Thursday, October 31, 2013
"If you—solitary, gloomy, cynical you—are thinking of others, isn’t it entirely possible that someone is thinking about you? The sublime keeps cracking through the despair. What is magical about Hoban’s book is simply the possibility of connection: that someone else’s inner thoughts are moving at the same approximate pace and toward the same direction as yours, and that this silent kinship is revealed."
Things I Remember About Detroit

"Move into a gorgeous brick brownstone called Phillips Manor—hardwood floors, fireplace, four bedrooms. My two roommates and I pay $110 apiece. The three of us are sitting and watching the huge Star Trek–looking TV I scored for $15 at the thrift store. All the remote controls are sitting in plain view on the coffee table. We're watching VH1. The channel changes itself to The New Dance Show—the local, low-budget version of Soul Train. This is the first of many times that the TV switches itself to another station. The radio randomly switches itself, too. And always to a black TV show or song. Seems to be a friendly ghost. Most definitely an African-American ghost. The only other thing living in that house, aside from the three of us, is my roommate's spooky black Persian cat. Always hiding somewhere. Can never pet it. Once, we can't find it for almost a week. My roommate leaves to make a 'Lost Cat' flyer at Kinko's, thinking it somehow got outside. Boyfriend is sitting in the living room, and I'm at one end of the long hallway near the bathroom. The cat comes stumbling out of one of the bedrooms and just sits in the middle of the hallway, not moving, staring intently at me. I say, all sweet, 'Kiiiii-teee, there you are!' The cat just stares. Then its mouth opens slightly and a very deep man's voice says, 'Hello.' With that, the cat walks back into the bedroom. Boyfriend says, 'Who just said "Hello"?' Not making this up. I scream and lock myself in the bathroom. For hours."
Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Habits, activities, and preferences are compiled, registered, and retrieved to facilitate better adjustment, not to improve the individual’s capacity to act and to decide. Whatever the original incentive for computerization may have been, processing increasingly appears as the ideal means to adapt an individual to a predetermined, standardized behavior that aims at the highest possible degree of compliance with the model patient, consumer, taxpayer, employee, or citizen."
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Artists who have leeway to transform and build off prior works enrich our culture."

"I-want-it-yesterday matched with self-conscious modesty and morbid, reflexive disappointment."
Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I'm privileged to have one of the biggest, most predatory, and overleveraged competitors on the planet.

"The price that the outsider pays for being so heedless of custom is, of course, the disapproval of the insider. Why did the Ivy League schools of the nineteen-twenties limit the admission of Jewish immigrants? Because they were the establishment and the Jews were the insurgents, scrambling and pressing and playing by immigrant rules that must have seemed to the Wasp élite of the time to be socially horrifying. 'Their accomplishment is well over a hundred per cent of their ability on account of their tremendous energy and ambition,' the dean of Columbia College said of the insurgents from Brooklyn, the Bronx, and the Lower East Side. He wasn’t being complimentary. Goliath does not simply dwarf David. He brings the full force of social convention against him; he has contempt for David."
Saturday, October 19, 2013

Old friends relaxing at the conclusion of the 2013 Mood Swings tour.
Friday, October 18, 2013


"This year’s Academy Awards ceremony holds special interest for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System. Some critics are listing Meek's Cutoff, with scenes from Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, as a possible Oscar contender.

[The film], starring Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood and Paul Dano, is about pioneers stranded on the Oregon Trail and was filmed from federal lands adjacent to the wildlife refuge."

Study for Cutoff Tree, 2013-4
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
"The difference between us," says my friend Neaera, rightly, "is that I'm an [Myers Briggs] INFJ and I think you're one letter different.  Also, you're a modernist, and I'm a postmodernist."  Well, sometimes.
"A handful of teams took to El Cap on the eve of the shutdown, in a vertical game of catch-me-if-you-can. There was little the authorities could do, except issue $50 parking tickets and make plaintive calls over a loudspeaker. 'Climbers on El Capitan! The park is closed! No recreating!' one team reported hearing, as they dangled 2,000 feet in the air."
Monday, October 14, 2013
Alice Munro's The Bear Came Over The Mountain, my favorite of her late stories, and a fine example of critical realism quietly doing its work in the world.  There are passages in this piece, which I first read when it was published in 1999, which I can scarcely read without beginning to tear up, as AM quietly & relentlessly cuts the ground from beneath our feet.  For instance:

"[T]he next time he went to Meadowlake, Grant brought Fiona a book he’d found of nineteenth-century watercolors made by a lady traveller to Iceland. It was a Wednesday. He went looking for her at the card tables but didn’t see her. A woman called out to him, 'She’s not here. She’s sick.'

