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Friday, December 1, 2006     In Like a Polar Bear
(6:15 pm)

. . . out like a Penguin? December is here and it's announcing its presence in fine fashion. It was 71 degrees this morning when I got up a little after five. It's a little after six, just over 13 hours later and it's 41. That's a 30 degree drop. And the wind has been fierce. Part of the day it rained, then the sun came out. We've had it all, except snow, and we could possibly get that later tonight. Oy!


Quote of the Day: "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
 
-- Bill Cosby (1977)

The month of writing dangerously is over, and none too soon. I think my computer is trying to die. I've come in twice today to a dead box that I had to unplug, and plug back in, in order to get it to reboot. Something also smells hot. I don't like this one little bit.

I spent most of the day at the hospital with my mom. I'm tired. She's fine. She had her pacemaker battery replaced. They're supposed to turn her loose tomorrow. I'll most likely drive her home. That's another 150 mile trip. I hope the timing works out. Lots to do this weekend.

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Monday, December 4, 2006     Things I Think About
(10:42 am)

Okay, I took the weekend off. So sue me. I spent most of the day Saturday at the hospital waiting for my mom to be released (her battery change and tune-up went fine) so I could take her home (about an hour and a half drive). I got to visit a little while with my sister and Aunt Jean. Then we plowed my mom's front yard with the front tires on the Grand Caravan, trying to get close to the door so my mom and sister wouldn't have to climb the bank. Nice try. Sunday was Ann's birthday. I spent the day shopping and taking her to dinner. Not that both of those activities took that much time, but somehow, that and reading the Sunday newspaper pretty much filled the day up until seven o'clock. Then I watched TV. What was I saying?


Quote of the Day: "One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation."
 
-- Thomas B. Reed (1886)

On the way home Saturday from Braxton County (where my mom lives) I listened to a CD someone had made for me. It's a strange concoction. It starts out with a couple cuts from Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, then presents all of the Meatloaf Bat Out of Hell album. It finishes up with a few cuts of Lynyrd Skynyrd Live. I'd not listened to the CD before and had supposed that it was burned from MP3's downloaded from free sites on the Web. I supposed wrong. Because I don't own a copy of the Meatloaf album, I have destroyed the CD. I did so as a nod to the fine job that the RIAA is doing to protect us from the evils of music piracy. You'll pardon me now while I take a few moments to pry my tougue out of my cheek since it seems to be stuck there as a result of that previous sentence.


Coming home the Monday after Thanksgiving I noticed this bunch of plants growing in the cracks of the sidewalk. Along the bottom step of the porch stairs a flash of color caught my eye. It was a miniature pansy snuggled in amongst a bunch of weed, like they were best buddies or something.

Digital Camera Image [2006_1127Image0005 (crop)] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 400, Macro, 1/250, f/5.6, Canon 17-85 mm lens @ 85 mm]
"Volunteer"

Speaking of Meatloaf. . . Can anyone explain his popularity? He was basically a fat kid who happened to have an operatic voice. He played in musicals, including Hair and Rocky Horror then suddenly burst on the scene with a hit album of what is essentially rock-oriented show tunes. And it sold like hotcakes. He became famous and loved and rich and successful. I think nostalgia played a big part in it. I also think he hit at exactly the right time with exactly the right material. I'm not sure he would have made it as big as he did had he been a few years earlier or later with his offering. Like they say, timing is everything. Now would someone please tell me how to get "Paradise By the Dashboard Lights" out of my head?

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Tuesday, December 5, 2006     Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes
(10:12 am)

Can you tell I've listened to too much David Bowie? I've made a change or two here. You probably noticed the new background I installed for the holiday season. Irritating, ain't it? If it gets on anyone's nerves too bad, let me know. I'll steal Liberty's snowflakes and put them there instead. I also had to change the page headline, since the one I normally use is intended for a white background. I might try something different later along, but maybe I'll just hold on until the holidays are over and revert to form.


Quote of the Day:
 
     "You know, there's a lot to be said against San Francisco and its love children. People are always so boring when they band together. You have to be alone to develop all the idiosyncrasies that make a person interesting. In San Francisco, instead of becoming outcasts like you're supposed to when you take drugs, they organize communities and call it a religion -- then they get hypocritcal and say some drugs are good, others bad. . .
     "L.A. I like, because the degenerates there all stay in their separate suburban house, and that's wonderful because it's so much more modern -- people isolated from each other. . . I don't know where the hippies are getting those ideas to 'retribalize' in the middle of the twentieth century. I mean, in New York and L.A., people take drugs to feel good and they admit it. In San Francisco they turn it into 'causes' and it's so tedious. . . There's a lot to be said for the hardcore New York degenerates. After one day in San Francisco you realize how refreshing and unpretentious they are. . . But what I'm really praying for is a great resurgence of good old alcoholism."
 
