Tuesday, December 05, 2017

I Know They're Trying to Tell Me Something

Tuesday, Dec 5:  Lots of magical imagery in my dreams last night/this morning.

I was casting a spell in a cave, after which I met with Leslie the Shrew and had some sort of wise words from a female elder moment.  

There was some other stuff, involving a Mephistopheles like grey-haired man who told me a story of meeting with other gay men in the English Theatre, and an actor he really admired came limping in full costume (I think as King Lear) and everyone was really excited until they realized that he was leading in the Vice Squad.

Then I was in a Handel opera.  The entire cast was led by a baritone in seventeenth century clothes and a white wig.  I think the rest of the cast may have supposed to be shepherds and villagers, but I think they were dressed contemporarily.  The baritone was a prophet, and was singing an aria along the musical lines of "And who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner's fire."  Only this was about the apocalypse and he was pointing to a hole in the sky where a middle-aged and matronly Virgin Mary was sitting and presumably intervening for us.

We ascended Ridgewood Hill, and may have gone to it's mysterious dream-North side.  At this point the baritone prophet was singing about how a new earthly paradise could be aborted.  I think the Virgin Mary took a rest from the hole in the sky and came down to Ridgewood... she was dressed in brown, with sort of frazzled brown and grey hair, and I'm sure she said or sang something, but I don't recall what it was.

And then I was at an Episcopal service with my folks and The Child (I don't recall that Mark was there).  The pews were arranged in four arms, and we were in a square chapel.  I want to say that Father Neville (the old rector from the 1970's) was leading the service.  The Child started playing my harp (which he played well), and Father Neville was offering a cup to people, only instead of having the Blood of Christ in it, it was filled with rain water.  I opted to take the cup, and was surprised that the silver chalice had a flat, triangular bowl.  Father Neville jammed the chalice into my face, and I felt the cold metal against  both my lips; I was aware of the points of the triangular bowl as I sipped some of the water.

I woke up thinking that lots of messages were trying to come through.

Writing Art and Craft

This has been the week for getting helful rejections from markets.  The latest said essentially, "great world-building, and get to the story sooner."  Which means the voice, writing and world-building wasn't enough to hold the editor's interest.  There is a bit of driving to the story, and it's there to introduce the reader to how the story's world is different from our contemporay one... so I guess I need to take a quick look at the manuscript from a craft POV.

Over the weekend I went to a Self-Publishing on Amazon workshop.  There was a ton of information, and what I took away from it was, 

  • short stories probably work best on Amazon as marketing freebies;
  • an anthology of short stories would work best with the same characters in all stories and with an over-all story arc
  • I probably need to choose a different pen name for each genre I write in because Hell Hath No Fury Like An Amazon Reader Lead Astray By A Cross-Genre Author.
  • Amazon Readers want strong characters they can identify with over story plot over world-building.  
  • Amazon Readers read differently than physical book readers. 
  • It's all about keeping a steady stream of novels coming out.

I looked at the anthology of my various stories and realized it would be a mis-step the way I've got them arranged currently:  it's a mix of high fantasy, science-fiction, urban fantasy reprints -- I could probably sell it to super-fans once I had built a following, but currently I'm not at that point in my writing career.  


Friday, December 01, 2017

Gym Reports and Male Desire

I've gotten behind in my gym reports... Um,  Went to the gym last Tuesday (11/14) , Sunday (11/12),  Thursday (11/9).  I'm still just doing 30 minutes on the eliptical (roughly 315 calories) and 3 sets of curls on the Roman Chair.  My shoulder's still stiff, but improving, so I guess staying away from the barbell, pec-fly and lat pull-downs for a while is a good thing.

Went on an impromptu museum visit with Mark Wednesday (11/15) night to look at 17th century tapestries.  Mark usually likes art I usually am indifferent to, and it's always fun to hear him speak about technique, or a part that he likes.  Also, this is 17th century art, so it's a little over the top, which means Theatrical Mark and John's Art Show moments.

Between Thanksgiving and fighting off some sort of illness, I did not manage to post much...

Went to the gym Tuesday (11/28/17).  A half-hour on the elliptical, not my usual machine, which reported that I did 400 calories -- which seems high.  Downstairs I did 3x12 Roman Chair curls, 3x12x10lb triceps pull-downs and 3x12x5lb dumbbell curls.  I keep thinking my shoulder is OK one day and then goofy the next.  

Went to the gym again Thursday (11/30/17).   Back for a half-hour on the elliptical on my usual machine, and back to my usual odd 320 calories.  Downstairs I did 3x15 Roman Chair curls, and skipped everything else.


On the writing front, I finally finished (11/28) a 4300 word short story.  I'm OK with the ending, but it feels a little mechanical.  I also got a short story rejection that was nice; it was a standard, "we've seen this sort of thing before" form rejection, but it had and admonition that it had taken a newly published new author 17 tries to break into this particular market and to "never surrender, never give up."  


On the essay front, I recently read an opinion piece: Stephen Marche's "The Unexamined Brutality of the Male Libido."  In wild summary, the opinion piece goes something like this:

Men's libidos are out of control and their beliefs about sexual equality and cultural appropriateness have no impact on their sexual misbehavior.  The nature of men is about their grotesque sexuality; men are pigs, with ugly and dangerous libidos. We should fear the male libido, which is unexamined in personal and intellectual circles.  Men don't have a social network for examination of their sexuality, often defaulting to aspiring to be better feminists.   Freud says men must repress their libidos.  Sex is an impediment to any idealism.  Social righteousness only takes us so far, and shame is on the rise as a sexual control.   How can we have nice things if the mechanisms of male sexual desire are brutal?  We must examine male sexuality -- and deal with the fact that men are monsters -- to find the answers.  

I think the overall tone of the piece is anti-sex and that men are damaged goods--which makes me instantly suspicious that the author is selling self-help. However, I agree with his call to have men examine male sexuality. And I agree that sexual harassment is unacceptable. But he seems to be stuck in a hetero-normative-Freudian-Joseph-Campbell-"Brute-of-a-Thousand-FacesConcupiscent " world view when he complaims about getting into a world where there is sexual equality and men's sexual expression.

Folks like Harry Hay have explored subject-subject consciousness as an antidote to the sexually exploitative subject-object consciousness; and Starhawk has offered the concept of Power-With as an alternative to hierarchical Power-Over.  But Marche seems to be unaware of these different approaches to people loving their partners, and focuses on men as monsters instead.

The piece relminds me a little of a passage from CS Lewis, wherein he opined that men have an animal nature and a devilish nature, leaving out their angelic or higher nature.  I guess that's the danger of having a transcendent, body-mind-body-spirit theology instead of an immanent one. 

And it also reminds me the Minotaur... and centaurs.. and fauns... and the comcuspant company of Pan.  I think Marche is wrong to say that we have to suppress the male libido, so much as we have to link it to and direct it with -- like the charioteer in the tarot card "The Chariot" -- the rest of our drives and desires.  

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dream: Sexy Reed Flood

This is a dream from mid-October, that I'm just now getting around to posting.

I dreamed I was at a Reed College event -- sort of a cross between Renn Faire, Reed Reunion, and a Eugene-style, boat-show, gay-pride, pagan-pride festival.  In real life the cats must have been making noise, because Mark and I ended up in a vet booth.  Which might have been a science booth.

