Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Sickmas

The runny nose from Christmas Eve turned into a full blown cold Christmas Day, the runny nose joined by friends tired, achy, coughy and sneezy. Bah. Hopefully I'll feel better before I have to get on the plane back to Boston.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Your bad (my bad)

I'm certainly not a perfect writer -- I begin sentences with conjunctions, misuse semicolons and overuse dashes like nobody's business -- but I've always been something of a stickler for spelling. I'm far from perfect, but I thought that I was at least pretty good about the whole you're/your too/to its/it's business. At least I did until recently. I mean, it drives me nuts when I see it misused out and about in the wilds of the interwebs, and yet, here I am, correcting my own posts.


RNC talking-points pod people

An awesome article by Wil Wheaton on Salon:

...I thought Tookie Williams was probably guilty and deserved to spend the rest of his life in prison. I wasn't defending him; I was just voicing my opposition to the death penalty. My dad acted as if I loaded the gun for Tookie and helped him aim it at my sister. We weren't able to have a respectful discussion about the death penalty, because my dad wouldn't allow it. Bill O'Reilly must be so proud of the world he's helped to create.

Now here is the terrifying thing: my dad is a really smart guy. He's so smart, in fact, he should see right through it when these right-wing noise-machine guys throw out facts in favor of emotional arguments to manipulate their audience. He should know when Rush is full of shit the same way I know when Michael Moore is full of shit...
I feel like I see this happening all around me, and it just makes me sad.

Along with everything else.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The buzz

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

I think I mentioned the bees, right?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

To the lady walking her dog this morning...

To answer your question: no, I don't think you should try to run through it if you start feeling pain at the front of your shin. Even if it's muscular, the pain is telling you that something's wrong and you should probably stop running to prevent it from becoming a more serious injury.
I'm back in L.A. for the holidays, and this morning I went for a run, hoping to kick-start myself back into shape again. On one of the small side streets on the way back to the house, I saw a woman walking her dog coming from the other direction. This wasn't particularly remarkable until, just as I was passing, she suddenly asked me if I thought if it was okay to just run through the pain if her leg started hurting while she was running.

I was a bit startled, but I think I stopped and tried to get more information and ended saying that she should at least stop and "try to stretch it or something" and then continued on my way. It kept bouncing around in my head as I continued up the hill until I reached the next (and final) turn off to the house and decided that I should go back and be more definitive about not running through an injury (unless, at that particular moment, she might be trying to escape from hungry bears or something). Never did find her, but it did stretch out my run by an extra 10 minutes or so. Oh well.

I've been stopped for directions once or twice before, but I've never been stopped by a pedestrian before, and certainly not for training advice. I guess she was hoping to get the green light from a fellow runner perhaps because her regular peer counselors had already advised against it. But I find it particularly interesting, because in the past, I've always felt like the people in California tended to keep to themselves, at least as far as runners go. You're just another runner, another health nut, whatever, just another body that's out on the road. In New England, you're one of the few who get it, especially if you're out when it's below freezing, or raining or snowing. I'm sure there are more runners per capita than in other parts of the country, but it's still a fairly small segment of the population, and because of it, sometimes if feeling like you're part of a secret club or something. At least, that's my take on it.

Anyway, it doesn't suck that it's been in the high 70s the last two days after feeling the "reprieve" of above-30° temperatures in Boston. But it's not a true vacation -- I've already put in a few hours of work and I need to write some papers for school. But hey, let's hear it for telecommuting, so I can actually get some work done.

Coming back home has changed over the years. For one things, it's not really Home so much anymore. Well, it is, and it isn't. It's the home of the past, it's live action reminiscing. Home is where the SOOTTAD is. Waltham is where I hang my hat(s). (I guess I'm hardly ever home these days.) It's good to be back to spend time with family and friends, but I'm really not as excited about coming back as I used to be. It doesn't feel like an escape, a time-out from the hectic day-to-day, it feels like an interruption, a disruption. Time apart from the SOOTTAD is a part of it, but I feel like at a deeper level, my connection here just isn't as strong anymore, not that that's a surprise or anything.

The usual list of random notes and observations:

  • Ugh, headache -- probably because I'm a bit dehydrated. Hopefully I'll acclimate soon.
  • I know that I should be pleased that it's in the 70s, but I actually feel like it's just a shade too warm. I'm actually a bit uncomfortable. WTF is wrong with me?
  • I'm a few years shy of 40 and yet I still feel like a kid the moment I drop my bags off in my old room at my parents house.
  • All of my married high school friends here have spawned kidlets. All of them. It makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong.
  • To be fair, there are actually only three who fall into the previous category. But 100% is still 100%.
  • there are a lot of bees in the backyard. I couldn't find a hive or anything, but the constant buzz is just ever so slightly disconcerting if you stop to pay attention to it.
  • I've mentioned this before, but I still find it amusing that nasturtiums and morning glories are not annuals here.
  • I seem to recall many years ago, the California government outlawed the use of gas-powered leaf blowers, and yet I still see them being used. I wonder whether the law changed, or it's enforcement, but I think I'm more bothered seeing, in drought sensitive southern California, people using a hose to wash leaves into the gutter off a 50 foot driveway.
  • I still find it weird to see water constantly running down the gutters along the sides of the street. Constantly. And somehow this didn't used to bother me when I was a kid.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The quality of information

I really should be writing a paper for class right now, but I got distracted, and well, here I am. Hopefully I can keep it brief and get back to writing things that I'm actually going to get graded on.

I've been meaning to write a post about this for a while now, but every time I've started I've kind of run out of gas in the middle. The arguments become too subtle, the examples too longwinded or convoluted, I lose my train of thought and eventually just give up. But here we go again. I guess we'll see how it turns out this time...

* * *

It always goes back to an idea that I remember reading in Job by Robert Heinlein, where the protagonist keeps finding the world around him suddenly changing entirely. Except that [ok, so the following is a spoiler of sorts, BTW, just so you know] it turns out that it's not, really. Things do most certainly change, but it turns out that the changes only take place in the localized region where he can physically experience and interact with it. The rest (like the background of the overall society, its history and all that) only gets changed in the books -- history books, atlases. (It's SF/fantasy, ok? Just accept that it happens so I don't have to spoil the rest of it for you.)

And with all the "he said, she said" business that you find in the blogosphere, my mind always wanders back to that story, and I wonder, how good is the information that's out on the web really. I mean, how good is it *really*. It seemed like all it would take would be enough people to just *say* that something happened in such-and-such a way, and at some point it would hit critical mass and that would be it. But that couldn't happen, right? Is this ringing any bells? Heard about the controversy that's been going on over at Wikipedia recently?

But, y'know? People are talking about this now, which is good. And I figured since that dialog was going on elsewhere in the blogosphere, and probably better thought out and better written, I certainly didn't need to throw in my two cents.

Except that I was just surfing around because of something our new Physiology teacher was talking about at the end of class, when he felt the need (which I must admit, was in response to some specific feedback he was given when he had finished his lecture) to show that he could be an independent thinker, free from the shackles of the iron thumb of the school administration. (Dear god, the mixed metaphors!)

So he decided to talk about the evils of Aspartame. (ironic that I send you to a Wikipedia page, no?) You go, dude. And being a curious monkey and feeling unmotivated, I did a little web searching and, well, it was more of a mixed bag than I had hoped.

