PRATIE PLACE

Saturday, October 31, 2009

In which we take time out from Illustration Friday to take Jethro and Superman for a walk.

horse and donkey rest together in the woodsThis morning I saw Superman and Jethro taking a nice nap together after breakfast and figured they will, eventually, get along.


miniature horse and donkey ready for a walkI wheedled Mark into taking a break in the middle of our weekly painting session and he took pictures while I got the creatures ready for their walk and then we were off around the block. Enjoy!


superman the miniature horse and me

superman and me

donkey and miniature horse walk together

miniature horse and donkey walk together

miniature horse resists

miniature horse and donkey on a walk

horse and donkey

miniature horse and donkey

horse and donkey

horse and donkey on a walk

my donkey and me

miniature horse and donkey go through the gate

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Astoundingly simple audio file player solution

I found this at labnol.org:

Yahoo! Media Player

If you maintain an MP3 blog or run a podcast and regularly link to MP3 files, it makes little sense to embed a separate Flash player with every MP3 file. I would therefore recommend using the Yahoo! Media Player that auto-detects links to MP3 files in your web pages and creates an embedded player for each link.

All you have to do is insert the following link in your blog template and all MP3 hyperlinks will be converted into inline MP3 players. This also has the shuffle feature and visitors can easily skip to any song in the playlist.

<script type="text/javascript" src="http://mediaplayer.yahoo.com/js"></script>


Wow, I added that to my Skylark Productions website and suddenly all the audio files play, no fuss no bother. A meerkul!

How to give away your rights across the universe for perpetuity

A friend on the Yale listserv passed this along to me. Heh, heh.

Extracts from
Lawyerese Goes Galactic as Contracts Try to Master the Universe
From Stage to Pickle Shop, These Terms Cover All Rights for All Time in All Worlds

By Dionne Searcey and James R. Hagerty for the Wall Street Journal

Decked out in sequined black and gold dresses, Anne Harrison and the other women in her Bulgarian folk-singing group were lined up to try out for NBC's "America's Got Talent" TV show when they noticed peculiar wording in the release papers they were asked to sign.

Any of their actions that day last February, the contract said, could be "edited, in all media, throughout the universe, in perpetuity."

She and the other singers, many of whom are librarians in the Washington, D.C., area, briefly contemplated whether they should give away the rights to hurtling their images and voices across the galaxies forever. Then, like thousands of other contestants, they signed their names.

Experts in contract drafting say lawyers are trying to ensure that with the proliferation of new outlets ... they cover all possible venues from which their clients can derive income, even those in outer space.

"These days there is an enormous amount of concern about how rights get appropriated," he said. "Paranoia is paramount."

The space and time continuum has extended to other realms outside the arts, including pickles. A 189-word sentence in a September agreement of Denver-based Spicy Pickle Franchising Inc. ... unconditionally releases Spicy Pickle from all claims "from the beginning of time" until the date of the agreement. "We're trying to figure out how to cover every possible base as quickly as possible ... When you start at the beginning of time, that is pretty clear."

James O'Toole recently signed ... a release form for WQED ... which allows the TV station to make use of "any incidents" of his life and reproduce his image or voice "throughout the universe in perpetuity, in any and all media now known or hereinafter devised."

Mr. O'Toole, who says he didn't bother to read the release before signing it, took the news calmly. "I'm very popular in some of the far reaches of the Milky Way," he says. Even so, he says, "I don't think I've missed out on a lot of potential income."

Referring to geographical limits loosely can be dangerous ... "the United States is an ambiguous term...American Samoa, yes or no?"

"Throughout the world" would be one alternative, but that excludes possible future markets ... Some day, Mr. Goldman adds, people might ask, "What were they thinking? Why didn't they get the Mars rights?"

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My latest Yiddish translation: A preamble by Mendele the Book Peddler

This is an excerpt from the introduction to Mendel Moykher Sforim's first book; we read it in Paris this summer at the Medem Bibliotheque and it was my favorite piece by far. I finally had the time to translate it for my own pleasure and, I hope, for yours.

