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Friday, September 1, 2006     Waterlogged
(2:30 pm)

The rain continues. It's only 62 degrees here today. I may have to light the pilot on the furnace. It seems that in the past few years there has been little transition between too hot and too cold -- a day or two at most. Just more of the vast right-wing conspiracy to move more of our funds from our pockets to theirs. Yeah, you might have to contemplate that one for a while to come to the same path I traveled. . .


Quote of the Day: "If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."
 
-- Joanne Kathleen Rowling (English, author of Harry Potter, 1965- )

You can also tell a lot about a person in how deferential they are to those who they consider their betters, or on those who are self-annointed betters. If someone kowtows and is sychophantic (e.g. E.B. on HBO's Deadwood) it reveals a lack of character and probably deep-seated moral cowardice. Often times these are the same ones who would also mistreat a servant or child. An ingrained sense of the human pecking order leads to all sorts of non-egalitarian behavior. It seems to me that this kind of attitude has become more prevalent in the past quarter century, or perhaps it's just my location -- somehow I don't think that's it, though. Ayn Rand and Rush Limbaugh with their self-interest uber alles attitude and name-calling have helped stifle any progress in societal structure we might have experienced since the revolutionary times of the 1960's. More's the pity.

Digital Camera Image [2006_0830Image010] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 400, Aperture Priority AE, 1/6, f/13, Tamron 28-300mm lens @ 223mm, Intentional motion blur]
"Light, as a feather"

I suppose the proper spelling (for those who can remember all the way back to Monday) would be "hiccoughing," although The New Oxford American Dictionary says that "hiccupping" is quite proper. Hiccough is listed as a secondary spelling.

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Tuesday, September 5, 2006     Monsoon, Part Deux
(12:11 pm)

Finally we managed to get most of the yard work done, in between the raindrops Sunday. There is still some trimming to be done. We bought a cordless electric edger/trimmer this spring to replace the corded one that no longer works. That was a mistake. The charge lasts about long enough to do 1/3 to 1/2 of the necessary trimming/edging. We should have gotten a gas-powered one. I'd have liked to have finished up today, but it's raining again. I need to take the Caravan in for scheduled maintenance sometime this week, but I really hate having to do that when it's raining. I either have to have them shuttle me back home and come pick me up or find something to do in the vicinity, and take my word for it, there's precious little to do in the vicinity when it's rainy. New Mexico looks better every day.


Quote of the Day: "The one thing that matters is the effort."
 
-- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I'm having difficulty with the effort. I don't know what's wrong, but I know I just don't feel right. I wonder if making an effort at making an effort counts? That kind of reminds me of something my son, one of his co-workers, and I were discussing in the parking lot across from their place of employment Sunday. Several years ago, I got an old ELO song stuck in my brain -- you know how that is, I'm sure. As it so happens it was a most ironic song to get hung on. I made the statement that "I can't get 'I Can't Get It Out of My Head' out of my head." Try saying that five times fast. . . Even worse, I started hearing the song go through my head that way so I suppose I could have said, "I can't get, I can't get 'I Can't Get It Out of My Head' out of my head, out of my head." Okay, I'm gonna stop now before this turns into some form of infinite regression that completely takes over all energy in the universe.

Digital Camera Image [2006_0829Image0004] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 400, Aperture Priority AE, 1/50, f/13, Tamron 28-300mm lens @ 179mm ]
"What Light Through Yonder Shefflera Breaks?"

I was going to say that the above photo was just another example of my playing with light, but then I thought -- ALL photograps are just playing with light. I need to come up with a more descriptive tag for what it is that I do in instances like this. I like to use light itself to make the statement rather than the objects it defines, so what would you call that? Photography?

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Friday, September 8, 2006     Another Perfect Day
(2:38 pm)

I was considering going somewhere and pointing my camera at things and pushing the button. I thought about Babcock State Park, but it's much more photogenic in the fall or winter, perhaps even in the spring. The mill is a good shot anytime, but how many photos of that old building do I need? I wandered around the mound in South Charleston this morning while the van was being serviced. I got a few nice shots, but not much to really write home about. Maybe between now and when the light gets good I'll think of some place to be when it does.


Quote of the Day: "Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition."
 
