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Tuesday, August 1, 2006     Tropical Fixation
(1:02 pm)

It's August, and the weather is validating this fact. Today's supposed to be in the upper 90's. Yesterday supposedly only hit 91 here, but the thermometer in the van said it was 98 outside when we pulled in around five yesterday afternoon. With the heat index, it felt like well over 100. The temperature on the Weather Channel thingie on the bottom of my screen already says 91 today and it's flashing red. I imagine that's a heat advisory. I hate really hot, really muggy weather -- almost as much as I hate mud (more on that at some future date). So, surprisingly enough, I seem to have fixated on tropical themes in my life and decor. I have this thing for both pink flamingos (of which I have two in my yard and a small one on my toy ledge -- See Below) and palm trees. I have any number of items featuring palm trees -- note pad, pencil holder, boxes, coasters. Now I want a real, live palm tree. They have them for under ten bucks at Wal-Mart. I'm considering it.

Digital Camera Image [2006_0801Image0001] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 400, Program AE, 1/400, f/11, Tamron 28-300mm lens @ 62mm]
"My lawn ornaments"
Digital Camera Image [2006_0801Image0002] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 400, Program AE, 1/25, f/3.5. Tamron 28-300mm lens @ 28mm]
"On the right end, my small flamingo."

From left to right: McDonalds Furbee given to me by my daughter, a dinosaur of unknown origin, a pewter wizard (premium from something or other), Irish Smurf of unknown origin, a dada sculpture dragon, Troll from Yehudit, ceramic snail from thrift shop, pewter doll of unknown origin, Hercules figure given to me by my five-year-old "girlfriend" from New York (she's 13 now), Energizer bunny from a package of batteries, Disney or Pixar character, found buried in the yard, another of Yehudit's trolls, either Chip or Dale given to me by my daughter, J from the MIB movie, a fireplug, from ficus, a helicopter that I painted black (to go with J), micro aliens from my daughter, a crystal and filigree angel from Diane, and finally my flamingo from Ann. I keep collecting these little figures, none of much value, and their decorative value is minimal as well, but still I enjoy them and I'll keep them around until I die or go back to the mothership or whatever.


Quote of the Day: "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act."
 
-- George Orwell (Eric Blair)

I had an American Literature class at WVU with Orwell's (Blair's) nephew. He was a quiet chap, kept to himself. I got to speak with him a few times, but he was difficult to draw out, and once the luster of being related to someone famous whom I admired wore off, I just let the acquaintance fade. Most of the famous people or those close to famous people whom I've met weren't any more likely to be interesting to me than a cross-section of the general public. Then, I'm not sure if or why I ever supposed this to not be the case.

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Wednesday, August 2, 2006     Heat and Loathing
(6:54 pm)

The temperature is in the 90's again today. We're havin' a heat wave. A tropical heatwave. . .


Quote of the Day: "You can't do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth. "
 
-- H. L. Menken

I had something to say, but I'm still formulating it in my mind. The direction this society is taking is so wrong and so hard on so many people. I don't know what can be done, or even what should be done, but I do know that universal health care should be a right, people should be working less instead of more, and self-actualization should be closer to most people instead of farther away. Global warming. Overpopulation. Outsourcing. Republicans. I think it all ties together, but I don't know exactly how just yet. Actually I do, I just don't know how to articulate it succinctly. Stay tuned.

Digital Camera Image (cropped/modified) [2006_0727Image0036] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 400, Program AE, 1/500, f?8, Tamron 28-300mm lens @ 209mm]
"Russian Sage"

I think I figured out a way to recover most of the files I lost when my hard drive tanked. Not certain, but fairly sure. I've ordered an external hard disk enclosure. I'll try putting the hard drives from my old Windows 98 machine in it and see if I can access the files on it that way. I sure hope so. It breaks my heart that I've lost so much stuff.

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Monday, August 7, 2006     Recovery & Prophylaxis
(3:17 pm)

I managed to recover everything that was on the hard drives of the old Windows 98 machine, which was quite a lot, actually. Most of what I lost was the materials created in the last year. I only lost about five months of digital photos. I hadn't written a lot since last July so there's little grief there. The biggest problem lies in the reconstruction of my working environment. Fortunately since this is version 2.0 it won't take nearly the effort to do a lot of things as it did the first time around. Of course there were problems with this computer when I first got it that doing a recovery from the Compaq recovery partition recreated and now I have to try to remember what solved the situation in the first place. Lots of luck there!


