Ann Arbor Art Fairs 2009

Photo: Amy at Starbucks, Ann ArborAmy, Aaron and I enjoyed an afternoon at the Ann Arbor Art Fairs this past Saturday. I’m still recovering from the fun, but wanted to briefly share what I bought at the fairs.

Several years back, I saw some hanging plant rooters at the Crosby Art Festival here in town. For whatever reason, I didn’t buy one, assuming that (like most other booths) I’d see them at another fair in the near future. Turns out that the artisans aren’t exactly local; they’re from Vermont. So, this weekend, thanks to Aaron’s sharp eye in seeing their booth, I finally picked myself up one of the more popular copper rooters from Vermont Nature Creations. I’m planning to head outside sometime this week and cut some catnip to try rooting in my new piece of art. If I like it, perhaps I’ll buy myself another for a spider or two.

One of my favorite parts of going to an art show is watching the people who will actually show you their craft and how they create their wares. Linda Tong was one of those people this year. She creates Asian laquerware, and showed us the delicate handpainting she does for each creation. Knowing this, the Maneki Neko I got for $15 was quite a steal.

During our turn around the Liberty Street Courtyard, I found a booth of jewelry and earrings created from bottle caps and coins and other bits of found items. I bought a pair of earrings made from small Asian coins — only $10 for the pair. She also had earrings made from typewriter keys, but I couldn’t find appropriate initials (except maybe I.T., for my occupation). Which is really too bad, because I absolutely adored those earrings. The Fun Company has some of their wares posted online, but nothing quite like the Asian coin earrings I bought, unfortunately, and no typewriter key earrings.

One booth I quite admired, but didn’t have the coin (or the real estate) to purchase and properly display, was John Chumack’s Galactic Images. His astronomical photos have been featured in National Geographic and Time Magazine, among others, and he has an impressive backyard observatory in Dayton, Ohio. Seeing his photos almost made me want to go out and buy myself a telescope (preferably one I could connect to a camera body). Some of my favorite photos of his, though, were ones where both the stars and the landscape were amazingly sharp; those intrigued me from both a technical and an artistic perspective.

I’m glad that, this year, I actually bought some useful and easily-displayed items that won’t still be leaning up against a wall a year later, unmatted and unframed.

In addition to the booths, the food, and the company, I also enjoyed taking photos with my Lomo LC-A. But that’s another post for another day…

Religious Denominations of the World

Book and CoffeeAaron and I spent yesterday afternoon in Ann Arbor. Ate some delicious food of various ethnic origins, stopped into some interesting stores, and generally had a good time hanging out in a different town.

One of our standard stops in Ann Arbor is the Dawn Treader Book Shop. We’ve picked up some interesting books there in the past, and it’s always fun to just look around. This time, I came across this 1872 publication, Religious Denominations of the World, compiled by a Vincent L. Milner. The title page states that it is “a general view of the origin, history, and condition of the various sects of Christians, the Jews, and Mahometans, as well as the Pagan forms of religion existing in the different countries of the earth: with Sketches of the Founders of Various Religious Sects.”

This looks like a fascinating read. The Table of Contents includes dozens of religions I’ve never heard of before, and some I’ve only heard of in passing. It should be interesting to read about these religions from the point of view of a Christian from the year 1871 who is attempting to be as impartial as possible (per the Preface).

The only disappointing thing about this book, from a research standpoint, is that it claims to have been “carefully compiled from the best authorities on the subject,” but it never references who those authorities are. What I’ve read so far seems to be factually correct, though, if a bit more biased than Mr. Milner might have thought.

Expect to hear more on my blog about Mr. Milner (if I can find anything) and his take on Mormons, Atheists, and obscure religions of the 1800s.

Early Birthday Weekend

It’s been a tradition since the early years of our courtship for Aaron and I to celebrate our respective birthdays on the weekend nearest to the date. Aaron’s worked nights/evenings for the last 15 years or so, which makes birthday dinner problematic. Since my birthday is on a Wednesday this year (hint, hint), we opted to celebrate this past Saturday.

