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I made these cards a while back for my cousin and a family friend, who both graduated from high school this year.  They’re summer-themed and made out of 12″ X 12″ cardstock, folded over into uneven thirds so that the waves overlap the beach scene and give a 3-D effect:

DIY graduation card

I used mostly scrapbooking materials for these cards, drawing inspiration from the materials at hand.  A yellow polka-dotted paper became the sand; a fun stripey paper reminded me of a beach towel.  The umbrella and the graduation cap get a subtle 3-D effect from adhesive foam dots, adding visual interest to the scene (you can’t really tell from the photographs).

DIY handmade graduation card

For a fun, youthful touch, I decided to cut the congratulatory message out of paper and glue it on, rather than stamping it.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Halfway through, however, I found myself deploring their respective parents’ lack of foresight in naming their children “Brendan” and “Avallon” over shorter names with simply-shaped letters more suitable for card-making.  I have never been such a fan of the letter “O” before.

Note to future parents: The letters “I”, “L”, and “O” are wonderful things.  If you name your daughter LILO, I’ll probably make her a graduation card.  Otherwise, she might be out of luck.



I’ve had my eye on Blik’s removable vinyl wall graphics for a while as a potential way to spice up the apartment without getting in too much trouble with our manager.  The problem is, they look neatest when adhered on a colorfully painted wall.



Blik stocks original graphics, as well as designs from Threadless, Nintendo, and, for some strange reason, American indie-pop band of Montreal.

“[Frontman Kevin] Barnes named his band Of Montreal because he wanted people to think his band was from Montreal … Why not just name the band “We’re from Montreal” then, and get it over with?  Oh right, because Barnes wanted to make it extraordinarily difficult for fans to use his band’s name in a sentence:

Of Montreal Fan: Ever heard of Of Montreal? I’m a fan of Of Montreal. In my book there’s nobody above Of Montreal.

Hot Indie Chick: You’re hooked on phonics, aren’t you?”, “The 25 Most Ridiculous Band Names in Rock History,” of which of Montreal* is #16

*See what kind of prepositional bedlam just resulted there?  gahh

For me, though, the real gold doesn’t lie in plastering “The Skeletal Lamping Collection” all over my bedroom walls.  I’m more drawn to the prospect of Blik’s Prose line, which allows customers to custom-order vinyl graphics of a favorite quote of their choice:

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Raymond Chandler, The High Window

Raymond Chandler, The High Window

Lost, Season 1

Lost, Season 1

If I were to choose one, I’d currently go for this line from T.S. Eliot in my kitchen:

“[She] slips and pulls the table cloth

Overturns a coffee-cup,

Reorganised upon the floor

She yawns and draws a stocking up;”

T.S. Eliot, Sweeney among the Nightingales

It seems appropriate for my usual early morning stupor.  As usual, feel free to write your own ideas in the comments.

It’s summer vacation, and that means it’s time to enjoy a bunch of things I didn’t have time for last semester.

Summer To Do Mosaic

From left to right, beginning with the top row:

1. Read my first graphic novel, Watchmen.  I’ve just finished reading it for the first time, and it surpassed all my expectations.  I need to read it again, then read Dash’s thesis on it and see the movie.

2. Watch the entirety of Firefly.

3. Go camping.

4. Make various DIY crafts.  I have in mind an earring organizer and a wallet woven from paint samples.

5. Learn how to decorate cupcakes using marzipan.

6. Play my first game of D&D.  See what all the fuss is about.

7. Attend BFD 2009, with The Offspring and MC Lars.

8. Pick up guitar again.  I’m not very good, but Davin is super patient.  Perhaps this summer I will vanquish my foe, the bar chord.

9. Keep running and swimming so that I don’t lapse back out of shape before I resume swim class in the fall.

What else should I do?  And what’s on your list?

These are my four favorite signs from around the TigerLogic office in San Jose.  I often find myself reading them again because they’re kind of hilarious.  Maybe I just have an odd sense of humor.

4. Engraved plastic sign on breakroom vending machine

Once you have notified the receptionist, you may then commence shaking the machine using appropriate company procedure.

Once you have notified the receptionist, you may then commence shaking the machine using appropriate company procedure.

One can only imagine how many lawsuits were filed by irate employees who had injured themselves by shaking the machine before the building management finally ponied up for an official-looking engraved plastic sign asking them to please stop.

3. Repair request in vending machine

Notice the circled date on the note.

The above plastic engraved sign suddenly makes more sense.

Notice the circled date on the note.  To my knowledge, the Rockefeller Group doesn’t even lease in this building anymore.

2. Dymo label on non-roving supply cabinet



Once I put up a post-it with an arrow pointing to this label that said, “Yes, it is.”  It stayed up for almost a week.

