Monday, May 21, 2012

Dexter - Flat Coat Retriever in there somewhere

So, I've been trying to determine where Dexter gets his wavy coat. We get a lot of compliments about how handsome he is. The best information we have is that he is a Lab / Boxer / Rottweiler mix, but none of those have a wavy coat.

His mom, Maggie (above left), is a Yellow Lab, Boxer mix (as far as we know) and his dad, Bear (above right) is a Black Lab — something, possibly rottweiler. Dexter sure looks like his dad! Both parents have short, smooth coats.

Dexter's coat is shiny black and wavy, with long feathers on his tail, ears and the back of his legs. When his coat is wet, it's very wavy. He also has pronounced waves of fur on his rump. I call him "Mr. Fuzzy Pants". I had settled on the idea of him having Chesapeake Retriever in his blood somewhere. Until yesterday.

Yesterday, at the Doggy Park, we met a puppy named Black Jack that looks a LOT like Dexter. Same wavy black coat with feathered tail, ears and legs, but smaller. This is the first black retriever we've seen that has that same coat. We asked his owners about him, and they said he's a Flat Coat Retriever.

Never heard of that breed before, so I looked it up.

Everything about the breed points to it being a strong part of Dexter's genetic makeup. Dexter is much bigger than the Flat Coat standard, which is about 60 lbs. Dex is over 100 lbs., but we think he has Rotty in him, so that would account for his size.

Flat Coats are gun dogs, bred for hunting waterfowl. Their coat helps them stay warm and dry. Their webbed feet and rudder tail makes them strong swimmers. Dexter loves the water, but hasn't warmed up to swimming yet. He needs to be able to touch the bottom.

More info:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Poems and other stuff by Uncle Eagle

These were "reminded to me" by cousin Susan. I decided to start collecting them, and other gems by the late, great Uncle Eagle (Don) here in my blog. For those of you who never met Uncle Eagle, he was an artist, a scientist, a wordsmith, a comedian . . . a genius.

Poems and limericks

Cowboy Tom, with much aplomb
went to bed with his spurs on.
When his mother catches him,
he’ll wish those spurs had never been!


The monster from the briny deep
might eat you while you're still asleep!
That crazy creature never sleeps,
That crazy creature always creeps!

. . . stay tuned . . .

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Grammar Policing is fun!

An exchange of posts from Yahoo today about the Perseid Meteor Shower.
I have to admit, I took the discussion way off topic, but it was amusing . . . for me.

Read the Perseid Meteor article on Yahoo
(My screen name is Knotboy)

It all started with this:

Blah : I seen three satellites and one meteor early this morning.

Scott : I SAW three satellites and one meteor early this morning. It's called the english language. Learn it.

Joshua A : Scott, before I even looked at your reply I thought the exact same thing, LOL!!

Justin : Saw** or I have seen**

Phyl : Don't you just love the linguistic experts?? They really need to get a life!

WiseOne : Hillbilly grammer 'seen' them, grade school education 'saw' them...

Zack : Why don't these linguistic experts go teach their English class instead of lecturing people...

Knotboy : Zack, your post implies that all "linguistics experts" here teach the same class.
In fact, "classes" would be the correct word form here.
Additionally, your statement is complete, and you're posing a question, so a question mark rather than an ellipsis is the better ending punctuation.

"Why don't these linguistic experts go teach their English classes instead of lecturing people?"

Furthermore, Phyl and Zack, "linguistic experts" is presumptuous. Clearly Scott, Joshua and Justin have a better understanding of grammar than does Blah, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are linguistic experts. Linguistics covers a broad range of language disciplines, including, but not limited to structure (grammar), meaning and evolution.

Clara J : usually, if you say i seen...youre from the north...minnesota or north dakota.

Knotboy : Clara, Clara, Clara — where do I begin?

Capitalization is needed on "U", "I", "N" "M" "N" & "D"
Like so:
"Usually, if you say I seen...youre from the North...Minnesota or North Dakota."

"North" is a tricky one.
Capitalize north, south, east, west, and derivative words when they designate definite regions or are an integral part of a proper name, so in this case, capitalization is correct.

Also, it's "you're" with an apostrophe, not "youre"
The word "you're" is a contraction of the words "you" and "are", where the apostrophe is a placeholder for the absent "a".

"I seen" needs quotes, since it is spoken.
So now we have:
Usually, if you say "I seen"'re from the North...Minnesota or North Dakota.

Again, as in Zack's post, the ellipsis is, perhaps, misused. Here you use it as a pause on either side of "youre from the north", where a pause longer than one indicated by a comma is unnecessary. An ellipsis indicates a longer pause, a missing word or an incomplete or trailing thought. Technically, the first ellipsis could be left in, if you want to imply a longer pause there, for effect.

