January 31, 2008

Flower Children & HTML Gnomes

I wonder if when H.G. Wells wrote 'The Time Machine', whether he was writing about today's world of HTML and the internet?

I was always struck by the two kinds of Future people. There were the surface dwelling Flower Children, who lived lives of blissful simplicity in the sunlit gardens above... carefree and ideal. But their carefree existence was preyed upon by the dark underworld Gnomes... evil creatures who lived via their technology, in an underground world. The evil Gnomes might emerge anytime into the midst of the sunlit paradise, to grab a Flower Child for dinner every now and then.

That's how I see the internet... we internet users, the Flower Children live carefree lives, until one of the HTML beasts rears it's ugly head. I've been wrestling with the Gnomes lately.... trying to transfer my site to a new internet host.

Ah, the Joys of the Gnome underworld of HTML! What Flower Child would not rejoice at the choices that multiply without end? The endless tunnels and complicated choices? Gnomes do not speak regular english after all. They speak HTML... a language laden with evil words such as:

'PleskXHTML to PHP standard Single Domain SSL ns43.domaincontrol.com ns44.domaincontrol.com ns3.secureserver.net ns4.secureserver.net SMTP Setting POP3 Setting MYSQL DATABASE sub-domain CBI-b CBI-a $usertable= $username="your_dbusername"; $password="your_dbpassword"; $dbname="your_dbusername"

More to the point... I myself encountered a Gnome the other day, out in the garden. He had popped up from a hatch beneath an azalea bush. He was plainly sizing me up for lunch. I stared him in the eye. He growled at me and said:

" LxAdmin Host-in-a-box is using lighttpd and djbdns and only consumes 9MB RSS and 15MB memory usage on bootup on the OpenVZ platform. mysql_select_db($dbname);"

Staring him down I replied,

"HyperVM is a multi-tiered, multi-server, multi-virtualization software allowing a VPS vendor to provision, manage and delegate Xen or OpenVZ based Virtual Private Servers. HyperVM also comes integrated with Lxadmin hosting control panel which means that, using HyperVM, the provider can deploy a full fledged web hosting system out-of-the-box. HyperVM also allows users to manage VPS' across multiple servers transparently!"

Usually technology is a Love/Hate thing for me... but some days it's totally Hate/Hate all the way!


January 27, 2008

The Mountain & the Moon

Here's Mt. Rainier... some 60 miles distant. It doesn't really seem this imposing in real life, that's just the magic of the 'telephoto lens effect'. Usually in fact, you can't even see the mountain. Even on a clear day, there's too much humidity or clouds in the way to get a view of it.

Still an active volcano, it's gonna go off some day, like it's cousin Mt. St. Helens did back in 1980. It ought to do wonders for real estate values... making the city more affordable once again.

I didn't notice the rowers out in their boats when I took the picture... amazing what a little sunshine will do to motivate people to get out.

And here's the last full moon... the 'Wolf Moon' it's called, as I read somewhere.

The only gear I used for the moon picture was a tripod and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18.

I had it on maxium optical zoom... at which point (18 times optical) it was somewhat difficult keeping the moon within the camera viewfinder. Being slightly sloshed didn't help much, though it did make sitting on the front porch in the freezing moonlight a bit easier.


January 25, 2008

Icy & Slippery...

There's a new house in the neighborhood. It seems almost like a UFO landed in the midst of mostly plain and modest little clapboard dwellings. It's kind of startling actually.

It startled me the other day... whist walking to the grocery store, down a very steep hill, I was so entranced staring at it's roof-line that I failed to keep my eyes on the icy sidewalk.

Next thing I know my left knee is whacking into the concrete with severe pain...my right leg shot out ahead of me... and there I was, all akimbo, laying sideways on the sidewalk wondering if I'd broken my kneecap or something.

It is truly asonishing how one's mind copes with these situations. Anyhow... I was lying there afraid to move at all when two carpenters came up the sidewalk.

