Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Key West anniversary trip

This is a kitty that lives at the Avalon Bed and Breakfast.  We stayed there on our first trip to Key West and we visit Tigger every time we go back. Tigger is usually pretty cranky, but she seemed much nicer this time around. I think they put her on a diet, too!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Online communities

This past spring, I took a linguistics class and became interested in online communities. Why do people present themselves a certain way and, when they communicate in a virtual environment, what drives word and phrase choice? So, I wrote a paper about an online community for kids that have gone through major surgery or cancer called the Experience Journal. Kids that have already gone through a medical procedure or a traumatic experience because of their condition share their experiences through narrative.  The hope is that kids just beginning the process - who are often physically isolated in a hospital or at home - may not feel quite so alone after reading about other kids going through the same thing. A good bit of research has shown that kids with a more optimistic outlook have better outcomes and shorter recovery time. Children's Hospital of Boston bought into that philosophy and created www.experiencejournal.com. In my paper, I compared narratives written by transplant patients and ADHD kids and concluded that transplant patients form more of a survivor identity in this virtual community to make sense of what is happening to them. 

Along a less serious vein, I am also fascinated by online communities that share and communicate visually, such as Flickr. I have a Flickr account and, in case you're not familiar with the site, you can post and share your photos. There is an endless variety of interest groups on Flickr, and the following are examples to which I belong: Flowers on Black, Rhodes College, Key West, Urban Fragments, Memphis Zoo and, last but not least, the One Object 365 Days Project. 

The last one mentioned has been taking up a bit of time lately. The goal is to take a picture of the same object every day for a year. The scenery can change but the object must remain the same. You cannot say the object is a tree and take a picture of a different tree every day...gotta be the same tree. Most people pick something small so that it is easily carried around. 

In my case, I chose a small heart on a silk string made out of clay polymer beads.  It was made by Billie Beads, a funky, hippie husband and wife duo out of New York City. They make other objects out of the same beads like skulls, masks, and piggy banks. It's kind of interesting seeing the same bright, swirly colors on a sweet little heart next to a huge, scary skull.

Anyway, I am on day 11 of my 365 journey, and the farther along I get the more worried I get about my sanity. There are only so many things I can do to make a little clay heart interesting, so it is easy to begin building little stories around the pictures I take.  

Here is one that is OK:

Today I spent most of the day in the basement of the art building at my school. The unnatural lighting is about to suck the life out of me! I snuck into the print shop across the way and snapped a quick shot of my heart amongst the gritty print equipment.

Fine, OK, typical day in the life of me. Here's when I start to worry:

Mom casts a baleful eye upon Tiffany, upset that she stayed out so late last night.

...followed by...

Mom forgives with a hug.

Again, there are only so many things you can do with a clay heart, but what?? I am presenting some short yet peculiar narratives online, and I have no idea what that says about me. At the time, I simply thought it was funny. What do you think?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Key West

George and I were married on November 11, 2007, in Key West at the Hemingway House. We needed little justification to return a year later to celebrate our one year anniversary. So, right now, I am sitting on the deck of the Avalon Bed and Breakfast on south Duval Street, having coffee and watching the colorful passersby on their way to the beach, a leisurely brunch, a drag show - there are a refreshingly wide array of offerings in this town even in the early AM.

Yesterday, we visited the Hemingway House and took pictures of the six-toed kitties lazing about the property. We were thrilled to find the wonderful lady who officiated our wedding ceremony, Linda Mendez, behind the counter at the gift shop. My photographer and hair stylist described her separately as "salt of the earth, " and I must say this is an apt description. Laid back and tanned to leathery perfection, this Minnesota transplant now happily considers herself a Key West local after 25 years. A year ago this month, I was calling her on a weekly basis with a check list of questions that seemed vital at the time but I know now are just plain annoying: "If the cake is delivered at noon will it sit in the sun or do you have a fridge?" "Will you have Sprite for the kids???" "How long will the musician hang around? We paid for an hour but do we need two?" She not only answered my questions with the patience of a saint, she also managed to calm me down and the only person more manic than me at the time, my mother. She may not know this, but WE LOVE LINDA.

She's the lady front and center in the picture taken one year ago from today.

I'll follow later with pictures of my trip!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A voter virgin no more

I admit with chagrin that today is the first time I've voted. Ever. 

Anyone who knows me well is probably aware that I live in a bubble into which few current events seep.  My favorite story around that theme involves the Unabomber.  One day a few years ago I was at my parent's house visiting. I picked up a copy of People magazine that was sitting on the coffee table, read the front cover, and proceeded to shriek, "Mom!!  They caught the Unabomber!!!" I enjoyed a rare moment of glee in which I was, for once, the person in the know. Although my mom reads the newspaper religiously. And it was her magazine.

I swear that my mom looked at me as if she had just realized- although I'm 23 at the time - that I'm retarded as she responded dryly, "Katie....they caught the Unabomber a year and a half ago." Since then, at least once a month she orders me to read the paper after similar snafus.  The most recent one is the revelation that I have absolutely no idea who Joe the Plumber is.  I say this in present tense because it happened today.

In the middle of writing this blog my friend Tony called, who is obsessed with politics and any/all current events, regularly making me feel both guilty and stupid for my lack of interest. Although he did get in a jab or two about my general cluelessness (this is a common joke shared by many at my expense), he did say he was proud of me that I voted. I am proud that I voted for someone, yes, but it's even better that I have solid reasons behind why I voted for Obama. 

This marks a new, enlightened era for Katie Maish, I think. Hey, did you hear that the U.S. economy is in the tank? Oh, and apparently Tina Fey is the Republican vice presidential candidate. Who knew she'd make the switch from comedy to politics?

Yep, you heard it here first.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I went over to Rister's house today and thought the tomatoes sitting on the sill were pretty.  

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Just for fun!

This is Photoshop mischief at its worst, but I was working through a couple of tutorials and thought this was hilarious. If you know how much of a princess Emma is in real life, it is even funnier. The chic supermodel pose may be a tip off. :)

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