It does not seem like I will for a while. I have posted a new HDR. This time I posted it to where people can leave feedback and criticism.

Skip all this and go straight to the Gallery.

There is nothing like the feeling of buying a fresh pack of Sharpies®. A brand new 24 pack in my hand represents tremendous potential. I could label things, do a little drawing or coloring, or anything. They are so neat and tidy, all of the colors are still there, I haven’t lost any yet.

The last time I bought a new pack of them I decided that I wanted to try something different with them. I have a pack of glossy thick almost card stock paper that the Sharpies ® just glide over when I color on them. There is something very meditative about coloring with one on a slick piece of paper.

Everyone knows what a Sharpie ® is. But just in case you don’t know, they are multi-use markers made by Sanford. Originally I think they came in eight colors but now I think the color count is reaching close to 30.

Seeing that many colors before me I decided that I should try something different than I had tried before with this new set. I picked a night time photo of the Eiffel Tower that I had taken while in Paris. Since the photo has large areas of black I would get to just color for a large portion of it. Rather than focus on the form of the tower I decided to look at the color. I used a program from Stoik Hobby Software called Color by Number. This program will take a photo and reduce it to a predefined color range. The results were ok but I wanted a little more detail that I was able to achieve with this method.

Since I started with a photo in Paris, I decided to make it my theme while doing my experimenting. Next I chose another night time photo of columns in front of St. Sulpice.

This time I used Photoshop to prep my image. Starting with the original, I adjusted the colors to increase the contrast and boost the brightness. Then I converted the image to a indexed color image using a custom sharpie palette that I had prepared. To reduce the colors to larger shapes I bumped this image up to RGB again then ran the super magic wonderful cutout filter. (Filters -> Artistic -> Cutout) Then I reduced the color again to the sharpie palette. From this I separated each color into its own layer, then printed out each color onto its own sheet of paper. Lastly I traced each color one at a time onto a slick sheet of paper using a light table. All of this may sound complex and needing of more explanation. I agree. I do plan on writing a step by step tutorial of this technique soon.

I did a couple more in this style of ‘color separations’ then the last one I have completed I decided to do using only a black Sharpie ®. This one is of the front of Notre Dame cathedral.

Here is my B&W one color rendering:

This was the original photo:

Now I plan on doing at least one more of Paris before moving on. I thought that it might also be interesting to try a pop art style similar to Roy Lichtenstein’s paintings.

I want to be a nomad for a while. I want to travel.

Tyler Durden said something about the things you own owning you, which is true. The odd thing is that you don't really own them.  Like all things in life it is an illusion. Quit paying taxes on your home and see how long you 'own' it. Quit paying to store your things and soon they are gone.

So this year we decided to purge everything we have. (Well except the things we are actually using.) Attachment to things is hard to give up. I have done pretty well with it in my life. Over the years I have lost everything I have at least 3 times. So I like to think that I don't really have attachment. Rather I like to think that I just have stuff and it's good while its here. If it were gone, I wouldn't be too upset.

 But how do you get rid of those things that have memories attached? Easy. Take a photo that will serve as a token of that memory. Here is an example.  We had a kitty who was getting very sick and we had to give him fluids. Somehow we kept the bag that the fluid came in for years. Now when I look at it, I remember the kitty. Should I get rid of it? Of course. But how will I have that same memory when I look at the bag? Take a picture. They store much easier and have the same token effect on memory. Now I am free to dispose of the bag. It helps that I am a decent photographer and can take pretty good photos of the items before they are gone.

 Wondering just how much stuff we have? Take a look at this. This is one of our caches of stuff. We call this room 'the inventory room.' Then plan is to get rid of everything either by listing it on ebay, craigslist, local paper, garage sale, giving it to goodwill, or throwing it away. Not an easy task at all. 

The only things that we don't plan on purging are the things that we actively use, our artwork, and our books.

While talking with a friend one day he said to me, "my car gets 6 miles per dollar." Wow! I though. That sucks. Then I realized what he had said. "My car gets 6 miles per dollar."

Now I understood. It was a new way of thinking about how much it costs to drive a car. Not really a big revelation. Most people would say what's the big deal. But the thought struck me so hard that I felt compelled to make a page where you can calculate miles per dollar.

