Sunday, June 28, 2015

Grasping the Tiger by his Fung-Shei

While looking for Hardy Myer's March 2004 opinion on same-sex marriage, I stumbled over this old journal entry:

Date: Mon, 5 Oct 1998 12:44:22 -0700 (PDT)

"What Immortal Hand or Eye, Dared Grasp Thy Fearful Symmetry."

Mark and I had just finished a very late Saturday brunch of bagels and orange juice and were meandering back towards his apartment, when we walked past a furniture store called *Scan Design*.  I glanced into the window.  There, suspended on three eighteen inch diameter polished marble spheres, was a rectangular plate-glass plane.  It was a table, and on top of the table was another eighteen inch diameter polished marble sphere with a flower arrangement in it.

Immediately grasping that this table was a statement of Euclid's
definition of a plane in a three dimensional space, I uttered a long-drawn out, "Cool!" followed by "Hey Mark!  Come take a look at this."

Wrapped in my enamorment of this particular piece of furniture, I had failed to realize that Mark had continued to walk past the shop window and was silently chanting to himself, "Keep walking, keep walking, don't slow down."  

As soon as he heard my hail, he cringed and let out with a loud, "No bowling balls in the living room!"

Passing by the storefront several days earlier, Mark had immediately
recognized two things about the table.  One, it was classic "John
Furniture."  Two, he hated it.

But wait, it gets better.

The afternoon was spent shopping for shower curtains, flower pots, plant racks, socks, and bulbs.  

During this quest we walked into a *Fred Meyer* outdoor garden supply area.

It was lined with over twenty gazing globes of gold, silver, and blue hues set on cheap plaster pedestals.  About the same time that I was saying, "Oh Mark!  Aren't these cool?" 
Mark was yelling, "Augh!  No silvered bowling balls!" and running to another part of the area.

Mesmerized, I went over to the line of spheres.  The wall behind them had a horizontal seam, and the pavement under them had a whole grid of seams.  Perspective warped the straight seams into arcs, with reflections bouncing everywhere to create a recursive string of blue, silver and gold spheres.

"He's looking at himself again," muttered Mark.

"I am *not*," I replied, "I'm looking at the reflections." and proceeded to point out the ray-tracer's nightmare in front of us.  "I think I'd have to get three of these things and put them in the garden."

"My, what an interesting lay-out in your garden," said Mark pretending to be a visitor to our future, hypothetical house.  
"Well," continued Mark, pretending to be himself, "this side of the garden is *my* side, and that part is John's side."

"Oh come on," I said, "these things are really cool."

"Well," he said, breaking character, 
"you shouldn't have them in a straight line like that.  You need to set the middle one back and bring the outer two forward," which he proceeded to do.  The result was astounding.

"Wow!" I said, "you're really good at this!"

"Help!" yelled Mark, "I'm getting sucked in!" and ran away from the now staggered line of reflective spheres.

"Oh, don't worry," I said, "these are kind of cheap, especially the
pedestals.  When I get some, I'd want to get some high quality ones."

"OK.  If you get silvered bowling balls, then I'm going to put little concrete dwarves in my side of the garden."

"Auugh!  NO Dwarves!"

"Oh listen to *you,* Mr. Cast-Bronze-Griffins!"

"Those Griffins are tons better than still-life Dwarves!"

"The Griffins are pretentious, that's what they are."

"OK.  But if you get those Dwarves, I can't be held responsible for the consequences."  Pretending to address a future, hypothetical Mark, I continued, "Sorry Mark, but the Griffins were hungry and the Dwarves were right there...."

"Augh!  You fed my Dwarves to the Griffins?!  Well two can play that game, mister!" and he addressed a future, hypothetical John, "Sorry John, winter was coming on and the griffins said they'd be happier in Miami just before they all flew away!  And I'm taking my concrete dwarf carcasses and I'm going back to Mother!"

By this time, the silliness of the 
conversation was too much for me and I laughed and kissed him.  "Tell you what," I said to him, "when Thanksgiving comes, you can hook up with my Dad and go over 'We're Not Buying This' strategies he's used with my Mom.

Now there's fearful symmetry for you.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Same-Sex Marriage

The New York Times writes: 

Justice Kennedy rooted the ruling in a fundamental right to marriage. Of special importance to couples, he said, is raising children.

