Mundane Monday: CITO Events

This past weekend was Earth Day in the United States. There were marches in support of science in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, which I agreed with and supported, but didn’t end up going to. I am an introvert and don’t like crowds.

I did something more mundane, which was to go to CITO events. “CITO” means “Cache In, Trash Out,” and these are geocaching events in which cachers look for trash instead of geocaches, and pick it up and take it out of the park. Frequent CITO-ers carry trash grabbers, poles with a handle and button on one end and two pincers on the other, which close when you press the button. Having one of these means you don’t actually have to touch the trash with your hands, which can be a good thing. I bought my husband a really crappy one last year. It broke at our first event. We tried to fix it at subsequent events, but it never worked properly and we finally ended up throwing it in one of the trash bags. I bought him a new one this year that seems to be working better!

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Schwan Lake Park, Santa Cruz

We went to two events, one each day of the weekend. One was in Santa Cruz and one was in the Baylands Reserve near the Googleplex. As you can see, neither of them ended up having a lot of trash to pick up, but they were gorgeous walks in beautiful weather. The wildflowers are out and you can see them blooming, in contrast to the bright blue sky.

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Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Mountain View

And then, I used this online bio generator to make a satirical “artist bio” for my landscape photography for Mundane Monday. I thought the bio was surprisingly accurate (or at least amusing. And I learned some new words!) Plug in your own information and see what you get :-). For the Mundane Monday Challenge #106.

Karen Allendoerfer (°1965, Providence, United States) is a photographer who mainly works with the iPhone. With Plato’s allegory of the cave in mind, her photos references post-colonial theory as well as the avant-garde or the post-modern and the left-wing democratic movement as a form of resistance against the logic of the capitalist market system.

Her photos demonstrate how life extends beyond its own subjective limits and often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the early part of the twenty-first century. It challenges the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves. By choosing mainly formal solutions, she makes work that deals with the documentation of events and the question of how they can be presented. The work tries to express this with the help of physics and technology, but not by telling a story or creating a metaphor.

Her works are characterised by the use of everyday objects in an atmosphere of middleclass mentality in which recognition plays an important role. By taking daily life as subject matter while commenting on the everyday aesthetic of middle class values, she investigates the dynamics of landscape, including the manipulation of its effects and the limits of spectacle based on our assumptions of what landscape means to us. Rather than presenting a factual reality, an illusion is fabricated to conjure the realms of our imagination.

Her works establish a link between the landscape’s reality and that imagined by its conceiver. These works focus on concrete questions that determine our existence. By demonstrating the omnipresent lingering of a ‘corporate world’, she tries to develop forms that do not follow logical criteria, but are based only on subjective associations and formal parallels, which incite the viewer to make new personal associations.

Her works are an investigation into representations of (seemingly) concrete ages and situations as well as depictions and ideas that can only be realized in photography. By exploring the concept of landscape in a nostalgic way, she often creates work using creative game tactics, but these are never permissive. Play is a serious matter: during the game, different rules apply than in everyday life and even everyday objects undergo transubstantiation.

Her works are based on formal associations which open a unique poetic vein. Multilayered images arise in which the fragility and instability of our seemingly certain reality is questioned. Karen Allendoerfer currently lives and works in Mountain View.

Thursday Doors: HP Garage

I play chamber music with a couple of different groups. One of them, whom I met through my daughter’s viola teacher last year, meets in one or the other of two nice historic houses in Palo Alto (either the violist’s or the cellist’s place). Google Maps informed me that this area of Palo Alto is also known as “Professorville,” and indeed both of them and/or their spouses have some connection to Stanford.  Continue reading Thursday Doors: HP Garage

Mundane Monday: Orchids

In the fall of 2015, we had a housewarming party in our new home in CA. I invited one of my coworkers with her husband and two small children. She, in turn, brought me an orchid plant. The flowers were very neatly arranged in two rows, haiku-like. They lasted for a couple of weeks and then fell off and I had a nice pot with two green sticks sticking out of it, propped up with a rather elaborate system of clips and supports.  Continue reading Mundane Monday: Orchids

It’s All about Presence: A Conversation with Val Vigoda

I published this interview with rock violinist and singer/songwriter Val Vigoda 1 year ago. This past weekend her show, “Ernest Shackleton Loves Me,” opened Off-Broadway at Second Stage’s Tony Kiser Theatre. For tickets and more information, visit ernestshackletonlovesme.com. In the interview, Val talks in detail about how the show was conceived and created. Read it on violinist.com, below.

A Thousand Finds

Valerie_Brendan_0136Val Vigoda is an electric violinist, singer/songwriter, and founder of the musical trio GrooveLily. She has toured the world with Cyndi Lauper, Joe Jackson and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Val has also co-written, with Brendan Milburn, songs for Disney’s Tinker Bell movies as well as the score for the stage musicals Striking 12, Sleeping Beauty Wakes, Toy Story: The Musical, and many others, including Ernest Shackleton Loves Me, starring Val as Kat, a contemporary composer and single mom who meets and falls in love with the time-traveling explorer.

Val and I went to Princeton University together. We traveled in different circles then: I played the violin for two years in the University Orchestra, she was exploring the potential of the instrument when combined with singing in a rock band. After graduation I followed Val’s career over the years, reconnecting through her kickstarter campaign for her one-woman show, “Just…

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Book Review: The Winter Knife by Laramie Sasseville

The Winter Knife (Minnesota Strange Book 1)The Winter Knife by Laramie Sasseville

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good YA literature will stay with me long after I am finished with it, even as an adult. I would have been in the prime target audience for this book when I was a teenager, and I would have devoured it (pun intended). The story was a pleasant surprise on several levels. First, the author has a real gift for character and voice, especially with young teens. She manages to tell a fantastical story without talking down or condescending to her audience, while at the same time not going to any of the despairing, hopeless, or crazy places I feared she might be heading with the supernatural element.  Continue reading Book Review: The Winter Knife by Laramie Sasseville

Mundane Monday: Stacks and Cracks

This week’s Mundane Monday challenge shows the Taj Mahal framed by stacks of sandbags. It reminded me immediately of the stacks of sandbags I saw, and photographed, last week along a creek bed. No Taj Mahal here, but I was reminded of Leonard Cohen’s lyric, that the crack in everything is “how the light gets in.” In these stacks, the crack is where the flowers can grow:

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Book Review: Catalyst Moon: Incursion by Lauren L Garcia

Incursion (Catalyst Moon #1)Incursion by Lauren L. Garcia

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first installment of an enjoyable saga, Catalyst Moon. I don’t read many series, though, and this book reminds me of why. Incursion does a good job of setting up the characters, the world, and the conflicts, but the pace is leisurely and once things are really getting going, the book ends. I might read the next one, but I have so many other things to read in the meantime that it will be months if not years until I get around to it. I don’t believe this book stands on its own.

Continue reading Book Review: Catalyst Moon: Incursion by Lauren L Garcia

Thursday Doors: Middle School

When we moved to CA in 2015, we had an 11th grader and a 7th grader. We looked for, and ultimately bought, a house in walking distance to the local high school because we figured we’d get six good years of walking to school at that location, 2 years for the older teen, 4 years for the younger once he got to high school. Continue reading Thursday Doors: Middle School