3 Tails up and other tales

Tonight Kat called the cats for dinner — Sally, Sophie, Charrrrliiee; Sally, Sophie, Charrrrliiee. They all came running for dinner with 3 tails up in the air. That’s power and it is useful. They all want their cat treat or tuna or whatever delicacy is on the menu. It is the one tool I have for getting the cats into the house. And it has been needed because Charlie has been testing his limits. He’s been escaping out windows and doors multiple times over the last few days. And every time it is the same; he gets outside and then panics–an “Oh Shit, where an I type moment”. At that point, if one calls him for dinner; Charlie happily comes running into the house and gets a good meal. Hope this is just spring fever and not a new trick for getting extra meals.

In other news; Liz is coming home for easter weekend. She’s excited; more accurately everyone is excited. Grandma gets to cook easter dinner; I’m broke after buying two unexpected plane tickets. I haven’t talked with her since then; but reports from others indicate she sounds much more chipper.

And Maggie is coming home sometime in May. That means I get to catch up on the gossip with her. Right now I only know snippets of what’s going on: picking a thesis topic, meeting with advisors, lining up research grants, being extravagant and buying a bike, and even sneaking off to Baltimore for a weekend with Josh. To be fair; he was working — it was a trip associated with his med school application. And the bike is transportation / exercise so one can’t complain. The funniest story I’ve heard about Maggie is from my mom. Evidently a friend of hers who wears a wig after going through Chemo; found some bugs in her wig. And she shipped them to Maggie so they could be identified. Now my mom’s friend is eagerly waiting for answers and might even be calling Maggie directly. I hope these bugs were not lice.

Poor Kate, now she just gets abused. SAT’s, CAT’s, STAR Testing, AP exams, and more; it seems this is test season for her. Everyone wants her to take yet another test and so there have been endless numbers of study groups. On the plus side, she can drive to them and thus neither Bob nor I have to chauffeur. She has been working hard; still playing golf; and going to school. On the other hand, she is the sneakiest of my three girls with respect to household chores. It seems that something is always going on when there might be work to do.

On Monday night, Bob and I stayed up to watch the lunar eclipse. I even got permission from work to come in late on Tuesday. Kate rolled her eyes at our doings “Mom wants to celebrate WHAT?”; but then she buckled down and made some fantastic lemon cupcakes. She’s a very good cake maker; if you ever get the chance to try her stuff, DO. It’s well worth the calories. Her cupcakes have flavor; unlike many of the ones bought in stores and even bakeries. Bob pulled together a great dinner and we spent the night outside. I realized I had never fully watched a lunar eclipse from beginning to end before. It was beautiful. Laying on cots, we watched the moon change phases and become red. There was an amazing amount of light even when the moon was fully obscured. The clouds would lightly drift by; looking like ghostly tendrils hiding the stars for a few minutes before leaving us.

Bob and Elle are doing well. I talk about them together because that’s how they spend most of their days; together. Every morning Bob goes out for a long walk with Elle and again in the evening. In between, she goes with him wherever possible. Running chores, taking care of our all basic necessities; it’s really nice to have someone home doing all that work. I feel very spoiled and lucky. For the last week; he’s been working on refinishing a couch. The wood frame looks really great. Soon we will have to face into the cushions. It turns out that foam has become very expensive. We are looking at hundreds of dollars to make six big cushions. I’m not sure what good alternatives are; perhaps reusing the existing cushions and put on a new cover. Nothing new; this would be the 4th covering put on the same cushion. It just feels wrong to reuse them again; but I don’t want to spend the money on new ones.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve learned how to use several new on-line systems. First was buying tickets with Skyscanner.com for Liz on monday. It went well, despite the two tickets. The crashed browser is probably my fault. I was overloading my computer and think I clicked the wrong button. So now I can trust buying the tickets for Europe through that service. And then last night I tried the free file with the IRS. Worked great; was able to file for an extension with no problem despite it being the 15th of april. This kills me; I started the taxes in February and have been almost done for weeks. Guess I’m trying to do too many things. This weekend they will get done, we need the refund for our trip to Europe this summer.

Well the coffee is all gone and work is waiting. Take care and talk with you later.

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Fortunes and Airline Tickets

Liz called today, very blue. It’s been a really rough semester. Classes are hard, her roommate has a totally different schedule, and she’s been getting migraine headaches again. I’ve never heard her sound as run down as she did today on the phone. So we were extravagant and bought her a ticket home for this weekend. I can’t give her a hug from long distance and I can’t solve her problems. But we can let her know she is loved by buying a plane ticket. Everyone is delighted, especially American Airlines.

Yep, that’s right American Airlines is happy because I ended up buying two tickets for her. When I clicked purchase on the first ticket; the browser died. And I could find no record of any purchase made. Liz was on the phone; so of course, I had to buy another ticket. And because the tickets are non-refundable; I can’t get my money back. But I was able to get a credit for the second ticket. Even the reservation clerk agreed that something must have gotten screwed up since the same person can’t fly twice at the same time. So it’s double the happiness — Liz comes home now and she comes home again sometime in the future. I just didn’t know that I wanted to buy two tickets today.

Should have known that it was going to be one of those days. I have two different tarot deck apps on my IPAD–the druid oracles and the wildwood pack. Both have gorgeous pictures; done by the same artist Will Worthington. I love his work and enjoy playing with the virtual cards. So today I got the same card, Mama Bear and Mama Bear reversed. It had to be an interesting day given the conflicting messages. I’m connect by primal roots to root of earth and the emotion of a mother. Ferocious; I have to be careful to not be overwhelmed by primal forces. Put family first and enjoy the creative forces of the day. Remember how to nurture. Who knew the creative forces came from some unknown outside influences. Some would have have called these forces God.

I have strong powers today; so I’m using them to make Bob laugh. He didn’t realize until now that I had two tarot decks that I use for a daily fortune. Even after almost 35 years together, I can still surprise him. That is a good thing. And because tonight is a full moon lunar eclipse; it’s fitting the gods have influence. In fact; some religions are calling this the beginning of the end; the rhapsody or disaster described in revelations that begins with a blood moon–the first of four total eclipses which happen to fall on Jewish Holidays and begins during easter week. And if they are wrong; well almost any moon can be called a blood moon it’s an effect of the angles between the sun, earth, and moon. Since the holiday schedule is established based on moon cycles and there are eight more sets of 4 total eclipses in a row this century.

Here are the cards
From the Druid Oracles

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And from the wildwood deck

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Sculpture Class number 9

Last friday night was sculpture class number 9. Skipped number 8 because I was too tired. But in class number 9 I made substantial progress. It looks like a bust with small things that need to be fixed — the eyes, the hair, the squareness in the base, smoothness of the skin. I’m pleased with the work and will finish it next week. Here are the photos.

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Charlie, charlie, charlie

It is spring time and charlie is going bonkers. He so wants to catch a bug. And that means making heroic leaps, climbing furniture, and leaving general chaos along the way. If your back happens to be a convenient point on the way to a bug; then he’ll use it as a launching post. So a common cry around the house is OW because of his sharp claws. When there are no bugs to catch; he makes do with other things for play. First photo shows him stealing a bracelet from my beading tray. This is followed by a series of not great photos where he is playing with the dogs squeaky ball. And then finally he took a break to sit next to his good friend Sophia. Charlie may be a pest; but he is also one of the friendliest cats we’ve ever had. And he makes us laugh; so I suppose we will keep him.