If, however, you are specifying Minnesota and North Dakota as the particular states in the North where "I seen" is the vernacular, then an em dash, rather than an ellipsis, would be more appropriate.

So, finally, we end up with:
Usually, if you say "I seen", you're from the North — Minnesota or North Dakota.

Hmmm, I wonder if Clara wants to slap me for being such a . . .

Paul : grammar police out...get fn real your probably a know it all like sarah palin...(who knows nothing)..get over yourselves

Knotboy : Aw, c'mon, Paul, I was just rattling cages... and having some fun doing so. I intentionally made my posts waaaaay more involved and know-it-all-y than necessary, just to see who'd yell back at me.

On the other hand, where's the harm in trying to educate people who were evidently asleep all during English class -- for 12 years? If a person is spoon-fed by example, correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc., and they still choose to ignore it, and go on posting as if they quit school after 2nd grade, well, Paul, that's just lazy.

If a person has a choice between looking ignorant or looking educated, and they choose to look ignorant, well, Paul, that's just . . . ignorant. (note the correct use of the ellipsis).

Knotboy : In my first post, by saying "...'linguistics experts' is presumptuous" I am personifying "linguistics experts", which was not my intention. What I should have said is " . . . referring to grammar police as 'linguistics experts' is presumptuous."

In my second post, I use the word "looking" where "being" really is more accurate. If a person learns something new, they are educated about it, and not simply appearing to be educated, as the word "looking" implies.

See that . . . I policed myself!

On the other hand, if a person actually is educated, and is perfectly capable of using correct grammar, etc, but chooses not to, then the ignorance is apparent, not actual — so they do "look" ignorant, when in fact, they are not.

See! It's fun!

Friday, July 22, 2011

My New Website is Up and Running!

After way too long, I've finally revamped my website from the ground up. It's more streamlined, and much easier to update and navigate.

Check it out at:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A chat with Adobe Live Customer Assistance

Please hold as we route your chat to an Adobe Representative.

Welcome to! My name is Vallen. May I assist you with your selection today?

Vallen: Hello, how can I help you?

Jerry: Hi. I already own CS5 Design Premium for my Mac. Is there any price break if I buy it for my Windows Laptop?

Vallen: Let me check that for you.

Jerry: Thanks.

Vallen: To make sure that you get the right software, what tasks you'd like to accomplish using the software?

Jerry: ???

Vallen: Alright.

Vallen: Thank you for staying online with me. I appreciate your patience.

Vallen: You can buy the CS5 Design Premium with 10 % discount.

Jerry: Hmmm. So, my Mac upgrade from CS3 was $799, but to buy it for my Windows Laptop, because it won't run on my G5, it'll cost $1,710?

Jerry: It would be better if, since I already paid for CS5 for my Mac, that I could get an upgrade price of $599 for the Windows version, as if I was upgrading from Mac to Mac, rather than from Mac to Windows.

Vallen: Yes, CS5 is not compatible with G5.

Jerry: I know, which is why, If I want to work at home, I need to install CS5 on my laptop, because I can't install it on my G5. I have an Intel Mac at my office running CS5.

Vallen: Yes, you can install 1 copy of software on 2 computers with same platform (Windows or Mac) but can't use at the same time.

Jerry: Yes. I have an Intel Mac at my office and an Intel PC and a G5 in my home office, so you can see my dilemma.

Vallen: I am afraid, you can't on both Mac and Windows platform.

Jerry: Strata allows you to download versions for Mac AND PC with your purchase of Strata Studio Pro. I think that's good policy.

Jerry: Adobe took back the graphics community from Quark, because Quark got greedy.

Jerry: Now Quark is on the chopping block. I switched to InDesign several years ago, after being a die hard Quark fan for 15 years.

Vallen: I am afraid, as per Adobe End User License Agreement, you can install on Mac and Windows platform.

Jerry: Just saying, maybe Adobe shouldn't make it necessary for people like me - self employed - to shell out full price for 2 copies of the software.
I already own a laptop that will run CS5, but I either have to pay full price for CS5 Windows, or buy another Intel Mac.

Vallen: You need to buy the another copy for Mac.

Jerry: Just saying. Pass it along to someone in the decision making pool. I've been an Adobe customer for 25 years.

Vallen: Jerry, we have 10% discount.

Jerry: Yes you do. 10% isn't much. That's still $1,710.

Jerry: Gotta go. Thanks for the assistance. . .

Vallen: The full version of Creative Suite 5 Design Premium is priced at US $1,899.

Jerry: Minus 10% = $1,710.

Vallen: Yes, Jerry.

Jerry: Plus the $799 for my Mac copy = $2,509 to run CS5 on 2 computers.

