Sunday, December 24, 2006

Stoudt's Fat Dog Imperial Oatmeal Stout and Gouache Portraits

Stoudt's Fat Dog Imperial Oatmeal Stout is this week's excellent beer selection. It is excellent because there is a fat dog on each label. Also because it is sweet and delicious. Its taste is reminiscent of the perfect oatmeal cookie. One sip and the flavor fills your whole mouth. Swallow and a slight tangy aftertaste fills you with nostalgia, making you long for another mouthful. I can see how it got its name; I could drink these all day and end up 1) drunk as a dog and 2) fat as the dog on the bottle.
Ratings:

M: 9.5
N: 8.5

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Gouache Portraits

The weeks-long activity that I wrapped up last Friday encompasses all my experience with gouache portraits. Here is what I have produced:
I'm fairly happy with it, in that naive-new-to-a-medium (gouache) and -genre (portrait) way, and will probably hate it for its blatant shortcomings once I grow into a good painter. Even now, having learned from the process, there are a few things I would change.

I finally got the likeness right and transferred it to Crescent illo board. It was mounted on thin backing, and as soon as I laid down the toning wash, the board curled up. Also, the wash obscured a few of my pencil lines. Lesson 1: use thicker board. Press harder on transfer.

I mixed up the mid-range skin tones and painted those in. I wasn't careful enough and later found a few spots that were missing paint. Luckily the toning wash showed through (instead of white board). Lesson 2: Mix up more paint than you need, and keep the leftover dried-up mess handy until the very end. Also, keep each mixed color in its own well.

Once I was done, I was planning on blending some of the color "tiles" by softening the edges. I have found a tiny amount of info on the Internets about the gouache "tiling" technique, and thought I'd try it. Instead of nicely blending two adjoining tiles together, all I did was lift up the paint and make a mess. Luckily I learned Lesson #2 early, and had some paint to cover my ass. I still have no idea how tiling works. Lesson 3: Practice techniques before using them for something important. It's hard to cover mistakes in gouache.

I took photos of each step along the way. I'll post those next time... after the holidays. Merry Holidaytime, everyone!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Shiner 97 Bohemian Black Lager and Gouache Underpainting, Part 2

Most of the beers I've posted have been good. Time for a disappointment. Although it is not a stout or porter, we picked up Shiner 97 Bohemian Black Lager because of the word "black." Some very good dark beers are labeled simply as "black," not stout or porter. But this beer really is a lager, and has almost no dark beer qualities. It tastes just like a light beer, but with heavy undertones. Conclusion: although it might be a good lager (I don't really know), we won't be buying it again.

M: 4
N: 4

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Gouache Underpainting, the Final Chapter

I admit to being a complete newbie when it comes to 1) painting 2) color and 3) portraits. So I really didn't know what I was doing. I chose some colors that I thought would make a good skin tone, and mixed them willy-nilly. I ended up with a color that would look good on a tropical parakeet... but I wasn't going to throw out all that paint. So forgive the ultra-tanned sheen that makes Grandpa look like he's a snorkel instructor in Tuvalu.

I attempted to paint over Left Grandpa. I mixed four values with this shade, but added some blue into the darks for a more interesting contrast. I mixed a few shades of suit and hair color as well. And I painted over.
I forgot to paint the glasses. Anyway, You can see that on the face, the underpainting didn't show through at all. I used opaque mixes for the face, and although the underpainting was a good guide, it didn't do much else. It was great to paint on something other than white, though. On the suit, I used a much more transparent mix, and the underpainting showed through.
Here are some of the techniques I used. You can see the results - not too great. Dry brush looks terrible. Add water and it gives nice texture. Scrubbing an area lifts like nobody's business.

So I learned how to make it work, but didn't much like the results. Lesson: if you make the second layer transparent enough for the underpainting to show through, it tends to lift. Therefore, my actual painting of grandpa will use a watery wash as the underpainting, so I am not painting on white. From this experiment, mostly I learned what not to do.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Terrapin Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout and Gouache Underpainting

Is it just me, or are these beer names getting longer?

The Terrapin Beer Company is local to Athens, GA, and regularly sends its "limited edition" brews to the local stores. After we first tried Terrapin Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout, we fell in love with it, and were devastated when the stores discontinued it. Well, last week, it was there again! Woo!

This beer was the First Place winner at the Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting in 2005 and People's Choice winner in 2006, and for good reason. It's one of the very best beers we've tried. It's expensive, but delicious. You only get 4 for 8 bucks, but it's worth it. It tastes like a chocolatey coffee and a home-baked oatmeal cookie put together. It has no bitterness and no bad aftertaste. It's brewed with coffee. Mmmm. Therapeutic.

M: 10
N: 9.5

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Gouache Underpainting - Part 1

This was an experiment in underpainting, to learn the dos and don'ts. As such, it doesn't look very pretty. But I learned from it, and I hope you do too. Also, it's too long to post all at once.

My excellent Grandpa passed away when I was in college. He was a great man whose personality and good deeds I didn't fully learn about until people spoke at his funeral. Grandma still misses him a great deal, so I'm paiting a portrait of him for her. Do not tell Grandma or it'll ruin her birthday surprise. Thank you.
I traced Grandpa's bust onto cheap illo board with a light "table" I rigged with a desk lamp, textbooks, and a piece of glass. The outlines were very rough and simply showed the major value areas. Then I painted the values with one hue. For Left Grandpa, I mixed grey-blue and cool green. For Right Grandpa, cool red and warm green. I added white in various amounts to get a total of four values. Neither of these are a very good likeness, but that's fine, since this is a value experiment.
I liked how the values turned out. They showed the form well. Using monochrome values was very useful to me because it's what I'm used to with pencils. Even if I don't use an underpainting in the final portrait, I will use these value studies to help. They were great learning experiences in themselves.

