Thursday, February 26, 2009

Getty Goodness

My good friend Nellie was visiting Los Angeles for a national art history conference. She arrived a few days earlier so we could play. Nellie recently accepted a position as a curator... now all she has to do is finish the dissertation! Go Nellie! Even though she's been to LA a couple of times, she's yet to visit the Getty. So after a lunch on the beach and a stroll on the Santa Monica Pier, we headed to the hills.

The Getty is absolutely breathtaking. The day had started off cloudy, but by hour 2, the skies were blue and the views were spectacular. The Getty Center consists of the museum open to the public as well as research centers.

We decided to take the architecture tour of the grounds.

Cathy, our tour guide.

The most striking thing about the Getty campus is the use of the natural travertine. The travertine that covers much of the Getty hails from Bagni di Tivoli, Italy. It changes color depending on the time of day - it's a whitish color during the morning and mellows to a honey colored beige in the afternoon. Some of the pieces were cleft-cut with a crazy sharp guillotine to provide an interesting jagged texture, and others are smooth.

Apparently the cleft cut stones can reveal cool looking fossils. Look! Leaves.

(image from Charles S. Rhyne, Reed College -

I tried to find some on my own, but came up short.

Each of the primary squares are 30 by 30 inches. The smaller paving stones that make up the walkways are perfect multiples.

In addition to stone, the center uses metal in the form of aluminum. The undulating curves provide a nice contrast to the straight lines of other parts of the Getty.

Although the Getty can appear whitish during certain times of the day, a true white, as evidenced by the tram station in the picture below would actually be rather glaring.

The only splash of color in the architecture is the trellis near the restaurant. Why is it pale purple? To pay tribute to James Stirling, the late English architect, who was a friend and a finalist who lost out to Meier for the Getty job. Aparently Stirling used a lot of color in his work.

Speaking of color, check out this monstrosity.
This Lichtenstein sculpture "Three Brushstrokes" stands out. And not in a good way.

A travertine portal frames the view toward the ocean and announces the entry towards the Research building. Apparently on the shortest day of the year, the sun sets right in the middle of the frame.

The Getty was built in a posh neighborhood. And the posh neighbors didn't want trucks of mud going down their posh streets. So it was built as a "balanced site", meaning that all the dirt that was dug up on the hill was used elsewhere on the site (like for filling canyons). Waste not, want not.

The actual art of the Getty is rather humdrum to me. I prefer contemporary art. Once you've seen one Jesus painting, you've seen them all. Sure, they're pretty and all, but they all look the same to me. Boring.

This painting caught our attention.

The modern styling of a peasant woman cut through all the idealized images of plump little cherubs and lounging ladies.

See what I mean?



I liked the sketching gallery that was available for visitors. They rotate the featured works on display and provide visitors with all materials. Nellie demurred, and I knew any efforts of mine wouldn't make the display wall, so we passed.

About here is where my iphone died. No more pictures. Sad.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My dog flips out

Yay! My Flip and Tumble shopping bags arrived in the mail yesterday! They came rolled up in their little balls and Doggy Insomniac took an instant liking to them and went to town.

Although he managed to get the blue one unraveled, he was unable to cause permanent damage. These things are hardy!

I love my dog. Even when he's wrecking my stuff, he just looks so cute doing it, I can't do anything but grab a camera. I am going to make a horrible parent one day.

While he was busy with the brown bag, I snapped a quick pic of the other one. Rather wrinkled. Hmm.

Definitely not like the one on the website.

Apparently, smooshing the bag into a ball wrinkles it. lol A quick spin in the dryer ensured that my bags were camera ready. Too bad I didn't take a final picture.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Don't divorce us

If you haven't seen this video from the Courage Campaign, please take a moment to watch it and sign the accompanying petition to the CA Supreme Court that asks them to invalidate Prop 8.  It brings home the importance for keeping marriage for gay and lesbian couples like nothing else I've ever seen. The community goal is 500,000 views and 200,000 signatures by Valentine's Day:

And if you want to get even more involved in the fight for marriage rights, come canvass with me Saturday afternoon!  What's a better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than by talking directly with voters in an effort to change people's hearts and minds about same sex marriage. It is important that folks see what a supporter for LGBT marriage looks like - we come in all colors, sexual orientations, ages, religions, sizes, and income levels. During canvassing, it takes a lot of courage for our LGBT friends to come out to people who repudiate their very existence - and it's important for us to support them and stand along side them. Training and lunch will be provided - bring a friend!  Email me for details: nest.insomniac at gmail dot com.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Vinturi Review

Here's my review of the Vinturi Wine Aerator!

I bought it at for $33 and free shipping, but it's available at other places and some will offer a discount if you buy in bulk.

The box looks attractive enough.

The actual device is made of plastic with a rubber grip that provides a secure hold.

You get all this! The vinturi, a holder/stand, an attractive velvetish carrying bag, and some verbage about how great the vinturi is. Note: bottle of wine not included.

I actually made my own demonstration video with the Flip camera that Mr. Insomniac gave me for my birthday, but (1) it came out crappy - Mr. Insomniac's out of town on business and so I had to create a makeshift tripod with doggy Insomniac's dog food container so I could operate the vinturi effectively; (2) by the time "take 2" rolled around, I was drunk and laughing a lot and sounded stupid. My written voice sounds a lot better than my high squeaky speaking voice. No one wants to hear that, I realized; and (3) I couldn't figure out how to put it on my computer. So three strikes on that one.