-- Paul Morrissey, in Popism, The Andy Warhol Sixties by Andy Warhol and Pat Hackett, pp. 170-171

Gas prices are back up now that the election is past. Before the first of November I bought gas near the $2.00 level. Last night it was $2.39 -- and that was the cheapest I could find. In some places it was $2.45 or $2.49. Our "estimated" gas (heating) bill this time around was over $300.00 and that was for a relatively warm month. I doubt that it's right, but still, the thought of a heating bill being that high a percentage of housing costs is outrageous. They're digging more and more coal out of the ground and employing fewer and fewer people to do it, so the coal company profits are bigger than ever. As natural resources get scarcer and scarcer, we the people are expected to pay ever higher prices to keep the owners of the mineral rights in the manner to which they have become accustomed. The balance is tipping heavily toward the few and away from the many. If you think civil war in Iraq is bad, just wait until the frustration level hits the tipping point here and we have our second civil war. It won't be divided along geographic lines like the last one either. It will be like Baghdad with enclaves of varying contingents in the same areas. It won't be pretty. The Shi'ites from Iran will sit and wait and bide their time and take over when all the factions have weakened the national resolve to the point where a patriotic coherence is impossible. COMING SOON: An Islamic Planet. When that happens, I don't want to be here. . . On the planet, I mean.

Digital Camera Image [IMG_1422] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 200, Aperture priority, 1/60, f/7.1, Tamron 28-300 mm lens @ 164mm, RAW image, ]
"Left Over from the Election"

This was on a van parked next to me in the hospital parking lot this past weekend. I thought the pattern was interesting. Mine usually is straight lines. They must have just waxed it or something.

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Wednesday, December 6, 2006     The Constant Parade In My Head
(10:30 am)

For starters, should I capitalize everything in my entry headlines? Do the people realize they made a dire error electing a DINO governor who changed the state motto from "Wild & Wonderful" to "Open For Business?" What should that tell you? R-E-P-U-B-L-I-C-A-N Businessman, and from what I can tell, not a very good one. My cousin the congressman should run for Governor. What kind of country is it where the infant mortality rate equals that of some undeveloped nations and old people have to choose between food, medicine, and heat? Why can't WVU keep a coach who can have their football team in the top 10 consistently? I know why -- money. Even institutes of higher learning think it's okay to buy their prestige. Why does religion have to end in bloodshed? Why do politics have to be vehicles of personal enrichment instead of public service? Why is it that an honest and capapble person cannot get elected to a high office and The Worm can? Things come and go so quickly that not much moves from short term to even intermediate term memory. I rarely get what I'm thinking about down here because by the time I sit down to write, something else entirely is racing through my brain. Not that any of this matters. I'm just shouting into the wind.

I should have used this quote yesterday on the 65th anniversary of its utterance. . .


Quote of the Day: "No matter what happens, the U.S. Navy is not going to be caught napping."
 
-- Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy (December 5, 1941)

I caught up with some old online friends last night. I'd not been using Instant Messages a lot for the month of November, given my added activity of writing a novel in 30 days and making a post here every day. It was nice to be able to chat with them. Unfortunately it was late and I was sleepy and I didn't get to dally as long as I'd have liked. Michelle sent me some photos of her in a Santa hat. That gal is so photogenic. Diane shared some disturbing news with me. Pat asked me what I wanted for Christmas. You know, I really don't think much about what I want for Christmas. The times that I've gotten even one thing I really wanted are so few that I've become calloused about it. I have a tough protective covering that doesn't allow wishes for gifts to penetrate. So, if you want to get me a gift, anything at all will do. Since I don't expect anything, it will be a bonus even if you get me a cancelled postage stamp I don't have in my collection. A Porsche with paid-up insurance premiums would be appreciated just a little more, however. I might be jaded, but I'm not an idiot.

