My Diary
My Diary

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September 1, 2000     (Friday)

Well, I'm getting semi-serious about this photography thing I've been into. I picked up a nice sturdy tripod and some filters yesterday. Today I bought a clamp lamp and some flood lights (regular indoor floods, since I have the filter for that). I'm going to get some spot lights, too. I want to do some studio portaits and maybe some figure work. Finding suitable models will be the next problem.

A corner of the Cultural Center. . .
"Sunset at the Great Pyramid"

September 2, 2000     (Saturday)

I know that no one besides West Virginia University fans will really care, but here are my observations after having watched WVU beat Boston College 34-14. Most commentators favored BC before the game with the official line favoring WVU by only 2-1/2 points. Last year the defence was horrible, ranking 97 out of something like 114 teams in division 1-A. Well, it looks like the defence will shine this year. Those kids have heart. Not only that, but they have skills, strength, and speed to go with it. The quarterback looked pretty good. A little shaky at times, but not too shabby. The field goal kicker nailed over 50% of his attempts. I watched the kickoff man drop the ball on the one foot line three times running, twice after the defensive secondary had run interceptions back for touchdowns. Overall, I'm impressed and optimistic for the season. Sure they play Miami and Notre Dame and Virginia Tech, but they only have to play Tech away from Mountaineer Field. I think we'll have a good season.

I predict WVU will go 9-2 and will finish second in the Big East, go to a major bowl and win for the first time in ages. Am I living in a fool's paradise or what?

In other good news Toledo beat Penn State. Toledo?

Here's a painting I did in 1994. The canvas is 20 (50.8 cm) inches wide by 52 inches (132 cm) tall. Click on the picture to see an enlarged version and a detail.

Acrylic on Canvas
"Metaphorical Bonfire"

September 3, 2000     (Sunday)

It's so muggy. I feel like I'm going to mildew any second now. At least it's stopped raining for a while. I went out walking a while ago, right around sunset. I took some photographs along the river. Today's the last day of the Sternwheel Regatta. I think I got some interesting shots. I got a couple ensemble shots of the sternwheelers at the levee. I got some of the Delta Queen from Cincinnati, Ohio, too. That's a big ol' boat!

The West Virginia Symphony is playing at the levee right now. The fireworks will start any minute now, just as soon as it gets sufficiently dark. The following picture is part of the house on Kanawha Boulevard that houses the symphony's offices.

Neat old house. . .
"WVSO Turret"

September 4, 2000     (Monday)

I know what you're thinking. "What's the deal with all the local color on these pages lately. I don't know from Sternwheel Regatta or William A. MacCorkle." I suppose it's some sort of unconscious effort to be proud of where I live, to share the good parts of Charleston with whoever happens to read this. Well, it's not working.

Granted, the Carriage Trail is a pretty unique place, and the Regatta used to be a nifty celebration of the end of summer, and the state capitol is beautiful, and I can find interesting things to take photographs of, but there is a lot wrong with this city. The infrastructure is crumbling. The neighborhoods that used to be well-tended and attractive are strewn with debris, the houses and apartment buildings fallen into a sad state. Our mayor doesn't have a clue, or he doesn't give a damn. His big contribution to civic improvement was to defoliate the river bank so that the five mile stretch that goes from the east end to Patrick Street on the west side looks like it was fire bombed. Instead of a beautiful variety of plant life, the bank below the lower sidewalk is now a wasteland of boulders, dead stalks and erosion.

A group of ministers in Texas are trying to incite people to come out to high shool football games and participate in a "spontaneous" recitation of the Lord's Prayer prior to the game. They call themselves "No Pray, No Play." A spokesman for the group said, "We are not trying to impose our faith on you. If the God of the Bible is not real, why should you care about a bunch of people praying anyway? Many of you have tried to discourage Christians from praying by saying that prayer at a football game is trivial and meaningless. If it is so trivial, why have your people worked so hard to get rid of it?"

That's insane! Of course they're trying to shove their religion down our throats! That's the only possible reason for doing something like this. The Bible says (in rubric): Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have the glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not they left hand know what thy right hand is doing. That thine alms may be in secret: and they Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. -- Matthew 6:1-6.

What more is there to say? If these people actually believe in the Christianity they try to impose constantly on other people, then they should shut up and keep their praying at home, in private, as the Bible instructs them to do.

