The week before last we went to the races at Newmarket. We took the chance to drink a bit of sparkling wine and to see the horses run.
I love watching horses run but I don't gamble.
I learned my lesson in the summer of 1979. I spent the entire summer in Las Vegas or as we always called it "Lost Wages."
A friend and I spent the summer going door to door offering to paint house numbers on the curbs of houses in newly developed neighborhoods. We were promising "curb appeal." We were, of course, college students trying to earn enough money for the next semester at school. People were very obliging. How could they resist enterprising students doing their best to further their education? For five bucks we would make sure the postman would never miss their house on his rounds.
Honestly, we raked in cash; at least enough dosh for a decent hotel, food, and gambling. We did this day after day all hot summer long.
Do you want to guess how much money we took back with us at the end of the summer? We should have been flush with cash. Instead, we barely had enough gas money to make it back to San Diego, where it all started.
I kicked that gambling habit in the teeth right then and there. I vowed I would never get sucked up in that life again.
I've been back to Vegas and I've gambled since but I strictly limit my losses. I've never spent more than $20 a day gambling in Vegas; if I gamble at all. It's kind of the price of admission.
Even though I shun gambling, I love to go to the horse races. I don't know any of the vagaries of horse racing, jockeys, or how the heck they come up with the odds for betting. I've seen a racing form before, and I've seen people study them to death. I don't know, however, if placing a bet after that meticulous and somewhat magical analysis can produce any better results than tossing a coin in the air.
Here's what I do...
It's a brilliant system. I would recommend it to anyone who needs a system for horse racing.
I go the paddock and look at the horses being paraded around. I do a lot of ooohin and ahhhhing and oogling and scratching my head. I stick my finger in the air and say, "Hey, that's a pretty horse!" (They're all pretty though, aren't they). Or I might say, "Gosh, I love that name!". Things like Codswallop or Thunderdash or Flashbang or First Dude or Painting The Sky float my boat. Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening. Gallio ... oh heck - there I go again. Sorry - Bohemian Flashback - now that would be an excellent name for a horse.
Once, I've completed a careful evaluation of the "horse flesh" in front of me, I'll make a note of the name, the number, and the odds, and I go watch the race. When the horse loses, I count up the money I saved by not betting. It's a marvelous system. A spectacular system, indeed. I've banked thousands of dollars/pounds over the years by proactively, not gambling.
Yup - not gambling is for me. Wanna bet...
Until next week, I wish you peace.
T - 263 DAYS
I was digging through the archives of my mind, thinking of a time in my life that was, let's say, full of wide-eyed opportunity and potential, and I thought of my friend Dave, whom I was introduced to by my mother. (that story is probably one for another day).
Dave had a hot 240z. I think I remember it was yellow. (I could be full of hooey - ya never know) I was a real fan of the car, and I thought Dave was great. He was studying to be an artist and bartending at the Stamford Hotel in Connecticut.
I lost track of him over the years and wanted to see how he was doing. I found his website, www.davedodge.com.
Dave spent his career as an art director in the corporate world and has recently transitioned to painting en plein air more or less full time.
Dave is a great artist. I love his plein air paintings. There's a photo of him painting on his website. When I first came across his website, I knew it was him even though you can't see his face.
I was able to reconnect with him lately, and I am happy to introduce you to this talented artist's work.
Dave lives with his wife in Peterborough, New Hampshire.
His friend John introduced Dave to outdoor painting, and he's been hooked it ever since.
In honor of this week's featured artist, here is one of my own pointillist contributions to the world. This is what I imagine my skull looks like under the skin. Read on...
As I said in my last little update, I am more a gorilla than a gazelle. I don't think I realize the extent of my klutziness.
I have run into walls, telephone poles, fence posts, and door jams. At times it even extends to tripping over steps, stones, and things that aren't there. You know, the type of trip where you look back to see what the hell happened. For me, I swear the earth reaches up and grabs me, and I go tumbling.
In the United States, where doors are more often than not several inches above my head, it doesn't pose too much of a problem. Most of the time, the worst that happens is light bruising and rattled bones from running into door jams.
Some part of my body is continually recovering from a cut, a bruise, or some form of petty injury. It often includes bleeding from some fresh wound or another. Sometimes I'm spontaneously leaking from a cut I had no idea I had. In the past, folks may have called it stigmata, tied me to a stake, and set a match. Now they make bandages for that.
However, England has ancient houses with positively Hobbit sized doors.
The house in which we live is 500 years old. Yes, it has ghosts and creaks and whispers, oh my. One of the doors here is only three and a half feet tall. That's being generous. People were shorter then.
Until the last couple of hundred years, human height had stayed relatively constant; somewhere around 5'7" (170 cm for those not in the United States.) So I don't know why that door is only 3 1/2 foot tall.
People have been shooting up like bean poles in the last one hundred and fifty years. We've added an average of 3.9" inches (10 cm) from the bottoms of our feet to the top of our heads. Those that study these things put it down to better nutrition or better medicine - we no longer consider The Four Humours, Phrenology, Systematic Bleeding, or prescribe cigarettes for stress as sound medical practices.
I guess I'm one of those who has benefited from modern medicine and nutrition being 6'1" (185 cm give or take).
Last year, when I was going into a closet, my head hit the jam so hard it peeled off a pelt of skin and fur on the door jam. It looked like it could have come from a squirrel caught in something from the Spanish Inquisition. I had to peel it off of the crossbeam. The gash in my head bled like a neverending bloodletting ceremony from the Middle Ages.
Unfortunately, household harmony suffers a bit when we discover my pillow looks like Hannibal Lecter used it for a drop cloth or a napkin. Beautiful white linen pillowcases stained with copious amounts of Scott's internal operating system can send the day into a quick tailspin.
We have resorted to using black pillowcases on my side of the bed. It's not like it solves the problem, but is undoubtedly a step I'm willing to take for peaceful coexistence.
In a roundabout way, what I'm trying to say is I hit my head again today. Not too bad; it was a relatively light tap, but it did draw blood.
Tonight, we are going back to the: "Black Pillowcases Of Shame." I will hang my head and accept my lot, because, well, it's just who I am: Shrek.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
T - 270 DAYS
This week it's an artist whom I only know by his initials and the back of their head. I'm stumped. I think it's a guy because of the haircut and I think I spotted a bit of facial growth or a beard, so I'm going with that. I apologize if I'm wrong. Nevertheless, I love the art he produces. His moniker is CJP.
Even though CJP's work is very detailed, I mean, there must be a microscope involved to see some of the details he draws. Yup, it's all using scratches on paper. I know, wild, eh?
Look at this video. How he uses an ordinary pen to scratch images into being.
