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Blog Posts for August 2005

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The long sprint of work is nearing the end. I can soon go back to a light jog. I've really enjoyed the project on which I've worked and people are very happy with it. In short, I created a 350+ page web site in about 6 weeks, and it's a very beefy site - loads of functionality - to help manage projects here at Wells. There's still work to do, but the heart of it is done and it will go into production in two weeks.

During all of this, a few other good things happened. I'm now down to 318. That's a loss of 38 pounds since last summer, and a loss of 20 pounds since dropping refined sugar from my diet back in May. My clothes are getting baggy and I need a new belt - or at least I need to create a new notch. I expect to be around 310 by the end of August.

I may soon sell my truck and get out from under my payments. I'll buy a used van for around $2K and then have no payment. Couple that with the extra money I've made while working 70-hour work weeks for 6 weeks and I'm closer to being debt-free, which should happen about summer of next year.

I learned last night that the group for which I've worked on this project is making me a job offer to come on as a project manager. No details yet, but I was interviewing for the position in the last week and that went well, evidently. So that's very exciting.

Yesterday, a fella named Dave with whom I work came to me and handed me the Des Moines Register business section. "Is that you?" he asked.

Sure enough, at the bottom of the page, there I was. The previous day, Wells brought a beam from its new building under constructoin out to the parking lot for us to sign. So tons of people did. I drew a caricature of myself instead of signing. The Register photographer captured that cartoon and it was on the front page of the business section, so ta-da! My first published artwork! (I'll post a picture later...)

Life is really cool :)


Tags: my life | health
by Brett Rogers, 8/3/2005 8:13:18 AM



As I sit here listening to my newly downloaded Vivaldi (which reminds me of staring out into the misted rain from a wooden chair in an Oregon coffee shop long ago...) it's been a great day. And by the way, Vivaldi feels like perfect music for painting. I'll try Mozart out for that too. It's odd, because when I write, I usually listen to Peter Gabriel's Passion or some other ambient kind of music, but that doesn't seem to work for painting.

I've been sugar-free since around May 17. The weight is just dropping off me. Check out these before-and-after pictures... the first one is taken in the fall of 2004, and the second one this evening.

And the only thing I changed was that I dropped sugar from my diet. So with full conviction I say that if watching SUPERSIZE ME meant anything to you, then read this $7 book, Sugar Blues. Or, read this link on the dangers of sugar.

I received an email from someone earlier today who informed me about Splenda, also known as sucralose. "Tastes like sugar because it's made from sugar," as the ad campaign goes. You can read all about it, but here's a quote:

Sucralose is chlorinated carbohydrate. It was initially believed that sucralose was entirely excreted after consumption. Because chlorinated compounds (such as DDT and other pesticides) may be stored in body fat, that Splenda was not absorbed initially diminished these health concerns. But the FDA determined that up to about 27% of sucralose can be absorbed by the body. Thus, this new information ignited concern over the dangers of elevated chlorine levels in the body.
They add chlorine to sugar, and this synthesized sweetener is in part absorbed by your body. Is chlorine good for you? Not at all. Keep in mind that there are no long term studies on humans to discern the effect of sucralose on the body/mind. I'm steering clear of it. I'll eat grapes.

Took the day off and ran all over Des Moines to get stuff done that had been long neglected by me. Among many things, I bought new paintbrushes at The Art Store, took my glasses to get new lenses at LensCrafters ($240 just for lenses!! Yikes!), and biked to a board meeting for the software company I started back in 2002. The company is almost completely dead now, but I may get one last check for about $1,000 out of it. If so, I'll use the money to spend on a new bike, I think. Today, I had to run to the bike shop to get a new spoke, which is the second time I've had to do that in the last month. And the steed is looking raggedy anyway...

My bike choice? Gary Fisher's Big Sur.

I know it doesn't look like much, but it's a solid fat tire bike and I'd load it up with a rear wheel rack so that I could carry around my new painting sketchbox, which I ordered and bought for myself in the last two weeks.

I also got the tripod for it. Sweet!

So, off to la-la land and then tomorrow, painting, with classical aural wallpaper.


Tags: health | my life
by Brett Rogers, 8/6/2005 12:03:13 AM

Love It!