September 5, 2000     (Tuesday)

Yes, they really are that bright!
"Where Day-glo Started"

September 6, 2000     (Wednesday)

Arrrrrrrrrrrgh! I give up. My ornamental grape vine? The one I talked about on July 13? The one the lawn guy chopped up? Well, it grew back. It stretched out across my chain link fence, putting out new leaves, some as big as my splayed hand. I knew it wouldn't produce any more fruit this year, but I was pleased that it came back so well, and leafed up so nicely. Well, along comes another idiot! A summer worker for the city Public Grounds crew, clearing plants from the alley, ironically because of my complaints to the city, took a weed eater to the grape vine and made cole slaw out of it. The vine is cut back to within a foot of the ground, and I don't think there's a single branch of the vine still connected to the earth. Now I have to wait until next year. This upsets me. What does the world have against my poor grape vine? Everyone leaves the poison ivy to grow all over, yet somehow someone always seeks out my poor grape vine and does his best to see it dead.

Here's what it looked like before the second mutilation:

My beautiful vine, growing and healthy after the first attack, not suspecting that it could possibly happen again.

Not only is my grape vine seriously injured, but the dolt severed the stems of my morning glories and scarlet creeper. Any fool with a single brain cell could see that my fence line is well tended and that the plants growing on it are growing there because I want them to. They don't impede traffic nor do they block visibility. I'm so pissed!

September 7, 2000     (Thursday)

It was a beautiful day today, and I was all over the place and didn't take one photograph. I bought a polarizing filter, a skylight filter, a 50% neutral density filter, and a set of three so-called close-up filters which are actually add-on lenses to pull the focal length in for macro shots. I think they're going to work out okay. The polarizing filter came in a set that also included a UV filter, a lens cap, a 52-49mm reduction ring and a lens cap leash. I already had a UV filter, so now I have a backup. I bought the whole kit for the polarizing filter. It cost me about 8 dollars less this way.

I stopped by the local art supply store too, and picked up a few items. I finished up a drawing, got a matte cut and mounted it. Everyone I ran into today, whether I knew them or not, wanted to talk to me -- the bank teller, my friends at the art store, strangers on the street, in stores. It was a bit odd. Nice though.

I'm paddling as fast as I can. . .
"Rollin' on the River"

September 8, 2000     (Friday)

Some excellent comments in my guestbook/comment-section and in e-mail have started me thinking (thanks Karen, Nancy, Jesse, and Pat). I'm considering putting up a message board where people can share comments and ideas. What do you think? Another couple of options I have are a chat facility and a mail list. Any notions about that? I suppose the comments section could be used to share comments, but it's not threaded and it's entirely up to the commenting person to point the comment at a specific person or topic. I used to run an electronic Bulletin Board System (BBS) in the days before the Internet. It had a heavy traffic in messages on the various boards. I think something like that might be nice. I'll start looking to see what's available, either in hosted facilities, or Java/CGI programs. I'd like to use a hosted facility to conserve web page space, so if anyone knows of such a thing, please let me know.

From photographs to photoshop. . .

Just an idea. . .

September 9, 2000     (Saturday)

Water makes for such an interesting subject. . .
"Chasing Rainbows"

September 10, 2000     (Sunday)

It was another rainy, boring day. I'm so tired of rainy, boring days. I want to get out and walk, get some exercise, meet people, and take some pictures. Tomorrow is supposed to be more of the same. Damn!

September 11, 2000     (Monday)

               The Tyger

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,  
In the forests of the night;  
What immortal hand or eye,t  
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes? 
On what wings dare he aspire?  
What the hand, dare sieze the fire?  

And what shoulder, & what art,  
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,  
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?  
What the anvil? what dread grasp, 
Dare its deadly terrors clasp! 

When the stars threw down their spearst  
And water'd heaven with their tears:  
Did he smile his work to see?  
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright,  
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,   
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

                  -- William Blake
"Tyger, Tyger"

Rain, a little work, more rain, more rain, more rain. . . It gets monotonous. The bugs are bad this year. Fleas, flies, mosquitoes, spiders, and those damn red bugs out back. I spray and spray them and they keep coming back. I think someone told me they're called Box Elder Bugs. They look like red roaches. There has to be millions of them around those two trees. Sometimes the ivy turns red. Well, not really. . .

I wake up in the morning and I have all these profound things I want to write about here, but usually by the time I get around to doing this, they've all gone away, or if the ideas are still around, the details have evaporated, leaving me with just a husk, and who want to present an audience with only a shell of something obviously worthy of a greater effort? What a life!