As an example of work, take a look at one of the pieces CJP has done called Rewilderness where he hides little critters away in a perfectly rendered pine cone. You can appreciate the perfection from afar and then hone in on little bits and pieces. I love looking for those little nuggets.
I love discovering new things that people do with their art. CJP is one of those artists I follow because I'm never quite sure what inventive this or that he'll put into his artwork.
If you want to see more of his talent on display, you can visit him at the following site over the inter-web.
Now, go out and make some ART!
This painting of tranquility and peace hangs with my daughter in Wisconsin. I hope it helps her to keep warm in the winter time. I thought of this painting because my Holly brought something to my attention last month that has solved a forty-year mystery.
You see, I am not the most graceful person in the world. That's a fact. When I was a kid, I excelled more at sports that were more "bull in a china shop." I'm more gorilla than gazelle. It's just how it is.
I've come to accept that over time, but recently I've kinda found out why.
At the tender age of 21, I found myself adrift in the sea of life. I dropped out of college, and I needed some direction, so I turned my life over to the United States Government. Being the slacker that I was, I thought I would join the United States Marines. Heck, I was looking for a bit of discipline and direction. What I needed was a transformation, and I got that by the bucket-full.
When I told my friends that I had joined the Marines, these were their standard reactions.
The third, I thought, was phenomenal and actionable advice. So as a recruit at MCRD San Diego, I had only one thing in mind. Don't get noticed.
I decided that keeping my head down was the least cost method of getting through boot camp. By least cost, I mean, minimal effort for maximum reward. I wanted to do the job well enough that I didn't get in trouble, but not good enough that I would get noticed. I tried to keep to myself, follow orders, and simply do the job. Easy, right?
It turns out that just doing your job and following orders is a skill. It gets you noticed.
My Drill Instructors made me a Squad Leader. What does it mean to be a squad leader? Well, it means that, not only to you get the brunt of the Drill Instructors attention and displeasure, you get special attention when someone else in your squad screws up too. Double the pleasure, double the fun!
Somehow, in their attempt to make the platoon a cohesive marching unit they made me the Guidon Bearer or as we called it "The Guide." The Guide is the guy in the front of the platoon carrying the platoon flag. He sets the direction of the platoon. He also gets thrashed when ANYBODY in the platoon messes up. The blame goes all the way to the front of the class where the Guide sits.
Drill Instructors take a lot of pride in making their recruits a solid marching unit. It's their job. Marching is essential to Marines. Marching is the orderly movement of masses of people from one place to another.
There is also a competition at the end of the recruit's time in boot camp where the platoon and the Drill Instructors get graded on their performance on the "drill field." That makes it very important.
I have to admit, when I see and hear an experienced group of Marines in time, covered and aligned, moving as one, I get filled with a bit of that "je ne sais quoi." It can bring a tear to your eye. Click on the photo below or here to see a video of the Marine Corps Silent Drill Team. I never get tired of it.
Marching requires a couple of things. The following requirements are not from the Marine Corps Drill Manual, but rather, they're my private interpretation.
Now, let me tell you, I was a fantastic marcher. I could strut with the best of them. I could do my column lefts, and my column rights, half-steps, quick steps, and even the most complicated rifle movements with ease.
One thing I didn't mention above is that marching well also requires you be able to walk in a straight line. That, I am physically and woefully incapable of doing.
I walk like an alcoholic on a three-week bender. I can't help it. I could never really figure it out. Why the hell can't I walk in a straight line?
I swear I would fail any field sobriety test.
Alas, they fired me. Well, not so much fired as relegated. I was no longer the Guide. I was demoted to squad leader all because I couldn't walk a straight freaking line; I was outta there.
But why can't I walk a straight line?
Why do I run into things all the time?
Could it be slamming my head into a metal pole when I was 12?
Was it the pucks, sticks, and fists that connected with my face when I was playing ice-hockey?
Did I suffer too many concussions from my ill-fated attempt at a boxing career?
Finally, after sixty years, I may have come across the source of all my woes.
Last month, when we were in Montreal, Holly happened to be walking behind me. She said, "Dad, do you have problems with depth perception?" She said it was fascinating to watch me nearly careening off of every lamp post, blind man, and building corner in my path.
She explained that it might be because of my astigmatism or more accurately, my amblyopia (lazy eye). When I was about six or seven years old, I was made to wear an eye patch over one eye to try to strengthen the weak one. I was a child pirate. Imagine the ridicule that one brought.
It all seems to make sense now. I don't know what the heck I'm going to do about it. There's probably nothing I can do, but knowing makes me a bit more comfortable and confident.
That brings me to my upcoming trip on the Appalachian Trail. I'll need to make sure I don't trip over roots, run into trees/snakes/bears/poison ivy, or misjudge the edge of any cliffs I pass by while I'm easin' on down the long green tunnel.
I'll take all that under advisement.
But, I'm sure Brian will throw me a line if I need one.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
TRAIL MINUS 284 DAYS AND COUNTING
f you like realism and you like bright colors you'll love Sarah Graham. Her work was first introduced to me by good friends of ours. I am very happy I was introduced to Sarah's work.
After I learned about Sarah, I was all over the internet trying to find her work online. I also remember going to a reception at Gallery 1066 in Baldock a couple of years ago and saw one of her paintings there as well.
The detail she puts into her paintings is phenomenal. Sometimes, I think her paintings look more real than the real thing. The colors in her paintings are amped up and they make her painting so vivid.
If you just took a photo of a bunch of candy it wouldn't really be that interesting. However, if you can find one of Sarah Graham's paintings of candy; now that's something sweet.
Sarah was born just a few miles up the road from us in Hitchin in 1977 and got her Fine Arts degree from De Montfort University in Leicester in 2000. Since then she has been a living breathing working artist. She now works out of her studio in Letchworth. Hertfordshire.
I am happy to introduce you to Sarah's work. Her work is hung all over the planet from China to South America.
You can find her at the following fine venues on the internet.
Here's a relatively recent Lighthouse painting I did. I could have used one of a lighthouse, or even some direction on Tuesday night when I was navigating some rather narrow country lanes.
The way we approach life has a lot to do with how much we enjoy the experience. If you think you're going to have a good time, it doesn't mean that you automatically have a good time, but you have a better chance to have a good time if you start in the right frame of mind.
We usually get what we expect.
I came across one of those situations this last week. I certainly got what I expected.
On Tuesday night, I was driving from St. Evenage to Chorleywood to meet up with Lynn and Fred before The Pretenders/Fleetwood Mac concert. When you get off the M25 (Non-UK readers: Big-Ass Motorway Circling London) at Chorleywood, you head right off into one of these meandering Lilliputian Pathways. It's more of a capillary than an artery.