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Celestial Doings — Lots of Celebrations

Lots of chances for good parties over the next three weeks; each with their own unique celestial event.

Next Monday night there will be the first of 4 total lunar eclipses spaced six months apart. The moon will appear blood red before disappearing totally just after midnight here on the west coast. As an added benefit; Mars also will be nearby; also appearing red. Of course there is controversy about this; some say that this is the beginning of the end as proclaimed for the rapture. With a great out, if wrong; there are seven more sets of 4 full lunar eclipses in a row. For more information read:
http://earthsky.org/tonight/total-lunar-eclipse-for-the-americas-on-night-of-april-14-15
And from the griffith observatory website:

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Once we get done celebrating an eclipse; you need to spend the next week resting. For the following week, on April 22 and 23; there is the oldest known meteor shower; the Lyrids. In Vista; one of the best times may be very early on Tuesday april 22nd. Get up at 4 am; go outside and look upwards. If none then, try again on Tuesday night about 10 or 11 pm. Unfortunately the weathre reports are for fog next week. It looks like we may have to go to places like Palm Springs or Julian to see them. You can read about the meteor shower at:
http://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/meteor-shower/lyrids.html

And then the following week is May Day also known as Beltane in many celtic and pagan communities. It’s the halfway point between the solstice in March and the equinox in June. Traditionally, Mayday or Beltane marked the beginning of summer. And I like that holiday. It makes more sense to me than mid june. In May, we start seeing the Jacaranda Trees blooming. School ends. Bob and I celebrate birthdays. We have Mother’s Day and fathers Day observations. The days are getting longer and warmer. At mid june; the eclipse provides the longest day which traditionally was called mid summers eve. Anyway; Beltane is a good excuse for a celebration. Have a bonfire, eat lots, share some food with the gods or at least with the coyotes and other wild animals around. Make love with your significant other and generally enjoy the evening. I plan to do just that although I’ll leave the leaping over a bonfire to younger folks. To read more about Beltane, see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beltane

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Cleaning an IPAD — All about Robine

Yep it’s my turn, Maggie made me promise to post some of the great photos of myself on this IPAD. So here it goes, enjoy.

This is a nightly scene. Sophia hates Elly and Elly loves to tease Sophia. End result, Sophia starts hissing and becomes a very threatening cat. Elly is barking. I get to pick up this animal and take her to the bedroom where she joins her companion, Charlie. It’s a race to see who is banished first — Charlie for jumping on table and trying to eat the food or Sophia for hissing at the dog.

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My painting from pallet to palate…cheap paints so yellow and blue mixed together became a brownish green.

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Here’s a comfortable cat

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Selling teeshirts at an Iron Pour at the California Sculpture Academy. Got that great iron log from this event.

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Me, 23 years ago.

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Bob and I at the farm, in shadow

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Family Photo at my brother John’s wedding. 16 years ago.

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Warm with my cap

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Me at the California Sculpture Academy, shoveling hot metal off concrete

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Me at the farm in shadow.

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ON the way to Julian, many years ago.

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Cleaning an IPAD Part 3 — All about Liz

So here are some old photos of Liz

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Accessories Optional

Who knew that a dog is an accessory. Well, I learned that today when we bought Elly a new bed. And there it is right on the label–accessories not included. And sitting in the middle of the pad is the accessory–the Dog. Oh well, we didn’t need another one anyway.

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Once we got the dog bed home; Elly was pleased. Sohpia, not quite so much.

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Cleaning an IPAD – All about Bob

Ok, so the cleaning the IPAD series continues. I’m taking about 3000 photos off my IPAD and in the process, publishing some of the funner photos. And this post all about Bob. Enjoy.

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Cleaning an IPAD — Maggie

And now we pull up some photos showing Maggie from my IPAD. Not all of these were taken with the IPAD, but somehow they ended up in my photo library and thus are fair game.

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Beauty after the rain

Yesterday morning I got to work right after the rain stopped. It was gorgeous, everything was clean and shinning in the sun. With luck, I had a camera and was able to capture this glory with a few of the trees. Enjoy the photos; the view gave me joy and the photos remind me of that joy. I hope they make you happy as well.

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Cost of College

Over the last few years, my family has been struggling with college costs. It’s so very expensive. And I’ve been hearing the refrain about how

  • its good for a student to take on debt — it teaches them responsibility.
  • The students should just get a summer job and pay their own bills.
  • the kids are just lazy these days.

Well those sentiments have just plain felt wrong. And yesterday, I saw a couple of articles that proved it was wrong. The first article from Business Insider did a calculation of the number of hours a kid needs to work for one credit hour at Michigan State University. In 1980, it took 10 hours of work to pay for one credit hour. And now it’s 60 hours of work.
http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-why-its-nearly-impossible-to-work-your-way-through-college-2014-3

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And then the Alantic Journal took it a bit farther, extrapolating what a year of college tuition would cost at a low cost public institution. From 182 hours for a years tuition (part time summer work) to 990 hours which is a half year of full time work.
http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/04/the-myth-of-working-your-way-through-college/359735/

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Doing the same kinds of math for the UC’s here in California, in-state tuition with rounded numbers
Costs

  • tuition = 15,000
  • books = 2,000
  • fees = 1,000
  • living expenses (cheap) = 12,000 or 1,000 per month for rent, food, health care, clothes, and everything else.
  • total cost = 30,000 per year.

Earnings

  • minimum wage = 10 dollars per hour
  • 40 hour work week = 400 dollars per week
  • 50 weeks labor = 20,000 dollars per year

Assuming no taxes, no sick leave, no vacation time; a student is 10,000 dollars in debt for every year of school. And they are working 80 to 100 hours per week at 2 full time jobs. To actually work 84 hours a week, you need to put in 12 hour work days, 7 days a week. That does not include time for living basics like eating, grocery shopping, showers, sleep.

It’s horrible; we are stealing as a society our children’s futures. And I don’t know how to change it; I’m just working too hard to pay for my kids college.

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Cleaning an IPAD — It’s about Kate

Part two — Kate and some of her pictures on my IPAD. Some these are real gems.

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More art and one tired dog

Yesterday was a busy day. I went up to Fallbrook to finish a sculpture (poured in February at the iron pour) and Bob took Elly to the beach. Kate went to a study session. Bob, Elly, and I argue about who had the best day; we all know it was better than Kate’s. Elly was a tired happy dog; here she is sleeping through an investigation of a cat.

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Anyway, after several hours of hard labour; I got the sprues and ceramic off my log. This had been an old piece of wood found by my parents at their ranch. Brought it home, washed it, and an went with Bob out to the Mother Earth Brewery. A couple hours later it was rusted. The results are beautiful. Here are the photos.

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Sculpture Class Number 7 — Big Progress

Class number 7 and this bust started looking lifelike (sort of). Worked on fixing small things and eventually got enough of them for a great effect. Half way through the class, I was not seeing any real progress. Getting the neck and hair in position helps a lot. I did manage to move the cheekbone up a bit high and for a while, she had a big toothache. But next week, those problems can be easily fixed. Here are the photos.