One of the first pages I looked at was on Snopes, a site that categorizes Urban Legends. In the past I've found it entertaining as well as an invaluable resource when receiving scare-chain-letters from well-meaning family, friends and acquaintances that urgently need to be forwarded it everyone I know. And their brother. A good site, but not a good sign for the anti-aspartame camp. (Especially since a lot of things our teacher said seemed to parallel points made in the email in question.) But I did note that they cite government organizations (such as the FDA) to debunk the claims, and there are those who suggest that the FDA was on the take. (The Wiki entry covers this somewhat) Unfortunately, most of the links only dismiss the chain letter, and only in broad sweeping terms. And can you really trust a reference from a site called or I did appreciate that the latter article at least addresses the formaldehyde concern with specific numbers. (although those too are called into question by other sources) Well, at least I trust MIT.

So that all made me a little concerned about the temperament of our new instructor. But I dug a little more, and found a few other sites of interest:

Kinda depressing really. And even trying to stay openminded, it certainly raises some questions. But I think that's enough for me; I've got work I need to get done, after all.

However, you might consider bouncing back up to the broader questions about the quality of information and the reliability of sources, where it seems the question fundamentally distills down to: who can you trust?

Again, no answers, but food for thought. Who's saying what, and why... be it a friend, a teacher, a writer or a liarleader.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Um, wow.

Programming, soley for art's sake. Very cool.

For All Seasons

by Andreas Müller, from Kaliber 10000.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Life imitates art

So, the SOOTTAD just called me up; she's going to see King Kong tonight.

If you want to see how the conversation went, all you need to do is go back about a week and a half to Penny Arcade and read:

"As Regards Spoilification"

Well, it didn't go down exactly like that, but there was some unfortunate spoilage action. And on the one hand, I find it HI-larious that we just unintentionally role-played online comic characters. On the other, I feel kinda bad that I spoiled the ending for her.

And I've never even seen any of the other films in their entirety.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Chasing sunsets post snow day

I kinda wish I had some pictures from the sunset this evening, but I guess that's part of the story, really.

We had the first major storm of the season yesterday. It snowed pretty heavy all day, pretty much all day, with thunder and lightning in the late afternoon. I was happy to be working from home, thankful to not have to drive through the mess outside to get to the office. That would have been fraught with peril as I don't think the plows made it to our street until well into the afternoon. They certainly hadn't been through when I briefly poked my head out to grab the mail around 1pm.

Marginally productive during the day (finally finished that one thing I was supposed to have had done Tuesday... ugh), but the only tangible accomplishment of the day was shoveling out the driveway at dusk when the storm had finally passed. We had maybe 10-12 inches, but the work is always in the 3 foot snowbank of packed snow that the plows push up which block the whole driveway. Well, exercise for the day at least.

I spent most of the rest of the evening lost in the interweb. Severe RII I'd say. But happy to have found videos for the Ditty Bops and the Dresden Dolls at least, thank you Wil Wheaton. I'll take what I can get. (the Dresden Dolls video is a little crashy, safer to do a SaveAs or go to their site and grab the small one.)

Today, clear and sunny and beautiful. Or at least that's how it seemed like it was from the bed. For whatever reason (probably the usual suspects), I had a hard time getting up. I eventually dragged myself out, mid-John Funke. I don't even know what I did today... oh yeah, work. Read. Some laundry. Sat at the piano for a while. Tried to study. Participated in a phone survey. (sounds like they're trying to put in a monster mall in Waltham... called it a village-lifestyle-touchy-feeling something or other. Ugh, more development. But I guess all the people moving into the luxury condos up the road are going to have to shop somewhere. *sigh*)

So anyway, I had to study at some point, But it hit me that I really needed to get some exercise. (The difficulty getting out of bed was a pretty good sign.) In a perfect world, I would have gone for a run this morning when it was bright and sunny. But it's not perfect. And the very reason I needed to run was the reason I was having so much trouble going out and just doing it.

I was losing light, but near dusk, the forces of procrastination finally provided the last little nudge I needed to get myself moving. Not too cold yet, and... wow, it was beautiful out. To the east, the sky glowing pink, apparently catching the light from the setting sun, trees with bare branches outstretched, silhouetted against it in the foreground. Down the hill, roads are wet but not slick -- they haven't frozen over yet. I plan to take my usual route, but realize the sidewalks haven't been cleared, so it looks like I'm doing a neighborhood ramble today. I turn a corner, and the clouds to the west are a mix of pink and rich fuchsia, but it's the sky behind that it stunning -- a gradation of blue down to an almost amber near the horizon, somehow contrasting perfectly with the pinks and reds. And it has this amazing intensity and strange clarity, as if the cold is somehow making things appear hyperreal.

I want to run home and get my camera but I realize that it'll be too late. As I turn towards the house, the colors are already changing. The sky to the east is already gray as the night encroaches, and I just have to try and enjoy the moment and take it all in.

It's funny. I'm reading about the Long Now, which is all about thinking in terms of, well, "long time." We're all focused on this year, this month, this week, and it suggests that we need to think, this decade, this century, this millennium. And yet, the colors of the sunset are visible in a span measured in minutes, seconds, moments. The book may get to this, but the thought I had was this: watching the sunset, in that moment, you can sense how transient that moment is. And in so doing, you can feel the transience of all things. And yet, in that moment, things somehow seem timeless.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Dating myself

An old college friend forwarded me a link to Flashback Alternatives, an on-line streaming radio site. (Am I being redundant when I say that?)

F'ing awesome.

The first track that got me totally hooked was when they played "Telephone Operator" by Pete Shelley. Man, I probably haven't heard that song in over 10 years. That took me back. And then songs from Echo and the Bunnymen, New Order, Oingo Boingo (even if it was one of their later, poppier tunes)... perhaps only marred by a single disappointment of them playing a crappy remix of Bow Wow Wow's "I Want Candy" without the trademark pounding drumbeats in the background. A minor bummer. But otherwise... awesome.

Anyway, he forwarded the link when he heard "Man with a Child in his Eyes" by Kate Bush, and thought of me. Which also takes me back, because I had been somewhat obsessed with her (and that song in particular) my freshman year in college when we first met. Kinda forgot about that, understandably, I'd think, given that all my old Kate Bush LPs are back in L.A. at the 'rental homestead. You all remember LPs, right?

Yeah, good times.

So now, I want one of these so I don't have to turn on my desktop or set up the laptop next to the stereo in order to listen to the music sans headphones in the house (and there's this cool simple mod that you can do to increase its range), but I guess I'll get to that eventually.

Of course, the best part of it was forwarding the link to the SOOTTAD and then exchanging emails throughout the day like the following:

To: tallasiandude
Subject: ooooo, listen to next song!

peter & the test tube babies -- i haven't heard anyone ever play them but me. :-)

The two of us, totally into, and listening to, the same music during the workday.

*sigh* Just like the good ol' days.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A thought on time

Actually, about time. And really, a question about time. A rhetorical question. Well...questions.

I'm reading The Clock of the Long Now, by Stewart Brand, a series of essays which is self-described in the introduction as "a mosaic," and I'm finding it pretty engaging:

"If Moore's Law is true," queries a media developer, "over time is time more or less valuable?" In other words, is compressed time dearer or more disposable? The price per minute is higher, but is the sustainable value? Does intense progress make everything better, or just more temporary?"

I expect I'll be providing some updated commentary as it develops...

Disappointment and...

It's not done!

I realize that it's not technically winter yet, but it sure is close enough. Cold and gray and just... blah.

Watermato close-up

We had several well-formed melons from the garden this year, but I just never felt the desire to actually eat them so they sat on the coffee table for a time and then eventually migrated to the fridge, with the hope that they'd keep until I'd actually decide I wanted to eat them at some tonight. With winter beginning to take hold, and falling in and out of sadness, depression, ennui, not necessarily weather related, but certainly not helping, I thought I might steal a bit of residual summer, a little bit of sunshine that had been stored by the garden fruit.