1. “Microwaving Water!” Warning

Microwaving Water!

Holy shit!

This is an all-around gem.  First, the sensationalist exclamation point and the alarming underline is carefully crafted to capture the attention of many an unwarned member of white collar corporate America as he or she reheats lunch.  These stylistic choices plainly say “forget the latest issue of People magazine waiting for you at your desk because this is going to be CRAZAY”.

Then, it revs up the drama, slowly setting the scene: a 26-year old man decides to have a cup of coffee.  As he places the cup of water in the microwave, you can hear the slow beginning of the Jaws theme.  Ba-dum.  Ba-dum. “NO!” you want to shout.  “STOP, 26-YEAR OLD MAN!  USE THE TEA KETTLE!”


Ba-dum. Ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-dum...

The whole thing reads like one of those fearmongering emails your grandma forwards to you.  You know:

Subj: FWD: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: MICROWAVING WATER!

(in size 30 Comic Sans font) This is true, a scientist from Wisconsin confirmed it this morning.  GE and other big appliance companies are trying to keep this hushed up because it could hurt sales  They won’t keep us in the dark!  We need your help!  Please pass this on to everyone you know who uses a microwave or drinks water!!!!!

The saddest thing is that the printout in our kitchen is so neatly formatted that someone must have spent about 20 painstaking minutes sifting through the entire forward — taking out all of the >>>>> symbols, inspirational quotes in shimmering hypertext, and pictures of roses created entirely from dashes, semicolons, and backslashes — in order to print it out and place it in a protective covering to grace our breakroom microwave.  And for that, I would just like to say thank you.

While theaters have recently been filled with many films that promise to entertain, few promise to educate, and even fewer do so in the thought-provoking way that Gus Van Sant’s new movie, Milk, does.

Milk tells the story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California.


The film follows Milk’s life from from the moment he decided he wanted to be a politician, to the moment he finally won a seat a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors . Milk  ran unsuccessfully for political office on three separate occasions; with each attempt, he gained more and more support. Milk, however, had  short-lived political career. Dan White, a fellow San Francisco supervisor, shot and killed Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk  on November 27, 1978.


While each person has his or her own views on the sensitive issue of homosexuality, the film’s release could not have come at a more appropriate time. When Proposition 8 passed at the end of last year, many felt Californians had taken a huge step back in the fight for equality. Although that may very well be the case, Milk puts a face to the fight for gay rights. Harvey Milk’s touching and motivating story is guaranteed make you think a little before treating anyone poorly.


Well, after my last post on Britney, I thought it was fitting that I write about something that receives far less press attention but far greater significance. While many people, and admittedly myself, focus far too much of their energy on the latest tabloid drama or a upcoming television miniseries, I think the genocide that occurred in Guatemala, and went almost unnoticed by the rest of the world, deserves far more attention than Hollywood’s pop stars and celebrities.
After taking my first Ethnic Studies class at UC Berkeley this past fall, I was forced to open my eyes to the daily genocide that plagued much of Guatemala’s Mayan community. According to United Nations’ research 200,000 people were killed, 1.5 million people were displaced from their communities, and hundreds of thousands fled the country. Over 600 massacres were committed, and while 3% were committed by the Guatemalan insurgency, the overwhelming majority of these brutal, heartless massacres were committed by the military.

Using ChunkIt! to do some research, I found out that the indigenous Guatemalans’ livelihood depends on access to good, sufficient land; they are subsistence farmers. Over 60% of the population is rural and 2% of the population controls 70% of the land. For the Mayans, their land was not providing them with enough subsistence, and they needed relief from the horrible conditions of plantations and subdivided lands. As a result, 160 Mayan families created a colonization project in the Guatemalan jungle and built from scratch the village of Santa Maria Tzeja. In 1980 Guatemalan soldiers came and destroyed the town that had taken 10 years to build. They looted, slaughtered, and torched the town; they raped, beat and murdered the women, and when they found Mayans hiding in the village the mercilessly killed them.

Professor of Chicano Studies at UC Berkeley, Beatriz Manz, recounted her firsthand experience in Guatemala titled Paradise In Ashes.


Manz hypothesizes that perhaps the genocide that occurred in Guatemala and more specifically in Santa Maria Tzeja, because the military felt threatened that the indigenous people were setting up their own villages in the jungle, or perhaps the military was attempting to discourage the Mayans from joining an insurgent movement, or maybe, the killing occurred simply because the military could. Whatever the reason, nothing can justify the lives that were taken, and the families that were destroyed as a result of this ruthless genocide.