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Thursday, December 7, 2006     Living In Infamy
(10:39 am)

Until the day she died at a very advanced age, my great-grandmother wore a mother-of-pearl pin that said, "Remember Pearl Harbor." I remember her distrust and hatred of the Japanese for what they'd done on this day in 1941. I don't remember exactly what year she died, but I do remember as a young child sitting with her on the porch swing. She'd tell me tales and laugh with me. I remember one particular tale of how she sat on Jesse Jame's lap when he and Frank and the boys came to their house (presumably in Arkansas) to hide out and rest for the night. I remember her being in a coma for some time before she died. I remember her hair, which I was told had never been cut. I remember the different bands of color in that hair that fell all the way to the floor. I remember her sharp, stately features, reminiscent of a Cherokee princess. I remember she was only half or one-quarter Native American, half I think. I remember she was buried wearing that pin. If for no other reason than my great-grandmother I remember Pearl Harbor.


Quote of the Day: ". . . December seventh, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan"
 
-- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Bonus Quote of the Day: "Destroying species is like tearing pages out of an unread book, written in a language humans hardly know how to read, about the place where they live."
 
-- Holmes Rolston III, professor of philosophy (1932- )

Anyone besides me tired of this background? It's a little busy. I think I'll ask Liberty for permission to use hers. [...time passes...] Okay, I shot off an e-mail asking permission. I'm hoping for a quick reply. If I don't get one I might have to design my own background, and I've not been doing well at such things lately. All this writing must have me stuck too far in the vast reaches of my left brain.

For the interim I'm changing the background to something I made out of a photograph I took last winter of some trees in Fayette County. If it looks more like an H. R. Geiger than snow-covered trees, that's the way it goes sometimes.


(1:46 pm)Background Wars
 

How's that? Permission received to use the background. Thanks Liberty! You're a dear. I tried with that HR Geiger looking thing, but it didn't work. I may try another later, but don't count on it. This is simple, elegant and looks very much like what's going on outside right now.

This is what my van looks like at the moment.

Digital Camera Image [2006_1207Image0020 (modified)] [Canon EOS 20D, Shutter priority, ISO 200, 1/500, f/3.5, Tamron 28-300 mm lens @ 28mm]

Snow's pretty, but I'd rather take pictures of it through insulating glass. Oh, baby it's cold outside. . .


I've added a new slideshow gallery to Naplesyellow.com -- check it out.

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Friday, December 8, 2006     Colder Than A Witch's Intentions
(4:54 pm)

It finally got up to 25 degrees today. The temperature in here can't seem to get to the point where my body thinks it's inside. Brrrrrr. We have a floor model quartz heater to help supplement the furnace. I need to remember to be careful to discharge myself before touching anything electronic. Last night I blew the light in the heater's display when I reached over to press the button to turn it off. Nice blue arc jumped between my finger and the display before I touched anything. Zaaaap. No more light. At least I didn't kill the controller.


Quote of the Day: "There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes."
 
-- Buckminster Fuller

SuddenLink, my cable provider, has been working on upgrades for the Internet service, so things have been up and down and slower than usual for the past two days. I hate when they do that. You think they'd do upgrades in the wee hours. Of course at one time I'd have complained about that too. I suppose there are groups of people who use the system at all hours. The hours between five in the morning and noon would probably be the least used, other than people checking overnight e-mail. I use it during those hours too, so really there is no good time to take it down.

Digital Camera Image [2006_1207Image0012] (modified) [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 200, Shutter priority, 1/500, f/5,] Tamron 28-300 mm lens @ 78 mm, converted to monochrome, histogram equalization]
"Preview of Winter"

