Thursday, June 1, 2006 Painting Part of the House
I woke this morning to the sound of scraping. The landlord had sent this fellow over to scrape and paint the front part of the house. The whole thing needs it badly, but I'm not complaining at anything that gets done. I just hope they don't screw too many things up in the process. I just took a break and went outside. The landlord was there. We had a nice conversation. The painter had cleaned up most of his mess from scraping. The landlord is sending someone to check the ductwork later today. Coolness. I'm starting to feel better about this process.
Quote of the Day: "For I desire kindness, not sacrifice."
-- Hosea 6:6, speaking in the name of God
Following in the footsteps of the master, I've updated his LHOOQ. Instead of drawing a moustache and goatee as Marchel Duchamp did on his Mona Lisa, I've made my alteration more in keeping with the times:
"L. H. O. O. 2."
Over the course of the past week I've been ripping every CD I own. If at some point I get an MP3 player, I need something to put on it, and I'll be damned if I give Apple a cent for downloading songs through i-Tunes. In fact, I've ripped i-Tunes out of my computer. Apple pisses me off with their holier-than-thou, for-the-rest-of-us attitude and their overpriced, underuseful products. Sure they got a few things right, but in my opinion, they're being penny wise and pound foolish with a lot of what they do. Now, the iPod has taken off and done wonderful things for them, but to fill it with the 10,000 songs it will hold, you'd have to spend $9,990 dollars. Seems a little extravagant to me. But then so does $16.00 for a CD with 12 or 14 songs. The music industry, much like anything to do with entertainment has outpriced most of us. The last concert I attended in an arena was at least 15 years ago. The last "name" group I saw was in a club. I could see some good live music free at the Regatta, but I don't like having to deal with the rude people in the crowd. People around here are ruder than those I've encountered in New York City, a place famous for rude. I think that's enough changes of direction for one paragraph. . .
Friday, June 2, 2006 Slump
I've gone into a slump. I don't feel like doing anything at all. I just want to lie down or something. I'm tired, and there's no real reason for it. I've checked my blood sugar and pressure and they're great. Chocolate. That's it. I need chocolate. Or lots of booze. . .
Quote of the Day: "Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for."
-- Epicurus, Greek philosopher (341-270 BCE)
I think what I really need is to be around people more. With the move and settling in and everything I've not been out and about much, and not with friends hardly at all. I've crossed paths with some friends, mostly just long enough to get a hug and a promise to see me soon. I need to do things with people more. I'd like to get some people together and play some board games, or just sit and watch a movie and have a few drinks, or have an orgy. Well, scratch that last one -- the wife might not go for that.
Tuesday, June 6, 2006 666
Today is 6-6-06. How about that. Some have speculated that today marks the ascendency of the beast of Revelation. I know that the beast is already here -- and the initials of his name are GWB. The beast is supposed to hold sway for seven years. Do you think someone will assassinate him, or that he'll have a fatal bicycle accident, or that he'll choke on a pretzel (riiight. . .), or that a new Democratic majority in Congress will impeach the bastard? I guess we'll just have to wait until next year and see.
Quote of the Day: "If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again."
-- Flavia Weedn, Flavia and the Dream Maker
Yesterday I went out to wash the car after Ann had splattered the entire passenger's side with grass and dirt trying out her new toy -- a cordless electric grass trimmer. On the way to the carwash, I came upon about half a dozen policemen and three patrol cars at an intersection. They were operating a "checkpoint".
"Driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance"
I complied, but didn't like it. After all, the Supreme Court has ruled such traffic stops constitutional, even though I would heartily disagree. I didn't voice this opinion to the cop, since it has been a long-standing policy of mine not to piss off people with guns. Remember those old WWII movies where the SS or Gestapo would stop people for no particular reason, and bark, "Your papers!" To me "Driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance" sounds just as pernicious. Folks, we are living in a police state. Like it or not, agree with it or not, it's true. Anytime the police can stop anyone they choose with no more reason than the fact that the person crosses their path, it's a police state. I don't know what to do about it other than write my little tirades here. If you oppose them, you might "have an accident" or end up charged with disorderly conduct at the least. The whole country has become like some podunk rural Georgia Country run by a corrupt sheriff wielding a baton, growling, "We don' cotton to yore kind 'round heah, boy."
Sunday, June 11, 2006 The Long Gap
It's been a long time between entries around here lately. Partly that's because of the move, partly depression, partly who knows what. I'll try to do better.
Quote of the Day: "The opposite of creativity is cynicism."
-- Esa Saarinen
I have sunk into cynicism, leaving creativity floating on the surface, basking in the sun and light, soaking up the cool rain, watching and taking in all that passes by in the world, synthesizing all these things into something new. I am at the bottom of the pond, soaking up the silt, going blind from the obfuscation of the muck. I need to kick and grasp and pull myself up and let my head break the water and feel the energy and delight of being up there with creativity.