Quote of the Day: "The moment you think you understand a great work of art, it's dead for you."
 
-- Oscar Wilde

My favorite pieces of art are those to which I can return time after time, year after year and still not comprehend all they have to offer me. Indeed, the very best of these usually offer me something different each time I engage them. And engage them, I do. It's an active process, not merely one of passive absorption of whatever the artist and work transmit. It's a process involving feedback. If art does not work with the viewer to create a dialogue, it's worthless as art; it becomes mere decoration.

Derwent has come out with some new kinds of pencils. One, the "Inktense" are vibrant watersoluable pencils that dry permanent and will not re-wet. Neat. I got a set of the full range from Dick Blick after having tried a sampler set of six that I bought locally. I was at Pro-Art today, and saw another line called Graphtint. They're watersoluable graphite pencils in 24 colors. They have such wonderful color names; names like: Port, Aubergine, Dark Indigo, Slate Green, Ivy, Chestnut, Cool Brown, Cocoa, Storm, Midnight Black, Cloud Grey, Cool Grey, Juniper, Shadow, Steel Blue, Ocean Blue, Green Grey, Meadow, Sage, Russet, Autumn Brown, Warm Grey, Mountain Grey, and White. They're less than a dollar each (not counting shipping). I might have to either order a set or try the six color sampler set from Pro-Art. Derwent is taking up some of the slack from what was lost when Sanford started their acquisitiveness. Maybe soon I'll even have something I've done with some of these pencils that is worthy of sharing here. Stay tuned.

This is my latest acrylic painting. It's 12 X 40 inches, so I made this graphic a tad bit bigger than my usual, so as to try to get in a little more of the feeling of it.

Digital Camera Image [2006_0727Image0027]  [EOS 20D, ISO 400, 1/60, f/4, Tamron 28-300mm lens @ 36mm]
"Precious Metals"
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Tuesday, August 8, 2006     About Yesterday
(10:50 am)

I mentioned briefly about the recovery yesterday, but didn't go into the details of how it was accomplished, and I skirted over the issue of prevention entirely. I found a 250 GB external Hard Drive enclosure kit at Tiger Direct for $89.00 plus shipping. I managed to scrape said amount together (actually somewhat more pre-rebate). I removed the old drives and plugged them into the open case one at a time and copied the entire contents to a directory on my pre-existing external hard drive. There was actually more on the 30 GB drive than there was on the 80 GB one. Once this was done, I installed the 250 GB drive that came with the kit and bolted the thing together. I'd like to move the connection to the firewire port on the back of the computer instead of having it protrude from the front of the machine, but that will have to wait until I have someone who can help me move the computer desk away from the wall a little bit so I can get down in the floor behind it with a flash light and plug the cable in. Anyway, as to the prophylaxis portion, I set up two scheduled tasks to run in the wee hours every day. I use Microsoft's SyncToy to echo all the files on each of my hard drives to a directory on the new external. I also have a task set up to do the same for the laptop, but I only run it when something gets altered there. I need to do a disk image at least of the boot drive probably once a week or so. Anyway, I'm better off now than I was before.


Quote of the Day: "All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become."
 
-- Gautama Siddhartha (Buddha)

Maybe that's why a lot of men are huge boobs. . .


I think I made my seminal mistake when I was a child. I actually learned to draw by watching Winky Dink and Jon Gnagy on television. That got me going. My mom, to her credit (or blame, take your pick), bought me the "magic screen" and crayons that allowed me to draw along on the screen with Winky. She also bought me the Jon Gnagy "Learn to Draw" kit. I think that was the name of the program as well. Art was the one thing she really encouraged me at. When I developed an interest in chemistry, she made me earn the money to buy my chemistry sets and ancillary equipment and supplies. But with art, she readily shelled out the small amounts of cash needed for whatever I expressed a desire for. I'm not sure why. At any rate, I progressed through the Jon Gnagy kits one-by-one until I reached the pinnacle: The Master Studio. Now I realize it was really pretty pathetic and I know that my work has retained residuals from this instruction that have been harmful to my style. However, I did manage to learn more things on my own, through reading, and a few bits of information and advice from other artists. I read voraciously. Had I been a lot less self-schooled and informed about the nature of art, and painted Basquiatesque dabbings on cardboard as I did in my early years, perhaps I could have acquired a charming mental illness and would have been highly successful as an "outsider" artist, instead of just another untrained hack, plodding along, loathing the process beyond the "completion" of a work. [more on this subject soon]

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Thursday, August 10, 2006     The relative unimportance of existence
(10:44 am)

I feel very insignificant today.


