 7, no. 4, Dec. 2016, pp. 1-13. EBSCOhost, doi:10.3390/insects7040048.
[⁵] Villaverde, Juan José, et al. "Biopesticides from Natural Products: Current Development, Legislative Framework, and Future Trends." Bioresources, vol. 11, no. 2, May 2016, pp. 5618-5640. EBSCOhost, doi:10.15376/biores.11.2.Villaverde.
[⁶] Pérez, Silvia. "Banned: A History of Pesticides and the Science of Toxicology." AMBIX, vol. 63, no. 2, May 2016, pp. 194-195. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/00026980.2016.1227176.
[⁷] Mokwunye, Idongesit U., et al. "Compliance of Agrochemical Marketers with Banned Cocoa Pesticides in Southwest Nigeria." ["USAGLAŠENOST PRODAVACA AGROHEMIKALIJA SA ZABRANJENIM PESTICIDIMA ZA KAKAO U JUGOZAPADNOJ NIGERIJI"]. Arab Universities Journal of Agricultural Sciences, vol. 59, no. 2, July 2014, pp. 161-174. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2298/JAS1402161M.
[⁸] National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID=3224, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/3224 (accessed May 3, 2017).
[⁹] National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID=71312306, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/71312306 (accessed May 3, 2017).
Image source: http://www.beyondpesticides.org/dailynewsblog/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/yard-sign.jpg
With all the recent craze over charcoal peels,
Korean face masks and even acne-zapping light rays,
one thing holds true.
The secret isn't snail poo.
These products might clear out a few nose pores or leave us feeling fresh and hydrated for the hour but, without regulation of diet, hormones and stress, none of these will ever fully cure us of our acne or our obsession with quirky, new beauty trends.
As part of my recent Biochemical studies, I wrote a short research paper on the relationship between dairy consumption and acne production, as well as, a revelation on who the true pimple-provoking perps really are. Please enjoy.
The Role of Dairy in Acne Production
While acne might commonly be considered a simple yet pesterous skin condition tragically affecting teenagers in the throes of puberty, it is more technically considered by experts a skin disease known as acne vulgaris[⁸] and can affect adults as well, with research showing 35% of women in their 30s, a quarter in their 40s, and 15% of those 50 or older battle breakouts due to hormones, stress, medical conditions and diet.[³] The four physical effects of this skin disease are open comedones, closed comedones, papules and pustules affecting the pilosebaceous units which consist of the hair follicle and surrounding sebaceous (sebum-producing) glands.[⁵,⁶] The major question being investigated here today is whether or not dairy could be a major acne-causing culprit in the diet, and, if so, how this relationship transpires.
First, one should understand those four physical effects of acne. Comedones, here, is a word of Latin origin that means “clogged pore” as in, clogged with the bacteria P. acnes[⁸], and is the plural of the word comedo. A closed comedo appears as a tiny raised bump also known as a whitehead ‒ which is actually a bit of a misnomer being that a bump that actually appears white is more likely a pustule (pimple). To further prove this misnomer, an open comedo is a closed comedo that has erupted open causing a blackhead.[⁶] Therefore, if a blackhead is the result of a whitehead and a pustule the result of a papule, then a pustule is not the erupted form of a whitehead. The difference between comedones and papules and pustules is that, comedones are non-inflammatory and contain no liquid whilst papules and pustules are inflammatory and do contain liquid (pus). So, to quickly review, the teeny goosebump-like pores are closed comedones and any black-looking pores are open comedones, and these are merely clogged. Papules and pustules are larger, inflamed bumps that have become infected. Papules contain the liquid pus just below the skin and pustules contain it above. Contrary to popular belief though, greasy food doesn’t clog these pores, rather, spikes in blood sugar do.[³]
Additionally, “several studies have shown a link between dairy products and pimples, perhaps because of the hormones that are present in these foods.”[³] This is because the hormones in cow's milk are intended to help raise strong, healthy calves, not humans, and the growth needs of a cow are quite different from that of a human. Oddly enough, however, the “consumption of low-fat / skim milk, but not full-fat milk, was positively associated with acne”[¹] in experiments, and “no significant difference was found among total dairy intake.”[¹] So, this likely means that the offending ingredient lies within the milk proteins as, without the fat, this and water are all that really remain in low-fat or skim milk. In fact, in Bodo C. Melnik’s paper “Diet in Acne: Further Evidence for the Role of Nutrient Signalling in Acne Pathogenesis” the German researcher states, “The intake of abundant hyperglycemic carbohydrates, and high consumption of milk and dairy protein, predominantly during puberty ‒ a period of high insulin / IGF-1 (insulin growth factor 1) signaling ‒ may overactivate [mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1], which enhances [sebaceous gland cell] growth and [sterol regulatory element binding protein]-mediated sebaceous lipogenesis.”[²,⁴] Which all basically translates into the cells within the glands that produce the skin’s oil going into overgrowth and producing too much sebum.
