April 7, 1999 (Wednesday)
Since this is the first entry, it should either be extensive or very brief. I vote for brief.
Yesterday I scraped a painted sign off a window for a legal firm. I insist on payment up front from lawyers. I do so at the advice of a lawyer who tried to shaft me (and did, come to think of it) for part of a bill he owed me for work I did for him. I "reinvested" the money I made -- in paint and ink.
The weather here has been magnificent. All the trees and shrubs are in bloom and everything is lovely. The daffodils and narcissi down by the river have carpeted the bank in variegated yellows. Every spring I briefly consider becoming a realist.
I've been getting a lot of e-mail propaganda from Greece, Albania, and Yugoslavia lately: Serbs and Greeks telling me what shits the Albanians are, Albanians telling me what murderous scoundrels the Serbs are, and Canadians telling me in verse form that we oughta nuke 'em all. And everyone on the mailing list keeps hitting the REPLY TO ALL button to tell the sender that they want off the list. When will they ever learn? When will they eh-ever learn?
April 8, 1999 (Thursday)
It's been a mail-art and back porch day. Someone is making a pass-around mail-art piece of an old manila envelope that was originally mailed from Japan (NICE stamps!). Ficus strangulensis passed it along to me (he's been laid up with a knee injury for a while now). I stuck some European and Asian stamps on it and stuffed it in the envelope along with an impromptu collage and a TV schedule from a week ago.
The weather here is still holding up. The back porch got half a cleaning before spring fever took over and my ass found a lawn chair to polish. I watched the squirrel play in the box elder tree. He seems happy that warm weather is here, too. The light is getting good again. I have a Masonite panel primed with Chrome Yellow on my outdoor easel. I'm waiting for it to tell me what it wants me to do to it.
The mail from Greece, Yugoslavia and elsewhere continues. I've always had reservations about any use of military force, but Milosobitch (as many of my correspondents call him) seems to warrant it if anyone does. The big problem, as I see it, is that we should have had the insight to do something years ago.
A late afternoon April Shower helped take some of the pollen out of the air, so I can breathe easier this evening. Now, if only we can have a nice steady rain for about half an hour or so right at bedtime, I'll be delighted. Nothing is more of a comfort than the steady tattoo of rain on the awning outside my bedroom window when I'm trying to go to sleep. . . unless you count having a cold pillow to rest my head.
April 9, 1999 (Friday)
April is living up to its reputation for sudden showers. Today's rain included some fearsome wind that blew shingles off the house two doors up the street. The weather started just as my son and I finished mowing the yard. The wind blew over my outdoor easel. It doesn't seem to have damaged the Masonite panel, but the clips I had holding it to the top of the easel are nowhere to be seen.
I got my wish for rain on the metal awning. . . sort of. I had trouble falling asleep, so I was still awake at 2 o'clock when the rain started.
Having recently been through a bout of iatogenic illness brought on by medication for other conditions, I'm actually starting to feel pretty good. I feel a certain affinity with spring this year, like we're both going through a kind of renewal. Now, if I can just find a way to secure a steady income. . .
Lots of wonderful colors in the sky at sunset tonight. Unlike most, I admire the shades of gray as much as the more brilliant golds and scarlets and vermillions.
I've been getting new software this week. I got version 4.0 of HomeSite, which included a free license to Paint Shop Pro, one of my favorite graphics editors. In addition to the new Internet Explorer and Netscape, I've also picked up another browser, NeoPlanet, that uses the Internet Explorer engine and puts a nicer face on it and beefs up the functionality. Normally I don't get enthusiastic about new gizmos like this, but this time I did. Check it out.
April 10, 1999 (Saturday)
A lot of my thought lately goes into this web site, particularly this diary page. Is it, as I first labelled it, merely self-indulgence, or will other people be interested in my ramblings? As far as structure for this journalistic endeavor, I think I'll only keep the current month's entries on this page. I'll either make separate archival pages for previous months, or zip the text version up and set an FTP link to them for those people who might be interested. [This paragraph qualifies as "thinking out loud"]
What a waste of a day! Saturdays are like that sometimes. The forsythia is so brilliant this year. The azaleas are just starting to bloom. Next week the clusters next to St. John's Episcopal church will be clouds of white and red and pink.
I finally broke down and watched "Titanic" tonight. I'm not surprised it outgrossed all its competition. You have chick flick meets disaster movie. Still, it's hard to imagine it won Oscars for things other than technical categories. Kate Winslet was fun to look at, though, and I imagine what's his name is too, if you're so inclined.
Here's something interesting a friend sent me today:
Cary Tennis, Writer (or something) [ NOTE: This link is broken. If anyone knows where or if Cary Tennis has a new site, please let me know and I'll substitute it here for the original link. 11Feb02 ]
April 11, 1999 (Sunday)
Old friends, dumplings, carpenter bees, spring cleaning, phone call to Brooklyn. God, how I miss New York. Why do I leave every time I'm there?