I'm convinced elves, trolls, and maybe even ancient Druids designed the paths they call country roads in England. Sometimes it seems you can't fit two horses next to each other on these tiny trails let alone two cars.
We don't stand a chance. The big ole SUV we drive doesn't stand a chance in hell in this land of paved Hobbit Trails. It's downright nail-biting to drive, and I don't know how local people get used to it.
I'm always on the edge of my seat. I'm constantly on the lookout because, invariably, some miscreant will come barreling down the road like a lunatic careening off the embankments.
As I was white-knuckling down the road on Tuesday, the traffic was pretty light. No worries, I thought. I've dodged the bullet again. We've made it through unscathed, and, in fact, we did. We got to Hannay Hilton right on time - no dings, no scrapes, no missing mirrors. Whew!
We then took the train to Wembley Stadium and had a great time at the concert. On the way back, on the train, I started wondering how I was going to attack the drive home down that long and lonely alleyway.
I was already starting to feel a bit nervous and claustrophobic.
But then, I thought it's dark; there won't be too many people on the road. It'll be easy. So we said our goodbyes to Lynn and Fred (kiss, kiss, hug, hug, bye, bye) and set off for home I had all the confidence in the world.
I put my high beams on so I could see if a deer, an endangered box turtle, or an even elven sprite might try to dart across the road. There was none of those, but another car was coming up the lane.
I had just passed a slight layby, so I thought I would back up in there. That didn't work.
The car in front of me wasn't moving. We weren't moving.
He flashed his high beams at me. I was oblivious he meant for me to turn off my high beams and left my high beams on.
I started to back up more to get into a better position for him to pass. He still didn't move.
We were at an impasse.
At this point, I thought, oh hell, this is silly.
The other car wasn't going forward, so I did.
Then he started to move forward.
I started to back up.
They started to back up.
I thought I was in some Laurel and Hardy adventure.
Andrea's getting impatient. I was getting impatient.
Smoke started coming out of my ears.
I'm sure whoever was in the other car was getting a little miffed too.
Finally, we each eased forward ever so slowly — one small revolution of the tires at a time. Step by step, inch by inch, we passed each other with less than a badger's hair between us. I could see the whites of his eyes, and he could probably see my scowl. Grrrrr!
No obscene hand gestures passed between us, however, I did think of a few choice ones along the way.
Thankfully, the road opened up ahead. I crossed my fingers, my toes, and even some bits of me I didn't know I had. We made it back to the M25 and home without any more incidents.
Sometimes, even going down the road can be an adventure. You never really know what to expect. If you like a challenge, I recommend English Country Lanes.
For the coming week, I hope your roads are clear and have ample width. I wish you smooth seas and following winds.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
Gary & Kathwren Jenkins are pioneers in painting instruction and up until very recently continued to publish their television shows and videos.
I remember Gary Jenkins from his PBS program in the 1980s and 1990s. Gary and his wife Kathwren hosted 21 series of programs from 1983 until1999.
He will be familiar with lots of folks in Europe as well as his shows have aired in places like France, England, Germany, and even Bulgaria.
Their videos are still available on YouTube.
Gary Jenkins is one of those PBS painters like Bill Alexander, 1915-1997, and his "Almighty Strokes!" (The Magic of Oil Painting), Bob Ross, 1942-1995, and his "Happy Little Accidents" (The Joy of Painting), or Helen Van Wyk, 1930-1994 (Welcome to my Studio). They were instructors who made me believe I could paint too.
I spent a lot of time sitting in front of the television watching them paint. I continue to spend a lot of time watching their videos on YouTube.
These folks may never have their paintings hanging in the Louvre, but they are iconic painters who came along just the right time. They provided me with much-needed encouragement at the time.
I'm sure, along with the biggies I mentioned above, Gary may have convinced one or two of you that you could make art you wouldn't mind hanging in your own home.
Gary is the only one of those television painters who are still kicking. He and his wife live up in Sedona and continue to do workshops from time to time.
Though they do not currently produce any television or videos, they have developed an online course of instruction; and encouragement.
I remember all of these folks very fondly. As I highlight Gary Jenkins here, I also would like to recognize the others who made significant contributions.
Now, go out and make some ART!
This little drawing reminds me of St Thomas where the chickens run free. It also reminds me of waking up in the morning, which is appropriate given today's little bloggy topic.
When I was a youngish man, boy, whatever, I remember I didn't like getting up early. So many mornings, our hockey practice came at some ungodly time in the morning. I later found out it was because it was when the ice time was least expensive.
We will do just about anything when we're young, and we bounce back. After that ungodly early ice-time, we'd pack our lunch and go to school for the whole day and come home for some other sports practice. It was just the way it was. When you're young, you adapt.
I can still manage to get up early if I have to. I often have early calls with folks on the other side of the planet to discuss exciting things like the relevance and findability of data or some equally fascinating topic.
I know I've been changing a bit because, when we were in Dayton last week and Andy said, "Hey, let's play golf this weekend." My immediate response was, "Please, not too early." at which point he chimed in with, "are you f*$%ng kidding, I'm not getting up early on the weekend."
Well, I can still get up early if I need to, but I prefer not to.
I want to put off the following morning routine as long as possible because mornings have become a tiresome, tedious ritual. There is just so much that goes into becoming conscious nowadays.
When I opened my eyes this morning, I went through my usual routine.
I don't know what has happened to me. Has there been some breach in the space-time continuum? One day I was spry as a newborn then, it seems I just turned around, and my body has begun to inflict a torturous morning routine on me.
I'll keep on keeping on. Should I ignore it? Should I go with it? Should I power through? I don't know. How do you handle the onslaught of decrepitude? I think I'll power through.
I asked my dad once about all these aches and pains I started to get when I passed the half-century mark. I asked, do you ever get used to it? Does it ever go away? Does it ever get easier?
His answer was plain and unequivocal, "No."
Really, I'm grateful for all I've been able to hang on to. But I wish it were a bit easier and I hope the wheels don't start falling off any more quickly.
Things just ain't what they used to be.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
One of the beauties of the internet is that it brings far away things right to the comfort of your own home. I don't know if I would have ever heard of this artist if it weren't for YouTube.
Knut André Vikshåland is a Norwegian artist who works out of the former stable in his childhood home. He is quite a character which, to me, adds to his charm.
In the photo above Knut paints a portrait of Samuel Steinmann, the last Norwegian survivor of Auschwitz. Samuel died on 1 May 2015 in Oslo, Norway.
His paintings will evoke something in you. That's for sure. He sometimes tackles some pretty uncomfortable subjects. I don't think anyone would have any trouble discerning how he stands on any particular issue.
