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Blog Posts for October 2005

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Change

 

Some people fear change, but for some reason I gravitate toward it and thrive in it. Must have been the chaos of my youth. I like shaking things up. I like the unknown. Change spurs growth and I think change helps me to feel alive. If I'm growing, I'm not dying, you know?

As Kris noticed when I was at her pad not long ago and Bella noted in the comments recently, I type with 3 fingers. I can manage 50 words per minute, but I have wanted to learn to type normally for a while now, so I went out and bought a Microsoft natural keyboard - you know, the split kind? It forces me to type like normal person. I'm getting there.

And then I changed jobs completely. I'm enjoying that and I'll type more about what I'm learning later.

I've switched mediums in paint, going from watercolors to acrylics. I'll use both, but I'm starting to itch for oils.

My daughter moved into her place this weekend, leaving just Nick, Aaron, and myself in the apartment now.

The truck is sold and I now drive a Grand Caravan. I bought a new computer, I'm buying a new camera, and I now a cell phone after years of swearing that I would never own one.

My life at the moment is bursting with change.

Didn't realize just how much change I was going through until just recently. But I'm totally diggin' it.

 

5 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 10/1/2005 11:35:18 PM
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Getting a Feel

 

I got out the brushes this morning and decided to see how I liked them. I like natural bristles for watercolor, but I definitely like synthetic bristles for acrylics. I noticed two things in this morning's little exercise:

  • I like big brushes for acrylics, where I didn't for watercolor at all.
  • The paint goes very fast.

I'm looking forward to class on Tuesday night.

ETC: Bought more brushes. I need to get into work today to catch up on a couple of things, but think I'll play "hookey" (it's Sunday after all) and paint instead.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 10/2/2005 10:13:09 AM
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Rough Sketch

 

Feeling the urge, I scanned Google images for an image of people in a restaurant and found one. So I set up camp in my bedroom.

I started in with my new brushes, big one first, which I like a lot.

When you first start a painting, you kill the effort if you have any self-consciousness at all because it looks ridiculously 1st grade-ish. At this point, I'm only blocking in basic shapes - but through documenting the process, I can see that I need to be even more rudimentary in my approach. I need a stickmen-like simplicity. I missed the angle of the main guy. Check it out.

And the real thing:

Notice that the real guy leans more to the right. That lean makes him more interesting because there is more movement. Had I gone for stick figures and angles with my initial strokes, I might have caught it and gotten it right.

Obviously, I'm just getting started with this painting, but it's a useful sketch to help me learn what I can and can't do with acrylics. And it's gets me excited for oils...

ETC: I'm stopping for the night.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 10/2/2005 7:08:59 PM
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Fed Up

 

The movement in the blogosphere lately is thankfully a trend toward paring back federal spending, with Porkbusters going full, ahem, "boar." Hopefully the Republicans are feeling the heat from us constituents. There is certainly noise enough out there to attract attention.

But let's say that those of us in the "good government is small government" category stay home at the 2006 elections and Democrats win big. What did we just vote in? Stereotypically, spenders as well, just of a different stripe.

I say a pox on both their houses. I'm not sure that the libertarian party can be taken seriously, but holy cow the time is ripe for the creation and a serious alternative.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 10/3/2005 12:00:00 AM
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Alone

 

I decided to keep working on him, the main guy in the painting.

I've still got background to do, but the essence of him is there. I don't mind so much now not getting the angle of him right from my source picture. He's telling his own story...

 

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by Brett Rogers, 10/3/2005 1:10:19 AM
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Blending and Shapes

 

Went to class again tonight and brought out any object that we had with us to paint - so I chose my baseball cap. Acrylics frustrates me in that it dries too fast to blend into other colors. And then it hit me - acrylics is not about blending like I can with watercolor but about contrast and shapes.

Take, for example, today's lunchtime sketch.

I'd wanted to work on hands, so I started this quick sketch, which I hope to finish tomorrow. Note the blending that happens in the white and pink near the edge of the hand. That's easy to do with watercolor.

Not so with acrylics. Instead, it's about shapes. Get the shape. Paint the color. Use dry brush work if any blend is desired. But that's because it happens so fast. Contrast and color selection will set the mood and feel of the painting.

I see a lot of allegory in that with life. The difference between blending versus the choice of bold, strong colors and shapes. In a way, that's kind of liberating. Give me strong paint, and a lot of it, and a wide brush. We're attracted to people who live life that way. We wish that we could be more like them. And yet we also fear that kind of starkness.