A preamble by Mendele the Book Peddler

On the occasion of his coming forward into the world with his very own stories, published for the first time

"What's your name?" That's the first question one Jew asks another, a complete stranger, the minute he meets with him and rattles off a how-do-you-do. When this happens, it wouldn’t occur to anybody to give a response like, "What's it to you, brother, that you should know my name? So we're going to marry our children to each other, then? I have the name I was given, and leave me alone!"

On the contrary, the question "What's your name?" is completely natural, it lies as easily in one's nature as it does to finger someone’s new caftan and ask: "How much did it cost you? How much was this fabric by the yard?" - as it does to take, uninvited, a cigarette from someone else's open pack - as it does to stick a finger into their tobacco pouch and take from it a pinch of snuff - as it does to ask somebody, suddenly, out of the blue, about his business and to outline for him your suggested improvements although he hasn't any urgent need for them at all and can do quite well without them, as indeed he can also do without you.

Such things are natural by us Jews, this is just how the order of things has been since the dawn of time, and to take a stand against it would amount to insanity.

I know quite well that now, at my first, initial arrival, during my first foray into Yiddish literature, or as you might say, with my stories, certainly the public's first question will be: "What do they call you, uncle?"

My name's Mendele! Thus, gentlemen, was I named - after a great-grandfather on my mother's side, Reb Mendele the Muscovite, of blessed memory. Back in the day he was given this name because, as the story goes, he did actually get all the way to Moscow once, in point of fact, trading for Russian goods, and he skittered back here again lickety split, in the blink of an eye, before they had the chance to come around and throw him out of there. Anyhow, that's not what I'm getting at. What foolishness!

Nevertheless, he actually was in Moscow, with Tsar Fonye as they say. This procured for him a good name and reputation in his little corner. Everyone considered him an experienced, sophisticated man, who'd been around the world, and when there was trouble, or when there was need of writing an official letter, they'd ask his advice. But that's not my point either.

With this alone, though, the ritual is not complete. After the aforementioned first question, Jews generally start up gushing all kinds of questions like, for instance: Where's he from? Is he married? Does he have kids? How's he make his living? Where's he traveling to? Ha!, more and more such questions, this is accepted wherever Jews have settled throughout the diaspora, and if you want to have a decent name for yourself among people, to show that you are, praise God, a fine person, someone who’s been around, not just a bookworm benchwarmer, then you're going to have to answer properly, just as a greeting of "Good Sabbos" must be answered with "a Good Year."

I'm not going to pick a quarrel with the world; I'm ready to answer all these questions of yours - quickly and succinctly, if possible.

Myself, I was born and raised in Tsvuetshits (Hypocrite), it's a good-sized town (no Evil Eye), in the Teterivker district, famous for its goodness and piety the way Glupsk (Stupid), for instance, is known for its wisdom, Kaptsansk (Poverty) for its wealth, and Tunyadevke (Do-Nothing) for its factories. Beautiful places, with such merits, praise God, as have prevailed and influenced the Jewish condition in our little corner of the exile... but that isn't my point.

My passport states my age most efficiently, but in truth, how old I am - as is often the case with Jews - isn't easy to say. My parents, rest in peace, strongly disagreed on the reckoning of my years, but they agreed I was born at the lighting of the first Hanukah candle during the terrible fire that burned the stores (let it not happen again)...

It was around the time the red cow calved, and by the last day of Hanukah her milk was so abundant she made milk varenikes for half the village, varenikes that made folks lick their fingers and with a taste that still lies on the tongues of some of our old Jews to this day... but that isn't what I was getting at either...

My features as stated in my passport are as follows: height, middling; hair and brows, grey; eyes, brown; nose and mouth: average; a grey beard, the face unscarred, and as for "distinguishing marks" - none. That is to say, altogether nothing special, a man of the usual kind, like the majority of men, not an animal, God forbid!

So the question is, a simple straightforward passport completely without distinguishing marks simply shows one is human! Because since when do animals have passports? The answer is, however, that there's no point in asking questions. Listen, this description doesn’t properly show what kind of face I have.

And in point of fact, let's not deceive ourselves, what good will it do you to know, for example, that my brow is a high one with a lot of wrinkles; that my nostrils are very big and somewhat strange; that my face at first glance will seem a bit angry; that when I’m rapt in thought I have a near-sighted squint; and that when I purse my lips it seems a mild, wry smile swims on them.