Watching him create paintings on YouTube gives me the sense that I could do it too. He's a self-taught artist who simply spends a lot of his time painting. That's how he gets better. That's how any of us gets better, isn't it?
He says, "A good painting will give a sense of meaning, like music, philosophy, poetry, literature, and especially science."
I like watching him paint. He usually shows the whole process. For those who are just interested in the outcome, I suppose this can be a bit tedious. But, for me, it allows me a closer look into the process and how to get things done.
I hope you take a little bit of time to look up Knut and see how he does his paintings. I enjoy watching this tattooed tradesman of art do his thing on YouTube.
Now, after this little dose of inspiration - go out and make some ART!
I thought my painting of poppies might be appropriate on this week of reflection and appreciation — this precious little impasto painting is hanging above the bed here at Old Cottage.
I'm in a bit of a somber and reflective mood. It's been a week of ceremonies and remembrance. Seventy-five years ago soldiers landed on the beaches of northern France.
Every time I watch something having to do with the war, I get choked up and find it difficult to hold back a tear or two. No matter how noble or righteous the cause, it involves so much pain and so much loss.
Many people gave their lives on that day. It was that sacrifice that helped bring a brutal conflict to an end. There was plenty more fighting to do, but it was undoubtedly the beginning of the end of the Second World War.
“When you go home.
Tell them of us, and say.
For your tomorrow,
We gave our today.”
-- Patrick O'Donnell
A few years ago, we went on a tour of World War I and II battlegrounds. If you haven't done it before I would highly recommend it. We went from the memorial at Vimy Ridge to the landing beaches of Normandy. It was extremely memorable. We sobbed our way from memorial to memorial, and from beach to beach. It was a bit overwhelming.
I believe being there gave me a better understanding of the scale, challenges, and courage they had. Of course, not having been there, I don't think I can ever truly understand.
So, this week, I've opted to forgo my usual mindless drivel and reflect on their sacrifice.
We should all remember their sacrifice this week and contemplate the efforts of that "Greatest Generation."
I hope we can remember and learn from the cost of war and the folks that operate on the tip of that sword. Bless them all.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
I think I've been following this artist for as long as I've known about YouTube. Sergey Gusev is a very talented artist from St Petersburg, Russia.
This is a recent photo of Sergey with one of his paintings. If this is what he looks like now, then when I started following him in 2012, he must have been ten years old.
Sergey is so accomplished for such a young age.
His style runs the gamut between loose and impressionistic and expressionistic with bold color and strokes to meticulous, detailed, and refined portraiture.
I love his style; I guess I'm a bit jealous he's so young. But that's relative, isn't it?
Give his work a chance.
Others have - his art hangs in private collections in USA, Russia, Denmark, France, and England.
Now, after this little dose of inspiration - go out and make some ART!
This drawing has nothing to do with the article but I finished it last week and I'm including it here. Now on with my DIY adventure.
We've all encountered, either out of desire or necessity, the need to engage in a home Do-It-Yourself (DIY) project.
Maybe you have an innate need to build, construct, or create something. Perhaps you're deluded into thinking, "oh, that looks easy, I'll pick up a hammer and saw and have it done in no time flat." For me, though, the desire wells up to bust my knuckles usually slaps me on the back of the head when I get a professional quote to do the job and spew up or choke with great flair on whatever I have in my mouth at the time. Sometimes it even comes out of my nose.
No matter where that little inkling comes from, I have to tell you, I have NEVER started or completed a DIY project that has gone entirely according to plan.
There is something about these projects that abhor smooth sailing. The gods never smile on them.
Yes, I had one of those moments of complete insanity just last week. I thought, sure I can replace a toilet, I know how to swap out that vanity and sink, and, I'm sure I can even put down a new floor at the same time.
There's a reason these guys charge an arm and a leg to do those jobs. I'm sure they have to break an arm and a leg and virtually destroy their backs in the process.
Knowing all the challenges and all of the pitfalls, I charged forward to get the job done. I measured everything up. Got the parts and set to work.
The first part was taking up the old to put down the new. That only took a couple of hours.
I was all ready to start laying the floor. Things were going smooth as silk. I thought I'd have it done in only a couple of hours, but then I came to the cutouts and go-arounds. You know what they say, "Measure twice, cut once." That's what I did.
I must be getting old because I couldn't remember which end of the board I was supposed to cut or how it was supposed to fit in place. I had to go up and down the stairs a hundred times to make sure I got it right.
That's what happens when you don't know what you're doing. It's those things you have to go back for that take up so much time. So far, on day one, I got the floor almost done. Only a couple more pieces to finish the job. It was 10:30 at night when I decided to call it quits for the day. I'd already re-seated the toilet and was ready to fit in the sink the next day.
I should never work when I'm tired. It's just not good practice. Things tend to happen when you don't have your wits about you.
This time, it was like some slapstick movie. I was trying to get up off the floor and leaned ever so slightly on the sink waste pipe, and it came off in my hand. It broke off behind the wall. That was it - the day was over — no more work for me. I headed home with my tail between my legs not knowing what I was in for the next day.
I cut the wall out where the waste pipe went it when it was still attached. What I found was both exciting and revolting all at one time.
First, the revolting stuff:
I don't know if you've ever cleaned the trap in your sink, but it can get pretty unpleasant. The smell was noxious, and I had to reach in and clean out the blockage. It wasn't completely blocked but enough that it was best I cleaned it out. The sludge and muck I drew out of the pipe actually made me gag a little.
Second, the exciting part.
The pipe hadn't broken off inside. The pipe that came out of the wall had almost completely disintegrated. There was virtually nothing left of it in the stack where it was connected. It was exciting because, after I cleaned everything out, I just needed to get a new pipe to come out of the wall. That was a huge relief.
One of the great truths about DIY is:
Every project that you start will require at least three or four unexpected trips to the DIY store to finish. In my case, it was Lowes.
The second trip to Lowes came when I tried to connect the sink trap to the waste pipe and the drain from the sink.
The new drain pipe I got said it was 1 1/2" or 1 1/4" trap assembly for the sink. Mine was 1 1/4" so I thought it would work - WRONG.
I would use the old trap assembly. When I tried to fit it to the pipes, it was impossible to connect them. Everything coming out of the wall was about 2" off center from the pipes connected to the sink. That's what happens with one-hundred-year-old houses. They're just not standard.
Long story short. Things went along swimmingly until the last bit of the evening.
Another principle. If you're going to install a new sink, get new fittings. The old connectors from the water supply to the sink taps were about 2" too short. By this time it was getting late again. My eyes were bleeding, and I couldn't squeeze one more ounce of energy out of my tired, decrepit old body.