I've been trying to think what I want for Christmas. I'd love to have lenses. Lots and lots of lenses, but that's not likely since decent lenses cost several hundred to several thousand dollars. One of the 500/1000 mm lenses from Ritz with the T-mount adapter would be good and moderately cheap -- $99.99 plus whatever the t-mount costs. Anything camera-related would be appreciated. I'd love to have a Canon 5D or one of the new Hasselblad Digital 39 MP cameras, but that's for better people than me. The Fujifilm S9100 would be a nice addition to my arsenal. I'd love to have a sporty coupe to get my driver's license revoked in. Socks I got. Underwear, that's a little personal don't you think? Pink Floyd CD's are always on my list as are the G3 DVD's and CD's. A lot of the music I love I don't have on CD. I don't think I have a single Beatles song on CD. A massage a month for a year would be a nice present. I'd ask for a hooker a month for a year, but that's immoral (and my wife would kill me). A VOX AC30 would be perfect. A VOX AC15 would be sweet. Any VOX Valvetronix amplifier would be okay. Zoom has a new line of effects pedals. Cables are always handy. Cheesecake. Books. I love books. Especially art books and large books of fiction. I like biographies, too. Art supplies are nice to have, too. I can't think of anything along those lines I really need or want that much. I'm pretty well stocked. I'd like an MP3 Player, more Compact Flash memory cards, more Flash drives, more xD memory cards, a sound card so I could do multi-track recording, a hard drive recorder, a carbon fiber tripod, one of those graphics tablets that also is a monitor, a tablet PC, a Blackberry, a fancy cane, software, ink cartridges (50, 60, 16, 26), An Epson Stylus R1800 or R2400 or better, some nice headphones, a faster computer, Woodford Reserve, Bailey's, Knob Creek, Beefeater's, Jose Cuervo, Johnny Walker Blue Label, a Black American Express card, Lawyers, Guns, and Money. See, it doesn't take much to keep me happy. Truth be told, I'd be happy to get the Chrysler Building, a book I don't have or anything in between.


(6:41 pm)Color Full
 

I've added six more pictures to the Color Slideshow at Naplesyellow.com -- I will continue to add photos and scans and whatever else I choose as time goes on.

Good news for West Virginia fans -- Coach Rodriguez is staying at WVU. Alabama can go begging. This news helps restore my faith in the world. I know that some things are more important than money, but I was beginning to think the people of that particular tribe were few and far between. Perhaps there are more of us than I had supposed.

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Saturday, December 9, 2006     Cold Enough to Freeze the Balls Off
(12:55 pm)

. . . of a brass pool table.

It dipped into the teens last night. Brrrrrrrrrr. I wish the people who built this house had heard of insulation. The cold seems to seep through the walls themselves. Induction cooling, I guess you'd call it. We're doing our part to heat the neighborhood. The static electricity is terrible. I've zapped myself to the point of pain a number of times. I really have to be careful not to zap anything irreparable or expensive.


Quote of the Day: "Since you are an artist you don't need advice. Except for this: above all one must study values. We don't see in the same way; you see green, I see gray and blonde. Work at values; they are the basis and the background of painting."
 
-- Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

I've updated the Colors Slideshow yet again. I started to out the latest picture here, but since it fit in with the colors series so nicely, I decided to dump it there instead. It's a photograph I took of our Christmas tree. I mounted the camera on a tripod and set the exposure to two seconds. I set the lens to 20 mm. While the shutter was open I twisted the zoom to the full 85 mm, thus creating the "warp" effect. I got the idea from my previous experimentation with the police car lights of last month. Click on over and check it out. I made the above link to go to the index page of naplesyellow.com since I've made corresponding changes there as well. For this page, I have two photographs of our Christmas tree. I took close up shots because of the placement of the tree. It's in the corner, framed by the television and the couch. Long shots look rather tacky. The first shot below is the original. The second one is the same as the first, but with auto equalization applied. I thought they made a nice study in contrasts.

Digital Camera Image [2006_1208Image0037] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 200. Manual exposure, 2 seconds, f/14, Canon 17-85 mm IS USM lens @ 20-85 mm]
"Yin"
Digital Camera Image [2006_1208Image0037 (modified)] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 200. Manual exposure, 2 seconds, f/14, Canon 17-85 mm IS USM lens @ 20-85 mm]
"Yang"
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Tuesday, December 12, 2006     Circling the Drain. . .
(2:29 pm)

That's what I feel like this time of year. I've replaced as many lightbulbs in the house as I can with daylight fluourescents and I've been outside in the sun (when it's been visible) more than usual, but still I feel the weight of the season pressing down. It's been frantic lately, too, with my mom in the hospital and Ann's mom having an outpatient procedure yesterday, plus all the back and forth and up and down of getting ready for the holidays. I've been running all over town trying to find a couple of tall thin boxed to hold a couple presents for the grandgirls. No luck. I did manage to put a WVU license tag on the front of the van today. I also caught up with my state quarter collection. I needed a roll of quarters to fill up my ash tray in the van for parking and tolls, so I ended up with a whole roll of South Dakota quarters in uncirculated condition. I found a Denver and Philadelphia mint quarter at Pro-Art. That brought the collection up to date. I don't have the Denver mint versions of all the ones so far, but I might make a list and see if I can find the missing ones. I do have one of each state up through the latest issue.