Worked a bit on the Maine Shore watercolor, and love Vivaldi while I paint. I think it's the lack of steady percussion. Writing is about rhythm; painting is not. Classical music is a better fit.

Tried my new brushes, and they are awesome.

The brushes are Princeton, and the one displayed is a Liner #20, and it holds its point very well. I'll buy more of this line of brush.


Read the whole story of "Maine Shore"
Tags: my painting
by Brett Rogers, 8/6/2005 4:31:42 PM



Today I learned that classical music, while perfect for painting, sucks when coding. So I'm here late at night, when no one is around, and I have Marc Cohn in my ears and lemme tell ya - his album with Walking in Memphis on it is pure greatness. My voice is somewhat similar to his, so I'm belting it out. Currently, Dig Down Deep. I love the picture he paints of two people, exploring each other and just talking, late into the night. "Nothing to lose but your sleep." Yes, exactly.

His second album didn't have the same appeal for me. And I don't know if he ever had a third, but frankly the first was enough. In a few songs, he describes that very intense, intimate relationship that frightens some people and makes others jealous. Kind of like how Suzanne Vega describes a night with she and her husband when they slept so close together that they woke up with their hair entwined. What a cool metaphor.

One life, built with four hands.

I think marriage is a wonderful thing. It's beautiful, and difficult, and work and joy... it's supposed to be a lifetime of two peple committed to go nowhere but to work it out and work on it and to mature in their trust of each other.

Couples are attacked by problems with money, in-laws who embarrass and in-laws who hate, the togetherness and the separation that comes with children, the tug of career and the needs of home... every day is a new and crazy challenge. So how do you move through it together successfully?

Lots of talk, digging deep into each other, and staying true to one life, built with four hands. I miss that. That might be why I like this album so much. The music is great, but the words are genuine and wise and unashamed. He knows of what he sings.

Anyway, back to codeville...

ETC: I'm shocked and bummed out... I get home to learn that Marc Cohn has been killed wounded in a carjacking attempt. What a loss drag. (Geez... when I first read this story, I thought I read that he had died. But at least he's okay. That's what I get for reading this at 2 AM.)


Tags: relationships | marriage | music
by Brett Rogers, 8/8/2005 9:48:20 PM



I received Gordon MacKenzie's book, "Orbiting the Giant Hairball," from Amazon today.

I highly recommend it. The word/message is good, and the artwork throughout the book is amazing.

I got the recommendation for the book from Renae Peters, who works for the company that represents me currently, Robert Half. Renae and I had lunch the other day, and we had one of those conversations where you travel across many topics and feel like you're skipping for the good time that you're having. She once worked for an advertising firm in Chicago where the manager there had everyone read a book together once in a while, and this was one of those books.

The gist of the book: it's okay to adhere to the direction of the corporation, but don't let it keep you from having a personality. If the hairball is the company bureaucracy, the orbit is the ability to launch off on a tangent that's good for the company. It's okay to color outside the lines. Don't be cookie-cutter.

Gordon worked for Hallmark. He found his way into a wacky subdivision of the company, loathed by the CEO for its lack of propriety but respected because it made money. The manager of the department knew how to hire talent, and knew how to stay just close enough to manage but not inhibit. Obviously, the zanies loved working for him.

But he talks of getting sucked in and resisting. Smart guy. Good stuff. Read it.


Tags: books
by Brett Rogers, 8/8/2005 10:19:08 PM

Maine Shore (Watercolor)


I'm about halfway done. Maybe less. But I hate my scanner. It darkens part of the picture.


Read the whole story of "Maine Shore"
Tags: my painting
by Brett Rogers, 8/9/2005 9:19:46 PM



I finished Orbiting the Giant Hairball and loved it. Gordon MacKenzie is wise man and a great storyteller. But beyond the writing, the little doodles and artwork throughout the book really grabbed me. Of course, I had thought that Mr. MacKenzie was his own illustrator. And I was so impressed by that. But upon finishing, I discovered the attributions section, and I was wrong. He was only responsible for two illustrations. The majority of them belonged to a woman named Meg Cundiff.

Who's Meg?

As you read Hairball, it's Gordon's tale of corporate creative conflict during his tenure at Hallmark - you know, the greeting card company. He never mentions Meg by name in the book other than in the credits.