Blending is like political correctness. It smoothes the rough edges and detracts from the strong shapes. It's nice.

There's a place for both. Our instructor told us tonight that acrylics is all about knowing when to use water and in what amount. I get that. Water is for blending.

I painted this toddler yesterday in my lunchtime sketch.

It's a kid eating oatmeal, but I didn't have time to finish it. (Hence, the missing spoon.) I like watercolor, and if I can figure it out, I think I'll like acrylics too. It will make me a different painter. Or at least make me express differently. Maybe with more boldness. And given a few places in my personal life at the moment, that could be a good thing.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 10/4/2005 11:48:24 PM
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Serenity

 

I took my older kids and some of their friends last night to see Serenity, the movie currently in theaters.

Probably the best action movie I've seen in years, and just a flat-out great movie. Not for anyone under the age of 10 (a few frightening scenes that would plague the sleep of a young child), but the plot and the acting are juicy good.

And all of the teenagers, who asked me repeatedly, "So what are we seeing?" before we went, gave me a hearty "Thank you!" for taking them. They'll be talking to their friends today at work and at school.

 

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 10/6/2005 8:24:03 AM
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New Camera

 

Got my Canon Powershot today.

Here's Nick:

Here's Austin:

Here's Bari:

And me:

 

7 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 10/6/2005 11:51:07 PM
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The Illusion of Pounds

 

I had kind of a shock on Friday... I discovered that the scale in the gym at work has the metric system on it. And I learned that the 140 kg notch is right by the 300 pound notch. In fact, 140 kg is 308.65 pounds. Unbeknownst to me, that's the measure by which I've been gauging my weight loss - and that's how much I weigh.

I'm not devasted by the revelation... it's not much difference. But it was a psychological milestone beyond which I thought I'd passed. Alas... not so. So that's my new goal: 300 pounds by my birthday as a present to myself.

 

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 10/8/2005 9:13:22 PM
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The Trouble with Harriet

 

I'm not a lawyer or a legal scholar. I'm just an average Joe, who happens to be a voracious reader and I've been reading about the choice of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court.

I wouldn't want George Bush's job. My daughter came to me the other day and commented how Bill Clinton had it easy: the economy rolled forward largely on the advent of the Internet and the desktop computer in homes and small businesses, and to a lesser degree on the spring from a slight recession in the early 1990's and on the cutting of taxes in the 1980's. The world was relatively peaceful, to the point where we as a nation could be absorbed in a president's blowjobs.

Ol' George, on the other hand, has had to deal with some pretty seismic issues, like 9/11, the GWOT, and the near-destruction of a major US city. I've been a hearty supporter of Bush in the GWOT and I've criticized him on the maladroit response to Katrina. The hurricane relief has gone better since the initial missteps. But Katrina also exposed Bush's preference for insiders, a la cronyism.

I don't mind a person choosing people with whom they are familiar to help them, especially in such a complicated task as the presidency. Bush's White House has been leak-proof, which is a must-have asset in rumor-mongering Washington, and he's surrounded himself with good people it seems in many respects. I've been very impressed with his closer picks: Cheney, Condi, and Ari Fleischer, the first WH spokesperson. The list goes on - these are just a few that are remarkable.

I thought John Roberts was an exceptional nominee for SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States). The Senate agreed and he is where he is as the new Chief Justice.

And then there is Harriet Miers, who possesses exceptional strength and intelligence, both good traits.

If the nation is like a big ship, then blogs are like tugboats. As Bush and the big media folks struggle to steer the big ship, occasionally they run into a bit of pushback. That has happened here with the nomination of Miers.

Some would suggest that conservative criticism of Miers is elitist, but if that's true for some, it's not evident in what I read. Most of what I read shows the criticism to be two simple points:

  • Does she have an ease with constitutional law?
  • How do we know that she's a conservative who will stick to a constructionist philosophy?

Both could be true, which would placate the conservative base, but in the absence of fact, we're shrugging to say, "We don't know." Sometimes we're mouthy about our "I don't know," but if the president doesn't communicate or articulate her stregnths for us to get behind her, pardon us for questioning his choice. The conservative base is not to be taken for granted. And there, I think, is Bush's flaw in this: he made a supremely uninformed assumption.

But the reason that the president is having a hard time with this bit of communication is because it's hard to answer the two remaining questions. Arlen Specter, hardly a pillar of conservative thought, was mentioned and quoted:

Several Republicans, including Mr. Specter, said they steered clear of asking Ms. Miers questions about constitutional law. Mr. Specter, who said the timing of the confirmation hearings would depend in part on when Ms. Miers felt ready, said he initiated a discussion of the shifting standards the Supreme Court has applied in interpreting the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, but only to illustrate to Ms. Miers the kinds of questions she would face during her hearings.