 “Without the recognition, stability and predictability marriage offers,” he wrote, “their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue here thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples.”

This has been a legal issue on the radar since at least 2004.  Hardy Myers, then acting Attorney General for Oregon, pointed out in a March 2004 opinion that children of same-sex couples are monetarily discriminated against by the government because of the sexual orientation of their parents. This makes them a minority class deserving of special protection -- which they don't get. (

Oddly, I can't seem to find his March 12(?) 2004 non-binding opinion piece at  Which basically said, the Oregon Supreme Court will probably rule that either or both homosexuals and their children are a minority class deserving special protection under Article 1, Section 20 of the Oregon constitution, but we should punt this to the tyrannical majority for a vote (Measure 36, amending Oregon's Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman, passed that later November).

The Supreme Court's decision is here: 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Ouroboros and Cross

I took this photo for the design on the gravestone.  If I'm remembering correctly, it's in the churchyard around Trinity Church (or else St. Paul's Chapel).  The base is an ouroboros encircling a sand dial.  It's difficult to see, but the snake's side is braided or twisted.  On top of the snake's circle is a round, eight-rayed globe which I'm assuming is the sun. Tree of Life branches seem to spring out of the ouroboros.  Out of the sun springs the Crucifix.

The rest of the gravestone looks like an illuminated page from the Bible.  What struck me about it was that it was positively dripping with allegory in a churchyard filled with ornate but simpler stones.  Buildings and monuments dripping with allegory is why I like New York City and the East Coast generally.  I wish Eugene and Portland had more interesting design in their structures; Portland has the Skidmore Fountain, Portlandia, and a smattering of buildings from the 1920's, but Eugene really only has Villard and Deady Halls on the University of Oregon Campus and Hope Chapel in the Pioneer Graveyard.

It makes me want to decorate our house with statues or something...

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Letters in Stone (and Metal)

 During my wanderings in New York, I took a few photos of various monuments and signs for their typefaces.

Hmm. I'm not sure if they can be called typefaces if they are carved.  In any case, the first example is from the 1700's and I took the photo for the ampersand -- it actually looks like the ligature "et".    I also thought the letter forms were very uniform; it wants to be a script but it almost looks like it was print.

The second set is from the 1920's.  It strikes me as quaint.  I think they wanted modern.  I think this is hard to read: the M's, N's and H's in Manhattan can be easily mistaken for one another.  And they've spelled New York with an em-dash.  And they painted the letters yellow.

What is interesting is that the letters are raised

But probably the strangest thing is that the text is underneath a relief of a 1600 Dutchman and Native American.

OK.  I really took this one for the architecture.  At the time I thought the sign was from 1900 or whenever they built the Lackawanna ferry slip, but maybe it's not.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Workout Endorphin Giggles

Working Out:  Did the standard Elliptical (150 cal), Rowing Machine (100 cal), Assisted Dip, Pec Fly, Barbell, Lat Pull, Curl-up thing in the gym.

I think it's good for my mood--I went in kind of moody and wanting to slam things and left tired and amused.  I was the only one downstairs where all the equipment is, so I could count out loud without bothering anyone during my curl-ups.  Naturally, I had to kind of grunt it in my sexiest, manliest voice.  Which of course makes me laugh.  It was even worse when I was lifting the barbell because I was looking in the mirror and growled "One," and it although it sounded like "One" what it really communicated was "One Supreme Love Gift."  Which was followed by "Two."  It was like The Count from Sesame Street working a phone sex line.  I nearly dropped the barbell laughing (because I'm the funniest person I know).

Before I could injure myself with heavy exercise equipment, some other folks appeared, and I managed to get through the rest of my set with stifled giggles and a suppressed smile.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Nice Frame

When we were in the MET, I noticed this picture frame, which was constructed by Fredric Edwin Church.  He was interested in what he called "Persian Style" and borrowed various tile motifs from his travels to (I want to say) Damascus.

I was interested in seeing how he had solved the problem of using stars in a tessellating pattern.  I think where a more transitional tile-worker would have made the pattern slight larger within the border so that the horizontal lines in the top and bottom stars would have been flush with the border or else the stars would have been in a lattice work outlining them, which would have closed up some gaps between the points.  Church has done neither; instead, he's used a n arrowhead pattern to make an outline around the stars, and that's allowed him to keep the five pointed stars at the 4 and 8 o'clock (and the 10 and 2) positions to not touch in an aesthetically pleasing way.