So, without question, scientists have found links between dairy and increased acne, as well as, a whole host of other problems. The advice of experts from the Nestlé Nutrition Institute is that “both, restriction of milk consumption or generation of less insulinotropic milk will have an enormous impact on the prevention of epidemic western diseases like obesity, diabetes, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and acne.”[²] Therefore, if acne sufferers cut back on dairy, there is a strong chance, given their stress levels are under control and hormones normal, that they could see clearer skin.
However, diet and acne don’t end there. Clearly, carbohydrates have even more influence in causing this hormone / hyperglycemia-induced skin disease but, how is it that milk proteins could raise glucose levels? Proteins becoming carbs? How does that work? Interestingly enough, it is the presence of both carbohydrates and protein in a food that causes this. Lean meat, without batter or sauce, would raise glucose levels only minimally because they contain very little carbohydrate.[⁹] Dairy and legumes, however, are protein-rich yet starchy foods and raise glucose levels considerably, meaning, there’s a chance replacing cow’s milk with soy milk could be just as influential in acne production. The big difference though, is that soy is known to raise estrogen hormone levels while it is the spikes in androgen hormone levels that result in acne during adolescence that soy does not raise.[⁷]
So, in conclusion, dairy plays a factor but, too much testosterone and sweets are the real culprits. The hormones both naturally present and given to cows to force them to grow larger and faster get passed onto humans through dairy consumption, while the sugars in foods cause rises in insulin and IGF-1 leading to hyperglycemia which allows “activated androgen receptor[s] to trigger a chain of metabolic events, which” then leads to the production of excess sebum.[⁸] The positive relationship between dairy consumption and acne is, therefore, confirmed and, despite there being organic options that claim to contain no added hormones, the condition would best be mediated by reducing or eliminating dairy and refined carbohydrates completely and / or consulting with a doctor about stabilizing one’s hormone levels.[⁷]
¹ LaRosa, Caroline L., Quach, Kim A., Koons, Kirsten, Kunselman, Allen R., Zhu, Junjia, Thiboutot, Diane. M., Zaenglein, Andrea L.. “Consumption of dairy in teenagers with and without acne”
² Clemens RA, Hernell O, Michaelsen KF. “Evidence for Acne-Promoting Effects of Milk and Other Insulinotropic Dairy Products”
³ Goldstein, Jennifer. “In The Clear”
⁴ Melnik, Bodo C. “Diet in Acne: Further Evidence for the Role of Nutrient Signalling in Acne Pathogenesis”
⁵ “Pilosebaceous Unit”
PubMed Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0025357/
⁶ Moshell, Alan N.. “Skin Disorders”
⁷ Reactions/American Chemical Society. “What’s The Deal With Acne?”
⁸ Lynn, Darren D., Umari, Tamara, Dunnick, Cory A., Dellavalle, Robert P.. “The epidemiology of acne vulgaris in late adolescence”
PubMed Central Canada. http://pubmedcentralcanada.ca/pmcc/articles/PMC4769025/
⁹ Harris, Nadia. “How Does Protein Affect Blood Sugar in Diabetics?”