The conclusions: next week!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Red Brick Winter Brew Double Chocolate Oatmeal Porter and the Wacom

This week: the beer with the longest name ever. Or at least that we've bought.

Red Brick Winter Brew Double Chocolate Oatmeal Porter is the latest seasonal product available at our local Beverage Resort. We weren't terribly impressed. Maybe the name is long to distract the buyer from the beer's mediocrity.

Anyhow, the beer isn't very chocolatey or oatmealy. "Double chocolate" my rollerblading-damaged butt. What's that supposed to mean, anyway? It's got an unpleasant tang that smooth beers don't have, and the aftertaste is bright. Dark beers can have an aftertaste problem that I haven't really encountered with light beers... but the good dark ones avoid it. This one didn't.

M: 6
N (introduced half ratings this week): 6.5

******************************************

My new Wacom arrived this week. I am ecstatic.

But first... I have Updated the Website. I have new art, and the cool CrashOctopus hats are on sale. Need a hip holiday present? Visit meglyman.com.

Now that the plugging is over, down to business. The tablet was fairly easy to install. I'm convinced that Linux programmers make things easy for uber-nerds, but for average nerds like me it's always a bit frustrating to do things. Maybe they're ensuring that no non-nerds use it... anyway, I only had an hour of frustration before I got the thing working right; no hair-pulling. And it works beautifully!

I started my first piece of digital art. I was able to sketch, "ink," and start to color it with no problems. It took me forever and a day to get this far:


But I intend to practice to get faster. It will go like this:

N: Shouldn't you be doing X? (X = washing dishes, exercising, sleeping)
M: No... I must practice on my tablet. Practice makes perfect, right?

So, eventually I will finish it and post in on my website. And next week, I will write about underpainting in gouache. Because if I write it down today, I must put aside my new toy and do it, which will force me to finish the underpainting experiment I *need* to do now so that I can get Grandma's painting done in time to frame it and give it to her on Christmas. The end.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Lawson Creek Vanilla Cream Stout and ... Art stuff

Lawson Creek Vanilla Cream Stout is this week's beer. It's redeeming value is its availability; it can be found in most Kroger stores. And while it is vanilla-ish, its flavor is slightly bitter. Not the sweetest beer. It is quite tangy and has a creamy aftertaste, which can get annoying. But for a fairly cheap, available stout, it's not toooo bad.

M: 5
N: 6


**************************************
Art has been neglected this past week due to the holiday and the parents' visit. However, I have a few tidbits to share:

1. My tablet is on its way! It should arrive on my birthday and provide me with much distraction at a time when I can't afford to be distracted. Grandpa's portrait isn't going to paint itself by Christmas.

2. Using a light projector to trace photos is not foolproof. I traced Grandpa's photo with it (to enlarge for the canvas) and it didn't turn out very well. Movement of the projector and the paper didn't help. Also, the photo is larger than the 3x3" square in the projector, so I had to move it around on the photo and try to line it up with what I'd already traced. Lesson: tracing a large photo isn't really any easier than using a good old grid.

3. My ma hasn't painted in a year, and she comes and paints three little postcards, teaching me lots about how to use gouache, which she's never used before. Mas are great.

4. Sculpting with two-part epoxy is fun. I shall post on this later when I have learned more.

That is all.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bison Chocolate Stout and Gouache

Welcome from sunny, cool Georgia.

Last weekend N brought home a repeat favorite, Bison Chocolate Stout. The first place we tried this beer was at a Ted's Montana Grill. I gave my beer order first, and N followed with the same, and then every other person at the table ordered one... except the other girl. Anyhow, it was good enough to pick up at the Beverage Resort a few times since then.

Bison Chocolate Stout is fairly unique. Other stouts often make me think, "Tastes similar to stout X." But this one doesn't remind me of any other beers. It tastes very much like dark chocolate. The cocoa flavor is a bit bitter, just like a Hershey's Dark. But it also has a nice bite and tang. Overall, a unique, chocolately, well-rounded beer. Ratings:

N: 8
M: 8

***********************************

I use gouache. A little-known type of paint, gouache (pronounced "gwash") is an ornery, interesting medium. It's essentially opaque watercolor. The cheap gouaches are simply watercolors with chalk added, and the good ones just have more pigment (slightly coarser than watercolors). Many artists haven't heard of it, or if they have, they say, "why on earth are you starting with that??" They know that it's a difficult paint to work with... but it can also do amazing things. I chose it because my favorite wildlife painter Carl Brenders uses it. Google him and you'll see what can be done with gouache. I have prints of his hanging in my home that people always mistake for photographs.

But a good artist can do wonders with any medium, so once I tried my gouache I found out just how good Brenders is. Gouache is unfriendly. Handprint.com (a great watercolor website) says that the word "gouache" is derived from the Italian for "mud," which is very fitting.

Gouache can be used like watercolors, in wash form. It gives neat texture effects because of its coarse pigment. It can also be used thick, with only a little water added or straight from the tube. Either way, the most difficult thing about using it is its tendency to lift. Good for correcting, bad for layering. Layering can work, but if you scrub, it'll lift all the layers of paint below and turn into mud. It also gets streaky.

