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Blog Posts for May 2007

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Read the whole story of "Iris"
Tags: my painting
by Brett Rogers, 5/1/2007 12:44:47 AM

What's Wrong with America


We have a justice system that allows financial terrorism. The story: a guy's pants are missing at the dry cleaners. His solution? Sue the dry cleaners for $67 million. The kicker? This guy is a judge, using our justice system as a lottery to satisfy his idiot vengeance.

First, Pearson demanded $1,150 for a new suit. Lawyers were hired, legal wrangling ensued and eventually the Chungs offered Pearson $3,000 in compensation.

No dice.

Then they offered him $4,600.

No dice.

Finally, they offered $12,000 for the missing gray trousers with the red and blue stripes.

Pearson said no.

With neither satisfaction nor his prized gray pants, Pearson upped the ante considerably.

The judge went to the lawbooks. Citing the District of Columbia's consumer protection laws, he claims he is entitled to $1,500 per violation.

Per day.

What follows is the beginning of thousands of pages of legal documents and correspondence that, two years later, have led to a massive civil lawsuit in the amount of $67 million.

According to court papers, here's how Pearson calculates the damages and legal fees:

He believes he is entitled to $1,500 for each violation, each day during which the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign and another sign promising "Same Day Service" was up in the store -- more than 1,200 days.

And he's multiplying each violation by three because he's suing Jin and Soo Chung and their son.

He also wants $500,000 in emotional damages and $542, 500 in legal fees, even though he is representing himself in court.

He wants $15,000 for 10 years' worth of weekend car rentals as well.

Here's this clown's bio. He's obviously proud of his previous work as an attorney on the "Neighborhood Legal Services Program," and he boasts of getting multi-million dollar settlements. I guess he saw that gravy train and decided to hop on board.

The scariest part for me is that he "was responsible for training and supervising a legal and support staff of 20-60 persons in neighborhood offices throughout the District of Columbia." He taught people this mentality. He's breeding.

They have it exactly right in the first article when they quote this:

"People in America are now scared of each other," legal expert Philip Howard told ABC News' Law & Justice Unit. "That's why teachers won't put an arm around a crying child, and doctors order unnecessary tests, and ministers won't meet with parishioners. It's a distrust of justice and it's changing our culture."
That's what is wrong with this country.


Tags: legal reform
by Brett Rogers, 5/2/2007 8:31:43 AM

Image is Everything


I posted recently on a judge who is hurting a business through a frivolous lawsuit.

Rush Nigut, an Iowa business and corporate attorney, wrote about my post. He mentions a reference to the infamous McDonald's coffee incident by someone in my comments section. And Rush gives a link to a page that explains why the jury found for the plaintiff as it did.

Rush wrote because he's concerned for the image of his profession. I get that. We all worry about how we're perceived. (Rush, by the way, is a terrific guy and helps a friend of mine on legal matters. He gets a big thumbs up from me.)

But to his larger point, he says:

It sure is helpful to see how many view our justice system. I'll remember a lot of the commentary in preparation for my next trial.
There's another favorite blog of mine, Trusted Advisor. Charles writes about lawyers who pad their invoices to clients. He says this:
But this - half the industry with its thumb on the scale? Half the lawyers in the country think it’s not unethical to charge the same hour to two clients?
Everyone knows a good lawyer joke. Insert yours here...

A friend reminded me recently that perception is reality. It doesn't really matter what the truth is if everyone is convinced otherwise. People act according to what they believe is true.

Do lawyers gets a bum rap? Politicians? Muslims? Pick a group maligned disproportionately, and what they suffer is most likely not a vacuum of ethics or morals across the expanse of them, but a few gleaming and sticky examples of really bad behavior. Like it or not, it's what people will remember. Everyone finish this phrase with me now: "One bad apple..."

The question: how do you combat that image?

The answer: you fight that battle on your own turf. Lawyers ought to be the first in line to whup on others in their profession over frivolous lawsuits. Muslims should be the first and loudest to denounce violence done in the name of their god. Politicians should root out corruption in their own ranks and show their backbone against influence abuse.

I don't think that happens much. It's like Reagan's 11 commandment: never speak ill of another Republican.

But this is a different time. It's a time where PR is not centrally controlled, but is in the hands of the masses. It's a time where deeds done in the dark get highlighted on Drudge and other heavily-trafficked sites.

