My 2009 Resolutions

1. Stop buying lunch and start brown bagging.
I spent $10 to $12 a day on lunch from the various locations surrounding my office. When you combine that with the $2 to $5 a day I spend on muffins and coffee I am dropping about $75 a week to eat at work. This has to stop.

2. Another run at a blog a day.
Yep. I failed. But then we knew that months ago. Let's see if I can get it right this time, huh?

3. More sketching
Subway or otherwise. I simply need to do more artwork. It is an imperative.

4. Exercise
Isn't that on every single list like this all around the world? I'm probably 25 to 30 lbs heavier than I should be for my height and build. I hover between 190 and 200, usually at about 195. Some places put me at 160 as an ideal weight for my height and build, but I figure it closer to 170. I don't see where I could take 40 lbs off my frame and still look healthy. Plus which I have not had a regular exercise regimen since I stopped taking PE in 8th grade. That is just sad. Plus which, it can't really be healthy. I walk a fair deal of course, a bit more than a mile a day, but that isn't enough.

All in all... not much. The exercise will be the most difficult. The brown bagging is a matter of fostering a new habit, and sketching and posting is just being better with my discipline regarding something that I do already. The exercise... I have no idea where to start. Kid Flash of course wants me to run, which has little appeal to me. Or at least I tell myself it does, maybe that's the way to go. Maybe it's time to finally join a gym and start doing some stairmasters or ellipticals?

New Year, New Template

Okay... It's time to redecorate. Below are links to several new templates that I am considering. None are exactly right as they are presented, I would have to dust up the HTML in all of them, but have a look, tell me what you like, what you don't like, and help me pick the new look for this site in the coming year! There are thumbnails below, but if you click the name you'll get a full window preview of the template. Thanks for your help!

First Family

Back in the city from Philly where I got to meet Kid Flash's parents for the first time. One family Christmas down, one more to go as I leave for SC on Tuesday. Lots of good stories from the family about his childhood and growing up, and I got to see him in his "natural element" for the first time I suppose. Another minor haul of gifts (a bacon wallet!!) and a visit to the Mutter Museum of Medical Oddities in Philly. It was a whirlwind visit. Now I get a day off here in the city, though it will be filled with laundry and last minute prep, then 6 days away. This is a LONG holiday.

Christmas Haul

We had a great Christmas yesterday, the house was full of people, and fun. We had a great breakfast Kid Flash made an awesome cinnamon almond coffee cake, and we had a pot of bean soup that simmered all day until it was ready. We played board games, and drank wine, and just generally lazed about all day occasionally unwrapping a gift or opening a stocking. A really good day.

Rather than Photo Phriday, I thought I'd publish my annual rundown of Christmas gifts.

1. Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death (photos of miniature replicas of crime scenes used in forensics training in the '40s.
2. James Jean's Fables covers
3. Hiking the Road to Ruins
4. A Munny
5. Some trail mix
6. Some hand and foot warmers
7. Sumo wrestler calender stickers
8. A small painting by KF's brother
9. Handmade notecards
10. A cap gun and candy
11. A watermelon scented pencil
12. Pencil bag with cute superheroes on it
13. A cock towel
14. Geocaching goodies from my Podcacher Secret Santa
15. Pencils
16. Eraser
17. Silicone oven mitts in the shape of a dog and a crocodile
18. a Bento box
19. some fingerless gloves
20. Lemon tea
21. A silicone tea holder for loose tea
22. A Virgin Mary keychain
23. Gum
24. A metrocard holder
25. A tiny glass kitty
26. Some Hello Kitty cookies

and it is all sitting atop my spanking new light box!

I hope Santa was kind to you and yours as well.

Merry Christmas

S'More Christmas Cheer

A few more... interesting... Christmas performance for you:

"Silent Night/Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis" by Tom Waits

"Christmas Time Is Here" (Vince Garaldi's Charlie Brown Theme) by... some guy playing a harp.

"Once Upon a Christmas Song" by Geraldine McQueen

"Little Drummer Boy" by Bing Crosby and David Bowie.

"Winter Wonderland" by the Del Rubio Triplets, (with a cameo by Pee Wee Herman and Lawrence Fishburn!)

And Finally...

"Jingle Bells" (of a sort) by Varla Jean Merman.

Hope you all have a wonderful Holiday, whichever it is that you are celebrating.

A Bit of Christmas Cheer

But really... just the tiniest, tiniest bit.

The Chinatown Project: Tiling

I haven't done an enormous amount of work on it that looks like much, but here is an updated photo of my Chinatown Project. The tile has gone in, a shelf, some of the stock. Out front you can see the pieces of the railing that will go up on the sidewalk after they are painted. I've spent an inordinate amount of time in the past few weeks trying to figure out how things like the roll doors and awnings in front of these places actually work so that I can go about replicating them.