But of course, disappointment.

Hollow. Unfinished. I had hoped that I had just picked one of the fruits that had fallen from the vine early, but several subsequent fruits showed similar appearances. (Fortunately, there were at least a few that had some edible sections that were actually quite sweet and nicely watermelony).

It made me wonder if I started them too late again this year, or if this was a result of my underwatering/overwatering disaster mid-summer where I thought I was going to kill off the vines -- they seemed to recover alright, but the vines were never quite as robust as they had been before that, and then opening them up...

So yeah, the watermelon was something of a disappointment. But I did find it kind of cool that they seemed to have these natural contours on the inside that look a bit like clover-leafs. And when I looked at a bunch of them together...


...I started to wonder: did they cross-pollinate? Because they kind of remind me of, well... tomatoes.


And that really is kind of cool.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Aw, crap!

1:55AM. WTF?

Working on the project for class and talking to the SOOTTAD. But I didn't get any studying for Anatomy done. Crap, crap, crap.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I gots personality

A personality test found by missludmilla.

Cattell's 16 Factor Test Results
Warmth ||||||||||||||||||||| 70%
Intellect ||||||||||||||| 46%
Emotional Stability |||||||||||||||||| 54%
Aggressiveness ||||||||| 26%
Liveliness ||||||||||||||| 46%
Dutifulness ||||||||||||||| 46%
Social Assertiveness ||||||||| 22%
Sensitivity |||||||||||||||||||||||| 74%
Paranoia ||||||||||||||||||||| 66%
Abstractness ||||||||||||||| 50%
Introversion |||||||||||||||||| 54%
Anxiety |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 86%
Openmindedness |||||||||||||||||| 54%
Independence ||||||||||||||| 42%
Perfectionism |||||||||||||||||| 58%
Tension |||||||||||||||||| 58%
Take Cattell 16 Factor Test (similar to 16pf)
personality tests by

Nothing really new here. I generally would like to think of myself as generally balanced, and you look at the things that scored at extremes:

High anxiety? Check. (Heh, High Anxiety.)
Low Aggressiveness? Low social assertiveness? Check, check.

The only thing that might be a surprise to some -- intellect, which is described as a scale between [instinctive, unstable] on the one hand, and [cerebral, analytical]. Then again, maybe it isn't such a surprise if you know me well enough.

AEM Day 30 - Done

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

First, thanks to all the participants of AEM -- seeing what everyone else was doing and getting all the feedback and encouragement -- awesome. I know it's been a good exercise for me, despite the challenge, but it was easier with all of you out there, doing your own things. All separate, but all together.

Anyway, it's done. The collage. And Art Everyday Month. There are other things that have been trying to get my attention for weeks that I need to deal with, but hopefully I'll be able to start back up again, even without the challenge of trying to do something every single day.

As is always the case, there were some things that didn't quite come out the way I would have liked, but I think overall I like the result. And it was good to try something different. The words are the lyrics to Billy Joel's Vienna, from the album, The Stranger. It's funny, I had just read an article on Slate about Billy Joel that was fairly critical of him, but sitting at the piano last night really reminded me how much his music was a part of my high school experience. Several songs were personal anthems to me and my friends (some songs more than others, to some of us more than others). Many resonate with me simply because they were songs that I had learned and were a part of my repertoire that I could call on when I wanted to escape. It wasn't about performance or entertaining -- playing piano was a way to hide, to avoid uncomfortable social situations where I was incapable of being social. No talking, no thinking. It was a place where I could just be by myself something.

Vienna is probably one of my favorite songs, but it also happens to be the one that I play the worst, or at least, that translates the most poorly when I play it, perhaps because I learned it by ear rather than from music. It makes me just a little sad, but I also find it amusing in a "well, that figures" kind of way.

Anyway, I think I missed my bed-before-1AM window, but maybe I'll make it by 1:30AM.


Slow down, you crazy child
you're so ambitious for a juvenile
But then if you're so smart, tell me
Why are you still so afraid?

Where's the fire, what's the hurry about?
You'd better cool it off before you burn it out
You've got so much to do and only
so many hours in a day

But you know that when the truth is told
That you can get what you want
Or you can just get old
You're gonna kick off before you even get halfway through
When will you realize...Vienna waits for you

Slow down you're doing fine
You can't be everything you want to be
Before your time
Although it's so romantic on the borderline tonight

Too bad but it's the life you lead
you're so ahead of yourself
That you forgot what you need
Though you can see when you're wrong
You know you can't always see when you're right

You've got your passion, you've got your pride
but don't you know that only fools are satisfied?
Dream on, but don't imagine they'll all come true
When will you realize...Vienna waits for you

Slow down, you crazy child
and take the phone off the hook and disappear for awhile
it's all right, you can afford to lose a day or two
When will you realize...Vienna waits for you

And you know that when the truth is told
that you can get what you want
Or you can just get old
You're gonna kick off before you even get half through
Why don't you realize...Vienna waits for you

When will you realize...Vienna waits for you.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

AEM Day 29, in over my head

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

After doing some online research for the school project due Sunday, I decided that I would rather play around on the piano rather than sit and try to come up with something to draw. I thought there might even be a chance that it'd give me some inspiration.

So downstairs I went where I toodled around a bit, and ended up playing a few things, or scratching at pieces of things, that brought back memories of "the old days" -- friendships, crushes, school, music... bits of history. Color entrances, but sometimes sound entrances too.

The SOOTTAD called while I was down there, but I already had an idea what I was going to do for AEM today. We talked as I went through and subsequently began ripping up random catalogs and junk mail. I was going to do a collage.

Dear God, what was I thinking?!

The SOOTTAD went to bed almost an hour ago. Gonna call it a night and hopefully finish it up tomorrow after class.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Without Merit

I've been using Rojo to keep track of the AEM blogs (at least the ones that have RSS feeds). Unfortunately, one of the consequences of this is that I tend to see more news headlines these days than I'd prefer. Which led me to Rumsfeld: Don't call Them 'Insurgents'

"This is a group of people who don't merit the word `insurgency,' I think," Rumsfeld said Tuesday at a Pentagon news conference. He said the thought had come to him suddenly over the Thanksgiving weekend.
*sigh* At it again, playing word games to try and change perception. Smoke and mirrors. Thankfully, the article provides us with a definition:
Webster's New World College Dictionary defines the term "insurgent" as "rising up against established authority."
And it all becomes clear. And sadly, I have to admit the man is right. It's not an insurgency. It's not an insurgency... because clearly the provisional government isn't really an established authority. You win some, you lose some.

But the article finishes with this gem:

At another point in their news conference, Rumsfeld and Pace had an unusual exchange in which Rumsfeld corrected his senior military adviser, only to have Pace gently insist that it was the defense secretary who was wrong.

A reporter asked Pace what U.S. commanders in Iraq are supposed to do if they find Iraqi forces abusing prisoners. Pace replied that if inhumane treatment is observed it is a service member's duty to stop it.

"I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it Â? it's to report it," Rumsfeld said, turning to Pace.

Replied the general: "If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it."
It's a good sign when even the underlings are getting uppity.

Random thoughts before bed


This morning, lying in bed reluctant to get up, I suddenly thought I heard the sound of water. Not rain. I thought perhaps heating pipes, but I had that problem taken care of just a few weeks ago. I didn't expect it to have reappears so soon. Then I hear the scratching of fabric.