"Look out for that ice!" I warned them.
"Oh I know all about that damn ice!" one of them replied... "It got my knee!"
"Me too!" I shouted, still wracked with pain. "I was looking at the damn house and slipped and fell"
"I was looking at the blueprints when I slipped", replied the carpenter with the gusto of a shared misfortune.

Luckily nothing was broken and I'm fine. I did think it hilarious that the exact same slippery patch claimed two knees in such a short span of time. Both of them distracted by the architecture!

Very icy!

January 22, 2008

Twas brillig...

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
(translation: It was a bright cold day at the beach)

All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe
(translation: Just a few remnants left of summer... at least it's not pelting down rain!)

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
(translation: I just luv the lens range of my new camera... here's the wide-angle)

Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
(translation: And from the same spot, a telephoto photo of Mt. Baker in the distance. I think the curvature of the earth shows in this photo...Amazing telephoto from such a little camera.)

January 20, 2008

Cloud Gets Trapped...

Cloud gets trapped in high reaching branches...

I think lichen probably thrives in this climate...

The door to my studio...

The trusty coffee can scarcely ages over the decades.

January 16, 2008

Snowy Day

Snowy steps... and sunshine! That's a rarity around here lately.

a snowy lawn... a dusting that is.

a bright studio is nice to be in...

cat's not going out either!

January 15, 2008

Adventures in Plumbing

Lately, a good deal of my life has been devoted to plumbing. Let me assure you, it has been an adventure!

I had a clogged bathtub.

First I tried snaking and plunging. Days of snaking and plunging and Liquid Plumber. All to no avail. Being stubborn, I just tried harder. The real disaster came on day 3. I decided to try a new pure sulfuric acid plumbing product.

It was a new sort of drain cleaner which is primarily pure sulfuric acid. I had never seen this product before, so being curious about how effective it might be, I bought some.

Let me tell you, the results were a total disaster! Worse than the clogged drain!

I carefully read the instructions... I poured the cleaner down the drain as instructed and covered it with a pan. 5 minutes later I noticed an awful egg smell... even from way upstairs. I rushed down and ran the cold water. The drain was not unplugged... the water backed up into the tub. The egg smell in the bathroom was truly toxic... unbelievable. I opened all the windows and doors and put on an exhaust fan. Even 4 hours later the smell was still there.

But I'm not complaining about the awful smell. What SHOCKED me was that the previously antique ivory tub was now stained with horrible ugly brown stains, just from the sulfuric acid fumes! (photo) This was some sort of chemical reaction that was horrifying to experience!!!

I tried scrubbing the stains with an abrasive cleanser. No effect whatsoever! These stains appeared to be permanent! I can't begin to tell you how angry this made me... the thought of a lawsuit crossed my mind. I was VERY UPSET. Mental anguish would be putting it mildly.

And to top it all off, it had FAILED to unplug my drain.

I searched Google to see if there was anything online about this. I soon found other people having the exact same problem. They recommended Lysol toilet bowl cleaner to remove the stains.

In a moment of inspired despair, I then tried pouring regular Liquid Plumber down the drain.. hoping to at least unplug the drain. But then I noticed another chemical reaction... the Liquid Plumber was removing the horrible stains wherever it made contact with the porcelain. A chemical antidote!

So next I put on a pair of industrial rubber gloves and with a solution of Liquid Plumber and water was able to clean the majority of the stains off! What a lucky accidental discovery! Now at least the tub was restored to it's faded glory. I should have worn a respirator too...

Anyhow, after a week of trying everything under the sun, I finally called in my pal Sal... a real plumber.

Luckily, our only misadventure was cutting through a water pipe. There was water gushing all over for 2 minutes. But now it's all working perfectly and the tub drains so rapidly it almost sounds like a jet powered geyser... less than a minute and it's empty!

First comes the plumbing... then the Art! That's the necessary order of things.

So much for my adventure in plumbing... now it's back to Art! Like Nietsche said... "Man would be a God were it not for his abdomen".


January 12, 2008

Horizontal Photographs

A light... a mystery

Two pathways... a choice

Early Spring... a welcome sight!

