Life: I used to draw!

A sketch from one of my early 1990s sketchbooks

Once upon a time, I would sit down and DRAW. Lots of us love to draw when we are kids, and I kept at it, and could draw for enjoyment into adulthood. This came in handy when I chose to study architecture (though you could get by with drafting for anything that required straight lines; note that I went to school before CADD was a thing, so I mean drafting by hand.)

I enjoyed sketching, not impress other people (as it feels is common in this new, social media age), but to REALLY LOOK AT THINGS CLOSELY and learn about them through that deep study and transforming them into two dimensions on paper. Few of my drawings are good (in the showing-off meaning), but I learned something from the process of creating each of them.

I don’t have any photos of my city’s old deYoung Museum, but I do have sketches of it! And of other things.

Some early 1990s sketches of the old deYoung in Golden Gate Park (in pencil and fine pen), Alcatraz, and a general northerly view over the San Francisco Bay (in soft pencil), all by me.

Some of the color drawings, despite the fact that I don’t much like the texture of colored pencils, showed I WAS learning how to use them!

Selections of colored pencil sketches in the same notebook as the other images in this entry; the lower right one is pastel.

I love that I took the time to MAKE these. I love that I gave myself that opportunity, even while taking a risk that nothing would really come of it, that I could enjoy both looking and drawing. It’s a rich experience, having that kind of focused attention and doing something with it. I had never really LOOKED at a cantaloupe closely, but one day I cut one open and knew I had to draw it and its lovely seeds.

I drew from life (from a place I really was, like the marina where I drew that boat, or the geometric shapes that were based on an origami project I had made with friends), and photos (the garden in the lower center was surely from a magazine), or that I invented (the house on the hill with Japanese-castle-like details and modern windows, if I remember correctly).

It’s fun for me to look back through this old sketchbook (which I came across while cleaning out a box in the garage), and think about how good it was that I took the time to study and enjoy the time I spent drawing these things. My life was challenging during that time period (tuition was becoming a serious hardship, etc.) , but this was something I did for myself, and I’m glad I did.

I have lots of interests, and my career has limited the time I can spend on my own projects, so I’ve given up drawing and painting to make room for work, sleep, and loved ones.

I felt I could only choose one creative pursuit, and I chose photography (and writing for my own websites, if you haven’t noticed). I have no regrets about that choice, but would love to “have it all” – including more time to study, draw, and paint.

News: UN has concerns on US Human Rights

As they should.

It’s good when international bodies – and people from around the globe – ‘see something and say something.’

U.N. human rights office calls on U.S. police to limit use of force

The United Nations human rights office on Friday called on U.S. security forces to limit their use of force against peaceful protesters and journalists, as clashes between federal agents and demonstrators continue in Portland, Ore. “Peaceful demonstrations that have been taking place in cities in the U.S.

Culture: 423 Days of Duolingo

Duo is the encouraging Owl mascot of Duolingo

Growing up in San Francisco is an experience I wouldn’t trade!! You can hear half a dozen languages spoken in a trip across town, have classmates and neighbors from around the world, celebrate the new year at least five different times/ways, and taste so many delicious, different foods!

I grew up in the Mission District, and was a tall child from about age 11, so I spent countless years of my life as ‘the tall girl that can get something off the shelf for your abuela.’ (Note: I am still that woman. I also open jars for other gals. Sisterhood is powerful.) The abuelas would politely ask me for the thing I should reach for them, usually in Spanish, and so I developed a reasonable Spanglish vocabulary for things you can buy in a shop and anything/everything I would want in a Mission-style burrito. (Burrito vegetariano con frijoles pinto, aguacate, y salsa picante, por aqui, por favor!) (Note: it still bothers me that our local shops insist that lemon is limón, and lime is limón verde. IT IS NOT JUST A VERDE LIMÓN! Noooooooo!)

I had been frustrated by being unable to read some books my father had at home from his prior life, when he was in the military and stationed in Germany, so I studied German for four years in high school. (I kept a diary in German, and got a German pen pal whom I’m still in touch with decades later!) I loved Japanese design, and so I casually studied Japanese before taking a trip there in the early 1990s, and was able to read Hiragana and Katakana briefly. (Other English speakers were so impressed when I could translate for them! “Where are we?” “We’re in Sendai.” “You can read that sign?” “Not the big characters, but you can see just below the big characters, it is subtitled, and I can read that.” “BUT THAT IS ALSO IN JAPANESE!” “Yes, but it is easier Japanese…”) In the early “aughts,” I took my then-spouse to Paris, and I studied French for about a week before going, which got me through ticket purchasing and train station announcements successfully. Years later when I began to work in Europe, I needed to brush up on at least German, and perhaps French.

