Oya: rise of the Orisas

I watched this video this morning on the way to work. I don’t know much about orisas but based on this short film, I’d be interested in seeing this turned into a full length feature, or maybe a miniseries.

Oya rise of the Orisas – African Superhero Movie from Nosa Nedion on Vimeo.

The guinea pig

I randomly got a postcard in the mail one day from a company seeking to recruit subjects for a research study about weight loss. I’m constantly on the path to lose weight, get in shape, etc., so the ad piqued my interest. What further interested me was the fact that there were no drugs nor fad diets involved.

So I logged onto the website and completed their initial survey. I get a call 2 days later from a woman who is one of the study coordinators and schedule an appointment to visit their offices.

I arrive on the top floor of an old building in downtown Manhattan. About 10 minutes later a study coordinator arrives and escorts me to one of their tables. They hand me 2 consent forms, one to participate in the study and another to draw blood for lab work. I have some background working in research so I spend a bit of extra time reading the consent forms & asking the study coordinator for some background info about the research.

The study is being conducted to measure which methods for assisting in weight loss are most effective. I’m then led into another room where I was to be randomized to one of two groups. The first was to utilize a health app that tracks meals, exercise, calories, steps taken, etc. The second group would use an established diet program. I step on the scale and of course don’t like the results of it, LOL. Then they proceed to take my blood pressure; and here’s where the shenanigans begin.

The study coordinator brings out one of those electronic blood pressure machines. I know from working in health care that those machines are notorious for inaccurate readings. But at the same time, I understand why the study coordinators are using them, they are not medically trained to take blood pressures the traditional way. As I expected, the first blood pressure reading gives a ridiculously high number that had it been real I’d be in an intensive care unit. I ask the woman if she is using an extra large cuff. Health professionals know to use larger cuffs in obese patients to get a more accurate blood pressure reading. Then the machines kept malfunctioning. Several more readings still were abnormally high but trending downwards.

I noted to the study coordinator that aside from being overweight, I don’t suffer from any chronic medical illnesses. A lot of folks would’ve been alarmed thinking they had severe hypertension, but I had just had my annual physical within the last couple months and a similar instance occurred. The medical assistant checked my blood pressure with an electronic machine and got a ridiculous reading. I’m left in the room waiting for the doctor anxious thinking I have hypertension. I mention to the doctor the abnormal reading and he dismisses it, but takes my blood pressure the traditional way to reassure me, and it’s normal.

In my head I’m thinking here’s a flaw in your study. A second study coordinator comes in to assist. A high blood pressure reading would disqualify me from the study but their machines aren’t working properly so they’re not sure how to proceed. One is texting the principal investigator for guidance. After several minutes wait, a final reading is made and it’s just above the limit for study entry. The investigator OK’s me for entry to the study but they note the machine malfunction.

I was assigned to the phone app group so the study coordinators proceed to download their app onto my phone. I use the app to record meals, exercise, steps taken, etc. I’m also given a scale to record my weight every 2 weeks. A second study coordinator escorts me from the building to a local lab facility several blocks away. During the cab ride, the driver complains about the snow being dumped onto the streets making it more difficult for drivers. I replied to the driver the streets in this area were clean compared to the Bronx where I traveled from to get to my appointment. Sidewalks there were still covered with snow and deep slush at the corners.

At the lab, my carnelian bead bracelet snapped, spreading beads all over the room. Then after flinching a little at the blood draw, the phlebotomist says that she felt scar tissue at the site where she poked my arm. Girl are you kidding me?! That might be plausible if I were a heroin addict, or someone constantly getting lab work done. Scar tissue from at most once a year blood sticks, and not always done in the same area? How about you’re not the smoothest phlebotomist.

My day was so done and I got home from work later than usual so I stopped for some Chinese food. So my weight loss journey didn’t get off to a good start, LOL. In my effort to keep it as “healthy” as possible I got chicken with broccoli, so I’d feel a little less guilty by incorporating some vegetables in the meal.

Tomorrow is my first weigh in. I don’t have to report to the study folks until next week so I still have a chance to get it together.

Watch “Langston Hughes’ 113th Birthday Google Doodle” on YouTube

Langston Hughes’ 113th Birthday Google Doodle: http://youtu.be/W-OU-mY11nE

Chocolate Wine

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Greetings folks! It’s been a while since I blogged.  Hope y’all had a happy & healthy holiday season.