More ferocious wind today. I worked a little on the yellow thing outside. It's still not talking to me about what it wants to be when it grows up. Art comes to me in its own time. I can't force it, or it looks forced. I can't cajole it. It laughs at me. I can't bribe it. It doesn't care. I can't scare it. It's way bigger than me, and meaner, and more hateful, and filled with rage and all those things I can only suggest to it. At least it's not white. . .
April 12, 1999 (Monday)
My ISP was down for a couple days last week. The Newsgroups on their server never have worked real well, and now they aren't working at all, for over a week. I've been fighting with them today, trying to get this problem resolved. So far, nothing but promises. Sewer problems, too. . . If it's not one thing, it's another!
I sat around tonight, playing music with an old friend and showing him how to look up recipes on the Searchable Online Archive of Recipes (S.O.A.R.).
April 13, 1999 (Tuesday)
I don't feel much like writing today. Plumbers and city workers were here on and off all day. They finally used a high-pressure hose to blast the obstruction out of the line. The hose pulled out with mud on the nozzle, so I don't think I've seen the last of sewer problems. Night, all
April 14, 1999 (Wednesday)
I worked at working on the yellow panel out back today, but it kept raining so I didn't get any actual painting done. Everything is leafing up and blooming. It's so beautiful, but my mood is in the tank, what with all the problems lately and the inability to get any work done. I guess maybe I should write or draw. . . Actually, I have been drawing. . .
This is not something I've done lately, but I scanned it in, so what the hell?
April 15, 1999 (Thursday)
Tax day! They will be having parties at post offices all over tonight. Maybe I'll go down, even though I filed a couple months ago. Our post office usually has food and drink and live music. Last year there were a couple of bands and a magician.
During the recent bout of spring cleaning, I found some things I'd forgot I had. Nothing of any real consequence, but I'm thinking collage again. It seems like every spring I start thinking about branching out into new areas of art. This year, it's casting and other sculptury ideas. It's a shame it takes so much space and is so messy.
April 16, 1999 (Friday)
This project is evolving. I started out intending to keep it purely a text operation. I also intended it to be just a daily outpouring of my thoughts and feelings, particularly about art. Now it's taking on a whole new character.
A couple of years ago I kept a paper journal on loose sheets of 8-1/2 X 11 paper. I'd write down thoughts, sketch, make collages and product parodies. It seems that this is turning into something similar. So be it!
Here's something from the notebook I mentioned:
Digging into the archives. . .
Originally, I favored Netscape when designing web pages. Then I took the LCD (Lowest Common Denominator) approach and designed pages so they'd work the same in Netscape, Opera, and MSIE. Now I'm leaning toward designing pages to work and look like I want in MSIE and if they work okay in Netscape, okay, if they don't, okay. Netscape does not interpret HTML tags in what I consider to be a logical manner. It's a shame that "standards" can produce two entirely different results when interpreted by two different companies. Of course, that's what makes for Catholics and Protestants, Sunis and Shiites.
April 17, 1999 (Saturday)
I found this some time ago, but haven't put it up anywhere until now. This is for you, Michelle. Enjoy! I'll also put a copy of this on my links page for those of you who don't like reading my diary every time you want to look up something.
How about a contest? I've created a new visual poem. You name it. I'll take entries until July first or so. Here it is:
[ NOTE: no one entered. The link to enter was removed. 11Feb02 ]
April 18, 1999 (Sunday)
Used to be, the way to make your fortune was to invent a better mouse trap. Nowadays, you have to invent a better mouse.
I don't want to get off on a rant here (Sorry, Dennis. . .), or a product evaluation, but I do want to say something about so-called ergonomic products. Trying to solve a couple of problems (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and computer interrupt conflicts), I bought a PS/2 "ergonomic" mouse.
The mouse I bought was the "ErgoMouse" ($14.95 at Sears) by Belkin. It's a sleek, ovoid shaped critter with a cutout on the left side, ostensibly to rest your thumb in. The tracking action is smooth and tight. The buttons click consistently and softly, with very little sound. Overall, it operates exactly like a mouse should.
The package touts a self-cleaning ball. It also comes with a cheater connector to make it into a regular serial mouse, if so desired. The parts all fit together nicely. It makes a nice package, functionally and aesthetically, but, unfortunately, not ergonomically.
The way the mouse is designed, my thumb does NOT fit comfortably in the slot intended for it. Having used it for most of a day, my Carpal Tunnel pain and numbness is worse than it was with a regular clunky old IBM PS/2 mouse with the buttons you have to almost pound with a hammer to click.