Quote of the Day: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God: your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you."
 
-- Nelson Mandela

Yeah? What does he know?


Sometimes it seems I've drifted into the great dismal swamp of the mind and soul. I have a test that calculates a person's mode of thinking (or brain usage). Normally it shows that I'm right-brained (slightly) and visual (overwhelmingly). I took it yesterday and it showed more auditory and left brained (slighly off-center on both), and today it showed slightly to the left and 2/3 visual. What this has to do with anything, I have no idea. Perhaps it's the analytical nature of recovering from my recent system failure that has me working in those modes. I've been listening to a lot more music too, and that tends to be a left-of-center, and definitely auditory thing (particular its creation -- which I've been doing more of lately as well).

Digital Camera Image [2006_0727Image0038] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 400, 1/250, f/10. Tamron 28-300mm lens @ 32mm (photopaint adjusted]
"The House Across the Way"
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Sunday, August 13, 2006     Once more into the breach
(1:01 pm)

Tomorrow afternoon I have to lie on a hard surface and let some man named Harry have his way with me. It's time for another colonoscopy. Oh joy. . . Actually the procedure itself isn't so bad. Sedation is a wonderful thing. Today and tomorrow morning will be the worst. I'm on clear liquids from now until the procedure is finished. Starting at three o'clock this afternoon -- a mere two hours hence -- I will being my preparatory regimen of laxatives and excess liquids. I have to mix the antifreeze with Gatorade this time around. Last time I had this done, it was a slightly-flavored powder that had to be mixed with water. I'm not sure which will be better, since I care very little for Gatorade.


Quote of the Day: "I am only an entertainer who has understood his time."
 
-- Pablo Picasso

I write things down all the time. I've kept journals, sometimes faithfully, more often spoardically, throughout the years. Even now, in addition to this public display of disaffection, I write in notebooks about life in general and art in particular. Sometimes I forget where I wrote what. I think I've exposited something here and continue the thought some days, weeks, or months later, and leave people without head lice scratching their heads in wonder. Sometimes I reach for the RID myself, after digging through past entries to see exactly how far I went with a particular thought only to find that I never elucidated on a particular topic here at all. Then I go digging through books and other assorted places where I jot down notes. Oft times my sketch books end up being part art, part ravings of a Dali. Where was I going with all this? Hell if I know. . .

Ann planted some Cosmos and Nasturtium at the edge of our little herb patch in the front lawn. The cosmos are high and brilliant. I rather wish she'd planted more of them. The butterflies love them.

Digital Camera Image [2006_0812Image0003] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 320, Macro, 1/500, f/6.3, Tamron 28-300mm lens @ 300mm]
"Constellation"

I noticed yesterday that the sunflowers are tall and getting ready to bloom. I love sunflowers. I should have insisted on some for the lawn this summer. I saw a goldfinch on the cable wire out front yesterday looking for some. I like goldfinches, too. Actually I like any kind of finch. An old friend of mine kept zebra finches. Once, when his wife threw him out, we finch-sat for a couple weeks. I grew quite used to the constant chittering. It's such a happy sound, even from caged birds. I sat on the porch swing yesterday and listened to the goldfinch singing. I wished for sunflowers and more of the chorus.

I wasn't going to do two photos today, but I don't imagine I'll be in any condition to make an entry here tomorrow, so why not? It's a generally accepted axiom that the subject of a photograph shouldn't be centered in the frame. It creates more interest and makes for a better shot if the main object of interest is not centered left to right. Having said so, some things insist on being the 'center of attention' so to speak. This flower is one.