Quote of the Day: "The opinion of 10,000 men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject."
 
-- Marcus Aurelius

Remember this when the next television commercial tells you, "Five million people can't be wrong!" Yes. Yes, they can.

I took some photos of the six-inch Christmas ornaments Ann hung along the eaves of the porch for the Colors slideshow on my naplesyellow.com site. I tinkered around with one of them, adding some light with lens flare to the icicle lights tht were cropped out of the naplesyellow.com versions. I have a larger version of this as my windows desktop. If anyone else would like one, let me know and I'll e-mail you a copy to fit your monitor. This is suitable for widescreen monitors such as those found on most newer laptops and some desktops. I can crop it to a 4:3 ratio or whatever you need. If you request a copy, be sure to include your screen resolution. I can make it in either JPG or BMP format. Actually, I can do whatever format you prefer, but those are the two that work as wallpaper.

Digital Camera Image [2006_1208Image0024] (cropped) (modified - added lens flare lighting Corel PhotoPaint 11) [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 200, Program AE, 1/320, exposure compensation -2,  f/5.6, Kodak 80-210  mm lens @ 210 mm]
"Decorations Decorated"
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Wednesday, December 13, 2006     Oops!
(7:05 pm)

The past two days I've had a terrible case of the klutzes. Everything I touch I either knock over, break, drop, or let slip out of my grasp one way or another. I hate when that happens. Fortunately it doesn't happen often. When it does, it drags my self-confidence and self-esteem all the way down. It seems that I can't do anything right. That includes typing. It has taken me three or four times longer to type this paragraph than it normally would. Lysdexia sah alos tes ni.


Quote of the Day: "There is a very fine line between 'hobby' and 'mental illness.'"
 
-- Dave Barry

I was going to go to Target today to look around to see if anything struck my fancy as a Christmas gift. The closest parking spot I could find was at least 150 yards from the door. I turned around and came home. I'll bet you a dollar to a donut that at least half of the SUV's and Club Cab trucks in the handicapped spots were driven by people who'd have no trouble walking a mile or more, other than not wanting to do it. The people who abuse those placards really piss me off. There are more people who really need the concession those spaces offer than there are spaces, and when people who just take advantage because they have a placard available to them either from a doctor signing off on whatever they ask or a family member has one because they need it and the healthy individual just uses it to get a better spot, it angers me.

Digital Camera Image [2006_1015Image0008b] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 200, Aperture priority, 1/250, f/6.3, Parameter B&W, Tone Sepia, converted to monochrome, Tamron 28-300 mm LD Lens @ 300 mm]
"In Celebration"

The above photo was taken in October. The weather right now is the same as it was then -- daytime highs in the 60's, nighttime lows in the upper 30's to lower 40's. The sunset was glorious this evening, but I don't have a decent vantage on it from here and by the time I piled into the van and went somewhere that had a good viewpoint, it would have been over, so I missed it. Drat.

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Friday, December 15, 2006     It's Hard To Think. . .
(10:12 am)

It's really hard to think when there's a constant irritating noise. The external hard drive that I use for backups has a problem. The fan has developed a vibration. The pitch of the noise changes back and forth between just irritating and completely maddening. I think I'm going to start leaving it turned off except at night when the automatic backups run. Ever since I got the thing I've thought that the housing was too small to be cooled adequately by a 1-1/2 inch fan. There! I turned the bugger off. Now it's quiet in here except for the refrigerator compressor, which is very low level compared to the hard drive fan.


Quote of the Day: "He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words."
 
-- Elbert Hubbard

Yesterday morning I had the bright idea that I'd go out and clean the van really good. I put on my sweat jacket and ball cap and gathered up the cleaning materials and went out on the porch. . . and turned right back around. It was COLD! I don't know why I supposed it would be otherwise. After all, it is December. The weather was slated to improve though, so I did manage to get the detailing done later on yesterday afternoon. That brief moment when I stepped onto the porch I noticed that there was still a lot of fog. I grabbed my camera and headed out in search of some nice foggy things to shoot. I took 38 photographs, and, as it turns out, only a scant two or three are usable. There was apparently something on the lens or sensor or filter that ruined nearly every shot. This is one of the few that I could fix:

Digital Camera Image [2006_1214Image0017] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 800, Program AE, Exposure compensation -2, 1/4000, f/22, Tamron 28-300 mm lens @ 28 mm]
"Light & Shade, AM"