Foolishness, upon my word! Even my wife didn't interest herself in such trivialities before our marriage. She took me sight unseen, not a glimpse of my face beforehand, and - it turned out all right.

Anyway, now you know, gentlemen, that I'm married. And as for children, no need to discuss it. It's understood, naturally, that I have (no evil eye) quite a few of them. What else, then, does a Jew have? But that's not my point.

My business, as you can see by looking at me, is holy books. I've had more than enough different livelihoods in my life, they threw me all over the place, as usual, until at last I waved my hand and said, "Ah, to the Devil with all these rackets!" and I took to the holy book trade, and that's precisely what I've been living by to the present day.

Hearing that, one might believe, on the face of it, that book peddling is the finest profession, and that I'm rich! And on that basis, Jews - yearning after a fine livelihood, poor things - will follow each other, one after another - they’ll throw themselves, like locusts, onto the book business! I swear to you, Jewish children - I'm a pauper!

Well, if that's the case - if my life is a shlepping, wandering, beggarly one - then the question is, how the Devil did I drag myself into the holy book business? And what holds me to my wares to this very day? It's not easy to answer - it's simply that I had no choice ...

Gentlemen, I confess to you! From childhood on I've had a certain weakness (may it not happen any other Jew) which in the language of the goyim is called 'love of nature.' That is to say, a love of everything that grows, that sprouts, that lives, everything that's found in this world. It pulls me - it pulls - I hope it never happens to you. It gets to me from time to time: a trinket, a pretty little face, a picture, an image, a little blade of grass, a little branch, a little rose, a little bird.

How can it be, people will say, why aren't you ashamed, a Jew with a beard, with responsibilities, married, a father of children, who should by all rights be worrying ...

Oy, well I know that such things are not suitable for a Jew, but what can I do, seeing as how this is my born weakness - my Evil Inclination from the very start, may it not happen to you - that draws me to itself like a magnet.

And so the Evil Inclination (may it not happen to you, my children) muttered to me: "Mendl! Book handling is made to measure for you. Pawn, even if only temporarily, your wife's bit of jewelry; buy a horse and wagon, pack it up with books, and let yourself go forth into the world. If you earn, if you don't earn, it's all the same, the point is the journey, the pleasure you'll have from the beautiful things which will reveal themselves and be heard along the way.

"Traveling the road you'll lean back, lounging like a king on your wagon, and you'll look all around you at every tiny piece of God's artfully beautiful handiwork, and his creatures in mountains and valleys, in fields and forests. Your little horse will pull you slowly, slowly, and you'll look all around, you'll look... That's how it is on the road, and then, coming into little villages and towns, you'll see all sorts of Jews: beautiful faces, fine creatures, strange characters, every manner of being, crooked backs, stuck up noses, sticky-fingered long-armed scoundrels, this kind and the other kind, from the old cut and the new - you'll have a lot of stories to tell about them, to sing and narrate."

Now do you understand, children?

And today, after I've spent a goodly time traveling around in the world, the Evil Inclination mutters to me again. "Publish your stories," he mutters, "the stories you have to tell about Jews after all this time you've spent roaming among them."

OK - they can listen, then - it won't hurt them, God forbid! OK, I thought to myself, all right, with pleasure, let it be so! And so it seems I’ve said my piece..

Incidentally, I'm only human. If I've perhaps forgotten something - no promises, but I’ll try my best to put it into one of my later little books. And, furthermore, if someone has no time and wants to know everything quickly, all at once, may he be so kind as to write to me, he'll quickly receive a clear response.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Mark does Illustration Friday: "Fast."

Veronique held fast to her familiar as the magic began to transport them.

Acrylic on canvas, 12 x 16

Color shapers, blenders, palette knife, layers, smearing, and water effects. Oh, and GAC 100 + 500 for good measure.

Mark 2009

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And a new edition of Three Log Night: Uncommon Music for the Holiday Season!

I still have a few of the old ones left, in the smaller format with the one-color cover, available for $6.95 plus shipping from Skylark Productions.

Earlier this week, though, I sent a beefed up new edition off to Create Space where it will be published on demand. More songs, larger format, re-scanned and prettier cover (as you see here).