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Playing with photos

I love playing with photo software. Someday I’ll get fancy stuff like GIMP the free version of photoshop. But in the meantime I can have lots of fun with snapseed. Here’s a good cat picture. it’s much better than the original. I think the cropping as well as black / white format makes the picture work.

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Cleaning an IPAD — Set 1 Elly

It’s time; I have to clean out the pictures on my IPAD. No space, I am constantly deleting a photo so I can take another one. There is over two years of history in these pictures; I must have taken 5-6 thousand pictures over that time period. So the plan is to move all the pictures into dropbox and empty all the photo albums. It’s going to take some work. And while doing it, I found a lot of great photos from Elly as a puppy. Some of these may have been posted before; but it’s been a couple years. So enjoy the pictures. It’s just a random collection of what was left on the IPAD from her first year.

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Quick Pet Notes

Ellys’s bad dinner: Every night she gets dog kibble and something else. She loves it; especially the something else part. Well last night; Bob was desperate, he didn’t have much of something else. So he pulled out the parmesan cheese and sprinkled it on top. Per Kate; it looked disgusting. Elly also thought it look awful. She took a big sniff of dinner and got a nose full of cheese. Started sneezing, stopped, looked at dinner again. But hunger won out and she ate everything.

Charlie’s stick: Charlie has a long stick with string on it. It’s one of his favorite toys. I hate the thing; he drags it into our bed at night. Recently; the sticks had been downstairs and out of his reach. Well Charlie has improved his leaping skills and got the stick from the top of a cabinet. Then he dragged it upstairs. Bob could hear the thump, thump of the stick against the stairs.

Sleeping habits of cats: all the cats adore the bunk beds in Maggie and Liz’s bedroom. On the top bunk are a lot of stuffed animals. It’s possible for a cat to snuggle in the middle of these animals to create the perfect hiding / sleeping spot. The other day; all three cats were sleeping at the same time on the bunk bed.

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My Purse, a reflection of my life and other stuff

Was looking at Maggie’s blog and she had the greatest photo. So I am reusing it; which sounds a lot better than stealing or plagiarizing her work. You can find the original at whisperingcats.tumbler.com; but my version has been enhanced. The picture made me laugh. Thanks Mag’s. It looks you are doing well and it makes me happy to see you content. Josh’s visit was good for you.

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Anyway life has been hectic; and we all have ways of relaxing. For me; it’s a pallete to pallet night at art beat on Main Street. Went with a friend to repaint a master. Cheap paints, so I couldn’t get a good green by mixing blue and yellow. Hence the very impressionistic version of this still life by cezanne. Lots of fun because a friend asked me to go. Normally I end up arranging most of the events. But even better, found that Bob has hung the picture while I was gone at work. That was nice, it made me feel wanted. Here’s my photo.

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But Kate has a more interesting way of relaxing. She likes face masks. And as always, they are interesting to view.

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One interesting aspect of life was that I had to replace my purse and wallet. It’s a common thing; these things do become worn out and yucky over time. But as I looked at the compilation of stuff; the realization that collection was an accurate representation of me at this moment in time. Lets start with the purse. Between too much overtime at work, a major presentation for the California Sculpture Academy, teaching a new class, Liz visiting, and general life; I’ve outgrown the regular purse and am now using a canvas shopping bag to hold my purse and stuff. Of course, the fact that the purse itself was broken did influence the use of a shopping bag which did lead to stashing more stuff into a single location.

Anyway, the contents of said bag were an eclectic collection of unique items. A list might be informative

  • A soldering iron — needed for class, it was easiest to shove it in my purse this morning
  • toothpaste, but no toothbrush — where did that new brush go? I just bought both last week before class
  • four books — one for programming the arduino, another on make electronics, a hard core science fictiion and a book of fantasy short stories
  • graph paper with a variety of notes and drawings
  • 2 hair brushes — no wonder I can’t find one in the morning
  • a mold test kit — so I can check the quality of air at work
  • various plastic bags for picking up dog droppings
  • a collection of wine corks — one of which talks about friendship shared over a bottle of wine
  • 3 pens — various colors
  • chapstick, lipstick, and cough drops – a must have for any woman’s purse
  • lots of change and a 1 dollar bill — always broke, finding a 20 dollar bill is like winning the lottery only better because it is real.
  • an IPOD with 130 gigs of music, stories, and other stuff. Over 10 centuries worth of music, everyone finds my IPOD an amazing trove of weird stuff.
  • a set of art tools and a key for the California Sculpture academy
  • a wallet containing way too many store cards and little else
  • No real money to be found in my purse, no make up other than an old lipstick, and no keys. But all the detritus from the passions in my life--family, learning, art, and reading. The IPOD was a gift from Bob. He got it; being unsure if I would like it. That is one of my most prized possessions -- the gift of music and stories. And also one of the most borrowed items; everyone wants to finish listening to something. I've been thinking about buying a spare ipod just in case apple stops producing them. I'm a lucky woman; I"ve got so many more riches than just money.

    And of course; we are going to need money for replacements over the next couple of months. It's bug season and Charlie is going crazy. That clock on the wall; it's a good place to leap towards; it might give him a place to hang from enroute to the bug. OOPS, ti went on the ground; well lets find another thing to use while hunting bugs. We are having to charlie proof -- it's worse than baby proofing because his leaping skills are both impressive and not very good. It's going to be a long couple of months until the mayflies stop hatching.

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    Sleeping after a good play session

    The morning started abruptly a bit after dawn with the animals beginning their morning chaos. Sophia decided she didn’t like Elly who was sleeping at the foot of the bed. So she started with a good hissing session. Charlie decided that Sophia was a good target for roughhousing, and Elly after jumping off the bed (chased by Sophia) brought me a toy and shoved it into my face. There was no more sleeping. Well after a bit more activity; it’s time for the morning nap. And of course, the best place is my computer bag for Charlie while Elly is sleeping on my foot.

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    Lesson 6 sculpture class

    Its been a long long week — too much overtime at my day job and lots going on with CSA. In addition, Liz came home to visit. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see much of her; but I did get paid some overtime. So I guess overall things are well although the time with Liz and all my family is precious and not replaceable. Will catch up on news some night when I’m not a tired wretch.

    On Friday, went to class number six. Since Bob was home loopy from drugs after surgery; I only stayed a little more than one hour at class. Came home early so Liz and Kate could go to the movies. However, in that hour; I was able to make good progress on the sculpture. Started working on the neck. Learned by hard experience that the head does stick out a lot in the front of the body. That meant the whole base had to be redone. I’ve not had a chance to check measurements; so the neck is not yet correct. But it does help put the sculpture in context. Below are the photos.

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    This last photo is special. You can see the model and my sculpture. It looks like her; but not yet perfect. Have another 4 weeks to get it finished correctly.

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    Celestial Events on March 20th.

    Couple of big things happening over the next 24 hours.