-- Isaac Asimov

Every day I get up with a little hope for the world, then the news whittles away a little more of it. One of these mornings I'll wake to the sound of someone on PBS telling me how the Conservatives have shifted the blame for everything all the way back to the creation (I'd say the big bang, but conservative assholes don't believe in that) onto the Clinton administration, and they'll have one or more items on something to do with Islam, and my brain will implode. Humanity will never make it to the stars. Conservatism is trying to drag us to the ground, and Islam is trying to put us all under it. It's nearly impossible to win against regressive forces as powerful and as convinced of their own righteousness as these two seemingly opposite, but in truth, parallel forces. As I've said before, "The barbarians always win," and we are being assailed by various groups of them from all sides, and from among us. Usurper Bush has turned the whole world into Viet Nam, an unwinnable (for civilization) guerilla war. If there is any hope at all, it lies with the Chinese.

Digital Camera Image (crop) [2006_0908Image0032] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 400, Aperture Priority AE, 1/25 f/13, Tamron 28-300mm lens @ 78mm]
"Box Elder Shade of Pale"

Cable guys were here again yesterday. They'll be back Tuesday evening. This is the third time I've called about the HD channels crumbling, IFC's sound problem, and the first 20 channels being of horrible quality. You'd think they'd want to fix it, with so many people going to satellite feeds. SuddenLink cable has nine HD channels. Dish Network has 28, and Direct TV has a comparable number. I should just go ahead and switch to Dish Network and get DSL through the phone company. It would probably be cheaper, too.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006     The Saga Continues
(6:52 pm)

The cable guy was here a short while ago. It seems that the problems we were having are fixed for the most part. IFC still has the hiccups, though. I guess I need to bug them on a daily basis until they take care of that.


Quote of the Day: "Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labors of life reduce themselves."
 
-- Edwin Way Teale

Reducing complexity in my life is something I've been thinking about for some time now. It's a complicated thing to do, though. A little irony there.

Digital Camera Image [2006_0909Image0053] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 1600, Aperture Priority AE, 1/1600, f/13, exposure compensation -1/3, Tamron 28-300mm lens @ 28mm]
"Dam!"

The above photo was an experiment. I set the ISO at 1600 so I could use a really fast shutter speed and maybe get a little grain (noise) in the picture. It didn't come out exactly like I wanted, but I'm pretty happy with it. I think, with this camera, to get a grainier photo, I'll have to do post processing and add the noise after the fact. Photoshop is good for that.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006     Plus ça Change, Plus C'est le Meme Chose
(2:32 pm)

The cable guy was here. He swapped boxes. Things were working fine while he was here. Levels were good. Signal-to-noise ratio was good. We changed the box's audio to fixed instead of variable to fix the audio problem with IFC. However, we didn't check to see if that fixed it. It didn't. And now the HD channels are flaking out again just like before. I'm about to give up, call Dish Network and Verizon to get optional sources for Internet and Television.


Quote of the Day: "Most of us don't have enough brains to leave a party when the gin runs out."
 
-- Ray Bradbury ("The Kilimanjaro Device," I Sing The Body Electric Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1969, p. 6)

Is it just me or does the sole intent of 21st Century capitalism seem to be to turn products into services so that they can keep charging for something after the customer buys it? Buy a car. You have to pay taxes (in most states) every year. License. Insurance. Maintenance. More and more software is on a time-limited basis. Used to be you bought a television, put up an antenna and your only additional expense was electricity to run it. Now with all the electrical and RF interference in most places, even if you only want the basic over-the-air broadcasts, you have to have cable to get a decent picture. Ka-ching! I need me a racket like that.


I've had primarywizard.net for over a year now and haven't done anything with it. I'm thinking of doing a blog with helpful hints and links to interesting sites -- one a day of each. I downloaded some blog software, but I think I may end up using my own design instead. Stay tuned.

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Friday, September 15, 2006     New Territory
(12:53 pm)

The preliminary version of the page at primarywizard.net is up. It's short, sweet, and incomplete. I'll be filling in the holes as I go. There's a direct link to it on the "Destinations" page from this site's main page. Stash it in your bookmarks along with this page. I'll be deciding on a lot of the structure and content in the days to come. I'll tweak it and polish it until I'm content that it gleams. I hope you frequent it and let me know what you think. It's not exactly an original concept, but I had this store of links and information that it seemed a shame not to share.


Quote of the Day: "One of the delights known to age, and beyond the grasp of youth, is that of not going."
 
-- J.B. Priestley

I used to write programs, both commercially and for my own enjoyment. Now I do well to hack out some basic HTML or Javascript. During my planning of the new page I downloaded and looked over a couple of blogging systems. For some reason anymore I'm fearful of delving into something new like that, although at one time I taught myself over a dozen programming languages, systems, databases, and operating systems. I seem to have lost that ability. I wonder if kicking my nicotine addiction has anything to do with that. I'd think that after 8 years whatever it is would have reversed itself. Or maybe it's not that at all. Perhaps it's incipient senility creeping up on me. If that's the case, I can't wait to read all those books in my library again for the first time, and for the first time, and the first time.

