The other day, I received a google alert that Famous Artists School was mentioned somewhere on the web. FAS is a long-time client and we just launched two new courses, so I wanted to see if it was being picked up somewhere.
The alert led me to this guy: Stephen Fisher, a Warren, Rhode Island artists who is an FAS alum. Which led me to explore the artistaday.com. This site impresses the hell out of me—a huge collection of artists from around the world, an artist profiled each day.
Scrolling backwards, I got to , I think, March 17, 2012, and was rendered speechless. Behold a painting by Tessa Houghton:
Houghton’s website offers an extensive gallery. She is a Brit currently in based in Barcelona.
She paints seascapes mainly—it’s hard to believe the image above is done in oil paint and not is not a photograph. There’s something about the scope and the colors that grab me, the sea ... I think it’s the way she captures the light. I would love to see her work in the real world.
Stanley sent me a link to an interesting page on the Denver Post photo blog. The exhibit, Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943, is a collection of color photos developed from slides and is a fascinating collection. The are images by photographers from the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information. Below are two of the many interesting shots from that collection, the first by Jack Delano:
Rummaging around, I saw another interesting collection: From the Archive: American Cities Pre-1950. It doesn’t have as much information about the photos as other sets do, and the digitized photos are, in many cases, badly digitized, but most of the images are striking, such as this one:
Every once in a while I dive into the digital collections at the Library of Congress, getting so lost, sometimes, I forget what I started out looking for. GREAT way to lose a few hours!
Stanley sent me to this site: www.xkcd.com. A definite time sink. Some of it parts my hair: I’m just not geeky enough to get it—I had to look up some terms that I knew were linux, but not what they meant, for example. Stanley gets it a lot more than I do.
So far, these two are my favorites (also read the tool tips, you know, those words that show up when you put your mouse over the image):
And here is a puzzle: The Cryptic Canvas. There are 50 movie titles represented on this canvas—enter the movie title and if you’re right, the little box turns green and the related image(s) fade to black. You can save it and return to it. Empire Magazine created it to celebrate an anniversary. So far I have 16 out of 50 figured out. The painting was created by Amie Bolissian, whose work is very weird but interesting.
Stanley recorded Earth 2100 for me. I thought it was really interesting, though very depressing—I’m not as up on humanity as those talking heads at the end seem to be. I’d like to think that we’re not the frogs getting cooked but I see so much complacency I think we probably are. Too many people into sustainability as long as it’s not uncomfortable. But maybe I just need to get out more.
On a cheerier note, we’re taking an early weekend this week—headed up to Boston on Thursday so we can do bingo with Dad and Maureen and then see Dad off on his cruise to Bermuda on Friday. We’ll probably head home on Saturday because we have so much to do, both work work and yard work. Not to mention cleaning the house ...
On my way to changing my billing information for the New York Times (to remove my Bank of America credit card—more on that in another post ... ) I saw the link to TimesMachine. I’d received an email about this about a month ago, informing me that, as a NYT subscriber, I’m can use the TimesMachine for free ... I didn’t check it out because, at the time, I didn’t have the time.
“TimesMachine can take you back to any issue from Volume 1, Number 1 of The New-York Daily Times, on September 18, 1851, through The New York Times of December 30, 1922.” Oh dang, not the dates I’d really like to look up, but quite a treasure trove anyway. You pick a date, and it displays the paper as it looked the day it was published. You select the page you want to look at and it displays it larger. “Interesting,” I thought to myself, “but I can’t read it.” But, mousing over a story pops open a little window that displays the title and first few lines in a type size I didn’t have to squint at. And at the bottom of that summary is a link to the full article, which is contained in a PDF file. Very cool. I don’t know why a subscription is needed for this—it’s not something people would likely pay for unless they were doing historical or genealogical research, I think. Maybe I’m wrong.
I initially looked up September 13, 1898, because that is my paternal grandmother’s birthday—ah, the Spanish-American War was going on at this time. Then I switched to September 14 because I realized stuff that happened on her birthday wouldn’t show up until the next day (oh I’m so spoiled by the Internet!) and read an account of a gruesome murder in Bridgeport, Connecticut where an attractive but somewhat emaciated young woman was tossed into the river under the Bridge Avenue Bridge (I think that’s what it was) after being cut up into several pieces. Very tidy cuts they were, with the Bridgeport PD deciding it was done by a surgeon. The theory was she didn’t survive an operation and was cut up and tossed away, with the implication that the operation was an abortion—why else would a botched operation need to be hidden? They had not identified the victim at that time, though they did rule out a couple of women who might have been the victim—it was all quite interesting and I would love to see if they ever did solve the mystery—but not today.
No, for today, there’s a much better time sink. And that is DeepLeap: The Fast-Paced Time-Wasting Word Game. Letter tiles drop on to a rack, 75 per game, and the object is to spell as many words as you can from the tiles before they get displaced. Kinda like Tetris, but with words, and you can’t pay attention to anything else while you’re doing it like you can with Tetris—it’s so, I don’t know, seductive? Good way to stretch the ol’ brain before beginning the day. Wish there was a way to pause the game.
Like I said: diversions.