January 7, 2008

All Clogged Up...

I've been on a trip through modern TECH HELL when I discovered that my 3 month old Canon Pro9000 has developed a problematic print head! BUGGERALL! I just went through this same scenario last summer... and wound up having to buy a new printer. Now the NEW one won't print right!

I spent most of the weekend doing cleaning cycles, popping out the printhead, soaking it in hot water, spraying the print head with Windex, searching online support forums... etc.

All to no avail...

I am of the opinion that inkjet printers are becoming more and more UNRELIABLE with each new generation of progress. My old Epson PhotoStylus still prints without any problems after almost 10 years of mosting sitting around... not even being used in the hot summers that would usually bake shut most modern inkjet printheads.


p.s. Oh, and the bathtub drain is totally clogged too. So I spent all of Sunday afternoon snaking that, pouring down Drano, snaking some more, plunging it with the plunger for hours on end.
This morning I discovered a cleanout drum in the basement... so that's what I'm doing this morning!

In otherwords, everything in my life is currently CLOGGED UP!
But I'm still laughing about it all....

Two trips to the plumbing store and I still can't get that blasted drump trap cover off! I'm glad I'm not a plumber...

January 5, 2008

Herons & Hummingbirds

Oh no!... is this going to turn into one of those boring photo blogs with endless pictures of birds?

One never knows... it could happen.

At least taking photos one gets out and about... instead of dragging the pond of one's imagination for bodies all the live-long day.

I was amazed at the details and color in this Blue Heron. It was about 25 feet away and looked quite bleak and grey and muddy in real life. But in the pictures the details astonish!

Maybe I need a tripod next... then you'll know I'm done for.


January 4, 2008

My New Hobby...

Words will hardly contain my delight at my new Panasonic Lumix FZ18! My Christmas present... Oh Joy! A new hobby!

It is such a fun camera to use... I'm just guessing what to do and the results are already so satisfying and spectacular. (for me)

It finally stopped raining so I took these in totally awful light... sun almost down, grey gloom abounding. But they came out very well.

I even caught two eagles diving after coots at a distance of 150 yards in the near dark! Amazing!

Anyhow... I'm a convert now. Can't hardly wait for some sunshine to see how it works in real light!

It makes great movies too... the image stabilization is amazing!

January 2, 2008

Cleaning One's Studio...

I find that cleaning one's studio to be a challenging experience. It offers an occasion for deep reflection and self assesment.

Going through the layers of earlier artwork, all piled up acts like a lens to bring into focus one's accomplishments, or lack thereof. Previous failings come into crystal clear focus. The inner critic shows little mercy from the vantage point of experience.

But there's more to cleaning. It empowers one with an almost religious zeal... as cowebs of the past are cleared away in a mighty sweep. Let there be light! Let reason and sanity return again to this encrusted maze of confusion!

I always liked that scene in Rebecca, (or was it Sunset Boulevard?) where the secret room is cleared of cobwebs. The dark chamber which had hidden the decades of madness is breached. And with one fell swoop the dusty old curtains are town down to let in the sunlight. Out with the old... let the sunshine in!

That's the same zeal I find in cleaning my studio. Looking back through the years of less than stellar artwork, the striving for years after ideas. There's the regrettable artwork... along with the amazing artwork that no one seemed to notice.

It all adds up, or fails to add up.

I understand this is actually a common point of view for artists. I read that even Leonardo da Vinci considered that he had failed as an artist, when he looked back at his accomplishments in old age. Such a cruel mistress. this Art!

I once had a very well known children's book artist in my studio. I had gathered her old books to offer up as reference, as I was doing a project with her. She gasped when she saw them and exclaimed "Don't look at those! Those aren't any good. I work entirely differently now!". They all looked fine to me, but as I say, an artist can be the very worst when it comes to self appraisal.

Oh, and I forgot to do the real zinger... I forgot to add up my yearly income! That's gonna hurt when I do that... best arrange a bike ride soon afterwards or something. I think I'm going to need a little fresh after that.


Onwards & Upwards with the Arts!