Last month I attended a conference of information professionals in New Orleans. It was exciting reconnecting with colleagues and talking about what they were doing to move their businesses forward. As you can probably tell I have not posted to my blog for a while. I want to let you know why.
I have been beating myself up a little bit for not posting. It's important to remain consistent in any practice. You need to make a habit of it. I realize that it's important to do the things you are passionate about to help make your life fulfilling.
Over the last month I have helped my dad with a major life transition. I absolutely loved the chance to spend time with him. He really is a great guy. I hope that he's pleased with his new digs. I feel much better because I am sure he's it's a much better environment.
I have had some time to breathe and relax . I think I'm about ready to get back at it.
I did this is a drawing at the conference about a month ago. The microphone seemed emblematic of the presentations. I don't know why - It just felt that way to me.
I will keep it simple going forward till I get back in the swing of things. I love to draw and I hope it shows.
Headed out to New Orleans today.
Looking forward to my stay.
This is today's drawing. I hope you enjoy.
Was just thinking about my time in the Corps.
One of the things that I am so grateful for is the can do attitude and discipline the experience instilled in me.
I am grateful for so many things about that time in my life.
But, for now - I haven't got much to say, except - I'm glad I was there.
Creativity comes in drips and drabs sometimes. I have read that if you want to be creative you need to continually create. Which I do here. I try to create something daily.
Necessity is the mother of invention. This red coffee cup is mine. The saying is not mine. I think it reflects how I feel today. Each day there is so much to do or so much that can be done. The trick is prioritizing some things above others.
Creating these drawings requires discipline. I also try to say a bit of something that's going on. Today there has been lots. Today the drawing was the least of my worries. I'm preparing for a conference, doing some content analytics, published some website pages and went through old files to shred documents I hope I no longer need. I don't like carting things from place to place. Most of what I have is online anyway so that isn't too big a problem.
Going through paperwork has got to be one of my least favorite chores. I'd prefer to be drug over broken glass. But we have to do what we have to do and broken glass doesn't sound too appealing to me.
One of the good things about doing the shredding and filing today is that I feel quite a sense of accomplishment about my day. I do feel better after doing something I didn't want to do. If feels good to have the discipline to accomplish things that are onerous.
When I was in the Marines we said "We have done so much with so little for so long we are now prepared to do the impossible with nothing."
Getting things done is appealing. Doing them - sometimes not so appealing.
Today, with many priorities, I again made a drawing and I like it. Not because it's great but because it's mine.
Most of you know I was born in Montreal. When I was nine our family moved to California. We came to the United States as immigrants in November 1967.
Dad got a job in Redwood City at a place called Ampex. We drove across country with the clothes on our back and a trailer towed by an old Pontiac. I have no clue what model the car was. All I was aware of is it was a Pontiac. I think I still have some old photos of that car someplace. I had little interest in cars when I was nine. When we got there we stayed in an old motel on the El Camino Real for the first month or so before moving in to an apartment on Woodside Road.
Growing up in California was fabulous. I made great friends and my family was relatively sane. Though, I think some might define sane a bit differently than I do. Redwood City is, or was, a quiet suburb of either San Jose or San Francisco. I guess it just depends on where you want to say your closer too. Before Oracle and tons of other tech companies grew up or moved to the peninsula people didn't know much about Redwood City. You had to reference something people would recognize so they would know what you were talking about.
I eventually joined the Marines and then became an American citizen.
I still feel a strong connection with Canada.
I was really pleased to find out since I was born in Canada I am entitled to have a Canadian passport. So I recently applied for a Canadian Passport. Something which I am pleased to say came in the mail yesterday.
I'm a happy camper. I'll be floating on that one for a few days.
I remember some things from my childhood better than others. One of the things I remember really well is Batman. I know, it was a really corny television series but I liked it. I really did.
I don't remember thinking Batman would save the world but Batman represented something. Batman was a good guy. Like Superman and The Lone Ranger he was on the side of good against evil. The forces they fought clearly needed to be defeated.
The world is much more nuanced. But for me, as a child, the world was quite simple. Good guys, bad guys, and then there was everybody else.
Today, I remember Batman fondly. My son also loved Batman and I think he still does. It is, and was, one way we made a connection.
Having kids is tough work and relating is sometimes difficult. Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and others helped us connect and I like to think it still keeps us connected in a way even though we are separated by thousands of miles.
I remember sitting around the table one evening with my daughter and when asked what she wanted to do when she grew up she said, "I want to fight evil doers". I loved that.