Enter Google. It turns out that Meg too works (worked?) for Hallmark as an illustrator. And Meg was involved as an illustrator for a kid's book and another kid's book. She's also featured in a Fast Company article, highlighting the importance of sabbatical. She lives somewhere in the vicinity of Kansas City.

I found another person who enjoyed the book and who is an illustrator/artist. Very free-spirited. Visiting her site reminded me of a woman I once dated who was an artist and painted her car and other objects in her house. No rules, no convention.

I love these kinds of connections that you can find, just going off to explore curiosity. There's a lot more to books than just the story and words... in fact, there might even be more story behind the book.


Tags: books
by Brett Rogers, 8/11/2005 6:36:42 AM

Birthday Bowling


Yesterday was Cub's 6th birthday, and he wanted to go bowling for his big day. He had a couple of friends at the party, and my niece and nephew were in town for the occasion.

Bowling was a good time. I'm a bit unorthodox in my approach - I like to try different methods - and in the video below (click on it), Cub helps me to try and clean up for a spare. He's happy to just hit pins... me, I'm wanting the spare ;)

As Bari graduated from high school, and Nick and Aaron move into 9th and 10th grade in high school, it doesn't seem like it was that long ago that the older three were that young.

Almost makes me wish for more... or to rewind a bit.


Tags: jacob
by Brett Rogers, 8/13/2005 7:50:13 AM

Bigger Light


I came to work this morning to find a huge box on my desk. I received this lamp/magnifying glass in the mail.

I wanted it for when I'm painting from a photo - better light, greater detail.

I've plugged it in and the light is so clear it seems almost abnormal. But then I'm accustomed to the yellowing effect of "normal" indoor lighting. The magnifying lens has a nice sheath for it to protect it from scratches.

The clip is quite strong. I picked that for mobility. Plus my drafting table in my bedroom can tilt, so a clip-on light will move with the angle of the surface.

If you need to do detail work on your artwork or hand crafts, for $70 (that includes shipping), it's worth it. Good product.

I think I'm going to use the light to restart my current painting. I want to paint bigger. I'll finish up the current effort as a simple 4x6 picture that I can frame and give to someone, and then work on a larger scale, like 8x10.


Tags: my life
by Brett Rogers, 8/13/2005 9:47:52 AM

Iowa Art


I heard of the other day, and checked it out this morning. Nice site, lots of stuff from which to choose, but check out those prices!

Watercolor, 5 inches by 5 inches, and it's yours for $400.

The site was prompted by the Iowa Arts Council and built by local web shop Spindustry Systems, who charges an arm and a leg for web sites. And it appears that artists' agents are involved, so there are lots of middlemen and expenses that get padded into the purchase price of art you might otherwise enjoy at an accessible price.

I might be naive, but in my opinion, why charge so much for art? In this era of free blogging tools and credit-card-accepting PayPal shopping carts, artists can take their work directly to the people with less bloat.

[Waxing philosophic...] Shouldn't art be accessible to anyone?

Earlier this year, I bought and haven't done anything with it. But here's the concept: what if artists could manage their own section of the site, like a blog, and give a history of each work like I've done before. Let the artist set the price of their work and then bump it up $10 as a simple flat fee on every purchase through the site. The artist is then responsible to deliver the work to the customer.

I've considered prices for my work. I'd have a hard time charging more than $100. I understand why it's done, but art just seems to me like it should be within the reach of anyone who wants to buy it. Signed, limited edition prints seem adequate rather than originals.

And speaking of affordable, framing costs are outrageous too.

I just think that there has to be a better, more approachable way.

ETC: I just purchased the more generic, but perhaps better domain names, and We'll see what happens, eh?


by Brett Rogers, 8/14/2005 8:07:37 AM




A Democrat has been moved from his Democratic perch by the whole Cindy Sheehan spectacle. He's had enough. He's no longer a Democrat.

While the left may be getting energized by Cindy's way, I don't think they saw this coming. More of it is probably on the way. The war is polarizing, and in ways unexpected.

My own two cents: I have no problem with Cindy's protest. She's pissed, she's making it known in a very demonstrable manner, and in this free country, she can protest the president near where he lives. I think hers is a very great example of why this is a great country rather than a tyranny.

