Art School: Semester 3, Week 7

The summer semester is now officially half over. One class ends, one continues, and a third gets started.

In the past week I actually took a few photos of interest to me:

Apparently we have cougars

This is just a block or so from the house. I love the phrase “Enlarge your image.” Something makes me wonder if the person creating this sign was a native English speaker or not. “Look big” would have been clearer and equally (un)helpful.

In other news, there were ships in the harbour that I saw interesting things on:

This ship hit something

I took this picture as part of my ongoing research into the claw marks on the front of some ship prows, but this is different. Clearly this ship hit something, or something hit it. Those white marks are not the big, regular, well dug in things I have been wondering about. But these are:

Hard to tell, but they’re there

This ship also had the ground in, regular cross hatching on the front of that protrusion. I have a theory about these things now: they reduce drag. I know, it seems counter intuitive, but bear with me. It turns out that ship designers do all kinds of things to try and make ships move through the water more efficiently. In googling around I found all kinds of stuff, from the design (like that bulbous thing out front) to injecting air bubbles along the hull. They’ll do anything they can to make the ship move more efficiently. I now think the cross hatching is an approach to that. Perhaps it breaks up the water flow early on, and thus helps the ship create less turbulence (and/or vortices) as the water comes off the stern. Aircraft designers do all kinds of things to avoid the same issue in air because it robs the plane of energy. The same is true of ships, and though I cannot prove it, I suspect that is what those marks are for. Why else would you deliberately put regularly spaced gashes in the front of the hull? It has to have something to do with using less fuel while in motion.

And while we’re talking about ships…

Cruise ships have weird things on their prows too

Look very closely at the water just in front of the Golden Princess. See the blue water line mark and the bit of blue sticking out of the water just in front? That’s this ship’s version of the protruding bulge I’ve seen (and shared) on the bulk tankers. I’d never noted one on a cruise ship before since they are almost always completely below the water level. Also, once I looked at this picture at home, I noted that the second ship here also has a thing sticking out front. That one — behind the Golden Princess — has a red “bulge”, and it’s more obvious once you know what to look for. I’ll bet these things have an actual name — ship designers can’t just call them “bulges”… too many Spinal Tap jokes — but I have no clue what it is. Anyone?

And there was this:

Lifeboat, I think

See the bright orange contraption in the white frame? I think that’s the lifeboat on the Sea Poseidon. A gangway connects it to the deck around the tower housing the bridge. In the event of an emergency, the crew can run to the lifeboat, get in, and — apparently — release it to fall off the stern and into the water. That first drop looks to be a bit large, though. I hope everyone is belted in when that happens. Once I started looking I saw these on several other bulk carriers as well. Interesting

That’s the end of my ship related research this week. Now let’s talk about classes.


First off, no new stories were read this past week. There will be two new ones before the weekend is over, though, and I’ll tell you a bit about them next time.

This past week I’ve been struggling with an assignment that was presented something like this (with apologies to the instructor, who does — at least sometimes — read these posts):

  1. We were given two extracts from peer reviewed journals. One related to the story Queen of the North and the other related to things written by Margaret Atwood, and thus possibly peripherally be related to True Trash. (I mentioned those stories in a previous post.)
  2. We read those extracts, trying to understand what they say. “Trying” being the operative word. This is academic writing, and though I have seen worse, it’s still awful. Really awful. I wound up extracting the jargon laden phrases from the first extract and putting them in an email to the instructor to make the point. Dry, awful, unreadable prose.
  3. Anyway, now we’ve got and read those. Next we’re supposed to pick one of them, and write a analysis paragraph that uses either a direct quote or a paraphrase from it, as part of making some claim based on the related story. We were also given a topics for each story. (For True Trash, by Atwood, it’s to write about one character’s unease with her own body.)

I read all of this stuff, and thought a lot, and (to be really honest) completely missed the last slide in the power point deck (as in, I didn’t see it was even there), so I emailed some questions to the instructor. He pointed out that last slide (which answered my more technical questions) and also indicated that he was sliding the dates out a bit, to give us all more time.