This time of year I notice the deterioration of social graces. You'd think people would be kinder to each other, given the nature of the origins of the season, but they're not. The rudeness, selfishness, and meanness of people has increased exponentially since I was growing up. Part of why I've noticed this so much may be that I was raised in a very insulated area where manners and helping each other out was valued more. There was little notice taken of "class" or status. At least, I took little notice of such things. When I got out of the military and joined the Hippie army, I noticed a bifurcation. One group of people, the hippies, went toward the gentle, expansive, tolerant and the other group went toward the greedy, grasping, self-centeredness that persists across society today. It breaks my heart. Instead of helping one another, people nowadays knock down the little old lady with the walker to get to the toy sub-machine gun for their sociopath little kid to pretend to kill those who aren't in "our group." Tribalism reasserts itself, to all our detriment.

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Saturday, December 16, 2006     SuddenJunk
(12:50 pm)

I've had cable TV since 1978. The same wires connect the city as they did then. Some of the main trunks have changed over to fiberoptics but the same infrastructure exists essentially since I first got cable. Back then it was Capitol Cable. Then it became Cablevision. After that it was Time-Warner, then Charter, and now SuddenLink is the new owner. In all those nearly 30 years, this new company is absolutely the worst. At least before I could get someone on the phone if there was a problem. Now, I get some condescending twit who knows exactly what is on the script in front of him about cable and Internet. The voice phone system is pitiful. If I had another choice for cable and Broadband, I'd have switched already. SuddenLink is pathetic. Want to be their billing system is really efficient?


Quote of the Day: "It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitaion."
 
-- Herman Melville

Guess I'm doing okay, then. . .


Here's another of those marvelous truncations that sometimes happen within lists of things on computers. This is another e-mail that makes you do a double take reading the subject line (the one highlighted -- to see the actual text, see the preview pane below).

Taken?  How?  Where?

I managed to salvage several of the fog photographs I shot the other day. I still haven't figured out what the flaw was. I took more photographs yesterday, same camera, same lens and nothing was there other than the image that was supposed to be. I don't get it. Anywho, here's one I corrected and modified. I'm thinking of doing a series of bridge photographs. This is one of the Patrick Street Bridge.

Digital Camera Image [2006_1214Image0033 (modified)] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 800, Program AE, Exposure compensation -2, 1/3200, f/22, Tamron 28-300 mm lens @ 265 mm]
"Erector Set"
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Monday, December 18, 2006     Reflection
(3:15 pm)

I've been reading blogs today, this in conjunction with the NaBloPoMo project and a chance reference on my weekly web page statistics report. Am I like all these other people, blathering on about sunjects and occurrences that matter not the whit to anyone but me and two or three other people who know and love me? Am I as boring as the vast (let me reiterate, V-A-S-T) number of people blogging on Blogspot, MySpace, and LiveJournal, as well as those who at least have the gumption to own their own domain for their blathering? Am I as useless as the near unanimous majority of blogging brain-dead? It's been half a month and more now since the NaNoWriMo 50,000 words I've written, and nearly two weeks since I looked at those words with the goal of adding to and polishing. Will I ever finish that novel? Will this page ever yield a result other than killing time and snaring hits from search engines? Is this worth it? Is anything I do? 'Tis the season of self-doubt and loathing. Ho ho ho.


Quote of the Day:
 
Football Season Is Over
 
"No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun -- for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax -- This won't hurt."
 
-- Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (suicide note)

I just watched a film about the life of Hunter S. Thompson called, "But the Ticket, Take the Ride." My life seems so pale, watered-down, and simple by comparison. Once upon a time before I ever heard the name Hunter S. Thompson, I was on track to be like him, or at least burn as a similar star of lesser magnitude. Now I'm more a burnt-out clinker in the vastness of space, not even a black hole, as I attract nothing. I just float, cold and void of light or interest waiting for something to ignite me once more, something that will likely never come. So, I'll continue to babble on here, splattering the occasional photograph that no one comments on or the rare bit of art that I don't even like much. I'll continue to smear the web with bits of effluvia from my mind, hoping one day to have an insight that propels me into something worthy of the time, energy, and bandwidth spent on it. But, to tell the truth, were I you, I'd not hold my breath.

I thought I'd put this drawing up here before, but I've looked through everything and can't locate it, so if I did post it before, allow me to apologize for redundancy.