September 12, 2000     (Tuesday)

President Clinton, Al Gore and the other Democrat PTB (powers-that-be) want to use the budget surplus to shore up Social Security, provide healthcare for kids who wouldn't otherwise have any. Dubyah and the Roman Senate (Republican leadership) want to give the "middle class" (meaning anyone with a six figure income or better) a tax cut. How about a third alternative? The infrastructure in this country is deteriorating, chiefly due to neglect by Democrats who want to mother everyone and do visible good works, and Republicans who flat just don't give a damn about anything beyond their tenure in office. In some measure this deterioration is due to a tax-hating electorate. Why not leave taxes alone, use the surpluses for the next five years or so to seed a trust fund to provide for the maintenance of our infrastructure? Here's a dollar. I'll be needing 98 cents back, thank you. Oh, and here's your box back. You can put your soap away now.

West Virginia State Police Headquarters

September 13, 2000     (Wednesday)

The Learning Channel (I think) did a show yesterday evening about used car sales and other consumer *ick* issues. One of the segments was about "product downsizing." That's something I've been noticing for a while now. Used to be a large can of coffee was three pounds. Now they're 39 ounces -- 9 ounces, over half a pound, less. The other day I noticed that Breyer's ice cream now comes in 1.75 quart packages instead of half-gallons. I don't imagine it will be too long until they all come in that size. WHen companies downsize products, the price usually stays the same. Tampax cut their 40 count package to 32 pieces. Women everywhere stopped buying them. They went back to 40 count, but now it's marked like they're giving away 8 free! Once they run out of those packages, they'll go back to the old 40 count box and raise the price, treating the retreat like it was a promotion, and you're only paying for what you get now, while before you were getting a bargain.

An industry spokesman (read "shill") said that the companies are only responding to "consumer demand" in cutting the size of their products. Yeah, right. Then why did all the soft drink companies go from 16 ounce to 20 ounce packaging? People like to get more for their money, not less.

I just came home from the dollar store with a roll of "Heavy Duty" Aluminum foil. You know that with a label like that, most people would expect something like Reynolds Heavy Duty foil. Well, folks, it's 18 inches wide like Reynolds, but that's where the similarity ends (unless you count reflectivity). The stuff is thinner than regular brand name foil. Of course, suspecting this all along, and a thin 18 inch foil being what I wanted all along, I'm not disappointed. Still, it's the next best thing to dishonesty calling something "Heavy Duty" when it's no more sturdy than the ordinary product.

The FTC or someone needs to come down on these practices. They're tantamount to a con-game. It's dishonest, disingenuous, and nasty to conduct business like that. Descriptive labels should be just that. "Low Fat" should mean "low fat." I think the FDA has cracked down on food labels, but other products need similar restrictions on descriptive labeling. "Professional" shouldn't indicate something between regular and what the pros use. It should be identical to what the pros use. Heavy Duty should be a more robust product than the standard version. People and companies who mislead the public need to be held accountable for their misdeeds.

Just a branch of a dead tree, on Lee Street, how sweet, see?
"Branch Banking"

September 14, 2000     (Thursday)

The West Virginia State Capitol, Cass Gilbert, architect.  Cass Gilbert also designed the National Capitol in Washington, D.C. and many other buildings of renown, inlcuding the United States Court House and other public buildings in New York City.
"From the West Lawn"

George Dubyah says that Jesus Christ is his favorite political philosopher. What????? The man's a moron. The political philosophy of Jesus, to an intelligent reader of The Holy Bible, The Gospel According to Thomas, and any other resource purported to carry the words of Jesus of Nazareth, would seem to be very close to communism -- the kind of communism practiced by actual communes, not the Soviet or Chinese brands. Jesus admonished people to give up their worldly possessions, fed the poor, fought against the entrenched establishment, and lectured rich people that they could not share in the bounty of an afterlife if they piled up wealth in this one. Contrast and compare to George W. Bush's political philosophy. He wouldn't know a political philosopher if one came up and bit him on the leg.

September 15, 2000     (Friday)

I'm working on my eighth roll of film. I have to pause and wonder why I'm taking all these pictures. The quality of some of the shots is pretty good, but nothing exceptional. I'm about 80% of the way toward having things arranged to take some studio still lifes and portraits, and slides of art work. I have most of the filters I want. I do want to investigate Cokin filters, though. The woman at the Ritz Camera shop in the mall can't say enough good things about them. I remember very little about them from the last time I was involved in photography.

