Saturday, October 31, 2009

Field Update

One of two loads of Kubocha Winter Squash

The Mexican Roja garlic is fully cured and ready for storage.

Joke of the Day

Compassion and Anger walk into a bar
but never get around to ordering drinks.

Friday, October 30, 2009


I bought my monthly lottery ticket and was on my way out the door when the clerk asked, "Sir, do you drink beer?"

"Some. Why?"

She pointed to an item on the counter. I had to move to see it.

It's a good beer made by Rogue Brewing Company, but with a $70 price tag, I'll pass. However, were I to splurge, I might have to get a selection of foods to wash down.

By the end of the day, most of this will be gone (I resisted). In fact, the clerk had just restocked the corndogs. But I bet the beer will still be there.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A riddle for you punsters

¿Dondé esta el baño?

Hold outs

It's one of those typical Northwestern autumn days with a steady drizzle, the clouds barely above the treetops. The winter squash are still in the field but are ready to be harvested, as are the Brussels sprouts and cabbage.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

When push comes to shove

If you've been reading this blog for a bit, you'll know that my avatar on Stars is a picture of Yokosuna Asashoryu. The image is similar to, if not exactly, this one:
See full size image

I get comments from time to time, often disparaging after delivering a beat, and less frequently, a nod of recognition. I get "lose some weight," and similar remarks regarding body fat. Even someone with an avatar of Peter Griffin of "Family Guy" has taken a swipe. I heard fat jokes all of my childhood (until I whipped the class bully's ass), so I readily brush the idiocy aside. Someone took a new approach this evening.

Vahlgren said, "nh sir"
 bastinptc said, "thx"
I had just hit quads after a boat on the turn and he paid. But he couldn't let it go.
Vahlgren said, "oh miss sorry dident c your pic..."

This chat took place in the middle of this hand, and he is the villain:

PokerStars Pot-Limit Omaha, $0.02 BB (9 handed) - Poker-Stars Converter Tool from

UTG ($0.57)
UTG+1 ($3.56)
MP1 ($0.98)
MP2 ($3.16)
MP3 ($4.76)
CO ($2.82)
Hero (Button) ($5.62)
SB ($1.90)
BB ($4.74)

Preflop: Hero is Button with A, A, 5, 9

1 fold, UTG+1 calls $0.02, 1 fold, MP2 calls $0.02, MP3 bets $0.11, CO calls $0.11, Hero calls $0.11, 2 folds, UTG+1 calls $0.09, MP2 calls $0.09

Flop: ($0.58) A, K, 3 (5 players)

UTG+1 checks, MP2 checks, MP3 checks, CO checks, Hero bets $0.58, UTG+1 calls $0.58, MP2 raises to $2.90, 2 folds, Hero raises to $5.51 (All-In), 1 fold, MP2 calls $0.15 (All-In)

Turn: ($7.26) 5 (2 players, 2 all-in)

River: ($7.26) 3 (2 players, 2 all-in)

Total pot: $7.26 | Rake: $0.35


Hero had A, A, 5, 9 (full house, Aces over threes).

MP2 had K, A, 10, K (full house, Kings over threes).

Outcome: Hero won $6.91

He didn't say a word and he didn't reload.  He just sat there, taking up a seat.
One end of the rainbow formed in the east, aligned
in such a way over the 3/4-full roll-off dumpster. 
I could have run back to the house for my camera.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Visit

 We sat out by the grill, barbeque chicken doing a slow cook. We had plenty of time to talk, and slipped back into a latent dialect. We spoke of our favorite small game to hunt, fried rabbit and squirrel, field dressing and beer can chicken. The pooch sat between us, waiting to have her ears scratched. He spoke to her in Coon Hound. For a while, we were two young men and home again.

