School Daze

February 16, 2018


I’m done, finished, AA in Fine Art in hand. In some ways, getting this AA was a lot more difficult than getting my BS in Math all those years ago.

The community college system is a wreck overall, with a graduation rate in the SDCCD averaging 23% over 2 years. The percentage rises somewhat over 6 years, but is still not great. Lots of opinions as to why the graduation rate is so low, but one problem that I encountered had to do with getting the classes I needed, when I needed to take them.

Budgets dictate everything at the community college level. If a class is “under enrolled,” it is canceled. Even if it is a class that is required to complete a major. Even if the class is only offered every other year. Maintaining completeness in programs that result in an AA isn’t a priority. It’s all about the budget.

So when I needed one more Art History class, and one more Digital Art class, I found myself caught up in the battle of the budget at Mesa College. My Art History class was canceled, and it was too late to get into any other sections, since I had last priority to register. A counselor told me to take the class “at any other California community college.” So I did. Unfortunately, I discovered that Coastline College is apparently the only CC that does NOT have an articulation agreement with any other CC system in California.

I had to petition Mesa to get my Coastline Art History class accepted as a substitute. The courses were equivalent – same text, similar work, etc. It took several months for the class to be evaluation before it was accepted as a substitute. Months!

The last class I needed was Digital Drawing and Painting. The Mesa class was cancelled at the last minute, and would not be offered again until the next year. I found an equivalent at Grossmont College, and, due to the diligence and helpfulness of Mesa’s art department Chair, I was able to get that final course accepted towards my AA. That process only took 2 more months.

In all, getting my AA took 3 years. Keep in mind that I already have a 4 year degree from a UC. I can’t even begin to imagine the hoops that kids right out of high school must jump through in order to get all the classes they need, when they need to take them, and how hard it must be for them to be successful at community college. Sometimes, when kids ask me for my opinion on whether they should stay an extra year to get their AA or to apply to a 4 year school, I tell them to go ahead and apply. If they get accepted, they can go on to get that 4 year degree and not worry about the AA. But I feel like we should worry more about why it is so difficult to complete that AA. We should worry more about why the graduation rate at community college is only 23%. We should worry more about creating sustainable programs at the community college level. We should worry more about keeping kids in class by keeping the classrooms open. The question is, how do we do that?


Finals Week

December 15, 2016


It’s finals week, this is my last project due for 3D Design class. It’s a form and function project. I made a Dumbo-themed mousetrap vehicle. It was almost too heavy, so since half the grade is based on the “function” part, I had to ditch Dumbo’s front legs at the last minute. Projects are due tomorrow, so hopefully I will get video of my Dumbo “flying.”

Great Books – Overheard at SCBWI OC

October 3, 2016

I had a great time at SCBWI OC Agents Day, held at CSU Fullerton on Oct 1st. Here’s a list of must-read book titles that the various speakers talked about, in no particular order:

The Witches – Roald Dahl

Penguin Problems – Jory JOhn

Dragon Was Terrible – Kelly Depucchio

Babies Ruin Everything – Matthew Swanson

Pax – Sara Pennypacker

Wolf Hollow – Lauren Wolk

Gertie’s Leap to Greatness – Kate Beasley

The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

The Forgetting – Sharon Cameron

Coraline – Neil Gaiman

Rook – Sharon Cameron

I, Fly – Bridget Heos

No Tooting at Tea – Alastair Heim

Doll Bones – Holly Black

Forget Me Not Summer – Howland

Mr. Particular – Jason Kirschner

Utility Box

August 11, 2016

We finished our public art project over the weekend – painting the utility box in front of the middle school. It came out well! Lots of positive feedback from the community, too, which is always nice. It was hard to paint in the heat of the summer, but it was still fun.

Public Art – Heatwave!

July 23, 2016


We got a nice start before the heatwave hit. The volunteers started with the underpainting on all four sides of the box. Some elements are bigger than they were on the paper design – oh well. I think it will work out fine.

Only a couple of minor problems to an otherwise smooth start. (1) There was more graffiti that I expected, but on closer examination, I realized that the “graffiti” was all math equations. So I suppose in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big concern; (2) The utility box is stainless steel, which gets really hot in the sun and paint has a hard time sticking to it. Fortunately, I found a nice primer that worked well. Ordinarily, I would have used gesso, but it did not go onto the steel nicely at all; and (3) We had a heatwave. A big, hot, miserable heatwave that is still going on. It’s impossible to paint when it is so, so hot. We’re all waiting out the weather to be something more reasonable. In the meantime, the box looks very nice, but unfinished. Hopefully, we’ll regroup and get back on track next week.




New Public Art Project

July 12, 2016


Here’s a sneak preview of the utility box design that our little team of Girl Scouts, GS alumni and friends put together for our community public art project.We just got approval on the design and work will begin this weekend. Titled “Day and Night in the Island in the Hills,” the piece will depict our native vegetation and some of the native animals one might see in our community. The design was done by kids and young adults, with some minor mods made by me to make it fit into the Open Space committee’s expectations. I think it’s going to look great when it is all done!


February 1, 2016

Thank you to everyone who entered my Goodreads Giveaway! Books are in the post today!