Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tech update

And now, some tech news from the Nesmith family

Nesmiths attend Med School
Actually, it was a session of "mini medical school," a program put on by the U of I's med school, on Tuesday here in Cedar Rapids. I think it's a PR effort for the school and hospitals. I found out about the program from an email, and signed us up (all but Bruce, who stayed home to watch the State of the Union).

Topics were advances in cancer treatment and the virtual cadaver. I especially wanted to see the latter as I'd just done a story on it.

Both presentations were excellent. We learned about gene therapy for cancer. The scientists manipulate molecules--molecules!--to attach to genes to get them to stop creating cancer. The presenter also explained how treatment trials are set up. The boys and I remembered how Grandpa liked to be involved in those.

We also saw how the virtual cadaver--a software projection system--works as the presenter showed us how cancer might spread through the lymph system. He could slice through the projected image of the cadaver, strip away different elements, and rotate it so we could see what he wanted us to.

Eli talked with the presenter afterwards about some ideas he had for making the program even better. The presenter thought that "by the time you're in med school" the virtual cadaver program should even be able to show organ systems at work.

About 200 people were in attendance with us; we all got notepads, powerpoint handouts (Eli took notes!), and a nice reception beforehand. All took place at the new hotel that our community college has constructed for its "Hotel management" training program.
Yeah, that's me and Robbie getting some refreshments!

Robbie Nesmith Applies for Engineering Internship
Robbie heard about a high school internship at Rockwell Collins, and applied for it last week. He was interviewed by phone, and told the interviewer about the programs he's created (he's taught himself some programming).

We're not sure when he'll hear about the internship. It requires 10 hours of work per week, probably mostly after school, which might be tricky since Robbie's busy with band stuff after school many days. We'll see.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Post-Christmas blooms

There's plenty of festive things to look at during the Christmas season, so I'm OK that some of my blooming things are blooming in late January. Here they are:
Amaryllis: Almost in bloom.
Christmas cactus: In bloom.
Poinsettia: in bloom, but moulting!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Tae Kwon Do Kid?

I finally got around to watching Karate Kid, the remake, this weekend. Let me clarify that--I watched the first part of the movie--that was enough for me.

I wanted to see it for two reasons:
  • it was filmed in China! I wanted to see that. I've had students from China, and wanted to see some video footage of their home country
  • it was about martial arts. I wanted to see this movie's take on martial arts.
If you've seen it, you'll know the movie was pretty badly acted. I don't remember that the original was any prize, but this one seemed to be worse. But there were cool scenes from contemporary China.

There were also fighting scenes, but that's not exactly what I wanted to see in terms of martial arts.

That's the one big misunderstanding people have about martial arts: if you study martial arts, you are studying how to fight and beat people up.

Certainly, you learn how to strike and kick and block. You work toward sparring, which is a kind of ritualized, structured, competitive fight. But anyone who's trained seriously in martial arts will tell you that the heart of martial arts isn't fighting.

One outcome of my martial arts training was that I learned how--and practiced how--to focus on the now. When you're training in martial arts, you can't be thinking about how your day went, or worrying about the next day. You have to be in the moment of each block, each kick, each strike.

Then of course, there are the tenets of Tae Kwon Do, those values that are at the heart of TKD: courtesy, integrity, perseverence, self-control (no revenge fantasy acting-out!), indomitable spirit. Learning TKD forces you to practice these, and then you go on to use them in everyday life. You just do.

I could go on about this in great detail, but maybe that's enough.

So about the movie. The Jackie Chan character said one line that has stuck with me and seems to ring truer about martial arts than the revenge fantasy plot of the movie. I don't remember the exact words he used, but it was something like

"Kung Fu is in everything we do."

Maybe that sounds corny (it's especially corny because practitioners call the art wushu), but it's so true of martial arts! When I was training seriously, Tae Kwon Do was in everything I did. I carried that ability to focus into everything I did outside the dojang. The tenets of Tae Kwon Do became embedded in the way I did everything.

So now, it's been over a year since I've trained seriously. I'm starting to work out once a week with some other black belts. My arms and legs, arms especially, feel like spaghetti, but I'm still trying to get the moves back.

I hope I can also recapture that "Tae Kwon Do is in everything we do" attitude as well.

Friday, January 21, 2011

January Yarn Tagging

After doing a bit of yarn tagging this summer, I wasn't sure what would be my next project. But I met a couple of enthusiastic new recruits when I taught crochet this fall, and decided to propose a local tagging project: This sign post outside our favorite coffeehouse, Brewed Awakenings.
Ramona and Carissa from the crochet class joined me, and Carol came, too, with her knitting needles! Sonja was interested, but is hibernating at home to work on a big art project. Sonja is the resident artist at Goodwill of the Heartland, a job she invented for herself! Don't I know cool people?

I think hanging out with creative people was my favorite part of this yarntagging project. Most people aren't really interested in talking about yarn arts, yarn bombing, UFOs (unfinished crafted objects), where to get ideas (Ravelry, books, thrift shops), how to sell art, what our next ideas are . . . but we talked about all these! It was such an inspiration talking with Carissa, Ramona, and Carol. Good for my artistic brain!

So we sipped our hot drinks and chatted while we crocheted/knitted. We got a lot done in a short amount of time.

Then we went outside to display our artwork. We chose the signpost on 13th Street, next to the coffeehouse.

It was really cold!

But the art is great. We hope people notice it . . . maybe they'll even like it. And I bet we'll be doing more soon.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


My friend Ramona has a vintage clothing business. She buys clothes at thrift shops (really cheap--you know, on 25 cent days) and alters them to give them a bit of zing.

For example, she cut off a drop-waist dress to create this cute peplum jacket for me--I watched her do it!
But wait . . . a drop-waist dress isn't "vintage." In fact, I still have . . .um . . . TWO in my closet . . . that I still wear from time to time!

When I think of vintage, I think of something like this old yarn ad that Shelby posted on her blog Stitch Story:
Now THAT'S vintage.

Maybe the meaning of "vintage" depends on your own vintage!

So are these boots vintage?

I couldn't resist them--they reminded me of the very first pair of boots I ever bought for myself--in 11th grade. I saved up my clothing allowance (and probably babysitting money) to get them. I wore them for years.

Maybe that's why I bought these. I've been enjoying wearing them this week--with a short denim skirt and tights one day, and today with this cute drapey skirt I bought at the Des Moines Junior League's Thrift Shop.

Maybe they're vintage, maybe it's just "what goes around comes around." I'm glad when I see some of the styles I love come back around!

And some day, I should share some of the treasures that I've thrifted . . .