We sat on the couch, the TV low but no distraction. The spouses had gone to bed. As children, three of us shared the same bed, head-to-feet, she, my brother and I. She had the advantage of eight years and remembered much more clearly. Having been home more recently, she shared the pain of the homestead gone to hell. Confidences were thereby allowed, and we were close kin again.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Back-to-Back Rockets Red Glare

Both EP. 4 x BB. 1st call, I set up and so does pocket twos. 2nd, get two callers and Button jams with Ladies, I isolate.

It's supposed to work like this, right?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Not much, you?

30-yard dumpster arrived this morning. That’s about 10 yards per year. I have four days to fill it without incurring extra fees.

We have company coming tomorrow. Fees will incur.

Another Stars software update. I should be able to cover the additional charges with winnings from the 8 Game.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

David Ireland 1930-2009

As it turns out, this is old news, but I just found out today.

I was reading my usual blogroll. The son of Jen’s neighbor died. Nancy Spero died.

I attended a lecture by Spero when I was in grad school. And that memory led to another, when I met David Ireland.

It was my first semester of grad school. A couple well-known artists were in town for lectures, Ireland one of them, and had agreed to do studio visits with MFA candidates. There was a sign-up sheet.

At the time I was working the evening shift, full time as a security guard for Helene Curtis, and by the time I made it to my studio on campus, the list was already full for both artists. I was disappointed, yet noticed that another student had signed up for both artists, and sought her out. Would she give up her spot with Ireland?

This woman and I got along fairly well, or so I thought. It must have been the way I asked, subtly patronizing (too subtle for me), for when I did, she let me have it with both barrels. However, a little while later she relinquished the 1/2-hour slot. It was an important 30 minutes.

I had a cursory knowledge of Ireland’s work at the time. Most artists knew of his ‘dumballs,” soft lumps of concrete that he tossed from hand-to-hand until they hardened into spheres. He had a famous house as well, perhaps the largest of “found object” art pieces. I am certain I knew less about him than other students whom had the advantage of a longer time as art students.

David came to my studio. He was a tall man, lanky. We small-talked a bit and then went to look at what I had produced.

Several teachers had looked at my work in the previous months, and, between them and I, we had a hard time conversing about what it was in front of us. I was frustrated, sure of what I was making, but unfamiliar with the artspeak necessary to convey my ideas. Ireland took one look at the pieces and said, “I think they are very literary.” I had no idea what he meant, and I was too unsure of myself to ask. I thought perhaps someone had clued him into my background and, not knowing what to say, he responded with something he thought I might want to hear. Although I have thought about the encounter many times, I still don’t know. Yet, I do know that what he said, he most surely meant.

Some time after that visit, I had an occasion to write Mr. Ireland. I don’t remember exactly why, yet I imagine I was looking for advice on how to navigate the art world. He wrote me a nice letter, and rubber-stamped on the letter was “Nothing Sincere Without This Stamp.” Just an example of his wit that I would come to appreciate as time wore on.

Three years  passed. I was working for an art fair on a part time basis and received a phone call at work. It was David Ireland. He was in town because he was exhibiting at The Arts Club of Chicago and wanted me to help him with the installation. I was honored, and grateful to my current employer for giving me time off. The image on the left in this article shows one of the pieces I helped construct.

Another piece in that show was a bit more involved, yet equally simple. Two cords of oak firewood were delivered to the gallery. There were a couple of us assistants and our task was to brand the initials D.I. into one end of each log. The logs were then stacked between two pillars in the gallery. The piece was called “Ego,” (3/4 of the way through the article) which makes sense in the typical roundabout way of D.I. Why would a person feels the need to brand their initials in their firewood? Exactly.

David and I spent a lot of time together during that week of installation. We ate together and I showed him around town. As it turned out, he enjoyed a scotch as much as I did, and we hit some of my haunts. He met DW when she was still DGF. We kept in touch for a while after that (1997?), for after the exhibit above was over, I was the proud owner of twenty or so logs from “Ego,” and I had a plan.