Overview of RLC model alpha 01

I have my my first alpha version of the Rennes-Le-Chateau model . It is pretty incomplete. There are no roofs or second stories yet. I haven't found anything that has precise measurments yet so all of this come from the measurements of a book called Clef du royaume des morts by Alain Féral. I am trying to use my photos to supplement the data from the book.

The idea is to eventually have the entire layout of the place both as it is now and as it was during Suniere's time. I have decided to build the model in Google Sketchup because its really easy to work with it.

So I’ve been using TiddlyWiki since I first found out about it. Its turned out to be really handy.

One thing I’ve been thinking about would be a spreadsheet version of Tiddly. Tonight I’m gonna search and see if someone has alredy made one. I know that a javascript spreadsheet exists out there somewhere.

Off I go to look. If I find anything I will post it in comments.

I’m trying a new Pastis tonight.

In 2005 we went to southern France to the town of Collioure. While there I learned about a drink that is pretty popular in that area call Pastis. That night we bought a bottle of Ricard 45. I was hooked. I loved the strong flavor of it. I did not know how people drank it. My MIL told me that people usually mix it with cold water.

I took a glass and added 1.5 oz of Ricard and a few ice cubes. I watched the ice slowly melt into it. It turned cloudy. I was fascinated. Then I took my first sip. Wow! It was strong.

I’ve since learned that people usually mix it in about a 5:1 ratio of 5 water to 1 Pastis. I still cannot drink it at this ratio. I usually drink it at 1:1 or at most 2:1.

I’ve tried many of the brands available in Austin. Ricard, Pernod, Granier and Legendere. Tonight I’m trying one have have never seen before.

It’s made by Henri Bardouin and it’s just called ‘Pastis Liqueur – a pastis des provencaux’. The label says its a product of France and made in Provence.

Now of all the pastis I’ve tried I think Ricard 45 ranks as #1 best tasting followed by the Pernod. (I know they are made by the same company.) Herbsaint has the ‘best buzz’ and it happens to be the cheapest of the ones sold here.

This new one has a flavor that is closer to the Herbsaint than the Ricard. It turns a nice milky white color when mixed with water. (Each of the pastis have different colors. ie Herbsaint is greenish.) It seems to have a little more staying power for its after-taste. The anise dominates the taste; which is as it should be.

I will definitely add this one to my regular rotation.

I finally got around to putting all my Collioure 2005 trip photos on my HDD. So I plan on setting up a RLC and surrounding area gallery page. The plan is to have each photo well labeled and in some sort of order that is logical.

While waiting for the RLC stuff enjoy some wonderful scenes from the town of Collioure

I want to learn Italian.

I have never had much luck with learning a new language. I’ve tried classes, tutors, self-paced books, tapes, and watching lots of TV en Espanol. I think of all the things I have tried, the semester of Latin helped the most. For one thing, I learned basic grammar. Something I was never really taught in school. Sure they went over it once or twice but somehow I managed to make it through school without really even understanding the basics.

So now I am beginning to study Italian. I want to pick it up as fast as I can.

I started listening to some tapes that my MIL had. But these don’t seem to be set up for rapid learning of vocabulary. I tried to use some interactive CD’s for computer self paced study. These are set up to be very easy. You mainly learn nouns. I can bluff my way through them too easily. I don’t feel like I am really learning.

When I was studying Latin, I found something called a ‘Reader’. I did not know what they were before then. It is a book that starts out with everything in the language you are learning. There is no English to help you figure out what they are saying. They typically start out with things like ‘Roma in Italia est.” Then build upon that simple foundation.

So for learning Italian I bought a reader. This one has a dictionary in the back and some English on the pages where appropriate. I also got a decent Italian/English dictionary and a 555 verb form book. I have stared going through the book, looking up every word that I do not know or have questions about. The first lesson took a while to get through, but I learned a lot.

One of the neat things about the verb book is that at the beginning it has the top 50 most used verbs listed. I am going to try to memorize all 50 of them.

Here is a list of the books I am using now:
Easy Italian Reader: by Riccarda Saggese
Websters New World Italian Dictionary
The Big Green Book of Italian Verbs
and Barron’s Italian At A Glance (A little phrasebook/ dictioanary)