Wednesday, March 31, 2010

lunctime detecting, Wednesday

I metal detected a little at lunch today. I found a dime and a few aluminum cans.


The best thing, though, was when I pulled up a can from under the weeds with the intention of recycling it. I could feel that it was full of mud, so I cut it apart with my garden knife to shake the dirt out of it.


I saw something brown and orange, and it moved. I realized I was looking at a little tail. There was little muddy salamander living in the can.


I took a picture with my cell phone camera, but I don't know if it will come out. I'll have to check that later.


After releasing the salamander, I found another can, and when I picked it up there was another salamander under it.


I turned over a cut piece of tree trunk and saw two more salamanders. All of them were 3 or 4 inches long. They were pretty cute.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lunchtime detecting


I metal detected during lunch today at an extremely overgrown former house site. Finds: three rifle casings, a very old rusty nail, and a mysterious but uninteresting rectangle of metal. Still, it was a pretty day to be out.  There won't be many more chances to look around that particular spot before the leaves (and bugs) are in. I noticed, however, that the front end of the wooded and overgrown area I hunted has recently been remodeled to make way for a public sidewalk, allowing easier access to the front end of the site. It's close enough to work that I might go back to check it out.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Something lacking


I've been thinking and reading about oil painting, and over the past few days I've come to a tentative conclusion about my palette: it is missing a color.


For twenty years I have felt something amiss in my paintings. It has been nagging me inconsistently. I think I picked up some form of faulty advice or slightly skewed mindset sometime when I was in college, and this has negatively affected my painting.


I need to add black to my palette.  I have mixed my own blacks when I felt it necessary, sure, but I have never used tubed black for anything in oil painting.  Now, though, I think it would help me explore more color subtlety.


Friday, March 26, 2010

This from Wikipedia's entry on Myopia:

Chromatic aberration of strong eyeglasses

Close-up of color shifting through corner of eyeglasses. The light and dark borders visible between color swatches do not exist.
For people with a high degree of myopia, very strong eyeglass prescriptions are needed to correct the focus error. However, strong eyeglass prescriptions have a negative side effect in that off-axis viewing of objects away from the center of the lens results in prismatic movement and separation of colors, known as
chromatic aberration. This prismatic distortion is visible to the wearer as color fringes around strongly contrasting colors. The fringes move around as the wearer's gaze through the lenses changes, and the prismatic shifting reverses on either side, above, and below the exact center of the lenses. Color fringing can make accurate drawing and painting difficult for users of strong eyeglass prescriptions.
Strongly nearsighted wearers of
contact lenses do not experience chromatic aberration because the lens moves with the cornea and always stays centered in the middle of the wearer's gaze.

I experience this. I think it also has a lot to do with the "floating colors" effect I often see when looking at side-by-side complimentary color fields, or bright colors against dark.

Myopia in war

I think I'd be interested in reading a history of myopia in warfare. Would an ancient Greek go off to battle even if he couldn't tell a Spartan from a Persian from more than 20 feet away? Or would a guy like that (which is to say, a guy like me) just be left at home to tan hides or something? Maybe he'd be used as an advanced scout, in the hopes he'd just get caught and killed off. Maybe he'd just be likely to get run over by a chariot before he even left home.


Soldiers wore spectacles in the Civil War. Was this eyewear expensive? What if it broke? Did they tell those guys not to shoot, because it was a waste of ammunition?


In Afghanistan and Iraq, how quickly do broken glasses get replaced? Pretty quickly, I bet.


Monday, March 22, 2010

This year's brackets.

I'm a little late, but I feel that improved my odds. It must be the pressure. Anyway, this year I tried to find a balance between rationality and wishful thinking, which seems to work about as well for me as either strict pragmatism or pure idealism by themselves.
I don't have any money riding on this (in fact, I have it being obliterated in the second round) but I'll feel very proud if it works out.
Go big fat red star!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ide Tidings

A couple of days ago at work we received some certified mail that was returned to us unclaimed. The office secretary stamped it with the date we received it, and then when I saw it I just had to go around showing it to everyone. I photocopied it, scribbled out identifying info like addressee's last name and his city, and put the picture here for you to admire. For your benefit, I highlited the amusing parts.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring Gardening


We recently bought and ate a spaghetti squash, and I thought it was great. It's so much like pasta, yet a little more interesting. I saved the seeds because I thought it would be great to grow some this year.


Now I'm having second thoughts. They're members of the cucurbita family, like pumpkins, watermelons, and zucchini. I've grown all of those before, but had mixed results. None of it was a total failure, but the continuing fight against diseases and insect pests, combined with the huge amount of garden space, means that the effort-to-payoff ratio has been pretty slim.


I don't want to give up on those things altogether (I especially like the idea of growing huge jack-o-lantern pumpkins), but I think if I avoid that family of vegetable for a year or two, it might make my garden a little more free of the pests that also prefer them when I eventually get back to them. Might. Probably not, but maybe.


