Friday, July 19, 2019

Writing Day

I'm calling this picture, "Curiosity, before the pavilion of the subconscious, turns away from the font of dreams."

Went to the gym Wednesday (7/17) and did the regular workout.  I was kind of tired, but once I got going I managed to do everything within about an hour.  My weight has been stating about the same, which I suppose is good--but I'm trying to get more definition in my lower abs.  I'm blaming a mediocre diet and the fact that I'm in my mid-fifties for lack of meaningful progress.  Doing "mummy tummy" exercises  while I brush my teeth seems to help.

Thursday night I was restless, and wound up taking a power-walk up the hill.  I think going to the gym at 8:30-ish is conditioning my body to want to be active in the evening.  I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not.  I saw one bat (we have some resident fledermauses on our street).  At the reservoir, I thought I might see the rising moon, but it was too early for night sky objects other than Jupiter and a faint Antares.  Saturn became visible as I walked home.

Back in our yard, I took some photos of Jupiter and its moons, but I haven't uploaded them to see if any of them are clear enough to share.  I tried photographing the Big Dipper, the Summer Triangle, and Cassiopeia; but I think the star-trail video the camera took probably came out the best.

Friday morning is a writing day, and I'm warming up with the blog.  I've got the laptop raised a little so the screen is closer to eye level, and I'm writing outside under the pavilion.  I would have a wireless keyboard in my lap, but Cicero has claimed that territory as his own.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

New Equipment

Last week, I finally sprung and got a laptop to replace my mobile device.  Both run Scrivener; I was finding the task of composing and editing on the mobile version to be too arduous, but what was the most troublesome was waiting for the mobil to sync up with DropBox.  I’m not sure why, but the update process would take upwards of four minutes— probably because I have a ton of manuscript folders.  Okay, and also, the mobile screen’s small size made it harder for me to spot typos or syntax errors.   

Went to the gym Saturday because Friday (7/12) I went to the Oregon Country Fair with a family friend and The Child.  I left my camera behind because I didn't want it to get coated with dust and also it's heavy.  The most useful thing I did was get a chain repaired on my favorite necklace (the one made from up-cycled horseshoe nails).  The most fun thing was seeing folks on stilts dressed up as characters from Alice in Wonderland — the most impressive was the White Rabbit on special jumpy-stilts.  There were many cute guys there, and enough older men that I didn’t feel totally flabby.  We visited with many Fair friends at their booths or light shows or just in passing.  Friday’s attendance was 20000 people; Saturday was 21000. 

Sunday (7/14) was a cleaning day; Mark’s been wanting to tidy up the storage area in the garage, and we wound up getting rid of a lot of spare things we don’t use any more or things that are falling apart, or the odds and ends of old art projects.  

Monday (7/15)I went to the gym again.  I’m trying to cut down on the amount of wheat I’m eating as experiment to see if I can get rid of the persistent bicycle tire I have around my gut.  Cutting down on dark chocolate (the hardest), soft drinks (hard over the Summer), and booze (not that I drink tons) should also help.

Tuesday (7/16) night, I went to the Eugene Library to write.  It worked out surprisingly well.  I managed to review several pieces that I’ve been tinkering with on the mobile device—the mobile version of Scrivener is nice, but it really is limited by the reduced screen.  I've decided maybe my writing isn't quite so bad and sparse as I've been feeling it was.
After the Library closed, I went to the gay bar a block away; I thought I’d write there, but it turned out there was live music (rhythm and blues, I think) playing and tons of folks there, so I snuck into the back lounge and read “Rainbow Warrior,” by Gilbert Baker for a little while.  So far it has some interesting stories, and I wish the prose was amped up a little.

I’m thinking that I will make a stand for the laptop so that the screen is at eye level.  I made a prototype out of a cereal box, but the laptop is heavier than I thought, and the pressboard won’t support the weight.  We’ve got some heavier cardboard that I can cut, and if I’m feeling extra crafty, I might try building a stand out of plywood — I want something light that I can easily fold up and cary around in my bag.  

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Bracketing the Moon


 Saturday night I took some photos of the Moon and Jupiter.


This was not ideal as there was (as always) a power line in the the way, and also I hadn't realized the extend that the fort shakes, which makes shutter speeds slower than about a tenth of a second shaky.  


They are low in the Summer sky, so I had to get onto the fort to capture their images. 


My camera is powerful enough to make out the moons of Jupiter.  But the fort was shaking too much (thanks, Smokey) and the air too swirly to get a clear photograph.


