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Art Students at Work

For the first time I encountered (ten) art students drawing something or other on a road that my dog and I were biking on this morning. I tried to be quiet and non-intrusive. I wonder what objects they were drawing.

The area has an austere attractiveness, rather than the "postcard prettiness" that you'd expect to attract an art class. That's why it started me thinking. Were they there for the variety?

What if somebody had walked up to the teacher and asked, "Have any of your students chosen to draw the sheer terror of a ground squirrel, scurrying for his life, with a hawk circling in the background?"


She might have liked the idea. Or do they draw only pretty things? And what if they did draw something more out of Darwin or Jack London than out of the tourism industry -- would they automatically get a poor grade in this art class, regardless of how effective their drawing was at transferring emotion to the viewer? I don't really know.
Recent posts

The Shadows of September

Talk about 'a watched pot never boils...'

A couple weeks ago I started obsessing over the length of the noon shadow, as created by my camper. In early summer I got so little shade that I spent the entire mid-day inside. Then in mid-August, improvement was noticeable: I could actually sit outside in my chair if it was backed up against the camper.


Then I forgot about it, for a week. Today I was astonished to see the luxuriousness of that shade. A September day might be nearly as warm as mid-summer. But you can find shade in September, which is what really counts in the American Southwest.

This might seem a self-inflicted problem, since I have no awning on my camper. But in the Southwest, mid-day winds are over 30 mph.

Thus the long disease of summer is over, regardless of the temperature, although it is cooling as well. For the next six months I can stop fantasizing about moving to Spitzbergen or Jan Mayen Island. 

It brings to mind a term I don't use frequently: Grace. WordWe…

An Over-aged Skateboard Punk

I've seen guys like this several times, especially in this college town: a skateboard punk, self-consciously looking the part, except that something stood out...something was wrong. He was too old to play the part.

With more practice a person might be able to silence their smartphone quickly enough to remain unobtrusive. So far, I haven't been able to do this, so I can only take a photo from the internet. But it doesn't really express how pathetic these over-aged skateboarders look.


Teenage-fad clothing, dreadlocks, tattoos, body piercings, etc. In a couple years he might start losing his hair. What will he think of his dreadlocks, then? Maybe he will cover his head with a baseball cap, worn backwards, of course.

At this guy's age, our parents were already married and starting a family. Was this guy still a college student, or was he one of those permanent students who hangs around a collegetown and adds one useless diploma (in some soft subject) to another? 

He was the p…

A Loyal Friend on Duty

Many times I have praised the habit of catching things out of the corner of your eye. It happened again today.

I was driving to town on an errand. Fifty yards off the road was one of the rental outhouses at this recreation area. There was a large chocolate labrador retriever (lab) close to its door. 

Clearly, his human partner was inside the outhouse, doing his business. The dog's head and body language were so curious, expressing the great importance and significance of the dog's supervising or guarding. The dog was unnaturally stationary for quite a long time. What an expression of loyalty it was!


The best I could do was take a smartphone photo from the van. It was disappointing. The photo doesn't seem to express the endearing behavior of the dog that I thought I "saw". But this isn't the first time I saw something out of the corner of the eye, fluttered my eyelashes over it, and then later, wondered if it was actually real.

This suggests that the ambiguity of…

The Truth About the American Southwest

It is a healthy sign of our culture that YouTubers are starting to make fun of #vanLife videos produced by illiterate charlatans who look good in a bikini. But why didn't old-fashioned blogs -- you know, the kind you have to read -- go through the same phase of healthy self-criticism?

Consider their presentation of the American Southwest. The bloggers are here for a couple months, when it is sheer frozen hell in the rest of North America. So they have an 'easy audience.'

Typically they are sitting out in a folding chair, in front of their rig, while reading a book. They are wearing shorts and a straw hat, perhaps. The readership sees this and thinks, "And it's January. Paradise."

In case the suckers haven't been sold yet, the blogger then shows 30 postcards of saguaros at sunset or red cliffs and arches. That really gets the armchair travelers to flutter their eyelashes. 

The sort of half-truths you can tell with a digital camera and a free blogsite! A blogge…