Cat 1 is peeing in my duffle bag.


I think we have mice again.

I keep hearing strange scratching and rustling sounds coming from the vicinity of the stove. The last time around, their presence was confirmed when Cat 2 began puking a lot, and we found two half-mice on the carpet in the basement.

AEM Day 28 - "Backyard Tree"

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

This was the tree in P's backyard, sort of as I remember it Saturday morning. I did have a picture for reference, but I mostly took it from the image in my head. I was kind of focusing on getting the snow on the tree to stand out, so I'm left feeling a little annoyed that the tree is totally out of scale from the small shed and woods behind it. Oh well.

Should have been studying or doing research for a school project that's due this weekend, but I ended up reading a book for a bookclub instead, mostly because I want to hang out with the people who are in the bookclub... but you have to have read the book to attend. (This also means that I won't get much studying done tomorrow night either.) And yet, I didn't get to go dancing or play piano tonight either.


There just isn't enough time in the day.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

AEM Day 26/27 catch-up

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

So it turns out that our friend P in Albany doesn't have wireless. Weird. And interesting that it's become so ubiquitous, even out in the countryside and wilds of central Mass in the 1800's farmhouse that is the SOOTTAD's parental homestead, that we kind of just assume that we'll be able to get internet access. (Well, I guess I was actually the one who set it up, so I guess I only have myself to blame for that...)

It was good to get away from it, but we kept showing signs of withdrawal: hey there was this really funny thing about the Flying Spaghetti Monster... oh wait, I guess I'll send you the URL. Oh yeah, we should show you the pictures from our trip to Italy... damn -- online gallery... and the originals are on my machine at home, not my laptop. Crap, crap, crap.

Nevertheless, it was a good visit. We caught up Friday night over lasagne for dinner and sitting by a fire in her living room. Saturday, a mellow party for P's 30th, with food, dancing and games. (It never occurs to me to play games, but I actually enjoyed my participation in Taboo and Cranium. Damn, I even had fun playing Boggle this afternoon.) Chillin' in the back room, the SOOTTAD and I fell asleep together scrunched into a loveseat, only moving to the bed when we woke up at 2AM. There's been a lot of sleeping this long weekend. I guess I've been a little sleep-deprived with all the AEM stuff and general busyness. I hope I'll be able to wake up for work tomorrow morning. Oy.

Anyway. P loves to make big breakfasts, so it was strawberry pancakes and bacon yesterday and french toast and bacon today. Oh yeah, bacon! She had a 4 pound box in her fridge for us and our mutual friend (and her boy) T (visiting from Northampton). The sketch from yesterday is of P frying up some bacon using a pair of chopsticks to flip the slices, a trick she picked up from T, and one which we're embarrassed to say we don't use ourselves.

We left around 3PM to get the SOOTTAD to Bradley airport in Connecticut. A pretty uneventful drive, but nice to have a little more time to ourselves. I had joked earlier in the trip that while her parents' house has no doors (they apparently don't close because of settling, so they don't bother even trying to close them), P's house has no walls. (she's been doing a lot of renovating recently. It's mostly done, but it turns out that there's only a curtain that separates the second bedroom from the back room. Hmm.) There's been more driving this weekend than I'd generally prefer to do, but it's always good to be able to spend more time with the SOOTTAD. Her parents met us at the airport to see her off, arriving just as I was finishing the second sketch of the main terminal check-in area. I was surprised but quite tickled to see that they brought Thanksgiving leftovers for both of us, as well as snacks. Schweet.

The drive home was mostly uneventful save the usual congestion around the 84 interchange... and getting rear-ended in a domino-like threeway fender-bender. The other two cars are SUVs. (Both from New York. And both smokers.) After pulling over, I shockingly don't find any damage (whoo-hoo 5MPH bumpers!), but the guy from the truck immediately behind me wants me to stay and to call the cops. I bail anyway after getting contact info -- I'm tired, I just want to get home.

Ah, home... it's good to be home.

But it'd be nicer to be home with the SOOTTAD.

Friday, November 25, 2005

AEM Day 25 - "Mirror, Bittersweet"

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

More images from the SOOTTAD's parental homestead, this time sitting at the dining table, the mirror and branch of bittersweet hanging on the wall across the room from the entryway.

I ended up shading the wall with graphite because I was too lazy to stipple it in. Plus, we're heading out to visit friends in Albany, so I didn't want to risk having to stop mid-stipple and not be able to get back to it later.

This short vacation has been good so far. Actually got about 11 hours or sleep last night, but it's been tricky trying to get a little bit of work done and to squeeze in some drawing amidst the holiday activities, low-key as they may be. And I'd really rather be front-loading on the quality time with the SOOTTAD anyway. I was probably being a bit ambitious when I packed schoolwork and that book I checked out from the library a few weeks ago... Oh well, can't really complain about that.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

AEM Day 24 - "Window to Winter"

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

View from the bedroom window at the SOOTTAD's parental homestead.

Happy Thanksgiving

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

I almost considered submitting this for today's AEM -- a collage of turkey, bacon and oilcloth. (But I did actually find time to draw, so that'll be up momentarily.) Anyway, you can read what THIS was all about in last year's post. This year, the only change was to use two (count 'em, TWO) layers of bacon.

Oh yeah.

AEM Day 23 - toons o' me & meows

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

Late this afternoon, I sketched some stuff out that I wanted to play with.

I had planned to get back to it after the SOOTTAD and I got back from seeing Harry Potter together, but we ended up sneaking into a second showing (damn, haven't done that in about a million years) and got back to the 'rental homestead a bit on the late side.

So it's just sketches and doodles for tonight.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

AEM Day 22 - "Smile"

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

Probably no explanation necessary -- just a sketch from a photo I took last night after dinner with a friend.

* * *

Tonight, another fine dinner with another fine friend. And a conversation that eventually veered into a discussion (perhaps more a monologue) about color and the lack thereof in my drawings. "Color entrances." There is a sublime beauty in some things that I cannot even begin to express that has nothing to do with form and everything to do with hue, saturation, and intensity. It's something I can appreciate but feel I cannot express or capture. And even thinking of trying to reproduce it leaves me empty because I have neither the raw materials nor the tools to get at its essence, its soul. And any attempt feels like it would do it a disservice.

So I stick to my lines and dots, and hope that in the contrasts and gradations I can allude to or evoke that sense in my head, that which I cannot create on paper.

I'll try eventually. Just not yet.

Waiting must be filled.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

AEM Day 21 - "Abstracats"

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

It was late; I was gathering things around the house for the SOOTTAD that I'll need to bring over to the 'rental homestead for turkey day.

I seem to be frequently falling back on doing drawings of the kitties, so I tried something different tonight. I like how it turned out, although I probably shouldn't have spent the time stippling the background seeing as it's almost 2AM now. (but of course, I just couldn't help myself.)

Ok, bedtime.

Monday, November 21, 2005

On the subject of elephants...

Well, sort of...

It's Penn Jillette's "This I Believe" segment on NPR, and his first analogy goes thusly:

" can't prove a negative, so there's no work to do. You can't prove that there isn't an elephant inside the trunk of my car. You sure? How about now? Maybe he was just hiding before. Check again. Did I mention that my personal heartfelt definition of the word "elephant" includes mystery, order, goodness, love and a spare tire?"
You may notice that I seem to be intentionally obfuscating the title and subject of his essay. And the reason for that is that I think some people might not like what it says. And to you I say: I'm sorry, but that's sort of his point.

I'm not greedy. I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it's everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me. It seems just rude to beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I'm raising now is enough that I don't need heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery and I get joy every day.
Good stuff.