I certainly don't agree with her protest. Her son volunteered and he was an adult. That's what happens in the Army - people will die. It's the nature of the job.

She has every right to be upset and speak her mind. I support that right. Likewise, I also support those who disagree with her and call her on her stances. What a country.


Tags: politics
by Brett Rogers, 8/19/2005 5:50:57 PM




This past week, we released the projects web site that I've spent the last two months building at Wells. There is still work to do, but the site has been very well received and surpassed the expectations of many who said that such a large web site could not be built in such a short time. Woo hoo!

This past week also turned out to be my largest work week yet, but Nick and Aaron have now returned from their time with their Mom and with the project released, I'll be scaling back. It was fun, though...

The work also brought me a job offer now officially made. That's flattering, but I may have a second offer in the next week and so I'm waiting to hear of that before deciding what to do. I'll definitely take one of the offers. Wells is a good company and I like the people and the environment. Lots of opportunity. Time to set in some roots.

It's also time to set aside my developer hat. Programming is an occupation where I can create something new every day that I work, which makes it very exciting for me. I love that. I've been a programmer for 12 terrific years, and I'm good at it. But it's time to move into something else and grow myself in a different direction. For many reasons, I think now is exactly the right time for that to happen.

So... this evening Austin and Jacob come on over to spend the night and we'll go romp around at a park tomorrow. Then Jacob gets to celebrate his birthday - twice in one week! - because Nick and Aaron weren't able to be here for the first party. Cub's in heaven about it already, I know. Bari is making him a cake of her own design (which she's good at).

Life is returning to normal after a nutty summer of mostly work for me. Once again, I'm surrounded by my kids and working a regular week, grilling chicken on the patio, and looking forward to a bit of art. Oh, and Nick has informed me that he wants to learn to paint.

Wonderful :)


Tags: my life
by Brett Rogers, 8/19/2005 6:14:48 PM

Shopping for Blogware


I've started a hunt to replace the blogging backbone of BeatCanvas. Cool that I created my own, I suppose, but I'm moving away from programming, and so I'll look for the work of someone else to replace mine.

My first choice thus far is Moveable Type. I want mine to be commercially capable, and MT comes with a commercial license.

I'm also familiar with WordPress. But it's free. I'm probably weird this way, but I'm leery of free things. And I don't see any built-in support for images. (Not that I need that kind of support for myself, but if I extend the site to make it available to other authors, that would be important.)

So, if you have an opinion/thoughts about this, you can email me (top-right of the page) or comment here.

ETC: Reading around, I've become impressed with ExpressionEngine. I'm signing up for a trial...


by Brett Rogers, 8/20/2005 2:26:39 PM

Ridiculous Lyrics


Listening to Don Henley today while catching up on things I need to get done, he has this lyric in "Gimme What You Got":

Baby picks off your plate, yours looks better
She throws hers on the floor
Here in the home of the brave and the land of the free
The first word that baby learns is "More"
Yep. That's such an American trait. As though babies in Africa don't ask for more. I remember thinking in my former halcyon days as a liberal that Don's lyric here was clever. Today it only seems worded cute with absent fact, in a Molly Ivins/Frank Rich kind of way. America is the most generous country in the world. By far.

Normally I don't listen to lyrics because most are silly anyway, but this hit me today.

I'm reading Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono. This idea is that thinking is also a skill to be honed, not just a native talent inherited through the gene pool. To direct one's thinking, he suggests deliberately wearing six "hats":

  • White - neutral and objective, concerned with facts and figures
  • Red - emotional, "how do you feel about that?"
  • Black - careful and cautious, the "devil's advocate" hat
  • Yellow - the sunny and positive
  • Green - associated with fertile growth, creativity, and new ideas
  • Blue - the everything else, organizing mode of thinking
His argument is that a well-rounded, fully thinking person can take any subject/topic and apply any/all hats, then make a more balanced decision.

It's a good exercise, and important not to wear only one or two hats too often when making decisions.


by Brett Rogers, 8/21/2005 4:46:44 PM



I hope like hell that Bush isn't going to screw this up...

Catching up with the world of bloggers, I read on Glenn Reynolds' site that Islam may end up becoming the constitutional state religion of Iraq. Are the diplomats working that table fuckin' nuts? A lot of blood has been spilled in trying to bring democracy and freedom to the Iraqis and we might give it all away in this huge and unforgivable concession.