I also sent off the master of the cd, "Three Log Night," which has most of the songs in the book, off to be duplicated professionally. For the past couple years I've been making them one by one as people order them and that's a hassle.

So - ready for your holiday shopping?

UPDATE: It's available now, for a mere $10.90, at The TJC Hanukah Songbook at Createspace.

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A new Hanukah songbook!

I just sent the manuscript for this book to CreateSpace today. I painted the picture yesterday; it's from an image found on the floor of the Beth Alpha synagogue, from around 500 C.E.

UPDATE:The book is available now, for a mere $10.90, at The TJC Hanukah Songbook at Createspace. I also made a greeting card from the image, available from the Uncle Shlomo's Pushcart Zazzle site.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Menticia and I made "sopa seca de tortilla"

Margaret's Cantina, a neighborhood restaurant, serves a great sopa seca special on Tuesdays, cooked in little casseroles. I'm on a cook-real-food campaign and of course roped Menticia into it. We looked at some recipes and she decided she'd rather make the kind that's more like, well, soup. So here's what we did.

Mince (or pulverize in the food processor) three cloves of garlic and two smallish onions; sautee in a dutch oven until soft.

Add 6 cups of chicken broth and the two split halves of a chicken breast. We also added a can of diced tomatoes with mild chiles in it. I also added about a teaspoon of some "Tequila Lime Seasoning" my son bought at Whole Foods.

We cooked the chicken long enough to listen to two Songs of the Week, write little stories, and read two chapters of the Sword and the Stone. Then we pulled the chicken off the bones and returned it to the soup.

We cut about five tortillas into 1/2 inch strips and sauteed them in a large frying pan with a couple teaspoons of oil until they were almost but not quite crispy.

Dish up the soup and add as many tortilla strips as you like. The more tortilla strips, the "drier" the soup. Mmm!

There was enough left over to freeze one serving and also have some for breakfast tomorrow.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Not everything is bad, some things are wonderful: wpaudio plugin for wordpress, for instance

Why isn't all software like this? Small, quick, elegant, does just what it's supposed to do and gives you no trouble: WPAUDIO PLUGIN FOR WORDPRESS. It started my day off with something great for a change!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Confused about new North Carolina inspection and registration renewal program (no more stickers)?


We in NC used to have stickers on our windshields that told us when our cars and trucks needed to be inspected. And when they got inspected every year, the guys gave us a new sticker. Very simple.

Now there are no more stickers. I got a registration card (to renew my license plate) in the mail and when I tried to renew online, I got the error message you see here: "An Error has Occurred. Service can not continue due to a safety or safety/emissions violation. Please contact 888-999-3044(8-7 Est.st.Time M-F) "

I called the guy and he admitted most people don't understand what's happening with the registration renewal. But it boils down to something pretty simple:

When you get your notice in the mail that it's time to renew your registration, it's time to get an inspection.

Get your car or truck inspected, the place should electronically beam its approval to the DMV, and you will magically be cleared to renew your license.

This is a public service announcement. Now I'm going out to get my truck inspected.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In which Jethro learns two lessons about sharing.

After the handmade parade on Saturday, I brought Menticia and her sister back to my place to see Superman, the miniature horse. I tied Jethro up to one post and Superman up to an adjoining post, and the girls combed Superman - and scissored off the part of his mane which fell into his eyes - now he has ludicrous Dutch-boy bangs - while I combed Jethro and picked out his hooves. The plan was that they would lead Superman for his first walk around the block while I managed Jethro.

The plan was a non-starter. Jethro was so indignant that halfway to the driveway he took off to charge at Superman, who was waddling peacefully ahead of us. So I tied Jethro to a tree and left him staring in utter mortification as all the rest of us went perambulating.

On the way back, we led Superman in state past Jethro and into the pen, and then I went back for Jethro and explained to him that bad behavior led to his being in Time Out and missing the walk, and I put him back in the pen to mull over his misdeeds.

Today was a lovely day and I decided to try something new. I combed them both and picked out their hooves, and then I tied Superman's lead to Jethro's bridle. We processed around the pen for a while so they could get used to it and then we sallied forth into the neighborhood, me leading Jethro and Jethro leading Superman.