Vallen: No, you'll get 10 % discount of upgrade as well.

Jerry: No. I already upgraded. I already own CS5 for MAC.

Jerry: I have to go. this isn't accomplishing anything. If you passed this conversation along to the CEO of Adobe, maybe it would help.

Jerry: Just a caution, Vallen. Adobe owns the graphics industry . . . for now. At one point, Quark did, until they forgot who put them on top.

Vallen: Okay.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Audiobook cover for Rubber Houses.

Audiobook cover for Red Planet.

Syracuse Opera Poster for Faust.

Digital Paintings using Photoshop CS2/CS3 and Wacom Intuos II graphics tablet. Sketches for these were all done traditionally--pencil on paper. Color comps and final art were done digitally (Photoshop). A "comp" (short for comprehensive) is a rough study of what the final art will look like in place, with text and other design elements. It gives the client a good idea of composition, color, type placement & design, etc.

click images for larger view

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Once in a while, I'm inspired to write a haiku. It's usually in the middle of a project, or yard work, or some such thing. Most follow the traditional 5-7-5 format. Here are some.

r a k i n g

where is my green lawn?
maples shed their autumn leaves
set my yard ablaze

red leaves, yellow, brown
blisters forming on gloved hands
colors still delight

fallen leaves pile up
woodpecker watches, chirping
hey, bird, grab a rake

- - - - - - - -

dioecious she, me
old age rises in the east
alas, her drupe droop

sparkle-tree'd windows
a snowflake finds my eyelash
night lights, i am home

Saturday, November 1, 2008

More Fungus Pix

Made with Slideshow Embed Tool
Fungus, mushrooms, lichens and other odd and interesting mushroomy stuff. The collection will continue to grow. Newer photos will appear at the top of the pile.

I've added a lot of new pictures to my library of mushrooms and fungus. Some of them are identified, some not. All interesting (to me, at least!)
-> Go here for the BIG library of fungus and mushroom pictures.

-> View the original slide show

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Die Hards & Donuts

Dateline: Liverpool, NY, January 19, 2008

It was [should have been] nothing too complicated . . .

Friday morning, at precisely 11:18 am, I showed up to the scene of the crime where the dead ‘99 Ford Taurus, 3 liter 6 with single overhead cam sat belligerently in the middle of Wegman’s parking lot. I was prepared with a set of standard tools appropriate for removing a dead alternator. The Ford was prepared to fight.

I parked my Jeep in front of the Taurus, (henceforth referred to as “POS”) to block the bitter cold forty-mile-per-hour wind that was ripping through my coat like it was cheesecloth.
I popped the hood and deftly applied a 5/16” shallow socket to the first bolt on the alternator.
Hmmm. How about 7/16”? Maybe 3/8”?
Who knew a FORD was all metric?
After a couple trips back and forth between Wally World and Pep Boys to get the proper metric wrenches, plus a pry bar and a small sledge hammer (persuader), I returned to the scene of the crime and, with some persuading and several “incantations”, I got the alternator out.

Back to Pep Boys.

The NAPA 213-3120F (remanufactured) alternator tested “Really Dead”, in spite of the fact that it was less than 2 years old -- hardly out of diapers.
With a much lighter wallet and a new (remanufactured) alternator, I returned to the POS. By this time, about 2:23 pm, Andrew and his girlfriend Sara were waiting at the scene with coffee and peanut donuts. I gladly accepted the coffee and, since my hands were covered in grease, I decided to save the donuts for later.

Andrew and I filled the cavity with the new (remanufactured) alternator and, feeling rather manly, started the car. It ran beautifully! For three minutes . . . then it died.

After a fair amount of tinkering and some jumper cable mojo, I determined that the battery was deceased and would never again hold a charge, rest in peace. We extracted the corpse and headed to Sears. The battery tested “Deader Than an Alternator”.

More wallet-letting.

We returned to the SOTC where the POS sat smirking. Andrew was brandishing a shiny new Sears Die Hard. POS was not impressed. We popped the battery in — backwards — because the Die Hard geniuses decided it would be best to manufacture batteries with a sort of amorphous approach to interchangeability, and swapped the position of the terminals. After a little wire rerouting, we got it all hooked up and with fingers crossed, started the POS. It ran beautifully! For 3 minutes. Then five. Then Ten!
We decided it was fixed, and headed home -- Andrew in the lead, Sara following in her car, and me in my Jeep bringing up the rear, just in case . . . POS ran like a top all the way home. Arrival time, 4:57 pm. After some warming up, Andrew packed up the car, said goodbye and headed back to Geneseo, with a quick stop at Heid’s to introduce Sara to our world famous hot dog stand.