"I did not ask her about it because I don't think she's ready to face it at the moment," he said. "Look, the lady was White House counsel dealing with totally other subjects until Sunday night when the president offered her the job. And Monday she's sitting with me. I'm not going to ask her questions which she hasn't had a chance to study or reflect on."


Not ready for questions about her grasp of constitutional law??? Then why is she even there? Why are we pussyfooting around this nominee? Good lord...

Bush has a few years left in office. He has always lacked Reagan's and Clinton's facility with communication and certainly doesn't have the media on his side, which makes his job in communicating harder. But he does have us little tugboats, and we've shown our benefit in the past. He'd be wise to listen up. Otherwise he'll be steered in a direction he may not like or expect.

 

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 10/9/2005 2:54:06 PM
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Here, But a Bit Quiet...

 

A few people have emailed me and asked me where the heck I am. No blogging lately? What gives?

I said a few weeks ago that with my new position, I'd be more silent for a while. Lots happening in the background for me... and I'm attempting to find the balance in life. I had that earlier this year and even through the summer of my business busy-ness, but I'm a bit off kilter at the moment. Big change is more wearisome than I remember it to be.

I was doing some reading in an art book and the author spoke of size constancy, which is the notion that we often think of things in terms of how they ought to be according to our experience rather than how they are in their true appearance. For example, if I view a chair's seat from the side, it is flat. Some people, when drawing the chair, will widen and round out the seat to make it look more as it should, in their own mind.

The same thing is true in color constancy. An apple should be red, right? An orange should orange, right? But not true... the shadows and highlights of the apple and orange may surprise us for the colors they reveal. But some (probably most) people would paint these in their "right" colors rather than the colors truly there.

We cling to our assumptions, despite what is true.

I think most of us suffer from "people constancy" as well. We generalize and categorize and view from our past experience instead of viewing things as they are. We anchor to our first impressions and don't let go, and I find that especially true of those most successful in business. Top executives don't allow themselves the time to learn things anew. It's all instinct and run, intuition and action. I don't think that at the pace they go, they have the time to see things differently. The same is true with politicians.

That's the danger of a busy life... too many assumptions. If those assumptions are accurate, then huge success is possible because those with the right instincts will act faster on opportunities. But if they're wrong, it's a long, hard fall.

So, yep... I'm here, but unfortunately too busy and trying to keep my vision as accurate as possible and so I am consumed. Painting is my practice in seeing things as they are, so I will soon return with more. Oh, and I recently got my first request to paint something for someone and be paid for it. A commission! Very exciting :)

 

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by Brett Rogers, 10/26/2005 9:11:01 AM
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Autumn Walk

 

Went for a walk with my friend Erin (aka Bella here online) today. Perfect day for a walk in the fall weather.

These were taken with my cell phone camera. Not bad...

 

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by Brett Rogers, 10/30/2005 3:17:24 PM
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Happy Birthday, Nick and Ali

 

Nick's 16th birthday was a few days ago, and his girlfriend, Ali, celebrates hers in a couple of days. So we all went bowling. Here's the couple, now having dated for one year.

I'm lucky to have such a wonderful son in Nick, and Ali is a good fit for him, so I'm happy that they are together.

So the tribe and I went bowling.

We all had a great time. Here's Aaron, swinging the ball around.

Nick happened to be manning the camera on my last frame and shot a video. I'd had a decent game, and so I clowned around in the 10th. I did a backwards shot through the legs and then bowled left-handed to cleanup the pins (I'm right-handed). Check it out (click on the picture to open the 42 second movie):

Then after bowling, off to Buca di Beppo for dinner. Coupled with my walk earlier in the morning, it was a terrific day of family and friends.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 10/30/2005 9:04:08 PM
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Painting :)

 

Nice thing about acrylics is that I can wash over a section with new paint and essentially do it over. I have a nasty habit of ignoring the background and painting the foreground objects first, which of course leaves me in quite a pickle later when I have all this white space in my painting.

So tonight I resolved to just say "what the hell" and go for the background first, which requires me to paint over some of my previous work. You know, in fiction writing class I learned that no matter how cool the paragraph, if it doesn't help the story, it has to go.

So here's where I stand right now with this one. You can watch a little video of me working it over by clicking on the picture.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 10/31/2005 11:49:20 PM
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