[thanks to Dave at Dave's Beer]

AEM Day 20 - Adversary and Ganeshas

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

Yes, I am my own worst enemy.


AEM Day 20 - Ganesha, pre. AEM Day 20 - Ganesha, post

So I started this sketch of Ganesha (Hindu Lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles) a few days ago when I had the whole Hindu thing floating around my head. No real reason to draw him in particular, only that I was familiar with his elephant-like appearance. (Although I could use some obstacle destroying, certainly. Couldn't we all?) I was pretty happy with it, up until the point I started inking him. Oh well. I'll learn one of these days to leave well enough alone.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

AEM Day 19 - "Lap Kitty, top view"

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

It's late. I just finished some writing for class and I really need to get to bed. I could just post something I did a few nights ago that I'm still working on, but that doesn't seem to fit the spirit of this challenge. So I try another sketch of the eye:hand self-portrait, and well, it just looks like another sketch. (well, the eyes are a little better this time...) But I wanted to play with it more -- so I try something else. (Hello, dude? It's late. You have to be up in like 7 hours, yo.) Ok, looks like another lap kitty. Different kitty, 'natch.

Man, sometimes I am such a dumbass.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

AEM Day 18 - "Train Connection"

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

I took the train into town to meet up with folks for the movie tonight. I brought my sketchbook with the crazy idea that I might sketch things on the train. I was definitely people-watching, but I have a hard time actually drawing people when they're sitting right there in front of you, doing their own thing. It seems invasive, and being so close on a train, it's even more difficult. And besides, the train was packed for most of the ride anyway, so it wasn't like there was much room. I spent most of the time trying to capture details in my head. Like the couple standing in front of me, in matching jeans and black leather jackets, the man, slightly shorter and a bit on the stout side, tenderly grasping the woman's left ring finger between index and thumb.

I take pictures... with my mind. whooooooooo...

I got home earlier than expected so here it is.

As for the movie, I think I enjoyed it, overall. I was a little annoyed with certain plot changes which weren't necessary for the film translation. And Steve Kloves apparently thinks he can write better dialog than J.K. Rowling. Um, not. I'll admit that there were certainly a few jokes that he threw in that were pretty funny, but in places where I was looking forward to some of the lines I really appreciated in the book, he seemed to feel the need to change them. And I don't know if it's the direction or what, but I'm not so fond of Michael Gambon's interpretation of Dumbledore. Oh, this explains it:

Empire: Are you kind of easing into the role a bit more now you have done one film as Dumbledore?
Michael Gambon: I just play him as myself, I donÂ?t ease myself into any role really. I stick a beard on and play me. Every part I play is just a variant of my own personality. No real character actor, of course, just me.
*sigh* I really wish some of these guys would at least read the books.

Ah well -- the one scene that I was really looking forward to did not disappoint. I'll be watching the movie again with the SOOTTAD next week, but at this point, Azkaban remains my favorite of the four films.

Bed before one! Bed before one!

Friday, November 18, 2005

AEM Day 17 - guilty sketch

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

So for some reason I feel guilty about posting this sketch. But again... there it is. And really this was more an exercise in process anyway.

This had started as an attempt to draw a Shiva-like, Hindu-influenced, multi-limbed type of character. In my head, I was visualizing a friend of a friend I had seen performing traditional Indian dances many years ago, but as often is the case, I couldn't get it onto the paper, and frankly, the image was pretty fuzzy to begin with.

But the process. I saw this cool thing on Drawn! -- a flash animation showing a drawing evolve from a skeleton to a fully dressed woman -- and I figured I'd try to build the figure from the ground up, as it were. No erasing today, or at least no final cleanup. (although much is covered up by successive sketching layers and the final ink anyway.) Started with spine and clavicles, then femurs, humeruses... humeri? (ha, ha, that's funny!) Layers of muscle and then the first basic outline of the figure.

While (over-)shading the drawing from Day 15, at one point I thought a section kinda looked like shiny latex, which I thought was pretty cool. So I figured I'd try it here, and well... it didn't work, of course. So more cover work. But that's fine -- I'll try something else tomorrow.

And speaking of tomorrow, I may not post until late (like this is something new?) as I'm going to be celebrating a friend's birthday by seeing the new Harry Potter flick downtown. Whoo-hoo!

Aw crap. It's after 1AM again... *sigh*

Thursday, November 17, 2005

AEM Day 16 - face/hand, eye:hand

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

I originally saw this thing called eye:hand on Drawn! and thought I'd give it a shot. Of course, Kathryn (without even knowing it) already beat me to the punch as far as AEM is concerned. And I still need to either submit it to the moderator or post it to the group. But that's really secondary, I think.

It's interesting how much an expression changes with just a slight inflection (or dot) around the eyes. The photo which is... hmmm, maybe pensive, with perhaps a little frustration... seems to have translated into shock in the final rendering. (Or maybe something like "I'm gonna be sick!") And during the process of sketching it out, it would shift from surprise, to outrage, to confused, with just the slightest little change.

In some ways this is a blast from the past, in that the first illustrations (of a very few) I did in college were all-stipple, all-the-time. And I wonder why I kept breaking pens...

Ugh. After 1AM again. Why do I keep doing this to myself?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Marking the occasion

This is neither here nor there, but today was, in fact, the one year anniversary of my very first RIF.

Boy, that went fast.

And it's interesting to see how much things have changed, and how much things have stayed the same.

It also happens to be just a shade over ten years since I got my tattoo, a reminder of lessons learned during one of the worst years of my life most distinctly challenging years I've had, ever. The design is a reminder that life is change, that life is a cycle. And change is good. And necessary. Because change is growth, and growth is life.

And the things that don't grow? They die.

And it's interesting to see how much things have changed...

AEM Day 15 - "Shells"

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

This didn't come out quite the way I had intended, but what does, really? I wasn't exactly sure how each layer was going to be visible when I started, but I'm pretty sure I hadn't intended it to be so dark. But at one point, I tried adding a contour effect and didn't like the way it came out, so I ended up covering it up, and then had adjust the rest to balance it out.

And of course, at one point, a partial shaded area actually looked kinda cool, but of course I had it in my head that each layer needed to be (relatively) uniform, so I just plodded on rather than leave it "unfinished."

Oy, sometimes I think I need someone sitting right next to me to just take the freaking pen out of my hand.

Hmmm, 11:06PM. I guess I should go study for that Physiology final we have tomorrow night, huh?

AEM Day 14 posting catch-up

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

Doodles from last night.

I was starting to get annoyed that all my porpoises were looking like birds.

AEM Day 14 delay

Just did some doodles this evening. But I need to get to bed so I'll post them tomorrow.

Thoughts for the day:

  • Not getting enough sleep. Up late last night, up early this morning and into the office today. Difficult staying conscious at my desk; struggled to stay awake on the drive home.
  • Only thought upon setting foot in the house: nap.
  • Weird dreams. Tenderness from unexpected sources. Three kisses. Nice, but situationally inappropriate. I hate that my subconscious can't allow myself to enjoy these moments. After waking, it only reminds me how much I miss having the SOOTTAD around. We talk almost every night, but it's not the same. And damn, I really miss the smoochies.
  • Thought I'd be too tired, but after I ate some dinner, I went to the Monday night dance anyway. A few good dances, unexpected. Still a few dances with bored-looking followers, like they'd prefer to be doing something other than dancing with me, which takes my spirit down a few notches. Overall I guess it's a wash.
  • Home again, trying to get some work done before bed.
  • Doodles while talking to the SOOTTAD. She suggested "nefarious porpoises" because, hello pun! And fish! I correct her: porpoises are mammals, which means they have hair, among other things. You'll see what came of that when I eventually get around to posting it tomorrow.
  • My nose is running. I hope I haven't caught a cold. But it wouldn't surprise me considering I've been really taxing my system lately.
  • My pen appears to be following my nose's lead. (Follow the nose, it always knows!) It's begun leaking. This usually happens because I'm not particularly good at taking care of them. I'm going to have to try and clean the nib, but it's something I've always had a lot of trouble with, so I tend to put it off. But fairly soon, I'm not going to have much of a choice in the matter.
  • Why am I not in bed?