Home for the night. I thought I'll pick up new connectors on my way down the next day.
I went to the store (Lowes) and picked up the new connector feed lines after a 20-minute consultation with a friendly and helpful man in the plumbing department.
I have to hand it to Lowes, the majority of the people who are there to help you can help you. They're not uninformed high school sophomores working for a bit of extra cash on the weekend. The people at Lowes usually know what they're talking about. If they don't, they will find somebody who can help you.
I went back to finish the only task I had left. With the floor expertly laid, the toilet deftly reconnected and working, the vanity beautifully installed, my last job was to connect the faucets. I had the right stuff.
Here's where it gets a bit funky. I connected the faucets and, when I turned on the water, the connections leaked. Not severely but just enough to cause problems. I didn't want to over-tighten the connections because, if I did, and the connections broke I'd have a whole heap of other work to do. So I carefully and gradually tightened the fittings and dutifully waited fifteen to twenty minutes to check for leaks.
Three freaking hours of tightening and waiting over and over, there were no leaks.
I imagine a professional would have gone up there tighten the things down and had no leaks. For me, it was a process of trial and error. Most of the trials ended in error.
When I finished, I'd had enough of the project.
It turned out pretty good if you ask me. I'm sure there are some details and nuances that I could have done better; there always is something.
But that day, that fateful day. I slew the dragon and brought home the pot of gold. Mission accomplished. Job done.
The moral of this story, if it has one, is if you want something done right and done well you can either spend a lot of time and experience a bunch of frustration or hire a professional.
If I didn't have my daughter there to help me out and provide periodic encouragement, I would have blown a gasket. Thanks, Holly!
Until next week, I wish you peace.
This week, let's take a look at Tom Hughes. Tom lives and works out of his studio in Bristol in the UK. He spends his time painting both in the studio and en plein air. En plein air painting or painting outdoors was pioneered by impressionist painters like Claude Monet and Camile Pissarro.
By the way - Pissarro was born in and lived on St Thomas until he was sent off to school in Paris at the age of 12. He returned to St Thomas when he was 17 until he was 21.
I came across Tom when he started his Vlog on YouTube, where he travels around from place to place and records his "Thoughts on Painting" while he completes several plein air paintings.
Whether he comes to you from a beautiful seaside setting like Cornwall or Lime Regis or paints cityscapes from Bristol or London, his videos always contain some thought-provoking conversation on the subject of painting.
I have always wanted to do some plein air painting. It looks to be so much fun. Sure there are things like the weather to deal with, but nobody ever promised you a rose garden.
I like the way Tom paints his landscapes and cityscapes, and I hope you enjoy him as much as I do.
You can find him on the internet at:
Now, after this little dose of inspiration - go out and make some ART!
Here's a little chaotic painting I did a while back.
I have some strange miswiring in my brain that drives me completely bonkers. I can't leave the house in one shot. More often than not, I forget some things along the way.
I don't try to forget stuff it just happens. I'm not sure if it's a function of getting older or if it's just something inherently wrong with the way my brain works.
Yesterday, I had an appointment at the dentist. I was determined to get there on time.
Sometimes, the more I want to be on time, the more my plans to fall apart. The universe introduces a little more chaos in my life than might usually be there. The more I want it to get into order; the more anarchy rules the roost.
I'm sure the second law of thermodynamics plays a critical role in my life (the second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system always increases - things go from order to disorder).
I was leaving the house yesterday. I was all ready to go. I got into the garage, almost to the car, and realized I'd forgot my sunglasses. It was a brightish day, so I stopped on the steps to be sure I wanted them. I thought, "Of course you need your sunglasses, you silly boy, go back and get 'em."
I went back and got my sunglasses. Mission accomplished.
Heading back out to the car, I sat in the driver's seat, and as I was getting ready to start the car I thought, "Just in case you get held up in the waiting room shouldn't you have your earbuds so you can listen to music or a podcast or something (rather than to despair, drills, and drooling) to pass the time waiting on the dentist (my buddy Super-Dan the Dentist)."
I went back in to get my earbuds. Mission accomplished.
Backing out of the driveway, brought another thought, "Don't you think you'd like to have your phone; since you have your headset, you may as well bring your phone." You see, when I went in to get my sunglasses, I put my phone down to look for them. So I had the headset and glasses, no phone.
I went back in to get my phone. Mission Accomplished.
I thought I'd remembered everything when I set off the first time. I thought I had my shit together, but just like every time I try to leave the house, something happens, I'll think, "Hey, I should go in and get a drink. It's going to be a longish drive." or, "wouldn't it be nice if you actually brought your wallet."
I've even tried using a checklist; albeit a mental checklist.
I am leaving the house.
Okay - make sure you have: Wallet, Keys, Passport, Money, Glasses.
Perhaps I need to come up with mnemonic like, "Will Mother Pass My Glass Kettle." or some other strange but similar thing.
Part of the problem is I am usually rushing, and rushing can cause a variety of vexing situations. I always think I have more time than I do. I still think I can get that one more thing done before rushing out the door.
I'm convinced I'll do better the next time. I'm confident I'll give myself more time, but it never happens.
Like when we were on holiday in Spain. It was a lovely little rental in The Alpujarra. The owner of the property said, "when you leave, leave the keys inside and when you close the door it will lock. My housekeeper has a key, and she will be by later to clean the house."
We were in a little bit of a rush because we wanted to stop on the coast to watch the ocean a little before heading to the airport.
Being the obedient tenants that we are, we left the key in the house and closed the door as instructed. As we were walking up to the car, it dawned on me; the car keys were also inside the house. My heart sunk and my shoulders dropped. I had to break the news to Andrea.
Slowly she turned. Step by step, inch by inch, I could see the disappointment growing. "God, Scott, not again!"
It's become an oh so familiar mantra, Andrea says, "No clean getaway again eh?" with that little disappointed sigh.
The landlord was thirty minutes away. There was no way for him to get to the house in time. Andrea dialed his number. I couldn't talk to the guy. He was a German who spoke more Spanish than he did English. I have difficulty with English at the best of the times. It's much better that Andrea called.
After a bit of hemming and hawing, she stared at the ground for several seconds. I don't know if she wanted me to have a heart attack or not. After a while, she lifted her head and said, "The cleaner only lives around the corner; she'll be here in just a couple of minutes."
Then, the "Scott ... we have to start keeping tabs on each other. We can't just let things keep happening to us!"
I know she meant me but it was very nice of her to include herself.
It's a cross I have to carry. I hope it improves over time but I don't think so. I just hope I can continue to bear the slings and arrows that come my way. It's liable to only get worse with age. I'll try to ease into it, make my peace with it.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
I ran across this week's artist in Montreal this weekend at the Gallery Le Luxart. The gallery highlights the work of about thirty Québecois and Canadian professional artists. I found most of the art there engaging.
