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It is not the function of our government to keep the citizens from falling into error, it is the function of the citizens to keep the government from falling into error.

-Robert H. Jackson, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1950

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Mar. 23rd, 2008 @ 01:16 am Wine
So I'm in the "Water and Wine" aisle at Meijer, (Catholic joke?) refilling water bottles, staring at the wall of wine. Literally, the other side of the entire aisle, and more, is wine. Not surprising for a super-store, sure. But when you stop and think about it, that is a hell of a lot of wine. I got to wondering how much all that wine was worth.

Top to bottom, I'm looking at five shelves of wine. Looking a little closer, there are 2 to 6 more bottles behind each bottle I can see. Each "column" if you will, on a shelf is 3 to 7 bottles deep. After I finished getting water, I counted 101 "columns" from one end of the aisle to the other. Then I found a whole 'nother smaller "appendix" of wine (or perhaps it was a liver). Four more shelves, 15 bottles wide, again 3 to 7 bottles deep. So at a minimum, all this is 1,695 ((3 x 5 x 101) + (3 x 4 x 15)) bottles of wine on the wall (take one down, pass it around, 1,694 bottles of wine on the wall...) At most it's 3,955 bottles ((7 x 5 x 101) + (7 x 4 x 15)). Between 1,700 and 4,000 bottles let say; I might have miscounted because a couple of store managers spotted me counting I think, and were giving me funny looks.

The cheapest bottle of rot-gut I saw was $3.29, and the priciest was $25. Lets do the math: $3.29 x 1,700 = $5,593.00 at a minimum, and $25 x 4,000 = $100,000.00. Ok, very few bottles were 25 bucks, so it's not a hundred thousand dollars worth of wine. But most weren't $3.29 either, so it's all worth more than $5,593.00. I didn't collect all the prices -- remember those dudes were wondering if they needed to hit the alarm -- so I can't calculate a good average price. Lets assume $10. That'd be $17,000 to $40,000. Assuming $15 would be $25,500 to $60,000. Averaging the "low" $17,000 and the "high" $60,000 is $38,500. My math may be getting funky by now, but any way you slice it we're talking about tens of thousands of dollars.

Wow. And this is only one of four Meijers I know about in the area. Makes you wonder what the inventory of an average liquor store is worth. Or an actual winery...
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Mar. 23rd, 2008 @ 01:10 am Had a dream about war
The dream: I was in an Italian restaurant, strangely enough sitting on a table. A waitress came up and asked me if these were my good pants. Unsure of how to respond, I said "...yeah?" because they were my 'good' jeans that I wear to work, not the ones with holes that I wear on the weekends... Then she poured tomato sauce all over the bottom 8 inches, lets say, of both legs of my pants and walked away. I couldn't believe it. Pissed off I went home to try to clean them up.

When I got back to the place I lived in this dream, I found out about the war. "They" -- terrorists? Arabs? It was not clear who the enemy was, but they'd already conquered all the east coast states -- Maine to Florida -- and more. Real news was sparse and reports were falling apart in the chaos, but they were expected to sweep across the midwest by early afternoon. I live in Indianapolis. So much had already fallen so quickly, there was obviously nothing whatsoever we could do in the face of this enemy. And it would be mere hours before they were here.

They were coming, unstoppable, to conquer all of us, kill many, rape, take our homes, and break up families. That was it, there's not much to tell, it was just a terrible feeling.
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Mar. 6th, 2008 @ 06:05 pm Regrets!
I regret that I never made up a word, stuck to it and insisted that it was a real word, and kept saying it until people around me started saying it too... (sigh) Like "dimensular". As in, "it's 3-D, three dimensular."

Alas!! I haven't lived!!

Oh wait. I suppose I could do that now...

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Feb. 22nd, 2008 @ 07:28 pm The Milgram Experiment
If you don't know about the Milgram Experiment, you need to know about the Milgram Experiment.

I don't have the words to say how important I feel it is just for you to know what the Milgram Experiment is and to be aware of it. Please read about the Milgram Experiment. This is important for you to know.