Monday, November 14, 2005

AEM Day 13 - Observed; Demanding, part 2

I was just going to do the one drawing, but circumstances intervened and I was moved to document the events surrounding it's (their) inception.

Home late after class and after class socializing, I figured I'd do a quick sketch for today before I tried to finish off some work that I hadn't had the energy to deal with last night. (Hey, I actually got to bed before 11:30 -- go me.)

One cat on the couch, adorable in standard coffee roll (versus loaf) position, seemed a good subject. He was napping, but when I sat down to draw, I noticed he was actually watching me with one eye, half open. Suspicious of my activity, or indignant that I wasn't actually giving him any physical attention, he nevertheless decided at some point that it wasn't worth keeping his eye on me, and settled back into his nap.

I wanted to just use colored pencils to get a better feel for how colors worked together, even if it was just going to be sparse lines or small highlighted sections. But when I initially finished, there didn't seem to be enough contrast in places, so I pulled out the rapidograph and started inking a few of the lines. It seemed to be doing what I wanted. At least, it did, until the other cat decided that he was clearly being intolerably neglected and sought to immediately correct the situation, leading to some unintentional inking.

What to do?

  1. Cover spots with shading to try and incorporate it into the rest of the drawing.
  2. Take advantage of new subject material.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

AEM Day 12 - "tickled"

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

Tired, tired, tired.

The image had stuck pretty solidly in my head after I woke up this morning; the challenge is always in getting it out and onto paper. Trying to work a little color in. (I feel like I'm borrowing a page or more from Janey's style, but hope it's in my own way; struggling with the idea that I'm not being original. Let go, let go, just do.) It's done; I'm pretty happy with it.

But tired.

I've been getting to bed much too late but still waking up around 7AM every morning for the last several days. Today was all taking care of business. Study, eat, draw, study, practice, work, rake and bag leaves, clear out the garden, check on travelling friends' kitties, pick up a book from school, check on another set of friends' kitty and bunnies, study, eat... rest.

I feel bad including drawing in there, because I do enjoy it, but carving out the time out of the day is challenging.

And oh so tired. After I had dinner I just had to shut down for a while -- actually watched TV for the first time in a long while. (Wow, that CSI show is pretty good, huh?) Probably the first time since August, not counting DVDs.

Hope to get to bed before midnight tonight. Before 11 would be even better, but I think I know myself too well to believe that'll happen.

Did I mention tired?

AEM Day 11 - "Autumn Hands I"

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

I'm still trying to overcome my fear of using color.

I've been meaning to do something like this for several days now. The original plan was to color in the sketch from Day 5 but I realized that the original drawing was too small to really work effectively.

I have mixed feelings about this one, but... well, there it is. And I guess that's the whole point of this exercise. Hopefully I'll try and play with the idea again at some point.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Fall Outsider

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

I think the originating maple tree is from the yard two houses up.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

AEM Day 10 - "Head On"

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

Well, it turns out that I don't have as much to say on this than I originally thought. At least, nothing is coming to me at the moment even though I'm pretty sure I was chock full of stuff that I thought needed to be said. I guess that's how things go sometimes, as time passes, perspectives change...

Oh wait, that was it.

This drawing has been about a week in the making. You may recall that Day 2 was the first stop on my little fish odyssey. I had this vague idea of something moving against the flow of it's surroundings which danced between the idea of a person fighting his way against a crowd or the proverbial salmon swimming upstream against the current. Juxtapose the two and well, there you go...

Anyway, I really liked the way it came out, especially the contrasts between light and dark (I don't think I can get away with saying "color contrasts" with a black and white drawing), so I figured I'd try and play with it in another drawing, but with only fish. And it felt like it was coming along pretty well until I suddenly got stuck. I was trying to get a certain look and I hit a point where I felt like if I didn't do it "the right way," I was going to "ruin it," as I think I've mentioned previously. So I set it aside, worked on a few other things and did a couple experiments playing with different ways that I might get the effect I was looking for.

So yesterday, I finally figured out what I thought I was going to work and when I got down to inking it again... I realized that it wasn't what I wanted to do with the drawing anymore. You know -- things change.

The initial idea was to have the one fish be in stark contrast to all the others., not unlike the fish in the crowd. I liked how it looked visually and I liked how it felt conceptually as well. The one fish standing out amidst the others. But over the last few days, I've started appreciating how the one fish (that was my focus) was somewhat hidden in the sea of others. I liked that there was something there, but you had to give it more than a passing glance to see it. Hidden, but out in the open, like a shared secret, a puzzle.

Maybe it started to reflect my own feelings -- I want people to notice me, and yet I have a natural tendency to want to be on the periphery, under the radar. I value the things that make me different, the things that make me unique, special... despite feeling like they are also a source of many of the things I struggle with -- feeling on the outside, feeling alone. That whole left of center thing. I want people to notice it, to notice me, but I don't want to be the one to call attention to it. And yet there's definitely a part that just doesn't want them to notice, but somehow I want to know that they know. It's weird, I can't really explain it. Understanding and acceptance? Ugh, this feels like I'm staring a core meltdown -- Abort! Abort!

Anyway, just another thought or two about the whole analogy of the individual moving against the crowd, fighting the current. There's a certain romance to it that I like. How many action adventures are framing in this sort of context? The one against insurmountable odds. The individual with a different perspective that sees through the bullshit and can set things right. The Hero. The One. Don't be a sheep. Choose your own path.

And yet, there's also, well.... the dumbass. Misguided. Fighting the crowd because he doesn't know any better. Bad directions or something. And you're swimming upstream, and you'll never know until you've reached the end... one way or another.

Hero? Or dumbass? Sometimes it's just so hard to tell.

AEM Day 9 - return of the fish

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

I swear I'll get to the final version of the fish drawing eventually, but for today, it's just another bunch of experiments to see how different methods of shading would look.

This was done mostly during Physiology class, where we went over a research paper we had written about in a homework assignment a few weeks ago. Kinda slow and not much to take notes on.

The quiz? Answer two simple questions and draw a diagram of a nephron (the main functional component of the kidney), labeling it with several terms the instructor had written on the board.

Heh, no problem.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

AEM Day 8 - study guide

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

Yesterday's entry kind of drained me, so I figured I'd submit this for today -- something a little lighter in tone (it's about PEE!) and a demonstration that art FILTERS (a pun, a pun!) into everyday life.

Fitting (at least in my own twisted little mind, I suppose) for Art Everyday Month. :)

Yes, it's true. I clearly did not get enough sleep last night.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Ok, I'm officially embarrassed

For Kansas, and our country by association:

Headline: "Kansas State Board Votes to Teach Intelligent Design in Schools"

From another article (which will, unfortunately, expire):

In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.


I guess I can look forward to what the Onion is going to write about this. But that's small comfort.

Interesting, yet scary

Monkeyboy posted this link on his links page, Monkeyboy's Links.