Thrift stores can yield awesome like-new stuff for reasonable prices, if you’re patient and willing to dig through racks of clothing.  Shopping at Buffalo Exchange on Telegraph for the first time this semester was a magical and eye-opening experience for me.  I walked in feeling completely crapulous at the tail end of a fairly awful week, and walked out two hours later with a twinkle in my eye and spring in my step, clutching a bag stuffed full of cheap new clothes.

The buy counter at Buffalo Exchange.

Michael's roommate calls this phenomenon "retail therapy".

Buffalo Exchange essentially buys, sells, and trades used clothing.  It, like several other thrift stores in Berkeley, is based on the premise of recycled fashion.  Keep in mind that we are not talking old-lady puffy-paint applique holiday themed sweatshirts here:

You know the kind I mean.

You know the kind I mean.

Rather, thanks to the discerning eye of the store’s buying team, shopping at Buffalo Exchange feels akin to raiding the closet of an older sister, cool aunt, or best friend.  Every item in the store is unique, and the merchandise changes constantly.  Low prices make it affordable to experiment with new pieces that I might otherwise not be daring enough to try.  Pieces such as:

Polka-Dot Skirt, Express, $8.50

Polka-dot skirt, Express, $8.50

Party dress, Roxy Rox, $12.00

Party dress, Ruby Rox, $12.00

Brown top, Express, 50% off at $3.25

Brown top, Express, 50% off at $3.25

Mock-tweed jacket, La Belle, $9.50

Mock-tweed jacket, La Belle, $9.50

Black fitted jacket, Arden B., $14.00

Black fitted jacket, Arden B., $14.00

Green hooded vest, rue21, $11.50

Green hooded vest, rue21, $11.50

I am particularly stoked with my discovery of the $12 strapless Ruby Rox dress.  I recently paired it with on-sale shiny black peeptoe heels from going-out-of-business Shoe Pavilion on Shattuck, $2 bold red hoop earrings from Wet Seal, and black nail polish from the dollar store.  I felt quite glamorous, with a punk-rock sort of edginess.

Katherine’s Tips: How to shop at Buffalo Exchange

When you first arrive, it’s tempting to want to buy twenty things in one go because they’re all so cheap.  Just be sure to follow these ground rules to avoid complete anarchy of the wallet:

  1. When you decide to buy something in the fitting room, first make a mental note of the maximum price you would pay, then look at the price tag.  Compare the two.  If your price is below Buffalo’s, buy the item.  If not, save your money for a better discovery.
  2. Remember that some items would be steals if they were new, but are only mediocre deals when you consider that they are used.  In these cases, save your money for actual new clothing from an actual new clothing store.
  3. Before your final purchase, inspect the clothing for damage and wear.  Nothing deflates consumer surplus more than finding out that half of the sleeve of your new jacket is falling off.

Like any great store in Berkeley, Buffalo Exchange does its part to help the environment.  In addition to the resources you inherently conserve by not demanding the production of new textiles, the store encourages customers to bring their own bags.  Buffalo Exchange also holds an annual Earth Day Dollar Sale, wherein certain items are a mere dollar, and the proceeds go to nature conservation.  As if you needed any more incentive to get shopping.

Buffalo Exchanges Tokens for Bags program donates five cents to one of several worthy charities when you bring in your own bag.

Buffalo Exchange's Tokens for Bags program donates five cents to one of several worthy charities when you bring in your own bag. (Flickr credit: jvree)

Jealous?  Don’t despair if you don’t live in Berkeley — there’s likely a Buffalo Exchange near you.  You’ll probably walk out with the same twinkle in your eye and spring in your step, cheerfully asking Buffalo Exchange, as I did, “Where have you been all my life?”

Free poster + printer + craft supplies = Sweet poster mod for my room.

"for life's not a paragraph/And death i think is no parenthesis"

I got this giant black-and-white poster of a lone bird from a recent trip to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  I wanted to spice the poster up a bit without ruining the poignancy of the shot, so I went at it with a minimalist design and some basic craft supplies.

The words I chose for the poster are the final lines from a gorgeous e e cummings poem that reminds me how love is often more emotional than logical:

since feeling is first

who pays any attention

to the syntax of things

will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool

while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,

and kisses are a far better fate

than wisdom

lady i swear by all flowers.  Don’t cry

–the best gesture of my brain is less than your eyelids’ flutter which says

we are for eachother: then

laugh, leaning back in my arms

for life’s not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

e e cummings, “since feeling is first”

Apartment art doesn’t have to be expensive; the total cost of this project was just $0.11 for the yellow paper.  On an adjacent wall, I’ve hung an iconic image of actress Audrey Hepburn from her 1961 film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.  It’s actually a cardboard box that used to hold a canvas of an identical image; I found the empty box at Goodwill and convinced them to give it to me at no charge.  It too was a triumphant moment in my career as a thrifty college student.