    First, there is an asteriod that is going to eclipse a star — Occultation of Regulus..  Very rare event, unfortunately only those on the east coast in a narrow band (about 50 miles wide) will be able to see it.  But you can read about it and even watch a real-time video through:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/19/asteroid-eclipses-star-regulus-video-live-stream_n_4993582.html

    And then tomorrow, March 20th,  is the equinox — equal day / night.  Also called “ostara” in german and eostre in old english; a common pagan practice to celebrate was dyeing eggs.  And the rabbit was a sacred symbol of fertility.  Hence the easter bunny altough this year it’s a month later.  A good source to learn about the equinox is:

    http://earthsky.org/tonight/2014-equinox-sun-rises-due-east-and-sets-due-west

     

     

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    Questions that should not be asked

    Several questions that I can’t answers
    1. Are there any animals that have six legs beyond insects? Now or historically? If not, it is possible for an animal bigger than an ant or centipede to have 6 legs and move? Why not 8 legs or more? Is it an energy problem or coordination problem?

    2. Are there any animals that have 4 legs and wings? Again, there are a few insects. But any animals? Bats sort of have 4 limbs and wings; but all the pictures I’ve seen show that the wings are still connected to the arms. Flying Squirrels have large pouches of skin that stretch from their hands into wings. How about flying lizards? I’m uncertain after a 10 minute search on the web if they really have flying lizards. The searches quickly devolve into fantasy drawings.

    3. What’s the largest flying animal? There were some flying dinosaurs, how big were they and how long did those species live?

    4. Scientists just discovered some crucial supporting evidence for the Big Bang theory. If so; what happened before and what’s beyond our known universe? Is that a foolish question to ask? It certainly is not a productive question to ask because we cannot answer it today with our known science and probably won’t be able to answer those questions within my lifetime.

    5. Now that scientists are finding many possible planets that contain life; how long before we find evidence of extraterrestrial life? Any bets?

    6. Could a 3 legged form of movement work? It’s inherently stable although I’m having difficulty figuring out how movement would occur.

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    Sculpture Class Number 5

    Class five of my sculpture class was last friday and it looks great. It’s starting to look like the beautiful young woman who is the model. Working on small details, I can spend 15 minutes on the ear; only to see that it is now at the wrong angle. Added eye balls, a square jawline, and a few more details to this face. Check out the progress in my photos.

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    Time Change — Funny Story

    In the kitchen we have a battery operated clock that automatically checks the time against an atomic clock.  On Saturday evening, I looked at the clock and briefly thought it was almost 8 PM.  Now Kate was a brand new driver; out with her friends and due home at 7 PM.  First thought; OMG, she’s late and where is she?  Being a mom and engineer, I can generate all kinds of horrible scenarios.  Ton’s of what if’s; none of them good.  After a few minute’s of panic, I realized that the clock had changed early and she was not late.

    So then I was mean.  Wrote a note telling Kat to look at the clock and then come talk to me.  As it turns out she was 10 minutes late having misjudged how long the drive was between her friends house and home.  And I was not upset with her; although she too had a heart stopping moment looking at the clock.

    And to followup — she’s been excellent at texting when she leaves or arrived.  It makes Bob and I feel better.  And I think what happened is that the clock changed at GMT mean time; which was 8 hours ahead.  And so the clock time changed at 6 pm our time.

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    Beauty in an urban area

    This morning I was slothful and slept until a bit past 7 am. Missed breakfast with the family at Allen’s Alley; but went by myself which can be lots of fun. It’s been a rough week with the time change; that dammed alarm has been going off every morning in the middle of a vivid dream. And waking up from the dreams is hard. Add in lots of late nights and you can see why I’m a wretch. Plus it is supposed to be my off friday — instead I’m working both Friday and Saturday. I did have enough sense to volunteer before I got volunteered and probably get a day off later next week. That’s good. Bad news is that I had planned on finishing a couple of wax sculptures today in preparation for the bronze pour on the 23rd.

    On Sunday the 23rd, we are having an open house. The purpose of this open house is to recruit new students — professional artists as well as full time students. I’m organizing it; asking friends to come do demos as well as hosting a bronze pour. Have invited many people and even have heard a few are coming. That includes some people who are interested in becoming students — HURRAHHHH!!!!! Still have to write the slide set; but have a long outline and took pictures last night at class. Here’s the flier

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    Anyway, back to Allen’s Alley. For years I’ve noticed these weeds outside the restaurant. They are beautiful, lovely natural sculptures. And today I finally took pictures. And yes, I did play a bit with the images afterwards to make their beauty more pronounced. Only minor things, cropping and adjusting brightness / shadow type settings. First photo shows the glory of our day; unfortunately I’ll be spending it inside working. And then a couple shots of the weeds themselves. When you get in close, the colors of the seeds are brilliant.

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    And with that, I”mm off to work. Have a great day.

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    Cake, Charlie, and Elly

    Took the remaining half of Kat’s cake to work today. It was well received. People were impressed with the great taste of the cake, the frosting and icing layers, and the strawberries on the outside. Not only did I get many compliments and requests for more cakes from Kat; but I also got a get out of work card. One of my bosses told me I could be late any day that I bring another half of her cakes to work. He liked the cake.

    On an entirely different note; have you ever wondered what Charlie and Elly do when they are not “playing” or “getting in trouble”? Well Bob took a great picture that tells all:

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    Edited or Raw — which is better

    It’s an ongoing argument between Bob and I about which is better — the original or an edited image. I think we have different goals. Bob wants to take the perfect picture of something beautiful. I want to tell a story and am willing to play with photos to get an effect. But you decide. Below are two pictures from the sunrise this morning. There was a mist in the background giving a lovely muted effect. The photo does not do justice to reality.

    Original Photo

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    Edited Photo

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    Culinary Adventures

    Yesterday Kat had some free time; so she spent about 4 hours making an elaborate cake. Dark chocolate with lots of extra dark cocoa powder make a cake that was rich and not too sweet. White frosting on everything, holding the layers together and finally covering everything with a dark chocolate icing and strawberries. The result was beautiful and tasty. I have no will power to say no to cakes like that one.

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    Sculpture Class number 4

    Class four for Sculpture last friday. My bust is coming along, the size is pretty much control. Proportions are correct and things like the mouth size, cheek width, and profile line are good. Now it’s fixing little things; a curve on the cheek, the line of the lower lid on the eye; and the fullness of the lips. I spent a long period working on the ear. Shape wise it looked great until I stepped away from the bust. At that point, I realized that ears do not stick right next to the skull. Time to cut them off and bring them out. Only I screwed up both of them in the process so now one is too big and one is too small, both are distorted and need fixing. And as one piece gets fixed, other problems crop up like a flat spot on the skull. It’s a fairly amazing process.

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    And got the idea for another project. We use stands that essentially are bar chairs on wheels with a tray on top that can be raised up or down by using a pin / pole system. There are 3-5 different positions available. These stands cost 300 dollars new and are only student quality. A good one that allows micro-control of the height can cost lots more. Since the ones at the school are old and have been abused; replacements are on the wish list. But we should be able to build some good ones fairly quickly with a wood bar stool, wheels, and poles. Adding in a small scissor’s jack would give micro control and I bet the materials would be less than 100 dollars.