Ok, now that you've got that, you can check out Amazon's beta Artificial Artificial Intelligence.

It seems like a pretty cool and interesting idea, from an academic perspective. From Amazon's info page:

When we think of interfaces between human beings and computers, we usually assume that the human being is the one requesting that a task be completed, and the computer is completing the task and providing the results. What if this process were reversed and a computer program could ask a human being to perform a task and return the results? What if it could coordinate many human beings to perform a task?

So on the one side, you put this little snippet of code into the application you're writing, and on the other side Amazon negotiates the hand-shaking to some amorphous worldwide internet-enabled pool of people drones who appear to get paid for participating, and voila, you've got virtual cognitive processing. People acting like a massive parallel processing computer acting like a person. It's delightfully recursive. Academically speaking.

Because, call me a cynic, but the only application I see for this right now is to allow spammers to once again develop automated means of navigating through the various Turing tests in place that are only barely keeping comment spam at bay. I could have sworn that I read about basically the same thing (albeit on a smaller scale) that used a porn site as a proxy, getting the smut-seekers to fill in the test forms.

I can't help but think of Real Genius (perhaps this is a bad analogy?) and how cool ideas can always be twisted and used for nefarious purposes.

I dunno, maybe I'm not fully understanding what Amazon is trying to develop. And maybe I'm just underestimating people's capacity for good. But at least in the latter case, I generally find the opposite to be true.

On a more general note, why does it seem like every new thing elicits this "wow cool... gosh, that's kind of scary" response in me?

*sigh* Maybe I'm just getting old.

UPDATE: ok, I had a thought. Maybe the constraining factor I'm not taking into consideration is cost. Maybe it won't be cost effective for the service to be misused as I've described above. I guess we'll see.

AEM Day 7 - "Storm-bringer"

AEM Day 7 -

I wanted to get this posted last night, but I was already up late (ugh, 2AM) finishing it and then the camera batteries died, so I figured that was the sign telling me to go to bed. Talking to the SOOTTAD a little after midnight and having her tell me I should get to bed soon isn't enough. No, I have to listen to camera batteries. I probably shouldn't have been up so late anyway, but I felt the need to finish this one and get it out and onto paper.

I think I briefly mentioned that things had been a little rough in our last class of the day on Sunday. There was conflict. There was drama. And it had left me drained, aggravated and on edge. I was still experiencing shakes when I got into my car and drove home. Later that night when I recounted the events to the SOOTTAD, I found my body going through the same physiological responses that I had experienced in class. Muscles constricting, heartrate going up, a slightly sick feeling of agitation -- a vibration starting in my chest working its way to a dull buzz in my brain.

The experience is always real, even when it's only in your head.

So anyway, I thought I might be able to channel some of this into a drawing, get it onto paper and out of my head. Ironically, as I dipped into the experience to compose the picture in my head, the feelings would creep right back into the present. Perhaps that's why there was this strange urgency to finish it last night. I wanted to get it out so I could move on.

* * *

Anyway, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for all the wonderful feedback. I've found this experience to be really good for me (sleep-deprivation notwithstanding) -- it's been a while since I've challenged my creative side and I've always* struggled with whether I was ever any good at anything. And yet despite the difficulties with this challenge, it's been such a welcoming and nurturing environment that I can't help but try to do what I set out to do at the start of this thing, and to try and do my very best.

So again, thank you all.

* Interestingly, when I think about it for a moment, I don't think this was always the case. I have very clear memories of drawing when I was little -- 4, 5, 6, elementary/primary school -- I fancied myself an artist back in the day. I'm not sure what happened. I think sometime around high school I realized that all my friends were all better than me at something... and together they were all better than me at everything. And I guess it's kinda been that way every since.

Half the battle, I guess.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Told ya

You Are 19 Years Old
You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Two thoughts

The SOOTTAD has suggested that there's acceptance, and then there's rolling over like a dog. Her acceptance ends when you start to behave like a dick.

I definitely think there is some wisdom in this.

My own thought: talk is just talk. People are defined by their actions not their words. (Unfortunately, this immediately reminds me of a line from Total Recall, spoken by the mutant leader Kuato: "You are what you do. A man is defined by his actions, not his memory.")

Weekend update (AEM and otherwise)

Busy weekend; lots of ups and downs. I started to write a fairly detailed account of the trials and tribulations that have transpired in the last 48 hours, but I think it might be better to just present as quick a summary as I can muster. I think it's still by no means short.

I flew down to North Carolina Friday evening for a wedding in Chapel Hill on Saturday. I was meeting the SOOTTAD at the airport, although my flight was actually getting in about 3 hours before hers. I figured I'd spend the time studying and working on a paper, and maybe if I was so inspired, do a little drawing.

Anyway, it turned out to be a pretty hectic afternoon. All the little things kind of trainwrecked: work tasks took a little longer, little chores around the house before I left, last minute packing. I felt pretty rushed, but I made it to the airport more or less as planned.

But to be fair, my plan was a little crazy.

The wedding was Saturday afternoon and there was a post-reception party at the groom's parents' house that I didn't want to miss (mmmmm, barbecue), but I wanted to make it back for class Sunday morning. So I booked a return flight that left on Sunday morning around 6AM that was scheduled to arrive in Boston at 8:09am, giving me a grand total of 21 minutes to get from the plane out the terminal onto the shuttle to the parking lot to my car and to school by 8:30am. I can summarize this plan in two words: DUMB. ASS.

Anyway, there's a lot of beating myself up for making this decision, not taking appropriate measures to improve the situation, making other decisions that made the situation worse (such as taking me on a scenic tour of LaGuardia airport and reducing the amount of time I actually have to study or work on my paper) but I did manage to safely arrive in RDU, get my return ticket changed (without a painful $400+ change fee and price difference), get some of my paper written, pick up the SOOTTAD and only get us lost once before arriving at the EBC dance event in Carrboro to find the friends of the SOOTTAD who are putting us up for the weekend.

Saturday, we manage to wake up with just enough time to iron shirt and dress and get our asses to Chapel Hill for the wedding and reception. A short but very sweet ceremony. Tasty hors d'oeuvres. Dancing. Good times. Afterwards, there's a minor boondoggle caravan in search of a vintage store that we never find. I'm exhausted, so I let the SOOTTAD drive while I try to work on my paper a bit. We hit the post-reception barbecue and mingle some, but mostly, I hide myself away and work on my paper. I manage to finish just as most people are leaving. Still, we get to spend some quality time with the happy couple and the groom's parents who have to be some of the nicest people in the world. I've seldom felt so comfortable hanging with a friend's parents. It felt good.

Back to our hosts' apartment -- they're out at another dance event. I haven't seen them since the night we got in. We stay up late again for no reason, doing nothing, really. I draw a little. Sleep.

Up early this morning, though not ungodly early. But sadly, not early enough to get breakfast together. I'm on the 9:27am flight back to Boston, so we shoot to get to the airport at 8:30am and arrive without incident. And, of course, when I go to check in, I discover... my flight's been delayed. *sigh* I spend some time drawing, inking some of the stuff I did last night. The rescheduled flight is now scheduled to depart at 10; we actually leave the ground around 10:30. Touch down in Boston just before noon, and I'm right back where I started with a class to make (our Module 3 technique assessment) in 20 minutes. I'm out of the terminal by 12:05 and end up waiting 20 minutes for the shuttle to the economy lots that come every 15 minutes. (Annoyed? Why yes, why do you ask?) I'm already late, even before I get to the lot at 12:34. In my car, through the gate and stuck at a light by 12:35. I make it to Watertown in 13 minutes, park and sprint. In the classroom, stressed, winded and shaking with nerves at 12:50pm.