I'm rambling, right?

I don't feel very well today. I couldn't sleep at all last night. I don't know if it's the sudden change in weather or what, but I feel like hell. Maybe I'll feel better tomorrow.

A shiny new bench on the sidewalk next to the Marriot Fairfield Inn casting shadows on new brick and ashphalt.

September 16, 2000     (Saturday)

Right down the street from my house, a veritable jungle growing in a vacant lot.
"Yellow Weeds"

September 17, 2000     (Sunday)

No Entry Today

September 18, 2000     (Monday)

No Entry Today

September 19, 2000     (Tuesday)

Well, I got my cable modem hooked up and operating. I'm a beta tester for the system, so it's liable to be a little hinky for the first month or so. So far the speed is wonderful. Sometimes more wonderful than other times. I've checked the speed on a couple of web sites that measure such things, and it rates between 200K/sec and 4000K/sec. If it would stay at the 4000K rate, I'd be happy as a pig in clover.

That brings up a question: are pigs happy in clover? and are they really happy in. . . well, you know?

September 20, 2000     (Wednesday)

I'm stiff today,and I hurt -- a lot. I've had a form of arthritis since I was a teenager or before. In my adult life there have been very few days that I was not in pain. . . until last year when my doctor prescribed Celebrex for me. It was amazing. Between the Celebrex and the occasional Darvocet for incidental pain, I went for months feeling good, able to do what I wanted without considering whether it was upstairs or not, or making any other consideration that I had gotten used to making.

Along comes Coventry Healthcare HMO, who bought out the HMO I belong to. Suddenly, starting on July first, Celebrex is no longer on the "formulary." If I want to continue using it, I have to pay a $50.00 co-payment every month instead of the $20.00 for the non-generic drugs on the formulary list. Then my doctor, last in a long series at the Family Medicine Center, refuses to act as my medical advocate with the HMO. He even refused to see if Vioxx (or however it's spelled) might be on the formulary. He's an arrogant bastard, and as of October first, my EX-doctor.

Two days ago I ran out of Celebrex. I feel old again. I don't want to feel this way. I also don't feel like I should have to pay a premium to feel right simply because some accountant somewhere in Maryland has made an economic decision that dictates what drugs I am allowed, not based on any medical criteria at all.

The HMO recommended instead of the Celebrex that I use ice and NSAIDS. Maybe someone should tell them that chronic, distributed pain doesn't respond well to ice packs? Not only that, why should I have to put myself through a second type of pain to attempt to alleviate the original pain, and take 20 minutes out of my schedule several times a day? I'm fed up with letting pain determine my schedule and what I can do. And as far as the NSAIDS go, I have deuodenal ulcers. I can't take NSAIDS -- AT ALL!!! HMO's should not be allowed to dictate medical care. Every case is different, and everyone cannot be categorized and pigeon holed. But they get away with it because we have the most irrational, costly, and inefficient system of medical economics in the world. VOTE GORE!

Either Abby or her sister Ann Landers, in a recent column, berated someone for expecting HMO's to cover people's medical conditions with "they're a business." Yes they are, but I don't think it's right that the premiums have tripled over the past four years, and the co-pays doubled every year for the past two, and that they whimsically (to me) move drugs on and off the formulary. This can endanger people's health if they can't afford to follow a doctor's advice rather than an accountant's. If I could afford to pay the whole cost of my medical care, I wouldn't have signed up for the HMO and paid a monthly premium in the first place. It seems like the insurance industry is trying to remove all risk from their endeavor, and the risk (on their part) is the only ethical justification for a capitalist enterprise. There is so much wrong with how medical insurance is done, and Dubya wants to turn more of the Medicare/Medicaid over to private companies, and he wants to decrease government regulation on everything. I think in a lot of cases we need more government regulation. When wealth accumulates, those who don't have any suffer. The current trend toward deregulation needs stemmed. I know it's hard for some people to trust the government, but I think they should have the same or greater mistrust of business interests. At least the government pretends to be by, of, and for the people. Business has no such pretension.

Okay, I'm done now. Sorry. Some days I just rattle on.

Here's an example of what I call "Abstract Scantography." It's a work of art that exists nowhere but in cyberspace, but started out as an actual physical object, scanned into the computer, created like a photograph.