People, especially those who design things, need to realize that it takes more than a sleek or odd design to make a product ergonomic. It takes some knowledge of anatomy and physiology. It takes some testing by people who have no stake in the outcome. It also takes some degree of honesty and sincerity about making a product that is what it claims to be.
Today is Wayne Gretzsky's last game. With Mario Lemieux's retirement 2 years ago, and now "The Great One" leaving the game, an era ends. I miss seeing the smooth, Cadillac motion of Mario Lemieux on the ice, and I know I'll miss the slick, precise Porsche cornering and passing of Gretzsky. Now, all we have left are the young ones, but I suspect there is a Ferrari or Lamborghini among 'em (Jagr, maybe).
April 19, 1999 (Monday)
This has been one of those days where nothing goes right. I'm almost afraid to type this for fear of breaking a finger or getting stuck permanently to the keyboard.
April 20, 1999 (Tuesday)
Happy Birthday Dad (You too, Herr Hitler!).
The Azaleas are blooming quite wonderfully after the rains of last week. Even the stubby, misshapen ones on the west side of the house look glorious. I don't get much time outside to enjoy them because of all the rain lately, however.
Lately in the Usenet news groups, there has been a rash of forged messages numbering in the hundreds daily, particularly in alt.religion.scientology. It is suspected that this spamming is being done by a group of Scientologists trying to flood the forum with nonsense postings and thereby prevent calm and rational opposition to their "religion". These postings seem to have been generated by some sort of Artificial Intelligence word-mangling program. It sometimes comes up with some interesting and even intriguing sentences. Once a day, I'll put one or more of the more interesting ones here for your perusal. Today's offering: Freshly it escorted down the frankfurter.
April 21, 1999 (Wednesday)
Here's today's nonsense: Amidst no anaconda onto no boatman no conscientious saxophone proliferated a cellophane to every uptake, either spite this controlled every unhurt enthusiasm flatulence - every fewer, a mouth, what they had sponged in a wreck rather an antiredeposition underneath a fishing. And, from a separate message, the question du jour: Idiotically, Cincinnati, what do they paw inside him?
Another rainy day. I got up late this morning. I love sleeping while it's raining, my preconscious vaguely aware of the sound of the rain hitting the metal awning outside my bedroom window. The mouse I bought last week. . . It doesn't work anymore. It stopped tracking horizontally. It was doing fine when I went to bed, but it didn't work this morning. Back to the IBM. . .
I heard a great line on "Law & Order" today. "I don't need you to tell me I'm a sonofabitch. I've been a sonofabitch for a long time. I like being a sonofabitch. The hours are good, and there's no heavy lifting."
April 22, 1999 (Thursday)
Another bad mental health day. . . Not feeling well physically, either. I think a lot of the mental health part is related to the physical. Another part of it is a recent large dose of the inhumanity and stupidity of my fellow man. The shootings in Colorado have left me upset and contemplative. Other input from other people has also given me fodder for cogitation. It seems like I have too much on my mind. . . I can't think straight -- there's too much stuffed in my head. (see! I told you it wouldn't hold that much!)
This is a little sketch I made left-handed last year on the inside cover of a steno pad. Normally, I'm right handed (wrong-headed). To see a larger version, suitable for saving and printing if you'd like, click on the picture.
From the trenches in Usenet: "Crazily it preached up no anatomical." and "About fifty deputies they were throughout a confederacy, thinking beyond its turnover. He was as every applicant past every tomorrow considering Goldwater."
The Stanley Cup playoffs started yesterday. Tonight, the Penguins lost to New Jersey (3 to 1). **sigh** They'll win the next one, and three more, then go to the second round! I have faith! Go Pens!!!
April 23, 1999 (Friday)
As Eric Idle was wont to say, "And now for something completely different." "Nostalgically he made up a lubricant." and "And have we not frame beyond quite a deliverance? Understandingly it drifted outta a confabulation." and "Oh, that we are no leukemia, shred another maneuverability, or be before an adhesive post twelve present. Upon all no ado it was a seamanship consisting diffraction, all beginning plus half spruce; neither over it it attractively complained the studiously agile slob towards her unspeakable penetration, every solid that had painted among my upshot. Their ill evoked in him till I coaxed him."
I expect eventually whoever is spamming the newsgroups with this nonsense text will either tire of it and quit, or someone will find out who's doing it and strangle them. It is an irritation, and it does consume a lot of time trying to weed through the stuff, but in a way, I'll miss it when it goes. [I had the strongest feeling of deja vu as I wrote that. . . like I'd written exactly those words and had those same exact thoughts before. I remember being concerned that a few lunatics with an agenda could very well be the end of a useful Usenet. As an example, in alt.religion.scientology overnight there were more than 700 new messages posted, undoubtedly the vast majority of which are these spammed forgeries (referred to as sporgeries by the regulars in the newsgroup). It's so far out of hand as to be ridiculous.]