Through a series of (ahem) events, I ended up with a hunky guy's cell phone.  (He was the dream son of a real Reed professor--oh dear, I've just noticed the obvious Freudian pun on the last name) , and earlier in the dream, I told him the real-life story of how his father had taken a friend of mine to a fancy restaurant and (over the protestations of his wife) taught him how to turn a drinking straw into a primitive reed instrument.  (In real life I had told this story to The Child the previous day, so it must have been on my mind).  

The phone was an Apple iPhone, but it was square and had a clamshell cover.  None of the buttons worked quite the way I thought they would.  I tried to use the phone to tell someone that I'd found the phone (and possibly they had mine)  Despite the earlier (ahem) events, I had wondered in the back of my mind if Dream Guy was gay -- then the contacts' avatars and text messages I saw before I became hopelessly confused by the phone's OS convinced me that he was.  

Mark and I wandered around, and were near Elliot Hall when a flood hit.  The Reed Canyon somehow had the Willamette River in it, and a sudden downpour had it flooding its banks and the tall pines along the banks were being pushed back and falling over.  The water rose toward Elliot Hall and inundated the basement (in the dream somebody said something about the Psych Department, but they moved out of the basement in something like 1995).  

The water hit an underground relay station, or something, and there was an explosion like lightning.  People were yelling and running away.  More water was coming up out of ?Eliot Circle? or the field in front of Elliot Hall:  a large mound pushed itself up and water flowed out of it in several small streams.  There was a little bit more, but I don't recall it.

What strikes me in waking life is that three dream motifs:  The Reed Campus, a river, and flooding, came together in a combination that's new to me.   This dream almost counts as a dream-knot dream, but it's missing a holistic element to it that the others have.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

November Thursday

A November Thursday: the clouds scud across the sky, now revealing the waning half-moon and Orion, now driving leaves before them, now dumping a second deluge.  The trees wear yellow leaves like ragged mittens over skelital fingers.  And the green has returned to the Vally:  green lawns, green moss, green algea growing on cars, green lichens sprouting up tree trunks.  But it's a dark green -- the sun, low in along its winter path, is flitered out by the clouds, giving everything a muted cast: red bricks are brown, lighter bricks are like wet agate; the wet pavement is matt grey;  white cars are the color of old bones; and the only bright cerylians and yellows are on pedestrians' raincoats.


This morning I steamed some eggs for breakfast.   I like steamed eggs for breakfast, and there are some mornings when just holding hot eggs in my hands feels wonderful.   On an impulse, as they were cooling, I took one and ran it over a knot I have running over my right shoulder.  Between the egg's shape and the heat of it, I managed to iron out the almost solid bump on top of my shoulder muscles.  I'm hoping that this will be a more long-term fix; previosly when I've kneaded that part of my shoulder, I've only manged to sort of losen things up without smothing out the knot.  I'll have to get some soapstone to use more regularly, since it's likely the family won't appreciating me using their steamed eggs as massage tools.  


About an hour or so of writing, mostly fleshing out scenes in a longish story about a baker.  It's hard to get a word count... and I think there's a way to have Scrivener track word count (not sure how helpful that is when you're editing out words, but...).

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Bad Monday, Heros, and the Gym

Monday (11/6) -- I woke up kind of sore all over.  I'm not sure why:  I guess it's a combination of colder weather, and age.  But man, having sore toes and fingers and arms and back and shoulders puts a damper on morning productivity.  Eventually, I took a hot half-bath, which helped quite a bit.   I probably need to visit my doctor to see what's up with my right shoulder, as it doesn't seem to be improving (or at least seems good one day and then sore the next).

Monday also started out with some marketing, during which I got another rejection.  There's this one (well, OK, there's more than one) market that I'd really like to break into, but so far I haven't had any luck with them.  The difficulty is that they respond with a form letter that essentially says, "guess why we rejected your story."  I wish they'd just say, "We're sorry, but we will not be buying your story," because the offered reasons why make me want to pull my hair out trying to figure out which reason is the one.  It gets even more annoying when I look at what they do publish, and it seems as if they do publish stories that are close to what I'm sending them....

I'm thankful that the other story I sent out to another market on the same day did not get rejected, because double-rejections feel like a slap in the face.

I started to read "The Hero with a Thousand Faces," partially for writing research, partially because it's one of those books one is supposed to read.  It's feeling pretty White Baby-Boomer Guy to me:  every man is the hero/divinity of his own story working on being the star of his own personal film.   It's also striking me as Fraizieran in its approach to world culture and folklore.   ...And I'm pretty sure one of of stopping points along the Hero's Journey is the hieros gamos or sacred wedding with the Earth Goddess.

Anyway, the Hero's Journey keeps coming up as a story template.  Often writers' guides will feature Star Wars or Harry Potter or The Hobbit worked into the Hero's Journey and urge writers to think of their own manuscripts in a similar fashion.  I figured that I should go to the source material if I wanted to understand the form, but Campbell's style is fairly ramblely ... and because it's comparative folklore from the 40's, it's more a psychoanalytic way to explain the universality of various folktales, myths and legends than a writer's tool.

Went to the gym Monday (11/6).  35minutes on the elliptical for 340 calories.  Spoke with one of the folks there, and decided that I should either knock off any type of upper shoulder machines or only do them at about 10 lbs...

Went to the gym Saturday (11/5): 35 or 40  minutes on the elliptical for at least 330 calories.  3x12 Roman Chair curl ups.  3x12x20lbs triceps curls.  3x12x10?lbs preacher-bench biceps curls. 

Went to the gym Thursday (11/3):  30  minutes on the eliptical for at 300 calories.  3x12 Roman Chair curl ups.  3x12x20lbs tricepcs curls.  

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Halloween Musings


The Child and I want to take Halloween in different directions.  For him, it's still about getting tons of candy from the neighborhood and filling the house with zombies, skeletons, and bloody blades.  For me it's more about how masquerades change our perceptions.  Mark's not really into Halloween; he's more into Thanksgiving and Christmas.  

Some folks say during Halloween, the veil between the worlds is thin and the inhabitants therein can visit between the worlds -- when the Grey Folk and the Dead and the Ancestors and the Numinous Ones visit.  For one of my friends, it's about looking into the shadow parts of oneself in order to deal with them more effectively.  For me Halloween is a time to be someone you're not.  To find surprises that jog you into a new awareness or understanding of yourself.  

Like Christmas, Halloween has gotten commercialized and the focus has shifted from the True Meaning of Halloween to Getting Loot.  The aspect of trick-or-treating that has been lost is that it is a gifting custom from the days of mumming.  Essentially the trick-or-treaters are gifting houses with the effort they put into their outfits.  They're essentially saying, "I am an embodiment of your fears, your anxieties, your wishes; I am the reaper, I am the forces of conflict unresolved, I am the dead you need closure with, I am the hero or heroine of your personal story."  Starhawk used to write, "Where there's fear, there's power," and the ritual of trick-or-treating is exchanging the gift of power of addressing inner fears with the gift of food... well, OK, candy.


This is going to be the first Halloween where I don't have RollerBlades, so I wont be able to glide along the streets underneath bare tree branchs and moonlight.  I still haven't replaced my old RollerBlades since they fatigued apart after the encouner with the giant leaf pile.  Mmmm. Gliding in the moonlight, trailing leaves behind, a silent shadow in the street.