Light, plastic, air, and water coming together, interacting with the forces of gravity and surface tension to form. . .art?

September 21, 2000     (Thursday)

I walked over to the riverbank, around what I thought would be sunset, but the sun was already behind the hill at the angle at the riverbank. Darn! Maybe tomorrow. I wanted to get a photo or two of the light on the water. I've become fascinated with that.

Another scanner creation.
"Swiss Refraction"

September 22, 2000     (Friday)

Here's something old made new again using my scanner:

An old graphic arts studio photographic trick for creating interesting font effects, subverted and twisted to my own purposes.
"The Oscar Helix"

September 23, 2000     (Saturday)

More fun with the scanner. . .

September 24, 2000     (Sunday)

No Entry Today

September 25, 2000     (Monday)

I'm not in much of a verbal mood lately. I've been taking photographs and scanning things. I've slid over into the visual realm, I guess.

Some sisal twine with paint on it and one of my rubberized drop cloths. . .
"Support Staff"

There's something appealing visually about the decrepit, the aged, the random. Dada and surrealism depended a great deal on randomness. Da Vinci said if you wanted to learn to paint to study water stains on walls. If you follow his advice, you'll come to appreciate the processes of decrepitude, the elegance of randomness. Perhaps he was the godfather of Dada. Duchamp used the Mona Lisa in his (in)famous "L.H.O.O.Q."

September 26, 2000     (Tuesday)

Mark David Chapman is up for parole. He's convinced that he's not a threat to society. He blames his killing of John Lennon on his father. He says, "I think the main problem was that my father never talked about life or problems," His father David never told him he loved him, Chapman said. "And I guess the more I look back on it, I didn't feel any love from him," he said. "Perhaps I was getting him back, killing John Lennon, ruining my life as well. . . I wanted to hold a gun to his head, make him beg. Blow him away. I was really mad at him," he said.

Well, this may all be true, but I could easily say the same thing. My father was absent for most of my formative years. We never talked about life or problems or anything else, for that matter. I felt no love from him, and still don't. At various times, I've felt the Oedipal impulse toward him. The difference between me and Mr. Chapman is he killed a cultural icon, in my opinion to get attention, and I found other more subtle ways to ruin my life.

Should he be paroled? Has he been rehabilitated? I don't think the question of whether he's a threat to anyone or whether he's reformed really enters into it. He killed a man who embodied the hopes and dreams of a lot of people. To me, twenty years doesn't seem like adequate recompense for such an act. Take into consideration, too, Mark David Chapman's own safety. Do you really think he'd live out the year? Some equally deranged, devoted Lennon fan would surely seek him out and exact a revenge for the master. Have no doubt about this.

A plastic pot I used to clean my brushes when doing water color and acrylic painting.  It's acquired a nice patina over the years.
"An Old Friend"

September 27, 2000     (Wednesday)

Down by the river side. . .

I keep chasing the sunset down by the river. Today, I made it in time, but the sun was so bright reflecting off the river that I cast two shadows on the upper bank. There was no boat traffic. The water was calm. Finally when a boat did come by, I was distracted and probably missed the one good shot I had. I wish I could spend some time near the ocean. I love the play of light on water.

September 28, 2000     (Thursday)

Despite the Mayor's best efforts, beauty survives among the dead, twisted vines and rocks.

September 29, 2000     (Friday)

Another month is quickly drawing to a close. Soon it will be sundown. I'd like to wish all my Jewish friends "Happy New Year." It's the beginning of the year 5761.

I've been feeling tired and sluggish lately. I think it's the changing weather. The nights have gotten cooler. The days are cooler one day, warmer the next. The wind and clouds are impressive. The sky has been beautiful when it's not overcast. I love the light this time of year. Soon we won't have enough light to keep me from getting depressed. I'll be in the dumps through the middle of March when the light gets good again. Belize looks good to me in the months of short days.

I keep trying to get up to the state capitol to take a photograph of the illuminated dome at night, but the conditions haven't been right since I decided to do it. I need a cool, clear evening with no fog or mist. Seems I can't get all the conditions to coincide. I'll keep biding my time. I'll get it eventually.

I wonder what kind of wine these would make?

These are the kind of grapes (?) that my vine is supposed to produce. Maybe next year. . .

September 30, 2000     (Saturday)

No Entry Today

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