Today, Republicans ought to be the first to pick up stones against corrupt Republicans. If that doesn't happen, then the acts of a few become the sticky image for many. Unfair? Sure. But it ain't good news that's ever the top story of the night. The fact that a trial is fair gets no publicity. It's when it's not that it does. And that's the image people remember.


by Brett Rogers, 5/4/2007 4:47:57 PM

Trunk Monkey


I heard of this the other day... a car dealership in Oregon that has released a series of ads that are incredibly viral.

That's how to do sticky video marketing. My favorite is the chaperone video.


by Brett Rogers, 5/5/2007 12:54:33 PM

Aaron's New Glasses


They come with shades... very nice.


by Brett Rogers, 5/5/2007 5:37:30 PM



I went to Michael's today to get more gesso'd board on which to paint, and I saw that they had a sale on Golden paint. 70% off. After picking my jaw up off the floor, I bought a few jars, and got some new colors I hadn't used before.

About a year and a half ago, I compared different acrylics to choose the best of the brands available. The winner was Golden for its consistency and smoothness. Once applied, it stays where I want it to stay. Perfect!

I mentioned the board... I got a few of the 11" x 14" gesso'd boards and a couple of large canvas. I found that Target offers a nicely matted 11" x 14" frame for $30. Perfect for the size I'm painting now.

And a friend of mine has agreed to let me hang my work in her store to sell, so I'll be painting a lot in the next month. Mostly flowers... but I'll try a few things.


by Brett Rogers, 5/5/2007 5:55:47 PM

Palm Tree Sketch


Last fall, I was in Georgia visiting my future in-laws and while sitting poolside, I broke out a brush and tried sketching one of the palm trees in the backyard.

This sketch was just a partial work because I was only after capturing the unique texture of a palm tree, but with grass, hair, leaves, and other complex subjects, it's tough to get texture right. It's a balance between approximation and exactness. There are some folks who do very well with it. I've never really painted clouds or trees. I've had to tackle grass and hair. But maybe I'll try a detailed cloud setting soon just to take a whack at it.


by Brett Rogers, 5/5/2007 6:25:26 PM



Does it matter what color I paint a tree? I didn't choose green, but a red, a blue, and Yellow Oxide.

I sat on my back deck and tried different colors and techniques. I like something in all three sketches, but I like the third best. Each was done in about 5 minutes' time.

Also, we watched Freedom Writers tonight. An absolutely fabulous movie. Loved it.


by Brett Rogers, 5/5/2007 10:19:01 PM

A Study in Trees


After spending some time quick sketching trees yesterday, I broke out my art books and went for a couple of walks with Tamara where we studied and discussed trees.

Art, like anything else, is a discipline that takes time and study. While a person has to have some innate talent from which to forge their work, the "how" of it all is a matter of looking at real life, looking within oneself, and looking at others to see how they do it.

So I rounded up some variety in rendering trees. What follows are ways in which various artists, both famous and not so famous, have painted trees. Kinda cool to see them all together. (I'll continue my own stutdies and spend more time practicing, and post the results later.)

Bordighera - by Claude Monet

Look at how he layered it up, from the background cerulean sky, moving into darker blues, then deep purple for shadows, then lighter colors, painting each leaf.

Cascade Barn - by Richard Schmid

Schmid is an amazing teacher. He normally paints with brush, but used only knife in this painting. Notice the striations of straight colors - little mixing in parts. I've used that technique in some of my paintings, and I like it a great deal. It's a wonderful way to get vibrant colors for the eye to mix.

A Place on the Pamet - by Charles Sovek

Sovek is a fairly well-known northeastern artist. His use of color and line is so carefree. Look particularly at the tall tree on the left and the color within it throughout.

Autumn Road - by David R. Becker

Becker is my favorite watercolorist, and he is a master. There's not a bit of green in the tree - you can just feel the sunlight in the leaves. Notice the pencil lines he has in his work in the upper left of the tree. That kind of simple texture is perfect. Now notice it throughout the the rest of the work.

Palm Desert - by Kevin Macpherson

Macpherson does some great landscape work. The trees have a wonderful range of value and color, and his sense of light is quite good.

Golden Tree - by William Bowyer

Bowyer is unafraid to use strong black shadows to give his trees depth. I don't find that in many other artists.

Anticipating Connecticut - by Mary Green LaForge

Terrific abstraction. Almost vague, but somehow you know it's a portrait of fall foliage.