Her voice sounded self-important and excited—pleased with herself for having recognized him when he knew nothing about her. Perhaps also pleased with all she knew about Fiona, about Fiona’s life here, thinking it was maybe more than he knew.

'He’s not here, either,' she added.

Grant went to find Kristy, who didn’t have much time for him. She was talking to a weepy woman who looked like a first-time visitor.

'Nothing really,' she said, when he asked what was the matter with Fiona. 'She’s just having a day in bed today, just a bit of an upset.'

Fiona was sitting straight up in the bed. He hadn’t noticed, the few times that he had been in this room, that this was a hospital bed and could be cranked up in such a way. She was wearing one of her high-necked maidenly gowns, and her face had a pallor that was like flour paste.

Aubrey was beside her in his wheelchair, pushed as close to the bed as he could get. Instead of the nondescript open-necked shirts he usually wore, he was wearing a jacket and tie. His natty-looking tweed hat was resting on the bed. He looked as if he had been out on important business.

Whatever he’d been doing, he looked worn out by it. He, too, was gray in the face.

They both looked up at Grant with a stony grief-ridden apprehension that turned to relief, if not to welcome, when they saw who he was. Not who they thought he’d be. They were hanging on to each other’s hands and they did not let go.

The hat on the bed. The jacket and tie.

It wasn’t that Aubrey had been out. It wasn’t a question of where he’d been or whom he’d been to see. It was where he was going.

Grant set the book down on the bed beside Fiona’s free hand.

'It’s about Iceland,' he said. 'I thought maybe you’d like to look at it.'

'Why, thank you,' said Fiona. She didn’t look at the book.

'Iceland,' he said.

She said, 'Ice-land.' The first syllable managed to hold a tinkle of interest, but the second fell flat. Anyway, it was necessary for her to turn her attention back to Aubrey, who was pulling his great thick hand out of hers. 'What is it?' she said. 'What is it, dear heart?' Grant had never heard her use this flowery expression before.

'Oh all right,' she said. 'Oh here.' And she pulled a handful of tissues from the box beside her bed. Aubrey had begun to weep.

'Here. Here,' she said, and he got hold of the Kleenex as well as he could and made a few awkward but lucky swipes at his face. While he was occupied, Fiona turned to Grant.

'Do you by any chance have any influence around here?' she said in a whisper. 'I’ve seen you talking to them . . .'

Aubrey made a noise of protest or weariness or disgust. Then his upper body pitched forward as if he wanted to throw himself against her. She scrambled half out of bed and caught him and held on to him. It seemed improper for Grant to help her.

'Hush,' Fiona was saying. 'Oh, honey. Hush. We’ll get to see each other. We’ll have to. I’ll go and see you. You’ll come and see me.'

Aubrey made the same sound again with his face in her chest and there was nothing Grant could decently do but get out of the room.

'I just wish his wife would hurry up and get here,' Kristy said when he ran into her. ' wish she’d get him out of here and cut the agony short. We’ve got to start serving supper before long and how are we supposed to get her to swallow anything with him still hanging around?'

Grant said, 'Should I stay?'

'What for? She’s not sick, you know.'

'To keep her company,' he said.

Kristy shook her head.

'They have to get over these things on their own. They’ve got short memories, usually. That’s not always so bad.'

Grant left without going back to Fiona’s room. He noticed that the wind was actually warm and the crows were making an uproar. In the parking lot a woman wearing a tartan pants suit was getting a folded-up wheelchair out of the trunk of her car."
Sunday, October 13, 2013

Aesthetically Claimed Thing: Banksy, Better Out Than In, 2013

"Yesterday I set up a stall in the park selling 100% authentic original signed Banksy canvases. For $60 each. Please note: This was a one off. The stall will not be there again today."
Saturday, October 12, 2013

Last Mile

"These conduits that are located closer to the endpoint, or end-user, do not individually have as many users supporting them. Even though they are smaller, each has the overhead of an 'installation'; obtaining and maintaining a suitable path over which the resource can flow. The funding and resources supporting these smaller conduits tend to come from the immediate locale.