If you liked “since feeling is first”, or if you’re just not a big fan of capital letters, read a small collection of other e e cummings poems here.

I have never been an early bird. At home on weekend mornings, my dad usually rushes into the room my sister and I share, chirpy and all excited about some wholesome family outing he has planned. He pulls the window blinds right up, flooding bright sunlight into the room, and shouts something typically cheery like “Good morning girls! It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood! Just look at that sky!”, sometimes followed by a hearty rendition of the theme song from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

At this point, my sister pretends that she’s deep in REM sleep, and it generally works, because my dad latches on to me instead.  I respond by demanding one of the following:

  • “Dad.  It is TEN O CLOCK in the MORNING.  Are you MAD?”
  • “Why are you so CHIPPER?  Cheer DOWN.”
  • Or, once, at his insistence that it really was time to wake up already, “You have GOT to be kidding me.”

This morning, however, I was probably up before even my dad was. Today’s task in This Book Will Change Your Life was “Do Something Before Breakfast Today”.  Here is my morning, documented through Twitter:


5:00 am: (My alarm went off.  I frantically pawed around for the snooze button, accidentally called the second contact in my address book instead, and spent the next half hour trying to wake up before I was able to pull myself out of bed and onto Twitter.)

5:38 am: reading “this book will change your life”. today’s task: do something before breakfast. so here i am, tweeting before the break of dawn.

5:48 am: my morning paper isn’t here yet. step it up, oakland tribune. no matter. i’m going to eat a grapefruit i purchased especially for today.

6:32 am: warmed up and stretched for half an hour, not really caring how idiotic i looked, because none of my neighbors are awake yet! liberating.

6:56 am: the boyfriend, who is also following “this book will change your life”, is using his early morning to do chem homework.

6:56 am: greeting the sun. hi sun! good morning!

7:01 am: going on a run down college ave. this will be my first run in about a year, so i expect to be winded shortly. nonetheless, on a run i go.

7:55 am: a triumph: ran all the way to safeway, about a mile. bought another grapefruit. said good morning to all passersby. have huge smile on face.

this book will change your life breakfast


9:59 am: about to attempt to poach eggs for the first time. i am feeling adventurous, but not enough to freestyle it sans cookbook.

10:24: tip for aspiring egg-poachers: don’t read digg while poaching. you’ll end up with a no-shell hardboiled egg on burnt toast. round 2.

(Round 2 was, for the record, perfect.)

One thing I have noticed about waking up before the crack of dawn is how much more I’ve been able to fit into my day.  Also, the endorphins must be working, because I am what my alternate universe non-early bird self would disparagingly call “an absolute cesspool of positivity”.  I must try this again sometime.

Have you ever put on a t-shirt and thought, “Gee, I wish this thing had more arm-holes to accommodate my extra limbs?”  Well, turn that frown upside-down and prepare to clap all six of your hands together, because a solution has arrived, in the form of fashion designer Daniel Palillo’s Scarv Tee:

This poor fellow tried to make a DIY ghost costume for Halloween.  (Hes not too good with arts and crafts.)
I wish I could tell you this is a joke, and that these are pictures of an attempt at a classic Halloween ghost costume gone awry.  I cannot.

The Scarv Tee was featured yesterday on The Fashion Police blog, which fortunately did not embrace a white sheet full of holes as this season’s must-have, instead offering this tongue-in-cheek endorsement:

“Now, we know what you’re thinking girls, but don’t worry: although this garment is being modelled by a man here, it is, in fact, a unisex shirt, so you and your man can both wear it. We’re speaking literally here, by the way: when we say “you can both wear it” we mean “you can both wear it at the same time“, on account of the fact that it has four neck holes that we can see, and possibly more that we can’t. In fact, what the hell: bring the kids, let them wear it too! Invite your friends!”

The Fashion Police

The Scarv Tee, sold by LA fashion store Welcome Hunters, goes for $205.  That’s USD, by the way, not Zimbabwean dollars.  Perhaps more incredible than the $205 price tag is the fact that the Scarv Tee is completely sold out.  Now, even if you suppose that the Scarv Tee is so unmarketable that the manufacturing lot size was only 1 tee, it still means that someone bought one.

Ponder that for a moment.

In case you’re wondering what other designs Welcome Hunters has up its sleeve(s), look no further than the Angelika Pashbeck Harem Pants in blue:

Welcome Hunters calls these fashion forward yet casual and comfortable.

Welcome Hunters calls these "fashion forward yet casual and comfortable."

What’s with the name?  It’s like they discovered a warehouse full of leftover Hammer pants from the 1980s, tried to put a fresh new twist on them by making an anagram of “Hammer pants”, and due to a tragic typographical error wound up with “Harem pants”.  Retail value for these periwinkle sweatpants?  $435.  No joke.