West Virginia's football team thumped Maryland last night 45-24. It should have been worse. The team seemed to be up and at 'em during the first quarter and part of the way through the second. Then it seemed like collectively they copped the attitude of These guys aren't as good as we thought they'd be -- why are we busting our asses to go at them full throttle? I hope they don't slip into this kind of thinking when they go up against Louisville, Pitt, and Connecticutt. They could well suffer an embarassing loss, when instead, if they stay on track, they could be playing USC, Ohio State, or Notre Dame for the national championship in January. Oh, please don't let it be Notre Dame! Last time we played for the title, it was against them, and they beat us roundly.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006     Separation Saturday
(9:48 pm)

That's what they're calling it on ESPN. It's the day that separates the contenders from the pretenders in college football. West Virginia already won their game Thursday. Ohio State and Auburn won today, and USC is on track to beat Nebraska. Notre Dame lost big time to Michigan. They were number two. That accounts for all the teams ahead of WVU. The best we can expect, probably, is to move up one spot to number four. Michigan might pass us because of their win over Notre Dame and leave us at number five. Who can say? East Carolina is on the hit list for next Saturday. Maybe one of the teams ahead of WVU will fall and the boys in blue and gold will win big over the Pirates and squeeze ahead. I'd love to see them finish out several weeks of the season at number one or number two. It's been a long time coming. I hope this is the year. I don't want to have to count on living long enough for another football season. Who knows what might happen in a year.


Quote of the Day: "People only see what they are prepared to see."
 
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

I've been sketching a bit lately. I've found the Derwent graphite wash, aquarellable pencils are great both with water and stomp blending. I also use my favorite blending tool to good advantage with them -- fingers. Here's one just in time for Halloween:

5 X 8 spiral bound sketchbook -- Derwent Medium Wash Graphite pencil
"What Lies Beneath"

The Primary Wizard site is coming along. The only page actually functioning as yet is the main page. I haven't decided how to handle the archives or the other navigation yet, but I'm mulling it over. Anyone got a wizard's hat I can borrow? I want to get a photo taken of myself as Wizard to put on the site.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006     High-Low
(10:09 am)

Today I sit here in Charleston working away at my computer. The elevation is a little over 500 feet above sea level. Yesterday I was at 5,000 feet. Those people need to get a little more air up there. Anyway, here's a look at what I could see from the top of the mountain at Snowshoe:

Digtial Camera Image [2006_0919Image0035] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 400, Aperture Priority, 1/2500, f/4.5, Tamron 28-300mm lens @ 51mm]
"Ski Country Sans Snow"

I'm sure the landscape up there would be more interesting during ski season, but there's just two things wrong with that -- cold and snow. I have a great deal of Scandinavian in my genetic makeup, but I surely don't like their weather.


Quote of the Day: "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power."
 
-- Benito Mussolini

There's been a lot of talk coming from the Right recently about Islamo-fascists. That's a little more irony than I can take. The above quote is the definition of Fascism from the horse's mouth, so to speak. The 1949 edition of Collier's Winston Dictionary. College Edition defines fascism as "a political and economic movement, strongly nationalistic, magnifying the rights of the state as opposed to those of the individual, in which both industry, though remaining largely under private ownership, and all administrative political units are controlled by a strong central government." The Oxford American Dictionary says, "an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization. (in general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practices." There are web sites out there with a lot of information about fascism, especially the 14 or so points that define whether a government or culture is fascist. While the Islamic societies may be authoritarian and rigid, their central feature is a religious fervor. That would make them a theocracy, not fascist. The United States under the Bush regime meets all the criteria for being fascist. When government and corporations merge or one is largely controlled by the other, the citizens are a secondary concern. All we hear now is security, fear, sacrifice. Well, the corporations are secure. They don't fear the government, and they certainly aren't sacrificing anything. We have to vote this bunch out of office and undo the harm they've perpetrated on this nation, while (and if) we still can.


Thursday, September 21, 2006     Mile High
(9:06 pm)

I'm back on top of Snowshoe Mountain, nearly a mile above sea level. The current temperature in Elkins, which is a good deal lower in altitude, is 50. Mid-40's tonight. I was outside a while ago looking for stars. The air felt crisp and nice. Maybe my Scandinavian is coming out.