Digital Camera Image [2006_0812Image0010] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 100, 1/800, f/4, Canon 50mm macro lens]
"Supernova"
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006     Sax & Violins
(11:56 am)

It used to be that music was about sex. Now it all seems to be about death, violence, and perversity. Music reflects the culture, so what does this say about us? I think it says we've lost hope. I think it says we've given up having an effect on our own existence and have defaulted to an eschatalogical view of the world. Hope used to spring eternal, but now it seems that eternity is just another word for nothing left to lose (a nod to Janis & Kris). It's my opinion that music should be about Sax & Violins, not death and greed. Music should be about music, but, like art, it never is about merely itself. It always seems to have to reflect what is and what's coming. It almost makes me glad I'm not young. However I despair for my children and their children's children. In the sixties, the music was about emergence into the light, about hope and peace, about joy and good feelings. The music of the current generation (see MySpace for a sampling of the band names that are popular now. It's as if our collective consciousness texture has gone from silk to sandpaper. Maybe we need the destruction to make way for the new creation. See, hope really does spring eternal -- at least I try.


Quote of the Day: "Solitude is the place of purification."
 
-- Martin Buber

I think too much solitude can wreck the soul just as readily as too much conviviality. I think my creative impetus suffers from not being out and among the hoi polloi. I need visual stimulus and I don't get it sitting in my studio or on my porch or sitting watching television. I used to walk a lot, but now with it being painful I tend to stay off my feet as much as possible. Also I don't like being around people as I'm self-conscious about not having any teeth and only half an upper jaw and the way it affects my speech. It's hard to get rolling when three of four tires are flat.

I've been thinking about making some non-melodic music. I need some sort of multi-track capability, a synthesis program other than the Moog emulator I already have, and something to put it all together. I used to have Acid Music. It was an older, partially hobbled version that came with an old CD Burner, but it would suffice, but the CD has long since disappeared. I really need to stop losing things. If anyone has any of these things that they don't use or have gone on to biggers and betters, let me know if I can have them. I'd appreciate it greatly!

Digital Camera Image [2006_0727Image0018] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 1600, Program AE, 1/320, f/10, Tamron 28-300mm lens @97mm]
"Hope Is Not Internal"
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Thursday, August 17, 2006     Morning is for the Birds
(9:08 am)

Really, early morning is for the birds. Literally! At least it is around here. The East End seems to be an unofficial, ad hoc bird sanctuary (just ask my car!). This morning (around seven) while enjoying the cool morning air, I know I saw at least 20 species of birds on this one block, and I heard evidence of at least three more. In addition to hearing the rasping calls of crows, bluejays, and chimney swifts, I saw robins wading the the dewy grass, pigeons soaring gracefully, mockingbirds lurking, cardinals doing a mating dance, a lone seagull soaring on updrafts, a hawk or vulture high above, a mere dot drifting lazily -- browsing the breakfast bar from on high, wrens, sparrows, a scarlett tanager, some variety of speckled thrush, starlings (the new pigeons), a purple martin, a Baltimore oriole, a hummingbird, and some others I can't readily identify. It's kind of neat watching the evolving patterns of the birds and listening to the tapestry of their sundry songs and calls.


Quote of the Day: "Papa Corot is right. They [Pissaro's drawings in his sketchbooks] smell authentic. You have doubtless heard of the long quarrel between Ingres and myself. He hasn't spoken to me for more than twenty years. He seems to think that art is a joust; if one man wins the other loses. No sense to that. We all win, or we all lose. He believes I am the destroyer of French art and he alone is the guardian of the fortress."
 
-- Eugène Delacroix

I agree with Delacroix. Too many artists hold with Ingres that for there to be "winners" in the arena of art, there have to be "losers" as well. The "art establishment" has it all set up to reinforce this mode of thinking, too. Juried shows with entry fees, special requirements, the losers providing the prize for the winners. It's all a reflection of our time -- mean spirited and psychoanalytic. In order to understand something, you have to kill it. It's the corporatization of the whole of existence. Sorry, I can't play that way. I despair of any improvement in the nature of things. It will all deteriorate. Maybe that's good. From entropy comes beauty. Witness: corrosion.