My son and I were due to go on a fishing/camping trip with my brother and a couple of his daughters. We brought along all but three logs. We walked into the woods with four of the logs and lashed them about five feet up onto a small tree and left them for posterity. The others we used in that evening’s fire, placing them one at a time while recording in a notebook how they were placed and how each one burned until we had used all of them. We then sent our “log” to David. He was touched, and offered to send the pages back to us, and we declined; the log was his.

That was the last time I heard from David. I wrote him one more time after moving to Oregon. He had kin in Washington and we wanted him to know he was welcome to stop by anytime. We heard nothing back. When he had an exhibit at Jack Shaiman Gallery in NYC a few years back, we sent a fax to the gallery to congratulate him. Shortly after that, I heard that he was ill and had to move from his house. It did not occur to me that I might find further details on the web.

So, today, when I read the news, I did a little search, and it wasn’t too long before I began to understand how he had touched the lives of others.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Boys and girls, moms and dads, it’s time for another installment of “Table Talk!”

(Live audience goes wild.)

Tonight we find bastin at the 8 Game. Since we last saw our hero he’s been spinning his wheels.

Awwwwww. Little boy yells, We love you bastin!

Hehehe. Well, he loves you too! In tonight’s show, bastin once again spends most of his time grinding away, but stay with us, because there’s going to be some fireworks! And for you older folks, some good ol’ fashioned irony. But first, let’s play guess the player type!

(Audience is beside themselves with glee.)

bastin has just sat down at the table. The bad guy is to his left with a middling stack. The game is Limit Hold ‘em.

(Slight murmur of disappointment from the crowd.) Same little boys whispers “Boring!” loud enough for the MC’s mic to pick it up.

Somebody’s looking for a bad beat! Just kidding! Okay, here’s the hand (20’ x 60’ screen behind MC lights up with a graphic of a poker table and bastin’s cards up): bastin posts blind from middle position with A4h. UTG raises and bastin calls. But then the Big Blind raises it again! (Crowd stirs in their seats.) It folds around to UTG and he calls, as does bastin.

(Audience s obviously pleased with move by fearless bastin.)

Here comes the flop! (Middle of table shows Ad9sTs)

Ooooooooo. Man in his early forties yells, Look there’s an Ace! Go get ‘em bastin!

The Big Blind bets out. Does he have an Ace? A biiiiig Ace? What is bastin going to do?

Two different calls from many of the audience member: Call! Raise! Someone yells, Go all in! and audience chuckles.

He calls. bastin is playing this one carefully. Okay, let’s see the turn! Four of diamonds! (Crowd is frenetic.) Hehehe. Let’s not get too excited yet kids. There are two flush draws on that board, and remember, this is Limit, so anything can happen. Let’s see what the Big Blind does. He bets. And bastin raises! (Cautious applause.) Now what will the Big Blind do? Let’s see. He folds! (Again, crowd goes nuts, all over $2.96.)

Okay, now, here’s your “Table Talk” clue. See if you can tell what kind of player the Big Blind is.

Big Blind said, "hit wrong button"
UTG said, "lol"
bastin said, "oops"
Big Blind said, "prolly had u 2"

This is a tough one, kids, but use your “bastin Lucky Deconstruction Manual” to find the answer.

Woman in her late fifties stands up and yells, Screw the book! He’s a douche bag! Raising bastin’s post, the nerve! (Crowd cheers.)

Well, he might be. But we’ll check in with bastin himself via satellite at the end of the show for his own analysis. (Crowd applauds while MC puts hand to his ear as if he is trying to hear direction through an earpiece.) What’s that? bastin isn’t available by satellite? (Crowd moans.) What?! He’s in the studio?! Girls and boys, ladies and gentlemen…bastin!

Enough already.

The douche eventually lost his stack, pissing and moaning the whole way. Meanwhile, I was sweating another table and saw a lot of chatter between two players, one claiming he was drunk at 6 o’clock in the morning, which was an impossible feat, time zone-wise, unless he was in the middle of the Atlantic or maybe Iceland. Okay, maybe Iceland, which would be a first for me. Anyway, I got a couple more pieces out of him and another peenie wagger before it was time to take the dog for her evening duty. I quit out of the room and left the chatty room up. If a seat was available when I got back, I’d sit for bit before my cartoons came on.

