Monday, September 13, 2010


I'm a political person - I try to hold myself in check but it's part of who I am. Some people think my train has gone off the rails - politics, religion, too personal for public view. But, I guess I've never been particularly put off by this, as a child of the 60s, it feels like "selling out".

In putting my ideals and opinions out there, I've lost customers - because many hold their beliefs as dear and are as convinced of their "rightness" as I do. That's okay, I can handle that. Our beliefs are largely given to us by our parents. Their beliefs from theirs and, of course, those things that are out of our control, but affect us, factor in to what we believe is right and wrong.

In this environment, it's hard not to have some opinion about the many troubles we find ourselves in. The economy, jobs, homelessness, Arizona, the Park 51 Mosque. Big problems, huge problems. I want to talk about the Park 51 Mosque and the growing hatred of Muslims.

I'm Japanese-American. My parents and their families lived on the west coast - mom on Coronado Island and dad in L.A. My grandparent came to the US from Japan and my parents were born here, making them US citizens. That didn't protect them from being rounded up and put in internment camps - the constitution failed them, entirely. They were able to take only what they could wear, or carry with them.

Grandma was pregnant and my Uncle Paul was the first baby born at the Santa Anita racetrack. Grandpa was into the martial arts - Kendo - big long bamboo swords. I guess that was the reason he was taken from the family months before they had to leave Coronado Island - or was it because he was a gardener? For the duration of the war, Grandma and the family had no idea where he was - whether he was alive or dead.

When the war was over, each internee was given 25 dollars and a ticket to wherever they wanted to go. Good-bye.

So, when the tragedy of 9/11 occurred, my family were filled with not just the fear of attack and the grief of senseless loss of life, we were also filled with fear for the Muslims. Through the lens of our experience, we knew that what happened to Japanese Americans could happen to Muslim Americans. The one good thing that Bush did was to forcefully come out and state that we were not at war with Islam. President Obama has tried to do the same thing but with the unreasonable hate that is directed at him, his words have fallen on deaf ears.

I'm worried. I wonder if our Constitution will hold fast to its ideals or if it will fail as it failed my family. Park 51 is, from what I understand, a community center with a prayer room - isn't that the YMCA? But that isn't even the issue here. We are supposed to live in a nation that offers religious freedom. Believe what you will or don't - we have that right. And, I believe much of the ruckus masks a deep seated, fear of what people do not understand - that which is "foreign". My family were "foreign" and so are Muslims.

Will fear win? Will the Constitution be shredded to appease those who claim to honor it, but only when it serves them? For me, an exception here, an exception there and we're building camps again.

Monday, September 6, 2010

puzzles - an approach to design

Some people have an idea of exactly what they want to make. They sketch and labor over whether this goes here or there. I tried it but then struggled with the issue of scale. Looked great on paper but something was not quite right when I got it all together. So I changed my approach - not everything works for everyone.

I love puzzles and games. I play them all the time (when I have time) on Vernon's birthday present to me, My ipad! I make lots of components and then put them together. I take them apart, put them together. The process can take some time but I enjoy it because it's feels like a puzzle, a problem that I get to solve!

These earrings are the result of one of my polymer gaming sessions. I like them quite a lot.

Love and Hate

Shortly after my pop passed away, I saw a little, old Asian man in khaki pants and a baseball cap making his way in the Denver airport. I almost ran up and hugged him - I loved that little old man. I didn't know him, he just reminded me of my pop who I missed so badly then and still do today. I loved this total stranger I didn't know at all.

We love and hate from our own perspective and experience. We don't feel these emotions in a vacuum.

So, when we speak of others or others speak of us (in both positive and negative terms) it's a pretty good bet that we're actually letting the world know more about us than the object of our comments. All sentient beings have a personal perspective and agenda.

I've been a target of some pretty ugly stuff, I've also said some pretty ugly stuff, myself. I can do something about the latter and take the former with that old grain of salt.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

the Zen Eye

I've been a bit off kilter - running and running. We get into the "gotta take care of this now" mode, dropping what we were doing to meet an immediate and pressing task. Now, I don't plan anything, really, this isn't inconsistent with my modus operandi by any means, but even someone like me has to stop, pause and re-collect.

In hopes to settling my spirit and finding some balance, I bought a book, The Zen Eye by Sokei An. A collection of talks by the founder of the first Buddhist church in the 30s. Interesting. He speaks of things I've thought but never really found the right words to express.

Today, I'm reading about "reality". We tend to think of reality as something as concrete and concrete. But, it's not, it changes - reality changes - and, by the way, so does concrete. A mother with a toddler experiences one reality but that same mother's reality is entirely different when the child is 2 or 20. Ahh, reality.

I can take living in a world without a real constant. My body isn't a constant. My mind is not a constant. The people around me change in the same way. We're more like running rivers than boulders set in the ground that appear to be constant, but over millenia, are not. Maybe some feel the need to have something unchanging, a touch stone. Maybe, just maybe, this is where the need to believe in an "other", Jesus, Mohammed, or even in the extreme, nut cases like David Koresh comes from. Hmmm.

Later, I have to get dressed and run to a meeting!

Friday, August 13, 2010

spinning rings

These are my new rings - well, sort of new - I made these a few months ago. I don't know exactly when I became fixated on making my jewelry move but I think it began with my Spinner Bracelets. They were so much fun to play with, I logically moved to rings. I also made pins and they're almost as much fun to fiddle around with.

These are definitely summer wear - no way you're going to get gloves over these babies! They're big - but, surprisingly, comfortable. And, they are all polymer.

Thing to remember is that the clay must be very strong, very durable so most of the clays out there are suitable. Not all clays are as impervious to the heat from your fingers - even your body temp can alter the shape of the shank. Of course, I use Kato Polyclay. It doesn't change even after I've worn a ring a long time, even in intense heat. So, while the spinner part could certainly be any durable clay, I'd recommend Kato Polyclay for the shank itself.

I don't know where I'll go with these jewelry "toys" but I will keep you posted. I will be posting these rings as a class soon - that much I am certain of.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

my new favorite toy

Vernon bought me an ipad for his birthday! Actually, he bought it for himself but gave up and gave it to me when I loaded app after app onto it and started hiding it from him. Okay, I didn't hide it, I just played with it a lot.

Google Earth! I can find your house from here!

MahJong - 2 versions!

Boggle and, my favorite, Galaga!

I can email and search the web. I can read - in the dark.

Once upon a time, Vernon asked me if I wanted an iphone. I said "no more icrap! I have to use up the icrap I have!" But, this, now this, is really different. I love my ipad.