Christmas Prep

To Do:
•Cheese shopping
•Christmas morning breakfast prep
•One last gift to buy
•Mail Podcacher Secret Santa Gift
•Bake Christmas pie
•Wrap gifts
•Pack gifts that are going to SC with me
•Clean studio/den

All in all I'm in pretty decent shape for the holidays. I'm off work until after the New Year, the shopping is mostly done, (if I'd stop adding last minute people). I have some baking I want to do in the next few days, and a couple hand-made projects that I need to get finished off, but all in all... I think I'm ready. How about you guys? How are the holidays shaping up?

By the way, Happy Solstice!

Photo Phriday: Snowphall

Subway Sketch

I don't normally sketch on the way TO work, it is usually too crowded and frankly I'm not a morning person, so... but this little lady was just too good not to try and get down. the slope of her shoulders and the oversize jacket and oversize glasses just made her such an endearing figure. This is one of my favorites in recent weeks. I wish I could figure a way to portray the grey in her hair...

Far From Home

Circumstances over the weekend brought into my hands something that I never expected to read, a copy of Bust Magazine. Bust is a women's magazine that caters to a 20-something hipster urban demographic. Flipping through I was surprised to find a travel article about Savannah, GA, my home town. These articles are always weird to me, it's so odd seeing a place that I knew some intimately described the way that travel writers often do. For Instance I doubt any local would ever describe Forsyth Park as a "vast green space."

All of the articles end up covering the same stuff... Bonaventure Cemetery, River Street, the Juliette Gordon Low House, etc. etc... not surprisingly given the aim of this magazine they included some things that I don't normally see like Club 1 (the local gay bar), a plug for the Savannah Derby Devils rollerderby team, and E. Shaver, the best bookstore in the city. But it also includes some stuff that is just downright bewildering... like suggesting the Thunderbird Inn as a "cheeky 60's alternative" to the more expensive hotels downtown. Now... unless things have changed drastically since I was last home the Thunderbird Inn is barely a step up from a crack den. It is (was?) a highly rundown motor lodge on the edge of town that would rent rooms by the hour if you asked the right questions at the desk. Though, I'll admit that it's been the better part of a decade since I was in that section of town, so maybe it cleaned up its act. The other real stunner was Joker Novelties, which they list as a "clean, well-lit place for adult toys, run by a mother/daughter team." Joker Novelty is just outside the Army Airforce base in town, and in my memory leaned much more towards the Spencer's Gifts style of party store novelties than "adult toys" and never really struck me as the type of place that I'd send a tourist.

All this really did though was make me the tiniest bit homesick. It's been more than a year and a half since I've been to Savannah, and I really do miss some parts of it. Maybe it's time to start planning a trip for spring?

Subway Sketches

12 of 12: Year End Review

Another year is coming to a close, so I thought I'd go back and post my favorite shot from each 12 of 12 over the year.

Kid Flash and I were on a "School's About To Start" vacation in Washington, DC. This was my "subway" shot for that month.

My favorite flower, just randomly placed on the 14th St. A train platform. A welcome surprise as I believe it was snowing above ground that day.

I can't remember why I decided to crop my images to squares that month... but this is at the 6 train station at Union Square.

One of the entrances to the R station at Canal Street. I love the angles in this shot.

My desk at work. This crops up in my shots a lot of course. I had a theme that month, the color green.

My month of macros.

My friendly neighborhood wig street vendor. What? What do you mean you don't have one of those in your neighborhood? What kind of hell hole are you living in?

Another travel month, at the SC State Archives in the Microfilm viewing room. I love this lady SO much.

In Connecticut working on my set for Steel Magnolias.

All of my shots that month were taken through the viewfinder of an old Panaflex camera. It gives a great old fashioned feel to the photography.

Another set in progress shot. Sometimes I long for the days when I could have done such a shot just about every 12th of the month. (Other times I take a look at the economy and I'm thankfully that I can't.) My theme that month was "lights."

Another shot that I could probably do every month, since this is a bout a block from my office. I still love seeing it though.

12 of 12 of 12

The last 12 of 12 for this year! You can check others' contributions at Chad Darnell's blog. But for now let's see what I got up to today!

An unusual morning in that I was actually awake and leaving at the same time as Kid Flash. Usually he is out the door 2 or 3 hours before me, but he was going in late, and I had an early conference call, so we had the rare joy of a train ride in together.

During the conference call. This project is a ground up design, something VERY unusual for me. We are literally designing everything, the theatre, the scenery, the infrastructure to support the show... everything. We are about 2 years out on the opening of the show, but there is still a TON of work to do.

Headed out for lunch, I spotted one of my favorite people in the city, The Peeler Man. This distinguished British gentleman has been here, on this corner of Union Square for years selling vegetable peelers that he imports from Sweden. He has a great patter with the crowd, and sells the hell out of these simple peelers. he has been written up in everything from the Village Voice to Vanity Fair. A very cool cat.

At the other end of Union Square is one of this year's Holiday Markets. NYC puts up these booths in three locations around the city where a lot of local artisans and craft people set up to sell their stuff to holiday shoppers. A fun thing to look through, though some of the stuff can get a bit expensive.

