Saturday, August 29, 2009

Photos from Last Week

I missed the sunny mornings, but I did get this dew-covered spider web.

The last day the setting sun cast some interesting light on the chessboard.

And I suppose it's been done, but I've never seen a graveyard chessboard before.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cicadia Shell

We don't have these on the West Coast, at least... I don't think we do. More over here.

It's good to be back. It seems like I've been trying to get back into the routine of things here, but I've been especially unfocused lately. I have a lot of loose ends story-wise, and what I need to do is sit down and put each little story start, snip, or start I have into a queue and finish them. Preferably with interesting, active characters.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Tim Burton Moment

After visiting Grandma's and the family gravesites, I had a Tim Burton moment where I found an old Christmas Tree in the graveyard.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Vacation Lessons

We're back from vacation and I'm sipping mint tea. We're mostly unpacked and I'm listening to the laundry machines working. Whew.

Things I've (re)learned
  • I always over-pack.
  • A plastic knife, a shovel, and a bucket can help make a pretty mean sandcastle.
  • Clam-guns are dangerous in the wrong hands.
  • Chopping wood as an exercise in the appropriate force at the appropriate place is fun.
  • Fire good!
  • Life's too short for cheap tequila and gin.
  • Beach towns are sort of like high school: they're not quite in the real world.
  • I need to plan my funeral before I'm dead and someone is comparing my life to a Nascar race, Kentucky Fried Chicken, or other wildly irrelevant subjects.
  • The only sunscreen I can think of that doesn't make me feel greasy at the end of the day is a really big hat. With a veil.
  • Morning light is overrated, especially when I'm in bed.
  • I'm probably too out of shape to out-run a tsunami.
  • I'm glad we don't have television service.
  • I'm a better person when I get around eight hour's solid sleep.
  • Always take the photo you want when you see it.
  • Mark is wonderful.

Now. Off to do that sleep thing...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Musings on Writing

I'm in the process of reviewing the prose I wrote while on vacation with my in-laws at Cape May. Over the time I was away, I managed to produce about 3000 (unedited) words, and six story ideas. Probably the most productive story ideas are centered on a short story for a wizard anthology I'd like to enter.

While editing, my sentence structure reminded me of how I managed to skim through some Harry Potter while on vacation. It was instructive to see J.K. Rowling's writing style. I'm not meaning this in a bad way, but her sentence and paragraph structures are simple. Granted, she's writing young adult fantasy; but Mark said that Stephen King has a similar structure. I think in the hundred-so pages that I read I saw only one semicolon. I, on the other hand, probably abuse semicolons and dashes.

So does this make me a "stylist" ?

One of these days I should try an exercise and limit my sentences to fifteen to twenty words. And no semicolons or dashes. Thaumatrope, here I come!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

2009-08-16 Dream: Mall Women

This morning I had more dreams.

Mark and I were (apparently) at Arcosanti, but it was more like a converted high school and less like a concrete experiment in Urban Dwelling. I have a sense of lots of concrete walls, bright light, and no outside views. We had a room, and we were trying to be lascivious, but people kept wandering into our apartment. It turned out Mary Hoadley (one of the site managers of Arcoanti, and the only clue to the setting) had given us a room that was part of a reading laboratory / job counseling center. Since the larger room's services were available, people felt they had the right to traipse through the room we were renting. "If I had known," I said to Mark, "that Mary was going to give us this room, I would have never booked it."

I was furious. I told people this part of the center was a privately rented room. I moved furniture in front of the doors connecting our room to the center. I locked our front door; but mostly college-aged girls (and their mothers) kept pushing their way in. A 20-something woman insisted that it was her moral imperative (as a woman) that she be allowed to go through our door and how dare I pretend to be unable to unlock it.

Somehow connected to this was another vignette. I was walking along in a kind of slum / shopping mall. During my wandering, I stepped through a kind of back alley / parking lot filled with people (jeans and plaid) lying on the floor in some kind of drugged haze. A 20-something hooker-type asked me if I would be interested in buying a hit of the hallucinogen.

I shook my head no.

"Come on," she said, "Would you like to do it for the visions? How about because it makes you feel real good?" I kept walking. "For the cultural experience?"

