Friday, March 27, 2009

We Aren't ND... (updated: ...or maybe we are!)

EDIT: Within hours of receiving news that a large right-wing protest was on the rise to shame the University of Notre Dame into retracting an invitation to President Barack Obama to give the commencement speech for the class of 2009, I got this from a former professor:
Thank you for standing with Notre Dame and supporting its decision to host President Obama. In less than 24 hours we collected more than 20,000 signatures.

Click here to tell your friends and family about the ‘We Support Notre Dame’ campaign. After we launched our petition drive on Thursday, the Notre Dame administration announced that they were not backing down. The far right isn’t letting up either. Those attacking Notre Dame are claiming more than 190,000 signatures.

We need all hands on deck to spread the word about and to put the brakes on this latest effort to misuse the language of faith for political gain. Please help build the momentum and share this link with your friends and family.

Our nation's colleges and universities are meant to be places that embrace open dialogue about the issues of our day. Don't let Notre Dame cave to political pressure. Help send a clear message that we welcome President Obama's appearance at Notre Dame by encouraging others to join the campaign.

Good on you, ND. Maybe I will hang my diploma on the wall, after all. :D

Please join the cause if you agree. No affiliation with the university or Catholicism is necessary - we will be grateful for the support of anyone and everyone:

Original post follows:

Well, I was going to post a new pattern, but I'm too miffed to do it right now.

My alma mater has decided to invite the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, to give the commencement speech for the class of 2009.

I find this awesome.

Other people do not find this so awesome. In fact, they are actually bitching out the current and former presidents of the university for even considering such an affront to their religious sensibilities (or lack thereof).

What the hell?

President Obama has reversed a BushII policy that restricts federal funds from being used to further embryonic stem-cell research which uses newly developed cell lines. Shorter version, "Now all the stem-cell scientists can use the money for their projects, not just the ones using the old cells." This research is (now) considered worthy of federal funding because of it's potential to develop treatments for the most challenging and serious diseases of our time, and yes, I am going to list them, because no matter how many times you hear the lineup, it is critical to remember that each one is still a raging epidemic out there.

Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, Lou Gehrig's Disease. Leukemia and lymphoma. Bone disorders, blood disorders, and immunological disorders. Paralysis, blindness, deafness.

Diabetes. Heart disease. Brain damage.


People suffer from these. They die from these. Not just theoretical people somewhere else in the world whom you will never meet, but your mother. Your father. Children. Sisters and brothers. Best friends. Your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your husband, your wife. Anyone and everyone you love.

Now, there are many perfectly healthy people who have dedicated their lives and their careers to stopping this from happening. They are not famous, they are not rich. They bend over microscopes, beside MRI machines, under blacklights, at the bedsides of the ill, with families who know they will lose that mother or father, son or daughter, unless the work of these dedicated people should soon succeed.

They have sought to find the cures for decades. They are still struggling today. Not to gain anything for themselves, but to save.

To save others. To save parents and children, best friends and lovers. To save the lives of theoretical people somewhere else in the world, whom they will never meet.

How is this disregard for life?

How is this a sin?

Bring the stem-cell researchers to the commencement. Let them give speeches. Maybe then the class of 2009 will learn what the honest "sanctity of life" is.

New pattern later, maybe after a few people finally come to their senses.

Friday, March 20, 2009


*deep breath*

Minimimmo. Yes, that's it. Finally.

Just a short link to the lovable and slightly creepy Minimimmo, a tiny yellow print-and-fold dood. The original Minimimmo has been out for a while now, but its creator (box73, Italian and good at it) keeps coming up with new, limited edition iterations of the design. Like Batman.

In the finest papercrafting style, this is one of those clever models that requires no glue or tape, but it might take a little patience (especially if you're printing out on regular computer paper).

Ev'viva il Conquista~

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Happy Pi Day!

I'm baking one of these and enjoying a little song. I hope you enjoy it too. :D

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

White Day is coming, gentlemen.

3.14.2009: White Day. Just when you thought you were safe from the roses and candy, the Japanese come up with another shoe to drop on you.

In Japan, Valentines Day is, as in many western nations, a holiday marked by the marketing, buying, selling, and presentation of gifts. (Love is in there somewhere, too.) The important part, though, is the gifts. Especially the chocolate. (Yay chocolate.)