My example: a recent painting of a cat. This photo shows a work-in-progress.
If you're wondering why the cat has only one eye, it's because I'm honoring my sweet little devil, Kali:
Anyhow, notice the ugly, dead-looking strip to the right of the window frame. That had been layered in several washes, initially the same orange-ish color as the rest of the wall, then in blue for shadow. I scrubbed too much. It looked like crap, so I got it wet and lifted the paint off (blue-ish stripe):
I didn't pay much attention to whether the colors I was mixing were both warm or both cool, which added to the mess. The strip to the far right looks OK. The brownish strip between the two looks like mud. Bleh. Here's a view of how washes can work:
The green is a single color wash and the red is a layered mix. Both look fine.

Then there's the opaque applications. These can look good if the paint consistency is right and you do it in one pass (see purple below, notice difference between red wash and purple opaque):
But if you go over an opaque area again with another opaque application, even if it's totally dry, you'll probably get a mess. I used the same color to go over another purple area again, and it turned streaky, lifted some of the paint, and sort of un-mixed (see blue smudge):
This may also say something about my mixing abilities. Anyhow, gouache has this lovely property that the more paint you put on an already-painted wet area, the lighter it gets. No matter how much you have on your brush, painting into a wet opaque area lifts. Like trying to write over a dry-erase mark on a whiteboard. Frustrating.

Lesson: Play with gouache to learn it. Wait for it to dry to touch it up. Learn from mistakes. Don't get frustrated. After all, artists have done fabulous things with gouache. And once you've mastered it, everything else will be easy. You might also be 300 years old by then, but hey.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Young's Oatmeal Stout and Wacom

First, I must say... GO BEARS!

Now, this week's beer: Young's Oatmeal Stout. To begin, I bring you the following quotation from Wikipedia:

"Oatmeal stout has more body than standard stout, and is smoother, slightly sweeter, and typically higher in alcohol. The flavor is roasted and malty, with almost no noticeable bitterness, and a texture some describe as "chewy" or "silky" due to the oats; oats contribute significantly to the protein content of the beer. Oatmeal stout was, in the past, often recommended as a restorative drink for invalids."

So, that's how an oatmeal stout is supposed to taste. And most that we try do have those good oatmeal-y qualities. But Young's is lacking. It may have body, but the tanginess overwhelms. It is bubbly and bright and not very smooth or sweet. Malty, yes... but that isn't always a good thing. It is slightly bitter, not particularly chewy, and not good for much except washing down pizza.

At least it has protein. And... invalids??

N rating: 5
M rating: 4

p.s. I couldn't find a good link for Young's Oatmeal Stout, but google it and you'll find it. Here's a link for the last beer (I edited that post too): Xingu

*********************************************************

On to the Wacom. I've been tinkering with the idea of trying digital art recently. With my newfound desire to explore color comes a desire to try all different kinds of media, digital included. The itch got worse when I had a dream about drawing on a graphics tablet. So I'm looking into getting one. You know, follow your dreams and all that.

First, I must mention that I've done a few little arty things and photo touch-ups with the GIMP (cool free graphics software) and the mouse. That did not make my wrists happy. In fact, they howled in pain, bewildered by the unwarranted punishment. So if I want to keep it up, I need a tablet. Wacom is a popular brand, so I looked at their website. Great features and all that, quite expensive (as expected), and no Linux support (also as expected). Sigh.

Of course, the Linux community being as rockin' as it is, there is Linux support for all sorts of graphics tablets, Wacom included. It just isn't done by Wacom. It's done by lovable programmers who sit at their desks, basking in the glow of their monitors, with no thanks other than the satisfaction that they've once again thwarted the strangle-hold of the Large Personal Computing Corporations with Free Software.

So here's to you wonderful geeks: thanks for making all my periphals work. I love Linux, and I couldn't do it without you. My search for the perfect graphics tablet continues. <3

Friday, November 10, 2006

The South

I would just like to note that it reached 81F here today. I would also like to state that it is November 10.

This is how it should be.

That is all.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sad

Goodbye, Uncle Oie. I'm going to miss you.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tequila and Con on the Cob

This weekend didn't involve any beer. *gasp* There was tequila instead - far too much of it. Back to beer next week.

The 2nd Annual Con on the Cob
COTC an awesome fantasy/art/gaming convention in Akron, OH. We just returned, worn out and happy. I learned a great deal about how art and conventions interact, so I'll bestow upon you my learnings:

1. Mat, bag, & tag your art and layout your panels beforehand. Leave room to move things around, since your panel may be a slightly different size than expected. Also, the available attachment points may be spread out.

2. Bring your own binder clips or S-clips and tape. Bring every supply you think you might need, just in case.

3. If you have a lot of art, fill out the bid sheets before you arrive.

4. Get there early for a good spot (if it hasn't been decided for you).

5. Hanging up a sign that says "prints available" doesn't help much; you must go around telling people. Everybody. Multiple times. When someone says they like your art, say thanks, and oh by the way, I have prints for sale! And have them with you at all times.

6. Give out oodles of business cards.

7. Wearing your merchandise helps sell it.

8. Listen to people's suggestions.

9. Participate in as many art events as you can.

10. Be friendly to everyone.

11. Party and canoodle with other artists.

12. Art trades foster camaraderie.

OK, now comes the bragging. N and I were introduced to miniature painting, which we both enjoyed immensely due to its brainless, soothing nature. He painted two little tiny dudes with teeth:
and I re-painted a larger undead tree model that came with a miniatures starter set I won at the raffle table:
We both entered the miniatures painting contest, and I won best "large size" entry (of two whole entries) and N won best non-human AND best-of-show miniature! He won a highly esteemed Corny award!!

