31 December 2007

Fruitorium Rotunda


See Poll at right.


Art Journal

It always amazes me what you can find on the internet. One thing leads to another and pretty soon you aren’t surfing in Kansas any more but are snooping around someone’s collection of Victorian fire screens and hair receivers. And it proves the point that no matter what my wrinkled grey matter can come up with, someone, somewhere has thought of it before, and, in this age, probably has a blog or a web site on the subject. The spectrum of subjects that people collect, study, obsess and blog about is dazzling. If the mind of man can conceive it, some one has blogged it. That can be a good thing, but it also can be not-so-good. You find the sublime, the spiritual, the most noble aspects of God’s finest creation on one hand, and on the other just the opposite. Plenty of material to prove the axiom that, “People will do anything for money”.

One aspect that impresses me is not only does the subject exist in a blog, but that the delivery is done so very well in many cases. People put hours and hours into their special interest blogs with lots of photographs, text, links, graphics etc. The level of expertise is astounding (At least it is to me, the pre-computer generation).

The subject matter is endless. Pencil collecting. Fountain Pens. Old tools. Hairbrushes. Militaria. Genealogy. Antique bicycles. I found a web site about Intentionally Hidden Old Clothing. Some of the most confounding pages are the professional/technical/academic sites that communicate something very specific and meaningful only to their own kind. Kinda like you gotta speekee the language before it makes any sense.

There is a lot of interest in notebooks, journals, art journals and the like. Expensive notebooks seem to be necessary for journaling, and that art-journaling thing: More than a sketch-book; a graphic journal of one’s life; A diary for the eyes. All sorts of media are used for collage, drawing, calligraphy, painting all in a book form. A private world of art! Some are beautiful, all are interesting. People are not shy about sharing them either. Next time you want something interesting to look at, find some art journals on the web.

25 December 2007

The Burning Babe


AS I in hoary winter's night
Stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat
Which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye
To view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright
Did in the air appear;
Who, scorched with excessive heat,
Such floods of tears did shed,
As though his floods should quench his flames,
Which with his tears were bred:
"Alas!" quoth He, "but newly born
In firey heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts
or feel my fire but I!"

"My faultless breast the furnace is;
The fuel, wounding thorns;
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke;
The ashes, shames and scorns;
The fuel Justice layeth on,
And Mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought
Are men's defiled souls:
For which, as now on fire I am
To work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath,
To wash them in my blood."
With this he vanish'd out of sight
And swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I called unto mind
That it was Christmas Day.

Robert Southwell, 1561-1595
English Roman Catholic Priest, scholar and poet
Martyred for the Faith


Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Merry Christmas to All!

21 December 2007

Holiday Morning

Adoration of the Magi, Pieter Aertsen, C. 1560


I read an article about the continuing discussion of the use of the seasonal greeting “Happy Holidays” instead of the traditional English “Merry Christmas”. The company which owns Banana Republic, Old Navy and The Gap is one of the major retailing chains instructing its employees to wish customers “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” for fear of offending someone. One print advertising piece mentioned, “The perfect gift to open on Holiday Morning”! Golly Gee.

Apparently the politically correct bean-counters that run this outfit believe that sales would be lost if some clerk in some store in some mall somewhere in the United States spoke those cheerful words, “Merry Christmas!” to a customer. They gauge the threat of a lawsuit to be significant enough to warrant not taking the chance. Given the fact that the courts in our country are known for entertaining ridiculous and frivolous lawsuits based upon imagined slights, the businessmen may have a point, albeit, a slight one.

Not being a lawyer or an accountant I know I am not qualified to plumb the depths of the sophisticated thinking that gives rise to this phenomenon, but all this hub-bub strikes me as queer indeed considering that many retailers in America rely on the Christmas shopping season for a large portion of their annual sales revenue. If it wasn’t for Christmas shopping a lot of these shoppers would not be shopping at all. The truth is that retailers do everything they can to encourage people to spend ridiculous amounts of money for Christmas shopping while pretending it is not “Christmas shopping”; it is “Holiday Shopping”. “Holiday” as in the observance of the winter solstice, Saturnalia, Yule, and the re-birth of Mithra. If they had their way, the word “Christmas” would be removed from our vocabulary altogether, the entire month of December turned into one unbroken orgy of spending insanity, and malls decorated as temples for the worship of consumerism.