This is akin to George I walking away in 1991. This is all about finishing the job.

Call the state department. 202-647-4000. Tell 'em not no but hell no.

Write Secretary Rice.

Write your senator.

Write/call the White House.


Tags: politics
by Brett Rogers, 8/21/2005 6:52:19 PM

Maine Shore


I finished my little sketch.

Whenever I spend quite a bit of time away from painting, it's like I forget how. Then it comes back to me. I like the rock on the right and the water draining off it. It took, like, 2 minutes to do that and it was done near the end of the work. The rest took a lot longer.

Here's a closer view:

But I feel as though I'm ready to paint a lot. Let's hope. I want to have about 20 works for the fair next year.

I'm totally in love with my new setup. In spite of the fact that I bought the drafting table in June, this is the first work that I've done on it - and it's August fercryingoutloud! Also, love the lamp with the magnifying glass. But I need one more lamp - bigger, taller.

ETC: Next stop, the 8 x 10 version of this. I'll be working on the value sketch in a day or so. I had some trouble with the grassy rocks under the house and to the left of it, so I hope to begin to work that out in the sketch.


Read the whole story of "Maine Shore"
by Brett Rogers, 8/21/2005 10:08:28 PM

Thanks Joan!


Walking through the halls of Wells, I caught a glimpse of the TV showing Joan Baez singing in front of the anti-war crowd in Crawford, Texas, outside Bush's ranch.

More of that, please. It's great PR - though probably not in the direction the crowd wants.


by Brett Rogers, 8/22/2005 12:47:41 PM



My first class in college was Speech 211, which was Listening, taught by Paul Kaufmann at Iowa State University. I figured that since I would spend a while in lectures, a class in listening could only help.

I enjoyed the class a great deal, and I ended up pursuing speech as a minor. I've told my children over and over that if there is one skill they should strive to attain, it is communication. That, above anything else in my opinion, determines how others will perceive us as ready to succeed in life.

And it's good for our relationships interpersonally. In that spirit, I occasionally grab a book to rethink and improve my communication skills. I bought The Lost Art of Listening recently, and as I read through it, I find it stirring a few things.

We all struggle to be heard and understood. I think that's normal. But a while back, I had someone close to me say that I should try to get to the point that I didn't need any one else in my life. That being single for the rest of my life should become okay. I thought to myself, "Okay. Yes, I suppose I should."

This book challenges that idea, albeit indirectly.

No one listens to us like our spouse. We live in a deep weave of intimacy where we can't help but expose our innermost thoughts and feelings, even if we try to hide them. Unless our spouse is just oblivious, they know when something is amiss. And frankly, it's healthy to be in that state.

Living alone, surrounded by married friends and acquaintances, it's tough to find someone who will know us that well or take the time to listen that thoroughly. A spouse has a vested interest. In fact, I think we bank on that. They listen, as we listen, because it's mutually beneficial. The quality of a married life depends on rich communication.

But let's take the person living alone...

Why, then, do some people say so little about themselves?

The answer is, life teaches them to hold back. The innocent eagerness for appreciation we bring to our earliest relationships exposes us to consequences. Some people are lucky. They get the attention that they need and thereafter approach life with confidence and openness, Others aren't so lucky. They don't get listened to, and as a consequence they avoid opening up. What might appear as modesty in some cases may have more to do with the reluctance to reexpose old wounds. Many people learn instead to channel their need for appreciation into personal ambition or doing things for other people.

Some people become experts at avoidance and cultivate the capacity to be alone. The charm of solitude... is that it provides space for repose and reflection, time for looking within the self, time for creative endeavor. Solitude offers rest and respite from the noisy claims of everyday social living. But some of the penchant for being alone is defensive - an accommodation to being hurt by not being heard. The defenses that form the solitary person's character support a grand illusion: the illusion of self-reliance. If we could only examine the contemplation of one's own feelings that passes for introspection, we'd discover that the silence of the solitary is often filled with imagined conversations.

Unshared thoughts diminish us, not only by making us less authentic and less whole... but also by eating at us relentlessly. Repression is not like putting something away on the closet shelf and forgetting about it; repression takes a constant expenditure of energy that slowly wears us down.