I turned to Duolingo.

Duolingo is an app (and website) that turns language study into a game. The lessons are short; there are cartoon characters that speak the language you are studying, and respond when you translate them correctly; there are exercises in multiple choice, magnetic-poetry-style listening and translating in both directions (native to study language and reversed), and speech tests. It’s fun, like a little game, and there’s a tiny social network element to it, where you are ranked against others (if competition is your thing). It’s free if you want, or you can pay for it to be able to go faster (and be forgiven for making more mistakes).

I’d read that the well-intentioned company founders couldn’t actually speak in the languages they claimed to be studying, not even in their press conferences touting the tool. If you’ve read those stories, you may be wondering whether you’ll get anything out of it.

I’ve used Duolingo to study German, French, Spanish, and a little Dutch. Studying languages I have formal training in (German) and those I don’t (all the others), I can say that it is a nice tool for building vocabulary and expanding on foundational knowledge, but just okay for learning structural basics from scratch. My German lessons went VERY smoothly, especially in the mostly multiple-choice format, but I really struggled with the French lessons, and needed to find other resources to explain what it was about verb conjugations and gender patterns that I JUST COULD NOT SEE.

I can say that the style of lessons (and even some of the stories) are the same across languages, though the conversational content can differ quite a bit. (The French lessons were originally much more about being rich, liking horses, and going shopping than the German ones, which favored taking trains and telling everyone you are German; the lessons have all been updated since I started, often multiple times.)

After 166 German lessons/levels, I can say that my German vocabulary has definitely improved; words that never came up in the travel-books, but which are very practical, were great to finally see. I can read them, and hope to remember them. After 146 French lessons, I can read far more than I could previously, but I can’t start a conversation, my grammar remains awkward, and my pronunciation still sounds like my tongue objects to something. 62 Spanish lessons allowed me to learn waaaay too much about a party the girl behind me was describing to her friends on the phone, but were not enough to speak to my neighbor’s wife to tell him that a parking space he wanted was available, and he should take it immediately.

So: it is good! It is fun! It is bite-sized! You’ll be glad you did it! Yet know it isn’t enough on its own. If you want some tables of rules, clear patterns presented for reference, or to write things down to better remember them, you’ll need to supplement Duolingo with other materials. (I like Living Language books + audio recording packages for that.) It is good for what it is, but an app can’t do it all, and that’s okay.

And ALL OF US could use some encouragement in daily life from a cute owl.

News: AOC Speaks Eloquently on Casual Misogyny

I was sincerely moved by the speech representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made in the legislature today on men behaving with casual hatred toward women, and then rushing to hide behind their own wives and daughters.

As with so many of AOC’s speeches, it is really thoughtful. When she tells you she’s had to throw men out of bars for behaving with this sort of hatred displayed by another elected official, the pattern she is observing is clear.

We women already KNOW about this – we’ve lived it. But we’ve been told to suffer in silence for the comfort of men. So I appreciate casual misogyny being addressed in this simultaneously high-minded and down-to-earth fashion.

Perspective | AOC’s speech about Ted Yoho’s ‘apology’ was a comeback for the ages

If you click on only one thing today, let it be Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Thursday morning speech, delivered from the House floor and directed to a fellow member of Congress, but really to us all. “You can be a powerful man and accost women,” said the New York Democrat.

News: US Passes Four Million Coronavirus Cases

That… didn’t take long.

U.S. passes 4 million coronavirus cases as pace of new infections roughly doubles

The United States on Thursday passed the grim milestone of 4 million confirmed coronavirus infections, and President Trump announced he was canceling the public celebration of his nomination for a second term, as institutions from schools to airlines to Major League Baseball wrestled with the consequences of a pandemic still far from under control.

Here in California, where we took precautions, but also had rebels unwilling to prolong the quarantine-style precautions. We’ve just topped New York in the number of cases, and jumped up more than TWELVE THOUSAND CASES IN A SINGLE DAY. We’re twice as big as NY, so we’ll still try to make bold claims of superiority, but… still. STILL.

California surpasses New York as state with most coronavirus cases after record day

California has recorded its highest number of new Covid-19 cases in a single day, as the state surpassed New York for the most total cases in the country. The state saw 12,807 confirmed cases on Tuesday, the governor, Gavin Newsom, announced on Wednesday.