This year I carved a Janus-faced pumpkin.  The pumpkin had a flat side, probably where it had grown against the ground.  That side had a divot, which made a great place for a nose.  I gave it a frowning grimcace and crescent eyes.   The other side of the face was more rounded; I give it a toothy smile and triangular eyes.   Mark is away at an East Coast Wedding, and The Child was disinclined to carve anything, so it was just me and the cats.  The afternoon was clear, and carving in the sunlight on the deck felt like a late Summer job rather than an Autumnal one.  Later I carved the mini-pumpkins with the intent of hanging them from some kind of tree.  But between one thing and another, I ended up suspending them from a stick between two rods.  They were still spooky.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

2017 Wordos Halloween Shorts

Last night was an early Wordos Halloween holiday shorts  reading.  For once what I pounded out came in at a little under 800 words, so there was no last-minute hacking away at the manuscript to make it fit the word count.  I even managed to work in a bit from the other night's dream (I'm thinking my sub-conscious is a better writer than I am some times).   The stories ranged from the funny to the political to spooky, and we all ate too much. My story was a haunted spaceship story that I think I can send to various flash markets after I clean up the manuscript (Wednesday morning I imported it into Scrivener and cleaned up some of the syntax errors).

I was presented with a cool StoneKettle pen and thank you card for fifteen years (mostly) of leadig the Wordos Table.  

Afterward, we relocated and had a discussion of "The Fifth Season," and dystopias, and robot fashion, and facial recognition, and Internet privacy, and story lengths and plans for writing or avoiding  NaNoWriMo, and web comics and Anime, and then it was time for me to turn into a pumpkin.  

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Prophetic Angel-Serpent Dream

I've been hitting the gym less, and my shoulder feels better.  I should go running on the eliptical soon.

I dreamed I was in a high school or college play.  It was a mash-up of Jesus Christ, Superstar" and "Godspell," I think.  I was playing a prophet, and typically, It was opening night and I was having difficulty recalling my lines.  (That I'm a prophet who's forgotten his lines strikes me as signifiant and funny in waking life.)  

I was wandering around back stage, which seemed to be a bunch of tunnels made out of parachutes. When I asked a woman if I could take a look at her script.  At this point I realized that my part had been cut, and that someone else had been given my part's song-and-dance number.  

There's a bit of break and the next thing I remember, I was on the stage.  This was a giant, twisty thing of concrete; in waking life I'm reminded of the "dinosaur bones" in Avery Park in Corvallis, only these were three stories high, and more like columns of frozen water.   They had been made by Winged Serpents -- which may have been fallen angels at one point -- and the Serpents had twisted around and around the concrete columns so that their scales were embossed in the sides of ridges that were wide enough for two or so people to be able to spiral up to the column's top.

I was in some sort of New Testiment Temptation of Christ... only I think the Archangle Micheal was speaking to me (or Christ...) and saying how the trails of his brothers (the Serpent-cast trail) were there.  The Serpents had turned to Angels in mid-squeeze, and when their Serpent bodies had fallen away, only the scaely impressions and their smaller Angel bodies were left behind.

Various cast members were using chalk to color in some of the scales into mosiacs, and chalking in things like nativity scenes along the inside of the trail.  

In waking life, I'm reminded of various dreams I had a few years ago which are part of a dream-knot, but in this dream no deities were hot, shirtless studs and there was no kissing.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Shoulder and Gym

Went to the gym Thursday (Oct 19_.  My right shoulder is definitely messed up, so I'm having to cut back on things.  30 minutes and 310 calories on the elliptical.  3x12 curl-ups on the Roman Chair.  3x12x30lbs on the triceps pull-down (being careful to engage my trapezoids and keep my elbows close to my sides).  3x12x20lbs deltoid pulls (going slowly and being sure to keep my arms low).  I started doing light-weight pec flies, but decided it was a bad idea.   Ditto on a barbell twisty thing that I made up.

Unfortunately, all the lat pulldowns, pec flies and stuff are making me buff in ways that I wanted... so I'm hoping I don't revert back to not-as-buff quickly.

I read a little about yoga, and I've been doing "cow-face" stretches (which I've always been able to do).  There's also a standing plank where you try to "move the paint down" a wall which feels good.  I'm doing some arm circles that I recalled from when I had frozen shoulder.   I really don't want a return to the year when I had encapsulitis in my left shoulder, because that really was demoralizing.


Monday, October 16, 2017

Futile Saturday

Saturday (Oct 14) was a fairly fruitless day.  I spent most of it looknig for a small plastic chip that I use to check in at the gym and for some papers that have gotten misplaced.   I went through various files of manuscripts... unfortunately, I've got the current stack of file folders with manuscripts, the stack of manuscripts that I was looking at last month but have put aside, the stupid junk-mail,  the older stack of stories that have made a few rounds in various slush piles, the odd folder with non-manuscript papers (which I hoped would have the missing paper but were mostly stupid junk-mail), and the stack of manuscript folders that have items in various stages of stuck-ness.  Oh, and some art.

Sunday we went on a nice hike in the Gorge.  There were many, many wooly-bear caterpillars.  They had think bands, and I think that means we're going to have a cold winter.

So not much writing. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Saturday Gym Day

Went to the gym Saturday morning.  It was strange to be walking down the street while Venus shone brilliantly over the eastern hills and the waning quarter moon sailed high.  Orion's faint outline faded quickly before Sirius.  To think that this time a month ago, the sun would have already been up, and the temperature would have been in the low 60's instead of the mid 40's.

20 minutes and about 200 calories on the elliptical.  3x12x30lbs on the pec fly; 3x12x30lbs on the rear delt fly.  3x12x30lbs on the triceps pull-down.  3x12x35lbs bar-bell curls.  I did a few reverse bar-bell curls, but I could feel it in my right clavicle, so I stopped.  3x12 curl-ups on the Roman Chair.

Today is a "dig through the house and figure out where various lost objects have gone" day.  Unfortunately, the last few days have been dig through the house days, but the objects (mostly papers) haven't turned up, so to we're trying a few obscure locations, combined with "what the heck were we thinking when we last saw it."

Yay?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Gym Report and Dreams of Procession

Thursday was a gym night.  20 min and 200 calories on the elliptical.  10 minutes and 100 cal on the cable row machine.  I'm trying to be nice to my shoulder (having concluded that I probably pulled something on this pec-fly machine last month), so in addition to thinking about my deltoids and trapazoids, I've lowed my weights.  3x12x30lbs on the pec-fly; 3x12x30lbs on the rear delts. 12x60lbs plus 2x12x70lbs on the lat pull-down.  3x12x30 on the triceps pull-down.  3x12 curl-ups in the Roman Chair.  ... and then it was time to go.


On the dream front.  Just before I got out of bed Friday morning, I dreamed I was at Disneyland or Disneyworld I think the dream was coming out of some oddly scrambled murder mystery (involving balloon rides, and a grass seed broadcaster).  A bunch of young dancers queued up on either side of a long buffet service and started in a routine.   At this point I wanted to tweet my revelation that Mousketeers were simply a televised drill team (and Oh Dear, tweeting things has worked its way into my dreams).  

The performance changed--suddenly the blue-eyed, blond drill team (now that I'm thinking about it were in blue and white, my old high school colors) got a lot more darker skinned.  Some of the young men were shirtless, and everyone started wearing browns and oranges and feathers and Very Large Masks (which looked vaguely Klingon).   There were Hawaiians, and Africans, and Asians and some white-haired priest signaled the drums and everyone started drumming and then the everyone danced in procession along the buffet service chanting "Christ is our priest."  There was no actual liturgy, or communion, it was just dancing and chanting.

I think I wanted to tweet that, too.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Clothing of Coming Out

Today (Oct 11) is National Coming Out Day.