It takes energy to keep the lid firmly on the boiling pot. It takes less energy to just let the thing bubble forth.

I think with single parents who've known that intimacy in listening but then later lost it through separation or divorce, it makes it much harder to remain unattached. With no one there to catch the adult stuff burbling forth from the single parent's pot, children sometimes end up catching more than they should know. It's gotta go somewhere and it's hard to contain it. I've known parents, myself included, who ended up saying something to their children and later wonder why in the heck they told their kids that.

But in reading this, I've removed for myself the goal of being okay with being alone. It's not okay to be alone. It's not our natural state as humans. Doing so would most likely only lead to greater repression.

I love a book that stirs the pot. Reading this book, I understand again that it's very hard to be a good listener. I'm often not the listener that I wish I were, so I appreciate the poke in the ribs.


by Brett Rogers, 8/22/2005 10:21:54 PM



I've met my August goal early: I'm now down to 310, which is a drop from 356 last fall, or 46 pounds in a year. Hoo wah...

My 4XLT shirts are all baggy now, and my belt needed a tighter notch. I'm holding off on the purchase of new clothes until my birthday in November (happy birthday to me). By that time, I should be around 280-290, which I haven't been at for 6 years. Of course, the ultimate goal is to get back to 210 or so, which I haven't seen since 1988.

My secret to weight-loss success is basically a whole foods approach:

  • No refined sugar
  • Little or no processed foods
  • Not much pasta or bread
I don't count calories and I don't really watch my portion sizes. I do exercise daily, which is usually just bicycling to work and back (about 3 miles total) and walking for about a mile every other day.

Do I love the scale? These days, why yes, of course :)


by Brett Rogers, 8/23/2005 8:21:44 AM

Eenie Meenie...


About a week ago, I received a job offer to become a project manager for Wells Fargo. While considering that position, I've today received an offer to become a business systems consultant for Wells. It's nice to be wanted... so which one?

I have some people with whom I can talk through this decision, and I'll be contacting them over the weekend, but in the meantime, the strengths of the positions seem to be a choice between depth and width.

Through the project manager position, I would learn a great deal about the company through a variety of projects.

The other position offers the opportunity to tunnel into an important and comprehensive subject and potentially manage people.

Both positions are equal in money (did they plan that?), so it's a wash there.

Either way, I'll land well. So which one offers the most growth and is better for my kids and me? That's what I'll wrestle with in the next few days.

In the meantime, things are quite busy and I'm really looking forward to the weekend.


by Brett Rogers, 8/25/2005 7:57:05 PM



Jacob loves to ride on the interstate. The speed, the semi's that join us on the road, the absence of traffic lights... he loves the interstate. So this morning after his swimming lesson, I drove him to downtown Des Moines and we visited the Art Store. I wanted to get a few more brushes and possibly a mat cutter for framing my paintings.

We browsed around and I found more Princeton brushes like the ones that I bought recently. Their tips are very springy. They're just excellent.

And I did indeed buy a mat cutter: the Logan 450.

My mom recently gave me a ton of mat board that she found at a garage sale, so I figured I would shave money by doing it myself.

Later this afternoon after the boys leave to go back to Jackie's I'll give it a try. I'd like to frame the smallish Maine Shore painting I did and put it on my desk at work.

Yesterday, a friend of mine at work came up to me. She's known that I've been offered permanent work at Wells and she saw photos of my family on my desk. That's a new development. Normally, I don't bring pictures to work because as a contractor, I'm more like a mercenary. I get in, do my thing, and then leave to serve someone else. But since I'm moving in, so to speak, pictures are essential. So Ellen asked me:

"Pictures? Plan to stay a while?"
"Yes," I replied. "I'm nesting."

I've noticed a recent change in my mindset. I now find myself more concerned with my image. Either position that I choose would be a step toward upper management, so gosh - should I ride my bike? Should I still paint at lunch? I've never really been concerned with such thoughts, which I think is linked to my having been a contractor, but I'll soon be *an employee.*

These have been fleeting thoughts, but ferchrissakes, what a bunch of hooey. My job shouldn't change me. As long as my work is done as expected, who cares? Such an attitude of moulding to the "corporate" image reminds me of a picture from Orbiting the Giant Hairball, where it shows the progression of the large-hearted, expressionsitic free spirit to the graph-papered, small-hearted, rigid automaton cut into the shape of a suited business person.