I tried to get a good shot of Jupiter and the Galilean moons, and later some stars, but they all looked like reflections in a wavy pool. 

Based on last night's photos, it looks like I get the best shots of a nearly full moon at f/8, which cuts down the glare and improves the contrast and allows for a slightly longer exposure time (it's interesting to compare f/8 1/200sec with f6.5 1/250sec. 

I did get one photograph with both the Moon and Jupiter (middle, right edge).   The timing was wrong to get the two of them much closer, I think they must have been in conjunction 8AM earlier in the day.


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Poppies Revisited

A couple of weeks ago, we discovered we had poppies growing in one of our beds.  I always liked the tons of poppies our former land-ladies grew (orange, red, white, and yellow).  Mark doesn't remember planting these and we think they might be volunteers.


Our poppies came out a mauve color.  The buds' protective sheathe would pop off in the morning, and the blooms would furl open.  There were four opposite petals, which would last about a day before falling off.


About every other day, another bud's stem would straighten, the sheathe would open, and a new bloom open.


I thought it was cool that there were only four petals.  Most of the flowers I'm familiar with have three or six; apples and roses have five.


What I didn't notice was that the seed head has a nine-fold radial symmetry. 


We had about ten days of the blooming cycle.  This provided many opportunities for photography.  I suppose if we had more plants I could have cut a few more blooms, put on some robes and twisted sheets and shot some wildly allegorical photos (Morphius and His Cat, Death Drinking Tea, "Poppies Will Make Them Sleep").  I do occasionally get Sting's "Children's Crusade" stuck in my head, though.


Eventually, all the flowers had bloomed and dropped their petals.  I am not sure, but I think the seed heads would balloon out a little to a more spherical shape, then contract at the base. 


I knew they would develop little holes, but I couldn't remember if they would be in or just below the crown shape at the top.


After about a four or seven days, we discovered the holes at the base of the crown.  The stems turned yellow and brittle a few days later.  Mark and The Child removed a seed head and scattered a few seeds in various places (our yard's soil chemistry is wonky, so who knows if anything will sprout). 


Mark also bisected the head, which is when we realized the interior is nine-fold.  I cut open a few more and dragged out the camera to try to document in interior structure.  I should have included a ruler for scale.


The seeds, I think, form on the inside ribs of the seed head and eventually fall off into the chambers.


The inside had about a half teaspoon of seeds, which I scattered along the side of the house and around the Sphinx.  Fingers crossed that the soil works.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Manual Setting Photos

I am continuing to experiment with manual settings.  I took a lot of photos of these gladiolas and ended up culling them back to this and another photo.  This one works for me because of the way different stamens appear to be light or dark depending on the background.


I also took a billion photos of Cicero to try to get an in-focus picture that didn't make him a black blot in shadows or an over-exposed cat with ruddy fur.

By the time I got the exposure time correct for the overcast sky, the cats had come together for some mutual grooming.

Another Cicero shot.  The goal was to have his eyes in focus.


I moved from the cats to the bees in the artichoke plants. 


Bees are hard to photograph; there were two and they kept either hiding deep in the flower or wriggling out of focus.


I culled many photos.

Went to the gym Wednesday (4/10) night.  Did the regular routine with a little extra sideways-elliptical work.  I need to examine my diet, as the bicycle tire seems to be thickening.

Thursday, July 11, 2019


Tuesday.  All my astrologer friends have been writing about Mercury going retrograde, so I had a good excuse handy when Mark informed me that the printer had fallen off of the network and that our machines couldn't see it.  After some wrangling, I restarted the router (which was only seeing wired devices), which made it see the wireless devices.  Then I told Windows that yes, we really did have a printer.  While I'm at it, I think I'll blame Patch Tuesday.

Then I went off to write.  First I was hanging out in a lovely little cafe, which, unfortunately, closes early at 7.   I really do love the hardwood floors, the little tables, and the tea.  The music isn't too bad, and this time of year the extra chatter from undergraduates is absent.   After 7, I relocated to the local gay bar -- the back lounge was empty except for one other studious-looking guy sipping a cocktail and interacting with his mobile phone.

I polished various pieces.  One is a fluffy farce; one has got an interesting idea, and in typical John-fashion, my characters' emotional calculous is off; the final one is bogging down in family and high-school drama (which wasn't what I expected).

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Three Husbands and Photography

The other day Mark said, "We need to get you three husbands.  A sensible, down-to earth husband; that's me.  A husband who will take you out dancing.  And a third one for something else."