And then . . . just half-an-hour west on the thruway, POS rejected the implants and flatlined.
Andrew coasted off the highway onto the shoulder.
Tractor trailers where whizzing by at 75mph, so Andrew decided to push the car off the shoulder to get it further from the passing traffic.

Here's the really funny part . . .

While Andrew was pushing the POS out of harm’s way, Newton’s law of inertia took over and carried the POS off the shoulder, over the embankment and into the trees, 60 feet from the road and definitely out of harm’s way.

The first phone call started like this:
"Um, Dad . . . the stupid car died, and then . . ."

Several phone calls later, we were able to determine where AAA would leave the car after winching it out of the forest.
My wife Becky and I met Andrew at Pulley’s Towing in Weedsport (catchy names, both), and packed the Jeep with the contents of the POS, which was now sporting muddy tires, a crumpled right front fender, racing stripes up the hood, and broken branches wedged under the windshield wipers. It looked like it had a bad day of duck hunting.

We left POS [henceforth known as Gadabout Gaddis] in the parking lot and started leg two of the drive to Geneseo. It was without incident.
Becky and I helped carry Andrew’s belongings up to his dorm room, said goodbye again and headed to the Quality Inn down the road.
Arrival time: 10:52 pm.
In my left hand, an overnight bag.
In my right, a small, familiar orange paper sack containing 2 peanut donuts.

I fell asleep watching Orangutan Island.
Orangutans are funny.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Murphy's Campout

Eagle Island, Lower Saranac Lake

Chapter 1
Never buy a used boat 4 days before you go camping on an island.

Common sense would dictate that it is unwise to spend good money on a 45 year old aluminum boat and motor just a few short days before you need to rely on it to transport you and your loved ones to an island on a lake in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains.

I didn't waste a lot of common sense on
this last camping trip.

The decision to look for a used boat to buy was driven by the fact that it is very expensive to rent a leaky, 60 year old aluminum boat with an even older 10 horse motor for an hour, or a day in the Adirondacks. When we go camping on Eagle Island, we bring a lot of stuff. I don't know why we need so much stuff. In spite of the fact that we had a meeting with our camping buddies before we packed so we wouldn't bring anything unnecessary, we still ended up with enough food and gear that, to the casual observer, you wouldn't think we were going camping . . . you'd think we were evacuating.

In order to get all this stuff to the campsite, we rent a boat, load it up and spend an hour or so ferrying gear and people from the marina to the island. If we want to keep the boat with us for the 4 days we're on the island, the rental cost, plus gas ends up around the $500 mark.
So, when I saw the ad in Craig's List for a vintage 16ft Starcraft with a 40 horse Johnson and trailer for $800, simple math said that in 2 camping trips, it would pay for itself.

Can you tell I've never owned a boat?

I went to see the craft in person, expecting the worst. It actually looked pretty solid and more like a real boat than the klunkers we usually rent. It has a closed bow, windshield, electric starter, new anchor and a cool "schooner" type steering wheel. Cosmetically, it looks 45 years old, but nothing a little elbow grease and upholstery can't fix. In fact, with a little time and effort, it could be a stunning classic, like Cloris Leachman.

For now, we just needed the motor to run for 4 days and for the boat to make it to the island and back without sinking.
At least we had the sense to ask the seller to drop it in the water and start the motor. There's a river nearby, so we took it over there and dropped it in. It didn't sink! He turned the key and, after 2 tries it started right up and the motor ran smoothly. So far, so good.
I'm no haggler. I tried to get the seller to agree on $700, but he said he couldn't go below $750, since he apparently had a bill to pay that was in that exact amount. Probably a bail bond.

As soon as the bank opened, I was in line to secure $750 in small, unmarked bills. I met the seller at his house and traded him the cash for the boat. I hooked it up to my Jeep and was on my way. I kept an ear open for sirens, since the trailer lights didn't work. That would be the first thing I'd fix.
When I got home, I backed the boat into the driveway. Did it on the first try! I actually have some practical experience with trailers of different sorts, so it wasn't difficult. Starting to feel like a boat owner!
Juuuuust the beginning . . .

....more to come...


I don't know about you, but when I reserve a camp site, I kinda like to know if it's near the water or under water.

One is preferable to the other.

Well, as a convenience to the patrons who populate state campgrounds during the few short months of summer here in Central New York, the geniuses in charge decided to entrust the camping reservation process to Now, if you log onto their website, you'll be greeted with a friendly, efficient interface which allows you to pinpoint an available campsite in the park of your choosing and reserve it instantly, for the nominal fee of $9 in addition to the daily cost of the site. Fine, if you're familiar with the park, or better yet, the exact site.