Working Out:  I hit the gym Saturday and did some cardio on the elliptical (120 cal at 20 minutes) and the rowing machine (100 cal in 10 minutes) and some minor weight work on the downstairs equipment.  Monday, I did the elliptical (about 120 cal at 20 with an average heart-rate of 128), ten minutes on the rowing machine, 3 sets of 10 reps assisted dips, 30 lb barbell arm curls (3 sets 12 reps), 70 lbs lat pulls (3 sets 12 reps), 40 lbs on the pec fly machine (3 sets 12 reps), curl ups (3 sets 12 reps), and some 10 lb dumbbell work (shrugs, overhead triceps).  My elbow seems to be fine, and I'm being careful to ease into things.

Writing:  Mostly I've been tinkering.  I'm working on a story set in a circus around 1880 -- it's got cold iron horses and electric lights giving it a Steampunk feel.  I'm having some world-building issues, because it's an alternate world where magic works and I have to decide how closely the story's world follows our world's history.  On one hand, I like to imagine nicer worlds -- so should I do away with the slave trade and the Civil War?  Would there even be a Fargo, North Dakota in 1880 or would this be a Native Country?  Or do I make it more historical and write a story with Black share-croppers and Native Americans as window dressing?  It's enough to make me want to pull the story out of the North American Midwest and set it in England.  

Monday, June 22, 2015

Costuming Post

This is a costuming post.  When we were visiting the Dwyers, we went to a restaurant called The 76 House, which was a tavern and inn used by the American revolutionaries.  The house had some (presumably) replicas of the uniforms of the time.  I figured my costuming friends might like the colonial outfits.  I'm assuming the blue coat is from the American Army and that the red coat is English.  I'm not sure what nationality the dress in the second photo is.

While we were at the MET, I saw a Renaissance era silk "peascod" fencing doublet.  I think this one is English (I didn't photograph the placard with it, so it might be Italian).  This would have been worn by a gentleman as he practiced fencing with a rapier; the idea is that the padding would have prevented (some) injuries.

I figured that I could use this as a research reference for when I write fantasy stories.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

MET Angel Panels

Somewhere in the MET, between the hall of Medieval European art and the Hall of Arms and Armor, there's a chapel that is decorated with wood paneling.  The panels look like they have Freemason symbols on them or something.  Mark pointed out that a few of them had an alter with a burning fatted calf on them.

I like the top photo because of the way cherub wings make a half vesica pisces and the cherub faces fill a kind of half circle.  

I like the second one because of the overlapping ribbons around the seraphim (at least I think it's a seraphim, even if it has only four wings instead of six) make an interesting knot pattern.

The only problem with both photos is that they're more orange-yellow than the actual panels, which were more of a reddish, umber or brick color.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Art and History.

Wednesday (6/17)was Cleopatra's Needle and MET day.  It was also Mark Day, because he joined us (yay!)

The Child and I spent the night at LGL's apartment in the Lincoln Center district.  We were pretty worn out from the previous day, and LGL was so quiet that I only think I heard the door close as he went off to work.  After a few text messages with Mark, The Child and I went to have breakfast and then stroll through the paths of Central Park on the way to the Needle.  

We entered Central Park at Strawberry Fields.  The walk was nice, and mostly shaded by the trees, but even by 9 AM I could feel it already beginning to get warm.  When we stumbled across it, The Child really wanted his pictures taken with the Alice In Wonderland bronze sculpture; he even managed to take a few without his typical Calvin Picture Face.  I'm trying to discourage the Arthur Fonzarelli thumbs up pose that's threatening to enter his picture repertoire.

We took a route that meandered so much I got a little turned around--we mostly followed the waterways--but the next thing we knew, we saw Mark.  The three of us found the Needle and took a few pictures.  One side of the Needle is fairly worn and we circled it reading the translation and seeing how the hieroglyphics changed.  By this time it was warm, and the best place to be was in the obelisk's shadow.

We had to go around to the front of the museum; along the way we saw a host of soccer camps.  We had fun playing with Alexander Hamilton's statue.

