sculpting an image
Thursday, October 22 2015
Today was yet another warm day, though it was humid and mostly overcast. This morning, the firewood salvage at the north end of the Gullies Trail was a little shy of 90 pounds, 50.7 of which went inside and 36.0 of which went outside. Due to the warm conditions and the hard labor of carrying home a backpack of firewood, my body was warm and shirtless, meaning all I had to do to prepare to apply bleach to the mold on the walls in the basement's walk-in closet was to put on a pair of latex gloves. Due to the danger of accidental bleaching, I never like wearing a shirt while working with bleach, and the trousers I was wearing were the Patagonia ski pants Bathtubgirl's mother gave me for Christmas back in 1999 (they have a lot of little holes in the knees from solder burns, but they're otherwise in good condition after nearly 16 years). The mold problem was bad in that closet, with many tiny black spots, legacies from generations of mold thriving in the humid conditions inevitable when a carpet wicks up occasional boiler room floods and then slowly dispenses it into a room with no air circulation. I scrubbed nearly all the drywall surfaces except the ceiling, leaving the room essentially mold-free. Happily, mold doesn't seem to grow at all on pure masonry surfaces (such as the stucco-covered west wall, from which I removed the drywall back in June of 2005). I don't know why mold does so well on painted drywall, which would seem to be as much of a desert as portland-cement-based stucco.
This afternoon, I painted a small painting (4.25 by 3.5 inch) of Susan & David's dog Darla from a photo taken in our house back when all our dogs used to get along with each other. Today was Susan's fifty first birthday, and this would be my present to her. I used an unusal technique for this painting, working with my usual 3/8 inch wide flat brush, but only putting small amounts of black acrylic paint on it. This meant that the brush lay down a thin, transparent layer of paint with every pass, and multiple passes were required to appreciably darken any spot on the canvas. This allowed me to "sculpt" the image over the course of many passes, leaving the bare canvas as the highlights. After the headshot of Darla was done, I came in with multiple colors to do one of my trippy energetic backgrounds. Here is the result:
This evening after Gretchen came home from work, she prepared to work on Susan's birthday cake only to discover that she had now flour on hand. So she sent me out to the Uptown Hannaford to procure some. While I was out, I also bought some of my staples: multigrain Hannaford-brand organic corn chips, Del Monte green beans with mushrooms, Little Sumpin' Sumpin Ale, and a complete reup of the laboratory's bottom-shelf liquor cabinet (a big 2 litre plastic bottle of gin and a litre of Duggan's Dew Scotch). By the time I made it home, Gretchen was putting the final touches on dinner: a cole slaw with Korean-style fake chicken severed as a burritos. The Korean-style fake chicken was too sweet for our tastes; evidently it was yet another sop to the preferences of average Americans, who like everything to taste like candy (a preference most fulfilled by American versions of Asian cuisine). Later Susan came over for a very small birthday celebration with just us. Gretchen had made her a few cupcakes, which Susan ate while we watched old episodes of Strangers With Candy). As for David, he'd gotten some last-minute illustration work and was staying home to crank through that. We'll all be going out for Mexican food tomorrow to celebrate Susan's birthday in a more proper fashion.
This evening, I rewatched most of the Matrix, which I've always both loved and been infuriated by. The movie does a great deal of damage to our collective understanding of where energy comes from and what it is with the preposterous reason that our future computer overlords decide to keep us alive (that is, as batteries). If humans make good batteries, wouldn't mice or cows work just as well? And then you wouldn't need to keep them entertained with such a rich simulated reality. But of course, it would make more sense to just use the slurry that one feeds to these creatures as an energy source instead of first feeding it to organisms and then somehow tapping their metabolic energy. People thinking that energy consumers can serve as energy providers leads to a lot of bad policy from manifestly ignorant politicians (and this is a problem on both the left and the right). The other big flaw of the Matrix is that deaths inside the simulated universe translate into deaths in the real universe. That makes no sense; anyone who has ever played a videogame, no matter how immersive, knows that lives can be produced as endlessly as weapons. It's that scene where Neo orders up "guns, lots of guns," that really makes the movie, showing the true possibilities of hacking into a rich simulated experience.
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