However, if you call ReserveAmerica-dot-whatever to get information about a particular site -- is it in the woods? is it near the bathrooms? is it located on a haunted Indian burial site? -- you'll be connected with an individual on a mountaintop in Tibet who couldn't find the United States on a globe, much less give you any useful information about a particular campsite.

The call goes something like this:

"Ring Ring"
"Yeah, ReserveAmerica-dot-com"
"Yes, hello, I'd like some information about a camp site, please."
"Sigh. O.K. what."
"Well, I'd like to reserve a site in Thompson's Lake State Park, but there's really no information about the sites online."
"Where is that?"
"New York State, near Albany."
"Well, I don't really know anything about Tomkins Lane."
"It's Thompson's . . . never mind."

This is how we ended up on [cue spooky music] Site 111 in Thompson's Lake State Park -- a site we affectionately named "Camp Squishy".
When we pulled into the park, we drove by several spacious, wooded sites. Ostrich tail feathers of blue smoke rising in curls from the fire pits. Beams of filtered sunlight casting a warm glow on ferns and wildflowers. Site 107 had its very own apple tree! We were quite optimistic.

When we rounded the bend and arrived at [cue spooky music] Site 111, we were greeted by a small, dark, mud-puddly site with a single patch of semi-dry ground just about big enough for half a tent. We pulled into the site and proceeded to inspect the area to see if the ground was more solid than it appeared. Turns out, it was somewhere between quicksand and tapioca. I'm pretty sure it was 20 degrees colder in there than the rest of the park. Tree roots grabbed at our ankles and tried to pull us into the muck.

We walked back to the office to see if another site was available , which of course, it wasn't. I explained about the condition of the site and asked if somebody could deliver some wood chips or mulch so we'd have something semi-solid to walk on. Nope. Sorry. None to be had.

I asked if I could borrow a rake. Sure thing! Rakes and shovels are available for any campers who wish to engage in grounds-keeping activities during their stay. I hinted about some sort of discount or refund in exchange for the work I was about to do. No can do. Reservations and refunds are handled by ReserveAmerica-dot-ha-ha.

We returned to the site to examine our options. Ironically, I found a pile of mulch in the weeds behind the fire pit. Maybe the site's last inhabitants had the same idea, but were interrupted by . . . something. [Shiver!]

A few minutes later, a couple of teens in an ATV stopped by the site and dropped off a rake and a shovel. I spent the next hour or so landscaping the site, tossing shovels full of soggy mulch onto the muck and raking it out flat, all the while keeping a watchful eye on the carnivorous pines lurking in the shadows.

Somewhere around the half-hour mark, the ATV teenyboppers stopped by and asked if I was done with the rake and shovel yet, dude. Curiously enough, they didn't offer to actually help apply the tools to the site, in spite of the fact that, although I was supposed to be on vacation, I looked like I'd been cleaning horse stalls all morning. I hadn't even unpacked the car yet, or set up the tent, and I was ready for a shower and a nap. I assured Moon Unit and Dweezil that as soon as I was finished, they'd be the first to know.

Somewhere around the hour-mark, the rake was decapitated by a stubborn root. I pried the head loose from the mud, used a brick from the fire pit to reassociate it with the handle and finished the mulching. After taking a few minutes to rehydrate with a cold amber ale and admire my handiwork, I proceeded to organize the rest of the site. I found a semi-solid patch of ground near the front of the site just about big enough for our tent and set up a canopy over the picnic table.

I must say, Camp Squishy looked kind of nice when I was done.
All it needed was a couple of potted rhododendrons.
Maybe next time.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

T & K

Little tale ‘bout a girl
we’ll call her “T”
growin’ up in the ‘burbs
in 1973

she’s the freckle-face kid
lives down the street
she is cute
she is funny
and o-so sweet

she was kind of a tom
she was younger than me
she could sing like a bird
she could climb a tree

but people grow
and people change
and they move on
now T’s a woman
she’s a wife
and she’s a mom

and she’s livin’ the life
kinda likin’ it that way
and she’s singin’ in a club
and she’s acting in a play

and the years fly by
but we stay in touch
and T’s keepin’ it together
but, not by much

seems her oil and water marriage
is in a fix
‘cause no matter how you try
some people just don’t mix

and it’s nobody’s fault
it just is what it is
morning coffee with your spouse
thinkin’ “who is this?”