I had to smile to myself as I got dressed:  I'm putting on my Gay Underwear, I thought as I reached for the same briefs I always put on.  And then I was stuck thinking about what Gay Underwear looks like:  either a "banana hammock" in striped lycra or else a leather jock-strap.  And then this always leads to memories from that one Minnesota Renn Faire with some players who must have been Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, one of whom wore an elaborate cod-piece bedecked like a Christmas tree ornament with gold ribbons and dripping with pearls.

...And now I'm putting on my Gay Pants... which are the same slacks I usually put on for work.  The exercise of calling everything gay lasted for a few more minutes as I pulled Gay Socks out of my Gay Dresser and walked out of my Gay Bedroom to feed my Gay Cats.  I did have fun quoting the movie "Jeffry" as I tied my old black and silver-threaded scarf and saying, "Can I do this?  Or does it make me look like some sort of Gay Superhero?" 

I'm of two minds about dressing to one's identity politics.  On one hand, it's necessary to remind people from time to time, that, yes, there are gay people who work next to them, who go grocery shopping, and who are parents of school-aged children.  And sometimes it's fun to dress up a little with a pink triangle and connect with other out gay folks.  On the other hand, I hate identity politics, and I dislike being reduced to a pink triangle, because I'm more than a guy with a husband or a man who is erotically attracted to other men. 

But at least I don't have to wear a hair shirt.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Plans and Dying Keyboards

Tuesday!  It's my writing night. We'll see what happens, but it will most likely be an editing night.

Ugh. Looks like I need to get some batteries.  Because the space key on my keyboard is dying.  (Gets new batteries for the keyboard.)  You should have seen the previous sentence before I went back and fixed it.  ...OK.  So, it looks like when the batteries are dying, the keyboard's space key stops working -- and apparently the P key and some of the arrow keys as well.

I suppose dying keyboards and the inability to type is a metaphor.

I'm working on a 8,700 word piece.  It's a fun fairy-tale-style story, and probably a hard sell.  I like the language in it, and the visuals -- and because of the fairy-tale voice, I need to turn up the characterization to make the story less distant.   It's mostly done, there are about three places that need some heavy polishing or re-working.  In particular the Bedroom Scene is being excessively awkward: I can tell I'm going to have to just write it as bawdily as I can, with phrases like "pulsing man-rod" and then go back for the parts that are saucy and clever and advance the plot and reveal character.

In other writing news, I got a rejection on a flash piece today -- it's a kind of list-story -- but in a way I'm relieved it did because it's a little too non-fictional, a little too snarky, and I probably should have not submitted it.  I'll let it rest for a few weeks to give it some distance from the real-life inspiration and then rework it so the pieces talk to each other more.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Slow Weekend

Went to the gym Thursday:  30 minutes and 320 calories on the elliptical.  3x12x20lbs on the Rear Delt.  3x12x80lbs on the Lat Pull-Down.  3x12 Roman Chair curl-ups.  3x12x20-ish (this particular machines had at least one pulley, so while I set it to 55lbs, I'm not sure what the actual load was) triceps pull-down.   Assorted 5lb shrugs.   2x30seconds planks.  2x30 second side-planks, followed by a brief Cobra Pose and a kind of Child Pose.  I'm continuing to baby my right clavicle/shoulder, and I felt energized and loose (as opposed to pumped and jammed).

Friday, Saturday and Sunday I've been fatigued and under the weather, and I spent most of the weekend resting and reading "The Oathbound" and "Oathbreakers" by Mercedes Lackey.  It's light, entertaining reading, and I had enough metal energy to look at the structure of the novels (the first shows its short-story structure much more clearly than the second). 

I really should get back to the gym... we'll see if I can must up enough oomph today (Monday).

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Thank You, Library

I know I shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but when I open a public library book and the scent of incense rises off of it, I'm pretty sure it's going to be dippy-hippy.   Sometimes this can be a good thing, but usually it isn't.  I'll admit, I'd checked out the book because of the author is a gay Wiccan, and I thought the writing would be good (or, in other words, address Wicca through the lens of sexual orientation and gender-bias).  Alas, it was a Wicca 101 book filled with vague references to any spiritual tradition you'd care to name and a lot of personal anecdotes.

On the minus-side, it tried to be scientific without actually using the scientific method.  The most egregious example was when it encouraged the reader to practice "cloud busting" as a measure of magickal/psychic ability and then followed up by saying that cloud busting doesn't always work because the universal powers may need a particular cloud or that busting that particular cloud isn't for The Higher Good.   I might have skimmed over any instructions to write "divine intervention" into the sources of error section of experiment write-ups in one's Book of Shadows, but I don't think so.

Also on the minus-side, it skirted the edge of Prosperity Wicca and treating the cosmos as your personal mail-order catalog.  Whenever I read prosperity twaddle, I am always reminded of Starhawk's comment that no amount of staring at green candles to attract a job is going to work unless you also go out and pound the pavement with your resume.

On the plus-side, it did suggest a Pavlovian technique of using unobtrusive hand gestures, or mudras, as a physical stimulus to aid in dropping into a ritual state of mental focus.  I think this could be useful for staying focused in stressful or emergency situations.  


In other library news, I checked out some books on novel writing.  I was hoping that the first one I've opened would be more about a novel's structure or characterization (or at least The Hero's Journey), but it seems to be more about marketing... which isn't too bad of a thing, but it's really bringing the tension between Art and Craft to the forefront.  One piece of advice I didn't want to hear -- as a writer who likes to play with ideas and who likes to play with words -- was about how writing shouldn't be too challenging to the reader.  I know you don't want to confuse the reader, and clashes with my desire to fashion a beautiful, whirling, kinetic sculpture of words.  Oh well.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Tuesday Writing

Tuesday night I tried writing in the UO's Knight Library.  On the plus side, it's open until 2 AM (at least while classes are in session).  On the minus side, it feels a little odd returning to my Day Jobbe at night. Also on the minus side, I'll be increasing my exposure to whatever undergraduate germs are going around.

I've decided that I want to polish up some 8000 to 10,000 word pieces, and then move forward to braided stories set on Venus.  Tuesday's effort was a re-read (and light editing) of a story that I'd put aside a few months ago.  One critique group loved it and pretty much sang arias of praise; another critique group focused on what didn't work and were (in some cases scathingly) robust.   Oh well; the take away is that the descriptive eye-candy is fun, and I need to add one or two more scenes and turn up the characterization dial a whole bunch.

A stupid head-ache on my part and version-its on the part of the manuscript called for an early night; so while I did get reaquainted with the piece, I got only minor editing accomplished.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Monday Gym Report

Went to the gym Monday night:  Read a "Write Your Novel" book on the elliptical, 25 minutes and about 250 cal.  The big revelation is that Dan Brown writes novels the way TV producers make game shows:  so that the watchers can vicariously participate.  I'm really feeling the tension between Art and Craft reading this particular book.   10 minutes and about 100 cal on the cable row machine.  Downstairs, 3x12x60lbs on the pec fly.  3x12x70bls on the lat-pull-down.  3x12 Roman Chair curl-ups.  3x12x20lbs tricecps pull-down.  2x12x20lbs deltoid-pulls.