Quote of the Day: "It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honored by the humiliation of their fellow beings."
 
-- Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi

Lunch at one of the local establishments today cost $60 with tip. Whew! I sure wish I was yuppie scum, so I could eat overpriced, undercooked, poorly-conceived food all the time. This afternoon we took the tour at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank. Really neat. Here's a shot Ann got of the big dish. It's big enough to put two football fields in the dish side-by-side.

Digital Camera Image [2006_0916Image0010] [FujiFilm S3100]
"RBT (Robert Byrd Telescope or Really Big Thing)"

We go home tomorrow. Maybe we'll go by Green Bank again. I like that place. I didn't get a great shot of the big dish. I didn't have a wide enough lens with me.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006     Recuperating
(6:01 pm)

I'm not feeling too well today. The WVU football team seem to feel the same, but that's another story. Two trips of four hundred miles in one week, plus staying overnight in the clouds has me about worn out. The last bit of energy I had went to yard work earlier this afternoon.


Quote of the Day: "There are men - now in power in this country - who do not respect dissent, who cannot cope with turmoil, and who believe that the people of America are ready to support repression as long as it is done with a quiet voice and a business suit."
 
-- John Lindsay (former Mayor of New York City)

I've not updated my new web page since Wednesday. I seem to have misplaced my file of helpful hints and can't for the life of me come up with anything exptemporaniously. Oy!

It's Rosh Hashanah. Happy New Year. It's also the first Day of Ramadan. The Autumnal Equinox. I wonder if there's a Christian holiday to go along with the Jewish, Muslim, and Wiccan?

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Monday, September 25, 2006     What kind of room has no walls?
(11:16 pm)

With being out of town, rain, and hot weather, I wasn't able to get the lawn mowed for a couple days over two weeks. The grass was high and lush, but there was something else growing in the lawn as well. Mushrooms!

Digital Camera Image [2006_0925Image0001] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 100, Aperture priority, 1/320, f/4.5, Exposure compensation -1/3, Tamron 28-300mm lens @ 57mm]

It looked like a well-tanned brain growing in my yard. This was the largest of three. I wonder how big it would have gotten if I'd left it to grow? Here's what the individual mushrooms looked like:

Modified Digital Camera Image [2006_0925Image0026.jpg] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 400, Aperture priority, 1/640, f/2.5, Exposure compensation -1/3, Canon 50mm Macro lens]

Quote of the Day: "Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get."
 
-- George Bernard Shaw

I've yet to get the first contribution to primarwizard.net. I still can't locate my file of helpful hints, either. I'm having serious doubts about trying to maintain three personal web sites. naplesyellow.com is just a parking space for two series of art/poetry, so I'm not concerned about it, but primarwizard.net was intended to be updated daily, and in two more days it'll be a week since I put anything new there. Not a propitious start.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006     You go, Bill!
(10:58 am)

Former President Clinton got pissed the other day during an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News. Good for him. It's time someone articulate and intelligent took these fuckers on. Fox news is little more than a propaganda apparatus of the right-wing junta that has taken over this country. ABC and the other networks don't seem to be a whole lot better either. I've stopped watching CBS news since Katie Couric took it over. I've been a CBS loyalist since the days of Walter Cronkite, but Ms. Couric's having Rush Limbaugh on to offer commentary was just too much. These people need to be opposed, not accomodated. Herbert Marcuse had it right. It's not proper to be "fair and balanced" when things are already heavily weighted to the right. Adding an equal amount to both sides doesn't correct a listing ship of state.


Quote of the Day: "And you've got that little smirk on your face and you think you're so clever. But I had responsibility for trying to protect this country. I tried and I failed to get bin Laden. I regret it. But I did try. And I did everything I thought I responsibly could.
 
"The entire military was against sending Special Forces in to Afghanistan and refueling by helicopter. And no one thought we could do it otherwise, because we could not get the CIA and the FBI to certify that Al Qaeda was responsible while I was president.
 
"And so, I left office. And yet, I get asked about this all the time. They had three times as much time to deal with it, and nobody ever asks them about it. I think that's strange. "
 
-- William Jefferson Clinton

Ever notice how these self-important, smug, condescending little neo-con twits seem to smirk a lot? You almost expect them to start chanting, "Nah nah nah nah nah nah." The twitter on the web about Clinton's anger is almost exclusively right-wing derision and name-calling. I saw substantial portions of the interview and read the transcript. I thought his anger was not only justified, but well-deserved. Chris Wallace is a smug little conservative sniper with a hard-on for anything to the left of John Birch.