A Slam Dunk for Diversity in Tech
Seriously, so proud of our team. We knocked it out of the park. We crossed the finish line like champs. These are all very different sports.
We really did it though. To quote our leader, Natalie Cofield, "We went from an idea to a fully executed and branded program in less than a month."
Urban Creatives Rapid Accelerator and Pitch Competition was created as a joint initiative between Urban Co-Lab and EBONY magazine as a means of promoting diversity in tech during SXSW 2017 in Austin, Texas. EBONY provided the $10,000 prize money and Urban Co-Lab (for whom I do graphic design) orchestrated the entire event.
I had to come up with the name, the website, the ads, all of the graphics and help review submissions. In the end, I got to see a major national publication repost my work and have it Snapchatted, Instagrammed and Facebooked all over the country. Even better, I got to see a very deserving startup win an outstanding $10,000 prize for all their hard work.
I could not be more proud of how the event turned out. It was tough but, we got it done.
For more information, check out these articles on EBONY and visit UrbanCreatives.co
So, I lied. I never came back to write that Kehinde Wiley post, and at this point there doesn't seem to be much use. The point was: It was great. I wept. I felt my blackness appreciated. And everyone should see it.
Also, I got this vegetarian cookbook called "Meatless in Cowtown" at The Modern's gift shop and it has literally the best tortilla soup recipe ever. So buy that too.
Moving right along. I live in Austin now. (Yay!..?) It's been total crap for my allergies and I abhor the traffic with a passion but, I guess it's home now. The nature out here is my favorite, and I'm exploring new restaurants, bars and coffee shops all the time. It doesn't feel permanent just yet, because my career is more important than where I live right now, but, I could see a decent future here if the opportunity arose.
My time at Spindle360 ended at the end of February after two months together, and I moved to Austin proper soon after. (Peace out G-Town). No biggie. We just weren't what each other needed. I was an Industrial Designer while they were a predominantly web-focused design firm that also white-labeled products. Really, they were looking for more Back-end Developers. They only took me on because I had emailed them asking if they would (which was very kind of them). But also meant that my job was mostly creating KeyShot renders and animations of existing designs. Also, the owner of the firm was like, an investor in all of the products they worked with, and we never actually met with clients, only he did? To be honest, I was very confused by the setup. Getting to interact with clients and problem solving are my favorite parts of ID so not having that felt strange.
Also, to be completely honest, Georgetown was an incredibly boring, small town. An attractive, small town but, I felt somewhat isolated and would drive to Austin multiple times per week just to get out. So, while I'm still a bit sad the opportunity wasn't longer lasting, I have to believe it was for the better.
After moving into a super slick pad on South Lamar for the real cheap by subletting from a guy living in Vegas (so legal), I got a couple jobs as a personal assistant. (Très chic!) One was for a millionaire who had just sold his last commercial real estate business and was starting a new one called Core One Commercial, which you can read more about on my LinkedIn, and the other was for a super adorable East Austin couple with a five year old son and — just as of this week! — a newborn daughter. (Congrats y'all!!!) I still currently work for the East Austin couple but, they're basically family friends at this point, and I'd do it for free. Plus, the hours have decreased since the summer, and I'm too distracted to log them regularly into the Google Sheets timesheet I made for myself.
I moved from the place on South Lamar at the end of June because that guy I was subleasing from stopped paying his bills and the leasing office found out he was subleasing it out without their permission. It was a whole hot mess. Craigslist apartments = Never again.