Sunday, October 01, 2017

Gym and Dark Shadows

Went to the gym Saturday.  I've been advised to mix things up a little more than I have been to help with my shoulder and back (work the back to balance out working the front).  30 minutes and 300 calories on the elipitcal (while I did line edits to a story).  3x12x20lbs on the butterfly pull (a reverse pec-fly).  3x12x80 Lat Pull-downs.  3x12 Roman Chair curls.  3x12 bridges.  Also some assorted quasi-yoga stretches.  Pool-noodle spine stretches and thigh faschia stretches.  30 second planks.   3x12x20lb triceps pull-downs.  



After the gym, I managed to actaully get a flu shot; the closest pharmacy always seems to require two visits for anything, and this was no acception (I'd dont the paperwork yesterday).  The advantage to going early Satruday was that almost no one else was there (sometimes going to this particular pharmacy is like visiting the Emergency Vets on New Years').  

I spent most of the day working on a short story at Caré John, in the rain.  Cicero visited between sprinkles, mostly because I was warm and dry.  He's usually only wants to sit in a lap for about three mintues, but I think he curled up on my lap for about fifteen before a bird or a squirrel or some other defeceless creature lured him into the neighbor's yard.


Mark's been Binge Watching "Dark Shadows," a black-and-white Horror-Soap from 1966.  The premise is that a wealthy, influencial family with secrets is visited by a vampire (and ancestor) who has been released from over 150 years in a coffin, and vampiric hijynx ensue.   It's kind of slow, and extra cheesy.   I have a very vague recolection of seeing the opening or closing credits, but being unable to read the Gothic Script of the show's title.  


I think the Soap Genre demands that the characters connect the dots much more slowly than the viewing audience.  For example, it seems a little odd that a medical doctor with a patient who has inexplicably lost a dangerous amount of blood and whose injuries are only two puncture marks on the neck wouldn't draw some obvious conclusions.  We've amazed The Child on several occasions by predicting actions and dialog.  We've also been coming up with drinking games we could play while watching and pretending to drink whenever anyone says "blood," "Colins", "I'm busy," or "I'll call a doctor-"/"No! Don't call a doctor! I'm not sick!"

A some point, I decided that Smokey should be in Dark Shadows and started to intone a typical opeing:  "My name is Smokey Winters..."

"Smokey Winters!?" Mark said.  "That sounds like a stripper's name."



Today (Sunday) feels like a slow day.  I think I'm fighting off whatever Back-To-School bug is going around, and I'm a little sore from the shot.   I guess this makes it a good day for marketing.  So I've submitted a short story and a flash piece.  The short, unfortunately, has been making the rounds and finding a good market for it is proving to be a challenge.  The flash is experimental, and we'll see if it sells.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Wednesday Gym

Went to the Gym Wednesday night:  Half and hour and about 300 cal on the elliptical.  Hardly anyone was in the gym, so I did a circuit of 3x12x60 on the pec fly (middle setting) and 3x13x80 lbs on the lat pull-down.  Since there was still maybe two other folks, I continued to circuit:  3x12 Roman Chair curls,  3x12x40lbs barbell curls, 3x12x20lb triceps pull-downs,  3x12x40lbs reverse barbell pulls.  Some 5lb shoulder crunches.  Something is still a little off with my right clavicle (I'm thinking it's an old person thing and not an actual injury), but I think I managed not to make things worse.



Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Writing Venue Review: Starbucks

It's official, I've stepped down from the Wordos and handed over keys and passwords and old documentation.  I will miss the fellowship of the critique table.

Which brings us to a review of the local Starbucks Cafe as a Writing Venue.  It's main draw is that it is open until 10 PM, unlike most other Eugene establishments, which close at 7 or 8.  On the plus side, it's relatively clean, and has nice little tables.  The large tables tend to be monopolized by study groups or individual patrons with laptops and book-filled backpacks.  

A friendly wait-staff served me caffeinated mint tea.  And a bagel; this is the second or third time they've been out of poppy-seed bagels.  Later I got a chocolate donut (they were out of brownies), and I regretted it later as it had a lot of grease or maybe butter in it, which upset my stomach.   

Surprisingly, unlike previous visits to this establishment, the music wasn't horrifically grating, and there were no cell-phone wielding drama-queens sharing their worldly and health problems with the entire shop.  As usual, the difficulty in choosing a spot was finding a table that wasn't directly under a stereo speaker.  I chose a high table and high stool with a nice view of the half-moon in the sky (and probably the least distracting view of a weight-lifter showing off his sculpted guns with a black tank-top at the next table over).  

A creative, if cramped, use of the small table space and the window allowed me to have both an open file folder and my mobile out.  I managed to work through some critiques and edit them in.  About the time I wanted to move away from the more mechanical aspects of manuscript to the creative, the music shifted from some relatively innocuous Ella Fitzgerald to distracting covers of "Glory Days" and "The Sisters of Mercy."  

I'd give this about 3 Pencils.  The small tables and loud sound system make this not the most conducive writing place, and the food is over-priced for the quality; but on a slow night, it's dry, clean,  and friendly.  Good for editing, not so good for distraction-free creative work.  


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Fall Beginnings

(Monday) Ah, the first day of classes and the commute becomes more annoying.  The traffic is a test for me to practice compassion and patience, and I'm afraid that I usually fail at it.  Some of my irritation stems from the parking stall scarcity and the "hunting license" I have in lieu of a reserved parking spot.  I suppose when I get a whole lot older, I might splurge.   Until then, I'll have to work on swearing less as I invent whole new circles of Hell for people driving SUV's erratically. 

Yesterday I went to Eugene Pagan Pride.  It was about what I expected, but I was surprised that it was about the third of the size of The Gay Pride event.  There were a lot of merchant booths with jewelry, inscence, soap and some ritual items for sale.  There were about five or six local groups, and a few Portland-based groups there, too.  I didn't see any Radical Faeries; it's possible some of the guys selling books or crystals were gay, but I didn't see any pink triangles, either.  Now that I think about it, there weren't any men's groups at all.  This wasn't too surprising, as Eugene is the Lesbian Capitol of the World; so we have a lot of first- and second-wave Goddess Worshipers.  

I suppose Mark is right:  if there's a NeoPagan group I want to hang out with, I'll need to find one in Portland, which is larger and more diverse and more likely to have something.  Oh well, maybe I'll make some ritual flags for around the house or something.

On the gym front:  went to the gym for the first time in about seven days.  My intention for this week is to actually go Wednesday, Friday and Sunday; if I get back on a roll I'll continue the every-other day thing next week.   30 minutes and 300 calories on the elliptical (reading about Miracles and Belief in Medieval and Early Tudor England).  10 minutes and 100 calories on the cable rowing machine.  3X12X60lbs on the pec fly (medium setting).  3X12X80lbs on he lat pull-down.  2X12 Romain Chair hanging curls.  3X12X35lbs barbell curls (down from 40lbs, I figured I'd ease back to 40 on Wednesday).  3X12X20lbs triceps pull-down.  Some assorted shoulder shrugs.  My stupid right shoulder, or more accurately, my right clavicle, was extra clicky -- I suppose I should start taking some sort of joint supplement.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Equinox

Friday Sept 22

Happy Equinox!  We've a typical Autumnal Day at the moment (8:30AM): grey, overcast sky, damp ground from yesterday's rain, yellowing leaves on the trees and orange leaves on the ground, and 55F.  It might clear up, or it might rain a little first.

In Writing News, I've stepped down from Wordos.  I'll miss seeing everyone every week, and I'm thinking that I'll be able to redirect some energy to writing (longer or non-fiction) pieces that weren't a good match for the group.