However, even in our dumbed-down society, everyone knows that Christmas is the Christian Feast in celebration and remembrance of the birth of the Christ child, Emanuel, God incarnate in the flesh. You can debate whether or not the U.S.A. is a “Christian” country all you want, but the point remains that Christmas is deeply embedded in our culture and our national psyche and no amount of fiddling around with it by merchants will change things. Its all about the baby Jesus. Christmas is here to stay, and I say to them, “keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine”.

“And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, Every One!”


02 December 2007

St. Nicholas of Myra

St Nicholas the Wonderworker and Archbishop of Myra in Lycia

Troparion - Tone 4


In truth you were revealed to your flock as a
rule of faith, an image of humility and a
teacher of abstinence; your humility
exalted you; your poverty enriched you.
Hierarch Father Nicholas,
entreat Christ our God that
our souls may be saved.

Santa Klaus, Old Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, Papa Noel, Father Christmas, call him what you will, the legendary man of mirth and abundant gifts, has his origin in a very real person. Each year, on December 6, Christians around the world remember this man of faith for his acts of selfless giving and love and his abiding dedication to the cause of Christ during very trying times. Over the centuries, especially in the west, St. Nicholas has become associated with the Feast of the Nativity, Christmas, because of the custom of observing the Feast by the giving presents in imitation of the gifts given by the Magi to the Christ child in Bethlehem. The good Bishop became renown during his lifetime for his own gifts to the poor and needy of his flock and after his passing the legend grew until he became a part Christmastide celebration. The next time you put on the red suit and say, "Ho Ho Ho", consider who you are remembering.

You can read more about the real Saint Nick at:

http://www.reasonfortheseason.com/realsanta.html


22 November 2007

18 November 2007

French Window


Watercolor on paper with ink; 8 x 11 in.

02 November 2007

Lithgow Blast Furnace


Ruin of Australia's first iron smelting facility which
operated from 1886 to 1928 and was the site of the
first iron and the first steel production in Australia.
The site is now a historical park.

28 October 2007

Bumph is an interesting word.

Google Analytics has its uses. Google , who owns Blogger now, provides a nifty plug-in that tracks visits to the blog and examines them by geographic origin, frequency etc. It tells me that if you don't post anything new your visits drop to almost nothing. Loyal readers lose interest if there is nothing new to read. I wouldn't blame them.

Well, what if there is not any great thought, any new pithy observation to make? Should I become some wiley adman always seeking some new twist, some new angle in order to capture and retain "market share" in blogdom? Lucky for me I am not selling anything. If I was, this Blog would be bankrupt.

Nothing is happening. I read more of the same in the paper every day. Business as usual in Lexington. UK wants a new basketball area so the city is discussing building one for them. Such a good deal for UK and totally anomalous for Universities in general. There are only a few Universities in the country who play in municipal facilities and not on-campus. Get this deal: The city will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new luxury basketball arena and fund it buy laying another illegal and onerous tax on business. UK leases it for a handsome monthly fee. Its expensive, but UK wouldn't pay the taxes on the property or pay for maintenance or repair, won't have to fix the parking lot or provide traffic control or security or worry about concessions or cleaning up after the big game. Its a wonderful way to run a professional basketball program and continue to pretend it is a collegiate team. Business as usual.

Of course, there is the usual daily fare, not nearly as interesting as Basketball. Just another story about some moron beating a baby to death in a squalid apartment while Mama was out trying to score a rock with the welfare money. No big deal; this only happens once a month or so.

After the torrential rains last week, drought imposed water usage restrictions are lifted so the city can now rejoice. Developers can water the sod with impunity and suburbanites can wash the leased Beemer all they want now. Fall looks like it is finally a coomin' in and the change has been hell on these bones of mine. The last couple of days have been rough; I feel like I have the bends. Things hurt all over and what is it with the knees and elbows? Does arthritis make your hands tingle?

But the sun is out at last. Our Moron in Chief has got the hots for dropping the big one on Teheran and the Beast continues to slouch towards Bethlehem, or is it Baghdad?

Have a NICE day. We appreciate ye.

21 October 2007

...To whom much is given...

...much is expected. Well, I have a lot to do and thus have spent little time, obviously, thinking abut Blogging. This isn't easy; I'm not the sort to sit down and pound out 300 significant words every evening while watching the news. Sometimes a person doesn't have anything to say, or cannot find a way to express what they do have to say, and thus leaves it unsaid, which is usually the best. Always a day late and a dollar short, or these days, 4 or 5 dollars short, I have to put Blogging at the bottom of the list of things to do.