I'm now living in the West Campus neighborhood of Austin, searching for new job opportunities while also enrolling at Austin Community College and looking to expand upon a couple of my highest interests — sustainability in food and material science! Towards the end of my first college career, I discovered just how passionate I am about the planet. I figure these two things combined basically equate to me getting a second degree in Biochemistry so, that's pretty much what I plan on doing. I've realized working in a lab sounds incredibly fun and stimulating. Plus, it has the potential for me to make an even bigger impact than if I were to go the MBA route and end up in some awful Sales position. I mean, I would pontentially take a job like that right now because it probably pays better than being a personal assistant but, I definitely have more holistic goals for the long run. I am very much interested in plant-based everything and would love to work for a vegan meat-alternative food company or even a big chemical company like BASF, creating bioplastics. This past week, I got the amazing chance to see Bill Nye speak at SXSW Eco, for which I had volunteered, and, to quote him, I think my mission now almost more than ever is to, "Dare I say it? Save the world!!!"
More posts and updates coming soon. Stay tuned and keep on spreading that love and positivity.
Hi everyone. I've been wanting to do another art review and upload a few pics from the amazing Kehinde Wiley show that was at The Modern Fort Worth last month but, that'll just have to get postponed a little longer. (Please take my word though that the show is a MUST see.) Back to current projects though, I moved down to Georgetown, Texas just over a month ago and I want to share some completed work now that it's safe to do so. (I'll update this post with even more things once other projects go to market as well.)
First up, the CrossOver desk by NextDesk. I didn't design this product but, I worked on all the renders and animations that went into this video that another coworker, Paul, edited together.
Fun, huh! I get such a kick out of that pointing hand for some reason.
Anyway, that was a cool project and great product for anyone who doesn't want to throw down big bucks on getting a full size electronic desk or replace their current desk. If that's you, the CrossOver is the perfect power adjustable hybrid.
Here are some other renders for NextDesk and EvoDesk too.
Coming soon will be two more products that I've had the opportunity to design completely on my own.
Dressed in a black, knee-length sweater dress, gold necklace and pointed, nude flats, I grab a fresh, pocket-sized notepad from my drawer of office things, stuff it into my little Cole Haan bag and head out of my bedroom. It's a Wednesday, about four o'clock, and while I feel a bit over-dressed for the time and day and curious as to if my mother will comment on my apparel, I'm charged and ready for the evening. After sleeping away most of my day off and only eating a bite of my leftover veggie WhichWich, it was time to get active and accomplish something. I'd dug out my two year planner from between a backpack and suitcase still strewn on the floor from when I moved back to Dallas three and a half weeks ago and sat on my bed flipping past the weeks since that time that I had slacked off and not planned or documented anything. Today was going to be a new day. I'd been hunting for all the current art happenings in the city and, after finding a show at Galleri Urbane of an LA artist who had created a body of work following a trip to Marfa, Texas, I positived that here was where I would start. Seeing as how the exhibit was closing in two days and the gallery in one hour, it was best to be off quickly.
My mother would be my art buddy. With my car dead for the umpteenth time, I'm unable to drive myself until my friend's father can come over to check it out on Saturday. Plus, this means a higher chance of getting her to stop by Cafe Express afterwards for tea and hummus. She quips at me when I enter the kitchen about this place being off I-35 towards Denton. With rush hour traffic we might not make it. Darn, I hadn't though of that. She quickly pours a mug of green tea into a plastic tumbler and I find the lid for her while she finds a straw. I'm happy inside to see that without knowing why I want to go to this show haste is still upon her and she's eager to make it in time for my sake. Within seconds, she slides on her shoes and we're out the door.
Galleri Urbane is in one of those warehouse areas where on first glance you can't tell what any of the buildings are and if they're even occupied, but also note that they're the kind of commercial real estate that's great for gallery space, just terrible for foot traffic. As we pull up, I think of this sad fact and my desire to one day have a combination studio/ storefront and the unlikelihood that anyone without specific knowledge and desire to visit such a place would probably ever come across it. Luckily, there are art lovers like me who are happy enough to trek out to these places. We park in front of one of three tall agave planters and walk up the short steps inside.