Mark's gone this week on a spur-of-the-moment, personal retreat to Yellowstone.  Despite having four inches of snow bring his tent down on him while he was sleeping one night, I can tell from his voice over the phone that he's had a rejuvinating time.  The cats, The Child and I have managed to get through the week without him.

Between the university school year ramping up, Mark's absence, and other things, I havn't been able to get to the gym and I've done only a marginal amount of writing.   The writing lecturn is nice, and I'm having to be mindful of how it makes my lower back sore -- I'm currently using my hexagonal dumbbells as a foot bar, which seems to help.  Maybe some sort of raised stool is in order, although I'm not sure where it would live when I'm not sitting on it.

This afternoon, I used the magnifying lens to capture the equinox sun and light some candles.  The flames kept going until after 9 PM.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Dream: Breakfast Production

The dream had been going along a while, but here's what I remember:

Various Fragments:

I was waiting at the point of a harbor, watching tourists pull in on their boats.  I think there was a lake or river-side cafe involved.

There were "interesting" people and I was following them around making little notes for character sketches for my writing.  There was a discussion of some sort around a large, rectangular, wooden table.

I was at a hostel or lodge of some sort, lots of rough-hewn wood (which in waking I'm going to attribute to a discussion with Mark about Yellowstone).

There was a dream about parking.  I had parked my car in a weird angle because someone else had parked their largish truck lengthwise across two spots.


The dream imagery I recall the best:  I was watching a well lit raised, proscenium stage.  The walls were white.  A group of about ten couples were on the stage, they were dressed in night gowns and pajamas and bathrobes.  At stage right a group of women in tableau held back another woman, who reached beyond them with outstretched hands, a plate or shallow bowl in her hands.  They were standing still, as if they were in a kind of ballet.  A small knot of women stood watching the center stage.  Lots of diaphanous, grey and white robes hung from outstretched arms or flowed over still bodies.

All the men stood in a line, or maybe a shallow V, parallel to the stage.  In the center was a 30-something man.  There may have been low tables or modular counters on wheels or something.  They were all in bathrobes (and in waking life, I'm thinking everyone looked like a 30-something extra from the 90's sit-com, Frasier,  which we've been watching).  The man at the center, assisted by the other men in the line, was baking some sort of small cake or muffin.  There were lots of bowls and stirring motions from the baking chorus.

My viewpoint kept popping around from omniscient to audience member watching the performance.  Once the muffin was finished, it was presented to the woman (who I'm thinking was the man's new wife) who took the pastry in her outstretched hands, and as all of the women who had been holding her back watched, she took a bite and proclaimed, "perfect." (which may have been pronounced "poi-feckt").

Somehow, I found myself on the stage; I got a hold of a muffin, which I then crumbled through a course screen or grater.  The crumbs fell into a shallow white bowl, and I shoved a handful of into my mouth and said "perfect."

The newlywed wife was annoyed that I was poking fun at her.  The dream gets a little out of sequence here, but the husband and wife and I were sitting at a kind of up-scale Shari's booth when a producer/host appeared, camera-men in tow, and starting asking me how I came up with the ingenious idea of de-constructing a muffin.

"Well," I said, "it makes a great crumble, and you can use it as a layer in a breakfast fruit bowl."

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Gym and Standing Desks

I was virtuous and went to the Gym Saturday:  Half and hour and about 300 cal on the elliptical.  3x12x60 on the pec fly (I tried one set on my usual setting and it felt wrong, so I went back to the extra-wide setting).  3x13x80 lbs on the lat pull-down.  3x13 Roman Chair curls.  I felt a little tired, and my clavicle and upper trapezoid is feeling a little sore/weird, so I took the barbell weight down from 40 to 35.  3x12x35lbs barbell curls.  3x12x35lbs reverse barbell pulls.  


Smoke has rolled back into the Willamette Valley and everyone is waiting for Sunday's rain to come and clear the air and put a damper on the forest fires still burning.  When I was at the lat-pulldown machine, I thought a truck or ambulance was backing up against the gym because the 7:30 sun cast ruddy light through the windows.  Walking home, the sun completely disappeared--whether because of clouds or smoke I couldn't tell you.


On the writing front, I re-arranged the home computer so that it's elevated.  I'm standing as I type this, with my hands at elbow level, which I hope will help with my back and shoulders.  I don't have a desk so much as a kind of raised lectern.  I'd toyed with the idea of getting an office somewhere, but at the moment it's prohibitively expensive.  I'd considered maybe reconfiguring the attic as a writing office, but Mark pointed out that no amount of wishful thinking was going to help it stay cool in the summer or warm in the winter.  

We'll see how this works; I've yet to work out a system for dealing with a large number of physical manuscripts, but maybe I can rig up some hanging clipboards.  I'm also not sure where I'm going to put tea.  On the plus side, after I moved the computer and the portable army desk from the bookshelf, I was able reconsolidate my library of archeology, poetry, architecture, reference, and NeoPagan history collections (in the previous configuration book size dictated where books would be shelved).



Friday, September 15, 2017

Thursday Gym

Went to the Gym Thursday:  210 cal and 16 minutes on the cable row machine.  3x12x60 on the pec fly (on extra-wide setting).  3x13x80 lbs on the lat pull-down.  3x12x40lbs barbell curls.  2X8X40lbs reverse barbell pulls.  My right clavicle muscles were feeling tight, so I did some pool noodle roles along my upper back.  No Roman Chair curls because I would have been staring straight at Mr. Tattooed-Grunty grunting loudly on some other machine.  

Monday, September 11, 2017

Sunday Gym

Went to the Gym Sunday:  250 cal and 20 minutes on the cable row machine.  3x12x60 on the pec fly (on extra-wide setting).  3x13x80 lbs on the lat pull-down.  3x13 Roman Chair curl-ups.   3x12x40lbs barbell curls.  Half-hearted attempts at an overhead dumbbell thing...

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Gym Report and Air Quality

Went to the Gym Thursday:  200 cal and 15 minutes on the cable row machine.  3x12x60 on the pec fly (on extra-wide setting).  3x13x85 lbs (my usual machine was in use).  2x13 Roman Chair curl-ups.  3x12 half-windshield wipers (back flat on ground, arms straight out on floor, knees pent, while you rotate them from side to side).  3x12x40lbs barbell curls.  2x12x40lbs reverse barbell pulls.

Friday I was sore.  I think the row machine is hard on the balls of my feet.  And maybe my hands (although the weather changed).  And possibly the pec fly setting bothered my shoulder.


The skies here have been smokey for the last six days (9/1-9/7).  Fires rage around the state and the Air Quality Index has been off of the charts.   Everyone was checking http://www.lrapa.org to see how bad it got... although building fire alarms going off because of the smoke outside should have been clue.   It got better last Thursday, but the forecast is calling for higher temperatures and increased particulate counts.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Air Quality and Gym Report

Went to the gym Saturday (9/2):  320 cal and about 35 minutes on the elliptical.  3x12x60lbs on the pec fly.  3x12x80lbs on the lat pull down.  3x13 Roman Chair curls (I was doing a side motion to try to work my lats, but it seemed to be making my lower back sore, so I stopped).   3x12x40lb barbell curls.  2x12:40lb barbell reverse pulls. 3x8 half-windshield wiper twists, 2x8 full windshield wipers (man, I am so unlimber it's difficult to keep my legs straight for those).

Labor Day Monday (9/4):  The gym was really full because it was only open 8AM to Noon.  Also the air quality here has been in the unhealthy range, with particulate indexes in the 300 -- so everyone was wondering how much the gym's air-handling units filtered stuff out and reminded everyone else to take it a little easy.