But reentry is good. Everyone in class is warm and welcoming. W gets me on the table so she can do her assessment, and 40 minutes later we're at the break and I'm feeling several orders of magnitude better.

Yay, massage therapy.

Things are a little rough in the skills and dynamics class for which I'd written the paper the previous night. Looks like we're stormin' again. Still, the class overall is genuinely supportive of one another so I make it through to the end of class and head home to friendly kitties.

Oh yeah, and for the day I ate:

  • 1 apple danish
  • 1 can of tomato juice
  • 1 small bag of pretzels
  • 2 Zone energy bars
  • 1 handful of popcorn

Home for a few hours, it finally occurs to me to have something to eat. I bust out some ramen and egg.

Yeah, it's been one heck of a weekend.

* * *

So, not a lot of time to draw or post, but here's what I've got for the last few days.

Day 4:

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.
I finally had a moment to catch my breath once with met up with Ja & Je at the dance in Carrboro. While we waited for them to finish up (they were competing in a Jack & Jill), I did a little sketching of the dancers. I've always had trouble sketching moving subjects, but sometimes ya gotta do whatcha gotta do.

Day 5:

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.
Back at Ja & Je's apartment, not ready to go to sleep just yet. Hands have been sketching subject matter for years. I'm actually planning on doing some more with this one, but I was pretty happy with how they came out, so I thought I should capture it for posterity before I "ruin it."

Day 6:

Both originally uploaded by tallasiandude.
I tried to catch a picture of this image at the wedding but my timing was always off or it came out blurry or I couldn't frame it right. This is probably as close to going from mind's eye to paper, although I'll admit that I did use some of the photos I took as reference. In some ways I actually like the sketched version better than the final ink -- I feel like the sketched version almost has a warmer quality to it, possibly due to the fuzziness of the lines. Funny, that. (However, it's much easier to capture photos of the inked stuff. I suppose I should just suck it up and use the scanner -- we'll see.)

Today's lesson

Learn acceptance.

Of Others.

Of myself.

Friday, November 04, 2005

AEM Day 3 - Fish tests

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

Ok, I got too serious and busted out the old Rapidograph Koh-I-Noor set and india ink today. Which may have been a mistake, because along with them came the old indecision, self-doubt and uncertainty. I got to the point where I should just suck it up and try something and see what happened, but instead I got stuck.

All the positive feedback went to my head. Only the best for my viewing public! Too worried about disappointing people. About disappointing myself.

I couldn't finish it for fear of "ruining it."

So in its stead, I present to you: "unfinished fish" and "fish experiments." (Yes, there's definitely a fish theme going on -- you might even see the original seed which spawned the drawing from Day 2.) Hopefully I'll settle down and finish it later this month.

Oy. Bedtime.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Way I Am

The first drawing I did for AEM initially seeped into my brain after listening to "The Way I Am" by Martin Sexton.

The Way I Am

The other night I had a crazy dream
'Bout a man in a fishing hat selling magazines
All the way from Kingston he'd worked his way down
I bought him a drink on the night they kicked him out of town

He said, "You know I don't like the way I am."
"No, I don't like the way I am."

And I saw an old fisherman out swayin' on a dock
Swigging a jug of something and a string of fish that he had caught
His wife had left him just a week before
She packed up her bags and waltzed on out the door

She said, "You know I don't like the way I am."
"No, I don't like the way I am."

And then she cried

And you and me walked down the shores of our youth
Chasing the sunrise, challenging the truth

It's all so distant now I've seen too many lies
Turning my vision into crumbling demise

Makes me wanna say
You know I don't like the way I am
No, I don't like the way I am

But I'm gonna change the way I am
I'm gonna change the way I am

Clearly it's still there, floating around in my head.

The song is somewhat haunting, a little sad, and yet heartwarming. The last acapella-yodelly thing he does at the end gives me warm shivers, if that makes any sense.

And I think, "yeah, I don't like the way I am." There are things I need to change. I'm gonna change the way I am. But then, I realize that that's not quite right. I don't like some parts, that's true. But overall... I think I'm ok. Maybe I need to tidy some things up here and there. And yeah, the SOOTTAD keeps telling me I should push my limits and boundaries, get out of my comfort zone every once and a while. (e.g. we should travel to places where I can't speak the language, among other things.) But y'know... I'm good.

There's a funny thing about the way I hear songs. Usually what grabs me are melodies and quality of sounds. Words while important, are often secondary. It's always disappointing when the words don't match the feel of the music -- I don't know if this happens to everyone or it's a peculiar cognitive dissonance that's just particular to me. But these days I've become more cognizant of the *moment* when the meaning of the lyrics finally registers. It must be a back-auditory-channel thing.

I heard the Indigo Girls the other day on the radio on my drive to frisbee. I learned how to the play the song in college -- over 15 years ago now. Learned the words and everything. And yet, it was like the first time I really heard the words.

there's more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in a crooked line
the less I seek my source for some definitive
the closer I am to fine

It's the first time the song spoke to me, not just as pretty sounds and harmonies and something I could reproduce on a guitar, but an affirmation. "Us too." We all walk alone. But paradoxically, there's company, if you look. If you listen.

I'm on my winding, meandering path. Ever closer.

AEM Day 2 - "Fish Outta Water"

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

Not sure where this one came from -- something about a fish swimming upstream got stuck in my head this morning. Had a few ways I was thinking about rendering it, maybe I'll do one of the alternatives later this month.

Oy. My hand is killing me.

I was planning on adding scales to the fish and putting more detail into the crowd in back, but I basically killed off the pen I was using, so I figured that was the sign telling me I was done for the night.

Probably should have been writing a paper or studying, or getting some work done, but this is definitely more fun. But I'm going to have to scale back on my goals a bit or I'm going to be seriously sleep-deprived by the end of the month. (And lose my job. And fail out of school.)

This is definitely going to be a challenge.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Art Every Day Month, Day 1

Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.

Art Every Day Month is a creation of Kat at Kat's Paws. Given my newly rediscovered inspiration and creative spark, I thought it might be a good way of giving me a nudge in the right direction. A little momentum, maybe keeping me from moving back into the dark places.

Positive change seems like it's just around the corner; I'd prefer not to blow it.

And there are little things that are working their way into my reality. Good things, I think. Woke up early (before 8am) this morning. There's been some weird business with the network connection into work (basically, I can't access the rest of the internet at large when I'm logged into the VPN, meaning that I can't access my non-work email from my laptop) so I was forced to reconfigure my work space so I could work by my desktop computer. Which forced me to tidy up my desk. (It's by no means clean, but it's a start.) And with the desktop on, I decided to listen to tunes, and it's the great randomness of every single MP3 I've ripped on shuffle on Winamp. (Poor man's iPod, I guess.) And at times in my brain, it'd be: song. picture. song. picture.

So this came from "The Way I Am" by Martin Sexton. At least that's where it started from. It sort of wandered into it's final form since it's never been a direct translation from my brain onto paper.

There's a good analogy out there somewhere that describes this process perfectly -- I just couldn't tell you what it is. The picture in my head is more about feeling than it is about shapes and lines and color. It's always a little fuzzy around the edges, if not through the center, dream-like, squinting through clouds and fog and mist. Which is frustrating. Except that when it's done, there's this strange feeling of surprise, of discovery of this thing you've made, like unwrapping a present, even though you theoretically knew what it was going to be the whole time, and you've watched it develop the whole way through.

Ok, I guess we'll see if I can keep this up for a whole month.