worked on workin’ it out
but they have to face facts
soon they’re makin’ arrangements
then they’re makin’ tracks

but people grow
and people change
and they move on
single woman
not a wife
still a mom

now she’s livin’ apart
kinda likin’ it that way
and she’s singin’ in a club
and she’s acting in a play

well, one night she spies a pirate
in the footlight glow
gonna steal her heart
as yet she doesn’t know

wearin’ black leather boots
and a rapier wit
and he flashes a smile
and T thinks “this is it”

he takes off his bandanna
and says “my name is “K"
she says “T” is what they call me
and they sail away

then they kiss
and then it’s bliss
and all is well
and yet T
she doesn’t see
there’s more to tell

she didn’t know
he got a monkey on his back
bloody teeth
sharp claws
K calls him krak

sometimes the monkey’s in his cage
sometimes he’s out
T didn’t understand
what the change was all about

because K, he kept the monkey
in a can
a secret little pet
or the master of the man

he would please it
he’d appease it
it was under control
but the monkey’s getting stronger
K’s getting closer to the hole

he can’t afford to feed it
he can’t afford the ride
but the monkey’s evil trainers
are happy to provide

they’re the scum of the earth
the takers of souls
they’re the evil undertakers
the diggers of holes

and the monkey’s getting stronger
and K needs a rest
the monkey’s poison claws
digging into his chest

and the monkey slips his cage
and steps into the light
and T sees what it is
and it fills her with fright

she can see the bloody talons
she avoids the evil gaze
how long has this been haunting K?
she can’t even count the days

she braces for a fight
tells the trainers “stay away”
and she closes the door
and she tries to rescue K

but the scars are too deep
and the monkey's too strong
and the man is too weak
and the days are too long

and shadows grow
and monkeys feed
and trainers lurk
life takes its toll
T’s in despair
love doesn’t work

the sickness is growing
and T finally reaches out
to family and friends
but there’s no one about
who can handle the monkey
who can handle the man
‘cause K, he still believes
that the monkey’s in the can

T risks her family
while her own health slips away
jeopardizing sanity
to try and save K

there are those whose obligations
bound by friendship and time
bound by family and blood
who were partners in crime

they stood back and let it happen
let the monkey take control
let T shoulder the burden
while the sickness took its toll

and K got closer to the edge
and T tried to block his way
and K stepped out on the ledge
and T knew he couldn’t stay

so T, she stepped aside
and the K man was at peace
for the first time in a long time
and T felt the release
of the grip of the monkey
of the trainer and thief
of the burden of sickness
T found healing in grief

so she gathered together
with friends and relations
and in story and song
they had a celebration
of the man we knew too little
of the man we knew too well
of the man whose life was brittle
though none of us could tell
‘cause we didn’t want to look
while the monkey killed K
‘cause ignorance is bliss
and we like it that way

now when T thinks of K
she thinks, there was a man
who I loved with all my heart,
though some didn’t understand

and people grieve
and people heal
and on they live
now T’s alone
but K is there
with more to give

she hears his voice in a note
feels his soul in the breeze
when she sings in a club
or walks among the trees

Jerry Russell

~for T

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mary Ann's Famous Coconut Cream Pie

O.K., so, who didn't think Mary Ann was waaay hotter than Ginger? I know I did. Did you know Gilligan's Island only ran 3 seasons? I didn't. Dawn Wells said so, so it has to be true. I found Dawn's home page by accident one day. She has all sorts of Gilliganny stuff, including recipes. Here's one.

Mary Ann's Famous Coconut Cream Pie

Courtesy of Mary Ann's
Gilligan's Island Cookbook

3 egg yolks
½ cup cornstarch
Dash of salt
1 cup coconut
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cups milk
1 baked 9-inch pie shell
½ cup Malibu Rum
3 egg whites
2 tablespoons butter
Coconut for garnish

In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, beat egg yolks and salt.
Add the sugar, milk, Malibu and butter. As soon as the bottom pot boils,
mix the cornstarch with a small amount of water.
Add it to the egg yolk mixture a little at a time.
Cook until thick, stirring constantly with a wire whisk.
Add the coconut and vanilla. Pour the filling into the baked pie shell.
To create meringue, beat the egg whites with a small amount of sugar;
spread the meringue over the pie. Sprinkle coconut on top and toast in the oven.

Makes 6 servings.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sugar Creeps-me-out Glen Campground

Sugar Creek Glen Campground is described as "One of the most beautiful campgrounds in NY State".

Really? Seriously??

Becky and I drove through there on Sunday, and, well . . . if your idea of "beautiful" or even "camping" is gaudy trailers, one after another, wedged into dirt-floor campsites with their plastic cabana lights, striped awnings, lawn ornaments, fenced-in "young-un yards", outdoor carpeted patios littered with plastic recliners, Bud cases at-the-ready stacked next to the bar-b-q, and screaming children running in circles flinging candy wrappers into the woods . . . well then, it's paradise!!

I should have known when we pulled in, since the entrance had all the welcome appeal of an abandoned back-country gas station.