And then we were at The MET.  We slowly wended our way through galleries filled with medieval art.  Mark pointed out the things he liked.   And then we were in the Hall of Arms and Armor.  The Child loved it the way I love the Egyptian Wing.  I'll have to admit, the Hall interested me as a research resource for fantasy stories more than anything else; but every case--the guns especially--drew gasps of wonder and avarice from The Child, followed by "look at this!"  Having just written a story with crossbows, I examined and photographed 17th century hunting crossbows.  And dragon helmets.  
There was a side trip to look at American Portraits, which is Mark's thing.  I enjoyed the Singer Sargents.  And we also saw "Washington Crossing the Delaware." Which I had never known was billboard sized.  At some point looking for bathrooms we wound up in a study room were we saw The Bunny Fondue Pot and two very odd objects which it turns out were jagging wheels for trimming and shaping pie crusts  (they looked like modern art, but are actually 19th century scrimshaw, or carved whale bone).  Then it was back for more weapons!

We managed to avoid the lunch crowd and snacked in The Sculpture Garden.  I tried to point out The Angel of Death Staying the You g Artist's Hand, but it was lost on The Child... Whom I think was probably more drawn to martial statues or nubile archers.  Then it was off to The Temple of Dendur.  

This time around, I was aware of how the temple's entrances line up with the mortuary shrine within.  And The Child was fascinated by the 18th Century graffiti.  We spent the remainder of our stay trying to translate various hieroglyphs and then The Child got a little freaked out by the mummy display.  He said he was tired, and so we went back to LGL's apartment.

It was here that I had A Hair Moment; a New York Lady of a Certain Age pointed at me from her bench in front of the apartment complex and said, "You look like Kris Kristopherson.  In his better days.  You can Google him."  Imagine Danny Devito playing the voice of Nicky from "Avenue Q" when he says "You look like David Hasselhoff."

LGL wanted to have a dinner with Mark, so we stayed in The City a little later and went to an interesting (and loud) Mexican food place with jeweled crowns for light shades. The Child managed to put together a wardrobe that impressed our waiter/actor.

After a short discussion, I bade The Child and Mark goodbye and spent one more night at LGL's apartment because it would be easier to catch a plane back home from New York City than from Suffern.

The Grand Tour

Tuesday (6/16).  Our New York friend, LGL, arranged for a tour guide friend of his, Mike, to give us a walking tour of the Market District.  I'd hoped that Mark would be able to join us, but he was recovering from his red-eye flight and really needed to sleep.  So The Child and I took the bus into The City.

We started out with a quick lunch at Grand Central Station, or as it's properly called, Grand Central Terminal.  The Child and Mike hit it off right away; Mike teaches history at a prep school and The Child has managed to store and recall enough pieces of New York and Revolutionary War information that he could probably pass the New York City tour guide exam.

Mike pointed out how the terminal had three "gates" -- the windows -- like other historical cities.  Also, the constellations on the ceiling are reversed.  Somebody thought quick and said, "That's the way God would see it."  He pointed out line 24 to Chicago, where the elite of the Gilded Age would have taken the train following the waterways.  

We went outside and saw Hermes, Hercules and Minerva over the entrance of the building.  Mike pointed out how we had exited under a bridge and how cars were driving over it for folks to disembark.

Then it was off to Bowling Green via the subway.  Mike showed us a monument depicting the Dutch buying the Island of Manhattan from the Indians.  Apparently, this is what Ronald Hutton would call a bold fact, a mythic story that's taken on the veneer of actuality.  Supposedly, an old chronicler made some stories up because "the Dutch didn't keep any records."  According to Mike, records of New Amsterdam are around, but they've been overlooked in the historical record because they're written in Old Dutch.

There used to be a statue of King George III in Bowling Green; after the Declaration of Independence was read nearby on July 9, 1776, some excited patriots knocked over the statue and melted down the lead foundation to use as cannon balls.   Now it's a fenced in garden with a fountain.  

Near by was The National Museum of the American Indian (previously known as the Alexander U.S. Custom House).  There are four seated statues on the front of the building.  The sculptor is Daniel Chester French -- the same person who carved Lincoln's statue at the Lincoln Memorial.  (Oh! And researching him just now, I've discovered he also did "Death Staying the Hand of the Artist").    The four statues we saw represent, from left to right, Asia, (North) America, Europe, and Africa.  