Scanned drawing.  India Ink and Prismacolor
"Romaine Lattice"
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Thursday, December 21, 2006     Make a Joyful Noise!
(1:39 pm)

That's what I'm doing these days. Well, noise, at least. I bought myself a Christmas present -- a new Vox guitar amplifier. It's not an AC30 but it does a decent impression of one. It's the AD100VT model, based more or less on the AC100 that the Beatles used in their last tour of the US. It's not the huge Beatle amps they used in Shea Stadium and other venues in their middle tours. This is a combo amp with 2 12-inch speakers. It's a hybrid of vacuum tube (valves, the Brits call 'em) and solid state circuitry. It pumps out sound like a jackhammer, but with all the nuance of a copperplate script. I'm still acclimating myself to it (since I only got it yesterday), but I expect to like it quite a lot. The footswitch was shipped separately and two days behind the amplifier, so I should probably get it today or tomorrow. I'm waiting on a phone call before I crank up the beast. Once I start playing I might not hear anything other than the music. Anyone want to jam?


Quote of the Day: "There is one thing one has to have: either a soul that is cheerful by nature, or a soul made cheerful by work, love, art, and knowledge."
 
-- Friedrich Nietzsche

I got two Christmas cards in the mail today, one from a person convicted of possessing child pornography and the other from a bourbon distillery. You really want my mailing list now, don't ya?

Allow me to explain. A few months back I bought a bottle of Woodford Reverve Bourbon. It's a really good whiskey. I went out to their website and registered to leave a favorable comment. Since then I've gotten all kinds of things from them in the mail and in e-mail, the Christmas card being just the latest. I now own part of a Kentucky thoroughbred as part of my membership in the Woodford Reserve club. I also get invitations to gourmet events at the distillery and other goodies. The whiskey itself was worth the $30.00 I paid. The rest is gravy. As for the child porn purveyor, it's an old friend who I think was set up in a spate of vindictiveness and he chose to accept the punishment rather than possibly involve his sons in the mess. Personally, I think he should have fought it tooth and nail, and barring that, South America is nice this time of year.

Just four more days until Christmas. Usually in a couple days I'd start my Christmas shopping. This year it's mostly done. There might be a few last minute things, but the bulk of it is wrapped and under the tree. I'm not sure how to act.

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Saturday, December 23, 2006     Ain't That Amazing?!
(2:09 pm)

I think I'm finished with Christmas shopping. That's a remarkable accomplishment for me, since most years, tomorrow would be the day I start! We probably will have to run by a grocery store to pick up some things this evening or tomorrow (*shudder*), but with the booze run (I found my treasured Woodford Reserve on sale!) this morning, I'm done. Now what do I do with myself?


Quote of the Day: "Quos laeserunt et oderunt." ("Those you have injured you also hate.")
 
-- Lucius Annaeus Seneca (often known simply as Seneca, or Seneca the Younger) (ca. 4 BCE-65 CE), Roman philosopher, statesman, and dramatist

It's a lovely day out. I should be outside taking photographs or something, but I don't feel up to it. If I don't make it back online until after the holiday, Merry Christmas.

In honor of the season, I've changed the background on my main page to match the one on this page. Who knows what it will look like on January first.

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Monday, December 25, 2006     Goodbye Christmas
(11:31 pm)

Twenty-eight minutes more and Christmas will be gone in the eastern time zone. It was a frantic but delightful time. We opened our presents with our son and his girlfriend last night. Today the grandgirls came over and collected their loot. Along with Ann and me, Sean, his girlfriend, Margaret, her boyfriend, his son, and the two grandgirls went to Ann's parents' apartment. Her sister and our niece Michelle were already there. They live in a small high-rise apartment. It was quite crowded. After that little party broke up, Ann and I went to Trish's parents' house with her and Sean. We had some wine and played Scene It. We got back home around a quarter after six, had dinner and watched Pirates of the Caribbean (the first one). I'm ready for bed.


Quote of the Day: "Talent is only the starting point."
 
-- Irving Berlin

Santa was good to me this year. I got an MP3 Player. I'm downloading songs to it as we speak. I also got a Zoom guitar effects pedal. Things have been so busy since I opened the package last night that I haven't had a chance to plug it in. I hope it works with my new amp. The older Zoom pedal I have works well out of the effects loop of the amp. It didn't work really well straight into the input jack. I hope this one does, since I see no mention anywhere of using it with the effects loop.