The campground has the potential to be extraordinary, since the glen features five waterfalls. Unfortunately, it's populated by semi-permanent (and some permanent) residents who have no appreciation whatsoever for unadulterated nature. "It ain't purty unless it's got lawn ornamnents".

We drove around a while, looking for an unlikely, but exquisite little tent site, away from the trailers and near the stream. The closest thing we found was a mud-pit littered with crap left there by the previous tenants, including a dirty dishrag, a dirty pair of socks, a tampon applicator, and -- no lie-- a pile of human feces. Niiiiice.

Not sure we're in a hurry to make reservations anytime soon.

Beyond the "campsites", the glen itself is likely well worth exploring.
We saw the first waterfall, which is lit up at night ("'cause it ain't purty without colored lights"). Waterfalls are always nice, and this one, though small, was no exception. I found a water snake there sunning itself on a slab of limestone. I wanted to bring it home, because I'm fairly certain that if one of the residents spies it, they'll flatten its head with another slab of limestone.

The other four falls in the glen are accessible by a hike along the rim. There are no proper trails, which may be a good thing, since the likelihood of Bud bottle litter diminishes in inverse proportion to an increase in required physical effort.

Maybe I'll drop by if I'm ever in the vicinity and take that hike to the top of the glen.

Father's Day Discoveries

Went camping in a cabin for Father's Day weekend.

In spite of a rainy day on Saturday, we had a good time. Spent some real quality time with my family and got to do some flipping-over of rocks in a creek with Andrew, just like the old days! Discovered some interesting things, including gilled salamanders, crayfish and tons of fossils!

Outside the creek, we saw a hawk moth,
a lot of fungus of all different shapes & sizes, and a baby wren (I think) who had fallen out of the nest. He was fine, and his parents were very busy bringing him bugs to eat.

On Sunday, I found a fairly large wolf spider and a water snake along Sugar Creek, in Dansville, NY. I like spiders and snakes, but Becky was none too fond of either one. Sugar Creek runs through Sugar Creek Campground, one of the most beautiful campgrounds in NY State. Really?? Read more...

Fungus Pix

View "NOTES" in pop-up below slide show for image details.

Fungus, mushrooms, lichens and other odd and interesting mushroomy stuff. View the slide show for pictures of lots of different varieties. The collection will continue to grow. Newer photos will appear at the top of the pile.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Finally got back to some painting! Kinda.

It's funny how a simple thing like flushing a toilet can set you back a whole week.

Let me post-preface that with the statement "we live in an old craftsman style house, built in 1930, and there's always something that needs updating or replacing".
The little upstairs bath was added somewhere along the way, before we ever laid eyes on the place, and the genius who installed it decided that brown carpet would be a good thing. Well, I suppose 20+ years is long enough to shampoo it into a barely tolerable state.

The bathroom was perfectly functional, if ugly, which is why it took a back seat to the numerous other remodeling projects I've undertaken over the years.
Until last week, when the "flush that changed my calendar" resulted in a soaked carpet and the revelation that the wax seal I replaced several years ago had finally given out.

There's another stroke of genius. Wax seals on toilets. What brainiac thought that one up? Not only do they eventually decompose, but they're a bee-otch to replace because you have to align the toilet with the drain and the bolts —perfectly— without destroying the wax seal, all the while holding the 90 pound porcelain crapper suspended in mid-air.

But that comes later.

First: the removal of the toilet and the carpet. Then the soaked underlayment. And part of the sub-floor. The drain and a section of the pvc pipe attached to the drain.
After a week of tearing down and removing, plumbing, tiling, patching and trimming, I finally got to paint -- the walls.

They're a lovely shade of "dining room color" mixed with a little bit of "den".

Monday, May 5, 2008


So... I stopped by Starbucks to get some coffee and see who's displaying there now. Same few pieces that have been there for a long time. It's a nice space for art, really. Big blank wall. Well lit. Nice gallery-style hanging system. Jazz music playing . . .
I asked to see the manager regarding displaying some of my paintings. He was expected back any minute. So, I sat and drank my coffee and did a sketch of the wall where 3 of my large oil paintings would look very spiffy.

After some time, the nice lady who poured my coffee came over and said "The manager's back, but he's really busy. And, he's not sure what he's going to do about displaying art yet. He's been here for under a year. [ummm . . . O.K.] Can you come back in, like 2 or 3 weeks, maybe bring some samples?"
To which I replied "I have some in my car."

"Well, still. Maybe in a few weeks."

Maybe it's a liability thing. I don't know.
I'll do a mock-up of the paintings hanging on the wall, with spot lighting and stuff.

He won't be able to resist.

There’s no such thing as Computer Generated art

It’s an entirely misleading term. Digital Art, or even just Art would be more accurate in most cases.

