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Projects, Projects, Projects...and Projects

November 30, 2006       Group projects are dreaded like the plague, but they are unavoidable (especially the end of the semester). However, I was able to get by with only one this fall, and it’s for Chemistry Lab, which usually breaks us up into partners anyway. Each group must perform a different experiment and then present it to the class (slideshow and everything) the week afterward. My partner and I chose “The Formation of a Silver Mirror.” Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, at first it wasn’t as fun as we imagined. Prep alone took an hour and a half. So while it everyone else was speeding along with magically deflating balloons, dollars that don’t burn, and cool green slime, we were stuck doing calculations for dilutions. But the end result was totally worth the stained hands and chemical burns I endured. We finally poured this murky, brown solution into a flask, swished it around a couple of times and were amazed as the glass  turned metallic and eventually became an oddly shaped mirror (the flask was spherical, so it had a cool fisheye mirror effect, and it looked a lot like a giant pinball). Needless to say, I’ll be bringing every bottle I own to next week’s lab so I can magically turn them into mirrors.
    I’m also making a poster on “Little Red Riding Hood” for my Russian Studies class. And no, it’s not out of construction paper and Crayola markers (although, it might be easier that way, since I don't do computers). In my paper I talked about the function of the werewolf/wolf character in three text variants (the Grimms’ version is probably the most famous). So I’m basically expanding upon my ideas with images and additional commentary. I’m so indecisive though; I already have way too many images to fit in just one poster. It’s such an amazing topic, and I’m really excited for the end result.
    For painting, we all had to get our hands on GIANT 30x30 inch canvases. To get into the holiday spirit, our still-life consists of a grouping of mirrors on a platform with string lights and glass ornaments sitting on top of the mirrors. The silvery light effect is gorgeous. I don’t even know how I’m going to paint it all. And my sketching does attempt to include ALL of it. But that the point. There’s supposed to be a twisted perspective with all the mirrors facing every direction and the lighting and reflections don’t exactly simplify things. AND it’s on a giant canvas. Just a little daunting, but I’m sure I’ll manage.
    I just presented my slideshow on the South Bronx for my environmental studies class today. I discussed the creation of the Cross-Bronx Expressway (basically, trying not to get into a rant on Robert Moses was evil) and the renovation and rebuilding of Yankee Stadium (ok, so I did get a little heated on these topics). Research was the hardest for this project (I’m writing a paper on urban renewal in the South Bronx, too) and not because my sources were boring or convoluted, but because I’m FROM the Bronx and kept reading about topics that did not concern my paper. For example, “Ohhh, so in creating the Mosholu Parkway (which is RIGHT where I live), Robert Moses destroyed the only remaining freshwater marsh in the city? Thanks Robert Moses!” or “Hmmm. So Anthony Van Corlear crossed the Harlem River at Spuyten Duyvil (my street is named after him or one of the Van Corlears, and I always wondered who he was).” The topic that peaked my interest most during my research, however, was this whole business with the Yankees building their new stadium on Macombs Dam and John Mullaly Parks. I heard about it on the news over the summer and though I was irritated, I didn’t really think about until now. And after reading all these articles and newspaper clippings, I’m genuinely upset and riled up. I knew Yankee Stadium brought in a lot of unnecessary traffic, but I didn’t know that the asthma rate in that area is 2.5 times higher than the national average! Plus, because the parks are being demolished so the Yankees can play baseball, 400 mature trees are going to be cut down. So maybe instead of “bottle cap opener day” or “beanie baby day,” the stadium should sponsor “Albuterol inhaler day” for all those poor kids. Now that I know what’s happening, I feel the need to actually do something. I don’t know yet, but definitely over break. I wonder if the Save Our Parks group is still picketing… Anyway, if I’ve peaked your interest, you should definitely go here http://www.saveourparks.info/ and become aware. Knowledge is power, right?
    So I didn’t really expect to go on for so long about my work, and if you’ve read the whole thing, thank you for indulging me. I appreciate it. I still can’t believe how enthused I am about all this work. College really changes you, doesn’t it?