I participated in both the Quick Draw and Iron Artist competitions with many talented artists, including the illustrious Mr. Jeff Easley. My foam flaming cowboy salamander was a flop (literally - it kept falling over), but it gave me a painting idea (props to Andy Hopp for the concept idea... oh, and for organizing the whole kickass convention and all). My CrashOctopus hats were a hit, and I sold some art! I sold two of the three "cute animals that begin with A" originals, as well as prints of said cuteness, and one pencil original. And the kicker - I won the Fan Favorite Corny Award! Everyone who attended could vote on their favorite, and 'twas me by a small margin. I couldn't believe it. It made this convention even more rockin' and I think Sunday was the best day ever. So far. I love you guys!!

And the best part: I got an original "butt print" from groovy artist Tony "Buns Of" Steele. Rock on.

Monday, October 30, 2006

In the name of all music that is good, please take a moment to thank your favorite deity that Maynard James Keenan did not choose a career in opera.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Xingu and Scanning Slide FIlm

Let's start with a good one. Xingu is one of my favorites. It's a Brazilian "black beer" that has a light, sweet taste. It's medium-bodied, but doesn't leave that heavy, filmy feel in your mouth like most dark beers. It's very smooth, no tang, and almost no aftertaste (you know, the bitter one that comes with most stouts & porters). Ratings (10 = I'd be happy if I died right now, 1 = nearly yakked):

M: 10
N: 8

I should note that the "I'd be happy if I died right now" sensation wore off after the beer was gone.

(edit: link to Xingu)

***

This weekend has been an adventure in scanning slide film. I bought the fancy scanner that would do it well (Epson 4990 Photo). It's a great scanner. However, the quality of the scanner is only as good as the software that you use with it (and vice versa). So... it came with Photoshop elements, which of course doesn't work in Linux. The program I found, xsane, is a very good substitute. It doesn't auto-crop the slides, but it scans transparencies well. The color correction, however, sucks pumpkins. Big ones. It illuminates the slides fairly well, but everything looks all magenta, so it took hours to correct them all. And there were a few great slides I cut out of my portfolio because I couldn't get the damned scanned file to look like the slide.

The lesson: Ask the lab to scan them onto a CD for you. It's worth the extra five bucks. Believe me. It's nice to know I could do it myself if I had to, but it's just not worth the effort... and they do it better anyway.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Targderwear

I am never ever again buying unders at Target. Ever. They might say "Hanes," but really, they're Hanes' Target version, and working for GE has taught me how that works.

One month ago I bought 6 pair. All six were individually labeled as the same size. 3 fit, 3 were too small. Of the 3 that fit, one unraveled after the first wash. One sprouted a large hole after 3 washes. That leaves one pair, out of six, that survived one month.

GrrrrRRRRRRRRrrrrr.

What does this have to do with beer and art? It's hard to enjoy your beer and be productively creative when you're wearing defective underwear.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

An Ode to Art and Beer

Beer. No, not just beer. I have to be more specific. Dark beer? Hmm... Slightly better.

The imbibish part of this blog will focus on said beverage. I cannot stand the light-colored swill that passes for beer in this country. N and I drink (and rate) only beers that have the words "stout," "porter," or "dark" in the title and are chocolaty-brown in color. My snooty beer preference I blame entirely on my dad, who thoroughly enjoys dark beers. He also enjoys just about any kind of food put in front of him, and never met a piece of pie he didn't like, and I blame those traits on him, too.

So, beer. N and I buy a new kind every time we visit the Beverage Resort (complete with a waterfall and plastic tropical trees), and their selection changes every time. Each new beer gets a 1 (bad) to 10 (kickass) rating from me and from Nathan, and a brief description, if we aren't too beer-ed up to remember it. Generally, we don't get toasted on this stuff - it's too good to waste by forgetting. And we bring this ranking to you, for your enjoyment of fine dark beer, and to help us remember what we've tried and what we'd rather not buy ever again.

The other half of the blog: art. I have recently discovered that I desperately want to explore the world of art as it exists beyond backgroundless pencil drawings. Within the last 6 months or so, I've bought paper, board, claybord, gouache, paintbrushes, palettes, canvases, and pastels, to name a few, in an attempt to explore the world of color. Henceforth come my mis-adventurous relationship with art, put down in electrons to help both you and me. Here's to my ability to make horrible art mistakes so you don't have to.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Please Hold

This rambling journal isn't doing anything.

I will pick a focus and try to make this blog useful to more people than just me. Please hold while I choose the topic.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Commitment

N and I aren’t married, or even engaged. However, we have more shared commitments than you can shake a stick at. As if the shared water, gas, electric, internet, and mortgage payments and the joint checking account weren’t enough, now we’re merging our wireless plans. Now that’s commitment.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Survival

I'm tired. Very. Therefore, I don't want to go to the gym. Why should I go? Because I'll turn into a lardass if I don't. Why? It's all about survival.

As Quinn has articulated, we have an ass-backwards way to survive. What do we need to live? Technically, only food, water, and shelter from the potentially damaging elements (like weather). Where to get these? Water comes from the tap, and although the water-purifier salesman proved there's a lot of bad stuff in it, I'd still rather drink it than the rainwater that (rarely) sits in puddles in my backyard. Food comes from the garden. However, splitting the daily pickings of 5 slug-eaten berries, 3 black beans, and a tiny pepper between two people isn't going to cut it. So I buy food. Need money to buy food, water, and the land where my garden grows.

So I go to work. Being a supposedly smart and well-educated person, I sit at a desk for at least 8 hours a day. Sit. Type. Mouse. When I get up to pee, my butt is usually numb. My wrists are falling apart because of it. Also, I have to go to the gym and exercise so that I don't become unhealthy and live the rest of my shortened life in pain. Gym and doctor also cost money.
So here's how we survive: we work in a sedentary way for most of the day to get money. We spend money on improving our health at the gym and doctor. We spend money on food, water, and shelter. Does anyone notice the middleman? Anyone?