I blogged about having bought this bottle of wine at
Rhinebeck last year. I’m finally getting around to drinking it. If you like chocolate and red wine, this is the perfect way to enjoy it together.

“Cocoa Island” from Thousand Islands Winery is a locally produced wine sold in only a few stores. It’s a light bodied red with enough taste of chocolate for sweetness, but doesn’t overwhelm the taste of the wine. It’s lower alcohol content (11%) won’t give you a hangover afterwards, even if you’re tempted to drink the whole bottle, LOL

This, and their Wellesley Island White wine will be among my staples that I’ll always keep in my cabinet.

A Song for Employees

We’ve all been through that frustration with a bad boss, a bullying coworker or anyone who’s just a pain in the ass. This was a favorite video of mine when I posted it on my Facebook profile a long time ago, and I was just reminded of it today.

I read that the man behind the song is also a pastor, so this is sanctified for all y’all sensitive to foul language, LOL. Enjoy!

Truth In Advertising

It’s been a minute since I posted. Spent most of the summer working on my knitting challenge that I talked about in my last post. I’ll update with pics soon, but I’m working on my third scarf for holiday gifts this year.

A few days ago while talking with a coworker about shenanigans at work, I recalled a video clip I saw for the first time titled “Typical Day In Corporate America.” about workers at a corporate firm where instead of the characters spoke truthfully whatever was on their minds. Searched for the video clip and ended up finding the original short film it was taken from. It’s an old film, but hilarious. You might recognize one of the actors, a comedian who now stars in the improv show, “Whose Line Is It Anyway.”

Well here it is. One of my favorite all time YouTube videos. No matter what your work environment is, these folks have been your coworkers at some point. The story does live up to it’s name.

Knitting Challenge

It all started when I heard about the warehouse sale at the local Save-A-Thon stores they have periodically every year.

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I’d been wanting to check out their warehouse sales in the past and never had a chance to go. For the first time I got the chance to go this year, and my primary intent was to check out their sewing machines and fabric, since I have a renewed interest in getting into sewing in addition to knitting. Where I’m gonna find the time to do both? I don’t know, I’ll work it out somehow, LOL.

I had no intention of going home with any yarn, but then my mom reminded me that one of my aunts, who briefly was into crocheting had expressed interest in me making a cowl or scarf for her when she saw me knitting a cowl for myself. So ok, while I’m here, I figure I’ll take advantage of the discounted yarn prices & see if I can find some yarn to make a project for her.

My plan was to make the scarf for my aunt as a Christmas gift. Yes, not even summer yet and I’m thinking about Christmas in June. But then this happened…..

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You’re looking at that picture & probably wondering what kind of shenanigans I’ve gotten into. Well, what had happened was…. somehow one aunt turned into 3 aunts, an uncle, a cousin, my two sisters, my brother in law, a niece, nephew, and my mom. I figure I’ll get a jumpstart on them since I’ve now committed myself to an iron man knitting challenge; doing 11 projects by Christmas. The upside of that at least is come this year’s holiday season, I’ll be cozy in my home sipping wine and knitting while you folks will be battling it out at WalMart like this woman on black friday:

And the sewing machine? Well I did see one I’m interested in buying, but found a better deal for it online. And bought some really pretty fabric too. But more about that in another post.

Pottery Class….The Results

I almost forgot to post about this. Been busy the last few weeks prepping for a cruise with the family that turned out to be a well needed vacation. In between, I got the email from La Mano pottery stating that the yarn bowl I made was finally ready for pick up. That episode almost turned out to be drama in itself.

I receive the email over the weekend, and made plans to head there the following tuesday. When I get to the studio, I tell the receptionist at the counter I’m here to pick up my pottery. I give her my name, and date of the class and she proceeds to search. She’s looking through all the bags of student projects stored on the shelves and she cannot find it. Another worker joins the search, they go to the back, downstairs in their basement. Still no pottery. My heart is slowly sinking. All kinds of wild thoughts are going through my head. What if it broke? Did they mistakenly give it to someone else? Twenty minutes I’m standing there and staff can’t find it. Finally she apologizes and tells me to follow up “Damien”, the staff member who emailed me to pick up my bowl in the first place.