Superman, who is no dummy when it comes to provisioning himself, figured out that if he hustled a bit he could get the tiniest bit ahead of Jethro, grab a bite of grass, and then as we passed him he could fall back into formation, chew, and then hustle ahead and repeat the process.

Nobody hit the ground and we are all back where we ought to be so I call it a success.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Mark does Illustration Friday: "Frozen."

"FREEZY POP"

acrylic on canvas 9 x 12

If I work this small again, I will need magnification! Modelling the face pushed my near vision to the limit.

Mark

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Jeimy, Itza and I march in the Second Annual Handmade Parade in Hillsborough, NC

Here are three of the four giant puppets that have been taking up so much space in my kitchen. Now they're in the attic - but if you want one of them and are willing to pay the postage let me know...

I don't have time to post all my pics here but you can see the Handmade Parade flickr set I just threw online. Here are a very few...








Thursday, October 15, 2009

In which I learn how to use Google Adwords

I have a few friends who are sticking their toes into the world of Google Adwords so I decided to attend a seminar given tonight at Durham Tech by Steve Hong of CrossComm and here's what I came away with, in the meandering order in which I wrote it down.

  • Think about Adwords from Google's point of view. This is how Google makes money, and since Google only makes money when people click on your ad, there is no benefit to them in wasting valuable screen real estate on ads which do not produce clicks. So if they are "serving" ads on your key words but people aren't clicking on those ads, they will serve them less often - or almost never. They will prefer ads which are relevant and appealing.

  • When you first start setting up your account, you'll start at the upper level, the "campaign" level. This is where you select a geographical area. If one part of your business is international (or national), and another part is local, you need two separate campaigns. You can target right down to a single city. I hadn't thought about it, but - Google knows where you are, and if you are the searcher, it will often deliver ads based on your location if you don't specify some other location in your search.

  • Google does not arrange ads on a page based exclusively on how much the advertiser is willing to pay per click. It takes into account the relevance, and past effectiveness, of the ad.

    If someone is searching for a particular keyword phrase, like "Durham Locksmith," and you have that phrase in your ad, and if Google's scan of your site confirms that you are in that business, your ad will get a boost in ranking and perhaps appear above another ad which is paying more per click than you are.

    This suggests you might offer several ads, each targeting a separate important keyword phrase which is pertinent to your business. You can have Google optimize the placements - you can have your more successful ads (in terms of clicks) come up more often than the less successful ones, or you can have them in rotation.

  • As you select keywords, note that...
    • Keywords really means "keyword phrases." It is almost never effective to have your ad delivered on a single word. Baby, music, wedding - these words are useless unless they are combined with others.

    • Remove keywords which aren't producing clicks - they bring down your "quality score"

    • Negative keywords help weed out searches which aren't likely to produce results - either by "disambiguating" (for instance, a wedding band can play music or it can go on your finger) or by getting rid of non-customers.

      In my case, I think people who are searching for "free wedding music" are probably not going to hire a band, they probably want to make an iPod playlist (perhaps with 6 different free mp3s of Pachelbel's Canon).

    • If you come up first for a given search, don't waste your money on an ad for that search. Use your ads to target keyword phrases for which you don't rank very well "organically."

    • Don't worry about misspellings: "Google is in the word business and it knows about misspelled words and synonyms."

    • Each ad ideally targets one facet of your business, and points to a subpage which is optimized for that search phrase. It's very important that the words and phrases you are keywording appear prominently on the page to which you are pointing - otherwise Google thinks it's spam and may not serve the ad at all. This is its quick-and-dirty check for legitimacy.

    • In the keyword tool, look for search phrases with relatively high volume of searches combined with relatively low advertiser competition (the green bar).

    • What terms do people actually use to find you? You of course know all the jargon and buzzwords of your business, but the people you want to reach may not. Steve joked that people search for "cheap flights," not "value oriented travel opportunities."

      One member of the audience wanted her ad headline to say, "postpartum doula," but others tried to convince her that the people who needed her would be looking for "newborn care" or "breastfeeding advice."