Pardon my French.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006     The Light in Autumn
(1:58 pm)

I love the light this time of year. It contrasts things so well, especially just after sunrise and just before sunset. The leaves are just beginning to change and the air is cool and comfortable in the evenings. It was such a nice day yesterday that I took my camera and lenses and went out walking. I walked about two miles, and it caused me great pain the rest of the evening. I had to put ice on my ankle for the first time in almost a year. I took a pain pill for the first time in more than a month. And Ann had to rub some Blue Emu cream on my ankle before bedtime. I hate pain, especially when it hobbles me. I used to walk all over, taking photographs or sketching, or just looking at the world. At my peak, I was walking between 10 and 15 miles a day for exercise. I used to hike a lot, run a little. I was running through the woods before it became "cross-country running." To me, it was just running through the woods for the pure joy of it. Now, I can't run at all and can't walk more than a few blocks without paying dearly for it. And none of the so-called Medical Professionals I see seem to give a particular shit. Oh they're willing to do whatever I want as long as they get money up front for it, and my HMO (Hellacious Malicious Ogres) won't pay for anything that would give me a chance at a normal function. But the light is great this time of year. For instance:

Digital Camera Image [2006_0926Image0042] [Canon EOS 20 D, ISO 100, Aperture Priority, 1/100, f/7.1, Canon 17-85mm IS lens @ 85mm]
"Apples to Compare to Oranges"

I remember the wonder and awe I had as a child, the curiosity and interest in every aspect of life. I retained that for the longest time. I kept my dreams and aspirations long past my fear of the dark. Now I feel as if I have very little of that openness to the universe left. Now and then I get a brief glimmer of it, like last Thursday when I was at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). I loved the Science and the wonder of it, the thirst for new knowledge, the competence of the people working there. I saw the original dishes used for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Frank Drake started looking for ET's in the 60's there at Green Bank. I was also struck by the lack of control over the conditions and funding the scientists there have. They have to cede more and more to commercial interests. On my planet, the commercial world will be designed to accommodate scientific investigation, and a radio-free zone will be exactly that.

I had fun with the Liquid Nitrogen they used for some of the lecture in the Science Center at the NRAO. I want some. It's neat stuff. Rather cold, though.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006     This & That
(10:14 am)

I've started a collection of voids, that is to say, anything with the word "void" pre-printed on it. If you have anything like that you don't have a particular use for, send it to me at:

J. Michael Mollohan
P.O. Box 5534
Charleston, WV 25361-0534

I'll gladly send you stamps to compensate for your postage, even an extra for the envelope and time if you wish. You must however, include a note requesting reimbursement. I'd like to have a small note about the origin of the void too, if possible. I don't really expect to get anything from this plea, as all other requests except for a scant few have gone unanswered, and those precious few were responded to by friends. "What are you going to do with these?" you might ask. Well, I don't really know. I just ended up with a small collection and thought I'd pursue it. It's kind of like my faux credit card collection (you know, those phoney cards you get in the mail all the time from companies wanting you to sign up for their credit cards) -- I keep collecting but have no idea where it's all going. Eventually something will suggest itself to me, and off I'll go!


Quote of the Day: "Despair says I cannot lift that weight. Happiness says I do not have to."
 
-- James Richardson (poet)

I've been thinking about another artistic/creative project. The Commander-In-Chimp suggested that in the future the Iraq War will merely be a comma in a history of the era. Comma, indeed! I'd like to have 2,700 odd people donate a small amount of blood each, which I would use to make a huge comma on 300 lb. watercolor paper. Maybe canvas would work better.

Another idea I had was to try to put together a local show of protest art speaking out against the Bush Crime Family and this illegal, immoral, ill-conceived, and idiotic war. Maybe even something on a larger scale. I'll keep in touch.

The ideas are starting to flow again. I hope it continues. I hope I can find the impetus and energy to follow through on them.


The city keeps spraying defoliant along the river bank, trying to eradicate the plants growing among the rocks they put there to hold the bank in place after they killed off all the plants in the first place. Well, the plant just don't give up. They struggle back and, I think, add to the beauty of the place. The contrast of the large rocks with the tiny flowers of this scarlet creeper is wonderful.

Digital Camera Image [2006_0926Image0028] [Canon EOS 20D, ISO 100, Aperture Priority, 1/800, f/8, Canon 75-300mm lens @ 180mm]
"Persistence of Beauty"
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