El Grande - by Harley Brown

Cowboy artist Harley Brown paints the periphery of his paintings without much detail to approximate what we actually see: great detail at the focal point of our vision and fuzziness at the sides. His trees are never sharp, but loose and airy. (Look at how real those columns in that arch appear... that's rich stuff.)

The Mulberry Tree - by Vincent Van Gogh

And of course, the surreal emotion and color of Van Gogh. The tree bursts with vitality, almost aflame. Take note of how the ground lacks color to draw you into the leaves.

Everyone does it different. Pretty fun to see all of this in study.


by Brett Rogers, 5/6/2007 11:08:15 PM

Purple, Blue, Yellow, and White


I spent ten minutes sketching our young maple in the backyard.

I don't know that I have it right, but I like this better, and it was fun to do.


Tags: my painting | sketch
by Brett Rogers, 5/7/2007 9:35:06 PM

Playing with Cub


Cub and I spent some time at the creek behind our house. Cool place.


by Brett Rogers, 5/8/2007 7:11:58 PM

Site Update?


I get an email from a friend who asks, "Why are some of the links on your site not working? Still in progress?"

The answer is yes, still in progress. I'll put up dummy pages as placeholders in the meantime sometime this evening.


by Brett Rogers, 5/9/2007 11:40:59 AM

Mother's Day Weekend


I went to Georgia with my bff Tamara for Mother's Day Weekend. We had the best time.

You know it's good when you just want to hang out together all the time. We had some great conversations, and some of that will be coming forward in what I post in the next week.


by Brett Rogers, 5/15/2007 12:02:03 PM



"That was well-listened."

Ever heard someone say that?

Me neither.

I have heard:

"That was well-spoken."
"That was well-written."
"That was well-articulated."
We put an emphasis on what goes out - not what goes in - and in a collaborative world, that just might be an oversight.

You can easily find training to improve the presentation of your thoughts to others, but it's rare - if not impossible - to find training in receiving others' thoughts.

Why is that?

Perhaps because there are rewards and recognition for writing and speaking well. You can get a Marconi for radio broadcasting. You can get a Pulitzer for journalism. Toastmasters will celebrate your excellent speech.

It's a very good thing to be clear in your communication to others.

It's also a very good thing to be able to unwrap and explore the gift of others' thoughts.

This is an age of unprecedented partnership and teamwork. Where 1 + 1 can equal 3, or 9, or 27.

Listening is the key to working well with others. Listening makes you attractive; you are always welcome when you listen well.

At the encouragement of my good friend, Mike Sansone, I will most likely be writing a lot more on this subject.


Tags: listening | relationships
by Brett Rogers, 5/15/2007 12:05:04 PM

Business Killer


In the military, it's a common practice to create an opposing force and then play out a war game, with each side trying to win. It helps the military grow stronger, more ready to wage combat.

Business doesn't do this. Not really.

You can make the argument that where the military doesn't have any competition until a time of war, these exercises are necessary to prepare for real battle. Businesses, on the other hand, do battle every day with their competition. Is there a need for war games?

I would argue that there is - especially for large enterprises. Large companies don't turn on a dime like nimble startups do. As we've seen in the war on terror, our military "wins" on a regular basis against combatants. But still, in the grand scheme of things, perhaps not. Our enemy does many things that they ought not and they do a great job of getting their message out through the press. Many war games pre-9/11 weren't ready for the way in which our new enemy engages us. We have learned to adapt, but painfully and at times awkwardly so.

Think of business. It's not the common competitors that will upend a company, but the upstart that does things in ways they "ought not."

So here's a thought: why shouldn't large enterprises fund "pirates" in their organization, to conjure ways to defeat the company? Why not have a clever and strategic group ferret out a startup that would specifically kill the company? Then have the bigwigs look at the scenarios presented by the threat and determine if it is in fact a business killer. And if it is, why not fund the very startup that would attract customers and capital?

It's silly to expect the entire enterprise to change. But why not fund the offshoot uninhibited by bureaucracy? And then reap the reward for stockholders by doing the very thing your competition least expects you to do? Because in finding a way to usurp your own business position, you also usurp that of your very similar competition. And further, you dominate.


by Brett Rogers, 5/19/2007 1:20:22 PM



That Jimmy Carter has a strong opinion about George Bush is not offensive. No big deal.

That Jimmy Carter wants to pass off any strong reaction to his strong comments as "maybe misinterpretation," which implies that the listener got it wrong, is odorous.

Interviewed on the TODAY Show about the comments, Carter said, "They were maybe careless or misinterpreted." He said he "certainly was not talking personally about any president."