Our plans initially revolved around going to see the Star Trek exhibit at the Detroit Science Center, but later expanded to include dinner in Ann Arbor. The short version of the day: The weather was positively BEAUTIFUL; the Star Trek exhibit was fairly detailed and involved, and it definitely catered to the Trekkie/Trekker; dinner was at the Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant on S. University, and was delicious; we continued to be Starbucks whores, even in another town; and we topped off the evening by sharing some mochi ice cream.

The long version of the day (with photos) is after the jump…
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Prayer… Warriros?

Prayer... Warriros?

Thus saith the Lord: When thou makest thy signs in the manner of Microsoft Word, surely shalt thou heed the line of red, which marketh thy misspellings.

Seen at the Fulton County Fair, 31 August 2008.

Anime Punch 2008: Armageddicon III

This weekend, Aaron and I took a trip down to Columbus for our first anime convention in over a year. Honestly, it was nice just to get out of town for a weekend. The convention, however, was a great time, as always.

Anime Punch has been one of our favorite conventions the couple of times we’ve attended, just because they a.) stick to actual anime themes, instead of being an all-encompassing anime / gaming / J-rock convention; b.) insert their collective sense of humor into everything; and c.) include intellectual and intriguing academic panels alongside the typical fan panels. This year was no exception.

But let me begin at the beginning: with bologna sandwiches in Waldo…
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Animarathon and Asimov’s

I skipped out on the Saturday afternoon session of this weekend’s Aikido seminar to go to Bowling Green with Aaron. We checked out the Animarathon for a short while, walked around campus, then got a coffee at Grounds.

But first, an aside. BGSU alumni: take a look at this landscape and tell me what’s missing:

I’ll give you a hint: I’m standing in the parking lot by Jerome Library and Anderson Arena. On the left is Kreischer. On the right is the art building.

If you said the Saddlemire Student Services Building, give yourself a point! The old bookstore building was torn down late last year in preparation for a new Fine Arts building. It was unsettling to see a big empty dirt plot where the bookstore once stood. Almost as unsettling as walking around an anime convention inside Olscamp Hall, where I attended so many classes nearly a decade ago.

Grounds for Thought, however, is a more comfortable sort of familiar, as is the taste and smell of a single mocha and the feel of the heavy, tall glass mug in my hands. It feels like home, somehow.

A good part of the joy of Grounds — for me and mine, anyway — is perusing the used books. In particular, I like looking for new-to-me science fiction. And we hit the jackpot this time, when we saw an entire shelf of Asimov’s Science Fiction and Analog magazines. Aaron and I sat Indian-style on the floor in the middle of the aisle and scanned the table of contents for each one, looking for authors whose names we recognized. Our resultant haul:

  • Asimov’s, January 1985
    Including stories by Frederick Pohl, Connie Willis, et al.
  • Asimov’s, August 1986
    Including stories by Orson Scott Card, Harry Turtledove, et al.
  • Asimov’s, August 1989
    Including stories by Isaac Asimov, Orson Scott Card, et al.
  • Asimov’s, Mid-December 1989
    Including stories by Isaac Asimov, Connie Willis, Harry Turtledove, et al.
  • Asimov’s, February 1990
    Including stories by Bruce Sterling, et al.
  • Asimov’s, June 1990
    Including stories by James Patrick Kelly, Larry Niven, et al.
  • Asimov’s, November 1991 (double issue)
    Including stories by Isaac Asimov, Mike Resnick, Robert Silverberg, et al.
  • Asimov’s, November 1993
    Including stories by Frederick Pohl, Connie Willis, et al.
  • The Black Hole: The Illustrated Adaptation of the Exciting Film.
  • I, Jedi – A Star Wars novel by Michael A. Stackpole

After we got our coffee buzz and our sci-fi books, we went to Goodwill and found the Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture 2 DVD game (with questions we can answer! Yay!), then headed to the Woodland Small Mall to Steve and Barry’s, where Aaron and I got some geeky T-shirts.

I’m going to have plenty of short fiction to read for a while, and hopefully will discover some new sci-fi authors to follow. I’m looking forward to this…

Business Trip #1, Wrap-up

The short version: Driving from Toledo to Columbus was snowy / windy / rainy (in that order). The class was moderately helpful to my job, and was more of a foundation for what I’ll be learning in later classes. The highlight of the trip, however, was visiting with friends every evening.