To so many people for nearly 20 years now, the F1 key has meant "Help", so why don't the keyboard manufacturers start printing HELP on the key instead of F1?
I feel like all the creativity has been sucked out of me. I am bereft of ideas. I keep trying to do things -- paint, collage, computer graphics, writing. . . nothing works. The wind is strong. Maybe it blew my muse away. . .
April 24, 1999 (Saturday)
The Penguins won the second game of their Stanley Cup quarterfinals game with the New Jersey Devils today 4 to 1 and Jaromir Jagr was out of the lineup. Go Pittsburgh!
This is from a chapbook by S. Gutav Hägglund, called The Flaming, published by Luna Bisonte Productions, Columbus, OH. Click on the picture for a larger version that you can acutally read.
Here's the latest from the nonsense pump:  How do we arrange to me parenthetically? Plus have they not damage from quite a knot? and How do we delimit outside it breathlessly? Post all no quaver he was no preaching through statement, all girth minus all standard; though between me it doubtfully worried no temptingly romantick republic amongst your expert pigment, a gradient who had misquoted without mine ambivalence.
April 25, 1999 (Sunday)
Game three, the Penguins are without Jagr again, and Robert Lang is out, too. New Jersey is miffed because they lost yesterday. Looks like a long afternoon for the Pens. . .Well, perhaps not as long an afternoon as I'd suspected. Marty Straka got a hat trick in a 4 to 2 win over the Devils. Marty's first career playoff hat trick. Congrats, big guy! Pittsburgh leads the series 2-1.
I have a death each eyebrow neither sending have injected me across its denial. Understandingly he sloshed down every plantain. Please, since we are a narcosis, discard this orgone, plus be with no harvesting except forty ok. Shakily, Arequipa, whatever do we transfer before me? Where is that couple either spice impeccably?
I started another mail art pass-along project. This one is a spiral notebook, clipped inside a 3-ring binder for protection. I used one of those binders that you can slip your own graphics inside the cover and on the spine. I put a copy of "Under the Miser Moon" on the front, a copy of a visual poem/collage on the back, and a title on the spine. I wrote instructions on the inside cover of the spiral notebook, and did art on the first three pages. I'll mail it out tomorrow and see where in the world it goes. The last one I started like this I never saw again. It could be years before I see this one. . . if I ever do.
April 26, 1999 (Monday)
I've got that old "too old to rock'n'roll but too young to die" feeling.
It looks a lot like tractor feed paper is going the way of the 8-track and the Beta VCR. It had a good run. It's still useful for larger businesses, but generally only the wide green-bar stuff. Home use of tractor feed paper is quickly fading away. In some ways, I'll miss it. Mostly, however, it's good ridance
I've been sketching again. I really need a model. . .
April 27, 1999 (Tuesday)
You shaved though applied whether we were oft debilitated, or an isle inside us stiffened unusually funnier. Presently this and passively that, stammering tougher and heavier. How do we protect save him overhead? Traditionally he moistened up a frau.
My desk dictionary, the Oxford American Dictionary, paperback edition, is 19 years old, 20 going by the copyright date. It's starting to disintegrate. I'm debating with myself on what new desk model to get. Should I get another one like the one I have, or should I go with a hardback like Webster's Collegiate, or American Heritage. Decisions, decisions. . .
April 28, 1999 (Wednesday)
Not feeling very well today. It rained a goodly portion of the daylight hours. I spent a little time learning new things about Corel Draw. I wish I could afford a newer version. A larger tablet would be nice, too.
Pittsburgh lost their game last night. The series is tied at 2-2. The next game is Friday. Go Pens!
Nothing new and memorable on the absurd Usenet posting front in the past 24 hours. There were a lot of postings, just nothing that caught my eye -- could be me. . .
April 29, 1999 (Thursday)
April's almost gone. The light gets better every day (when it's not raining, that is). I think I'm getting in a painting mood. I'm looking at things differently lately. This usually happens right before I go on a painting spree. Who knows what will come of it. . .
New postcards from the random number generator: We rattled if though I had a roll they may poke our demineralization, than they hankered it to map him. He was though no entertainer notwithstanding a southwest into Rickshaw. Have they miswritten them? Into corral they entertain to plant but every assessments coves how I can allege including our rousing persuading, neither he is hopefully initiates after we have not extraordinarily had the referral before fishing me wordlessly after its unfit alleviation.
April 30, 1999 (Friday)
Fast Movers and Herky Birds in the sky here lately (that's fighter jets and Hercules C-130 combat transport aircraft for the uninitiated). There was even an Air Force One 757 landing and taking off a couple weeks back, and I've seen a B-1 Bomber or two. The terrain here is very similar to that in the Balkans, so I suppose the military has been practicing.
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