I silently mused on what kind of third husband I would want... a writing husband?  I kind of didn't want a writing husband because I don't want a collaborator; and I've put some distance between Mark and my writing process in the aim of keeping our relationship uncomplicated.  A clothes shopping husband?  Mark hates shopping (phrases like "torture me" come up) and I love trying things on with other people.  A concubine husband?  As much fun as the theatre of having a concubine husband could be, it seems like it would detract from the primary relationship... and do I really want to be the sort of person who objectifies a trophy-spouse (Cue Patsy Stone saying, "No. You mustn't.  It is....forbidden.")?  Maybe I'd have a Rabbinical-Pagan Husband for dream analysis and ritual critique?   And I wondered how exhausting it would be to have three husbands--the polyamorous folks I know have to work really hard to make multi-spouse marriages work. 

After a moment of frantically shuffling all these thoughts, I said to Mark, "But what about you?  What kind of husbands would you want? You've already got the goofy-tech husband."

"Oh," he said.  "I'd have two empty slots for 'Leave Me Alone' husbands."

In other news, I fiddled with the manual settings on my camera.  I re-discovered that I had turned on the manual focus control for one of the camera's more accessible switches.  Then I played with the shutter speed and f-stop.  I also made a little picture of the relationship between f-stop, shutter speed, and depth of field.   Most of the time, my camera does a pretty good job with automatic settings, but the auto-focus does have a tendency to focus on a twig in front of a bird or the trees behind a flower instead of what I want to take a picture of. 

I would say the auto-settings choose a middle-of-the-road aperture and shutter speed, which means the contrast in the photo can come out flat and slightly washed out, and the colors not quite as saturated.  Anyway, more to learn as I try to level-up.

Went to the gym Monday night (7/8).

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Stop and Start Saturday

Saturday was a stop-and-go kind of day.    Mark and I woke early.   I had an idea that we might be on top of Spencer's Butte by 7 or 7:30, so I made some coffee for Mark.  One of the advantages of going to the gym is that Mark appreciates it when I mill his coffee beans shirtless--that is not a euphemism.  I amped up the drama by playing Scheherazade on the stereo as I presented the freshly brewed coffee.  But he was tired and fell back to sleep.

So I played with five-fold tile patterns.

We did eventually go for a walk-hike along the Willamette River North Shore Path, which meant navigating around the Art in the Vineyard show.  (I don't know why it's called Art in the Vineyard, as the event takes place in Alton Baker Park underneath high voltage power line pylons.)

Sometimes we see a lot of birds or other wildlife, but not so much this time.  Mark accused me of not mastering my camera--when I use the auto-focus, it tends to focus on high-contrast twigs in front or behind what I'm really trying to photograph--so I have to learn how to use the manual focus better.   It was a pleasant kind of date just walking in Mark's companionship.

Then we gathered The Child and I think we all took naps.  I thought I might take a nap in the lawn circle (with possible Crystal Vision Dreams), but first Smokey decided he had to groom me (which meant biting my scalp), and then he crushed my straw hat (which was shading my face), and then the sun came out from behind the cloud cover and started to fry me.   So I went inside and napped there.  

Friday, July 05, 2019

Early July

Thursday (7/4):  Spent the day with the folks; we went early for a picnic lunch and family chats.  It was just us and my parents.  Mark and I harvested some raspberries.  We spent some time in the pool, and I made a point of doing laps because I hadn't gone to the gym Wednesday.  Probably the most excitement was when my Mom and I discovered some bats flying from their roost between a gutter and some fascia near a hummingbird feeder (that doesn't look like a ruby-throat to me....).   It occurs to me that The Child did not hold a mandatory piano recital.

Friday (7/5):  Kind of a lazy day.  The Child has discovered "Monk," a detective series from the 90's, and I got pulled into it (I think it came out when I was at Arcosanti or after, and didn't have a television).  It's interesting how the writers use details to move the show along--although there's not too many red herrings, so the show becomes more about how the titular character is going to figure out the case and less about who committed the murder.   

Worked on a short story for about two hours; the narrator's parents have hijacked the story and I need to tone back the father and make his hang-ups more in line with what I want the story's theme to be about.  I've been writing on the deck, which is working out fairly well (although I think some visiting kids were shrieking at each other at one point... and the afternoon pollen seems to be bothering my eyes by the end of the day).  