My plan is to get rid of that middleman. I want to change work-money-survive to work-survive. I'll grow and raise my food. I'll live somewhere the water is clean (good luck with that). I'll build my shelter. I won't need to go to the gym, because my work will not include sitting on my ass all day. Why do we do things the more complicated way, with the middle man?

Don't tell me... I know. And it's depressing.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Training

In Florida. Yay!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Rat Race

Recently I have been wondering how people of intelligence put their brains to use. First, do they feel an obligation to society or humanity to use their intelligence? Or is the allegiance to their families, or to themselves? I suppose some don't use it at all. But if I can use myself as a guideline, I'd guess that needing to challenge the mind is a compulsion, and if you don't, you can't even watch TV without getting fidgety and wondering why there isn't anything to DO. But I digress.

Assuming people want to use their brains, how do they fulfill their own expectations? Most people I've encountered in corporate America (admittedly not many) are content lending their brains to the company in exchange for pay and benefits. To them, this fulfills obligations to themselves, their family, and society. But it's so temporary. I am proud to be part of the greater project on which I'm working, as is everyone around me. But in 100 years, who's going to care? It'll be ancient technology by then. Our pride won't fade over the years, but others' respect will.

Why do I care, since *now* is what matters? It makes me feel less reluctant to reliquish my hold on the rat race. Sure, what I do is fun and way better than engineering gear teeth, but the only real reason I keep it up is the compensation. I still have pride in my work, but it will not keep me tied to this lifestyle.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Dusty

Whew. Back. Back from sorting, sneezing, sorting, petting excessive amounts of hair off the old dog, and sorting. Twas fun. Oakbrook Terrace has the best fireworks EVER.

The dog's left eye is bulging out of its socket, all red, and officially gross. But she's still really cute. Amazing! She can't see out of it, and can't even close it while she's sleeping. So now she reminds me of the cat, who also can only see out of her right eye. Weird.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Coaster

We had a blast at Six Flags today. Rode all the non-wood coasters. I am definitely getting too old to do that. I felt like crap and had to take a nap afterwards to recover. Granted, part of that may be the standing in the sun in 90-degree high humidity weather. Still, it was worth it. Yay, roller coasters!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Gods

My goal someday is to combine my gods Dinero and Gouache into one, namely, Gouanero. That just sounds like a shit wrangler, but hey, if the shoe fits...

It's raining again. Yay!

One large ant convulsing on my office carpet equals two hours of entertainment for the cat.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Sky Loves Us

It is raining! It's wonderful and humid and cool. The raindrops are fat as garden spiders. I can hear the plants gulping water and going "ahhhhhh." Yay, our new garden won't die!

Also, why do I always always want to paint or doodle instead of doing pencil work that pays? I'm beginning to think I may not be cut out for commissions...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Felicitous Feline

The cat is skittish. A loud noise or quick movement will cause her to start and run off, sometimes with a pause to look at the perpetrator with utmost contempt. Maybe she was traumatized as a kitten.

But... there is one step on the stairs to the second floor where she doesn't. It's like that step is an alternate dimension... the Step of Invincibility. When she's on it, not even the loudest, most abrupt, most geez-I-nearly-stepped-on-the-cat-and-killed-it action will make her move, or even flinch.

Cats are weird.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Runway of dreams

I do my best to distance myself from my job, so that I don't turn into another corporate zombie. I do a fairly good job. But last night I kept waking up after nightmares ridden with anxiety - and they were all about work. Sure, today was a big day (Fred is airborne!), but geez... the two I remember most are 1) sleeping through the whole day, missing it entirely and 2) getting on board to find they'd replaced the monitor, and I had to make sure they weren't going anywhere until I fixed it with my tweaker.

I never got this stressed out over exams...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Noise

So I try for dozens of hours to get Gallery working on my website. So many people use it and the results look great. So I try and struggle and nothing is working quite right. Finally I figure out that my server has PHP safe mode enabled and Gallery can't work with safe mode. So I e-mail Delta Web Hosting to have them disable it - but they won't. LET'S MAKE IT HARD FOR THE AVERAGE PERSON, SHALL WE? MWAHAHAHA!

So I go to check if older versions of Gallery work in safe mode, only to find that their web page is down. Sigh. Looks like I'll probably have to switch hosting services, since mine is retarded (they also don't allow telnet).

Oh yeah, Happy Dad's Day!

Speaking of which, will someone of the class Aves please mate with that mockingbird already? He sits on the same light pole day and night, yelling in sexual frustration. Someone put him out of his misery. Please.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Convenience

We are a culture of convenience. In going about our daily activites, there are hard ways and easy ways. We usually choose the easy option. It's rare when there isn't one. In theory, it makes life better, more restful, and more productive.

But what about when choosing the easy path is damaging? Sure, it takes a fraction of the time to drive to the store than to walk, but driving requires more energy, and the energy comes from unrenewable oil rather than renewable food. Does anyone else find it ironic that many of us sit at our desks all day, then pay our hard-earned money to go to the gym to get some activity? It seems to me that this is an "easy" way that's damaging, or maybe more accurately, it's the hard way. Why not just work in your garden to feed yourself? Because cable TV doesn't grow in the backyard.

Our president has just announced the formation of a new marine sanctuary. That's good. But he also has plans to destroy parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. That's bad. Why pick and choose? Because the ANWR has oil, and Hawaii does not. It's easy to form a refuge when you're protecting something that doesn't interfere with your other agendas.

