Thursday, February 21, 2013

Snow day!

Inner Child

Early in today's winter storm
Early in today's winter storm

Ah, snow day.  I think those words call out to the inner child in us all.  We may not usually (or ever for those of us who can work from home) get the day off from work like we used to in the school days of our youth, but it seems like there is always that strange feeling like this time is going to be special.  That we'll be able to go out and frolic merrily in the fluffy white winter blanket that nature has lain out for us.

As part of that wondrous feeling I found myself up early in the morning, waiting impatiently for the snow to start falling.  The weather called for it to begin around midnight when I had checked it yesterday, but they pushed it back until this morning.  At 6 A.M. I began to wonder if they had completely missed the mark.  No snow was falling at all.  By around 8 or 9 A.M. I finally looked outside to see the snow falling heavily.  Of course, soon I realized that I didn't have a snow shovel.  The past couple years the snowfall has been so minimal it simply never came up.  So, I ended up making a quick run to the store in the middle of the storm to grab a snow shovel.  Luckily, the store is only a block away.

After the snow let up a bit
It was definitely a good thing that I obtained a snow shovel as you can tell from the photo of my sidewalk.  That's over a foot of snow on each side of the walk there.  I can't imagine my four year old trying to walk through that when she comes to my house for the weekend.  The snow would be past her knees.

Today was also the first time I broke my normal habits regarding shoveling snow from the walk.  Usually, I just wait until the snow stops to shovel.  This time, I was out shoveling nearly every hour.  In this case I think that was actually less work since I was only shoveling a couple inches of snow instead of trying to dig through over a foot of it.  According to the weather forecasts, my job shoveling snow probably isn't complete today.  They're calling for another 3-4 inches of snow by 7 P.M. tonight.  I think our current "official" snow total right now is around 6-8 inches, but I took a measuring stick out and tried in every place I could find that wasn't drifted up.  No matter where I measure the snow was never lower than 12 inches.  If we get another 3-4 inches on top of that by the end of the day I'll be looking at snow somewhere around 15-16 inches at my house.  Man, that is a lot of snow.

Snow putting out my fire
So, what did I do other than shovel snow on this wonderful day?  Well, obviously I took a few pictures.  I would have taken more, but the snow was caking on my digital camera and I didn't want to risk damaging it from getting it too wet.  Other than that though, I stayed inside curled up under a blanket drinking hot tea and just tried to stay comfortable and warm.  I'm thinking about going out later though and playing in the snow.  Maybe I'll make one of my infamous snow men... the kind with the tentacles.

At one point I did try to enjoy the outside by starting a fire in my little outdoor fire thingy (whatever it is called), but as you can see from the photo the snow started to fall hard enough that even a fire wasn't really much of a match for it.  So much for my plans to sit outside warmed by the fire and watch the snow fall.

Hope you all are staying warm and enjoying your day out in the snow.


And so it begins...

A few years ago, my mother started her own blog dedicated to her passion of gardening.  After reading through and catching up on her blog I was inspired to do something I've never had the motivation to do before... starting my own blog.  After all, I recently created my own deviantArt profile to start showing the world my artistic creations, why not put my thoughts on display for the world as well.

This blog isn't really going to be dedicated to any one particular thing, although I tend to focus my thoughts on science, math, and art.  Instead, it will be a place for me to throw the many random thoughts I have to the wind and see who catches them.  Prepare yourself for a wild ride through my imagination and thoughts.

Fighting the art blues

One of my recent digital paintings
One of my digital paintings
One of the things I both enjoy and hate doing is creating art.  I enjoy it because I find great satisfaction in creating a wonderful work of art, but I hate it because I'm never satisfied with what I create.  This has led me into a state of the "art blues" where I don't often create artwork because I'm never happy with the artwork I create.  Logically, of course, it is a really silly thing to do.  The more artwork you create, the better artist you will be.  The better artist you are, the better your artwork will be.

I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.  Several of my artistic friends (whose art I envy) have admitted at one point or another that they feel the same way.  We are our own worst critiques I suppose.

The thing is, part of me knows that my art isn't that bad.  After all, the digital painting shown in this blog as gotten a lot of compliments from people I have shown it to.  Of course, I'm not very happy with the results at all.  I can point out so many flaws in it that I get edgy about showing it to people at all.  I've been trying to come up with ways to overcome this hurtle of losing my motivation to create art because I'm such a strict critic of my own work.  Hearing praises from others doesn't work because deep down that inner self-loathing keeps screaming at me that whatever I create is horrible.

I think the answer is going to be to learn to force myself to make art and call it done.  Soon I will just do a daily art piece, with a time limit of 2 hours.  Whatever I get done in that two hours will be the piece for the day and I'll throw it online for the world to see.  It won't exactly cure me (I'll still hate what I make most likely), but I'll get practice and maybe enough praise that it'll eventually sink in that my stuff isn't bad.  In fact, it might actually be kind of good.

Actually, screw "soon"... I never start things that I say I'll start soon.  I'm going to start today.

Photography skills

Praying Mantis
Macro photography of a praying mantis
It only occurred to me recently that I might actually have some skills with photography, specifically macro photography.  When I created my deviantArt account I uploaded a few of the photographs I've taken of various bugs such as the praying mantis on the right and the tomato hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata larva) shown below.  These turned out to be some of the most popular images that I had in my gallery.

What really made me realize I might have some skills in this area is that the images were taken with a low-end digital camera without a zoom lens.  It has something like 3x optical zoom, and of course it has the digital zoom, but I didn't use the digital zoom for the photographs (it creates some horrible artifacting).  Most macro photographs use special zoom lenses and much better cameras to take images like this.  Of course, I'd probably have much more amazing photos with equipment like that, but the fact that I can get this kind of image with the camera I have suggests a pretty decent level of skill with a camera.

Tomato Hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata larva)
It makes me wonder what type of photos I'd be taking if I was equipped with a real camera.  I would love to get my hands on something like the Canon EOS 5D Mark III digital SLR camera.  Combine that with something like the EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM  lenses from Canon and I'd be taking some seriously awesome shots.  Unfortunately, the nearly $1,600.00 price tag on the lens and $3,500.00 price tag on the camera put it so far outside of my price range that the only way I'm likely to get my hands on one is to win the lottery (which I basically never play).  Of course, who knows... Maybe I'll get lucky one day and a bunch of people will buy prints of my artwork or something so I have the money to throw into my camera fund.  Stranger things have happened I guess.

Realizing that people actually like the types of photos I enjoy taking has also gotten me started on looking forward to spring and summer so I can go out and find all sorts of bugs to take pictures of.


Well, I hope you enjoyed this first trek into my mind.  I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying writing it, and I wrote much more than I ever thought I would.  There is actually so much more I could probably write in here, but I suppose I must leave something for next time.  Please comment to tell me how you feel about my blog, ask me questions, or whatever.

Thanks for reading!
- Kaine