That's crap. People who worry too much about their image will never achieve great things for long, in large part because they'll ultimately be unhappy and they won't know who the hell they are. It's not a sustainable presence.

Besides, the business world needs more free spirits.

"You must do the things you think you cannot do." - Eleanor Roosevelt

I'm with her. She might have meant that in the context of achievement, but I also think it's true in the context of bending the rules. "Best practice" is never where new money is made. "Best practice" is simply an encapsulation of the rules as we have known them to be, which increasingly doesn't apply to now/today. The world is changing, and we need to be open to that and breathe it all in and know it for what it is, not what it was.

So I'll hang a sign that says, "LUNCH" over my desk when I paint while munching grapes. That should lead the expectations of others appropriately.

I also plan to bring all of my business books to work. Between the two, it might be a good conversation starter.

And of course, if I ever make it high enough in the organization, I plan to find a decent place to park my steed, rather than leaving my bike's seat and components to the elements. Now if I could only find a way to the dang thing through the turnstile security doors...

ETC: I've never cut a mat before and found it remarkably easy, even for all-thumbs me.

And the finished product...

4 x 6 Frame: $2.47 on sale at Target
Mat Board: Free, due to a thoughtful mother
Cutting your own mat and framing your own painting: priceless


by Brett Rogers, 8/27/2005 3:41:21 PM

Just Because...



1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 8/27/2005 11:52:53 PM


Decisions Made


Forks in the road are funny because it's fairly easy to rubberneck as you veer into an offramp. Right choice? But prolonged rubbernecking only makes for lousy driving.

Fortunately for me, in my discussions with friends and family, their thinking was unanimous and coincided with my own leaning. My most weighted criterion for my choice was "What will I learn?" The goal for me was to select the position that gave me the best opportunity to orient myself within Wells Fargo. Few stay in the same position for a great length of time (more than 5 years), so where do I get the best view and best exposure for the future? Since the money/benefits were the same, that became the chief pivot. Second was, "Where can I most apply all of my skills?" Two years from now, I don't want to be known as a developer and be pigeon-holed.

Choice made, and I'll announce it tomorrow at work. I have a foot in both camps at the moment, so it will take me a while to free myself completely. I recommended and WF hired two contractors to take over my big summer project and they start later this week, so that will make it easier to free myself to focus on the work to be done in my new position. The next month will be a zoo to meet the demands of everyone.

The summer sure spun itself into a direction I never anticipated - but in a very good way. I hope this offramp is scenic!

And the second decision... I had talked about changing the backbone of to a different blogging software rather than use the blogware that I wrote. But last night, I created more article templates (see the moneys and floating woman below) and decided that I like that freedom too much. No other blogware let's you chose different templates for each blog post. So I'll stick with what I have because it's more fun.

That said, I'll probably choose one of the other blogware packages for But it's tough to say when I'll be able to get that going...

ETC: A friend of mine writes and asks... so what was my decision? Which job did I take? One of the people who offered me a job reads this blog and I want them to hear my answer directly from me, so I'll post my choice tomorrow after I tell both people. But of course, I wrote my friend back and told her.


by Brett Rogers, 8/28/2005 12:11:51 PM


What Comes Forth


I downloaded Beethoven's Symphonies 1 - 9 today, and the first is this: Symphony No. 1, Op. 21 in C Major \ Adagio molto: Allegro con brio. So I listen to this first song and I realize that it's used in a Looney Tunes cartoon with Bugs Bunny. Hard to take it seriously after that.

Chuck Jones, the animator for Looney Tunes, said this:

"A small child once said to me: 'You don't draw Bugs Bunny, you draw pictures of Bugs Bunny.'"

He thought that to be very profound because it showed him the reality of his work for others.

I find that to be somewhat like this quote from Picasso:

There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who, thanks to their art and intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.


by Brett Rogers, 8/28/2005 11:14:29 PM



I happen to be up late working on a database to help a friend out. WWL, channel 4 in New Orleans, is live-streaming their feed and I have it playing in the background. Hopefully, Katrina dies down from its current state.

