Thursday, January 18, 2007, posted by Q6 at 10:40 PM
I recently unearthed some cool drawings, paintings, and sketches done by my father. He passed away in 1982; I was 13 years old at the time. I know that a lot of people in my family have artistic ability, particularly with drawing and sketching. My dad was an illustrator in the Air Force at one point (way before me), but other than that I don't believe he did anything commercial with his talent (only one piece of his work is hanging in public, and I don't even know if it's hanging anymore: he designed the school seal for Aviation High School--which closed in the 80's--and the district office bronzed the sidewalk plaque of it and hung it in the lobby of the district office, with a little plaque next to it with dad's name on it).

He used to draw for my brother and me when we were younger. He had a cigar box full of really old-school Sharpie markers (back when they were toxic) and a supply of construction paper. We would make requests, and he'd draw for us. Sometimes we would cut the pictures out and glue them to different colored paper--I figure it was so we could feel involved in the process somehow. I wish I knew where any of those pictures were. I wish I had kept even a few of them. There are certain things that are crown jewels of one's childhood--those pictures were mine, but I've no idea to where the Knights Templar of my life have stolen them away. I can't even name a specific picture I really want; any of them would do. (For my brother, it would be one my dad drew not long after we saw "The Wizard of Oz" on television. He asked my dad to draw a flying monkey with wings--and he drew a monkey in a pilot's cap with wings pinned to his chest. Not what my brother asked for, but one of the coolest memories we have of Dad.)

My dad's "collected works" have never been all in one place. There is a sketchbook he used to have (one of many over the course of his life, I'm told), and it changes hands between me, my brother, and my mom. I need to get it back at some point, even temporarily, and scan the pages so I have them (some of the cartoons in that book are REALLY funny. I know that somewhere there's a portfolio of his more formal work. My mom says it's long since gone missing, but I expect there will come a point when it will turn up. I hope it does, anyway. Until then I'll just have to enjoy what little I do have, and the plethora of memories.

I framed this one for me. I quite like this one, for some reason.
, posted by Q6 at 7:28 AM
The other night, over dinner, my girlfriend and I got into a debate over the state of fruits and vegetables. She claimed that they were ova, I claimed that they weren't. (I can only imagine what my 14 year-old son, who was at the table with us, thought of all of this.) In an attempt to demonstrate that fruits are more like fertilized beings than they they are like ova, I began to explain how bees cross pollinate flowers. A couple seconds into it, she looks at me from across the table, aghast, and accuses . . .

"Are you flirting with me?!?"

Laughed for three minutes straight, and really hard. My stomach muscles still ache.
Thursday, January 11, 2007, posted by Q6 at 2:52 PM
Actually, my mom got a (new) cell phone last week. One of her presents this holiday season was to replace her museum-quality cell phone with something more . . . today. When my son and I met up with her at the Verizon store, we were quite the trio. My biggest priority: ease of use for Mom. Her biggest priority: loud enough for her to hear it. My son's biggest priority: using the opportunity to scope out the next phone he begs me for.

My mom's no longer techno-phobic. Gone are the days when she needed three pages of notes to listen to her phone messages, program her VCR, or play a CD. She's been using a cellular phone sparingly for a few years, and she has a laptop with DSL Internet. She's nowhere near ready for, say, an iPod, or any digital music device. She's really come a long way technologically, I'm really proud of her, and proud to be her tech support guy.

Her new phone plays downloaded mp3s. Please don't tell her.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007, posted by Q6 at 11:00 AM
Sylvester Stallone has redeemed himself in my eyes.

I didn't want Rocky Balboa to suck. I grew up thinking of Rocky and Rocky II as excellent films. I saw what later films in the franchise did to the story, and though I didn't think it could get any worse, that was my concern. So I did my homework. I watched trailers, read scripts and script reviews, and checked the blogosphere for information. I found a really good one that made me breathe easier.

I went to see the film last week, and I'm glad I did. I don't necessarily agree that this film could be a stand-alone film; but if you see only the first and second films in the franchise, you've seen enough to understand this one. I appreciate not only the effort Stallone went to in demonstrating the internal struggle Rocky faces, but also the artistic way in which the film was shot. (It was a very different approach for the fight sequence in this film: angles, use of color and B&W, camera distance. I think it was very powerful.) And I'm really glad the film didn't suck.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007, posted by Q6 at 10:47 AM
My girlfriend and I spent some time at the Long Beach Aquarium recently. It's not just fish! We saw poisonous ants, snakes, a buttered-popcorn-smelling bearcat, a cute little marsupial (pictured), and a huge aviary.

This is a Dusky Pademelon. The handlers wear thick protective gloves, it
wears a restraining harness, and you still want to walk up and pet him.

I got a lot of really great pictures, but more than that was the experience. It's really nice to be enchanted by something; when you're an adult, that doesn't happen so often. Seeing live jellyfish, seeing water dragons, and petting sharks and manta rays did it for me.

Interesting to note: yes, the cafeteria there does sell seafood, but they make a point of advertising that it's sustaining. (The last place in the world I'd expect to eat a species to extinction is at the aquarium.) Also weird: the napkins in the dispensers at said cafeteria were from Weinerschnitzel.

Monday, January 08, 2007, posted by Q6 at 9:44 AM
I spent a great deal of the Winter Break (and the days leading up to it) working on my house. Several things contributed to my motivation: the endless letters from an unhappy homeowners' association, the musings of past acquaintances who claimed I never finish what I start, an overdose of clutter and chaos, and the possibility of having three in my house instead of two at some point.

So I got a lot done. Two rooms upstairs now have hardwood floors instead of dog-stained carpet, leaving only one room and a staircase to go; I finished the two unpainted spots on the exterior (which could not be reached with my 20' ladder until I built a homemade 5' extension for it--there are more noble ways to die, I'm sure, but it's done now); I took down a termite-ridden fence and had it replaced with a brick wall (to match the rest of the perimeter), and I had the weed-laden iceplant in the front yard replaced with artificial turf.

This is a shot of the fence before, . . .

. . . and the wall after.

This is my new front yard.

That's right, I've got a fake lawn. Thanks to the folks at Enviroturf I will always have a green, maincured lawn. I've had only three compliments from neighbors so far, but one of them thought (and still thinks) the lawn is real! Artificial turf is a lot easier to maintain: you have to pretend to water it only once a week, and the artificial weeds are on snaps for easy installation and removal.

Next up, textured ceilings in the Library and Living Room . . .