“Computer Generated” invokes an image of someone sitting back with their arms folded watching while the computer works out calculations and auto-generates an image. This couldn’t be further from the truth for most artists working digitally. It’s certainly not true for my digital paintings and illustrations. It’s like saying that my oil on Canvas paintings are “Canvas Generated”.

Admittedly, there are self-proclaimed “artists” who use their computers to scan photos and then apply canned filters in Photoshop to add a watercolor effect, or something similar. I would agree that for the most part, I wouldn’t call that art. The fact that I can drive a nail with a hammer doesn’t make me a carpenter. However, there are artists who use their own photography and manipulate it in Photoshop, or a similar image-editing program—using tools that mimic traditional darkroom tools—to create something completely original.

Two examples of digital artwork I have done using my Mac are Melting Stones and Cosi fan tutte. Both can be found here.

Neither of these pieces is “computer generated”. Both pieces started as a series of conceptual pencil sketches on paper. The final sketches were refined, scanned and placed on a white background in Photoshop. This is akin to transferring a rough sketch to a blank canvas. Same process, different tools. The Melting Stones painting (done for Full Cast Audio) was completed entirely on my Mac using the scanned pencil sketch as a starting point. Color was blocked in using Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter, a graphics tablet (Wacom) and stylus. In about 30 hours, using brushes of various sizes and types that mimic traditional tools, I refined the image until I was satisfied with the painting.

Cosi fan tutte also started out as a lot of conceptual pencil sketches to work out the idea and composition. The final sketch was the basis for the final art. For this piece, I used Photoshop to create the patterns and textures which were used on the cups, tablecloth, napkin, pecans, etc. I used 3D modeling software (Infini- D) to build a scene containing the props (cups and saucers, bowl, glass, etc.) a camera and several primary and fill lights. This is precisely the same method that a photographer would use to set up a still life in a photo studio—except that the photographer doesn’t have to build all of the pieces of the still life from scratch— and then create all of the colors, patterns and textures that go on those elements—and then work out the physical and surface properties of all of the elements, such as gloss, reflectivity, texture, transparency, translucency, iridescence, gravity... Some might glance at this image and pass it off as “computer generated”. If they sat with me during the 40 or so hours that it took to create the image, they’d have a much better appreciation for it.

My computer is just another tool. Period. If anything, it makes me more creative because it allows me to explore more possibilities in less time, because I don’t have to wait for paint to dry, or substitute another color because I’ve run out of cadmium red, or spend 3 hours repainting a sky from cerulean blue to cobalt.

There was a time when watercolors were dismissed as a medium for children or amateurs. Dürer, Eakins and Wyeth might disagree. –J. Russell

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Jerry Russells I am not...

There are a lot of Jerry Russells out there . . .
and a Google search can lead to some confusing results when you're looking for Jerry Russell, the illustrator.
Here are some of the other Jerry Russells that turn up in a Google search. I am none of these Jerrys, although I am proud to be a member of a club that includes such diverse, creative and astute members.

Not me . . .

Missing classmate (and handsome fellow)
Jerry Russell
Lamar High School, Class of 1956
Houston, Texas

Jerry Russell of Blue Cheer
Jerry Russell was born in 1944. His family was a prominent banking and horse breeding family in California. Jerry's brother Ethan Russell (photographer to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who etc.) attended the University of California, Davis. (read more)


Jerry D. Russell
Cooking by the Seat of My Pants is more than just a really catchy name for a food blog. (Well, I think it’s pretty catchy.) It’s the way I cook. I rarely use a recipe, and if I do, I blatantly neglect to follow it once I get going. I just fly through the kitchen by the seat of my pants and cook for the sheer unadulterated pleasure it gives me. . . . (read more)

Jerry Russell, M.Div.
Jerry Russell was born and raised in Clover, Va., where he received his call to the ministry at the age of nineteen. Currently, Jerry is currently working on a Masters in Theology and Ethics at Union-PSCE (Presbyterian School of Christian Education). . . . (read more)

Oil man
Gerald W. (Jerry) Russell
The University of Tulsa’s Petroleum Engineering Department Alumnus of the Month - February 2006 A fifty year veteran in the oil and gas business, Jerry received his M.S. in Engineering Management from the University of Tulsa in 1971, at night school, while working for Sinclair Oil and Gas Corporation in their Economics and Reserves department. Prior to moving to Tulsa, Jerry worked in the Permian Basin and West Texas for seven years. . . . (read more)

Rev. Jerry Russell
Almost four years ago, the Rev. Jerry Russell held a miniature globe in his hands as he spoke to a group of United Methodist delegates in Pittsburgh. He said he would gladly accept a future as a bishop . . . (read more)