The mayor didn't seem to do much to get people out of the city, which is incredible to me. Lots of questions about the Superdome's stability through this, and there are reportedly about 26,000 people there taking shelter. That's mind-boggling.

The guy currently on TV says that he has a buddy who is staying behind to keep an eye on his pets. Geez-oh-pete.

The storm remains at 160 MPH. The scenarios have been painted in the past. We'll see how it goes...


1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 8/29/2005 1:50:17 AM

Drumroll Please...


I chose the Project Manager position.


by Brett Rogers, 8/29/2005 11:12:29 AM



Things said by Vincent Van Gogh...

One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul and yet no one ever comes to sit by it. Passersby see only a whisp of smoke rising from the chimney and continue on their way.

The fisherman knows that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reasons for staying ashore.

I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.

In a certain way I am glad I have not learned painting. (He attended art training for a brief time, but split with his teacher over artistic differences.)

I tell you, the more I think, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.


by Brett Rogers, 8/30/2005 7:16:05 AM

Today's Sketch


I did a lunchtime watercolor sketch for the first time in quite a while today.

Here's the original:

And then here's what I did in about 40 minutes:

Not too bad. I wasn't able to finish it because I ran out of time, so his glasses are only hinted at. But I really like painting people - and this guy is so full of joy - I would have liked to finish this one... maybe I will do more work on it this weekend.


by Brett Rogers, 8/30/2005 7:07:05 PM



Browsing artists' quotes the other day, I read this:

Most children instinctively draw objects from the viewpoint that gives the most information. They draw a house from the front, but a truck from the side.

To read that seems like it's sensible. But part of that is fact and part of that is opinion. I don't agree that they draw this way from the viewpoint that gives the most information. It's the viewpoint from which children see these objects. It would be a problem, for example, if children usually saw trucks from the front. Then they wouldn't live to draw a picture of the truck later.

As I read de Bono's "Six Thinking Hats," it strikes me that every journalist should read this book - particularly the white hat section, which is what it is to relate unadulterated fact. As an example, de Bono gives this dialogue:

... There is a rising trend in the number of women smoking cigars.

... That is not a fact.

... It is. I have the figures right here.

... What your figures show is that for each of the last three years the number of women smoking cigars has risen above the level for the previous year.

... Isn't that a trend?

... It could be. But that is an interpretation. To me a trend suggests something that is happening and will continue to happen. The figures are the fact. It may be that women are smoking more cigars because they are smoking more anyway - possibly due to increased anxiety. Or it may be simply be that over the last three years cigarmakers spent an unusual amount of money persuading women to smoke cigars. The first is a trend that could provide opportunities. The second is much less of an opportunity.

... I simply used the word trend to describe rising figures.

... That may be a fair use of the word trend, but there is the other use with the implication of an ongoing process. So it might be better to use pure white hat thinking and to say: "For the last three years the figures show an increase in the number of women smoking cigars." Then we can discuss what this means and what it may due to.

It's fairly difficult to pull fact from our instinctive conclusions. Many right now are deducing that the exacerbated hurricane season is due to global warming, but scientists are showing instead that this increase in activity is a normal and cyclical process. What are the facts? If in fact journalists were trained in and excelled at simply conveying the facts without inflationary language and conclusions, I could call journalism a profession.

In events like Katrina, I think the media does a great job at simply conveying the facts at first because that's all that there is and they come in such a huge volume that just reporting what is there is overwhelming. But within a few days, attempts to find meaning and propose trends will surface. People will be grasping at solutions (the government should fix this/prevent this!) and finger-pointing will start (it's the mayor's fault/George Bush's fault/the people's fault for not getting out of there). I had someone ask me yesterday why some didn't leave the area in advance of the storm. I know that in a few cases people stayed to be with their pets. In more cases, people simply didn't have the means to leave - no car, no money, etc. Some are even starting to ask if New Orleans should even be rebuilt.

But instead of all that, it would be great if we could just help those affected get through it. Let them decide what they want to do with their lives in the aftermath of this.

Glenn Reynolds has a bunch of links to aid the victims. Everyone should give something. They need help. No conclusion necessary other than that.


by Brett Rogers, 8/31/2005 8:20:09 AM