    • You can specify: Broad match = any combination of the words. Phrase match = your exact phrase, but other words may precede or follo your phrase. Exact match = your phrase exactly with no words before or after.
  • A locksmith said indignantly that she gets five calls a week from people promising her that they can "guarantee a first page placement" in google search. Steve said that's a bald-faced lie, that there's no magic formula that will guarantee high ranking.

  • Steve said flatly that meta keywords are ignored entirely. I pressed the point, as a SEO guy in Greensboro recently told a friend of mine that they are still effective for geographic targeting. Steve said absolutely not.

  • You have the option of appearing only on google search - or on google search and sites which USE the google search engine - or you can add parts of, or all of, the "content network" (for instance, blogs which have advertising on them).

    You can also decide whether you want your ads to appear on mobile phones. Only do it if your site is written cleanly enough so pertinent data like phone numbers will show up easily. Otherwise, people using mobile phones may click on your ad, be unable to find the info they want, and you've just wasted your click.

  • There are sometimes up to three "sponsored links" at the top of the main column of search results - these would be the three top-rated ads. Then the first ad in the right-hand ad column is ad #4, etc. down the page.

  • The more often people click on your ad, the more likely it is to appear in a better position in the hierarchy. They will be more likely to click if your ad is written well, so make it as appealing as possible.

  • Steve examines his campaigns in terms of his daily, or monthly, budget. He WANTS a certain amount of money to be spent and will tinker with his campaigns until they deliver enough clicks to spend the allotment.

    After you've had some ads up for a while you will be presented with a "budget optimizer" option - this option will look at your bids and placements and up them until you get enough clicks to make your budget.

    On the other hand, if your budget is running out too fast the ads will not be "served" very often - they are managed to appear evenly throughout the day, so your ad may not appear even when there is no competition. The placement may drop, too: for instance, if you are the #1 ad too often, you will run out of money too early.

  • There was some discussion of click fraud (that's when your enemies start gleefully clicking on your ad again and again to spend your budget). Steve didn't seem very concerned about it. He says Google won't charge you if it thinks there's been fraud and that he sometimes gets a refund check. There is a possibility that being on the "content network" leaves you more open to click fraud.

  • In general Steve was cool to the content network and only uses it if he can't spend his whole budget on the search network.

  • He says a 3-5% click rate makes him ecstatic - that is, if out of every 100 times his ad appears (100 impressions), 3-5 people click.

One of the most-linked essays online: advice from an old man to a young man

I found a list of most-linked articles this morning and enjoyed this one. For the unexpurgated version see the original.

Advice to Young Men from an Old Man
  • Don't pick on the weak. It's immoral. Don't antagonize the strong without cause, it's stupid.

  • Don't hate women. It's a waste of time.

  • As a former Marine, take it from me. Don't join the military, unless you want to risk getting your *&^$ blown off to secure other people's economic or political interests.

  • If something has a direct benefit to an individual or a class of people, and also has a theoretical, abstract, or amorphous benefit to everybody else -- realize that the proponent's intentions are to benefit the former, not the latter, no matter what &^%$ they try to feed you.

  • Don't be a Republican ... If you must be a Republican, don't be a 'conservative.' They are whining, bitching, complaining, simple-minded self-righteous idiots who think they're perpetual victims. Listen to talk radio for a while, you'll see what I mean.

  • Don't take proffered advice without a critical analysis. 90% of all advice is intended to benefit the proponent, not the recipient. Actually, the number is probably closer to 97%, but I don't want to come off as cynical.

  • Don't undermine your fellow young men. Mentor the young men that come after you. Society recognizes that you have the potential to be the most power force in society. It scares them. Society does not find young men sympathetic. They are afraid of you, both individually and collectively. Law enforcement's primary purpose is to suppress you.

  • Young men provide the genius and muscle by which our society thrives. Look at the Silicone Valley. By in large, it was not old men or women that created the revolution we live. Realize that society steals your contributions, secures it with our intellectual property laws, and then takes credit and the rewards where none is due.

  • Know that few people have your best interests at heart. Your mother does. Your father probably does (if he stuck around). Your siblings are on your side. Everybody else worries about themselves.

  • Don't be afraid to tell people to '&^% off' when need be. It is an important skill to acquire. As they say, speak your piece, even if your voice shakes.