"May you live in interesting tmes." -- Ancient Chinese curse

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Monday, August 21, 2006     60's Music
(10:10 am)

For the past week I've had the old Zombies tune, "Time of the Season" stuck in my head. I'm pretty sure Russ Ballard wrote that one, and he has (had?) a real knack for writing hooks. This morning, after a long night of little sleep, I woke with my blood sugar higher than when I went to bed and a new song running in my brain: "The Age of Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" from the musical Hair. What all this means, I haven't a clue.


Quote of the Day: "If you could say it in words there would be no reason to paint. "
 
-- Edward Hopper

Lately I can't seem to say "it" in either words or paint. I say, "lately," but it's been a longer running show than that. Yeah, I can come up with a few small things both visual and verbal, but nothing like what I know I am capable of, and this bothers me. Perhaps I really am useless after all.

Digital Camera Image (post-processed -- Corel PhotoPaint)  [2006_0818Image0007] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 400, Program AE, 1/800, f/14, Tamron 28-300mm lens @135mm]
"Sailor's Delight Redux"

I processed the above graphic on Friday or Saturday, but completely forgot to make an entry all weekend and put it up on the site. I even managed to upload it to the site, but somehow got sidetracked before placing it in the journal page. I do have it as wallpaper on my screens however. The Adult ADD must be setting in. . .

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006     Subterranean Homesick Blues
(10:37 am)

My consciousness seems to be. . . well, depressed, I guess, is as good a word as any to describe it. The feeling(s) that I have is (are?) difficult to delineate, much less elucidate. It's kind of like my psyche is in a hole, but not buried or even saddened, as is per usual in a normal case of depression or the blues. It's like a dampening, an insulation against what is around it. It's a feeling like I don't belong, not just here and now but anywhere and anywhen. It's not a disconnectedness or even a mild form of despondence. It's difficult to put into words -- as I would suppose are most genuine states of being not related directly to the everyday affairs of humans. Now, exactly why was it I started down this primrose path?


Quote of the Day: "Not thinking about anything is zen. Once you know this, walking, standing, sitting, or lying down, everything you do is zen. To know that the mind is empty is to see the Buddha...Using the mind to look for reality is delusion. Not using the mind to look for reality is awareness. Freeing oneself from words is liberation."
 
-- Bodhidharma

I guess I've just been staring mortality in the face lately and wondering what it's all about. For some peculiar reason I've been invited to join a mass consciousness group. I have no idea where the invitation came from nor why I was included in the list of invitees. It's a pretty interesting concept and there are several websites out there devoted to it. There's a device called the GCP index dot that is kind of like a mood ring for the entire planet. This is it:

I'm considering adding the dot as a feature somewhere on this site, perhaps on the main page, or next to the Trend Micro virus alert on the news page. For more information check out Brad Anderson's Page or the Noosphere page at Princeton University's web site. Interesting stuff. I've always been interested in the effects of the magnetic fields generated by individual consciousnesses and their interactions. I think we've only just begun to accurately assess such phenomena.

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Monday, August 28, 2006     Weather or Not
(10:48 am)

I missed my daily backups this morning. When I went to bed last night it was stormy, so I'd turned off and unplugged the computer and A/V gear. My automated backups are scheduled to run at three and six every morning, so I'll either have to skip today's or run them manually later. They probably shouldn't take too long, since I didn't really change much on either drive yesterday.


Quote of the Day: "Love is a serious mental disease."
 
-- Plato (428-348 BCE)

I put the GLobal Consciousness Index thingie on my NEWS page. Simple to find, just click on NEWS on the main page. I've seen a few colors that aren't listed in the legend, most of which I think fit in between the colors that are listed. The only odd man out would be gray or white, which simply means that the data is not currently available, that the server is hiccupping or something.

Digital Camera Image (Post-processed, Corel PhotoPaint) [2006_0826Image0018] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 400, Aperture Priority AE,1/800, f/6.3, Tamron 28-300mm lens @ 164mm]
"Don't ask."

Is that how you spell 'hiccupping?'

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Thursday, August 31, 2006     The End
(11:24 pm)

Where has 2006 gone? Tomorrow is September. Fall will be here before we know it then cold weather, snow, and all that crap.


Quote of the Day: "All mortals tend to turn into the things they are pretending to be."
 
-- C.S. Lewis

I need to pretend to be rich or deliriously happy or something. . .

See ya next month.

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