I believe both my kids want to be a force for good and kindness. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, She Ra, and Hercules were all kind of role models. Each had their own paths but they're symbols of good against evil. That's not a bad thing in my book.
I love that my kids have their own lives but at least we have this in common. We can still connect - at least I see it that way.
When I saw this sandal on the beach all of those thoughts came to me. It's difficult to articulate sometimes. So I thought I would write it down.
I want to remember all those people who fight evil every single day. The people who put their lives on the line so we can maintain a civil society.
Thank you very much.
I should've called this the SS Minnow. It just sits there. Nobody wants it.
Several postings from the Environment Agency, the Beaches Agency, the Boats on a Beach Agency and the Who Owns This Boat Agency have been left stuck to the boat.
I heard "they" (government folk) have found the owner and the owner simply doesn't want the boat anymore. Whoever it is isn't prepared to do anything to take care of the wreck. So there it sits.
This boat, (which has become an eyesore on the beach) has been sitting there since the beginning of January (nearly four months). It's leaked fuel and who knows what else into the bay. Someone tried to put a container float around the boat to keep the fuel from getting into the water. But like everything here it was done halfheartedly. It was just left and now it's just a pile of rubber scrunched up against the boat that needs to be removed as well. That little countermeasure did absolutely no good.
It has been ransacked for parts, metals, and other bits and pieces. Apparently there is a salvage law that allows the boat to be scavenged for parts and things (flotsam and jetsam).
Do you know the difference between flotsam and jetsam?
Flotsam - items unintentionally discarded from a vessel.
Jetsam - stuff that is intentionally discarded from a vessel.
It doesn't really matter - I just had to look it up though.
The windows are broken. The boat's been all but ... all but removed from the beach. I don't know what the fine for littering is but this guy should be stacking up a bill.
Who is responsible for moving this monstrosity? I have seen other boats that are sunk in Red Hook harbor that have been submerged there since I got here five years ago. I'm convinced that nobody really cares. Those boats are still there. Who's to say that this boat won't still be there five years from today.
I guess I feel a bit guilty for not trying to organize some way to dispose of this wreck. I don't have the contacts or resources to move it though. I heard a rumor that people were trying to get a team together to break the boat apart and take it away. I wouldn't mind participating but I'm not holding my breath.
When you don't mow your lawn in Ohio the city comes by and fines you for your grass getting too long. If it doesn't get attended to the city will send a crew out to mow the grass. Then they fine and bill the pants off of the homeowner. Clearly there is no such ordinance or department like that on this island. We just have the department of leaving flyers stuck on a boat, the department of ineffectual environmental countermeasures and the department of I really couldn't give a damn.
Ain't island life grand.
On the weekend we like to go to Magen's Bay. I think I've said that before. For me, one of the biggest attractions at Magen's Bay are the Pelicans. They're wonderful to watch.
You can learn something from a pelican. Pelicans are relentless. They never seem to tire of hunting for food.
You can see it when they dive in the water. Sometimes they come up with a fish and sometimes they don't. If they miss, they don't slam their fist down in disgust. They don't tell themselves they're terrible creatures with no talent. They just get on with it.
They try different tactics all the time. When the fish are scarce they soar high looking for silvery flashes of light glistening off the backs of fish. Then they dive bomb. They fold their wings back and lung head-first into the water. They open wide and scoop up whatever they can take in. Sometime its a fish and sometimes it's just water.
Sometimes, when fish are plentiful, they'll just fly a few feet and crash their faces into the water again. Smack!
No matter what they don't get discouraged and they never give up.
Sometimes we see things we like to call blooper birds. You see, pelicans dive head-first into the water but their bodies seldom, if ever, submerge. They kind of crash land face first into the water. When a blooper, actually called the Brown Booby, dives it goes under water and disappears for a bit. Then, all of a sudden, bloop! It pops up to flit away and catch another fish. They are a lot of fun to watch.
You have to find ways to entertain yourself - don't you. I don't know if this qualifies me as a bird watcher. I'm more of a dive bomber watcher. The Audubon Society doesn't have to worry about me joining any time soon.
Watching pelicans though - one of life's little pleasures.
When I was trying to think of something to draw today I thought about Lake Kezar.
I just finished reading a Richard Bachman book called "The Long Walk". In case you don't know, Richard Bachman is a deceased alter ego of Stephen King.
The book made me think of Maine. Most of the book takes place in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Then, there is the fact that Stephen King lives in Maine.