A seat was waiting for me to the left of Mr. Chatty Drunk. He and the guy to his right, a shortie, were still yakking it up. Chatty was up about $5 from a buy-in. There was monster stack, a guy I knew to be a solid PLO player, two to my left.

Just a few hands in and in NLHE, shortie limped and I raised the Button five times with Jacks. He called with pocket 3s and I paid him off. Fine. Chatty complimented his sidekick with a “get ‘em killa.”

Shortie now had 3/4 of a buy-in and was slinging them around, which told me he was playing a high variance game. Good to know.

Pretty soon we’re onto PLO and time’s a-tickin’ before I have to go. I’m in the BB with JhJsAcTc. UTG raises the pot, middle position raises the pot again. Whew. I want to see a flop, see? I call. UTG bets the pot again. OK, we know what he has. And we know he’s missing one of his potential outs because I have it. Middle position player calls and so do I. Nothing has changed in regards to odds. The flop is 7hJc9h and the three of us get it all in. Both of them have a heart draw, UTG to the nuts. Middle position catches a straight on the turn and the 7 on the river closes the deal.

Chatty said, "nh"
bastin said, "thx
UTG said, "yeah 3$ call JJAT
UTG said, "very nice"
bastin said, "felt lucky"
Sidekick said, "Chatty can u call for a mop in aisle 3?"
Chatty said, "yea"

As Chatty was responding, another hand was in progress. I limped early with KhQh6dKs (yeah, I know), two more players limp, including Mr. Monster Stack (now not all that much bigger than mine) and the guy I had just stacked, so when Sidekick bet the pot, I was hoping that my call might encourage additional calls. It did.

The flop came pretty: 2d8cKd. Sidekick bet the pot and I called, both hoping that another player might come along, and to see if another diamond was forthcoming on the turn. Sidekick put the rest of his chips in with the 6c and I knew I was good. At the same time this betting was happening, Chatty typed, “mop aisle 3 we have a wah alert code red" River was a blank.

Sidekick said “nh”
bastin said, "I wanna watch cartoons!”

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wooly caterpillars

I believe my barber was glad to see me. Maybe he didn’t think I would be back for another 4 years. It crossed my mind. But I’m groovin’ on the new do. And I have an interview with a prospective client tomorrow, so a little clean-up was in order. If anyone was surprised, it was I, as he remembered much of our conversation three weeks ago.

But this post isn’t about any of that. Although it is about the barbershop.

What I heard. What the barber heard from the codger.

The number of pine cones and acorns that have fallen.

Watch the squirrels.

Never mind the procrastinators, we’re in for a rough one.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The other shoe

So, I track readership, right? Seems BC/BS has taken an interest in my post about horses. Two hits today.

Some days this has to do.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Excuse (me)

One minute I can remember proper placement of an adverb, and forget about the same rule two sentences later. It comes down to a lack of sufficient rigor, a lapse in mindfulness, or just happy to be here. I could blame it on foreign language classes, the same way I defend my run-ons, the victim of reading too many translations from the German. More caught up in the moment, oblivious to what casual disregard does to others, and therefore perceptions. Some days, I don’t really care.

It doesn’t mean I care less for my gentle readers. Really. Of course, what value has my plea for mercy from those abused?

Home games can suffer the same. Familiarity and conviviality.

I have K3s in middle position. I limp with a host of others. The flop comes A3J rainbow and Mike bets out from EP, I choose to fold and Santa calls. The turn is another 3, lucky me. Mike bets again and Santa 3-bets. Phil says, “Looks like a desperation bet to me.” Santa gives him the Stink Eye. Mike calls.

The river is a Q. Mike checks and Santa throws out the same amount, $20. Thinking Mike has folded, R says something about the hand. Santa goes ballistic, mucks his hand, cashes out and heads for the door. (Had I called the flop, all of this could have been prevented.)