I follow up later with a “dude, where’s my stuff?” email to Damien, he replies it’s been found. I return to the studio two days later. I encounter another receptionist and some different staff, which included the instructor I had for the course. In the midst of another 10-15 minutes of not knowing where it is again, the owner, a middle aged woman with a pleasant manner appears. She remembers my yarn bowl, remarking on it’s size. “It’s so big, students don’t usually make anything that large in the wheel throwing classes.” What can I say? The class was at half capacity being it was Easter Sunday, so there was extra clay to work with. She also recalled having worked on the finishing of the piece itself, noting she had to do repairs on the cylinder portion which had separated from the bottom.

After all that drama, they finally present my piece. I’m pleased with the way it came out for my first project. It’s got some sharp edges on the inside so it won’t work for practical use as a yarn bowl, but it’ll make for a nice display piece in my crafting room. They glazed it a cobalt blue. I’d have preferred a mix of colors or some accent colors, but students were not permitted choice in coloring.

And now, the pictures. So tell me, did I do a nice job or what?

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RIP Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

We lost a phenomenal woman today.

Like many young black girls, the first time I was exposed to Maya Angelou was through her autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings which was required high school reading. Hearing the stories of my dad’s upbringing in the south, and the annual road trips there to visit my own relatives, I could relate somewhat to the story of a young black girl born in St. Louis who grew up in rural Arkansas by her grandmother during the years of brutal segregation. Who later grew up to become a dancer, an actress, director, activist and most notably a writer.

I imagine much of Maya Angelou’s poetry and writings served like a soundtrack to the lives of many african americans. While browsing YouTube, I came across this video that I haven’t seen in many years. The movie adaptation of “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” It’s dated, given it was shot in the late 1970s, but has a cast of well known black actors/actresses of the time.

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Pottery class part 2

A week ago I posted about the wheel thrown pottery class I went to at La Mano Pottery from a groupon deal.

On this Easter Sunday morning, I’m back again for the original pottery class I signed up for. A hand building pottery workshop that I also bought a groupon deal for.

This time it was a much smaller class so our instructor started us off with a tour of the studio. She took us downstairs into the area where finished pottery work done via the pottery wheel or hand built are dried, fired in their kilns and then glazed. Some of the finished pieces are the work of students who’ve taken workshop classes, others like the ones you see with the white tags are done by professional artists. Showing various shapes & designs, the students drew ideas & inspiration on what to make.

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We return to the class area and the instructor then begins to demonstrate how to cut & shape the clay, imprint designs, attach pieces together and seal any gaps. I came in with the idea of making a yarn bowl, then became concerned when the instructor said bowls were not very good to design with the flat clay because of the higher risk of the finished piece cracking while drying.

After speaking with the instructor about my concerns with making a yarn bowl, she suggested I do a cylindrical design as opposed to a bowl shape. (sigh of relief)

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All pieces start out with a flat slab of clay. The clay is quite moist, a newspaper is required under the slab to prevent it sticking to the table surface. With a trimming instrument smooth away any uneven surfaces, then depending on what your desired piece is, you will then cut & shape your clay into whatever the final piece will be. Any design you want on the finished piece can be stenciled on at this time.

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Lucky for me the class wasn’t full so there were extra slabs of clay to work with. Most yarn bowls I see on the market will hold small to medium size skeins of yarn. I wanted something that would hold one of those really huge skeins which I haven’t found anywhere. For that size, I needed an extra 1/2 slab of clay, which I cut and attached here. Originally I wanted a floral design on the outside but the imprint didn’t turn out well, so I went with this wicker basket design on the background.

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If you’ve ever baked any bread or pastries you’ll find those skills useful here. The piece was so huge when I seamed the edges together, the instructor had to roll out a new piece of clay for the bottom. I used a lazy susan to spin my piece around while sealing the sides & bottom together and then adding other decorations.

There was a letter & number stencil I tried using to carve out letters which didn’t work out. I went with slabs of clay with handwritten words “yarn” “knit” and “purl” and some hand drawn motifs of knitting needles and a basket of yarn to decorate.

The final step was carving out the sections for threading the yarn through. I’ve never had a yarn bowl and I wasn’t sure how deep to carve the openings, plus I was concerned about the bowl falling apart. I may or may not have carved the opening deep enough.

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Compared to the wheel throwing class I had, I’m proud of my result & I get to keep what I make this time. For a $15 fee, this masterpiece will be fired in their kilns and glazed with whatever color they happen to have in their stash at the time, we don’t get to choose. The end result will be smaller than what you see here due to the clay drying. Crossing my fingers for the next 6 weeks hoping the piece doesn’t crack.

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