raccoon in the grotto
Thursday, March 14 2013
Our neighbor Andrea called this morning, alarmed to find a dead raccoon in her back yard under her bird feeder. She was calling to ask one of us to come over and dispose of the body; evidently it was freaking her out too much to do anything about it. So while Gretchen was walking the dogs in the woods, I walked over through the unseasonable wind and chill and dealt with the corpse. The raccoon was plump, so he clearly hadn't starved to death. Instead he looked to me to have choked on bird seed, which was spilling out of his cold, stiff lips. Some critter like a dog or a coyote had come along and mouthed him a few times, though there were no apparent injuries. Not wanting to touch the raccoon for fear of picking up any parasites (some of which are truly horrific), I used a snow shovel to pick up the corpse and carry him out through the deer fence in the back of Andrea's house. I proceeded northward towards the gorge that cuts through the back of the suburban lots on the north side of Dug Hill Road. I found a large chunk of dislodged bluestone, some of which overhung a small natural grotto, and it was into there that I laid the poor raccoon to rest for all eternity. I didn't see Andrea during any of this but she later stopped by the house to thank me, expressing unexpected delight that I had found a dignified place to put the body. (The only time I've ever really felt it was important to respectfully dispose of a body, it belonged to Sally.)
I've developed a slightly bigger profile as a visual artist lately, and to support that aspect of my being, I've made myself a new art site, eschewing most of the embarrassing bits (and art) from my first web art collection. Unlike that old site (which was written entirely in static HTML), this new site has some database infrastructure behind it, though for now the images are all spit out automatically by a PHP scan of .jpgs uploaded to its directory, with no use of any database at all. Back when I made that first site, the internet was slow and it was important to provide scaled-down thumbnails to load for index views. Now I the internet is fast enough that I can just scale down big images in the browser, using thumbnails only if they happen to be available. And, because no HTML has to be changed to add art to the gallery, it's a lot easier to keep it up to date.
At some point today I was found myself looking for a little program to do a simple thing: take a pile of jpgs and turn them into an animation. It's something I've done before using Adobe Premier and perhaps other programs, but the task is so simple that a complicated program like Premier just gets in the way. That was why I was interested in a simple program. Such programs exist, and I tried three or four of them. But none of them actually worked. They all produced video showing either just the first image or just the last image in the pile and none of the others. As I grew increasingly frustrated, I found myself repeatedly resorting to a shortened form of a non-politically correct term for "mentally challenged." For those who are curious, the programs that didn't work included JPGVideo, JPG to AVI, and VirtualDub. The program that finally worked was called HandyAVI, though it's not free (and there are no hacked version on Bittorrent).
This evening I met Gretchen at the upstairs at Joshua's for dinner. I had the seitan fajitas, which was a sort of vegan take on the staple you might find at Chili's. It was a little low on flavor (as was the pasta Gretchen ordered), but not in a way that couldn't be fixed with a little hot sauce.
Our dinner conversation lingered for awhile on the topic of fine artists being careful not to sully their careers with lower forms of artistic creation, say, illustration. Both Gretchen and I are of the opinion that there is no low and high art, and that what one period considers low often becomes a classic to another (and vice versa). But this distinction is evidently still important to some, and the subject has cropped up in a way that has us both a little puzzled (but in a way that doesn't directly affect either of our forms of creative outputs).
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