I've only taken my camera out four times in nearly two months. Part of that I can blame on the move as well, but most of it is just my being sunk in ennui. I have begun painting and other artistic activities again. My studio is close to complete. The only thing left to do is redistribute some materials. I have three work surfaces that are either already clear or can be made so in a couple minutes. I have my laptop set up on one table, and being a laptop it can be removed quickly, even with the wireless keyboard and mouse, and power supply. The great orange table has the portable drawing top (31 X 42) is on top of it. The drawing table has a collàge in progress on it, but that is basically a backdrop for whatever else I'm working on. I have a 40 X 10 canvas on the gray table top. I'm enthused about it. I have space to set up two easels as well, but doing so would block access to shelf space. That's not a big deal. These easels aren't so huge as to not be extremely mobile.
My pal Liberty told me she wanted me to take photos of the new house. I told her I'd do just that once I got the place in shape. Well, it's almost there. I just have to do the library and make the bed. I think I have all the art on walls that I either have room for or choose to put up. I still may put up a few more pieces, but I'm not sure at the moment. I did something different this time around. Instead of measuring and adjusting and making sure that things lined up and worked together, I just stuck things where I felt like and juxtaposed whatever with whatever. I think it worked out pretty well. You shall see. I'll create a virtual tour once I get the photos done. Stay tuned.
Monday, June 12, 2006 Various & Sundry
The new Federal Reserve chairman is raising interest rates to "hold down inflation" caused by rising energy prices. Let's examine just what that means. If interest rates go up, it's supposed to stimulate savings and slow spending, thereby causing prices to come down somewhat. That really never happens. It stimulates savings at the expense of investment, since those with disposable income tend to keep their money in the least risky places that yield an acceptable return, this being insured accounts, not the market. Additionally, keeping inflation down pretty much means leaving prices at an already inflated level since energy prices aren't going to decrease, nor will anything dependent on them. The increase of interest rates will have one chilling effect: wages will stagnate or decrease. This will have the effect of moving more wealth from the pockets of the average citizen into the pockets of those who already have too much, which in my not-so-humble opinion is exactly the real intent of raising the interest rates at this particular time in these particular circumstances.
Quote of the Day: "Fulfillment of desire is an illusion; desire leads to more desire, not satisfaction."
-- Kathleen McDonald, How to Meditate
My moments of lucidity and articulateness seem to come at longer intervals and are of shorter duration. My college professors used to use the word "succinct" on the comments on my papers. Others have called me articulate and even glib. Lately however, I can hardly hold a thought long enough to refine it to the point where I want to present it to anyone other than my own internal observer. I am not pleased with this situation. I tried working crossword puzzles to hone my cogitative abilities. I tried reading more literate works to stretch my mental muscles. I even tried doing a little math (I can still figure most everyday requirements in my head). All this to no avail. I don't know what it is that I need to do. Perhaps I should take a class or see a doctor, or maybe take up serious drinking or illicit substance abuse so I won't be concerned about such matters any longer. Or maybe I should just bide my time and in a short while I'll be drooling into my Cream of Wheat® of my own accord.
I devised a nice little piece on the subject of poetry, specifically, what is it? This was done on the fly, in my brain as I was doing my morning ablutions. Now that I'm in a position to actually record it, I can't regain the fluidity of it nor can I recall all the salient points. Oy!
Wednesday, June 14, 2006 Lost & Found
I've misplaced my Office CD (DVD?). I haven't made a backup copy of it yet either. Nuts! On the plus side of the ledger, I found the antennae for my home theater audio system, so I can now listen to the radio downstairs. Ain't that just the way the Universe plays fair? Lose one, find another. Hey Universe! How about I find all the lost things around the same time without having to replace each one with a new lost item? Think about it, okay?
Quote of the Day: "Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time."
-- Thomas Merton (American and Trappist Monk at Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey in Trappist, Kentucky) (1915-1968)
My fuschia is going nuts since Ann put it in a new pot. It's blooming its head off, with all prospects of continuing to do so all season long. I bought a new croton a couple weeks ago. It's at the top of the stairs right next to a window, so hopefully it will be happy there. I like bright colors in my plants. Don't get me wrong, I like my bamboo, rosemary, and other green things, but I like the drama that color adds.
Speaking of lost items. . . I need to locate my booklet on my flash unit I got with my camera. I'm not exactly sure how to use it to its fullest potential. It seems to have a lot of capability. Now if I can only match that with a little knowledge, I'll be in good shape. It's a fantastic day today. I'm thinking maybe I'll go out and snap a photo or seventy later when the light gets a little more interesting. Right now I think I'd better go crack the vents on the van. I was going to take the van to the dealer today to have some recall work done, but I didn't feel very well when I got up this morning, so I put it off until later. Maybe tomorrow.