At first, no one is there. We walk through the unlocked door to see a guest book and a silent, unpopulated gallery. My mother signs it and I begin to slowly peruse around. And for the moment, it feels special. I like being left alone and trusted with the art like this. It's like the houses on Halloween where the owners are out but they're still sweet enough to leave a bowl of candy by the doorstep and, in return, every child is thankful enough to obey and just take two or three candies. Sometimes good faith can make for good people. Soon, however, I hear footsteps and notice an inch of light below a wall. The shadows of the footsteps appear and the wall surprisingly opens. I had expected the attendant to come around the hallway to my right that opens up behind a desk but, instead, the wall I had just been gazing upon suddenly moved towards me and I had to take a few steps back to avoid it. A man in a sriracha T-shirt appears and heads towards the front door to fumble with some magazines. We say our hellos and each resume our places. We, my mother and me, although moreso me than her, the awkwardly quiet gallery visitors who will very likely not purchase anything, and he, the awkwardly quiet gallery attendant who will sit in restless doubt at his desk, trying to occupy himself while being certain that we will likely not purchase anything. The moment is over and I become unsure of my ability to take notes or photos of the artwork but, I try to remain at ease and take everything in.
David Wilburn is the first artist at which whose work I look. I had come for Andrea Marie Breiling and her Rauschenberg-like combines, but am taken away by Wilburn's simplicity. Chunky, abstract, paper cutouts lay atop the bottom edge of a washy color field that neatly occupies a loosely square portion of a rectangle of muslin. The six or so pieces hang vertically among three walls, all embroidered with a type of blind contour-like geometric gesture that looks more like pencil until you get up close. Then you notice the splotches in the paint or that the muslin isn't on paper but perhaps a fabric backing. Other than the pungent, square-ish color field on each, the pieces are mainly monochromatic. The white paper on light tan muslin on white backing creates this field so flat you'd think they were drawings on paper rather than carefully layered, embroidered paintings. Only the paper cutouts give some hint of layering away as they cast pleasant shadows on the dark grey wall. The wall color was a great choice. The poppy pink, yellow-green and orange squares pair well with the cool grey. It is said that Impressionism is the most popular genre of art, and for what reason? Because the colors are so pretty to the general public. Like Monet's many lily paintings, the colors here are gentle, soft like the fabric they're on. The oddly shaped negative space of each square and gestural thread leaves some unknown thing to be remembered. Perhaps, taking after impressionism in more ways than one.
My mother calls me over to the hallway to see a couple pieces which turn out to not be in a hallway at all but a dead-ended narrow nook where more art resides. She has taken to an acrylic piece by Gail Peter Borden and its clean, resin shellac and a cut paper piece on the back wall. There's no tag to be found for it but I learn later that it's called Interleave and made of paper, wood and Plexiglas by sculptural artist Jessica Drenk who also has a driftwood-like item made of pencils on a podium in the gallery with Wilburn's work. I finally wander over to the far left gallery space to see Andrea's work. After lamenting my iPhone's loud shutter sounds while still not knowing how to mute it, I tuck it back away under a postcard that I pick up. There's nothing against taking photos of the work in galleries but, it's just one of things that, like taking photos of your food in public, makes you feel all touristy, like you'll be judged for not just living in the moment. I, however, am here for the specific purpose of this blog post and visiting a gallery I hadn't been to yet, so I try to remind myself it's high time I get over that shame.
