Random Stew It seemed like a good idea at the time.



I went to a friend's 40th birthday party this past weekend. Of course, everyone at the party was reminiscing and reflecting on middle age. Personally, I have found my years since 40 (all 5 of them) to be my best; for the most part, I have thoroughly enjoyed my forties. Even so, I heard myself and a lot of the people at the party show the symptoms of a bad case of the yoostas. You know what I'm talking about.

I yoosta:

  • Throw a football over 60 yards.
  • Bench press 315 pounds a few times.
  • Recover from a strain or bad bruise in a couple of days.
  • Never buy any type of liniment.
  • Party all night.
  • Play sandlot tackle football with no pads.
  • Eat anything without considering the consequences. Indeed without having any consequences.
  • Get out of bed without any aches or pains.
  • Not have to trim ear and nose hairs.
  • Attempt physical stunts with no thought of injury.
  • Read fine print in dim light.
  • Not really know what hemorrhoids were.
  • Never reflect on what I yoosta do.

Leaning to the right

For the last 20+ years, I've made my living as a computer programmer primarily utilizing the logical left side of my brain. Oddly enough, I spent the first few years of my adult life working as an artist specializing in black and white illustrations. Although, in truth, I find a lot of similarities between developing software and creating a picture. In both professions, I've achieved the best results by "broad brushing" in a general layout and then working in progressively more detailed iterations over the entire project.

Despite the similarities, I'm finding myself chafing at the atrophy of the creative right side of my brain due to two decades of forced submission. I suddenly have a desire to re-awaken my creativity and break down those self-induced limitations. This desire is part of my motivation for keeping this blog; even though this blog is not creative writing, it is a form of personal expression that will hopefully evolve from a forced discipline into an easy and natural act.

25 year old doodle of an old fisherman.I've also picked up my sketchbook again. After two decades, my skills are naturally very rusty. By skills, I mean my ability to "see" what I'm drawing. I maintain that anyone who can write legibly has the technical competency to draw; in other words, they can manipulate a pencil to produce the line they want. After all, anyone can trace a picture right? Tracing lets you "see" your subject in a way that makes it easy for you to reproduce the image using your pencil manipulation skills. To draw from life, you merely need to learn to "see" objects in new ways.

This is the premise of the book Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain, a classic book on the subject of learning to draw. I've unearthed my 30 year old copy of the book and am working through the exercises in it. While I haven't felt the scale and rust falling away yet, I can definitely see some improvement already. Drawing exercisesSo, I'm pushing out of my comfort zone into areas that I used to habitate but are new again. I have a dim memory of this landscape but am having to learn how to navigate it again. Look at the difference between an idle doodling of a fisherman at rest that I did 25 years ago versus my earnest efforts with some of the exercises from the aforementioned book.

It's like trying to ride a bike again after 30 years; you can still do it, but you sure are wobbly. It will be a while before I can do a wheelie again.




Time Waits for No Man

I entered the world on this date 45 years ago, and so I've been thinking a good bit about the nature of time lately. Time is an absolute tyrant in my life and it's my most limited resource. I can always make more money, but I can't make more time. That's why your time is the most important gift you can ever give and why needlessly consuming someone's time is the greatest theft. I jealously guard my time because as my life has matured, my responsibilities and time commitments have naturally grown correspondingly. So, I'm busier than ever yet I have less and less time. The faster I go, the faster time passes.

Albert showing off for the girls.Albert Einstein thought a lot about time and stunned the world with his Special Theory of Relativity in 1905. The first postulate of his theory states that the speed of light is the same for all observers, regardless of their motion relative to the source of the light. The second postulate is that all observers moving at constant speed (not under acceleration) should observe the same physical laws. Apparently, Einstein was also a great inspiration to rock-and-roller Gene Simmons.

Imagine a spaceship traveling at half the speed of light. If the spaceship turns on its headlights, an observer on the spaceship will measure the speed of that light at 186,000 miles/second. Paradoxically, an observer on Earth will also measure the speed of the spaceship's light at 186,000 miles/second. Since velocity is expressed as distance divided by time (v=d/t), it stands to reason that if the velocity of light is the same for both observers then time and/or distance must vary. This is indeed the case; experiments have proven that both time and distance vary with speed. In fact, the faster you go, the slower time passes.

Ironic, isn't it?