Sunday, June 18, 2006 Life, the Universe, and Everything
Happy Father's Day to all you Dads out there. As usual, I'm on my own today. One of these days before I die I hope that at least one of my children will be prosperous enough to give me a nice Father's Day present. I hope that I'm still cognizant of my surroundings at that point to recognize what it is. Aside from learning that eventually kids grow up and have many more important things in their lives than parents, I've picked up a few bits of knowledge from having children that I wouldn't have otherwise. For one, having children allows you to understand the relative unimportance of shit. Before having babies to contend with, many of us were probably loathe to touch or otherwise come in contact with anything that had touched or otherwise come in contact with feces. Once you have to change diapers, dip your fingers into urine-soaked materials, wash small genitalia coated with partially dried excrement, and clean burnt umber "artwork" from walls, baby beds, and anything else close to that shed diaper, loaded with pigment, you tend to ignore or just deal with shit and piss as a matter of course. If you contemplate it down the timeline for sufficient moments, you eventually realize that the most common substance in the Universe is shit, both of the literal kind, and more plentiful, the figurative variety. Figurative shit surrounds us each and every day of our lives. We deal with it in physical space, mental abstraction, and metaphysically. Shit reigns supreme and there's not much we can do except deal with it. Folks, the question (Yes, THE question) is "How many contiguous strains of shit can the average human being recognize and manage at any given time?" And you already know the answer: 42.
Quote of the Day: "Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive -- the risk to be alive and express what we really are."
-- Don Miguel Ruiz
I'm gradually finding the things that were lost. I suppose eventually I'll discover all of them -- probably just in time to pack up and relocate somewhere else, only to misplace things all over again. Thank goodness (goddess?) that the same things don't disappear every time -- I'd start to get paranoid.
"Complex Interaction, Forming the Illusion of Reality"
I love the complex patterns that multiple ripple sources produce on the surface of water. It brings back to me my Buddhist cosmology. It reinforces the notion in my mind that all is vibration (as modern physics validates), and that what we perceive as substantial is really ephemeral and illusory. It's a liberating concept one you let go of the attachment to the prejudice that reality is any more real than whim or imagination. Om.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006 Fearless Leader
Our President, not only dull-witted, seems to be a tad on the side of nutty. To wit:
Quote of the Day: "I think -- tide turning -- see, as I remember, I was raised in the desert, but tides kind of, it's easy to see a tide turn -- did I say these words?"
-- George W. Bush (asked if the tide was turning in Iraq)
The tide might not be turning, but my stomach is to think that this man is in possession of increasingly much power. Pray for a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress this fall so they can impeach everyone down to the Under-deputy-assistant Secretary of Department of the Treasury Paper Supply.
Another friend has died. It seems when friends die I somehow get in touch with other friends who've drifted away. I'm glad to renew friendships, but I don't like the dying friend part of the scenario. Annette was really more of an acquaintance, but I really liked her. We used to attend the same poetry group one Saturday a month. The group eventually fell apart and the people in it lost touch, but I remember Annette and her kids. She was a nice lady. She was only 42. What a shame.
Saturday, June 24, 2006 Another Gray Day
I'd planned on working in my studio today, but just as I'd taken care of everything else I needed to do and started that way, the phone rang. It was my niece, Angel, wanting to know if she could stop by (pretty polite, most people just come over!). Sure. Angel went to a one-week resident course at Converse College in South Carolina. She wanted to show me some of what she did. I'm sufficiently impressed. We spent about 45 minutes going through her things. The other hour and a half I spent shooting the breeze with her dad. Lynn sure likes to talk. Angel is going to come over some day so I can teach her some more techniques and ideas about art. In exchange for the tutelage she's going to help me organize my library. There are probably some books in there she doesn't need to see. I'd better do a little triage before we begin.
Quote of the Day: "Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth."
-- Katherine Mansfield (New Zealand, writer) (1888-1923)
I've been hankering to read James Joyce again lately. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's to shake me out of my creative doldrums. Joyce has a tendency to make one see things from a slightly different perspective. I think I have Portrait of an Artist As a Young Man, Finnegan's Wake, and Dubliners somewhere. I should try to find a copy of Ulysses. That's the one that sends me reeling and tilts me off my axis, although Finnegan's Wake, being a more mature work, has a lot to offer as well, as far as causing my psyche to skitter off across a slick plane like a top trying to stay upright on an oiled sheet of glass.