The book was a grueling tale of - well - I'll let you read it. I thought it was interesting. If you asked me, I'm glad I read it, and I'm glad I finished it. I don't think it's one I'll be picking up to read a second time but it kept me till the end - which is something.
Today's little drawing is a pic of Lake Kezar and a bird box outside my brother's house. The birds that live in these little houses have a great view. Kezar is a beautiful lake. A real place to chill.
"Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on ... Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them." (Matthew 6:25-26)
I read a book a while back by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It's called "Wherever You Go, There You Are". I thought it was a bit of a quirky title and I thought it was very interesting as well. The book is about mindfulness. I guess everything Jon Kabat-Zinn writes is about mindfulness. This one really caught my attention. I'd recommend it.
People have often asked me what it's like to live on a Caribbean island and my answer is usually something like. "Of course, it's fantastic", or "it's a lot different to visit than it is to live here", or "everyplace has it's hangups.". It's not all swimming, drinking and sunshine.
"John McVie (of Fleetwood Mac) spent two years drinking his boredom away on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas."
I like it here but there are the necessities of life: the eating, daily chores, work etc. None of that changes. Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely grateful I get to work from home and from a fairly exotic location.
I just want to warn someone that thinks, "If I move to a tropical island in the middle of nowhere with a beach and sand and water and warm weather all my dreams will have come true and I will be happy forever."
I'm a pretty happy guy. Things haven't really changed except location. I guess what I'm saying is you have to be happy with yourself first.
The location is then just a bonus. Because, wherever you go, there you are.
As I was drawing this boat wondering what would look better. I like the bubbly drawings. I guess it's not for everybody.
I rather like the style. It's like the Horse, The Ape. But I think it looks pretty good without all the outlining as well. It certainly takes less time.. ;-)
This is a dinghy that has been on the beach at Magen's Bay since we got here five years ago. I haven't seen it budge from this position.
I'll continue to experiment a bit with different styles. I have posted a before and after version here so you can see what I mean.
I hope you have a great day.
Sunday is one of those days where you try to appreciate all the good things. Like today we had a day at the beach enjoying the sun, sand and water.
Last summer I painted a very abstract butterfly which now lives proudly on someones wall.
Sometimes I create things and don't know why. Sometimes I create things for a purpose.
This little butterfly has been on my mind for a while. I love the way butterflies seem to float on the breeze.
Butterflies are really just moths that got a lucky genetic break - at least from a human perspective. We love butterflies but moths eat our clothes and we chase them with flyswatters.
Since I am apt to try to draw pretty things, I suppose a moth might be out of the question. But you never know.
We had a really interesting caterpillar in our frangipane tree outside. It had brilliant colors - yellow, orange and black. I looked it up and it doesn't turn into a beautiful butterfly at all but it sheds its beauty to become a pretty mundane moth.
I was a bit outraged because the caterpillar was eating / killing our frangipane tree (beautiful flowers). We had a little catch and release program going on. We would take the caterpillars off our tree and relocate them somewhere it didn't do so much harm. I should do a drawing of one of those sometime.
I enjoyed my Sunday - I hope you do as well.
We have some really good friends who surprised us with some great news the other day. They're going to be grandparents. They're overjoyed at the prospect of this little one coming along. I really can't think of anything that would make them happier.
As that thought was settling into my head and percolating, I remembered how their daughter (the expectant mother) was so enthralled with the great apes: Bonobos, Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Orangutans. She studied them at university and even spent some time working with them in South East Asia.
I can't remember exactly what kind of apes she specialized in. I remember being told many times. That seems to happen more and more as I move on in years. Some things I thought I would never forget just fly out the window. It's like the wind was blowing through my ears and sucked that bit of info right out of my head. In it's place I am left with the impression of the information I used to have but not the substance.
We were very glad to hear their news and we wish them all the luck we can muster for a happy and healthy family. This little drawing is for them.
One of the bonuses of being a sentient being is you get to recognize the beautiful things that are all around you. Your mind can focus on a pin prick or the vast expanse of a colorful sunset.
I love the sunrise and the sunset.
Sunrise is full of opportunity and new promise. The world transforms from dark to light and things become clearer. With light comes warmth, confidence and new vigor.
Sunset lets you reflect on the day's gains and losses. My world, or my particular part of the world, rests. It's a respite from a busy and day. But it's also a beginning. It's a time for letting your hair down. (What hair I do have).