For what it is worth, I did find out today that Bulgarian Priests do liturgy a little different than Russian Priests. Nothing important, but the variation of little details of gesture and movement are interesting. Proves the point that, contrary to what some would say, you will not go to H -E - Double hockey sticks if the Priest waves his hand one way instead of the other way.

03 October 2007

Words have meaning.

Words have meaning. Communication. Intelligence. Signification. Symbolic logic verbally communicated.

We are surrounded with words from television, words from radios and satellites, CDs and MP3s, and the babble of the madding crowd. Thousands of words assault us every day from speakers and screens and from the mouths of other people. We hear words in music videos and "reality shows" (which are mostly not-real), in magazines, books, bill boards and bumper stickers. A great deal of what you read/hear is carefully groomed by marketing devils to convey a particular message or nuance of meaning. They cannot be relied on. A lot of these words you hear/read are half true; some are patently false designed to manipulate opinion and position. They convey bad messages and generally teach that what you say doesn't matter. You can say anything you want to. No worries, mate.

But...Our Words do have meaning and are not spoken in a vacuum. Words convey intention, fact, mood, belief. If you say something it means something. It might mean you are stupid, or that you are a jerk, or it might mean you are a liar, but it will mean something, even if it is only negative testimony to your character or veracity. Words can hurt, end relationships, lose jobs, lower grades, alienate others, land your butt in Gaol and generally make a mess of things. Once spoken, words cannot be called back. I wonder how many millions of times someone has said, "Gee, I wish I hadn't said that"? Freedom of expression is not a license to babble without consequence. The sooner someone learns this the better off they will be.

07 September 2007

Look Familiar?

Three Things

One of the most satisfactory aspects of my otherwise lackluster life is that of Parenthood. My wife has said that no one ever really "grows up" until they have children and I think she may be right.There is nothing like holding the security and wellness of another human being in your hands, literally, and knowing that it is your job to nurture and protect this person. This realization will help you get your priorities sorted out real fast! Or, at least it should.

Like every parent, I vowed like I would be the BEST parent there ever was. And of course I was wrong. I wasn't a perfect parent, not even a merely adequate parent, at times, but I always worked at it. Witnessing so many kids who seem to have no sense of self identity or place in the world, just a whiney, spoiled, "I am the center of the universe" perspective on life, I wanted my son to be a thoughtful man of good character who could look around in confidence and see where he was and who he is. So I boiled it down to a simple set of three axioms. Ethics, morality, spiritual insight are all informative platforms from which we operate in the complexity of the world, but my three axioms are bedrock principles of reality. Once you get this nailed down all else will come a little easier.

Recently during an conversation with my son about something or other I commented on the pointed focus of his remarks. He said, "Well, Dad, you're the one that taught me to think analytically". I didn't know I had, but I guess I did. I did the best I could. My son is a solid, stable man now who is building a life of his own now. He is a good man. I am proud of him. I thank God for him.



3 Things


Words have meaning.

Actions have consequences.

There is no such thing as a free lunch.



Think about it.



16 August 2007

The Eyes Have It

"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light."
Matthew 19:24



Eyes are important. All the complexity of the created world and the works of man are apprehended through the eye. The eye can speak of our emotions and the condition of our spirit when the tongue is still. Through the eye we appreciate beautiful art, lovers, sunsets and flowers as well as ugliness and sorrow. The eye is a priceless part of our day-to-day lives, our work and our play. Just as we have physical eyes for the perception of physical reality, we also have spiritual eyes. The eye may be the window of the soul, but the spiritual eye is the soul itself. Through that eye we comprehend the truth and presence of another reality, unseen by most of us, yet just as real, perhaps more real. As the Apostles Peter, John and James were given a glimpse on Mount Tabor of Christ as he truly is, bathed in the uncreated light of God, so also our spiritual eye will see things as they truly are. All light.


10 August 2007


Chrysler Imperial, '63
A fine automobile in it's day, This massive touring car had the optional fold-out jump seat in the back seat, very plush upholstery and all the chrome knobs and doo-dads one could want inside a car. Even A/C. The massive 8 cyl. Hemi engine could still be restored by someone with enough knowlege and love to do so. Most of the usable body parts like the headlamp assemblies have been stripped for use on another auto. At least the salvaged parts will live on in a restored vehicle. Vandals have finished this project.
The back seat is full of beer bottles and the odor of rotting fabric and alley cat is not pleasant.

Somebody call a wrecker!