It's extremely strange that supporters of the intelligent design theory think their agenda should be taught with equal seriousness as the theory of evolution because, they say, evolution is only a theory. And yet they "believe" in the theory of gravitation with no qualms. The evidence is equally compelling for both, hence their equal scientific classification as "theories." Why not dispute gravitation? Because the bible doesn't have phrases like "And God created man, and man could float."

Oh well.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Junkie

It's official - I'm a junkie. I'm sore all over, have two slightly swollen ankles, nearly bit off my tongue, and my entire big toe is a mutilated blood blister... but these are mere annoyances. It's so fun. We lost umpteen-million... to one. Yes, we actually scored. Woo! Big improvement over the first game. Plus, I played pretty well until we hit ~70 minutes, cuz with no girl subs, we were dragging. But you can't beat the thrill, the rare brilliant moments of strategy, the race, the feel of the ball on your shoe. I'm hooked... again. Ankle gods help me.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Colored Pencils...

Don't ever stay sharp. Sigh. Not like I'll get a chance to use them today... why'd I sign up for soccer again? Oh yeah, I thought it was a one-night-a-week thing. Stupid me.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Sore

Possible Scenario:
Wednesday: play soccer for the first time in a year.
Thursday: be sore.
Friday: be really sore.

Better Scenario:
Wednesday: play soccer for the first time in a year.
Thursday: be sore, but lift weights anyway.
Friday: be less sore than yesterday.

Isn't the body great? If you treat it well, it returns the favor 10-fold. If you treat it poorly, it still tries its best and usually works well enough. It's the most robust machine ever. However, I still think I'm getting too old for this.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Date

So yesterday was 6/6/06. The world didn't end. Imagine that.

Although the TV news is generally worthless drivel, yesterday was particularly bad, because they kept mentioning the date and how it relates to a passage in the bible, and to movies, and to cults, and to zealots, and to creepy kids... I bet people alive in the years 1006 and 0006 didn't have to deal with all that crap.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Did you know...

The ant always falls over on its right side when intoxicated.*

What I want to know - who's been getting ants drunk and why wasn't I involved?? If someone got paid to envision and perform this experiment, I'm in the wrong profession.

*http://www.weird-websites.com/justweird/strange-animal-facts-weird-animals.htm

Monday, June 05, 2006

Homeowner Tip #1

Make sure your dryer vent isn't clogged. Check regularly.

Symptoms: damp clothes, little or no lint in the trap.

Possible result: fire, and mild irritation when you put on damp underwear.

Challenge: crawling through the attic in 120 degree sauna-heat (may want to save this one for winter), plowing through mountains of fluffy irritant-laden insulation to find where the big silver tube connects to the outside vent. But it's worth it when you don't have to run your dryer 3 times to get dry socks.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Rain

Is June allowed to be 52F and rainy? In Boston? No, can't possibly be... unless you happen to be on vacation in Boston for two days, in which case it's beautiful and sunny (as it should be) for weeks before and after those two days.

We come back still slightly damp to a beautiful sunny 80F day here in Georgia, water the garden, and it promptly clouds up, rains for 10 seconds, and quits. Like usual. Good thing we watered.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Nesting

We have a cardinal nest in our yard! It's in a small tree, at eye height. I think it's the same pair that got through building an entire nest on our porch before they realized that the big ugly mammals come out there every day. So they moved to the tree, which the big ugly mammals only pass every other day. I walked by it with the hose today, yelling to N about the mockingbirds that are putting holes in our garage, and the mama cardinal flew off in a huff and yelled at me for the next half hour. I am properly chastized, and will no longer walk by yelling about anything, since I can't be sure if it was the noise that offended her or the subject matter.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Finally, a weekend of productivity. Woo.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Asymmetry

Found out today that my left leg is 1/4" longer than my right. Hmm. Wonder if that's natural, or has to do with me breaking all those bones in my right foot?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Masochism, or Fun?

I thought I'd given up soccer. It kept hurting me, resulting in jammed fingers and ankles that are twice as old as the rest of me. Haven't played since I moved a year ago. (It's been a whole year? Really?)

But I just signed up for a league. I'm paying money to do it. I must be addicted; there's no other explanation. Soccer junkie.

Also, I found out today that having an ex-Marine drill sargeant yell at you while bench pressing makes you work a lot harder. Now my muscles hurt way more than usual. Yay. I wonder if I can rent his services every time I lift...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Evening of Weird

I imagine, with dismay, the faces of the people I work with if they knew that the height of my frustration today was expressed with the following phrase: "Damnit, why don't I have any pictures of aardvark feet?"

Not Enough Time

I can't blame the job. Sure, I have to work extra hours sometimes, but that's OK with me. It's a great job, pays well, good benefits, and keeps me interested. But once it's over, there just aren't enough hours in the day.

Arting is hard. Fitting it into spurts of 1.5 hours after dinner and before bed makes it harder. I just want to start in the morning and go all day. But I can't, not even on weekends, because of the chores.

Cut into working out - no. The older I get, the more spoiled my body becomes. It can no longer tolerate with grace a half-pizza before bed. If I don't work out, I get more tired, punchy, and hungry for crap food. Work out, crave chicken. Don't work out, crave ice cream. Hmm. Health is way up there on my priority list, just after money, since I'm stuck with this body for a while.

Cut into sleep - maybe. But it couldn't last long; when I'm short on sleep, my mind starts spacing out. If I'm running on only a few hours, then in the afternoon I'll start losing chunks of consciousness. My eyes are open, but my brain is out to lunch. I guess it's making up for all those luscious hours of sleep during which it would have gotten its usual allotment of blanking out. Still, it's a technique I could try... Beware of the sleep-deprived woman with gouache under her fingernails, coming to your area this Friday afternoon.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Moot Controversies

Saw the Da Vinci Code. OK movie, certainly not Tom Hanks' best, and Ian McKellen, as usual, stole the show.