Anyway, we had conferences at school a few days ago, and one of the teachers had set out some leftover seeds from the school garden he was working on. The seeds were free for the taking. I picked up a few packets: parsnips, thyme, parsley, fennel, and dill.


I also have some bulbs for purple gladioli that I need to get in the ground.


The gardening bug is biting me, and I really want to get out and work. There it lots of digging, trimming, hoeing, and raking to be done!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I know I'm among the last 5% of the world's population to watch this video:

After several viewings, I realized that the thing that probably impresses me most is the camera work. How did they do that in a single take?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

How Lux Cargo Met Kim




Bananas, you say? Yes, I could use one right about now, too.


That reminds me of back when I used the alias "Lux Cargo." How I miss those silvery days, tracing the circumference of the Ring of Fire in my yacht, The Lux Cargo Jr. (I named it after myself).  Most pleasurable were my excursions to Fiji and Tonga, where, if one drops anchor in the green-crystal shallows, beautiful women in skirts woven of kelp will wade out with fruit platters.  These women are uniformly tourists from the Midwest who pay good money to do this, and they are slathered in sunscreen, but dang they look fine in their shell necklaces.  They will place macaws on your head and give you pineapple slices soaked in rum. "You are welcome in our huts any time, Lux Cargo!" they would exclaim to me.


Fiji and Tonga are much pleasanter than the Aleutians, where the women paddle out in kayaks and offer you platters of sliced whale blubber. Some people really go for that, though.


Those were the best five years of my life, if you don't count any of the last ten. How would I ever forget my long conversations over games of go with the 110-year-old Okinawans? Losing money like mad betting on the kickboxing matches in Singapore's back alleys? Being brought to tears as whale calves gently nudged the hull of The Lux Cargo Jr. off the coast of Kamchatka?


I never saw those jagged rocks until it was too late. I was distracted by a macaw that was trying to land on my head. Have you seen those birds? Having one land on you is like being slugged by a fifty pound bag of Skittles. I don't blame the bird, though, as the weather conditions were deteriorating and The Lux Cargo Jr. was very inviting place to land, even after the Patagonions had rubbed off all the gold plating on the fixtures to use in their own blasphemous ceremonies.


I finally washed ashore, barely held afloat by three mostly empty Windex bottles, in the coastal banana swamps of Talara. After resting, I jiggered up a catamaran from coconuts and bananas (Peruvian bananas are friggin' huge!)  Unfortunately, the coconut banana catamaran was as unseaworthy was it was delicious. After I finished that off, I assembled a giant banana outrigger.


You wouldn't believe the looks and guffaws I got from the engineers of the locks on the Panama Canal, nor the hoots and hollers from those on the Mississippi River as I sailed home.  I can assure you, though, that there are Polaroid photos of me and my mega-banana outrigger tacked up in every deckhouse, tackle shop, and fluorescent-light-lit Army Corps of Engineers office between New Orleans and Memphis, where my craft was nibbled into oblivion by grass carp.


I hitched the rest of the way home with an awesomely hot trucker named Kim.  That's how we met.  After she dropped off her freight at Target, I took her to dinner.


Friday, March 05, 2010

Finds with no metal detector

I found a wheat penny (1958) in the change box at work last week. Today I cashed a ten dollar check that I've had in my wallet for a month, and asked for half dollars, if the teller had any. She gave me five dollars worth, and one of them was a (silver clad) 1968.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

(oops, I forgot to attach the drawing to the last post)

Hauck's on Goss Avenue

I think I'm done. This is a project I started on my own. I liked the view and decided to do a drawing of it in between commissions. I don't remember the exact size, and the drawing is not with me for me to measure right now. I think it about 8 x 10 inches.

Monday, March 01, 2010

I'm verrrrry interested to see where this goes

More for the Misc. category

Kim bought some soy cheese to try. Our picky youngest daughter is actually willing to eat it, or at least she has eaten it two or three times now. I tried a little of it, and it wasn't bad.


Ways in which is resembles cheese:

- It is orange and comes in a block

- It is possible to chew it and swallow it


Beyond that, calling it "cheese" is really a stretch. In both taste and texture it reminded me of olives from a jar, though milder and tenderer. That's not necessarily bad, although if you're expecting something cheese-like it can be a little jarring. I think I would like it best on a burger.




Another question from a 4-year-old, as we drove in the van yesterday: What makes the earth stay floating in the air?


I found that one almost as tough as describing how a TV works. The TV one was hard because I only have a very vague understanding, and that understanding probably is even poorer now that the technology is dominated by modern flat-screen TVs and similar displays.  However, even though I don't *really* know what gravity is, I at least have a basic grasp of how it functions.  Trying to relate this to the experiences of a little girls was the hard part; I came up with three or four attempts at answering, but Kim kept buzzing me and saying, "Try again."  It just occurred to me that if I were somehow able to describe my understanding of how it all worked in terms that she was actually able to immediately grasp and understand, she would laugh at the absurdity of it and tell me I was making up stories.