300 cal and 30 minutes on the elliptical.  3x13x60lbs on the pec fly.  3x12x85lbs on the lat pull down.  3x13 Roman Chair curls.   3x12x40lb barbell curls.  I did a number of 10 lbs dumbbell shoulder shrugs,

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Art Trying To Imitate Life

When I went to the MET last, I got a book on pop-up paper construction.








It goes through various types of folds and cuts one can make to create three-dimensional sculptures (for lack of a better word) out of paper.








I've been experimenting by cutting and folding blank 3X5 inch cards.








Last weekend when we went to Silver Creek falls, I thought, "I know, I'll try to make some pop-up designs of the falls."





So I tried.









I think I got some fairly Art-Deco water, which tends to look more like hair or snakes than water.




 And I also think I got something that looks not so much like water cascading over basalt layers but rather a stage set for an absurdist 60's play.


Oh well.



Saturday, September 02, 2017

Chapter Two in The Chronicles of the The Slayer

While we didn't catch him in flagrante delicto, we're pretty sure Dragonfly-Slayer Cicero damaged a Paddle-tailed Darner, (Aeshna palmata) late this afternoon.  I'd seen him pawing at something (I'd assumed a mouse) in the tall grassland next door, and discovered the darner on the walkway by our house a few minutes later.



At first I thought it was dead, but it had a very strong grip on the concrete.  I offered a dry twig for it to crawl on, and it pulled itself up onto my hand.   I didn't see any holes it its body, but I noticed as I was photographing it that it wasn't moving its lower wings.




The unrepentant monster was fairly certain I had carried off his prize, but wasn't exactly sure where I'd placed it.  Also, he didn't want to be photographed.




We're growing some corn, and I placed the dragonfly onto a stalk, flicked some fountain water onto it, and took some photos.









I checked on it after dusk, and it had climbed up under a fold in the corn leaves, so I'm hoping it will rest the night out and fly away in the morning.





















Thursday, August 31, 2017

Editing

The last couple of days I've been whittling down a 6000 word manuscript to just under 5000 words.  5000 seems to be a sweet spot in terms of short stories; when a manuscript gets much larger, it becomes more difficult to sell -- and you have to make sure those extra words are pulling their weight.

Some of my difficulty is that I can get baroque in my writing style:  playing with the lyricism until I've passed popular taste in convolution -- or else fixating description on and getting too detailed over minutia because I like verbal eye candy.

In this particular case, I managed to squeeze out about 450 words simply by looking for some of the usual suspects -- "started to," "tried to," "only," "was," and "it was," and "began to" -- and recast various weak, passive, or convoluted phrases.   The search function helped find places where I'd strayed into using danger words.   I got fifty to a hundred words out by noticing repeated phrases (usually describing the protagonist's heart rate or breathing) and removing extraneous ones.

Probably the most difficult cut was deleting the first two pages -- the original opening scene provided some nice setting and character background, but there was enough spread throughout the rest of the manuscript that I could justify it's removal (telling myself that if the story is ever re-published, I might add the deleted scene back).

The happiest moment was discovering during a read-aloud that I'd pasted in a section twice.  When I deleted it I got about thirty words, which I used to insert a particular detail I'd liked, but didn't provide quite enough character development to justify.

I'm going back and forth a little on the voice.  On the "it's working" hand, this manuscript has been making the rounds and getting "interesting-but-no" rejections; so I think it's serviceable.   On the "needs work" hand, I wrote the original version some years ago the beginner's craftwork shows.  But back on the first hand, the voice in the original is strong, and whittling it down has blunted the voice... which might be a good thing... even if the writing feels a little formulaic.

Anyway, it's reached the point where tinkering with it any more is either going to fatigue the manuscript or push it back over the word count.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Silver Creek Falls

Sunday we met with our friend, Nancy, and went for a six mile hike through Silver Creek Falls Park.  The day was pleasant for hiking:  walking along the creek beds or in treelined gorges we managed to stay cool and the smoke from various forest fires wasn't so concentrated there.  

There are a variety of falls; the water flows over basalt shelves and cuts through differing layers of rock, depending on the rock's hardness.  The usual configuration there is a crescent of hard basalt working upstream, with an undercut of softer rock forming a second crescent-shaped cave underneath the fall.  Some falls are cascades over basalt, others are trickles filling deep pools.  I don't remember every visiting before, which is too bad; there are many interesting falls and the buildings have a CCC and WPA charm reminiscent of the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood.

The valley has been smokey.   Everyone thought last May and June with all the rain that this would not be a huge fire year, but I guess it let a lot of grass grow, and there's been more fuel.  Monday and Tuesday the air quality has been certifiably unhealthy and daytime temperatures have been in the nineties.  The last few sunrises and sunsets look like some florid seventies poster or else from the planet Tatooine.

The family has gone on a short trip, so the cats and I have been staying inside.  I've been alternately cutting out words to get a story to spec, and Monday to Tuesday I threw together a 1000 word short story.  I tried a technique of writing the story backward, starting at the end, then going backward scene by scent (actually, just sketching in a paragraph) to the beginning.  Then I went forward, fleshing in bits.   The story was ready to read (barely in time), and I wish I'd read it aloud a few more times to polish out the rough spots.  I expect I can polish it more this week and turn it in next time.

After Wordos, I went to the gym:  25 minutes and 260 cal on the elliptical.  3x12x60lbs on the pec fly.  3x12x80lbs on the lat pulldown.  3x12 Roman Chair curl-ups (I'd been adding in some side curls, but I think they've been bothering my back, so I only did straight curls this time).   3x12x40lbs barbell curls.  2x12x40lbs reverse barbell rows.  

After the gym, I re-joined the Wordos at the bar and grill across the street and virtuously had a glass of water.






Sunday, August 27, 2017

I Have A Little Jar

When I go to the MET I often go to the Mediaeval Hall.  There are many stone statues here, and it's usually difficult to photograph them because the hall is dark unless the high summer sun is peaking in through the skylights.

I like this particular statue (Saint Mary Magdalene or Holy Woman) because it's not stiff or dreary.  First of all, whoever sculpted her knew how fabric drapes.  Second of all, you can tell this statue is doing a coy little dance underneath all those clothes:  her shoulders are swaying just a little, and one hip is raised higher than the other.

Her little jar is tilted as she lifts the lid, and you can almost hear her singing, "Oh ho ho ho ho! / I have a little jar / and in my little jar / is a surprise for you..." while she does a little sashaying shoulder-tilting dance.  "Oh ho ho ho ho! / I have a little smile / a secret little smile / my jar's not filled with unguents / (well, not just any unguents...)"

When I was describing this statue's song to some friends, they thought she was singing about a jar full of ungulates.  Which would also be cool, in a happy meal kind of way.  Looking over the list of ungulates, I'm thinking she has a jar filled with giraffes, or maybe rhinos (I'm not sure if unicorns are ungulates); but certainly she would dance and sing her little song, and open the jar, and a herd of giraffes would run out and grow full sized, and she would leap up onto the back of the largest one and sing -- the giraffes would prance in a circle while she sang enchantments, and then they'd all ride off into the forest.



Saturday, August 26, 2017

Workouts

Although I've gone to the gym ... I've fallen behind in logging it (which was supposed to be motivation for going)... so..