Mike had us look behind the statues so we could see the hidden tiger, totem pole, boat anchor and Bedouin behind the four seated figures.

We wound about the Financial District along Barge and Pearl Streets,and through Stone and Milł Streets.  Stone street was the oldest street with flagstone (not cobblestone).  What I hadn't realized was how much of the area was under water during the early days of the city.  Barge street was a watercourse with a barge.  Bridge Street was over a Bridge.  Pearl Street was named after the opalescence caused by the rising and falling water.  

Mill street is one of the shortest streets in the town.  It's the site where the Torah was first unrolled in North America.  The story was that a Jewish group deported from Brazil wanted to settle in New Amsterdam, but Peter Stuyvesant, the governor, didn't want them; there was enough diversity already, thank you. Then someone took Stuyvesant aside and reminded him that the bankers funding the Dutch West Indies Company might not appreciate it when they heard that the Jewish folks had been kicked out. 

We continued on to Federal Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was read by George Washington to the troops on July 9, 1776; where the first House and Senate were, and later where Washington was first inaugurated.   Farther along, we came to Trinity Church (where Saint Peter sits with crossed legs), and then to St Paul's Chapel.  

I should add that all through the tour Mike was asking The Child all sorts of semi-obscure historical questions, and The Child was able answer them (thanks, Bowery Boys).  I should also add that by now it was something like four PM and The Child wasn't tired of walking around in the afternoon heat (although he was getting pretty thirsty).  More monuments: Hamilton's grave, Fulton's monument, 

We looked into Tweed Courthouse (no pictures, sir!) and The Child wanted to see Five Points and the African Cemetery.

Even more than politicians, the thing that got Mike riled up the most was how the African American burial grounds were "forgotten" about until someone wanted to build a skyscraper over them and then they were "rediscovered."  The graveyard got a memorial, many of the bodies were exhumed and stored at the Twin Towers and then lost in the 9/11 attack... and not one African slave is mentioned along the pools in the 9/11 memorial pools.  

By then it was almost five PM and I said I was tired, even if The Child wasn't.  We took the 1 Subway back to Columbus Circle and proceeded to get drenched.

We met up with LGL at his apartment and went out for a meal of Italian spaghetti and meatballs at his favorite little Italian restaurant.  LGL got only a little drenched when a tarp above the atrium where we were dining shook out its collection of rainwater.  But the tiramisu was good.

Navigating Monday

Monday (6/15).  Today's big adventure has been navigating around the neighborhood of the Family Manse without getting lost or involved in a collision.  It's actually not that hard, but I do have to make an effort to navigate by street name instead of by landmark, which is my normal way of getting around.

My time sense is a little off.  I'm waking up around 9 and going to bed around 11, which feels late and indulgent until I stop to remember the time zone change, at which point it feels virtuous.  I'm hoping that I can stick to the relatively early schedule when I return.  

The visiting relatives over the last four days have gone back to their respective homes.  It was nice seeing everyone again; I haven't been out this way in about eighteen months, when we flew out for the Christmas Holidays (and got caught up in various horrific holiday weather).  We're staying with Grandma Mary and her two daughters, Melora and Melisa.  Melissa has a daughter, Kristina.  Melora's son, Kevin, visited with his wife, Jackie, and son Evan.  We've been seeing a lot of Veronica, Melora's daughter, and Veronica's husband, Joe; and Kevin and Veronica's dad, Ray.  Mary's other daughters, Maria and Mega, visited.  Maria and her daughter, Devon, drove up from Pennsylvania.  Megan and her two sons, Marley and Masio, drove down from upstate.   Mary, Melissa, Maria, Kristina and Devon went into the city to see "Wicked."  

We've had a boatload of home-cooked meals.  

Friday, June 19, 2015

76 House

Saturday night (the 13th)  we went to The 76 House, a historic inn and tavern, for dinner.  The 76 House is where things like the Declaration of Independence was drafted, and where Major Andre was held before his execution as a British spy during the War of Independence.

The restaurant was decorated in 1770's decor, with coffee pots, pewter dishes, and white Dutch tiles along the hearth.  I ordered a "Benedict Arnold Palmer" (I almost chose another drink with a punny name which I've forgotten).