Not liking the Phill will that is now in the air, I suggest to Phil and R that they go apologize to Santa. Being men, they decline. Phil’s reasoning is that the same has been done to him on numerous occasions. Santa drives away and R’s girlfriend suggests he write Santa a nice email. No response.

A discussion ensues and after some speculation/rationalization about Santa’s mood in general, some resolve is made. The casino doesn’t allow it, and we shouldn’t either.

Things are a bit quieter at the table thereafter. I’m thinking about going home or some such thing that takes my attention away from the hand I am not in. I look up to see a sizable pot with three people in the hand. R’s girlfriend bets out $3.

“That’s a mighty small bet for such a big pot.”


“I can’t believe I just said that.” I beg forgiveness. R’s girlfriend readily gives it after the other two players fold. The men don’t miss an opportunity to give me immense amounts of shit.

Philling (sic)

I just sneezed. Twice. I normally wouldn’t give it a second thought were it not for a conversation I had at R’s game tonight. L, a woman who I’ve met and played with once before was to my right. L likes to talk. L likes to drink. I might say that she talks more when she’s drinking, but I don’t have a non-drinking L to compare against.

L asks me, “Are you sick?”

“Me? No.”

“Are you sure you don’t have a cold? I’m very sensitive to such things. If you’re not sick now, you will be tomorrow. I’m always right about these things, It just freaks D (her boyfriend) out.”

I get up to take a leak and she goes for a smoke. The conversation continues, or rather, she repeats herself in any number of ways. I make sure to wash my hands thoroughly.

Back at the table she continues to press the issue. “I’m sorry if you took offence.”

“No, I’m not offended. But I will be freaked myself if I wake up with a cold tomorrow.”

I take a big pot from her with a rivered boat, tens full of eights to her pair of Queens. She says, “I thought you were bluffing.” Not yet.

What she had missed about the hand that others might have noticed was that I had opened my game up tonight. I figured I had driven home my nittiness in previous sessions, so tonight I added some suited connectors/gappers and called light. I was playing Fuck Phil’s game. R opens from early with a 6 x BB raise, and by the time it came around to me, two people had called. I looked down at Q9d. Sure, why not? Two more people called. The flop came with a nine. R checked! So did everyone else, including me. The turn brought another nine, checks around and I bet 1/2 the pot. Discussion ensued but I took it down then and there. I was up playing like Phil and was up about 75% of my buy-in.

 Phil, who later called my 6 x BB raise from the button with 5-6 off in the BB and cracked my Aces with a straight on the turn. (I didn’t pay him off.) Phil, who limped as I did and hit a bigger straight on the river. I figured him for the seven, just as I had, just as R had. I tried to blow them off of their hands with a Button value raise. What I didn’t figure was that Phil had what I was representing.

Miracle of miracles, I left up 18 bucks.

I dug out my hand sanitizer gel as soon as I was in my truck.

Friday, October 16, 2009


On an early spring day two years ago, DW assisted me on a video entitled “I Like Art but.” The end of the video shows me covering a compost pile with a green tarp. The tarp remained on the compost for the next year.

Due to the decomposition of its components, which were (as one can see in the video) a dead coyote, ten years worth of “ArtForum” and “Art in America” magazines, plus whatever plant matter remained from earlier decomposition, the tarp began to fit less and less snugly on top of the pile. But that soon changed, as it was evident plants were growing underneath. I did not bother to look to see what types of plants had managed to get a foothold, and by the following autumn, the tarp had once again flattened out.

And so the tarp remained, spring returned, and so did plant growth. I removed the tarp to find what appeared to be two squash plants. I had an idea. I watered the plants and they prospered in the fertile soil.