It was designed to figure out how the Nazi Holocaust could have happened, how so many otherwise ordinary German people could have participated in such an atrocity, because "dehumanizing" the Jews is really only part of the answer to that question. What the Milgram experiment shows is applicable to "ethinc cleansing" anywhere it continues to happen in the world today, as well as to Abu Grahib, and probably to suicide bombers in general too.
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Feb. 21st, 2008 @ 10:49 am Advice for going to Florida
I keep looking at the 10 day forecast, every day, just looking for a 70 somewhere... Even if they lower it down to 30 by the time it gets here, I'd be happy just to see a 70 on there...

My advice for tourists going to Florida -- buy your souvenir t-shirt at a Walgreens or something. Not at a souvenir shop. Having done both, the quality of the shirt I got at Walgreens was much better. And don't worry -- they'll have t-shirts with the name of wherever you're going. The souvenir shop t-shirts are nearly all very poor quality. Most of the souvenir shops are big chain stores too, and all the shirts are made in China anyway, so you might as well get a good one from a store you've probably shopped at before, wherever you're from...
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Feb. 12th, 2008 @ 10:16 am Two hundred and seventy
Two hundred and seventy. 270 planets around other stars have so far been discovered. Two hundred and seventy. Unbe-frickin-lieveable.

Two hundred and seventy! That's a big number.
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Dec. 31st, 2007 @ 02:45 pm Winter surfing!
Winter surfing, on lake Michigan! Incredible!

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Dec. 29th, 2007 @ 02:10 am Finally painting
I have finally put brush and paint to canvas. I can hear those of you who have been reading this blog for a while shouting "it's about damn time!", and it is. It has been a long time coming. Having now thoroughly explored MS-Paint, and having found far more capability in it than I ever imagined for something that comes included with Windows, I none the less grew frustrated with the seemingly simple things that are so difficult with it. Simple things like gradations, which if I recall, are the first thing taught in high school drawing class, as soon as you got the concepts of "hard and soft charcoal pencils" and "art eraser" down. Yeah, there's photoshop, and I still need to check that out, but I figured I also needed to actually paint. So there goes my "I've never actually painted" story...

Got an acrylic painting starter set a few months ago, and have now finally found the time to do it. Did I paint "The Old Mill"? Bah! Hell no! :-D I just started painting, really without an idea, but with the intention of just learning the media and trying paint mixing and some gradations.

So, having now filled the tiny canvas with paint, what have I produced and what have I learned?

  • A blue "Kandinsky" shape gradating from "straight from the tube" Cobalt Blue to a lighter blue
  • Something that looks vaguely like an orange, gradating from tube Cadmium Red Medium, to yellow-orange
  • A Mars Black "planet" gradating to dark charcoal
  • An icky green "atmosphere" gradating to tube Cadmium Yellow Medium
  • I painted over another shape I didn't like :-)
  • I like the shader brush more than the round
  • About half the time I grabbed the canvas from the easel and held it up to my face as I painted
  • Not sure I like the idea of mixing the paint with the brush (shader). Either the colors get mixed well on the palate, but stay separate in the brush, or all the paint gets sucked up into the brush. I started trying to mix with popsicle sticks after a while...
  • Not sure what the palate knife is for, or the bottle of "Medium"...
  • After I was done I saw a few very textural paintings I'd put in my screen saver and thought, "Damn, there are so many ways to apply paint to canvas!" What I did was pretty linear. Not very painterly.

Anyway, I'm pretty satisfied with my first attempt. The gradations are acceptable. I'll get better at that I'm sure. I definitely should have done the underpainting, or background, first though. But I have a problem with not doing that first anyway, with my digital pictures too.

So it's probably dry now -- I should go paint some kind of details! :-) And I need to buy more canvas boards!
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Dec. 26th, 2007 @ 11:35 pm Picture
Ok, words. Hmm. Funny how it can be hard to say anything about these, right after having done one. Perhaps because I've stopped thinking verbally. Anyway, pretty much inspired by Piet Mondrian with this one, Broadway Boogie-Woogie in particular.

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Nov. 27th, 2007 @ 06:18 pm I have missed my true calling!
I should have been a manualist!

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