The Child had a slumber party at a friends, and Eugene was holding it's monthly First Friday Artwalk, so Mark and I went on a kind of date.  I was hoping to see some cute prints of moon phases over some mountains, but the gallery they were supposedly in did have them on display.  Mark was a little tired, so his filter wasn't on, and I'm afraid we were both underwhelmed by the art we saw.  I did like a salmon bronze, (Mark thought it was too representational) and some bronze swimming otters (also representation, but at least the otters had a relationship with each other).  There were some technically well done sketches of birds, dogs, and people, but nothing I'd want to have hanging in the house.  A lot of what we saw reminded me of the industrial pieces from my days walking past the "Is It Art Yet?" Building at Reed College.  I'm trying to decide if we looked like frumpy fifty-somethings in apparel from a 90's hippy thrift shop, and I'd like to hope that we tried harder. 

Afterward, I went to the gym and did the regular routine.  

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Polonius I.T. Moments

Scene:  Morning before work and Summer Camp Drop-Off.  John is brushing his teeth in the bathroom.  The Child enters.

TC:  "Hey, John, did you do something to my mobile device?"

J: (points to toothbrush in his mouth).

TC:  "Did you do something so I can't look at YouTube?"

J: (around toothbrush):  "Uh-huh."

TC:  "How did you do that?"

J: (Lets go of toothbrush long enough to make a mystic flourish in front of himself, goes back to brushing teeth.)

TC:  "I know it wasn't magic.  C'mon.  Whaddya do?  Did you configure my device?"

J (around toothbrush):  "Nuh-uh."  (finishes brushing, rinses out mouth)

TC:  "How?  Did you turn off the Internet?  It couldn't get to it on the computer, too."

J:  "Well, think.  (Channeling his inner Sir Bedivere before the witch-burning peasants.)  How does information from the Internet get into our house?"

TC:  "I don't know.  You're the I.T. Guy."

J:  "YouTube starts out on the Internet and the data . . . "

TC:  "You turned off the router?"

J:  "The router's like a gateway into our house.  I configured it to only allow YouTube after 6:30 PM."

TC:  "You used parental controls?"

J:  (Recalling the annoying user interface that wouldn't just give him tables to edit.)  "That's what they call it."

TC:  "Why did you do that?"

J:  "Well, Mark and I had several discussions where we asked you to limit the amount of time you spend on YouTube, and you didn't.  So I configured the router, no further discussion needed."  (Secretly wishing for a Ming the Merciless outfit so he can follow up with a long round of "Mwha-ha-ha-ha-haaah!")

TC:  "..." 

Gym and Birds

 Went to the gym Monday night.  Did the usual routine.  Since it was the last ninety minutes that the gym was open, there was almost no-one there, and I ended up closing the place.

Earlier, Mark and I went to Delta Ponds and looked for aquatic life.  Lots of nutria (which, apparently, is Spanish for "otter").  I got some close-ups of a various birds: a jay, a juvenile crane, and some ducks. 
Now that it's summer, the pathways are partially tunnels of verdant foliage.There were some pretty huge cranes.  We didn't see any otters, and the osprey were elsewhere. 

A particularly large nutria was on the path (overseen by some geese).  I hadn't realized that they got so big.  This one galumphed back to the water as we approached, and looked a little bit like our fat, grey cat, Smokey.
The geese were especially crabby, and hissed at us as we walked past them so we wouldn't harm their fairly large chicks.  Mark warned me not to harass them for photos too much.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Puzzling Sphere

 Monday morning, (6/24 -- has it only been a week?) after photographing the U.S. Customs building, I wandered around and stumbled upon this globe in a kind of courtyard.  I'm thinking at night it lights up.  I almost think it spins, except that it looks like the sphere isn't really made up of rings.

In any case, it looked really cool, like a map of the heavens, or alien canals on an exotic planet, or possibly like a mystic map to treasure, or the notes to music.

Not shown is the person who was sitting (or possibly meditating) while she smoked a cigarette.  The financial district hadn't woken up yet, and the only folks around were sidewalk cleaners, the homeless, the occasional jogger, and, increasingly, business folks on their way to work.

At the top of the spiral staircase over the globe, there was a ramp leading through a colonnade.  I think the building this was next to was a theatre (I couldn't find a name on the building).   The most interesting thing about the colonnade was that the arches didn't meet at the top.

 The ramp lead to some bronze sculptures (and more cigarette smokers).
The other way lead to a cafe.  I liked the tilework on the floor.  The whole place was closed, but seemed really private, so I didn't wander around.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Walrus Heads

 Monday morning (6/24), I went out into the San Francisco morning (slightly foggy) and photographed various buildings.  This was a happy discovery, tucked away behind a corner, built in 1908.
Only this part remained and was reincorporated into another building (I think).  I'm guessing the A C stands for Alaska Commercial.
It reminded me of a similar walrus carving in Seattle.