As is often the case with unfenced vegetables, the deer soon found the squash plants and in the course of one night ate them back nearly to the ground. Unwilling to give up on the plants, nor construct a seven-foot high fence around the pile, I instead placed a number of tomato cages around the plants, to no avail. Although the plants began to flourish, eventually the deer were no longer inhibited by the prospect of getting their hooves temporarily caught and returned to dine. My solution was more tomato cages, which did the trick. The picture below is the fruit of that labor.

The plants have died back from the cold. One can see squash that were damaged by the deer. Yet, those that remain appear to be two varieties: the ones at the top are Delicatas, and the ones below appear to be Spaghetti. I say “appear” because I cannot be certain. They have the same very subtle linear markings that Spaghetti squash have, and the shape is the same, yet they are much smaller, which may be a “bonsai” effect from the early predation.

If I were to harvest any of these squash, I would choose the Delicatas. We might eat them, despite the fact that they were nurtured by the remains of a coyotes and glossy stock paper. Or we might not. I am, however, going to harvest the seeds from both varieties, as there is sure to have been some cross-pollination. I will plant the seeds next spring and hope to get a hybrid, which I will call the Beuys, in honor of the artist that inspired the initial video.

*Farm Art

DW stands up

Yes, she does.

My cell phone rang. It was the doorbell ringtone, so I knew it was DW.

"Can you come and get me? I've been arrested."

The tone of her voice let me know she was kidding. Having left the protest at the Blue Cross building, she was now standing across the street watching events transpire. She had tried to go into the building to use the restroom, and they wouldn't let her in. It might have been her ballcap that read " I *heart* Universal Health Care."

"I'm a card-carrying member of Regence Blue Cross and I can't use their bathroom? What's this world coming to?"

School buses had arrived, which to her (and she was correct) meant that arrests were about to be made. Then the police on horseback arrived.

"The horses are so pretty. I wish I had some carrots to give them. Next time I go to a protest, I'm bringing carrots."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Friends Network

 I’ve reconnected, if that’s what one can call online chat, with an old friend from Chicago. He doesn’t live there anymore, and we lost track of each other until social network searches found me, and in turn, I found him. He’s a fairly well known artist, and, as it turns out, a poker player.

I know I can find him online at a certain time of the day, and enjoy chatting him up. Problem is, he plays poker on the social network’s free poker site, and we chat while we play.

The play on this site is atrocious. Simply atrocious. At least in the small rooms. In the span of perhaps a month and ten hours of play, I have built a roll from $5,000 to nearly $300,000, and a third of that came yesterday as I made a bad play by playing way past my roll.

My buddy plays in bigger rooms than I. Yesterday I found him in a 100K room and sweated him for a couple minutes just to see what went on in the bigger stakes rooms. In fact, he was in over his head, playing with 1/4 of his roll on the table. I let him know I was sweating him, and he offered to find a smaller room in which I could comfortably play. I wrote that it wasn’t necessary, that I could buy in short and play snug.

When I clicked on a seat and hit enter, I misread my buy-in amount. I thought I was coming in for 10K when in reality I had just put 1/2 of my roll on the line at 100K.

This software lacks in so many ways. There is no hand history, and unless someone is all-in at showdown, one does not have any way to see an opponent’s cards. One is blinded in no matter what when first sitting down, which to my mind says, “What the hell, it’s free, and has little value.” And if one so much as farts, free chips are given, including just for logging on.

Shit play thusly encouraged… oh it’s just not worth my time, or, quite frankly, yours.

My friend took a pounding. One can push with Kings in the hole but it doesn’t really matter, yet to min bet with them is equally problematic. So is jamming with AK. Tilted.

I had limped for 1K UTG with a suited Ace, the next player made a raise to 2K, seven callers, and my buddy jammed for his last 17K. Knowing that I wouldn’t be the only one to do so, I called. The flop gave me the FD, and it was checked around. On the turn my buddy typed in “it’s mine,” with all small cards suggesting a straight. Of course the river gave me the flush, I bet, everyone folded and he showed 3-9off.

He’s pissed. He says to meet him in Las Vegas. I tell him I will be there in March, to email me and I will give him the particulars. It will be nice to see him again.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Horror. The Horror.