Andrea's work is...brighter than expected. My mother calls it garish and seems to think it is too haphazard. Personally, I feel it is trying too hard to be Rauschenberg, or just Texan in general. Robert Rauschenberg is of course the beloved Texas-born artist famous for his ground-breaking mixed media painting and sculpture "combines" incorporating found objects. Not too long ago, I visited a wonderful show at the Cleveland Museum of Art exhibiting his work alongside Rachel Harrison's and, for better or worse, was hoping for something to the same effect. According to the gallery's description, Andrea's work in the show was created in response to experiences during her residency in Marfa, a tiny Texas town famed for its unusually high art content including two museums dedicated to serving the ideals of Donald Judd. This, however, felt a tad inauthentic. With the knowledge that the artist is LA-based, even with her being from Arizona, it feels like a girl who traveled abroad and returned naively behaving as if she lived there for years. The colors and textures are overwhelming and I find myself looking at her piece with a cowboy hat hanging on a lasso connected to a painting and envisioning her painting the blue brush strokes on the hat and stepping back and wondering what else she can add to make it work. I do think the work that follows this will be even better. If this work was created during a residency, it will be the work that follows, once she has had more time to absorb her takeways that will be all the more successful. I think actually just dunking the hat in paint or scraping away some of the layers of paint beyond the cliched rip or cut into the painting would exhibit a higher level of self-assuredness and intent. For now, I think she's still figuring things out but, I will be eager to see what she comes up with in the future.
Leaving the gallery, I notice a building with the acronym DAG on it, Dallas Auction Gallery. Another place I'll have to come back to, I think to myself. While I hadn't been able to tell what neighborhood we were in on the way there, within a few minutes I realize we are by Oak Lawn. We pass several furniture galleries and carpet stores unique to the Design District and pass Market Center and Turtle Creek before my mother announces she's lost. While the Arts District is a place to appreciate the arts, both performing and visual, the Design District is a place that services them, mainly interior designers, with all their framing, furnishing or upholstery needs. It's a place to buy things and get things done. Businessmen now stand on medians and sidewalks waiting to cross the street and get to their cars. Suddenly, my mother sees a place called Rodeo Goat, exclaims in joy, and whips the car around. While we'd been on the lookout for a Cafe Express she explains she'd heard about this place and written it down. She hadn't been able to find it another time so it was lucky that we happened upon it now. "Sorry Taylor," she says, "maybe they'll have veggie burgers." I brace myself for a dinner made up of side dishes.
We walk through a cold, dimly lit, country music playing restaurant and quickly notice the back patio and take our menus out. Even outside they have fans blasting though. I understand it's Texas, but come on y'all, it's November. There's no need for fans in 60 degree weather. The place is nice though. Somehow we went from being in a city to overlooking a long, green pasture. It's like having a picnic by a bayou. Surprisingly, the menu has lots of substitute options too. Beef patties can be swapped out for turkey, chicken, veggie or quinoa. My mother gets the Sugar Burger and a Tecate beer with lime while I get the Mother Blues with a veggie patty and a salted caramel pretzel milkshake. My mother tells the waitress our order while I step away to answer a phone call then runs to the car to get her blue jean jacket. We joke about who should get the privilege of wearing the jacket as we're both still chilly, and our burgers arrive. Honestly, delicious. We both have to hold back from eating them too quickly. I am exceptionally pleased with the amount of blue cheese on my burger. Usually people like to skimp on that but, this was perfect amount of blue cheese tang with sweet caramelized onions and cool coleslaw crunch. I go back inside to order fries to sop up some of the burger spillage that escaped my bun. The sun slowly sets in the distance and Johnny Cash plays followed shortly by the song Buffalo Soldier. My mother is honestly lamenting having consumed her burger so soon it was that good. It's not that we ate very fast at all but, with fries sold separately, the burgers got polished off within a few minutes. I believe hers had grilled peaches and bacon on it. The fries arrive during my last couple bites, and, alas, I accept that I am full beyond belief. The milkshake was good, maybe a little lacking just because if I hadn't known I might have just thought it was a vanilla milkshake. There was a little bit of caramel taste and something soggy every now and then that I am guessing was the pretzel but, overall, I got so full and dairy-ed out I didn't finish it.
On the way home, we pass Medieval Times and that place modeled after the London Crystal Palace and hit traffic. My mother is still riding the high of her burger discovery though. "That was a hit! A slam!"
first image courtesy of the artist's website
Hi all! So since most of what I do at Rustbelt is product photography for the tear sheet catalogs we send out and our own in-office inventory reference, I've decided to share some of my favorite shots. While I still have a ways to go, I've really enjoyed growing as a photographer and becoming more comfortable working with a professional camera. I shoot mostly on manual in natural lighting in our warehouse or on a backdrop.