We were seated at The Haunted Table, where various local ghosts tend to be seen; the most famous one is a man who counts silver dimes.  I guess the table sits over a portal to the underworld.  As far as I know, no-one from the other-world visited us -- although I did feel a sudden cold draft against my calves as we were told ghost stories.

After dinner, we hiked about a half-mile up a small hill and viewed Major Andre's memorial stone.  Apparently, everyone liked him (they despised Benedict Arnold), and there was a melancholy quote from General Washington about his "unfortunate" demise.

Touring NYC

Friday the 12 was a NYC Tour day.

V, The Child and I took the train to Hoboken Station, and then a ferry to the financial district of the city.

The Child has a list of about fifty items he wants to see.  I think if we were in the area for a month there might be a chance of seeing the entire list.  Somewhere I have a map which includes enchanting sites like insane asylums, sites of burnt down buildings, and lairs of pirates and ladies-of-the-evening.  It doesn't seem to matter to The Child that the thing he wants to see fell over, burnt down and then fell into a swamp over a hundred years ago -- he wants to see where it was.

We saw the Twin Towers Memorial; George Washington's pew in Trinity Church; the Wall Street Bull; met up with V's dad, Ray; and took a boat tour of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Freedom Tower, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. Then Ray drove us back to Grandma Mary's through Friday Afternoon City Traffic.

We came back to a house full of cousins and a giant taco feast.  And no puking.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Travelling Tales

Wednesday night, The Child and I flew to the relatives in New York.  We took a red-eye special.

Things were going fairly well until the airplane cabin pressurized and The Child's nose started to bleed.  The plan took off and I tried to get help from the flight crew, who couldn't come help unless it was a real emergency.   It wasn't exactly a River of Blood I had to deal with, but it was on a white shirt with a borrowed paper towel.

Unbeknownst to me, The Child had a secret plan:  he was going to stay up until he saw the sun rising. In vain I tried to get him to sleep, but he kept himself amused with electronic devices.  I think he got a total of 20 minutes sleep on the plane.  I think I got 40. 

When we got to Newark, we were going to take the train to Grandma Mary's.  This required catching a train to Secaucus Junction.  Through a combination of being unfamiliar with the NJ Transit system, incomplete directions from a porter, and a staticy PA system, we wound up at the New York Penn Station.  

After getting more help, we managed to get on the right train to Secaucus Junction.  One  of the things we had on our list to do was to get a Duncan Doughnut.  As soon as we got something, we discovered that we had a minute to catch the train to grandma's.  A mad dash through the terminal and down two flights of steps got us to the train on time.

Eventually, we got to Grandma's ... and had a four hour nap.

Afterward, there was a celebratory Chinese Take-Out feast to celebrate The Child's birthday.  And obligatory, I'm-so-excited-I-could-puke puking at 3 AM.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Birthday Craft

Looking back at my productivity last week, I should have gotten a lot more done than I actually did.  I'm guessing it's a combination of pollen, being a little sick, and downright laziness.

This weekend, we had a birthday party (early) for The Child.  Usually, the birthday party is a huge crafty affair.  Previously, we've made a giant Monopoly Board (probably the acme of parties), or Opera Sets, or staged our own MythBusters show -- all of which necessitated weeks of craft prep with paints, paper, Sharpie Pens, chalk, and duct tape.  Not to mention hours slaving over design software to create the invitations.

And then there's the cake: it started with the cake sculpted into the shape of a train steam engine with wheels and a smokestack and everything; somewhere I have a photo of the pirate ship cake that had sails and a real prow and plied paper waves; then there was the White House Cake with marshmallow pillars.   This year we were much more laid back and went for a casino theme and in the end it turned into a waterfight party.  

 One of our friends has a child who is exactly ten years older than The Child, and it's always interesting to see how much a difference ten years can make in a person. 

The Birthday Gift I got The Child was a set of Boomwhackers.  They're brightly colored plastic tubes you can strike to make music.  Apparently a post-gift discussion about them went something like this:

The Child:  "I can't believe John got me Boomwhackers."
Mark:  "Why?"
TC:  "Why would he get me something you have to hit and it makes a noise?"
Mark:  (bites lower lip to keep from laughing hysterically because most weekends are 48 hours of The Child hitting the house, the ground, his fort, the deck, bricks, waterguns, or pretty much anything in his hands, and making a whole lot of noise.)