I really want to get an Epson printer that uses the pigmented ink. I'd also love to have a cheap laser printer as well, but I can't justify the expense right now. I'm leaning toward getting another one of these 19-inch Acer widescreen monitors, giving Ann my 17-inch HP and taking her 15-inch Wally-World special to use with my laptop when I'm using it upstairs in the studio. Oh the temptations of technology. Anyway, the reason I want to get a laser printer is that I can do things with one that can't be done with any inkjet, such as nice dense transparencies to make silkscreens, and the color transfer sheets that depend on the laser's heat to bond to the toner. I used to have a laser printer (one of the first home/office ones -- weighed a ton!), and while I had it I acquired a bunch of the color transfer sheets. They've just been sitting around since the past ten years I've used dot matrix and ink jet printers exclusively. I hate to waste them. Of course, if I had a laser printer I might still have little use for the things, but at least I could use them if the need arose. Additionally, laser printers are good for printing black and white documents, which most of mine tend to be. I think if I had a better printer that this might change. Oh, decisions, decisions.
Thursday, June 29, 2006 My Addiction
You'll have to pardon me if I'm a bit cranky today. You see, I've only had one cup of coffee. We keep a thermos carafe on hand into which we pour the coffee as soon as it stops brewing. That way it stays fresh and tasty to the bottom of the pot. This morning after I'd poured my first cup (before the grog had lifted), I sat the carafe down askew and it toppled. Such a slight fall, one such as has happened several times before, yet the glass bottle inside the carafe shattered with a sound similar to a large metal scoop being thrust into a crushed ice machine. I was heartbroken. Now, I'm just jittery. Maybe it's time to switch to decaf.
Quote of the Day: " The sentiment of justice is so natural, and so universally acquired by all mankind, that it seems to be independent of all law, all party, all religion."
-- Voltaire (François Marie Arouet)
Sean and I are going to get Father & Son tattoos, as soon as we can figure out a design. I'm going to get a couple other ones too -- don't panic, small ones. There's an idea. A tattoo of the words Don't Panic as they appear on the cover of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." I've had several ideas for tattoos over the years but never liked any of them well enough to have one done. This time I think I do like my idea well enough. On one shoulder I'll have the Chinese character Tao (way, or path -- the principal concept from which Taoism is derived). On the other shoulder, the Chinese characters Lao Tzu (author of the Tao Te Ching, the founding text of Taoism), which translates to "old man," which in a relatively short time will be apropos. I'm officially accepting ideas for the Father & Son tatts. Also, I'm looking for some nice calligraphy of the Chinese characters I'm going to have etched on my skin.
Has anyone been watching the new summer "reality" show on NBC, America's Got Talent? It's partly The Ted Mack Amateur Hour (for those of you too young to understand that reference, think American Idol) and part Gong Show (for those of you too young for that reference, sorry, you're on you own). Last night there was an eleven-year-old girl named Bianca Ryan on the show. Remember this name folks. She has the most incredible voice I've ever heard come out of a mouth less than five feet above the floor. Her voice is strong, clear, mature and had more character than 95% of the owners of platinum records. This girl is special. Even if she doesn't win the competition, you'll be hearing a lot from her. I just hope her talent survives puberty. To get a concept of how good this girl is, think Charlotte Church singing the blues, or maybe Janis Joplin reincarnated. Yeah, she's that good.
Friday, June 30, 2006 Amending Rights
The Congress (what's the opposite of Pro?) in their infinitesimal wisdom attempted to enact a Constitutional Amendment to bar burning or otherwise desecrating the American flag. It passed the House of Reprehensibles by the needed 2/3 majority and only failed in the Senate by one vote. One. That's scary. The only amendment to the Constitution that limits or prohibits is the one that attempted to ban the consumption of alcoholic beverages, and that resulted in the rise of organized crime and a lot of other evils, and was repealed shortly thereafter. This amendment is as wrong-headed as was that one. If it gets passed in a future session (likelihood uncertain) and ratified by a majority of the states, then I will, as soon as it becomes effective, go out and burn a flag. Such an action on the part of Congress and the several states is the ultimate triumph of Style Over Substance as begun in American politic by Dutch Reagan. It is wrong to venerate the symbol of a nation dedicated to freedom more than the liberty itself that the symbol represents. It's akin to worshiping an idol itself rather than the deity it depicts. And we all know the trouble the Israelites got into over that one.
Quote of the Day: "Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can -- there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did."
-- Sarah Caldwell
It's amazing to me how difficult it is to find nice Chinese Calligraphy and English translations to go with. Gai-Fu Feng's translations of the Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tzu's Inner Chapters are the rare exception, but one thing is missing in both of those books: the name of the author in Chinese. I've finally found what I wanted, but I'm not really satisfied with the characters. At least now I know what they look like and I can possibly find other, better examples elsewhere. I still don't have any ideas about the Father & Son tattoo. No one has offered any suggestions, and my well seems dry at the moment.
My scanner is shot. It's getting streaks and dark areas whenever I try to scan something. I need to get a new one, but I can't decide whether to get a regular standalone scanner or an all-in-one. There are advantages to both, and the main advantage for the all-in-one is that they're easier to find and cheaper than regular scanners. Go figure.