Graduation is nearing so everyone knows what that means! It's time to kick the networking into high gear. Hopefully my new business cards and resumes will land me all the right connections. Do you all agree? I also got to have some senior head shots taken recently and had a great time goofing around in front of the camera with a few of my best friends from school. Really going to miss this bunch!
Please feel free to read through my resume and note that the business cards appear much more low-res here than they are in real life.
As I work on my thesis, I find myself more and more frustrated by a lack of resources so much so that it has become increasingly clear of just how important it is that I continue on this line of work and stand up and be the voice for which I'm searching. What I'm talking about is the use of mixed-material and non-recyclable packaging, namely, foil-lined paper, BoPET (commonly know by the trademark, Mylar) and expanded polystyrene/ PS foam (aka Styrofoam) and their negative effect on the planet by contributing to landfills through their inability to be composted or recycled.
Website after website praises Mylar for its flavor-protecting, light-blocking properties and tensile strength while doomsday blogs rave to their followers on self-packaging and food storage in preparation for the end (What..). What is this?! BoPET isn't recyclable! It doesn't go anywhere! It just ends up in landfills and yet it's frighteningly everywhere. Take a peek at a snack aisle. Bag after bag of chips are sealed in it. The candy bars by the register, BoPET! Even those "healthy" crackers and nuts, open the cardboard box and behold inside a BoPET bag. It's maddening to me that I can't find a single blog or website trashing the use of this stuff. Some offer the suggestion of sending them to Terracycle so that your used waste can be upcycled into tacky tote bags, but that's about it! (Sorry Terracycle, you're doing a great thing and your goal is pure, but never will I ever be seen in the light of day with a Kool-Aid Jammers wallet or Capri-Sun backpack. A grocery tote maybe, but to wear one of these items seems to inadvertently advertise the brand as if one actually supports these businesses.) I won't. I can't.
I'm banning Mylar from my life and you should too. From this day on (well really, from like two weeks ago on) I will no longer be purchasing items packaged in the before-mentioned materials. Goodbye to Stash Tea, who uses foil-lined paper packets to seal their tea bags. Goodbye Pringles and your foil-lined cardboard tubes. Not that I purchase snacks much anyway, but it's time to take a stand. Understand that these materials can not be separated in the recycling process into their respective materials and continuously contribute to the pollution of our Earth through landfills. I will be moving to making my own healthy snacks at home and buying loose-leaf tea or tea in paper packets exclusively. If it can't be recycled or composted don't buy it! These are the changes we have to make to help reduce waste, and in return I think we'll find that we begin eating better as a latent benefit.
If you live in northern California, you are fortunate to live near the only three BoPET recycling centers in the country. There might also be a place in Massachusetts, but other than that the material is unacceptable by 99.99% of recycling centers so be thoughtful and precycle before you buy.
Oh Dresden, you were gorgeous! Thank you for the Frauenkirche and trdelniks - my favorite cathedral of the trip and sweet and savory spiral pastries of deliciousness. I would love to popularize trdelniks in the U.S., but I'd probably be too much of a fatty-pants American and fill the centers with all sorts of fruit and cream cheese goodness.
This summer, while studying abroad in Germany, I made sure to stop by Milan to see if I could check out all the great design happenings of the city. Unfortunately for me, the only full day I had in the Italian fashion and design mecca was a Sunday so most of the design firms and galleries were closed. Also, unless you've got deep pockets and plan on shopping the day away, Milan is the kind of place you can see just about entirely by 5pm, but boy did I have the best pizza and gelato I will ever have in my life! That, the Duomo and the incredibly friendly au pair friend we made, I suppose made it all worth it. Until another time, Milan.