I think The Child thinks one has to hit another person with the Boomwhackers, and thinks I got him a bunch of plastic tubes so I can smack him with them.

We''re having a hot spell of weather here.  It wouldn't be so bad if our yard wasn't already cracking; it has a lot of clay in it, so rains (or the lack thereof) make the ground contract or grow a lot.  The unfortunate side-effect of 90F temperatures is that I don't tend to sleep well.  

Friday, June 05, 2015

I'm Feeling Better...

There's some sort of bug going around town.  It's the sort of thing that makes people tired and gives them upset stomachs.

Anyway, that's the excuse I'm using for not going to the gym or writing quite as much as I should the last couple of days.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

On Writing (Non) Emotional Characters

Writing:  My clockwork fairytale got critiqued last night.  It was gratifying that for once my descriptions were cool and (mostly) clear and the archaic language was beautiful instead of confusing.  There's some things that need tweaking, and I've been admonished "don't break it."

On the other hand, I had a beta reader try to go over the hard science fiction story I submitted last week and map the character emotion, only to have her come back and tell me that the character was so flat that she couldn't pick up the emotions at all.  "Hmm," I said, "Another flat-affect John Burridge character being emotionally numb."  Which would explain all those stories that worked when the POV character is flat because his family just died....

This of course leads to the introspection and question am too much of an ENTJ or something that prevents me from writing the emotional life of my characters?  Or maybe I'm writing from my own emotional experience?  Which of course leads to the question am I somehow emotionally broken or did I not learn how to emotionally process things (cue side-ways dog look and Scooby-Doo "Rhuh Raggy") or do I need to send my characters to a Stanislavian acting lab?

I suppose I can still write strong silent types.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Pretending to be a Graphic Designer

When I'm not writing or critiquing or trying to learn new programming languages or playing the harp or trying to be a better person, I make little cards using Blender.

Here's one I made for Mother's Day.  I based the design off of some water lilies carved on the side of an Egyptian temple.  The objects are the same color, and I tinted them with different colored lights.

 I made this card for my brother-in-law, who's an engineer.  I figured he'd like the platonic shapes and the simple lighting.  I wanted this one to look a little like some 1920 German lithograph.  There were only two lights, a white and a blue one.   I arranged the solids to be paired with their doubles (the icosahedron and the dodecahedron, the cube and the octehedron, and the tetrahedron with itself).

This was going to be a background for 2014's Christmas card, and we were going to be riding the notes like they were Segues.  I wanted it to look like a Brazilian bar Donald Duck Jose Carioca and the Arucan Bird dance in, but Mark said it was "too gay" and nobody really got their poses right, so we scrapped it for a more traditional card.

This time around I colored the objects so I wouldn't have a melange of colored shadows in the background.  Below (I think) the view of the camera, I used green and white lights against a few triangle shapes to imply a forest background.  Making the treble clef was particularly difficult because I imported it from InkScape, and converting it from curves to a mesh object introduced some holes in the object I had to manually go through and close up -- otherwise it would have had some funny looking holes in it where there was no outside facing the camera.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Writing in Sickness

Ug.  This weekend was very much a do-nothing weekend; I caught The Child's sickness, so I've been lying around not doing a whole lot with an upset stomach.

Writing:  I managed to get a little bit of writing done before I threw up Saturday.  Sunday I did some critique. Actually I guess I did do some character sketches as well.  Monday morning I got up earlyish and thought about the plot for the story The Child gave me an idea for.   The difficulty with the story is that it wants to turn into one of those Socratic dialog stories between a prisoner and a guard.  I'm also making an effort to break out of the Disney model and have Mom be an alive character.  I looked at the very minimal plot outline I have (X does Y.  Y does Z), and asked myself "why?"   I still need to tweak things, but it's a start.

When I got home from work, I still felt under the weather, so I took a nap and did not write nor go to the gym.

Last night (Sunday) we had a terrific lighting storm.  I think it lasted at least an hour and it dropped .2 inches of rain.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this will be a wet June.  Already the trick door which indicates dry ground is beginning to be tricky; it usually doesn't act up until July.