One artist that stood out to me was Hugo Landry. Hugo lives and works in Quebec City and uses a palette knife/spatula to create his paintings. They are colorful, and I could stare at some of them for hours.
I don't often go for completely abstract works, but the colors and rhythm of his paintings just made me feel good. His works are in your face saturated with color that brings you to life.
I think it's important to take in art that stretches your imagination. For me, Hugo's art accomplishes that mission. It is a little ray of sunshine that can brighten your day.
If you'd like to have your day brightened by this Quebec artist you can visit him at any one of these galleries or internet venues.
Le Luxart, Montreal
Gallery Perreault, Quebec
This is a pointillist drawing I did of St Ives a while back. I haven't done much drawing this week.
I'm a bit preoccupied with the weekend coming up.
We're going to a family gathering in memory of my dad this weekend. I've been consternating over what to say.
I could talk about the things I learned from him. I could talk about the things that he did. I could talk about the kind of man he was. But all I know is what he was to me.
To me, he was upbeat and encouraging. He was firm but always fair and most of all, he was there. No matter what happening I knew I could count on him.
He didn't wear his heart on his sleeve. He didn't talk about himself, although he did have some pretty funny stories about this and that.
I didn't find out until about a couple of years ago he was wounded in the Korean War. I think it was that proverbial shrapnel in the backside story. I never looked to make sure.
Everybody knows he loved to play golf. I'm sure his love bordered on obsession and he passed a bit of that love of the game on to us. Dad even figured out how to use golf as a babysitter. One summer, more than once, when Neale and I were teenagers, he'd drop us off at the Palo Alto golf course in the morning and pick us up there on the way home from work.
We had such good times playing catch in the schoolyard behind our house and not such fun times getting up at five o'clock in the morning for hockey practice. Dad was deeply involved in what we did. He was a coach and encourager who set an example to follow.
After dad passed away and we got to know many of the people in his Arizona neighborhood, every one of them readily said what a great guy he was. One day, John and Gayle came by from next door; they love to tell stories about dad. They said, "John and Peggy were the best neighbors we've ever had."
One last thing.
When we were little, dad sometimes let us stay up to watch The Ed Sullivan Show. I loved the little mouse puppet called Topo Gigio. At the end of his spot on the show, Topo would sidle up to Ed and say, "Eddie, Keesa me Goo'night!" Later, when it was time for bed, dad would come to tuck us in and imitate Topo, "Keesa me Goo'night!" We'd giggle, get our kiss, and settle in for the night. Dad, every time I came to see you, you had a smile on your face and an encouraging word. I'll always remember how your face lit up when I walked in the door.
You gave me more than I can ever say. I'll always love you.
Goodnight Dad, sleep tight.
I Keesa you Goo'night!
I wish you peace.
I occasionally get updates from something called "Informed Collector." They hold a competition called The Bold Brush Painting Competition. This week I was turned on to a Chinese artist born in 1959 in Jilin Province, called Fengshi Jin. He's exhibited all over the world.
The painting of Keith Richards below has beautiful free-flowing strokes; he seems to capture the essence and all the hard years put on the septuagenarian rocker.
I was captivated by his style. It is very raw and very alla prima which means at first attempt. Each stroke he puts down, he puts down with confidence, leaves it there, and moves on. I'm captivated by this style.
I love the result. For those of us who like to watch paint dry, you can visit Fengshi Jin's YouTube channel where you can watch him paint. Personally, I love it.
If you're interested in checking out more of his work you can visit him at his website or on YouTube. If you're feeling up to it, you can visit his page on Daily Paintworks.
I hope you take a chance to look at his work and I hope you get out this week and make your OWN art.
I've wondered what I was going to write about all week.
We finished our island adventure, and that's all I've been able to think about all week.
All I've been able to think about was what was behind me. I haven't been thinking about is what's ahead.
That's what it must be like for that cowpoke ridin' off into the sunset.
You know, where the good guy's killed the bad guy, everybody loves him, he tips his hat to the townsfolk, kisses the girl he'll never have, points his trusty steed into the setting sun and rides off.
What does that mean?
Is the story over?
Is his life over?
Are the good times all gone?
All it means is that bronco bustin', gun-slinging, whiskey-soaked badass is at the end of one adventure and fixin' to take on another. It may be the end of the movie. It may even be the end of that particular story, but it's not the end of life.
"The Island" was an adventure. There were good times and not so good times.
There are lots of things I loved about living on an island:
There were lots of things I won't miss:
It was a marvelous adventure, but now it's time to move on.
If you read here, you'll always be up on the next adventure. I won't be sitting on the couch watching life rocket past.
I'll be out there living it and maybe even telling you about it.
I look forward to continuing to see you every week. There's lots more to come.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
Valérie Butters is a Canadian artist who is from Ottawa, Ontario and studied at the Ottawa School of Art graduating in 2005. She currently lives and works in Pemberton, British Columbia.
Her paintings are referred to as -
"Fearlessly feminine" (British Vogue) and "Interestingly gaudy and exuberantly messy" (Montreal Gazette).
I see a lot of freedom in her paintings. Her art has freedom in practice that I would like to adopt in my work. I love the feel of it.
She sometimes paints with the brush at the end of a bamboo pole to help her gain the freedom and expression she wants to achieve.
I enjoy watching the short videos she posts on Instagram. You can also find her at these excellent internet venues.
Silk Art Gallery
There's a great interview with Valérie at Create Magazine .
Life is supposed to be easy, isn't it? In reality, what happens is often completely the opposite of easy. And that makes all the difference.
Last weekend was going to be fantastic. We went over to St John on Saturday to get our island retail and chill fix. I visited the Bajo El Sol Art Gallery, bought a shirt at another shop at Mongoose Junction, then headed to the Sun Dog Cafe for a couple of beers and some lunch.
We polished off a pain killer or two, had a bit of lunch/dinner, and walked on down to Cruz Bay to watch the water pass drift by with the passing hours.
A great start.
Sunday, we planned another lazy day. That's what Sundays are for, aren't they? They are for me.
After an expected slow, easy start, we headed down the bumpy road in our jalopy for a bit of beach time. We love to walk on Magens Bay Beach. It's somewhere between about three-quarters and seven-eights of a mile long. You can stroll up and down the beach, watch people playing in the water, smell the grills, feel the thrills, and generally "smooth' off dem edges."
