careful with your choice of media
Saturday, November 16 2002
It's a snowy day here above the Esopus Valley and I'm still resting from doing intensive building work. I've found surfing the web isn't really all that bad on dialup, particularly since you can have the next page downloading in another window while you're reading the first. That's the way I like to do things anyway - I usually have several pages of interest open at once and I multiplex through them, switching off when the text turns even the slightest bit dull. It's more of a pathology than a technique; perhaps Adderall would help.
Speaking of pathology, I've just been looking at the Visual History of Michæl Jackson's Face, and I come away from it with an unexpected feeling of pity and compassion for the man. It's an empathy that grows out of my experience with the regrets I used to have following botched adolescent pimple extractions. Here's a guy with all the money in the world who spends large amounts of it altering his face with either an unclear or an impermanent idea about how he wants to look. The results are what you would expect. (It seems that even if a particular urban legend about Michæl Jackson's face is untrue, chances are it will be true if you just wait a couple years.) The human body can only heal itself so many times, and, as with buildings, there comes a point where the underlying framework is compromised. What's sad is that what Jackson is left with is a complete tear-down, and he's only 44 years old. The moral of this tale is as follows: if you are an artist, particularly one who cannot make up his mind, don't use your face as your medium. Use something you can throw away should you screw up.
While we're on the subject of art and media to use therein, today I set off on something of an artistic diversion. On Louis' suggestion, I am going to install some sort of window under the peaked ceiling in the wall between the new master bedroom and its palatial bathroom (if you're keeping count, that will be the house's fourth bathroom, though one of them is only a half). I've decided to make this window a stained glass window, and my original plan was to buy some random stained glass window at a flea market and learn (and convince Gretchen to learn) to love it. But today I said to myself, "Gus, man, why don't you make your own stained glass window and skip the step of learning to love it (while still possibly having to convince Gretchen to learn to love it)." So Sally and I set out in the Toyota 4 X 4 through the sleet and snow to Michæl's, the big arts and crafts store in Ulster, directly across the parking lot from Lowes. My plan was to get fragments of colored glass and some lead strips and then make genuine stained glass, the sort one finds in medieval cathedrals. I'm handy with a soldering iron, and my visual art is all about glowing, saturated colors, so I assumed I'd be a natural. But Michæl's didn't seem to have any actual stained glass supplies. What they had instead was Vitrea 160, "a thermal hardening colour for glass." You use it like paint on glass and then cook it at 160 degrees Celsius (325 degrees Fahrenheit) in the oven. If you must have strips of opaque black to simulate lead, they sell a substance called RediLead. I had an open mind about these things, so I bought four or five primary colors and two different packs of RediLead. The only thing I need now is glass. I thought there was a glass shop out on Ulster Road somewhere, but it was already dark and I couldn't find it (my intention was to simply dumpster dive a random piece).
I ended up on Kingston's I-587, perhaps the shortest interstate in the United States. After driving its full length on the way back to Hurley, I can't figure out why this boulevard is part of the interstate system.
Tonight I've been installing small pieces of drywall. My thumb, for those who are interested, seems to be completely healed and functional again after being crushed yesterday. It took about a day and a half. I was thinking today that the measure of an injury's damage could be the amount of time it takes to heal. For me, then, this thumb crushing, though terribly painful, was a trivial injury, less serious than a pimple. By contrast, the wound inflicted on my right hand when I yanked it across the head of a protruding nail, was far more serious. It's almost healed now but the gash is still visible and surrounded by pealing skin. And when it comes to truly serious injury, the sprain in the base of my left thumb sustained when I fell down the stairs during an altercation with skinheads is some of the worst damage I've ever experienced; that took well over a year to heal completely.
Now that Microsoft is a government-endorsed monopoly and we'll never know the secrets hidden in Windows, I've been wondering about the deterioration in functionality that most Windows users experience. How much of it is actually built into the product? Could there be timers set at the time of installation that, when they reach certain numbers, cause the insertion of time delays in essential Windows functions? I ask this because on my Windows 2000 machine suddenly the right-click is plagued by a several second delay. I use the right click for almost every non-typing function I do, and I'm finding this a serious handicap. Is this a subtle prod to make me install Windows XP, where even more insidious manipulations are hidden? The right click issue alone is enough to make me consider using Linux for most of what I do.
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