Always thought I have a pretty good eye for whether things are balanced or not, a picture hanging a little bit askew, deciding on the fairest way to divide something six ways (five siblings, you see ... ) I know I DON’T have an eye for wrapping paper around boxes, but otherwise, pretty okay.
Hmm. I think I’d better rely on measuring with rulers and protractors and levels for the stuff that really counts.
Here is an interesting chart of what presidents from FDR to W have done during their first 100 days in office, from Good:
Good Sheet: the First 100 Days
Now, I don’t know how accurate this is, or if the events mentioned per prez were the ONLY things they did, or what qualifies them as significant, or even the politics of the person(s) compiling this chart. But it is interesting as a starting point.
I took a look at some of the other articles and blog entries on Good. My impression is that the stories are mostly earnest, unbalanced, and naive. They stake out a position and don’t let facts get in the way, or they drink the Kool Aid of the latest entrepreneur who strikes their fancy and claims to be green without bothering with a real analysis (such as “New Crop”), or they parrot what other greenie sites are saying and have to rely on people who comment to provide the balance, critique, or fact checking (such as the blog entry “Greenwashing”). Whomever edits this magazine, or whatever it is, if there even is an editor, mistakes cleverness for wisdom. I’m not saying other publications and bloggers are not guilty of this—not by a long shot. It would just be so nice to be able to read about these topics in a publication that is edited by grownups, or at least people able to see that there is more than one side to every story and that there are many, many shades of gray.
The funniest bit is an article about blocking ads with a Firefox plugin that replaces ads with pictures of works of art (allegedly)—first it’s funny because Good is supported by ads. Second, it’s funny because it’s clear the author has no concept whatsoever of the economics of publishing (or of anything else, it seems). Just the same dreary theme of kiddies (teens, young adults) demanding something for nothing as an entitlement. I wonder how the author pays his rent, or maybe someone else pays his rent and utility bills.
Life is short—I’m not going to bother to bookmark Good.
Read Paul Krugman’s blog entry this morning and followed a link to this: Labor Arts.
I’m not sure what the ultimate objective is, but it is a virtual museum of the art and artifacts of the labor movement. It’s an interesting starting collection, but there is so little there!
I was a union organizer during the early 1980s and really wish I would’ve kept the flyers and newsletters I created back then (we organized the clerical staff at Columbia University—I started out as a clerical worker who joined the union movement and was later tapped as a union staff organizer)—a lot of them drew upon the literature and images of the New York City labor movement from the 1950s through the early 80s. I was pretty good at it.
Of course, it wasn’t hard to appeal to the clerical workers at Columbia because, like the clerical staff at most universities, we were paid shameful wages, crap benefits, and even those benefits that might have helped the most, such as reduced tuition, we could rarely take advantage of. The clerical staff kept Columbia running, yet we were treated like peons if we were even noticed at all. And Columbia is a particularly exploitative university—not just of its staff and graduate students (I was a grad student before I worked as a clerical worker), but the surrounding community as well. I don’t thinks it’s changed much.
I wonder if there is a broader collection of labor movement artifacts somewhere else, such as in the Smithsonian collections? I’ll have to do a little research later.
WE ARE NOT CENTRISTS
Meanwhile, I’m beginning to believe that things might start to change in this country. I’m not naive enough to think that Obama can get much done in the first couple of years—he has to fix the economy first—but I’m starting to think that maybe, just maybe, governing will once again be about the American people and not about business deals and the super rich. And a glimmer of hope that Obama might actually get us out of Iraq and stop wasting our soldiers and treasury on that mess.
What I’m getting mighty sick of is the punditocracy nattering that the United States is a centrist country so Obama needs to be careful. Bullshit. Now’s the time to go bold and really fix what needs fixing. We’ve said we want change—and centrist crap is not change, it’s status quo half-ass measures that will prolong our agony. The Dems got a very clear set of marching orders: fix the economy, get everyone affordable health care, get us the hell out of Iraq, get us energy independent. Not in any specific order, but all of it, beginning January 20. It’ll be interesting to see the Cabinet he pulls together—I hope he doesn’t loot the Senate of the people we need to have in place to make this all work.
Yesterday, I received the book “What If It’s Not Alzheimer’s?: A Caregiver’s Guide to Dementia” and started reading it. It’s not a quick read, but from what I’ve read so far, it gives a careful, detailed presentation of what FTD is and is not, what happens in the brain, the different types and symptoms of the different types. I’m only a couple of chapters in (I just started the chapter on genetics) and I already understand things better. It’s not a pretty picture and it’s really distressing to read the details, but I much, much prefer to know the whole truth about everything than to bury my head in the sand and have hope not based in reality. I sent a copy of this book to Dad and he should get it in a few days.
Another resource is a private support group: FTD Support Forum. To join this, you register and post a message to the moderators to tell them why you have an interest in joining and within a pretty short period of time, they approve you (if your reason is legit). You will see me there as “wordsilk” if you join.
The Association for Frontotemporal Dementias has a lot of resources, though it’s a confusing site to navigate.