Seeing the movie reminded me of the fact that the novel stirred up so much controversy about the "Truth." There are several reasons that I think this novel and movie are not controversial. First: It's fiction. Second: Even if a living relative of Mary M. could be proven with DNA, there's no way to connect that to Jesus, since we're lacking his DNA. Third: So what if there is a descendant of Jesus? To me, that doesn't suggest anything about his divinity or lack thereof. According to what did get in the Bible, God had a son, so why couldn't his son have a heir? Some say Jesus was divine, and so exempt from the flesh and its associated temptations. But he was born, died, ate, slept, defecated, and performed the general body functions required for life. Why not reproduce? Why does that one act exempt him from divinity? I don't get the issue. Of course, I'm not very impassioned about the divinity of that particular person, so maybe I'm too distanced from the issue to let zeal get in the way of reason.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Could Be Worse

I think I will adopt this as my art motto. Actually, I live most of my life by that motto. Helps me stay sane through frustration, despair, and testing. OK, maybe it doesn't really help with that last one, since it isn't true...

Pustular

Don't ever ask anyone how their canker sore is doing, because you may get the response above.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Banana

This morning, my breakfast was accompanied by a banana that had just passed into the land of Ripeness by crossing its northern border, the river Greenish. Had I not interrupted its journey, it would have continued heading south, developing ever-enlarging freckles from exposure to the sun. Eventually, it would have melted into a black puddle of odiferous goo, so I rescued it from a fate worse than death. Really.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Testing... testing... testing... tessss... tinnng...

How could I possibly have been naive enough to think it wasn't going to get any worse? How could I have thought it would be slightly organized or mildly reasonable? How could I have expected to do actual testing every time I get dressed up for it? Not that I mind.. the flight suit is comfortable, although the boots leave something to be desired.

Finished another Aku last night. Want to start another. Why must I keep wanting to paint things I sholdn't sell? Learning lots about brush control, gouache consistency, and straight lines. Oh, and how to cover up mistakes. =)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Wanderers Guild

The beach party and business meeting was a blast. The camaraderie and friendships alone are worth joining the WG for, let alone the cool art and writing. Go Wanderers Guild!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

RRRRG

Sometimes life hates me. What can you do but slog through it until vacation? And repeat?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Stick Driving

N let me drive his brand-spankin-new car. Woo!

I drove stick once before - thanks, Stu, for the lesson. Now I'm really going to learn how to do it. It's not too hard, just need to get the feel of the clutch. Clutch? What is this "clutch" you speak of?

We tooled around the parking lot and I didn't hit anything. He let me drive home. It went fairly well. As N said, "we're still alive and the car is in one piece." Success!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Yareeee

We are now a two-Toyota household. And mine's bigger, with a whopping 4 cylinders and 1.8L engine. And I get the worse gas mileage now.

No more red gas-hogging beast, yay! Sure, our first date was in it, but it leaked all over the garage floor, made funny noises, its stereo volume could only be increased, and its huge doors were the bane of my dent-free existence. And now I can walk to the garage-house door without brushing up against a long-snouted, dirty car.

Yaris means "spear" or something in Japanese. Let the short-nosed "spear" jokes begin!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Endless Amusement

Church sign: THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD. WHO'S YOURS?
Me: I'm not a sheep.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

How to Make Money

Every time I see those "bling" rims, I am astounded anew at the propensity of our society to buy useless material things. Not only will they buy it, they will pay exorbident percentages of their hard-earned* paycheck on it. WHY?

A conversation would go something like this:
Me: You spent money on that. (Points at rims)
Random Bling Guy: Yes.
Me: That.
RBG: Yep.
Me: WHY?
RBG: It's cool.

This is my best guess at a reason. But I need a better idea of the real reason, because if I figure out why people spend tons of money on worthless crap, then I can get rich doing it. The best I've come up with yet is a kitty litter scoop with smaller holes, because let's face it, the cat pee never stays in that nice little clump they show in commercials. It breaks into itty bits of wet litter that are many times larger than one grain, but small enough to fit through the holes in any existing commercial scooper. But I haven't had the gumption to fabricate one yet, likely because the prototype would require a soldering iron.


* This is a guess. It could be easily- or non-earned money, but hard-earned is much more grievous.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Multiple Personalities

It occurred to me today that while I know pretty well who I am, there's no way I could define it, in words or otherwise. I'm sure everyone else has this problem to some degree, except perhaps the people who have no clue who they are but think they do and describe themselves in a few sentences.

I used to think there was the true "me," and all the other "mes" were variations on a theme, modifying myself to fit the circumstances and company. The true me was the alone me - perhaps because I don't have talk to myself. Now I'm thinking that "me" is the conglomerate, clumsy balance of all the subtle shades of me. None is truer than the other. Some shades I like better than others, but they aren't truer because of that. And one would potentially go insane trying to describe or even list all the shades, much less their interaction.

In that light, one could not use the excuse "I wasn't myself" anymore. You are always what you are. What you do shows how you worship, despite the words you use to describe your religions.