Other countries got this under control, but due to a lack of risk comprehension (being geographically far from all but two countries really messes up the perspective), widespread belief that the illness is a hoax, and the extended childhood that constitutes adult life for many Americans, we have to suffer EVEN MORE before coming to our collective senses.

I do want to note that griping about “Americans” is unfair: it’s like lumping all of Europe together, as if there is no difference between the UK and Germany, for example. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE. There are regional pockets of science-based precautions and good behavior. That’s a thing! But there are also many individual failures within those good pockets, which is why I can live in one of the FIRST COUNTIES IN THE US to issue a health order, yet still had to have a conversation with a neighbor who doesn’t think COVID-19 is real, or even if it is real that the news is just exaggeration and hysteria. (He is being yelled at by family friends; I get the easy task of merely agreeing with this friends enthusiastically!)

Years of pretending that everyone’s opinion is equally valuable, and that even basic facts have at least two “both sides” elements, have taken a toll on the critical thinking of many of our citizens. And here we are. Together. Depending on the most foolish of us to keep our communities safe.

Art: US Postal Service Stamps Honor Ruth Asawa

10 gorgeous images of Ruth Asawa’s sculptures

I am completely delighted that the US Postal Service is issuing stamps featuring sculptures by California artist Ruth Asawa.

We claim Asawa here: she created numerous sculptures we have, including the famous mermaid sculpture at Ghiradelli Square, the charming children’s clay figure sculpture near Union Square (now adjacent to the Apple Store), and a remarkable collection of woven wire structures that are included in the collection of our deYoung Museum; we’ve named a school after her!

It’s wonderful to see her work shared with others nationally in this highly democratic way.

On What I’m reading

-I’m reading Supreme Court decisions (which are long, and those take some TIME; I annotate my copies, of course).

-I’m still reading McSweeney’s 54

-I’m listening to The Vegetarian by Han Kang in audiobook format. (It’s GREAT – the husband narrator is especially terrible, so it is a relief that there are others… Also, as a vegetarian, the horror and violence that erupts over the wife’s dietary choice, despite the country’s remarkable Buddhist cuisine and its known benefits, is so many things – familiar, plausible, remarkably foolish, and more.)

-I’m still reading Whitelash

-I want to read: Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister The Serial Killer; Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko; Mariana Mazzucato’s The Value of Everything; Zerlina Maxwell’s The End of White Politics: How to Heal Our Liberal Divide; and Stacey Abram’s Our Time Is Now.

Supreme Court: McGirt v. Oklahoma

The Supreme Court’s decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma is 86 pages of WOW, I didn’t have honoring our original treaties with the Muskogee/Creek on my 2020 Bingo Card!!

Wow. This was the concise summary. You don’t really need to read beyond this.

OPINION by GORSUCH: a, 1832 Treaty guaranteed land to the Creek, and promised that no US State or Territory would ever pass laws that would apply to the Creek people on that land. “[W]e hold the government to its word.” McGirt was convicted in Oklahoma State Court; he claims the state has no authority under the Federal Major Crimes act, which makes certain crimes committed by “Indians” on “Indian land” exclusively federal. Oklahoma claims that the land no longer belongs to the Creeks. OK state courts and the Tenth Circuit came to conflicting conclusions, so here we are.

States can’t change reservations (those are between the Tribes and the Feds). Allotment tried to break up the holdings, but the language permits private land within reservations, the Creek Reservation was never lawfully terminated, and Congress has explained that allotments don’t dissolve reservations anyway. (Likewise, land patents to homesteaders elsewhere didn’t dissolve the US’ sovereignty.) Congress may have hoped to dissolve the reservations by allotment, but didn’t get there.

OK points to other interference in the Tribe’s affairs, but those don’t change the law. OK notes that some of the region “has lost its Indian character,” but that doesn’t change the law. OK suggests that its disregard for federal law and habit of pulling the Creek into state courts proves something, but no. “Things only get worse from there.” Collected commentary from Tribal individuals and others does not change the law. The arrival of many white settlers (actually used by OK as evidence?) DOES NOT CHANGE THE LAW. OK’s efforts to get more of the Creek land through sketchy means once oil was discovered there… you know where this is going right? – STILL DOES NOT CHANGE THE LAW. “That would be the rule of the strong, not the rule of law.”