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    absurdities

    Last night, there were a number of absurd things brought to my attention in a short time span.
    1. Grocery store loyalty cards. Absurd things, no one likes them. For years, I’ve used lots of different phone numbers, asked for a new card at every visit, and done everything I can to not give the store good data. Well it must be that enough people hated them; that Albertsons has stopped using them.

    2. An ad on the radio was proclaiming how good the food was because is had “lettuce picked from the field, tomatoes taken from the vine” Of course that was true, where else would lettuce or tomato come from? This was the best the advertisers could come up with?

    3. Grilled cheese sandwiches — why can’t I cook one without burning one side? It’s a well known fact, always check the down side of mom’s grilled cheese; it’s probably burned. Yet I can cook complex gourmet meals without any problems.

    4. Final absurdity was the bike outside the grocery store last night. The seat was 6 feet off the ground. I don’t have a clue how one would climb on it.

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    Success

    One of the greatest joys in teaching is when the students “get it”. Last night, one of my artist students suddenly understood the relationship between the computer code, LED’s, wiring schemes, and how to make things work. And when he managed to add another LED successfully to the mix, there was a shout “I DID IT ALL BY MYSELF”. Later, he carefully put the whole breadboard / LED mix into his box so he could show his wife.

    This class has been has been an incredible learning experience for me. Some of the things I’ve learned include:

  • how to light up an LED
  • how to read hardware specsheets
  • soldering
  • how to order lots of cheap LED’s
  • how to check an LED is good using a battery
  • how to use a breadboard
  • all about arduino boards
  • relearning C / C++ coding basics
  • resistors
  • ohms law
  • multiplexing
  • charlieplexing
  • shift registers
  • But maybe the most important thing is how to teach really hard electronics and programming tasks to a group of people who didn’t think they could do this. It’s breaking things down into a very hands-on-approach. Instead of writing the code; we read the code and modify it. I do the hard programming; but they are learning how to do things because there is an incentive. A for loop isn’t scary when it lets you change the colors of lights. And defining the hardware interface is much easier if you call the port “RED, BLUE, or GREEN”. That lets them tap into their knowledge of color theory and bring something back into the program.

    For the next couple of weeks, we are going to focus on their projects. Everyone is limited to 49 LED’s maximum. Of course the first question was “what if I want more LED’s”. The answer is yes we can handle more; a couple of ways are using shift registers or multiple boards. But it’s really complicated and no one is ready for that. It may take a second class. Let’s get the first project done. The second question was can I put this on top of my bronze statue. And the answer is “Of course yes, but make that your second project”. It’s going to be amazing to see what artists can do with the light shows. We are opening up a whole new branch of art combining technology and classical bronze sculptures.

    One advantage artists have of engineers is that they can easily visualize how to turn 3D structures into 2D drawings and vice versa. So when I told them that we were going to create 3D sculptures, but they were limited to a matrix of 7×7 which could be in any shape; no one had any problems. They fully grasped how a 3x3x3 cube of 27 LED’s translated into a matrix of 3×9 and how the patterns drawn on graph paper translated back into the 3D structure. That is a very hard skill for engineers. We are going to put the electronics together on a piece of posterboard with extra long wires. We’ll convert the code for the 3x3x3 into rows by columns and modify for their own sizes. Each person adds one new pattern. Then they can build their structure separately and later combine the two. That way, they walk out with a finished art project and skills to build a small LED light show. HURRAHHHHH!!!!

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    Nice Sunset

    Took this picture the other day from fraser farms; a local grocery store. It’s a nice sunset; the view made me happy. I like the bare armed trees against the sky.

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    1000 books and other small notes

    A used book store closed permanently up in nevada city. My mom, living nearby was kind enough to bid on some science fiction books for me. Well, she won the silent auction. And now I’m the proud owner of about 1000 books. That is close to 50 boxes; a lot of old science fiction. Rumor had it that I had won authors between C and G, but there seem to be a few other people mixed into the book selection. On the plus side, one book I had wanted for years, “The marching morons” by Kornbluth was mixed into that set. On the bad side, Bob left the book up in Nevada City when he came home last Sunday. But my folks are coming down in a few weeks (Hurrahhh!!!!!!) and they promised to bring all the remaining books.

    So I’ve reactivated the software book exchange at work and put up a note telling everyone that lots of science fiction was coming. Take lots of books, bring back a few if they must, and generally enjoy the reading. Haven’t heard anything; but the small 6 volume set of duplicate books by Louise Cooper (?) got carefully arrange on the top of the bookcase around my note. Someone will be checking out these books.

    Read a fascinating article talking about stone henge today. Evidently there is a hypothesis that stone henge may have been a musical instrument. The type of stone used has the property of ringing when hit. When they tested the stones at stonehenge; they also rang. What a fascinating idea; building a bell tower that is hundreds of square feet in size. You can read about it at this article in the Atlantic journal.
    http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/03/are-stonehenges-boulders-actually-big-bells/284239/?google_editors_picks=true

    We have a new driver in our house. Kate passed her driving test; got a really good score; and now is the proud possessor of a driver’s license. Haven’t worked out the details of when and why she gets to drive; but at least we’ve paid the insurance bill. On the first night out, she had to put gas into her car. It was 45 dollars and she was incensed at how much it cost. Welcome to the real world Kate.

    The trip next summer is coming together. We’ve ordered a new passport for Kate. We’ve leased a car for July in France. We’ve got a house arranged in France although I’m not sure how the bill will get paid. And we’ve even got several potential cat and dog sitters lined up. Thank goodness for that; I’ve been worrying about the animals. Work knows I’m going to be gone for six weeks. And I’ve been listening to enough french music, that I’m starting to understand the lyrics. I do cheat and look up the english translations for the lyrics; internet is a wonderful tool. Google has this great translation tool. And if you know the artist name / song name; it’s possible to find the lyrics.

    But the part of the vacation my mom is arranging sounds really exotic. OK, the original idea was to rent a really cheap house in Italy for a month; no car; and then visit cultural attractions. That morphed into a house in france on the most rural parts of Brittany through a cousin of bob’s cousin’s wife. And my folks wanted to visit southern france and perhaps spain. Well that part has changed as well. Instead we are going to Scotland via York, England. We spend a couple of days in York and then go to Stronoway, on the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides. Mom found a great hotel, Solas. The owner is advising Mom on how to get there, how to arrange a salmon fishing trip, and how to leave via bus / ferry / train combination. We go from Stornoway through the Isle of Skye over to fort williams where we go whisky tasting. This gets followed by a trip to Edinburough and tickets to Tattoo and a grand finale of 3 days in London. Wow is all I can say. I’m excited. It sounds really exotic. I hope we get to see the northern lights while in scotland.

    Bob and Elly returned home last Sunday night. Everyone is happy; we all missed our family members. Charlie and Elly have gotten back into tag teaming trouble. Just this evening, Charlie knocked to roll of paper towels off the counter and Elly picked it up. When she came trotting out of the kitchen with the roll in her mouth; Sophia started growling and hissing from my lap. Since the table is now moved next to the wall to prevent Charlie from jumping onto the china cabinet; there was a lot of space between Elly and Sophia. So Elly just stopped and stood still until Bob came and rescued her from the cat. It’s a wacky wild life I lead. And with that I”m going to leave. Having a 1000 new books is not enough; so I bought a couple more books via the nook last night. And those unread pages are calling.