This all came about because I don't much like the interacting-with-people-at-work "me," having to exchange pleasantries and pointless small talk with people I don't know and with whom I have nothing real to talk about. If I worked somewhere else, where the only people around were my coworkers, that'd be great. But every day here I see faces I've never seen before, and they inevitably mutter "hi" or ask how I'm doing. I doubt they care, but I feel obligated to answer in a reciprocately uncaring "fine," lest they be offended. I suppose it smoothes things over for everyone, but I find it unnecessarily stressful. Sometimes it would be more convenient to be invisible - imagine the stressless bliss and the hilarious things you'd get to see. Well, I see hilarious things all the time, but they're mostly in my head.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Web Design is Hard

Sure, anyone can type a few HTML tags and make a simple website, but you want multiple easily-updated pages, oy. Maybe I'm hardheaded, but I'm not going to spend money on a top-of-the-line web design program, even if I have to do the coding myself. Besides, Linux stuff is generally free software, and although they have some good tools out there, nothing does exactly what I want. I can't complain. But I sure am frustrated. I'm starting to think that web designers aren't overpaid. Maybe if I learn enough and like it, I can contract my services... hmm...

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Practice Air Shows Rock

What's even cooler than going to a free air show and watching the Blue Angels perform? Going to the practice airshow the day before. Why?

1. No traffic
2. You get a lot closer to the runway
3. The Angels come screaming 200 ft. over your head
4. No traffic
5. You don't have to listen to the announcer
6. You can sit in an air-conditioned car - if you have a ramp pass
7. You can see fighters at 15K ft. against a sunny blue sky, whereas today was cloudy
8. You can see the wings flex and the condensation form during those gut-wrenching turns
9. Afterburners
10. No traffic

Friday, April 28, 2006

Aku, My Hero

Cartoon villians aren't supposed to be unbearably adorable or make grown women giggle. Cartoons more than real villians, I suppose, but still...

Aku is adorable and dreamy, and unequivocally my favorite villian. I like him better than Samurai Jack. Someday Jack will get Aku, and all will be right with the world... but until then, I will giggle girlishly at the green, red, and black villian that has captured my heart.

I must paint him. Again. And again. My fan art has never before left the realm of Star Wars, so I'm a bit trepid... but also excited. I need to practice gouache on some subject or another, so why not him?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

They Fodded My Car!

Funny story...

Ever since I took my beautiful car in for its 30000 mile checkup, it's been squeaking. I thought maybe it was some new thing they installed, but after 4000 more miles, it was still going on. A coworker who is insanely knowledgable about an insanely huge number of things came to visit last week. He said the sound was a belt, and it shouldn't be doing that.

Took my car in today, needed a new belt and tensioner. Had to wait 2 hours, but it was still under warranty, yay. Left feelin' fine.

Driving home from work, I heard strange car noises. I glanced at the guy in the old minivan behind me, thinking "wow, he's got a noisy vehicle." The problem is, he turns right and I turn left... and the sound turns left too. Hmm. Rattling. I think, "Did they leave a wrench in there? I'd be funny if they did. FOD, ha ha." After a stop sign on a hill, it got worse. I pulled into the empty Haitian church parking lot, left the engine running, and popped the hood. Sticking my head in, I find the belt noisy again, rrg.

Then I see it. A flashlight that looks sorta like a cop's radar gun. On the new belt. I pull it out in disgust and throw it on the ground. The belt is now quiet. The idler has a nice new shiny streak in it. I pick up the flashlight, which is incidentally still on, and turn it over. It's only half-there. The 1/2" thick rubber structure has been totally obliterated by the belt rubbing against it. The belt apparently didn't feel that was sufficient, though, and also tore into the circuit board, leaving two wires naked and flattened. It tried to eat a capacitor too, but that held up.

I call the dealership, they say... come back, let's have a look. I gave them back their flashlight, and they give me an impromptu coupon for a free oil change (written on the back of a business card). At least the new belt didn't get damaged...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Today's Rant

The Doc said my wisdom teeth were healing fine. Great. When do they stop hurting?

I spent a good deal of time weedwhacking after work. I love weedwhacking. There's something very satisfying about whacking, pulling, or otherwise destroying unwanted plants. It's sort of sadistic, I know. My only excuse is that my dad pulls weeds with a vengeance and taught us to do it at an early age.

Well, the GrassHog and I got at least a dozen mosquito bites, from those lovely blue-with-white-stripes she-vampires that love our yard. Sigh. First of the season, too, so they swelled up and look like raisins.

And now I have to figure out how to get my outgoing e-mail to work. It's been befuddling me for months, but now that I'm in Linux, I need it to work. I musta spent too much time last week worshipping the orange-wire-instrumentation gods and not enough with the SMTP gods.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Live from Linux

Yesterday, amidst promises of free software, I successfully installed Linux on my unsuspecting Gateway. Aside from the fact that Ubuntu seems to be warring with my wireless card, it's pretty nifty! I had trouble installing my scanner, since it's a new model, but the great Linux online helpers fixed that for me. I also can't get stuff from Money2002 ported over... but Nathan found a way around that. Incidentally, he's my Linux hero. I never would have tried it if he hadn't suggested it, tried it first, and helped me install everything. In return, I'm doing his laundry and cooking his lunches this week.

Now off to rollerblade.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Tornado Siren Quandary

I had trouble falling asleep during a storm last night because of the storms 2 weeks ago. Those storms produced not one, but two tornados in my county, and other than a few half-awake minutes going "fzqbh?," I slept blissfully through the entire thing. I woke up because the wind was noisy, thought I maybe heard a siren, told myself to stop scaring myself, and slept soundly again.

This, after 4 years of living right across the street from one of those blasted sirens. Every time it stormed, I'd brace myself (for hours at a time), waiting for it to go off. It was so loud I couldn't think. The worst part was the waiting. It's very stressful sitting on the edge of your sofa or lying in bed, waiting for the moment when the silence is suddenly shattered by the ear-piercing wail. Adrenaline flows. I'm surprised I didn't give myself a heart attack.

So which is worse, not hearing the siren and maybe getting blown away blissfully in your sleep, or jittering through dozens of false alarms and giving yourself a stress-induced heart attack?