OK then suggests the reservation doesn’t exist, that Congress never made it, and I’m not even going to bother summarizing that – it’s too cray. Also, OK is trying to distinguish between a reservation and a “dependent Indian community” in a way that doesn’t help it legally, because OK lacks jurisdiction in both types of classifications. And then there is an argument that the treaty gave the Tribe fee title to the land, which they are pretending is bad. The Court isn’t having it, and hasn’t since 1900 or so.

OK then tries to argue that the merger of Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory means that it is special and different from other states, but law on the books in 1885 says otherwise. So they tried the Enabling Act for OK statehood, but even that had federal court exceptions. (Why are they trying this on legal scholars?) OK took Creek people to state court anyway, but (say it with me) THAT DOES NOT CHANGE THE LAWS.

OK says that finding the Creek Reservations still exists would be complex, because it would mean up to half of OK still belongs to the Creek. To which the Court says, “And?”

OooooooOOOOooooooOOOOoooooooooo! Opinion runs through p. 45 of the PDF.

(It’s hard to fairly summarize the dissent, because it feels too much like ‘possession is 9/10ths of the law.” I’m serious. Especially since it emphasizes intent, and says that you should respect the intended destruction of a tribe as law, even if that destruction was never completed explicitly, and even though Congress did things to RESTORE the Tribe’s sovereignty, too. It’s… weird.

It also comes so closely on the heels of the Bostick case (on transgender rights, among other things), where the conservatives insisted that you go back to the oldest law you can find and take it at its word UNTIL IT IS CHANGED EXPLICITLY: when their preferred approach was applied here, the conservatives suddenly switched standards. )

DISSENT by ROBERTS (with ALITO, KAVANAUGH, and THOMAS except for part): but! but! but! WHO COULD HAVE KNOWN that the laws are still on the books! How can the State do STATE THINGS if federal laws still apply! This is DESTABILIZING! And there was the Civil War! And there were SO MANY SETTLERS. And we will refer to reports about Congress’ intentions selectively. The population of Creek has been outnumbered. (WE WILL NOT USE MANY CITATIONS FOR THIS PART OF THE DISSENT!)

Intent, intent, intent, intent, intent. Everyone knew where this was going. Why did Congress have to be explicit? Laws were passed taking things away from the Creek; even if new laws were passed giving them those things back, that just proves that they were previously taken away (and what was our point again?). Any references to “former” lands mean ALL THE LANDS (notwithstanding all the transfers and changes of borders, which somehow couldn’t possibly be in this discussion?)(?!). If anyone among the Creek referred to the land as something other a reservation, that also means the treaty (which still exists legally) is gone because of the intent to dissolve everything through constant micro- and macro-aggressions. (p 46 – 82)

DISSENT by THOMAS: This Court lacks jurisdiction because of State law. Oklahoma deserves more respect. (p. 83 – 86).

‘If the state does you wrong for long enough, federal law doesn’t apply’ is kind of wild as an argument. I get the, ‘facts on the ground look bad,’ I get the complexity of forming new states and repeatedly dividing up jurisdictions between the feds and the states, but in nearly any other situation, the remedy for the state mistreating people because it was closer and the feds were far away would be a federal intervention. I mean, states the American South failed to guarantee lots of federal laws, and the Feds sometimes stepped in, which was the right thing to do. So. Gosh.

News: US Achieves Three Million COVID-19 Cases; World Achieves Twelve Million

US reaches 3m confirmed Covid-19 cases as Pence pushes for schools to reopen – as it happened

Johns Hopkins tracker confirms US has hit 3m mark, representing about a quarter of the world’s total cases

That was fast.

Also, it occurs to me that “pandemic” might be the wrong tag for this in the long term. Because, you know. This might not be the only one during the running cycle of this blog. (Yikes.) (No, really, it is OPTIMISM, because I think I’ll be able to live through it to write about the next one!)

The Johns Hopkins Corona Virus resource page shows there are over Twelve Million cases globally, While that also seems fast, you have to realize that my own, very large country is going up 60,000 CASES PER DAY.

Supreme Court: DREAMers decision podcast from reWire

Oh, I saved this to publish before/after my hobbyist summary of Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California! These law geeks do this so well.

Rapid Reaction – Supreme Court Protects DREAMers – Rewire.News

DACA recipients and their supporters rally outside the Supreme Court, which denied the Trump administration’s attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Drew Angerer/Getty Images For the second time in a week, the Supreme Court came down on the side of justice!