When pressed by NBC's Meredith Vieira as to whether he was saying his remarks were careless or reckless, the former president said, "I think they were, yes, because they were interpreted as comparing this whole administration to all other administrations."

Emphasis mine.

Ah, it's you, see. The one listening who is the problem. You interpretted the comments poorly.

Either belly up to the bar and speak it out, or don't, but if you put it out there, don't crawl away from it by blaming it on a misinterpretation by those who heard you when you said, "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history." How can anyone misinterpret that? He was blatantly "comparing this whole administration to all other administrations."

Never blame the listener for hearing your clear comments as you gave them. You come across as an egotist and a buffoon. You either misspoke. Or you said something you shouldn't have said publicly. But misinterpretation on the part of your listeners is not the error of your words.


by Brett Rogers, 5/21/2007 3:40:31 PM

Barely Balanced


While we were in Georgia over Mother's Day, we saw an acrobatic troupe called Barely Balanced at the Georgia Renaissance Festival.

That's quite an amazing picture of the men in the troupe. I found it here.

Here's a video I took while watching them.

They were engaging and entertaining. Well worth the time and of course, we tipped them after the show.

Great name. Great act. More of that, please.


by Brett Rogers, 5/21/2007 3:46:38 PM




by Brett Rogers, 5/21/2007 4:00:57 PM

Front Porch Rose


I caught this little gem right outside the front door this morning while taking out the trash.

Also, if you like peonies, I uploaded a 1280 x 1024 wallpaper that you might like.


by Brett Rogers, 5/22/2007 9:37:47 AM



In the movie, On a Clear Day, the main character, Frank, has to deal with his demons. And he does so with the aid of his friends. At a crucial point in the movie, when Frank wants to throw in the towel, one of his friends comes to his rescue by kicking his ass and sobering him up.

That's what friends do. They throw away their need to be liked by you in the pursuit of giving you what you need to achieve your goals. If it costs them your friendship, so be it - they love you that much.

Parents do the same thing with their kids. It's not about being liked. It's not about being respected. It's about training and life skills. It's about the long view. Any short term pain endured in the relationship is small stuff. It's the bigger picture that matters.

I don't remember the quote exactly, but I read once that someone said, "If you're not willing to be fired for your belief in the project, then you're on the wrong project."

The same is true in relationships. Marriage, friendship, personal, and professional. Care is not equivalent to coddling. We all want to reach the end of our life with the knowledge that we mattered and that we made a difference. Significance. Did we leave the place better than how we found it? Did we change it?

Are we truly prepared to go out with both guns blazin', leaving a wake of positive and lasting impact? Or are we coasting for our own comfort?

Be willing to be fired for your passionate belief in the people and places where you invest your life.


by Brett Rogers, 5/23/2007 10:03:38 AM

The Democrat Nominee


At this point in the race to the 2008 election, I really like John Edwards as the Democrat nominee. Between his fee of $55,000 for a speech on poverty, his 28,000 square foot house, his $400 haircuts, and now his idea that we unilaterally move past the war on terror - an idea that terrorists themselves haven't contemplated, especially considering the Fort Dix Six - I think that he's an ideal candidate for the Democrats. Oh, and I forgot that he worked at a hedge fund to learn about poverty.

Last week, Edwards said that he worked for a hedge fund between presidential campaigns to learn about financial markets and their relationship to poverty - and to make money, too.
And it looks like Iowa Democrats approve of his nomination, since he's leading in the polls here. I'd say that's great news. Go Edwards!


1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 5/23/2007 2:06:29 PM



One of my favorite blogs is the podcast site, iinnovate. They recently did an interview with Carly Fiorina, and I'm listening to it this morning as I work. Great interview.

Here are a couple of things that she said:

"Change is always very difficult. It's always resisted. It's particularly difficult with a large, tradition-bound, old company like HP was. But that's also, frankly, the challenge and the joy of leadership. Because that's what leadership is all about - it's about changing things.

"There is always opposition to change. Some people resist; [successful change happens] because more people embrace the need for change and find common ground."

I love that definition of leadership: Leadership is about changing things. It's not about managing. That's only part of it. Leadership is about vision and direction and inspriing people to perform as needed to arrive at a new destination.

I also love that she said that successful change is not about winning a fight, but about finding more allies than opposition. Where can we agree, and from there, how do we move ahead?

