Paint Shop Girl

Wherein Laura Jean Nesson has adventures and concocts silly games.

Re-education July 20, 2009

Filed under: Learning — lauranesson @ 1:48 pm

Things that people on Metafilter have said “should be taught in schools”:

– Creationism (x 2)
– The skill of questioning the veracity and value of an information source
– Good literature
– “applying basic skills to accomplish daily tasks”
– these first three paragraphs
– The latest accepted standard for page markup
This letter
– “ignoring people unless they can have a direct effect upon my life”


Bethy’s musical recommendations May 5, 2009

Filed under: Learning — lauranesson @ 2:04 pm

My buddy Beth is a choir director who came to visit me in Brooklyn a couple of weeks ago. She made me a lovely list of musical recommendations that managed to combine my indie rock tendencies with her love of Renaissance music. Here’s the list, posted mostly for my easy access and so I’m allowed to throw away the index card:

-Brandi Carlile, especially the acoustic album
– Bon Iver / DeYarmond Edison (one of her old students plays with them, too!)
– Bobby McFerrin, Circlesongs and the album with Chick Corea, especially “Spain”
– Sarah Vaughan, Live at Mr. Kelly’s
– Ellis Paul, the live album
– Fleet Foxes
– Jewlia Eisenberg, Trilectic

That’s the more modern stuff, but she also included some rad early (and classical) music, with her favorite performers:

– Gesualdo, especially the Motets
– Perotin (which is early polyphony), especially performed by the Hilliard Ensemble
– Victoria, “Requiem,” especially performed by Harry Christophers and the Sixteen
– Trio Mediaeval, Stella Maris
– Beethoven’s later string quartets


Arabic 101 (or whatever comes before that, even) April 2, 2009

Filed under: Learning — lauranesson @ 7:47 pm
Tags: , , , ,

So, pending the coming move to Lebanon, I’ve been making some serious attempts at learning Arabic. This certainly comes with its struggles. Here’s what’s up so far:

– There’s not time for me to get into a class, and only recently have I understood the script well enough to warrant private lessons. But with only two more months in these United States, and not a lot of money to go around, it’s all independent study, all the time.

– Arabic has a ton of differing dialects. The one I’ll be around the most will be Levantine Arabic (and let us not forget the French). Teaching materials are typically created for Modern Standard Arabic – MSA – and trying to speak it is much like hopping out of a cab in front of Grand Central and delivering one of Hamlet’s soliloquies. “Hark ye, kind sir. The grace of God be upon you on this day of light. Forsooth, couldst thou kindly direct me to the shining doors of the L train?”

– I’d eat bugs for some cognates. So far, we’ve got “beij” and “sah’ra”: “beige” and “desert.” To be fair, though, they’re written as “نيغ” and “صعلرا”. Remember to read ’em right-to-left!

Wrestling with all my strength with a language has its rewards, though. German looks like the simplest thing in the world. The internets provide great little corners of help: streaming BBC television news, PDF versions of dictionaries, class syllabi. If anyone’s interested, I’d be happy to slap up some links to my favorite treasures so far. For now, I’ve earned myself a reward beer.


Question: December 31, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — lauranesson @ 12:22 pm

How does social psychology overlap with anthropology?


Question December 30, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — lauranesson @ 6:39 pm

Do the people who were prisoners in the Stanford Prison Experiment have confirmation bias in seeing their number again? The numbers were short enough that it seems like they might legitimately come up pretty often.

Knowing I was born at 9:24 seems to mean I see that time at least a few times a week, and see those numbers in a row pretty often. ‘Cause I’m primed to notice them, I’m sure.

Do you have any numbers that recur in your world?


Garson Hampfield, Crossword Inker November 9, 2008

Filed under: Scenic art — lauranesson @ 12:10 pm
Tags: , , ,

Man, some of the things this (fictional) guy says really hit home in terms of the ever-growing capacity to mechanize the scenic industry. Scenic artists all tell ourselves that drops printed large-scale can’t come close to the results acheived by extremely highly trained people working in a way that’s been passed down for hundreds of years. Luckily, this is still mostly true, but those robots are getting better all the time.

I liked this so much, I’m half-tempted to write a script paralleling this one about my job:

The cartoon was made by Michael A. Charles, whose website is found here. He seems like a fairly wonderful person.


Pouring off while mixing August 22, 2008

Filed under: Scenic art — lauranesson @ 11:15 am
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This one’s another of those so-obvious practices that took a while to get through to my brain. My first day at Old-School Scenic, I was working with a lovely woman named K. We spent most of the morning mixing a bunch of colors – a sort of nerve-wracking activity on my first-ever day of union work, but it seemed to go pretty well. My buddy M. (another apprentice) said that he kept looking across the shop floor and getting nervous on my behalf.

For the most-of-the-people-I-know who don’t do this for a living, mixing colors is a really finicky activity that takes a lot of practice. It’s about stored-up knowledge from years of getting colors wrong: if the vibrant magenta you’re mixing is a little too vibrant and a little too light in value, you can pop in some raw umber (a green-tinged brown) to get the shade you want. Picky, picky knowledge. And easy and expensive to get wrong, but really satisfying to get right.

For the painters I love, then: lots of times when you’re mixing a color, you find yourself getting mighty close and then needed to lighten it a little, right? Those colorants can really take the value down while you’re trying to find your hue. As you’re adding white, instead of just dumping the white straight into the color you’ve been working on, pour some of the mix off first. This way, if you put too much white into the whole thing, you can pour in some of your old mix (the stuff you’ve just poured off) to bring it back to exactly what you were looking for.

K. kept reminding me, gently, to pour off some of the mix before I added more white, especially in circumstances where it seemed like I was having to add much more white than I’d thought I would. This all, of course, traces back to the idea that if you’re trying to get a pastel, you oughtta start with the white and mix in the color, rather than vice versa. No guilt here, though: the colors I was trying to rock were pretty far from pastel.