05 August 2007

i.e.d.

that awful sound

beside the road

that piece of rock you cannot know

beside the road disguised as ground

the turban grins and hunkers down

the dervish twirls, spits and spins

the rag head thrusts the button in

the damn thing blew

the hummer flew

son of a bitch took my leg

04 August 2007

Blogophobia

Strange as it may seem, I have many misgivings about this Blog stuff. Looking over all the blogs on the 'net, thousands of them, I see that they range from the most professional, commercialized, purpose-drives efforts to salacious, amateurish drivel....And everything in between. I have no intention of publishing a nekkid picture of my wife, or pix of my family vacation or granny on the tractor. I do hope, however, to make a few comments and observations that might be thought provoking or entertaining. I hope to be interesting. I am afraid of being less than discrete. After all, if you are going to blast friends, family, employer etc. you need to stay somewhat anonymous. Politics is another matter and one of these days I will get my body-politic soap box out. There is so much political blather out there that no one gives a hairy rats ass anyway. But, after 4 weeks there are exactly zero comments. Either the software she is a broken, or no one has read the stuff. At least one comment in deep sympathy for my bad grammer would be OK.

31 July 2007

F-600

R.I.P.

Ding Dong! The Drought is Gone!

Summer thunderstorms being thunder showers and the rain that fell this past week was a real relief for drought stricken Central Kentucky. We have had about 3 inches in the last 10 days and things are looking up! The moisture is not enough to officially end the drought, but the gap is closing. It was sufficient to to reprieve a passal of cantalopes from an unsatisfactory end. The grass in the yard is starting to grow a bit and the weeds in the garden have really taken off. The ground was too muddy to hoe for several days and now the weeds have the upper hand, but not for long. It is a never ending battle. I picked the first cantalope (muskmelon, really) tonight and ate it hastily in an of orgy of melon consumption. Fresh off the vine, fruit of the earth, Gods Bounty.

Gardening is a love-hate thing with me. It can be wearisome keeping the weeds at bay and seeing your produce being nibble to death by deer and rabbits. It is a joyful thing to get hands in the good earth and feel its warmth in the spring after a long winter. Its good to get your feet dirty and your hands filthy and the soil packed under your fingernails and ground into your jeans. God's goodness is in the ground. I can smell it.

The tender sprouts come up just when you thing nothing is going to happen. The tiny plants wait and wait and then explode in growth spurt that is amazing. All the viney stuff does this; cantalopes, watermelons, squash of various kinds, and pumpkins. My favorite, pumpkins. Great huge leaves and great grasping, muscular vines. You can almost see them grow day by day.

And in the fall, God willing and the blight don't come, I will have pumpkins to distribute at work for all the kids. Jack-0-lanterns. That is a lot of fun.

27 July 2007

Gainfully Employed

What a strange day.

Since most workers are restricted to 40 hours per week at my place of employment, many of them were not at work today, Friday, since they already had their 40 "in".Why? Because 40 hours per week is not the norm for this business year in and year out for the last 30 years. People are accustomed to working 50 hours or more, myself included. I coast through the week at 46 or 47 hours and look forward to not working Saturday. You get used to it. Overtime pay is wonderful. But, NOW, with forty and go home a standing order, so people still work 10 and 12 hour days at demanding, stressful, exhausting jobs in a noisy, tense, and potentially dangerous environment. So when the magic number forty rolls around on the old time card, they book on home. Kinda like getting a one day vacation each week.

The trouble is, not all employees can do this. Some, like me, for instance, work under the burden of a constant influx of work and have little lead-time and no possibility of scheduling in advance. You just plunge in and work like the devil as long as you can and then walk off and leave it for the next day. And whether you are allowed to work overtime or not, I still have to field phone calls from clients who are upset that I didnt do yesterday what should have been done the day before that! I still have to stop what I am doing and do some task which has to be done RIGHT NOW since so-and-so promised it.

Sometimes you get things done in a timely manner, sometimes you dont. Lately, the "sometimes you dont" scenario seems to be winning out. Being short handed means that, well, your are er...short handed! Something has to give. And when two people out of a 3 person department don't come in you end up with a one-man-show. Not very effective, but what do I know I've only been doing this sort of work for 30 years. It used to be important to me, but now, Its getting easier and easier to walk off and leave things in a big mess.

My college catalog said my degree program was to prepare me to be "gainfully employed in industry". Humph. Mostly only a little gainful, and a lot painful.