I usually make fun of Andrea for wearing her flip-flops walking on what has to be some of the softest sand in the world. She has a good reason though. A few years ago a bee got in the way of her foot and the dreamy soft sand and deposited its stinger in her foot. It morphed smiling, happy Andrea into frowning, grumpy Andrea in less than a second.
This particular Sunday, I noticed and commented that she decided to go barefoot for the first time in a very long time.
We were well into our second length on the beach. Andrea was keeping a proper lookout for bees, and I said I would keep an eye peeled too. We wouldn't want grumpy Andrea to show up again. It was such a beautiful day.
Things change so quickly.
I guess I was paying too much attention to the reggae music, or the sun on the water, or, maybe, I was just bouncing around in my own head. Our little walk was interrupted when I felt like I stepped on a piece of glass, or a needle, or something else sharp. We often find small chunks of this or that on the beach. We do our duty to keep the beach clean, but apparently, some people aren't as diligent.
This time it wasn't a misplaced pop-top, chard of glass, or sharp piece of coral. What I stepped on, was one a pesky little black and yellow buzzer. Those little beggars hurt. My only consolation was watching it writhe on the ground, unable to sting anybody else.
I managed to get the stinger out and hobbled down the beach. I'm pretty lucky. I'm not allergic to bees, and the sting wasn't all that bad. There was no swelling, and the pain went away relatively quickly. Before too long, I was skipping down the beach like a teenager. Well, perhaps not skipping but at least I was walking without a limp.
I kept my eye peeled as we walked up and down the beach four times and I did not see another bee in the sand. According to my Fitbit, I took 6,338 barefoot steps on Magens Bay, and I did not see one other bee on the ground. The one I stepped on just happened to be the only bee I saw on the beach that day and that unfortunate soul ended up under my foot.
I guess I just bee-lucky.
Having recovered quite well from the great bee-tastrophy, we continued our pleasant Sunday stroll. I waited three and a half miles for my post-walk relaxation libation. So, I was a bit giddy when we stopped at the beach bar for a couple of painkillers before meandering down the beach to set up shop with our chairs, cooler, snacks, limes, rum-n-mixers.
I was sauntering down the beach, painkiller in hand, I must have had my head down. I was probably looking for bees.
Out of nowhere, a football (American football not English football) ended up connecting with my left eye socket from about twenty or thirty yards away. SMACK!
The first thing I felt was a rocketing pain that reached from my left eye socket to the back right quadrant of my head. The synapses must have had a good jostle because the next thing I felt was a complete numbness starting at my knees and traveling back up my spine. The earth started spinning, and my legs nowhere to be found. I collapsed like 245 pounds of slightly set jello into, what turned out to be, a lump on not so soft sand.
When everything stopped spinning, and I was able to get off of that ride, people were gathering around my sprawled beach body. My sunglasses were askew and falling off my head. The only thing left, of my once near full painkiller were little cubelets of ice next to my phone in the sand dangerously close to the next wave coming in.
The guy who threw the football ran up and was very apologetic. He first asked if I was okay - which I thought I was. But the cobwebs must have still been clouding my thoughts because when he asked if he could buy me another drink, I can only plead that I had a concussion on this one, I said, "No, I'm alright." I must not have been very alright. Turn down a free drink! How sad is that! I must have been out of my head delirious!!!!
As it turns out, that was the last physical assault on my body for the day. God had stopped having fun at my expense. We sat down and watched a magnificent sunset from an idyllic spot on a beautiful beach.
Just in case you thought I'd escaped the insult after my day of injury, when we got home and sat down to relax and watch a movie, the power cut out, and we decided it was time to call it a day.
Fast forward several days to Tuesday, I woke up and couldn't move my head. My skull seemed to have situated itself on the top of a very painful stick. My neck was stiff, and I couldn't turn to the right or the left. I was just short of going to the pharmacy and buying a neck brace.
Luckily, I stockpile painkillers (of the pharmaceutical type this time). Okay - Ibuprophen, Tylenol/Paracetamol, and Voltarol. Although I wish I had had a bit stronger stuff, in the end, it wasn't necessary.
Wednesday, stiff neck and all, we went for a nice walk with Marty, Girly, and Bob. I really got attached to Marty when he was found on Martin Luther Kings Jr.'s birthday (thus the name) several years ago. Now that we're leaving the island, I'll miss that ole fella. He's such a sweet soul. Girly is another foundling of the canine variety and an excellent walker, as long as you don't mind a bit of tugging. Bob, is not a dog, but sometimes, just sometimes, we do catch him barking at the moon. - just kidding.
That evening, God must have been bored because he showed up and started poking again in the form of a set of stairs, a cactus, and a clumsy oaf (me). Andrea was walking up the stairs in front of me from The Shoreline Restaurant when I tripped over one of the steps. I claim that the earth jumped up just enough to tip me off balance.
Poor Andrea. Her backside ended up snuggling up to a very prickly cactus. I tried to help, so she didn't fall entirely, but as it turned out I just pushed her more into the weeds.
When the dust settled, her shorts were full of hundreds of tiny cactus spines. It was so irritating, the poor woman had to remove her shorts and travel home from the restaurant in her knickers.
Yes, you're right, that did not make me her favorite person that night. We even had to stop for gas at which point she put my hat in her lap to disguise her lack of clothing.
I know the great cactus fall was all my fault. I can only plead clumsiness in my part. As Andrea says, "Scott, you don't tread lightly on this earth." I guess she's right.
So, my friends, this week has shall we say, been eventful.
As I lick my wounds and pack for our final departure from St Thomas, I wish you happiness, health, and good fortune. But most of all, I wish you peace.
This week I bring you, Layne Johnson.
I first spotted this talented creator from Texas on Instagram. He's quite a prolific Instagrammer.
He believes art isn't something he "does" it's who he is. I like that.
He says on his website, "I want my art to be a break from all the chaos and negativity."
Absolutely! I agree wholeheartedly. We all need a respite from the vitriol that is so prevalent today. That's part of the reason I have this website.
Though Layne produces some great portraiture, I get the feeling his heart is really with the landscape, and it shows. He wants to take his medium and transport you to a beautiful place, and for me, he does.
His cloud paintings are phenomenal. His paintings give you a real sense of their overwhelming size and grandeur on the landscape.
Clouds are pretty much made from the same stuff, but they can be dramatically different. Some are wispy as a breath of air, and some have such heft you wonder how they stay aloft.
Clouds are constantly evolving. If you watch them long enough, you can see them changing before your eyes. They grow, evaporate, shade you from the sun, and pour down rain. They can morph from one shape to another before you know it.
I love how different parts of the cloud reflect and filter light differently. Layne captures the whole spectrum of color from nature on his canvas.