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    Something new, perfect spot.

    Was extravagant at COSTCO the other day and bought two sun hats. It doesn’t matter that the two of them was cheaper than one regular sun hat; I really didn’t need another hat. But these will be very nice later in the year for someone. Right now, Charlie has found the perfect use for my new sunhats.

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    Rock Climbing

    Charlie is certainly will to explore everything. While I was busy working on taxes, he was learning how to rock climb. Yes, that is a cat climbing up the fireplace.

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    tickled my fancy

    This comic tickled my fancy. Interesting commentary about management and meeting goals. Hope you can find humor in it as well.

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    Perspective and deceptive sizes

    With Bob and the DOG (AKA Elle) still gone on vacation, the cats have ruled the house. And Charlie is lonely; he misses Elle and Bob. They both spend hours playing with him every day; well at least Elle spends hours playing with Charlie. Bob spends hours trying to keep the two animals from hurting each other as Elle rolls Charlie around on the floor and Charlie bats at Elle’s face. They bait each other and obviously have fun; but it’s scary to watch. As a mom, I can all too easily think of horrible scenarios — charlie getting crushed, elle loosing an eye, cuts, infections, the whole gamut of stuff. And then when charlie makes too much noise, Sophia goes to stop the two of them. She’s got Elle scared of her; and with just cause. Sophia in full attack mode is frightening.

    Anyway, back to the cats. They are spending every moment I am at home reminding me they need attention. And if I don’t pay proper attention, they curl up for sleep. Managed to get this photo which has very interesting perspective. Sophia is actually the larger cat although you wouldn’t know it from the picture.

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    In a safe place

    Those are the most awful words to hear “I put it away in a safe place”. Translated it means I have no idea what I did with the item. IN the most recent case, it was all Kate’s passport stuff — birth certificate, old passport, and paperwork. So we got new stuff; obtaining a new birth certificate and paperwork. Then last night, the night before our appointment with the passport agency at the post office, we found everything. Of course, that’s what one expects to happen.

    As you might tell from the words, I’m in a bit of a mood tonight. Spent hours trying to figure out why my LED cube was not working. It’s a really simple thing 2x2x2 LED’s multiplexed into an array and then code is used to create flash the lights in patterns. I wasted way too many hours trying to understand the hardware problems before realizing it was a software problem. Welcome to the real world. Here I am, a software expert and I cannot explain why my code does not work. How can I even have the gall to teach students to code in a couple of nights when my code doesn’t work? Guess what I’m doing tomorrow night — debugging code that makes it through the compiler. Now for those not software savvy, the compiler finds easy errors — typos, bad logic, bad calls to various software functions. But it can’t find problems in how we think. That’s my job and that’s what I”m going to be doing tomorrow. Why can’t I make an entire layer of LED’s light up? ARGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It should be easy.

    On the good side the hardware is working. Used someone else’s code and my LED matrix works beautifully. So at least I can fake the lesson on thursday. The students can build the LED matrix and they can use the existing code that works. I hope they don’t ask hard questions like “How do I turn on only one specific LED?” because I CANNOT DO IT. And it seems an obvious question. Oh well, as always, I need to look on the bright side of things. My hardware works. I have code that works. I can compare my code against the code that works and hopefully figure out the problem. And it is a step towards learning how to create a large LED matrix light. And lots of other good things have been going on.

    For example, Kate did get her application for a new passport accepted today. It turns out that someone who is sixteen can apply for a passport on their own. They do need a parent, but only one. And I went to pay the bills and testify that Kate was a US citizen. Together it was enough that Kate will be getting a new passport in a couple weeks. The guy at the post office was surprised I was willing to pay 60 bucks to expedite her passport application, but unwilling to pay 15 bucks for expedited shipping. My rationale was that the 60 bucks paid to reduce the application time by 4-5 weeks. The shipping cost 15 bucks and only saved a day or two. 4-5 weeks can make a big difference in cost of airline tickets, but 2-3 days is not likely. We can’t buy airline tickets to England until the passport arrives.

    Our trip to France and Scotland is coming together next summer. So after we spend almost a full month in Brittany, France; Bob, Kate, and myself will be going my parents for what sounds like the adventure of a lifetime. We are going to York, England; Stornoway, Scotland on the isle of Lewis in the outer hebrides, Fort Williams and Edinburough, Scotland, followed by several days in London. The whole trip sounds like a dream. But it is slowly becoming real.

    My mom made reservations at a place in Stornoway, Scotland that sound amazing. Both Kate and I were in awe at the pictures. We are renting an apartment on the Isle of Lewis for August 2 and 3rd that look wonderful. It’s way up in the middle of nowhere; but looks beautiful. Both Kate and I were pleased to be staying at Solas. We have an entire 3 bedroom apartment for the family. The pictures are beautiful; both Kate and I were dancing with the beauty of the place. I hope we get to see the northern lights from there. Stornoway is on the Isle of Lewis. We are going there after spending a few days in York, England. At Stornoway, Kate gets to try golfing and Bob gets to try salmon fishing. In York, we are going on a college visit as well as visiting the ministry which is a huge ancient church filled with exquisite artwork. Before York; Bob, Kate, and I will be renting a house in France for a month. It looks wonderful — a few hundred feet from the ocean in Brittany. I’m not sure how big the house is, but does it really matter? So this week, my goal is to get the car in France and possibly the house in France settled. Mom will continue working on her two weeks and I’ll do nothing about airline tickets until Kate’s passport arrived.

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    Sculpture Class Number 2 and 3

    Forgot to take my camera with me for the second class, but did remember on Friday. So for this post, we’ll compare the views between weeks. In the first week, we did the profile. In the second week, we began filling in the width. One is supposed to add in the muscles and then fill in the gaps. Measurements are taken at major points like the temples, the width of the nose, length of face and so on. Little projectiles stand out on the sides showing one how much clay to add.

    Well, me, I’m not quite with the plan. I kept adding in clay as instructed, but then smoothed everything down. It’s supposed to be (and probably is) much easier to add clay than subtract, but I couldn’t see the face for all the little lumps of clay. So at the end of the second class, I had something that looked like a young woman; sort of. And then spend the third class refining it.

    Here are the pictures from the second class

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    And here are the pictures from the third class

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    Random stuff

    I’m tired and looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow. With luck, I might even make it to 7 am. It’s been a long week and tonight’s dinner showed it. Burned the grilled cheese sandwich. While I”m containing the char with water, the smoke alarm goes off. While I’m dealing with the smoke alarm, the stew in the pot burns. While cleaning up the stew, Charlie knocks my beer onto the ground. Obviously its a case of CWWTHAT (Cooking while way too hungry and tired). Luckily I still have more stew left over from my 25 gallon beef stew last saturday night. So eventually I get to eat dinner about 10 pm. It’s ok, but I am getting sick of the stew flavor having eaten the same meal many times this last week.