At first I didn’t recognize the approaching vehicle was that of our good neighbors. I was headed into town, and they, I presume, coming home from the weekly Sunday brunch. Their car is relatively new, but I know the make, model and color well enough to know that it is theirs when I see it. I was preoccupied, and, as it just so happened, they were part of the little scenario I was constructing in my head. And to fulfill the part they would play, I phoned them when I was stationary. The wife, S, answered.

“Sorry I didn’t recognize your car. I was deep in thought.”

“I didn’t notice you either. K gave a little wave and I asked him who he was waving at.”

“I was thinking of calling you anyway because the BAD NEIGHBORS HAVE GOPHER MOUNDS IN THEIR YARD!”

She laughed, “I know!” As the GNs’ property backs up onto the north side of the OCD couple, they have a good view. I had seen the desecration from the road as I drove by.

“Pity the poor gopher.” In the six years we have been here, I have never seen a gopher or mole mound on their property, and I assume for good reason. In that they mow with a heavy tractor at least once a week from February to November, regardless of weather, theirs has got to be the most compacted soil in the county. “Not only for the carnage that will undoubtedly ensue, but for that rodent’s front paws. Can you imagine how difficult it must have been for it to penetrate the surface?”

Again, she laughed. “The traps are still set so I don’t think they’ve caught it yet.”

“If he doesn’t skin it and hang the hide on his work shed, he’ll probably throw it over into our yard, assuming that the interloper came from us.” I have been negligent this year and both the gophers and moles have had their way on our property. I say I did it for the owls. In actuality, I am waiting for the rains to come and stay, for I have a plan.

Stay tuned.

Finding context

Water Hole

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pump up the volume

I went looking for fish today. None were found. My search took me down a riverside path that I had not been on before. As I returned to the car, I saw some potential photos.

I hate to say it, but I am beginning to grow tired of some of the set limits for the camera that has been so good to me these last eleven months. Still, I have yet to discover all that it can do, so I must consider my own shortcoming more than the camera's. But f8 as a maximum? Come on! Yet again, I am far from an expert with the camera and every photo is a learning experience. So, the challenge becomes to work within the parameters I am given with the camera while expanding upon my practice, and not give into frustration.

That said, once home and with the photos downloaded, I was disappointed with many, which is something that has not changed from back before my move to digital. Digital is in the long run cheaper than analog, and inasmuch, liberating, so the disappointment is not as bad as it used to be. Nothing like spending $25 for slide film and processing, just to see that perhaps three out of thirty-six exposures are of a sufficient quality. And then, once scanned and enlarged, only one makes the cut. Photoshop can't fix everything.

What Photoshop can do, however, is make a photo that is in itself rather bland into something hyper-real, providing a forced mood or heightened visual. For instance, the woods in which I shot today are darker than what the camera likes, calculating into the balance a lot of back light, which I find extremely distracting. Tonight, I set out to try and do something about it.

Until recently, I have used Photoshop just to adjust the brightness and contrast, and maybe tweak the saturation levels. Like my photo work, I am far from proficient. Still, slowly but surely I've been exploring more of what the software can do. I didn't document all that I did to the below photos, but I certainly had fun doing it.

When the going gets rough

A few more shots from yesterday

A constructivist poem

'L' is for loo.

'L' is also for Lilac, the tree encroaching upon this stone.

Just like the composition

What did I walk into?

Since I had been to two locals country cemeteries, and knew of a third, I couldn't dismiss the last, this one closer to our house than the others. Neighbors' kin. And again, I recognized names, one, a woman still alive just four months ago.

I have determined that I am, after all, not very interested in the markers as structures, ornaments, or sculpture; yet the occasional story that emerges remains intriguing, perhaps for much the same reasons a fiction writer looks to the obits for characters. Uninteresting, that is, unless the carvings suggest something akin to a story.

This particular cemetery is across the road and south about 100 feet from the house of the above recently deceased. Usually there is a car in the drive. Today there were several. An elderly gentleman was out front, heading for the house.