  • Acquire empathy, good interpersonal skills, and confidence. Learn to read body language and non-verbal communication. Don't just concentrate on your vocational or technical skills, or you'll find your wife &%^% somebody else.

  • Keep fit.

  • Don't speak ill of your wife/girlfriend. Back her up against the world, even if she's wrong. She should know that you have her back. When she needs your help, give it. She should know that you'll take her part.

  • If your girlfriend doesn't make you feel good about yourself and bring joy to your life, fire her. That's what girlfriends are for.

  • Realize that love is a numbers game. Guys fall in love easily. You're going to see some girl and feel like you'll die if you don't get her. If she rejects you, move on to the next one. It's her loss.

  • Don't be an internet troll. Got out and live life. There is not a cadre of beautiful women advertising on Craigslist to have NSA sex with you. Beautiful women don't need to advertise. The websites that advertise with attractive women's photos and claims of loneliness are baloney. All they want is your money and your personal information so that they can market to you. ... There are women on Craigslist. They are easily recognizable by their 2-5 paragraph postings. Most are in their 30's or older.

  • Don't be a poser. Avoid being one of those dudes who puts a surfboard on top of their car, but never surfs, or a dude with a powder coated fixed gear bike and a messenger bag, but was never a messenger. Live the life. Earn your bona fides.

  • Remember, 97% of all advice is worthless. Take what you can use, and trash the rest.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mark does Illustration Friday: "Flying."

BIRD FLYING THROUGH THE FOREST

Mark Chandler


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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Good eating advice from the New York Times

People are sending in their rules for healthy eating and here's one:

"When drinking tea, just drink tea." I find this Zen teaching useful, given my inclination toward information absorption in the morning, wen I'm also trying to eat breakfast, get the dog out, start the fire and organize my day.

I believe it's so much better for our bodies when we are present to our food. Perhaps a bit of mindfulness goes a long way first thing in the morning.

Of course, some time ago I came across a humorous anecdote about a hapless Zen student whose teacher taught him this aphorism and then was discovered by the same student, drinking tea and reading the paper. When confronted, the teacher said, "When drinking tea and reading the paper, just drink tea and read the paper!"

Michelle Poirot

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Superman the miniature horse is integrated into the herd

After being nagged for two years ("Jethro needs a friend") and having unsuccessfully tried a goat, I finally broke down and agreed when my friend Sam suggested his miniature horse, Superman.

I took Superman as partial payment for the website I built for Sam (if you need affordable mediation for divorce in Greensboro, NC Sam is your man, end of PSA) and he arrived, after many delays, Sunday morning.

It's been raining, mostly, since then, and Superman's been confined to the round pen to protect him from the wrath of Jethro the donkey. Superman's basic nature: "unperturbed." He just ploughed his way around the round pen munching while Jethro would periodically prance around outside and practice kicking him through the bars.

This morning I couldn't stand it any more, Superman looked bored, so I waited till Jethro was eating his favorite morning sweet food, and I unlocked the round pen.

Superman came shooting out, galloped (!) all over the place, and then Jethro came tearing out of the shed in pursuit.

It was soon clear that Jethro is, indeed, a coward. Though he would wildly kick, he was always a safe distance from the imperturbable dwarf (to me, Superman looks like a fat dachshund imperfectly transmogrified into an equid).


I didn't have the camera for that initial meet-and-greet. I just laughed as they tore up and down the hill and through the little patch of trees. Soon, to Jethro's disbelieving eyes, Superman was in the shed, rump (the danger zone) outward, munching the rest of the sweet feed. Jethro would come close and practice his kicks, but he never landed one... and Superman cleaned up all the treats... as you can tell by his build, he is successful at competing for resources.


I'm extremely pleased with this outcome. Jethro is a bully, the worst combination: bossy and cowardly. Maybe Superman will teach him a few things.

Superman's been living with a lot of big horses that weigh twice as much as Jethro, or more, so he is completely unfazed by my donkey's wild feignings.


So then, grunting, Superman lay down and had a roll in one of Jethro's many wallows.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Mark does Illustration Friday: "Germ."

GERM TRYPTYCH:
Panel I: Scary germ
Panel II: Aerosolized germs
Panel III: House of germs


Health tip: flushing puts germs into the air, so close the lid whenever possible.

Mark

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