    Went to fallbrook tonight and the only clear radio station is the calvary chapel ministries. Those dudes are crazy. They are obsessed with women, sex, thinking about sex, women’s wanton ways, and how to be a man. The rapture is coming. That means only a few chosen ones get to go to heaven; a place of eternal bliss. Actually it sounds really boring; spending an eternity waiting on the whims of one god. It’s a fascinating methodology that is used for pulling together the moral lessons. Take a phrase from here, another one from there, and a third one from somewhere else to string together your story. I have no clue how much is left out by the context of the paragraphs because we only get a few words about say the wanton and wicked ways women have of tempting men. And then it’s time for a commercial break — feel free to buy the full 4 cd set associated with this lecture call or go on line; all donations to the ministry are appreciated.

    Guess I had better go feed those fish with remnants of fishfood left over by Charlie yesterday. Goodnight.

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    Quite a day for Charlie

    Charlie has managed to be very creative today. He started the morning with a swim in the fishtank. And he ended the evening by becoming the first cat to get on top of the china cabinet in the kitchen. Up there, he proceeded to open the fish food and push dog and cat toys onto the floor. No longer are they stored out of his reach.

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    Spoiled myself — took the elevator

    Spoiled myself this morning; took the elevator to the second floor at work.  It’s been a morning and a half; all before 8:30 am.  I try to never take the elevator; but today it ws a luxury.  Really the problem is trying to do too much; occasionally everything catches up and I get in the mode of surviving.  And that’s today.

    It has been a late night every day for the last week.  Add in a huge list of things I think must be done along and then have Bob go on vacation.  I am very aware of all the work he does to make my life good.  So this morning came after an unexpected late night.  Kate’s good friend had her 18th birthday party at a local restaurant.  And of course it went late; but that’s OK.  It gave me a chance to order dinner – a wonderful lasagna from Ciao. 

    But we had to stop afterwards and buy those blighter cats some cat food.  They do expect to be fed on a regular basis and while I can be creative for a while; there is only so much ham or turkey a cat should be fed.  The result was we didn’t get home until well after 8 pm.  And when I got out of the car  the bag with my dinner split—splat went the lasagna onto the garage floor.  A few choice words did escape me; I consider that a success because what I wanted to do was have a full meltdown.  Calmed down, realized the lid had not totally come off the lasagna, and there was a really good portion left.  Add in the 5 second rule and that meant I still had a good dinner.  Fed the cats, gave them their love, and 20 minutes later life was good.  Lasagna, a good glass of wine, and novel are an excellent way to end an evening.  Just ignore the dishes stacking up in the sink and the laundry pile in the hallway.

     Actually I’m doing very well and generally happy.  Yesterday; an acquaintance at work gave me the loveliest of compliments.  He said I bring such positive energy to everything; it was an asset.  The niceness of the compliment took a while to fully appreciate; I had just been so happy to chat with him about kids, robots, and life.  Along those lines, another co-worker brought me a printout about holding Burn’s suppers in honor of Robbie Burns.  He had attended one and thought I might enjoy it because I’ve been writing so much poetry at work.  It does look like fun; I might do one next January. But I’ll probably substitute sausage for the Haggis.   And yesterday, Mag’s sent me a text that exuded excitement – She got her grant.  Hurrah, somewhere along the line I’ll catch up with her and find out what that really means. 

    And I even found that my latest iron sculpture will be presenting a very interesting artistic challenge.  It turns out that the wood did not fully burn out – that means there was a big stick of charcoal embedded in the middle of my iron sculpture.  It sticks out in a few places.  Well, the contrast between textures is really interesting; I think I can do some very nice art with that piece.  Not what was planned; but original and unique; something that will catch the eye and make one think.

     Luckily I made a huge stew last weekend; it’s going to be my main meal for most of the week.  This morning was an exception; I broke down and had a muffin from Major Market.  Even told the lady making my coffee that it was a really bad location for the basket of muffins.  She looked at me; a bit nonplussed. Continued saying that it was too hard to have good will power while waiting at the cash register.  She laughed and then in the same kind of deadpan voice I used; said she would make sure and tell the management that a customer said the basket was in a bad location.  At that point; I started laughing.  It was a good moment.  The coffee was excellent as was the muffin.  I needed the laugh this morning; it had been a rocky start.  Managed to get Kate to school late because I took the wrong turn.  She wasn’t happy with me; she probably had to go to the office and beg for a tardy notice.  Left my badge on the kitchen counter (I hope). Tonight is more hard work – need to get the projects finished for tomorrow night’s class on LEDs.

     Heard a couple good stories from Kate about the trip.  Evidently Elle did not like the hotel room in Redding.  So she barked and rustled at bedtime.  Eventually she started howling—awhoooo, awhoooo. At that point; Bob got up and took her out the car.  Laid down in the backseat (wonder  how he fitted into my small car) and she instantly went to sleep.  It was right under a streetlight and horrible; so eventually Bob went back to the hotel room and made a cave for him and Elle on the floor.  Then she slept.  Bob was a wretch on Friday and let Kate do most of the driving.  Hours and hours of driving to Tumwater Washington including through Portland Oregon and over a big bridge.  Plus she got some experience driving in rain.  Since we don’t get rain in southern California, that presented a unique set of challenges to Kate.  I think that she’s had lots of practice driving and probably will be able to pass her driving test next month.  Guess I ought to call the insurance company and let them know.

     Oh well, if one is willing to laugh at oneself; it’s been a great day.  Minor things like spilling tea on oneself or wearing the dreaded “T” badge (known as a Turkey badge not a Temp Badge) are worthy of teasing which brings pleasure to the co-workers.  And Bob did call and make me laugh.  I have a charge number.  And the possibility of meeting friends this weekend for fun. So life is good.

     Robine’s 25 Gallon Vegetable Beef Stew

    • 3 pounds or more of beef chunks
    • 5-6 large onions — sliced
    • At least one pound each – rutabaga, parsnip, carrots, daikon radish – diced into large chunks
    • Other vegetables as desired – also diced
    • 5 giant potatoes – diced into large chunks
    • 3 cans crushed tomatoes
    • 3 tablespoons Herb’s d’provinence (thyme, majoram, lavender, rosemary type mixture)
    • 1 tablespoon cardomonn
    • 1 tablespoon corriandor
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Chili or Chipotle powder to taste

     Begin by cooking onions and meat at a low temperature for at least an hour; more if you forget to check them.  Occasionally stir so the onion does not burn on the bottom.

    After the onions turn golden; add all the remaining ingredients except salt and pepper.  Cover with water.  Let cook for several hours on a low temperature.  Every so often, stir and check water level.  You don’t want it to go below the level of the vegetables; but you don’t want to add too much.  This makes a really rich, thick stew that can feed at least 20 people.  Enjoy for the week.

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    Iron Pour and Other things

    For the last four days, Bob and Kate have been on vacation. They left early on thursday morning (oh way to dark in the morning) for Washington state. Taking Elly, they abandoned me for his brother. And since then; the constant question from other family members is how am I doing? is it too quiet at home? The answers to those questions and others are: doing fine; not too quiet; not alone since I have 3 cats and several fish to keep me company; and I’m keeping way to busy.