Though this information is for medical practitioners and not specific to just FTD, I found it very useful: Dementia: Update for the Practitioner. It’s not as dense as some medical articles I’ve tried to read.
Frontotemporal Dementia Caregiver Support Center is very useful. It’s a great place to start.
The Pick’s Disease Support Group is a British organization, but has lots of useful information. In particular, reading Pick’s from the inside out by Dr. Bob Fay really helpful—it’s his own story as an FTD patient.
Neurology Now, while covering a broad range of neurological problems, makes its articles available online. I think you can subscribe to a print edition of it for free.
What I still need to find out is what kind of resources are available in Michigan, such is there a way to get a referral to a social worker in my parents’ neck of the woods who can help them get what they need in terms of in-home or respite care or any other things available. That’s my next task, unless someone else in the family can find this information faster than I can.
Last week, the onco vet told us that since her white blood cell count was down so much after each treatment, she was worried that the lymphoma had gotten into Ginger’s bone marrow or than Ginger had a genetic predisposition to drug resistance and would need to be tested for this if the WBC count was low again on Monday. Which really depressed me, worrying about this (on top of worrying about Mom and Dad and my brother). Fortunately, the WBC count was perfect on Monday. So the chemo is working and she’s officially in remission. She has one more weekly treatment next Monday, then every other week for six treatments, then it’s every three weeks until she’s discharged. I feel much better now. She gained three pounds, though, so now we have to cut back a bit on the food again. It won’t do her much good to be cancer-free but unable to waddle up the stairs!
And my brother got a diagnosis for a problem he is having that is not the fatal, incurable disease they thought he had, but one that is treatable—I am immensely relieved by that.
Link-a-rama: SharpBrains has lots of resources about keeping your brain fit and trim and gunk-free: http://www.sharpbrains.com The top-ten neuroscience brainteasers is fun—you can even participate in an experiment. It’s going to take me a long time to get through all these wonderful links ... I’m frustrated because I still haven’t finished the last Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle. Most of it is done—maybe ten more clues to figure out before it’s done. So I figure my brain needs some sharpening as I can usually finish them. Eventually.
Last Saturday, we got a phone call from one of our web hosting clients. She couldn’t get her email. I was zzzing away—it was still morning after all—so Stanley went down to the office to reboot the email server. At least, that’s what we assumed was the problem.
It wasn’t. He dragged me out of bed, telling me he needed help. We tried to reset the site, but couldn’t, then tried to reboot the server—nothing. It wouldn’t come back. Trouble ticket in—we got our answer: disk drive was failing. Parts of it corrupted already.
The good news is that there were techs around over the weekend to take care of setting up a new webserver and transferring our sites over—I was kind of dreading having to wait until Monday. Our webserver provider, Netsonic, is a small company as far as companies like this go. That’s why we chose them—gee, it’s been more than five years ago now. So I was surprised that they sprang into action so fast. Even so, I knew it would take hours. It’s like getting a new computer—it takes a long time to prep the new one, transferring files and setting up programs and configuring stuff to work.
The disk, apparently, had been failing for a while—which explained all the reboots we needed to make, was driving us nuts. So the crash was actually a Good Thing. Despite the pain, we have the latest and greatest control panel software, the latest versions of PHP and mySQL, a bigger hard drive, a faster processor, and I guess the latest versions of apache and Linux (we have Fedora).
We did lose some of our database tables, but very few. I was able to salvage the templates for the updated version of our company website I’ve been working on (forever, it seems). Adam lost data for a school alumni site of his—I hope he can recover it. I had to fix some software that got buggy with mySQL 5, but it wasn’t that onerous once Bleau from Netsonic pointed me in the right direction. We still need root access and a link to our remote reboot (which I hope we never have to use) and to fine-tune our backups, oh and make sure we keep all the email servers out there happy by adding verification, but we’re happy.
I’m sure there are a few more things that have to be reset on our spiffy new box—they’ll shake out sooner or later. But the bulk of the pain is over.
Now I’m just scrambling to make up for the lost days.
It’s really difficult to concentrate on what I’m supposed to be working on when there is a spastic cat next to my computer. Slink, you see, is stalking a squirrel. But the squirrel is outside and Slink is behind two panes of glass. Cat claws on glass: not a pretty sound. He keeps making this funny sound, too.
Our data center, which hosts all of the servers we manage, has been having problems today. What a nightmare. Stray packets or something is causing their backbone to go down, intermittently anyway. The joys of web hosting.
Check out Modern Meat. Or don’t. Unless you’re looking for reasons not to eat so much of it.
And here we have Neatorama. I particularly like the video of the guy playing “Angels We Have Heard on High” on broccoli. Enough weird stuff to keep you wasting time for hours.
And finally, one of the web-based applications I quite like: Gootodo.com. It’s a to-do list, nothing more, nothing fancy. It carries over undone tasks, and you can email it new tasks (I just forward emails with marching orders to the appropriate day). It’s not perfect, but it’s the best I’ve found (and yes, I’m one who needs lists). It was created by Mark Hurst, guru of good experience and author of Bit Literacy, a book that teaches you how to manage digital information overload (like email).
Ok, Slink has given up. I guess I should get back to work now.