Not all days are created equal but sunrises and sunsets are consistent. They are such amazing experiences. It's as regular as clockwork.
The real primo thing about a sunrise or a sunset is that it's free. The only price you pay to experience it are the breath you take and the attention you spend. So, hey big spender, spend a little time appreciating the finer things in life.
They are promises and the world always keeps her promises.
Treat her well.
Hull Bay is by far one of the most relaxed beaches on the island. When you go there you really feel like you're getting away from it all. Take a couple of beach chairs and/or a blanket and you're almost guaranteed a private spot on this little gem.
The beach really isn't very big but it packs the scenery in. You won't get tired of watching the waters come and go. Surfers come to this beach because, if you do a bit of paddling there are waves out there ready for surfing. Like I've said in another post, they're not Hawaiian 100 foot monsters but they are big enough for somebody with a surfboard and and the desire to get up and make a run at it.
Personally, I think it's a lot of paddling for rather unimpressive waves but I'm not a surfer. I understand surfers need their fix. I've seen some people make some good runs out of the waves there.
Paddle boards are popular here are well. The behemoth this guy is carrying is a paddle board, not a surf board. This drawing shows him off to work. He gets on his paddle board to get out to the boat he charters. Not a bad way to travel to work if you ask me.
Hope you enjoy the day.
My biggest issue lately is a question of style. I like so many different things and each subject develops a style on it's own.
When I start a painting or drawing I kinda know where I want it to go but I don't really know where it's going to end up.
It's sort of like cooking I suppose. You know the recipe and you know how to put all the ingredients together. You have the tools. You develop little bits of knowledge and various techniques. In the end the dish kind of appears. Each plate is slightly unique, slightly different, but still, if you've practiced enough, it'll tastes good.
I always thought kind of stuff was artsy babble. "The drawing tells me where it wants to go". I'm not sure I really buy in to that sort babble fully but it's true in a way.
I've always thought harlequin masks were cool. One of the participants in the parade last weekend was wearing one.
I decided I would draw that mask.
Thanks for helping me think through this a bit. I usually don't know what I think until I write it down. ;-)
The Carnival Adult Parade is a time to let loose and be free. It's a celebration of expression. Most of us and I'm including me in that group, have trouble expressing ourselves. We have been so conditioned to get along.
When I was young I'd get made fun for not being tough enough or not fitting in where I wanted to. My parents didn't encourage me to be too different although my parents were and are uniquely themselves.
So I go from day to day and from week to week and from year to year conforming and contributing and being an upstanding member of society. I've done a reasonable job at that one.
I've always felt there was something more though. There's another level to this game and the way you get there is being slightly outside of the norm. You can't be the same as everybody else and unique but I think we're unique by nature.
That means that you have to express yourself in some way that is different than everybody else. I don't think you need to express yourself to be different but if you express yourself honestly you will be different. That comes from inside yourself.
I don't want to be like everybody else but I have continued to conform. That's where stepping outside my old comfort zone is necessary. It takes doing the things that other people are either unwilling or unable to do.
Being unique doesn't mean you have to be obnoxious or have an irritating, in your face personality. What I think it means is you have to be yourself.
That's what I'm doing here. I'm being a little unique, expressing myself and doing it publicly. It makes me feel better. It makes me feel like the creative person that I know I want to be. It is making me feel ... well ... more me.
Thanks for reading.
Life throws some scary things at you like the little creaks in the middle of the night, the speeding car that passed you unawares or unknown aches and pains we can't explain. We worry about everything. It is in our nature. We over-emphasize the things that might hurt us.
As a species we are always trying to mitigate risk. We want to be sure the crops will flourish, we want to know our family will be healthy, we want to know that the put in on the eighteenth green will go it... We are a superstitious bunch. Through our evolution as a species we have created talismans to ensure things work the way we want.
In a way a talisman will work because you can start focusing on positive outcomes. Rituals and talismans provide us psychological protection against the boogey men and bad things that can happen.
In the Virgin Islands that protector is the Moko Jumbie. At carnivals and celebrations the stilt walkers come out to play. It takes quite a bit of talent. These Moko Jumbies are high walkers watching over the people and keeping evil things away. A good Jumbie performance can be a great spectacle. Some stuff they do is completely jaw dropping.
I choose not to be superstitious but hope the Jumbies are watch out out for me. I did this stylized drawing thinking back on the sky walkers on parade during Carnival. One of the island's great attractions.
I hope this week goes very well for you. Loved the parade again this year.