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April 19, 2007

Emma's Four Frames

emmakat_comic.jpgMy daughter Emma took as her Lenten discipline to draw one four frame comic every day for all of Lent. That, of course, ended with Easter, but she has continued to draw little slice of life comics from time to time. Today was one of those times and it happened to coincide with our getting a new printer/scanner/copier so she scanned it and put it up on her website for all the world to enjoy. I'm encouraging her to put up some of her other comics so stay tuned to her blog for more installments as she sees fit.

I know I'm her father and biased, but I think she's has a great eye and can frame a story really well. I also like how she uses anthropomorphized animals to represent everyone. I, it turns out, am a goat, mainly owing to my beard, I think, and not at all a commentary on my personality. Right, Emma?

Bridget Riversmith

NGARONG%20ANIMATION.gifBridget Riversmith is a Duluth-based artist whose images are both whimsical and nightmarish. Her art borrows heavily from the dreamworld and now she has a website to match. This is a wonderful website to explore. Go play in it!

April 17, 2007

Your World - Torn Apart

tornado.gifFrom the files of Random Childhood Memories: I couldn't have been more than 8. My family was on vacation and I remember my parents wanted to take us to some sort of roadside attraction where they recreated the story of the Wizard of Oz. I think the sign said something like "Join Dorothy on her journey to Oz!" or something like that. I can't tell you how it was because I refused to go.

In my kid brain I had some facts. I knew the story of the Wizard of Oz. I knew how Dorothy got to Oz. I knew the devastating power and unpredictability of tornadoes. And there was no way I was going to get into one of them, no matter how safe my parents said it would be. Frankly, I thought they'd lost their minds. How could they assure me that a tornado would be safe?

Of course, it probably was perfectly safe. I was overreacting. I should have trusted my parents. My fault in reasoning as a kid, really, was embuing grown ups with the power to make tornadoes occur on a whim. I know now that they can't really do that. But, you know, I'm not sure my instinct was wrong.

The world is not a safe place, no matter how much grown ups assure you that it is. Grown ups can't always be there to protect you. And they don't have as much power as we pretend they do.

The best thing for it, I have found, is to grow up myself and not count on grown ups to keep me safe. It's a hard thing to face your fears, to prepare yourself, to acknowledge simultaneously how powerful and powerless you are.

In training for this I have ridden roller coasters, eaten sushi, had kids, and a slew of other very scary things.

Now I have children who are sometimes frightened by how powerful and powerless they are. I'm with you.

April 16, 2007

Wear Sunscreen

With the passing of Kurt Vonnegut I was reminded of this piece that was falsely attributed to him. It was actually written by Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune. Anyway, I landed upon this short video and I liked it. So I put it up. Why? It's my blog, that's why.

April 12, 2007

Septic Memories of Vonnegut


Kurt Vonnegut died yesterday. When I think of Kurt Vonnegut I think back on the summer of 1989 when I had just graduated from Purdue. I got a temporary job working for a county health department and I spent most of that summer reading everything by Kurt Vonnegut I could get my hands on. It was a perfect fit in many ways.

My first job for the department was to get their database up and running. Personal computers were still pretty new then and everything was on paper file. I was asked to get the database ready to receive information and teach the secretary how to do it. My supervisor gave me two weeks and then I could move on to a field assignment. Well, it was the summer and I didn't really want to spend two weeks in the office when I could be outside, so I got the job done in 2 days. When I reported this to my supervisor he was thrilled, but since I still had a week and a half left, he had me do data entry for the remainder of the time.

This is what expediency gets you.

When I finally got out in the field my job was to go around the county and inspect tile fields, a kind of off-grid septic system, to see if they were working properly. If not I was supposed to note that and try to find a connection between failures. There were a lot of tile fields in the county and I was supposed to check most of them before the summer was out. I jumped right to it and, after a couple weeks, I realized if I kept this up I would be done long before the deadline.

Now, I'm not stupid. I had already learned what beauracracies do to the efficient. So I found lots of time to read Kurt Vonnegut during long lunch breaks and found myself enjoying many of the city and state parks around the area on sunny summer afternoons.

One of the things I learned from that summer was that no matter how well manicured the lawn or how many cars are on the lawn, no matter how nice or surly the person is when answering the door, when I lifted the inspection portal, sewage always smells the same.

I think Kurt would agree.

April 4, 2007

Death Star Conspiracy - Uncomfortable Questions

death_star_brainstorming.med.jpgMuch has come to light since the incident at Yavin 4. The Empire blames a poorly equipped and badly organized band of rebels. The uncomfortable question is: Can we believe what the official news agency tells us? Could such a small force really perpetrate an attack with such lethal force? Or is there an alternate explanation?

Uncomfortable Questions: An Analysis of the Death Star Attack delves into these issues. Is it treasonous to want to know the truth?

Thanks again to BadCat! for pointing out this to me.

death_star_brainstorming.med.jpgFill in the blank! My favorite will go on the front page. Here's my own. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

April 2, 2007

The whole Renaissance bit, really...

I'm an art project. Go fig.

Jenn Johnson did this portrait of me for a class.

mengs11.JPGThe painting was based on a self portrait of Anton Raphael Mengs, an 18th century Bohemian painter.

So, no, not really Renaissance. More Enlightenment. Eh.