July 2012


Life in intensive histology is trucking along.

Having an incredibly cool lab to rotate in – albeit with an uncommonly light project – is helping. We spent about 20 min of lab meeting trying to think of how to reconstruct fractal collapse patterns, then moved on to brainstorming how the B vs. T1 vs. T2 switch might be controlled, and wound up talking seriously about Klingon, fractal cake, and the impossibility of melanin pencils. I think it’s safe to say I’m in love with these people.

Still, there is a good chunk too much work to get done at any given time for histology, and it’s driving us all crazy. In self defense against defensins, a group of us slammed shut our books on Friday night, piled into my car, and trundled on down to New Roc City to see the Dark Knight in action. This was clearly the best choice.

Despite the Batman break, my brain is still pretty fried. Reading about the different percentages of mucous and serous acini in different salivary glands will claim me again in a moment. Before it does, however, I’d like to share some of what I was working on earlier today. Since I don’t have a scanner here, these are just cruddy photos, but I thought it would still be fun to post. The marine piece was a ton of fun at all stages and is pretty much finished to the point of cutting it off the block and mounting it. The Tempest piece has a little ways to go before I’m happy with the contrast. Any thoughts?

Tempest (in progress, small photo)

Tempest (in progress, small photo)
Yes, Ariel was truly imprisoned in an oak, but I chose a pine for both the play on “evergreen” and consistency with mediterranean flora. Well, that and how much it opened up the composition.

Sea's Revenge (small photo)

Sea’s Revenge (small photo)
The color palette here was strongly influenced by Dulac. The subject matter is another story entirely.

I’ve gotta hand it to my friend Silvia and her now-husband Raniero. Last month they flew out to Vegas to elope in an Elvis chapel, then capped the whole deal with a Southwest roadtrip. Pretty spectacular, yeah? Congratulations to the both of them!

For kicks and giggles, here’s what I made them for their wedding present. The original is about 2″ across.

Silvia's Ring

Silvia & Raniero
(click the image to see the tiny writing)

US Memorial at Caen

Memorial for the US troops at Caen

In our many adventures, my dad, my brother, and I made it to Caen for June 6th. The day began with beautiful weather, so we walked the grounds of the Caen Memorial for awhile before taking a coach out to the D-Day beaches. Fortunately, we managed to leave just before Mssr. Hollande arrived to cause traffic jams, passing him on our way out to Pointe du Hoc (we were less lucky on the return journey, which is a story for another time).

remains of a gunning platform

remains of a gunning platform

After heavy shelling and sixty-odd years of Normandy’s famous weather (“it only rains twice a week – once for 3 days and once for 4 days”) the shrubs are making a comeback to soften the outlines of Hitler’s coastal wall. However, a surprising amount of the once-formidable defense system remains intact.

 

 

bunker rubble I

flowers amongst the rubble

 

 

 

 

 

 

For me, it was strange to note the duality of the coast. For a place of such intense fighting, there are many details which make it appear peaceful. Root systems gently tear apart bunkers like any other stone, and there are places where you have to step back in order to remember the whole story.

bunker rubble II

bunker rubble

In this respect, honestly, the Normandy beaches resemble the other major battlefields in my experience. Gettysburg, Bull Run, and the Edo palace are among the most restful places I’ve encountered. I’m beginning to wonder if as humans really feel that we atone for the extreme violence of one event by giving the landscape silence for decades, if not centuries. I’m not sure how well that works, but it does seem to make us feel better. Then again, perhaps the silence is there to allow our imaginations to fill it.

bunker

bunker

bunker ruins

bunker ruins

In any case, it was pretty incredible to learn about the planning and execution of the D-Day invasions. Given how much could have gone south, it is incredible how much went right. Given how much went wrong, it astounds me that the operation was successful, and that the mistakes mounted up to become a tremendous asset for the Allies.

Not long after our arrival at the coast, the sunshine folded in favor of a more traditional Normandy climate, reminiscent of the nasty weather that hindered the soldiers in 1944. I have to say, if I had seen that coastline on a seasick stomach from an invasion boat and been told to scale it, I can only hope I’d have continued to follow orders. Not that there was much of an option, but still. There is a reason the Rangers have permanent loan of the land.

D-Day sky

D-Day Sky

Lookout

Lookout

the wall

the wall

Omaha memorial

Omaha memorial

From the Rangers’ landing, we went on through the rain to Utah and Omaha. Despite the weather, these were jammed with tourists, reenactors in motley uniforms, various officials, and a few actual military personnel. Although historical reenactors generally don’t bother me – in fact, I usually like the perspective they offer on distant events – the reenactors here were off-putting. Like the fake soldiers at the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie, they’d chosen a subject that is a bit too recent. It doesn’t help that many seemed to be in search of a quick euro, posing gallantly in front of the tourists and revving their jeep engines while someone quietly helps the few remaining veterans out of the rain. Of course, no one dressed as the losing side. It was unsettling.

That said, there were those genuine gestures of remembrance.

Omaha

Omaha

At the top of the cliffs overlooking the landing area is the larger of the United States’ two cemeteries. Again, it was one of the most peaceful places, even teeming with visitors. It was also deceptively large.

The memorial was built to the graveyard’s scale.

Youth from the Sea

Youth from the Sea

What made me smile was seeing a small group of German soldiers quietly bringing in a wreath to lay at one of the memorials. While they may not have had the glitz or cameras of the televised ceremonies, they certainly had my appreciation and respect.

As we circled back towards Caen, we stopped by the site of the remaining artificial harbor built or, more correctly, sunk by the Allies to supply the invasion of Europe. The tremendous scale of the concrete ships that they sank to form the breakwater is difficult to visualize, but perhaps you can get a sense from the scale of the cliffs. Bear in mind that the bulk of the breakwater is still submerged. During the invasion, this same view would have been crammed with several square miles of ships and boats.

the artificial harbor and the cliffs

the artificial harbor and the cliffs

Artificial Harbor

artificial harbor

Welp. I just moved to the Bronx. For those of you who know what I’ve been up to, you know that this bodes an excellent, superlatively nerdy transition for me. For those of you I’ve not seen in a while, the news is that I’ve just realized my ambition of joining the super awesome folks at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine as part of the Mad Scientist Training Program.

Hah. Sorry, that should have read ‘Medical.’

Anyway, classes are already underway and going swimmingly, with laboratory work to start next week. Basically, AECOM gave me about two months notice to quit my job and move halfway across the country, which is no small logistical feat. The long and short of it was that I ended up having to ship several things, including a fair portion of my art.

Unfortunately, some SOB in the post office ripped open the box, stole half the art, taped it back together, and sent it on. Fortunately, I had brought my in-progress works with me, but my framed & unframed original comics, a gift piece from the fantastic Lucy Lyall, a dedicated graduation piece from my calligrapher friend who passed away recently, my brass rubbings, postcards, and Plaid Avenger comics were among those pieces taken. As of tomorrow morning, I can begin educating the PO workers on what it means for someone to go postal, but until then, I have to simmer.

What I really want to do is break someone’s face. Lacking that, I decided to sort through some of the photographs I’ve taken around the world recently. The following post is installment 1.

Hope you enjoy. Any help (voodoo, karmic, or otherwise) in recovering my art would be much appreciated.