OK… so I continue to (re-)read and ponder. And I still hated the entire thing. So I sent another email, saying that the first extract was just about unreadable. The instructor differed with me on that, so I sent him the previously mentioned list of phrases. He still disagrees with me, but I think it was in that reply where he also indicated that the assignment length was being reduced. The required paragraph was being shortened.

OK… so I continued to (re-)read and ponder. And I still had only a bloody forehead to show for my efforts. I sent him yet another email, this time pointing out problems with his suggested topic as it related to the second extract. I literally found only four passages in the story that might go with his suggested topic, and of those only one made any real sense to me. Oh, and the writing in the second journal extract… it’s nearly as bad as the first, now that I’ve read it so many times.

There was more back & forth, and he disagreed with me again about the journal writing. He also then announced that the entire assignment was now optional. It seems that in the past when he’s taught this assignment in a regular classroom, it was taught a bit differently. Pairs of students would discuss it in person, and he’d get to talk to people in the room to help them get it. In this online course, a lot of that interaction isn’t possible, and so (it seems) the assignment wasn’t going well. I guess he was hearing from people other than me.

As I write this, I still haven’t written the (now optional) paragraph. That’s because I have yet to come to an idea about what my claim should be in the paragraph I want to write. The best claim I have come up with so far is effectively exactly the opposite of what I think his journal extract is trying to say. That’d be fine — differing with something like that is totally OK, if you can justify it — but honestly I don’t know that I can justify anything here. By the time I finish reading the end of the journal extract I have forgotten what the beginning said, and it’s just a paragraph or two long. The jargon is so thick and so foreign, it makes no sense.

Sorry Alex. I am continuing to work at it in my head. I’ll do something!

So, that’s English class, in which I am waiting for my instructor to get a restraining order telling me that I am no longer allowed to email him anything.


Done. Finito. Presentation made. Here are all the presentation boards, hung in the art department lounge back on campus:

Heat Islands Design Project

As I expected, our presentation was not picked to build. I think that’s mostly because we suggested something for land the city doesn’t actually control. But the organization running this does want the full writeup and if they can get it in front of the port authority (which does control the land) they will. In short, there is still hope for it, though probably not any time soon.

The judges picked two projects to combine and build. One proposes a kind of seating that could be installed in already shady areas, so that people have places to congregate (and sit) where it is cooler than where they live. The other proposes building semi-portable tent like structures out of shade cloth in open spaces so there is more shade and cooler places for people to go. Neither project appears to be all that expensive, so they decided to go with both things. That’s great, and I look forward to hearing how things go.

Grades for the class are already submitted, and I more than passed. I’m very happy with it. My teammates and I are finalizing the written stuff around our project now so it can be included on the CityStudio Vancouver website, and (maybe) get to the port authority too. We’ll see.

Canadian Art

This is the new class. Technically, it starts next week, so this is just a teaser.


  • Politics alert. Sorry, but there is no way I can not share this. Read the thread. All of it. It’s grown a bit since I saved the link.
  • And if you don’t like that one, you really won’t like this one:
  • The usual index of art school posts and other things here on Medium, because Medium didn’t get the ordering right when I imported posts from somewhere else, and I can’t figure out how to fix it.


Here’s a couple of selfies that I took with Cruzer. Since I actually took the pictures, even PETA can’t try to make them Cruzer’s property.

Sorry they’re a bit blurry. Cruzer moves around, and he was in my lap, so I was moving as well, inadvertently. I actually took a bunch and these were the best I got.

And yes, he is pulling my beard out. That’s what he likes to do. Weird dog.

And In Conclusion…

I’ve decided this conclusion section will contain something strange each week. I have no idea how long that will continue, but it’s my plan. No one commented on the previous link (that was here for the last two weeks). Oh well. Most of you wouldn’t know what it was anyway.

This week, here’s the very best thing to come out of Star Wars I, II, & III, those eminently forgettable, awful movies that George Lucas foisted onto the world, right after making Greedo shoot at Han Solo first and miss — from across a table! — in the Special Edition versions of the first trilogy. I am sure much ink has been spilt on this in the film schools of Vancouver over the years.


Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.

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