UNlike many western nations, however, Japanese Valentines' Day is a one-way deal. No guys shelling out cash for dozens of roses, no "Pajama Grams," no kids exchanging little slips of glossy cardstock with popular cartoon stars and terrible puns printed on them, no reservations at restaurants, no tickets to the opera. Not in Japan.

Rather, on February 14th, the custom is simple: ladies give chocolate to gentlemen.

Girls --> chocolate --> boys.

And its not just the fellows with lady admirers, no sir. In the Japanese spirit of politeness, no gentleman is to be excluded. Girls are socially expected to give chocolate to every significant man in their personal, academic, and professional lives. Seriously. In fact, the term for such gifts of chocolate is 義理チョコ (giri-choco): literally "social obligation courtesy chocolate." In fact, the obligatory sentiment extends so far as to push over gender boundaries. Even if one's teacher or uppermost superior at work is female, it is commonly considered wise to give her Valentine's chocolates as well, just to show the proper respect.

This means chocolate for bosses, co-workers, principals, teachers, upperclassmen, club leaders, the janitor, your violin teacher, that nice old guy at the market with whom you chat sometimes, the college student in the apartment across from yours who watched your kids once for fifteen minutes when you had to run to the post office, etc.

But then, one month later... White Day arrives.

On March 14th of every year, having been given exactly one month to compose a master plan and seek the necessary ordnance, the gentlemen of Japan must repay all of their chocolatey debts. As before, propriety demands gifts for each and every lady in a fellow's life. Not only that, but should some girl whom you barely know give you a Valentine's chocolate... well, it would be grieviously un-Japanese of you not to return the sentiment.

And amidst all of the busy chocolate buying and selling and baking and decorating, the planning and the unplanned burning cake that set off the fire alarm, the agonizing question of whether or not you should give chocolate to your intimidating boss, your friend's ex-husband, that college student across the hall, that old man down the street who looks creepy but always wishes you good morning...

...hidden in the midst of all of that, there is the perfect alibi to give your very best homemade chocolates to the boy you love, and one month to prepare for his answer.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Ben Golub, Woodworker at Large

My cousin Ben Golub (of the much-admired California Golubs) has put up one of his finest pieces on Taunton's Fine Woodworking site. It's a box for the storage of all the ingredients and utensils necessary to make two cups of chai tea... which requires quite a lot of ingredients and utensils, actually.

He's competing to win a brand-new table saw; please wish him luck if you're so inclined. :D

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


おひな祭 (Ohina Matsuri) is today~ ^w^

I won't spend your time on a lengthy explanation, suffice it to say that it is the famed Japanese doll festival held in honor of girls and young ladies, with the wish that they will grow up healthy and beautiful and find a happy marriage. Rainbows and unicorns.

...and if stereotypical domestic bliss isn't your thing, the dolls are still a ton of fun.

切り絵 (pronounced key-ree-EH) is somewhat different from paper cutting or kirigami. For the paper-loving crowd, here's a quick breakdown of the terms:
papercutting or paper cutting: general English term for any art produced by cutting one or more sheets of paper; generally assumes a minimum of drawn media

切り紙, kirigami
: Japanese term that translates as "cut paper"; a not-necessarily broad term for cut paper arts, usually referring to geometric shapes cut from folded paper (think "paper snowflakes" and you've pretty much got it).

紋きり, monkiri: a branch of kirigami that deals specifically with the folding and cutting of paper to produce familiar mon (or kamon) family crests and motifs

切り絵, kiri-e or kirie: as presented in this post, means "cut image"; a term for images cut from a single, unfolded sheet of paper, usually black, which can manifest either as linework or as a positive-negative reduction image

wycinanki: Polish papercuts, with the Lowicz-style being unique in the world of papercutting for the use of multiple layers of bright colors

Of course, kiri-e isn't the most common medium for hina dolls. Most traditional ones are hard dolls, clothed in silk and embellishments, with ceramic faces and hands:

...or semi-soft ones made with just silk:

...or unique ones made from the empty, dyed cocoons of silk worms:

...but my favorite kind are always paper:

Hina dolls are probably one of the most fascinating elements of Japanese craft culture for folks who enjoy softies and figure work. For more images and inspiration, may I recommend searching the terms おひな様 or ひな人形 on Google image search. There are some amazing sets out there.