    Yesterday was a prime example. Spent the morning working on a couple of electronics projects; realized I had to gather a few more supplies; left after taking care of the cats; went shopping for resistors, lithium batteries; and a second pair of hands. Followed this with an Iron Pour which is way cool. Here’s a couple pictures; no processing, haven’t even had the time to look at them since I didn’t get home until very late. My job was selling teeshirts and collecting donations. We did OK, don’t know how much I collected; but there was a wad full of bills in my pocket which I handed over to someone else. We decided (OK, I talked other people) into having an open house / orientation in March for the school. We need students and sending an orientation invitation to all the high schools within 50 miles is a good starting point. So I started getting the word out about our orientation as well to the iron pour participants. And I’m pleased to note that my log looks ok at first glance. It does appear to be an iron stick shaped object; but I can’t tell much more without doing some work. And that will be next weekend unless I’m working at the day job.

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    The weekend wasn’t long enough for my projects. Other events this weekend included: building an electronic dice with LED’s. Getting a 2 way traffic signal with LED’s almost done. Hosting a dinner party where the main feature was the 25 gallons of soup. Well the volume may be exagerated a little bit; but my in-laws and Suzie went home with lots of left-overs. Then Suzie and I hit the town for a wild evening. We started at Lowes, followed it with wine tasting at 50 Barrels in Vista, and ended up going home before 9 pm. It was a good evening. But when you are used to getting up at 5 am; 9 pm seems very late.

    Failed in one important task last night, taking out the trash. Was going to do so and as I opened the door to go outside; Charlie ran out into the garage. He’s not allowed outside; for one he’s a carrier for cat respiratory diseases and two; he’s scared to be outside. Having been a stray and I think having very hard times since we got him about 30% underweight; and finally he panics when outside. But on the other hand; he is curious out outside and he sees the other cats going outside. So last night when he streaked out the kitchen door, I hit the button for the automatic garage door. The noise scared him; he skidded to a stop in the middle of the garage and immediately raced back inside at full speed. At that point, I closed the door; fed the cats; and decided I wasn’t going to take the trash out. It can wait another week before getting picked up.

    Tonight I get Kat. Hurrah!!!! Perhaps she can help with some of the household things that seem to take way too much time. Of course, she has homework; school; and a great ability to avoid work. We’ll do something fun next weekend — just the two women of the house. Suzie is already talking about movies. She loves animated films; I don’t. So guess I had better be proactive and find something else to watch or do.

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    Really wild photo of fossils

    Check out this link.  Its an amazing fossil of a marine reptile, Chaohusaurus, giving birth.  Three babies can be seen, including one in the process of being born.  What a story this picture tells; I wonder why the mother died during child birth?  While that is a question that cannot be answered (at least by me); this fossil is an important link in our evolutionary record.  Per the scientists in the article, this fossil demonstrates that live birthing sea creatures probably evolved from land based animals.

     

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/26153424

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    Thinking within the box

     

    The comic below tickles my fancy thinking only in the box and yet being totally creative. This is an old cartoon from the new yorker by Leo Cullum. Well tonight, I had a great time thinking in the box. Had the second class in my LED programming for artists series. It went so well. Everyone had a blast soldering test leads and making a blinking light computer.

    These artists quickly understood what was going on, change the timing sequence and you have a different blinking pattern. Add in a second LED and its more complex; but you can get some great patterns. Soon the phrase “That’s Boring” for the basic on/off pattern was heard on a regular basis. We had strobe lights. We had slow drum rolls of lights. We had complex dances with a couple different colors. It was marvelous; I can’t wait to see what these people come up with after this class series is done. It will be creative — one person already has an old pressure sequencing valve and he’s thinking about adding steam and lights to moving wings. Wonder where the steam will be vented — out from the bottom of the wings or from the joints?

    Next week, we are going to build a small array — everyone will get 6 LED’s in 3 colors. And we will add a random number generator as well as mimicking a stoplight. Big things these people will learn is using a breadboard, resistors, capacitors, and other things. I’m not sure what because I don’t know what is needed. ARGGHHHH! Another weekend spent frantically learning a lot of stuff. It feels like I’m barely in control and frantically learning so much new stuff. But that’s the fun of this class, especially since I’m paying for the privilege of teaching. However, I actually am gaining so much — learning new things and setting up a whole curriculum of new classes. The artists are excited. So now if we can find enough paying students, I can get a second job teaching. HURRAHH!!!!!! That will be fun. And if not, the journey is fun and worthwile.

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    monkey toy

    it was elle’s birthday last weekend. she turned two. and in honor of her birthday; I restuffed it with old towels and blankets. This toy had been put away because Elle was very good pulling out the white fluff and leaving it all over the house. Both Charlie and Elle enjoyed this process. charlie loved playing with the discarded stuffing and elle loves shaking the monkey.

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    wishful thinking

    yesterday when leaving work, I cheerily called out to my coworkers “have a great weekend”. Unfortunately it was not true, so this morning I’m “happily” off to work for another day of fun. Will get to practice writing more doggerel.

    It turns out that the recipients of my poetry were talking to everyone else “is this for real” type conversations. But anything that brings a laugh in the midst of a huge boring task is good, so I continue and they are not complaining. And management keeps assigning me more and more of the reviews so obviously they are not upset.

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    The cookie dough thinger

    Last night Kat and her friends went to a dance. Afterwards, they came home and had a party. A big party – 4 girls, lots of noise, doggy help, and even doing some cooking at 3:30 in the morning. Bob and I were talking about it. And he asked what they were cooking and I replied I didn’t know. But they were using “The cookie dough thinger”. As you can tell I was a bit sleepy. Bob knew what I was talking about and started immediately teasing me about it. Sent out a text to lots of people.

    Answer one: “the raw cookie dough in the freezer or the baking pan” received within a minute from one daughter
    Answer two: “the hand held egg beater or the oven or the fridge” dragged out of a sleepy kid
    Answer three: “Something that presqueezes the dough into balls for you?”

    All wrong. The correct answer was kitchen aide mixer. And now we have a new term “THE CDT” And best of all, the kids were not even cooking last night, I probably heard a hair dryer or some other such thinger running in the wee hours of the morning.

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    Sculpture Class, Number 1

    Tonight I took my first sculpture class at CSA (California Sculpture Academy). Yep, that’s the same place where I’m teaching a class on thursday nights. But on Friday nights, I get to be a student and learn how to do a bust using a live model. Tonight we got the profile correct. It’s an additive process, you build up from a base called an armature. Here’s mine, note the perspective in the picture.

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    There is a human behind the pole which is only about 16 inches high. You wrap the pole in wire and then put a small wooden piece of wood a couple inches from the top. That provides a place for the clay to hold on to. Then you start adding clay and making the profile. The model sits in a chair for 30 – 40 minutes at a time, she’s not supposed to move. There are some tricks that Brandon Roy taught for looking and measuring the face. Basically you draw an ear and then sketch the basic structure — mouth, chin, nose, eye, hairline. Add clay, check distances and repeat. Take a break. Move stations — that is move your stand to another location. It turns out that some locations are better than others; by moving in a circle everyone gets the good spot. Brandon says that it can get really competitive with students jostling for the best spots. After three hours, I’ve got something that is sort of recognizable. Heres the left side of the face.

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    And here’s the right side of the face. It’s interesting how the two sides look so different.

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    And here’s the frontal view. Next week we get to add a bit of bulk to the face.

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    I am looking forward to that class. It will be fun.

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