The more detailed version follows…
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Girlie Day With Sheryl!

Yesterday morning, I headed up to Michigan to hang out with Sheryl for the day. We had a great time shopping, eating, hanging out, and talking girl talk.

At my request, our first shopping stop was the Clinique counter at Macy’s. I really don’t know much about choosing cosmetics for myself, and I figured I deserved to treat myself to some nice makeup for once. The nice Clinique lady — Jill from Jersey — matched me up with a foundation color and put it on for me, then selected some powder and blush for a natural look. I already had eye shadow and lipstick at home, but I did let her sucker me into buying some brushes and some foaming face cleanser. I was splurging anyway, so what the hell.

The final total was an embarrassingly, staggeringly high amount for anyone to spend on makeup in one shot. But I now have oil-free foundation, powder, blush, three brushes, face cleanser, and some moisturizer samples.

As a side note, I put on all of my makeup when I got up this morning, just to see how long it would take me. Total time: 25 minutes. This is a major change from the two minutes it usually takes me to line my eyes and run out the door. I’m doubt I’ll be putting on my entire face every day for work; I’m sure I’ll get quicker at it as time goes on, though.

Our next stop was lunch at Baja Fresh. It’s a Mexican fast-food place that apparently has no franchises in the Toledo area. According to their website, there are a bunch in the Detroit and Columbus areas, but none in Toledo. Anyway, I got a steak quesadilla with peppers and onions, and it was quite yummy. Like Sheryl said while we were there: it wasn’t the nicest place we could have gone to eat, but after spending so much money already, cheaper was better.

After lunch, we headed off to Canton to shop at IKEA. We both went in with an agenda: Sheryl needed a file cabinet. I wanted to get kitchen organization stuff (as mentioned earlier), a Billy bookcase to replace the plastic shelving unit in the basement, and a couple of Japanese-inspired lamps for the bedroom. In addition to those things, I ended up getting a Lack endtable to use as my meditation altar.

All in all, I spent only $20 more on my IKEA haul than I did on my Clinique purchases.

Sheryl and I managed to Tetris everything into her SUV, although we were doubtful whether the bookcase would fit in the Kia for my trip home. Surprisingly enough, when we got back to her place and put down the back seats in the Kia, the bookshelf fit perfectly. Granted, we had to put the front seat all the way forward, too, but it worked!

After IKEA, we decided that we’d spent enough money for one day, so we hung out at her place and watched Princess Mononoke and snacked on some Sun Chips. Then we went to dinner at Claddagh; I ordered fish and chips, and she ordered shepherd’s pie, and we split our entrees between the two of us. I should totally do that more often.

After dinner, Sheryl and I swung past Best Buy and met up with Santa so he could give me one of Aaron’s Christmas gifts. Then it was time to go.

Once I got home, around 9pm, Mark and Rocky were here, playing Killer Bunnies with Aaron. They started their game over so I could join in (after Mark helped me bring in my loot from the car). So, the fun social day continued with a game of Killer Bunnies, then a game of Apples to Apples.

It’s not so much the shopping that I like about my Sheryl trips, although that is a big part of it. I really like just hanging out and talking and feeling comfortable and just being with Sheryl. Sometimes I forget how awesome it is to have girlfriends.

The only thing that’s weird is that I sometimes feel self-conscious about my weight when I’m with Sheryl. She’s lost a lot of weight and gotten a lot more fit over the years, and even though I lost fifty pounds myself (though I keep regaining and relosing that last ten), I’m still very aware of the fact that I’m teetering on obese, BMI-wise. I guess it’s just the fact that the Sheryl in my head is the post-Atkins Sheryl, and when I’m reminded that the current Sheryl is actually the post-everything Sheryl, I’m all, ‘Wow. She looks good.’ Which inadvertently reminds me that I don’t? I don’t know exactly what my brain’s doing, but I wish it would stop.

Again, I digress. I had an AWESOME day with my Sheryls, and I look forward to doing it again soon. Yay for girlfriends!