So you're stuck with this video I found on youtube. Which is also pretty hilarious.

Shout out to envinoveritas! I used mine to pour glass after glass, as opposed to in a decanter. What wasn't shown in this video (but what I showed in mine) is that you can see the bubbles in the glass as it gets aerated. But I love that sucking sound. Pretty neat.

For my first tasting, I used a run of the mill wine - a Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir that I got at Trader Joes for 8 bucks.

Scientist that I am, I did a comparison test with a glass from the same bottle, but made sure it was un-vinturied. I must add this caveat though... this was not a blind taste test. Like I mentioned earlier, Mr. Insomniac's away and so we couldn't set up our customary taste experiment.

BUT (and this is very important) the difference between a glass right out a freshly opened bottle and one that's been poured with the vinturi was actually dramatic. Wow. I even said that out loud (I have the tape to prove it). Wow.

Here's what the website advertises:
  • Better bouquet - Sample the nose. You'll appreciate the subtle aromatic differences and the full aroma of the wine. Vinturi allows wine to display its intended aromas.
Now I actually didn't do this. I just drank it. Eager beaver insomniac. My bad.

  • Enhanced flavors - Go ahead, take a sip. Vinturi's wine tastes better. It is more flavorful and has better mouthfeel. It tastes like a richer, more expensive wine. It tastes like it was intended to and is more enjoyable.
Check. I'm no oenophile, but even my 2 buck Chuck drinking ass could tell a difference. Amazing.

  • Smoother finish. Ahh. Vinturi's aeration is very effective at softening tannins which results in a much more pleasant finish. Any bitterness or bad aftertaste is reduced or eliminated.
Double check. Smooth as silk. A much more pleasant and drinkable wine.

Overall recommendation? Two thumbs up. A great way for making cheap wine taste good. I'm very curious to see what a better bottle will taste like... I suppose that will have to wait for the weekend!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Action alert!

An email that I received today:

Things are moving quickly in the marriage equality world and this is as important as anything I’ve ever sent. If you’re moved by this, feel free to send it along to your friends and family, and/or ask me what else you can do to help.

News broke Tuesday that the California Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on March 5, and will then make a decision within 90 days on the validity of Prop 8 and the 18,000 existing same-sex marriages.

This past December, Ken Starr, the same prosecutor who led the campaign to impeach President Bill Clinton, filed a legal brief -- on behalf of the "Yes on 8" campaign -- that would forcibly divorce the 18,000 same-sex couples married in California last year before the passage of Prop 8.

Please watch this video from the Courage Campaign, then sign the letter telling the California Supreme Court to invalidate Prop 8, reject Ken Starr's case, and let loving, committed couples marry. DEADLINE: Valentine's Day.

*** If you want to get more involved in the movement to overturn Prop 8 and regain Marriage Equality, let me know and I’ll connect you with a group, events or activities that work for you.


Love Honor Cherish
Outreach Team

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

New York in Abstract Legos

I stumbled across this on the New York Times website and it made me smile - Christoph Niemann's "I LEGO NY", the most recent entry of his Abstract City column.

This one was my favorite. I remember the trepidation I felt the first time I flagged down a cab. It took me a couple of tries to realize that the lights on the hood actually had meaning.

This one was also pretty good too. Always inspect the sidewalk before stepping.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It's game time... Let's go Supreme Court!

Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments
in Prop 8 Legal Challenge on March 5

The California Supreme Court announced today that it will hear oral arguments on Thursday, March 5, 2009 in the Proposition 8 legal challenge.

On November 19, 2008, the California Supreme Court agreed to hear the legal challenges to Proposition 8 and set an expedited schedule. Briefing in the case was completed on January 21, 2009.

The California Supreme Court must issue its decisions within 90 days of oral argument.

On January 15, 2009, 43 friend-of-the-court briefs urging the Court to invalidate Prop 8 were filed, arguing that Proposition 8 drastically alters the equal protection guarantee in California’s Constitution and that the rights of a minority cannot be eliminated by a simple majority vote. The supporters represent the full gamut of California’s and the nation’s civil rights organizations and legal scholars, as well as California legislators, local governments, bar associations, business interests, labor unions, and religious groups.

In May of 2008, the California Supreme Court held that laws that treat people differently based on their sexual orientation violate the equal protection clause of the California Constitution and that same-sex couples have the same fundamental right to marry as other Californians. Proposition 8 eliminated this fundamental right only for same-sex couples. No other initiative has ever successfully changed the California Constitution to take away a right only from a targeted minority group. Proposition 8 passed by a bare majority of 52 percent on November 4.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, and the ACLU filed this challenge on November 5, representing Equality California, whose members include many same-sex couples who married between June 16 and November 4, 2008, and six same-sex couples who want to marry in California. The California Supreme Court has also agreed to hear two other challenges filed on the same day: one filed by the City and County of San Francisco (joined by Santa Clara County and the City of Los Angeles, and subsequently by Los Angeles County and other local governments); and another filed by a private attorney.

Serving as co-counsel on the case with NCLR, Lambda Legal, and the ACLU are the Law Office of David C. Codell, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.

The case is Strauss et al. v. Horton et al. (#S168047). Click here for more information.