And this:

"If you put the right technology, the right tools, the right capabilities of web 2.0, for example, into the hands of consumers - individuals - then you can accelerate the transformation of industries. That's really exciting. Because I think there are a whole set of industries that are being transformed because the individual, coupled with the right technology, can drive the change."
She gets it. I'll probably buy her book.


1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 5/24/2007 11:37:31 AM

Rhythm and Hue


In my journey as an artist, one element of painting has escaped me, and that is color temperature. It struck me early on that this aspect of my hobby is utterly important, and so I've looked for painters who seem to understand it and who use it well and I've read quite a bit about it.

As a musician, I understand tension. There's a slight predictability in music that you can anticipate where the music is going by attending to the sense for tension. The progression of the music goes along and there is a pull inside us awaiting the relief of a certain note that becomes more obvious and more necessary as times goes on. When that note finally sounds, we experience a wash of satisfaction, of release. Deep inside me, my intuition is that color temperature is related to this same sense of tension in music.

Most things that you read will tell you that blue, green, and violet are cool in temperature and orange, red, and yellow are warm. That's pretty simplistic - and also wrong, in my opinion. That's like saying that all minor chords are depressing and all major chords are happy. Depends on their context and how they're formed.

Take permanent light green, for example. Cool color? Not at all.

Compare that to Phthalo Green (Yellow Shade).

The warmth of permanent light green is obvious.

But compare it now to Cadmium Orange.

Permanent light green is cooler than orange. It's a matter of comparison. Of context.

In short, there is no formula. And yet, it matters greatly, I think, to the success of a painting - how the artist handles the placement and arrangement of temperature. It affects the mood of the painting and how our eyes move around the work.

We have a natural attraction to warmth. Warmth is exciting and gets us moving. Cool colors provide the relief, just as we yearn for the shade when it is too warm for us. That's about as well as I can explain the musical tension of color temperature at this point. I'm certainly no master with it - I'm barely beginning to understand it - but it will occupy my decisions as I paint in the future.

While shadows are cooler in their temperature, there is such a thing as a warm shadow. And there is such a thing as a cool highlight. This isn't really about shadows, nor is it about receding or advancing. It's about tension, I think. It's about rhythm. Do paintings have beat? They just might.


by Brett Rogers, 5/24/2007 2:39:15 PM

Magenta Orchid - Day 1


Working on an 11" x 14" painting of an orchid. First, some background and sketchwork outlining.

And then setting the stage for the petals.

Magenta is a hard color to mix, so I grabbed Quinacridone Violet, which works well for what I need. The reason magenta is hard to mix is that when you start blending colors together, it dulls them, which is great for muted effects, but tough on bright colors. In those cases, direct from the tube is best.

Let's see how far I get with this tonight.

ETC: And a bit more...

MORE ETC: Further, but this time taken with the scanner...

AND MORE ETC: Taking a break...


Read the whole story of "Magenta Orchid"
by Brett Rogers, 5/28/2007 5:38:56 PM

Magenta Orchid - About 2/3 Done


I should finish during my next session with it. I obviously have to complete the center, plus a bit more work on a few spots.


Read the whole story of "Magenta Orchid"
Tags: my painting
by Brett Rogers, 5/28/2007 11:35:44 PM

New - Iris Wallpaper


Over my lunch break today, I created wallpaper from the recent Iris painting that Tamara and I did.

You can download it at the beatcanvas store. It's available in 1280 x 1024, 1024 x 768, and 800 x 600. And, of source, it's free.


Read the whole story of "Iris"
by Brett Rogers, 5/29/2007 2:39:48 PM

Multi-Touch Technology


I watched the video at this link and was fascinated.

Then I found this other video on YouTube.

This is like multitasking the mouse. If they can combine this with accurate voice command, I think computing would be very different than we know it today.

Check this out too.


by Brett Rogers, 5/30/2007 8:29:44 AM

Furniture, When Dali Meets Dr. Seuss


From Pow, Right Between the Eyes (a favorite blog of mine), I find this, a child's bed and a cabinet:

I love this stuff!


by Brett Rogers, 5/30/2007 9:00:14 AM

Magenta Orchid - Starting the Last


Just getting started with this last part... hopefully, I finish tonight.


Read the whole story of "Magenta Orchid"
Tags: my painting
by Brett Rogers, 5/30/2007 9:07:04 PM

Magenta Orchid


And the video of its progression...


1 Comment
Read the whole story of "Magenta Orchid"
Tags: my painting
by Brett Rogers, 5/30/2007 10:48:53 PM