20 July 2007

Not So Bad

In reference to the preceeding Post; The hour on the phone turned into one hour and 20 minutes with a very professional and courteous person who in essence said, "oops!", and made her key-board click and whir while she whittled away at the bogus items on the Consumer Credit Report. Too easy. I was already to quote the Fair Credit Reporting Act and to threaten bring the Attorneys General down on them but it wasn't necessary to do so. Now just to wait for revised report to show up. The proof is in the puddin', as they say, or in this case, in the print-out. The boss didn't even glare at me for staying on the phone for so long.

16 July 2007

Big Brother Speaks Up.

I love computers. Really, I do.

Recently the auto insurance bill came in the mail (insurance is a whole 'nother can of worms which I will not tip this time). My rate went up $200 from last year. They kindly tell me that they have used a Consumer Credit Report to evaluate the probability of my filing an automobile insurance claim. Seems if you are late paying your credit card bill you are at a higher risk for having a fender bender and thus imposing on the financial well being of the insurance company by asking them to pay a claim on the policy you have been paying for 20 years.

They also kindly tell me where I can get a free copy of the credit report used by them to evaluate my worthiness to receive their "best" rate; or in this case, "Not the Best Rate". So, I go there. It is a web site of a company which does not produce credit reports. It is a company which purchases credit reports, apparently mine among others, and sells them to auto insurance companies. THEY kindly supply instructions to request a free copy of the credit report that they purchased from a third party and furnished to my auto insurance company.

I request the report. Three days later I get a letter form the report purchasing folks that they have my request and since they are nice people they do not know who I am or what the report says since they only buy and sell the reports, but do not read them and that the report will be coming along shortly from the folks who really created the consumer credit report.

O.K. Report arrives in a few days. Great I say, very efficient! The system, the powers that be, Deus Ex Machina, etc. seems to be working. Not so.

On this "Credit Report" there are:

17 names listed as information sources: I am only one of them.

21 Addresses listed: Only 2 are places I have lived.

3 "Negatives" listed: I fess up to one. The other two are unknowns.

60 "Accounts in Good Standing": 46 of these are definately not me.

3 social security numbers listed: All three are wrong.

3 phone numbers listed: You can guess. All wrong.

Date of Birth Listed: Wrong again. This is boring.

2 employers listed: Never heard of them.

And, according to a casual survey of all the data contained in the report, one can infer that I have at least 3 wives and have lives in 21 different houses or apartments in 5 states over the last 20 years, and that I have simultaneously held 4 mortgages and 18 credit cards, give or take a few.

Call the "800" number and you get, can you guess? A computer? And a stupid one at that. Go to the dispute website and you get another stupid computer. Beautifully laid out pages that make it easy to dispute any item on the report. Except when you try to do so on most of this stupid report you get a pop-up that says, "NO NO NO! Can't do that here! You must contact us directly".

Great . Just Dandy. There goes another lunch hour talking to some dumshit on the phone.

Gee, I love computers!

09 July 2007

Big Brother Gives Permission

Apparently, it is possible to post to a Blogger Blog by sending a e-mail to your blog. Is this automatic? Is the Blog alive? Worse yet, is it a Corporation with all rights and privileges appertaining thereto?
Can it pay my electric bill for me?

06 July 2007

What is it with the Weather?

Maybe I am getting old, but I have found myself saying of late, "This summer sure is not like the Summers I remember as a kid".
The wind! The Breeze! Have you noticed? Its been blowing steadily in the Bluegrass for 12 weeks now. Its blowing in the morning, blowing in the evening, and continues all night. A dry, hot breeze that sucks the life out of everything. The humidity is low. I feel like I am in Texas or Arizona or some other dessicated place. The daytime highs are normal, but because of the low humidity, the temperature plummets when the sun goes down; overnight temperatures in the low 60s have been the norm for the past month. Its like being in the desert. It wasn't like this years ago.
When I was a kid there was abundant rain, frequent summer showers and thunder storms. In the last 20 years extended summer dry spells have become the norm. Winters are warmer; snowfall is almost non-existent now. We had a sled when I was a little kid. Dont bother to buy one now. Winter used to start in November, now it starts in late December. Everything is akilter.

05 July 2007

First Things

Thanks be to God for last night's rain. Rained out Fireworks shows were a small price to pay for one inch of life giving rain for a region that has had almost no rain at all for 12 weeks. Rain is taken for granted until there isn't any; then dead and dying crops, withered pastures and usage restrictions remind us just how fragile our ecosystem really is.