He is, like many artists, a teacher. It's no good to just hold on to your talents or techniques. It's much better to spread the wealth around. If you want to learn his techniques and make beautiful art as well, you can order his online course or attend one of his in-person workshops.
But, don't take my word for it. Check out Layne Johnson's work for yourself. Here's where you can find him on the interweb. I'm sure he would appreciate a visit and a like or two on social media.
Facebook Instagram Twitter Website
No go out and make some art!
I did this painting of Latitude 18 when it was up and running. Latitude was our local hangout when we lived in Red Hook, and it was a hopping place back then with live music every night.
I spent some time today gazing listlessly out the window. I was taking in the fabulous colors and watching people frolicking in the bay.
Every once in a while I'm overwhelmed with the beauty of the ocean around here. The waters run from deep blue to the most tantalizing turquoise and aquamarine. When the sun shines, and the breezes blow off the sea, it's bright, beautiful, and most of the time it's serenely peaceful.
Sure, there is the occasional hiccup, but I don't mind most of the time. Most of the time, I've been pretty content and grateful to be here.
As we're planning to leave the island in a couple of weeks, I'm getting a bit panicky because I want to redo some of my favorite things before we go.
We want to visit St John and our favorite little haunt there like The Sun Dog Cafe, where lots of people gather to tip a few and have some laughs. I want to have a Pain Killer at the Beach Bar on Cruz Bay. I've heard its open for business now, so we've got to check it out.
It's time for one last round of our favorite bays and beaches.
We want to dip our toes in Honeymoon Bay on Water Island and perhaps relax to the smooth vibes of a local band.
We can't leave out Hull Bay, Magens Bay, Lindquist Beach, and I can't forget Sunset Beach.
I'm looking forward to visiting some of the many restaurants we've come to love: The Coconut Cove at the Ritz, The Twisted Cork in Frenchtown, Gladys' Restaurant in Charlotte Amalie, and Fresh Bistro at Yacht Haven Grande.
Unfortunately, Hurricanes Irma and Maria devoured a couple of our favorite haunts.
We've had to bid a fond farewell to Latitude 18 (painting above) on Vessup Beach and Epernay in Frenchtown. They have shuttered their doors permanently or quasi-permanently because of storm damage.
Mahogany Run, a once picturesque golf course, was ruined by the hurricane. What was once a beautifully maintained track of land is now, well, not. Trees grow out of the bunkers and bushes are sprouting out of the greens.
Yes, it's time to say goodbye to all our favorite places. On April 30th we're off on new adventures.
I can't wait to see what's next.
I'll be writing my last post from St Thomas for quite some time next week. I hope I'm able to report success on our final days in paradise.
Until next week, I wish you peace!
Not many of the artists I recommend in this newsletter come with a warning.
David Goodsell is a scientist. He's a "structural biologist." He studies the structures of cells and in particular, viruses. From his studies of these cellular structures, he creates his artwork.
He makes up the colors in his painting because the proteins he's represents have no real color. So he makes up the colors to help distinguish between the different functions each of the proteins have.
I think the representations are fantastic.
The reason I think Goodsell should come with a warning is not that he represents things like HIV, the Zika Virus, and other extremely hazardous cells in his paintings. It's because the subject he's representing makes you want to dig. You can lose yourself for hours in his work.
His artwork makes some very complex functions a little more understandable and accessible.
If you want to find David on the internet, you can find him at Molecular Art | Molecular Science. You'll find out all about him there.
Now go out and make some art!
I just swooped back into St Thomas. Carnival parade is coming up in the next couple of weeks. So I thought I would include this painting from Carnival. I noticed a lady watching the parade and festivities from her balcony. I thought it would be nice to include the painting I did at that time here. It will be our last Carnival this year. I'm looking forward to it.
You’ve probably wondered if the dog ate my homework this week. I’m afraid to say the dog did not eat my homework, but it’s been a hectic week. It started with scrambling to get the house in Phoenix closed down, flying to Philadelphia, and closing out my term on the board of AIIP.
AIIP is the Association of Independent Information Professionals and this last week was the association’s annual conference. We’re folks who have small or medium-sized businesses in the information industry.
I love going to the conference. It’s a place to learn about new things and to network with people who actually “get it.”
It’s dangerous for me to try to explain what I do to put rice, beans, and rum on the table. So I don’t try to explain it very often.
I’m in big trouble as soon as a few details spill from my inner geek. The person I'm talking to starts developing an impenetrable haze over their eyes. Their eyes look like my bathroom mirrors after a long hot shower.
Everybody reacts a bit differently, I might see their eyelids start to flutter (kinda like a lovestruck teenager or maybe me when I’m scrolling through cute little puppy pics on Pinterest).
I try to shut up I get to the point where their breathing gets noticeably shallow and slightly erratic.
Eventually, their eyeballs begin to roll like a one-armed bandit. I think they lodge somewhere north of the eyebrows and perhaps even close to the back of their head.
The next thing you know their lips are trembling, they’re heading toward the bar, and I’m in danger of losing a potential friend.
So I don’t talk about my work too much. It’s tough to get your life work into a 30-second statement. But that’s what we do. Everybody at the conference takes a turn introducing themselves and telling everyone what they do at the beginning of the meeting. It's a great way to get to know the people at the conference. I love putting a name to a face and listening to how my the members describe their business.
Lots of folks say that speaking in front of a group is one of the most stressful things they have ever done. It doesn't bother me too much, except at last year's conference in Minneapolis.
I was standing in front of the audience waiting for my turn to talk. I took a couple of deep breaths, and I was almost ready to go. Then I found my zipper was wide open.
Yes, the zipper on my trousers. And it wasn't slightly open; it was all the way down.
I was about third in line. There were several options here.
1. Just zip up my trousers in front of the audience. Sometimes admitting your mistake and fixing it is the best route but I wanted another way.
2. I could politely excuse myself and walk out of the room - fix things and walk back in. That was probably the best way to do it. But stepping out of line would alert the crowd that there was something wrong. I didn't do that either.
I gave my schpiel and confidently walked back to the relative anonymity of the crowd where I sat down, did up my zipper, and breathed a sigh of relief.
My colleague at AIIP, Mark Goldstein, takes pictures of everybody presenting and sends them out to the membership, I scrolled through the photos to see if there was one with me during the presentation.
Last year all I asked him was, "Please take at least one photo of me where it might look like I know what I'm doing."
I think this photo was it. But this is the photo where my zipper was down. I guess I just exuded so much confidence that nobody noticed.
I'm happy to say that, without a doubt, I carried it off like a pro. I was the only one sweating it.
This is the photo of that moment.
The good news is, it was unnoticeable, and I've got proof. I'm sure glad things worked out the way they did.
Until next week, I wish you peace.