Lunch, from Moaz, my favorite new place downtown.

One of the things that we have to do for this big project is to build a model of the theatre that we are designing. While we have a TON of model supplies tucked into various corners of the studio it seems like we are lacking exactly the pieces that we need to get this thing built... so here I go running about the city searching for 1/16th" brass rod, and 1/32" brass flat stock. Ugh... not an easy task.

After work I did a touch of shopping on my own. My holiday shopping is 95% done, but there are still a few lingering things that I'd love to find. 5th Ave (at least in my neighborhood) is decked out with red lights in all the trees.

In my own neighborhood I decided that it was finally time to get our tree up, so I dragged KF down to the tree stand on the corner to shop for a little shorty tree. We don't have a lot of space for a tree, so I decided to get a small one and place it up on the breakfront in the living room.

KF Freeing our little house guest from his little plastic net.

Ted is a bit... distrustful... of the tree. Last year he was in my other apartment where we didn't have a tree, so this year is his first real experience with having a tree in the house. We've lashed it to the wall, just in case he decides to go climbing.

For the past three years I've done themed trees, so the theme this year is elephants. I've found a ton of cute little elephants in various ethnic dollar stores and around, and a few in K-Mart, and Target. This one is one of my absolute favorites. Snatched him up at a dollar store in Chinatown a week or two back. He's SO cute!

And the final tree decked out! Isn't he cute all dressed up?

Check back tomorrow for my 12 of 12 Year In Review, where I pick my favorite shots from each month this year.

A Novel Meme

Similar to the album meme that I participated in a few months ago, Typophile's current "Type Battle" is a novel cover. The title is a random article from Wikipedia, the cover image is taken from a search of all or part of the title in Google's new Life Magazine archives. (I searched "white bread.")

I imagine that it is a sex farce about a small town British baker and his many mistresses.

Subway Sketch

Proceeding Apace

December is scarily well under way... I was reminded of that today when I went to the window of my office and realized that it was nearly full dark. At 5:15. That's my least favorite thing about Winter north of the Mason-Dixon, how early it gets dark.

A theme has been chosen for my Christmas tree, (elephants) and most of the ornaments have been purchased (it helps that we have decided to go with a tabletop sized one this year.)

I just completed the last of the new stockings, (I have made hand-made stocking stockings for everyone that will be at my home Christmas morning, a project three years in the making.)

I have one more major gift to find, for my mother, and shopping will be done. (At least for me, I may need to help Kid Flash finish his.)

On the 19th my office closes for "Winter Break" and I don't have to be at work again until January 5th. I'm looking forward to a few days of nothing to do.

The holiday is shaping up.

Subway Sketch

Let It Snow, Let It Snow...

Outside is falling the first snow of the season. There is a minor accumulation starting, just a dusting on the cars. the flakes look small, the air was pretty dry today. I usually like snow, for the first 20 or 30 minutes anyway. Then of course there is the grey slushy mess... never mind... the snow is falling. Concentrate on that... beautiful beautiful snow.

Photo Phriday

Prepare Yourself

I've just spent the last hour watching every possible video I could find on Theo Jansen, a kinetic sculptor from the Netherlands who create these awe inspiring, jaw dropping sculptures of "animals" that move independently, completely under wind power. Some are simple and move in a direct transference of power from wind to movement, others use the wind to pump pneumatics that in turn move their legs. Regardless, they are amazing to watch.

If you watch the complete TedTalk that he gave a while back (which I HIGHLY recommend) he has even constructed rudimentary brains for the animals, so that they "know" when they have reached water, or land that they can't walk on, and can calculate the distance in between the surf and the dunes so that they know what their affective range is. All under wind and water power, no electronics or any other mechanism included. The man is just... a genius. So, so inspiring.

The Chinatown Project: Construction Begins

Base walls are up, the floors are in and treated, and the sidewalk is laid! I had a big spurt of activity last week, then not much during the holiday. I decided in an inch and a half scale. Re-ment claims that their product is 2" scale, but some of them measure a bit small at that scale for me. 1" is not correct either, so I've split the difference.

2008 Child Of Atom Gift Guide

Since my family always seems to be complaining that I am a difficult person to buy gifts for, each year I publish a gift buying guide for myself, so forgive me this yearly bit of self indulgence, but maybe you'll see something here that you'll want for yourself!

The Practical
A Light Box
Solar iPod Charger
Travis Ruse: Platform T-Shirt (L)
Camera Bag for a Nikon D50
SmartWool Neck Gaiter

Transit Maps of the World
Urawaza: Secret Everyday Tips and Tricks from Japan

Hiking the Road to Ruins
Spectrum 1, or 2, or 3 or 4,
Essential Dykes to Watch Out For
Fables Covers: The Art of James Jean

Super Friends: Aquaman
Re-Ment Displays
Marvel Legends Black Queen Variant
Rachel Grey Mini-Bust

Miscellaneous Goodness
Vintage Transit Authority Badge
Dawn Poster
Dave McKean's Keanoshow DVD
Bose Earbuds