I didn't make an online Christmas card this year. The first time since I started doing this. I tried to make a Flash one, but I couldn't get Firestarter to do what I wanted, so I put it aside and never got back around to it. All the discipline I stoked last month with NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo (or as I like to call it, NowBloMeHo) has apparently been wasted. I bought a book yesterday calledThe 3 A.M.Epiphany, which is a book of exercises to improve fiction writing. After the year turns this time next week, perhaps I can start with the exercises and continue editing and embellishing my novel. Trish read what I have so far this weekend and she thinks I should finish it and turn it into a publishable tome. I hate the business side of creativity, so I'll probably get stuck like I do with everything else.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006     Rearranging the Furniture
(3:53 pm)

Since Christmas is over and the new year is coming up fast, I thought I'd switch the background image on my main page. I didn't change it back to the paper background I'd had there for years, though. Instead, I created a new stony-look background and logo. I'm not sure I'm happy with it, so it may well change again with the turning of the calendar page. If you'd not noticed, I've changed the background on this page and the banner at the top of the page back to what it was previously as well. Christmas ain't over until the clean-up is done.


Quote of the Day: "No matter how hard you pursue pleasure and success, there are times when you fail. No matter how fast you flee, there are times when pain catches up with you. "
 
-- Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, from "Mindfulness In Plain English"

A lot of things seem to weigh on my mind at the ends of years. This year is no different. I'm going into comtemplative mode. I wonder why I asked for an MP3 player for Christmas. If I'm not in the studio, living room, or here at the computer, I'm in the car, all of which have quite servicable stereo systems. I rarely walk anywhere because of my bum leg, so that's not a time when I'd use it. Still, I do like it and I'm sitting here listening to it instead of the same music on the PC. I like the Zoom pedal I got, too, but I already had an earlier version which probably served my needs better in some respects, but I do appreciate and enjoy it as well. I've vascillated back and forth between several areas of interest all my life: Music, Art, electronics and computers, writing. I've held jobs and had businesses of varying natures. At times I wish I'd found something that would have satisfied my soul early on and stuck to it. But I didn't. And now I'm left to contemplate what I should do with what's left of this life. I wonder, too, how long I have left and what comes after my ticket expires. I wonder if I can handle another major medical problem. I sometimes consider whether I'll even attempt to address such a problem or will I just let it run its course? I worry about what's to become of this country and world. Things look hopeless much of the time. Sometimes I want to just give up and sit and cry. Other times I'm moderately energized and want to do something to change things. Most of the time I don't have the foggiest.

Scanned object
"Something I Scanned"

I used to use the scanner as a camera a lot more. There are multitudes of objects that are interesting and beautiful scanned directly.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006     Riding the Thermal Roller Coaster
(1:48 pm)

This weather is exhasperating. One day it's cold and windy, the next it's in the 60's and calm. I wouldn't mind it so much if it would just do one thing and stick to it. It's the changing constantly that keeps me in pain. I do like the weather today. Right now it's 50 degrees and sunny. I'm sure that won't last more than a week at best. At present the forecast is calling for temperatures in the 60's until next year, with lows in the upper 30's to mid 40's. Starting January first, the daytime high drops back near the 50 degree mark. This is just too strange for this time of year. Oh well, as we all know, global warming hasn't been scientifically proved. Uh huh, like anything has! What we know changes with the addition of more information to the experimental and experiental database. I think the preponderance of informed opinion is that we need to do something NOW or suffer some dire consequences, perhaps even sooner than we suspect.


Quote of the Day: "There can be no equality or opportunity if men and women and children be not shielded in their lives from the consequences of great industrial and social processes which they cannot alter, control, or singly cope with."
 
-- Woodrow Wilson

Yesterday started my geodetic alphabet at Logolalia. These are letters I picked out of the landscape using Google Earth and the Microsoft Live mapping thingie. Dan Waber has had this alphabet project going for a while now and there are some pretty interesting collections there. I especially like Karri Kokko's and Dan's.

I keep waking up too early -- between 4:00 and 5:00 am -- so that by this time of day it feels a lot like a nap. I'm too old/young for a nap!

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Sunday, December 31, 2006     The Year In Review
(6:24 pm)

It's been a year.


Quote of the Day: "Always be sincere, even when you don't mean it."
 
-- Irene Peter

Happy New Year, Y'all.

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