Saturday (8/26) 30 minutes and 350 cal on the elliptical.  3x12x60lbs on the pec fly.  3x12x80lbs on the lat pulldown.  3x12 Roman Chair curl-ups.  3x12x40lbs barbell curls.

Um... let's see, I went last Thursday I had just finished the elliptical, when I realized that I hadn't really eaten lunch and I felt a little shaky.  Not sure what happened there, whether it was an electrolyte imbalance, or a blood sugar thing.  Unfortunately, it made the rest of my workout wonky, and I did the usual routine feeling odd and doing reduced weights.

I think I went Monday?  Probably Saturday.  And I was actually fairly good about going last week.

Adams Vase

Let's discuss the Adams Vase, because, OMG! it is so over the top!

It's supposed to look like a cotton flower, but it looks more like the warm-up for a bacchanal.  First of all, it's gold.  And covered in amethysts, pearls, and tourmalines.  And it's got semi-naked gods all over it.


 I'm not sure what Mercury is wearing here, but it looks like a sheer veil.  He's thinking about something, probably, "If I shimmy three steps to the right and then two the left, I can loop my veil over a hottie; but which one?"
The youth on the right is warming his hands, or else making an offering; I think the other youth has an oar.
 Mr. Adams was apparently an industrialist in the cotton oil business.  I had to look up the uses of cotton seed oil and it was essentially the high-fructose corn syrup of the late 1800's.  Only for lard as it was a key component in Crisco.  And potato chips.
I don't know why these birds are holding up garlands.


I'm thinking there's a message here, but I'm not sure what it is.  I'm pretty sure that Oregon State University hadn't incorporated at the time of this vase's construction, so it can't be a symbol of school pride.


What's That On Your Head?

 When I was at the MET, I saw this wig in the Egyptian Wing.  I'm not sure how authentic the style is, as I think the conservatory staff had to reconstruct the wig based on carvings and paintings.  However, I like the triangular negative space defined by the wig, and the intertwined locks look nice.  There's something refreshing about the simplicity of the metal bands interweaving in the hair.









I tried to take a picture of me as if I were wearing the wig, but it didn't exactly come out the way I expected.   I guess they really couldn't have duplicate wigs out for the thousands of visitors to try on.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Eclipse

Sunday morning we traveled to my folk's house to be in place for the total eclipse of the sun which would take place the following Monday morning.  The Oregon Department of Transportation, the state police, and various news sites had been forecasting epoceclipse, with dire warnings that the event would turn into a combination Woodstock and hurricane Katrina.  Millions were expected to descend upon Oregon like a plague of locusts, eat all the food, buy all the gas, and start a zillion forest fires.

We opted to drive the day before the eclipse.  The traffic along 99W was fine, with the occasional, mandatory, slow farm truck.  We had a lovely day with my folks and my sister's family.  At 1:15PM  I laid down some painter's tape (aligned with the meridian sun)  on the deck to get a feel for the cardinal directions.  My folks' house is on a north-east by south-west axis, which has more to do with the slope it's on than with any solar alignment.  I double-checked it later that evening off of Polaris and it was close enough.

Monday morning, I woke up before sunrise and went out to see what could be seen.  There are a lot of forest fires going on around the state, and Sunday had become hazier and hazier as the day progressed.  Also, it's not unusual for the night to bring clouds in from the coast.  The sky was dark blue, which progressed to a kind of purple and to orange on the eastern horizon.  A bank of low haze hid the Cascade Mountains.  I took a few pictures of Venus.

When the sun rose, it was much more north than I'd expected.  I put down some more tape to mark where I thought the sun would be at 9 AM, set up a tripod and cameras, and made breakfast mimosas.  The family gathered for bacon and eggs and panckakes, and then it was time for first contact.

The local amber alert system sent various messages to everyone's cell phones warning people to 1) pay attention to the road, not the eclipse, while driving; 2) to watch for falling rocks while climbing during the eclipse, and; 3) to not look at the sun without proper eye protection.   In their driveway, the neighbors next door, laughed a lot, and we joked about throwing rocks at each other.  We also bet that the next amber alert would be about fireballs and the end times.

Through eclipse glasses, the sun's disk showed a little nibble out of it.  We tried various methods of projecting the crescent.  The binoculars produced the largest, most study-able image, while a colander produced the most artistic image.  I went back and forth on how much I liked looking through the eclipse glasses at the sun; at the beginning it was like looking at an eclipse of the moon, only more boring because the sun's disk is featureless and the moon has craters.  Also, I hadn't practiced, so I didn't figure out how to take a picture of the sun with the eclipse glasses over my camera: so those shots were odd reflections between the Mylar and the lens.

When the moon had the sun about half-way covered, the quality of the light was odd.  It was sunlight, but the intensity was down; in retrospect, I'd say it was like moonlight on a bright full moon night, except it was day.  At the start of the eclipse, the morning promised to be hot -- and I'd been sweating on my folks deck.  But now the sunlight shining on my arm didn't heat it at all.

We spotted two white objects.  At first we thought one of them might have been Venus, but they turned out to be weather balloons.   The kids were surprisingly nonplussed about the crescent sun, and roped Mark into a game of Monopoly.  We did get them out as totality approached.

It got darker and colder.

Mark saw the shadow bands first: squiggly waves running up the wall behind us.  Faster than a cloud's shadow, and more subtle, they broke the illusion that the house is a fixed object in space, and is actually a moving point on the celestial machine.  On some level, we knew we were seeing the portents of the swift and massive dance of the heavens.  The sundial motto, "Light is the Shadow of God" never felt more true at that moment.

Totality was upon us.  Things happened in quick succession.  The crescent sun became a fingernail, became a hairline, and winked out.   We whipped off our glasses.  I said, "Oh wow..."

A huge black disk hung in the middle of a white corona in a midnight blue sky.  I stood in a circle of quiet; distantly, I heard the kids jumping up and down and shouting that this was the coolest thing ever, neighbors whooping, and fireworks going off.   I snapped some photos.

"I think I see Mercury," I said, "at about eight o'clock."   The corona stretched away from the disk in asymmetric loops, like long silvered hair given life by static electricity.  There was a faint dot tangled in the corona, near the black disk--later I wondered if I was actually seeing Regulus.  I said, "Oh wow..." again.

I fiddled with the video camera's zoom.  Through the distance, I heard Mark and The Child making a quick video.  I looked up again at the blue, black and white spectacle.  A shadow of red tickled my eye.  I wasn't sure if it was really there.  Then a red pinprick appeared, like a small ruby set on a ring.  "Oh wow...  I'm seeing Bailey's Beads!" I said.   The ruby grew to a coal.  Brighter.  "Glasses on!" someone said.  Totality was over.

The moon's shadow raced away from the house, and the valley below brightened.  I looked for shadow bands, but they weren't visible.  The sky was still dark; it was still cold; and we all thought that was the shortest 90 seconds of our lives.

The sunlight grew stronger, but it wouldn't be another half hour or so before it would be able to warm my arms.  The sun's crescent swelled.  Already the memory of the corona faded to unreality -- something fantastic one might dream, something looming too huge and dominating to have been real.

I poured myself a second mimosa.

We gazed up at the growing sun, and tried to predict when the eclipse would end.  The disk looked like a hat's bill; it looked like Ms. PacMan.  It looked like a chipped plate.  It had a bird peck out of it.   Ten minutes past all of our predictions, it was an almost perfect circle.  The disk shone, climbing in the sky, with a rough patch along one point, as if the moon had abraded it.   It was perfect once more.