Thursday, July 19, 2007

And We All Go Marching Along

No quotes, just the stage winners of the Tour de France, a little pencil sketch of a sweater chest. and one of those awesome maps from Smithsonian magazine.

The quote: "Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, 'Where have I gone wrong?' Then a voice says to me, 'This is going to take more than one night.'" —Charles M. Schulz via Charlie Brown

Having had a few sleepless nights lately, I can empathize.

The quotes: "Action is at bottom a swinging and flailing of the arms to regain one's balance and keep afloat." —Eric Hoffer (1902-1983)

He carefully avoids mentioning that sometimes no matter how much swinging and flailing you do, you might not stay afloat. That was probably a little too glass-half-empty for him, and far less funny.

The other quote: "Let us go singing as far as we go, the road will be less tedius." —Virgil (70-19 BC)

I suppose that depends on the quality of the singer's voice. Perhaps whistling is the better option? Just a thought.

Trees in sketch inspired by them thar funny ones they got linin' the sidea the road in France.

No quotes on this spread, just some rides. Every now and then I hop on my mountain bike and have a rejuvenating bike ride. You might remember the variety from your childhood. You're tooling along the bike path and a ferret crosses the path (which one really did on Saturday), so you hop off your bike and watch it run away, stop, look at you while you look at it. Then you get back on your bike and have a go-slow test—you see how slow you can ride before you fall over. Then you take a trail you've never taken. Then you stop to eat a granola bar as you sit by a lake and sketch—the sun beating down and the wind blowing the pages of your sketchbook. Then you get back on you bike, stop to fill up the water bottle and squirt some over your head. You stop along the way whenever a butterfly catches your attention, or at the top of a bridge over the river, or in a particularly appealing bit of shade.

It's a far different experience than taking a road bike out, watching the miles tick by as you regulate your effort and deal with drivers. It's been my experience that butterflies are far less confrontational than drivers. Ferrets aren't confrontational case you were wondering.

If you were sitting where I was in Independence Grove, you'd notice that I'd forced the perspective a bit in order to get the bridge into the picture on the far left side. But you weren't sitting there, so I guess I need not have told you. Ah well, a secret given away is one that doesn't need to be kept.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Patriotism and Other Ponderous Concepts

The quote: "We need anything politically important rationed out like Pez: small, sweet and coming out of a funny plastic head." —Dennis Miller

A sad commentary on the state of the American public's attention span. In our collective defense, however, I must put forward the observation that it is onerous to keep one's attention focussed on the disconnected mental wanderings of certain individuals when those wanderings dribble out of their mouths in odd catch phrases and platitudes. Give me a politician who can step to the podium and convey an intelligent message with captivating prose and I'll listen for hours.

Of course, every politician who steps to the podium promising the hope of intelligent thought conveyed via elegant prose, and who then disappoints should be subject to an atomic wedgie. An effective deterent for pre-election running off at the mouth.

The quote: "Patriotism having become one of our topicks, Johnson suddenly uttered, in a strong determined tone an apothegm, at which many will start: 'Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.' But let it be considered that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretend patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak of self-interest." —Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), quoted in Boswell's Life of Johnson

Let everything be considered in its context. What kind of patriotism are we practicing when we attempt to bring democracy to another country? Perhaps in other leaders' hands it might be successful, but can Bush and Cheney actually be motivated by generosity? Clue: Not in a million years. The best hope in the quagmire that is Iraq is the military leadership doing the real work despite the posing going on here at home.

To the public demanding the military be pulled out because the whole exercise seems to be a failure: Reconsider your opinion of a failure, people. Just because your opinions are as changeable as your clothing, doesn't mean the convictions of a confused and frightened populace living in an entirely different culture are as changeable. This is their country, government and economy we are talking about. It is a bit difficult to convince good men and women to run for office in our own relatively peaceful country because of the stresses and scrutiny they will endure. How difficult is it to convince good people in Iraq to step to the fore when assassination is pretty much a guarantee, not to mention they'll be taking the reins of a country in civil war, with border nations threatening them (i.e. Turkey for the moment), and a foreign power currently in residence? That is a hard sell. Without that leadership in place and an impetus on the part of the populace to respect it, don't expect success any time soon.

Nations aren't built along a timeline, and they certainly aren't built along a timeline laid down by a foreign government. It was a bit naive to think it could be. I can understand why we want deadlines, but did we actually think these deadlines would be met? Commentary is beginning that we are looking at a prolonged effort like Korea. Korea is a rather neat package by comparison because there is a physical border involved. I'm exasperated at the lack of forethought that anyone has/is put/putting into the situation.

I believe I should step off my soapbox now. Thanks for letting me put my $.02 out there.

The quote: "I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain." —John Adams (1735-1826)

In a utopian society, his scheme might have worked. However, John Adams never had to face the reality of a "crumbling infrastructure". Today our sons and daughters must study all of the above, plus they must have a working knowledge of electronics, programming, and at least two foreign languages (not including texting shorthand).

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 02, 2007

What a Mess

Just seems to be the appropriate sentiment/critique/statement of the moment.

The quote: "When the thistle blooms and the chirping cicada sits on trees and pours down shrill song from frenziedly quivering wings in the trilsome summer, then goats are fatter than ever and wine is at its best; women's lust know no bounds and men are all dried up, because the dog star parches their heads and knees and the heat sears their skin. Then, ah then, I wish you a shady ledge and your choice wine, bread baked in the dusk and mid-August's goat milk and meat from a free-roving heifer that has never calved—and from firstling kids. Drink sparkling wine, sitting in the shade with your appetite sated, and face Zephyr's breeze as it blows from mountain peaks. Pur three measures of water fetched from a clear spring, one that flows unchecked, and a fourth one of wine." —Hesiod (~7th Century)

This spread is a complete mess. I found the quote a long time ago, and wrote it into the book before I'd even decided what I was going to do. Creates quite a satisfying mess.

The quote: "Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps, for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they should be." —William Hazlitt (1778-1830)

For the past week or so, The Onion has had troops in the street handing out the paper. The little onion is not their onion, but my onion—the onion in my head. Nice to know it's in there in case things get too bland.

It's been a very long day. Thanks for stopping by.