This can have the advantage of a 'small-government model.' That is, the management and resources for these conduits is provided by local entities and therefore can be optimized to achieve the best solutions in the immediate environment and also to make best use of local resources. However, the lower operating efficiencies and relatively greater installation expenses, compared with the transfer capacities, can cause these smaller conduits, as a whole, to be the most expensive and difficult part of the complete distribution system."

Relevant to my interests.
Friday, October 11, 2013
"Fagen possesses none of the swagger of the typical rock dude—those ambulatory ids who love to splash around inside the chaos of their own stardom. He’s far too self-conscious for that. 'The fact is,' he confesses in his introduction, 'until I got out of high school, I was pretty sure I’d end up in journalism or teaching English or working in a bookstore or something along those lines.' He is both blessed and cursed with the observer mentality."
Thursday, October 10, 2013


Kato Cat hard at work in the early fall sunshine.  Well-composed photo courtesy L.
"What a Shame About Me concerns a Strand book[store] clerk who’s gone nowhere in his life while his girlfriend has become a major movie star. 'He’s gotten a certain integrity,' Mr. Becker said. 'He’s having a moment of bleak epiphany and is in a state of grace.'"
Wednesday, October 09, 2013


"If you want to customize a Steely Dan setlist, contact Irving Azoff with a check for a mid-six figure sum and assuredly your setlist wishes can come true. Otherwise, it is critical to understand that the competitive classic rock concept marketplace will essentially be responsible for locking in a good 75-80% of Steely Dan's setlist."
US/CDN Pricing Program v.1 
by CJB

# Gets user input - CDN price & discount, US price & discount

can_prix = raw_input('Please enter the Canadian price: ')
can_disc = raw_input('Please enter the Canadian discount (If in doubt use 40%): ')
us_prix = raw_input('Please enter the US price: ')
us_disc = raw_input('Please enter the US discount (If in doubt use 40%): ')

# Converts user's strings to floats for calculating purposes, o/w error when math performed on text string

canadian_price = float(can_prix)
canadian_discount = float(can_disc)
us_price = float(us_prix)
us_discount = float(us_disc)

#performs price comparison & advises of results

adjusted_price = us_price * 1.2
if adjusted_price > canadian_price:
    print "Original CDN price is a better deal than adjusted US price"
    print "Charge", canadian_price * .7, "CDN for this title."

elif adjusted_price < canadian_price:
    print "Adjusted US price is a better deal than original Canadian price"
    print "Charge", adjusted_price * .7, "CDN for this title."

raw_input("Press [ENTER]  to continue")



ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Gordon Smith, our "last ongoing modernist," persisting.

"An artist isn’t someone who just draws and paints. An artist could be serving in a grocery store."  (GS)
"Programming as an intellectual activity is the only art form that allows you to create interactive art. You can create projects that other people can play with, and you can talk to them indirectly. No other art form is quite this interactive. Movies flow to the audience in one direction. Paintings do not move. Code goes both ways.

Programming as a profession is only moderately interesting. It can be a good job, but you could make about the same money and be happier running a fast food joint. You're much better off using code as your secret weapon in another profession.

People who can code in the world of technology companies are a dime a dozen and get no respect. People who can code in biology, medicine, government, sociology, physics, history, and mathematics are respected and can do amazing things to advance those disciplines.

Of course, all of this advice is pointless. If you liked learning to write software with this book, you should try to use it to improve your life any way you can. Go out and explore this weird, wonderful, new intellectual pursuit that barely anyone in the last 50 years has been able to explore. Might as well enjoy it while you can."

Manitou Incline

"The base of the Incline sits at 6,600 feet (2,000 m) and the trail climbs 2,000 feet (610 m) in just over 3⁄4 miles (1.2 km). Parts of the trail are extremely broken and steep and will require even the fittest of hikers or trail runners to scramble over the broken rocks and steep trail. Sections of the trail have exposed pipe from the days when the Incline was a hydroelectric utility system. Hiking the trail should not be undertaken by the physically unfit, as there is no vehicle access to the trail and anyone injured or suffering a medical emergency will have to walk or be carried down by other hikers."
Physical Conditioning for Mountaineering Expeditions

"To put it plainly, your goal in exercising outside and on the cardio machines should be to kick your butt - aerobically and anaerobically - for as long and as hard as you can, keeping in mind certain thresholds and your own personal safety of course. (Remember when I warned you that this wasn't going to be scientific? Well I wasn't kidding.) When you are first getting started, it probably won't take much time at a high level of activity to wear you out. As you get further into your training schedule and get into better shape, these thresholds will increase, and you will be able to go farther and harder before reaching a point of exhaustion.