I laughed. "You almost had me for the cultural experience," I said, "but no." I stepped over some more prone bodies and around a hedged corner.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Her Majesty's Secret Calvalry

This morning I had a dream I was a secret agent horse. Mr Ed meets James Bond. I was pulling a wagon behind me that had a lot of clockwork inside of it. The chimes and some of the gears extended below the place where a (human) driver would have sat. I think I must have been trying to write in my sleep, because a part of me was thinking how the tick-tock of the pendulum and the Big Ben chimes at midnight would make it difficult for me to hide from the enemy spies (also horses) and how being betrayed by the thing I was trying to protect would be an interesting plot device.

I have the impression that I was wearing a suit, too. So, yeah, I was a horse, on all four hooves, pulling a steam-punk cart, dressed in a James Bond suit.

I was trying to transport the clockwork cart somewhere, and that's all I can really remember.

Photo of the Day

I guess this one got clobbered by a wave.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Suffern Sundial

The Suffern Free Library has a sundial outside its main entrance. It is aluminum. The dial is reading about 10:30 on the upper dail face.

There are two gnomons on this dial. One is the very large triangle making up the body of the dail. The other is the hemisphere mounted on the triangular base. The shadow of the triangle falls on the dias the dial sits on. A thin strip over the circular part casts a shadow on curved dail.

There's a disk on secondary gnomon which can be used to track the height of the sun (which doesn't show up in these photos).
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vacation Photos

I got all the photos up and now I'm too tired to write about them much.

We just got back from a trip to Suffern and Cape May.

Driving from Suffern to Cape May was a Nightmare from Hell. We left too late((9AM instead of 6 AM). Everybody in New Jersey was driving to south New Jersey. It was bumper-to-bumper on six lanes going about 30 MPH. What should have been about three hours on the Garden Parkway turned into about nine. At least we had Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries to sustain us. Oh, and it was something like 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity, too.

However, once we got there we had a great time. The Atlantic Ocean is much warmer than the Pacific, and the shells are different, too.

Tuesday afternoon, some of us went sailing on a refurbished clamming schooner, the A J Meerwald. Luckily, the booms were above our heads, so no one got clobbered when the wind shifted. The ocean was calm, but the winds picked up to about 12 mph, so we got spray across the bow a few times. I took a ton of pictures and made many mental notes for when I have to write sail boat scenes.

Cape May Beach House
Various members of Mark's family came and visited. Probably the highlight of the familial visit was Tuesday night Karaoke (and Gong Show). Although I didn't win the fabulous cash prize, I did win the three female judges over because I was a gay man singing Abba's Waterloo.

Jersey Shore
Cape May is a really old town. There were many Victorian houses being beat up by the ocean weather. There was also a lot of wild life. I'm sorry to say I never did make it to the lighthouse or to the bird sanctuary (although I did see lots of interesting birds like skimmers, terns, and white cranes). After the Aug 5 Full Moon, it seemed like all the crabs and dragonflies came out of the wood work.

Cicadia Study
All too soon, our week on the Jersey Shore was over and it was time to head back to Suffern. What's cool about Suffern is that it has lightning bugs and cicadas (which we don't see much of in Northwestern Oregon).

Hmmm. I see I haven't loaded all the pictures because Suffern has a really cool sundial, and I don't see the pictures in my galleries...

At the very last minute, we discovered we had a free day to go to New York. I went to the MET. Mark went to more places -- like China Town and the Museum of Natural History -- and then to the MET. My digital camera's batteries died (from 60 to 0 in ten seconds, argh!) and so I only got about ten photos (at the end of this gallery) before I had to switch to my cell phone's camera.

Met Artefacts

Now I have to decide which is more expensive, e-mailing the photos to myself or getting some little cable thing. . . although, it's possible that I might be able to do some sort of Blue-tooth solution. . .

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

At the MET!

At the very last minute Mark and I got a day free. So I went to the MET. I think this trip's big discovery is that it's actually more pleasant to walk a few blocks outside from the Port Authority Bus Station to the green line subways.

I got to the MET a little before they opened their doors at 9:30. There were many international tourists. I marched (more or less) to the exhibit on loan from Afghanistan -- it seemed less about the artifacts and more about the process of preserving antiquities (especially in war-torn countries). The cylinder sundial was probably the most interesting part of the exhibit, followed by a bronze water-toy -- a submerged disk with bobbing fish fins and tails to make a kind of "swimming" sculpture.

More later once I catch some more sleep...