It's no big secret that climbing is the best training for climbing. Once again considering reality, most of us don't have the opportunity to get into the mountains on a regular basis as part of a training program. The next best option is to try to simulate the physical challenges that you would encounter on such an adventure. Here is a list of activities that you can do outside to save yourself from the doldrums of indoor training:

Gordon Smith Vs. Dead Albatross

Via Dru:

"Your blog re: Gordon Smith painting:


Dead albatross on Midway Island, choked with plastic:

I thought #1 was #2."

Gordon Smith channeling Jack Shadbolt, even down to the quickly rendered, acidically painted sky and strangely angled driftwood / bone / "energy field" figurative element in the foreground.  But the colors are unmistakably Smith's -- especially that Colgate-gel blue and white squiggle just left of center -- and so too are the tiny, wrist-flicking gestures that animate the deep space inside the tangle.  Finest painting in the new Equinox show by about a million miles, and one of Smith's best, ever.  Funny, unlike about 99.5% of the "last ongoing modernist"'s lifetime production, and better for it, too.

(Smith conspicuously making a point of outlasting his critics, me included, & of doing his best work late, like Cezanne.  I don't love every Smith painting -- lots of his early- and mid-90s fake Monets have aged badly, and didn't look so hot at the time -- but I deeply admire his perseverance, relentless self-criticism, & willingness to change.  What does not change / Is the will to change, & etc.  Also his blues, instantly identifiable even at some distance, the color of cold November sky).
Saturday, October 05, 2013
"The border swath comes up quickly enough and there are lots of recent writings in the Monument 78 log book (it's peak season for [Pacific Crest Trail] thru hikers, averaging 8-10 entries/day, with as many as 19 on one day!). Most scribblings were classic introspective moments, with a smattering of Townes Van Zandt quotes and the occasional homage to [Dru] Brayshaw. Ever wondered what 5 months of hiking will do to your brain?"
Friday, October 04, 2013


"The lobby of the Castle has no visible doors to the interior, and visitors must say a secret phrase to a sculpture of an owl to gain access."
Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg
by Richard Hugo

You might come here Sunday on a whim.   
Say your life broke down. The last good kiss   
you had was years ago. You walk these streets   
laid out by the insane, past hotels   
that didn’t last, bars that did, the tortured try   
of local drivers to accelerate their lives.   
Only churches are kept up. The jail   
turned 70 this year. The only prisoner   
is always in, not knowing what he’s done.

The principal supporting business now   
is rage. Hatred of the various grays   
the mountain sends, hatred of the mill,   
The Silver Bill repeal, the best liked girls   
who leave each year for Butte. One good   
restaurant and bars can’t wipe the boredom out.   
The 1907 boom, eight going silver mines,   
a dance floor built on springs—
all memory resolves itself in gaze,
in panoramic green you know the cattle eat   
or two stacks high above the town,   
two dead kilns, the huge mill in collapse   
for fifty years that won’t fall finally down.

Isn’t this your life? That ancient kiss
still burning out your eyes? Isn’t this defeat
so accurate, the church bell simply seems
a pure announcement: ring and no one comes?   
Don’t empty houses ring? Are magnesium   
and scorn sufficient to support a town,   
not just Philipsburg, but towns
of towering blondes, good jazz and booze   
the world will never let you have
until the town you came from dies inside?

Say no to yourself. The old man, twenty   
when the jail was built, still laughs   
although his lips collapse. Someday soon,   
he says, I’ll go to sleep and not wake up.   
You tell him no. You’re talking to yourself.   
The car that brought you here still runs.   
The money you buy lunch with,
no matter where it’s mined, is silver   
and the girl who serves your food
is slender and her red hair lights the wall.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013
Our Upper East Side Correspondent Writes

"Walter was sick so he left before Deacon Blues, he had a fever Donald told us and it was the first time he didn't finish a concert.

Donald said he should be ok for Thursday.

Lets hope so.

Get well Walter."

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