I drove on past and pulled in at the first gate of the cemetery. It was padlocked. I backed out and tried to recall if there was another gate further down. There was, and it was open, even though there was a sign on it that asked visitors to please close the gate when departing. Perhaps someone was inside. There was not. I drove to the back where there was a small structure, a lean-to, with the name of the cemetery on a sign attached to the roof.

No sooner had I gotten out of my truck, another vehicle pulled in. I recognized the car from the nearby house. Whomever it was just sat in the car. I made a show of having a camera and they left shortly. Still, the episode caused me to hurry, to scan, to shoot only what immediately caught my eye.

The other cemeteries did not have buildings in them. I explored these a bit. The lean-too had a map of plots, picnic benches and a table, and an honor box for donations. I fed it a fiver. Next to the lean-to was an outhouse. I took a photo of the exterior. I may have to go back.

Some of the markers were as old as others I had seen elsewhere. And again, there were many loggers buried here, indicated in text and imagery. I took a lot of "maybe" photos, and, as it turns out, a few good ones.

But, I was still hurried, thinking that I had in someway disturbed the people down the road. I did not wish to cause them worry in their mourning. And it was not long before I made a final cursory scan and cut a diagonal back to the rig. And that is when I saw these headstones:

You'll have to enlarge the image to see clearly what I am about to describe. The middle one, the one with the engraved finger pointing skyward, I have seen this image before in the other graveyards. What threw me off was the other two markers. The left one has the finger pointing down and to the left. The right one, down and to the right. Whatever could be the reasons for this? I saw a little dark humor in the arrangement and took the photo. It was only in the processing that I took a closer look.

The marker on the left is for a baby girl, aged 9 months and 8 days, who died in 1869. It also contains information of the death of her fraternal twin brother who must have died shortly after birth. The middle one is for a son, aged 2 years, 11 months and 8 days, who died September 19, 1873. The marker on the right is for the children's mother and an infant son. Did they die at the same time? The date for the infant is clear: November 19, 1874. For the mother, it is less clear. One can readily read a numeral one. Has the nine weathered away? The answer lies in the spacing of the text. There is not enough room for a nine and a comma. The mother died 18 days before the unnamed child.

Tragic for sure. But why the different carvings? And it is not as if they used the same image and just rotated it. The middle one is palm side forward. The other two show the backside of the hand.

I did note the surname when I took the photo. There is a town called Crabtree about fifteen miles southwest of here. I googled it, and Wiki provided:
"The town received its name when the Southern Pacific Railroad came there.[2] Crabtree Creek and Crabtree Lake in Linn County were named for pioneer John J. Crabtree, a native of Virginia, who arrived in the Oregon Country in 1845.[2] He wintered in the Tualatin Plains, then bought the William Packwood Donation Land Claim east of the forks of the Santiam River in the spring in 1846.[2] The station and community were named for John Crabtree's cousin Fletcher Crabtree.[2]"

The same J.J. Crabtree on the markers?  But the timing is off, made abundantly clear here. There is mention of a son, Jasper, still living at home. He is spoken of again here. Yet, in this last link, it is written that he married someone named Ruth. A second marriage?

I find genealogy charts. The deeper I look, the more confusing it gets. The only J.J. Jasper whom is married to to a woman whose first initial is "M" is the old man. His wife was  Malinda. (And even though Wiki has his name as J.J., elsewhere it is J.W.) But lo and behold, they are both buried at Franklin Butte, the Masonic cemetery from a couple week's back.  Searching through more genealogies I find nothing more.

Which brings me back to the hands. I look up "Meaning of headstone symbols" and come up with the same information copied from one site to another. (Ain't that the way?) "Hands" are mentioned, specifically the one pointing up. Well, that's easy. "Hands clasping?" No. "Hand of God chopping?" How odd.

It took me a few minutes. A hand on an angle could very well indicate a chopping motion. And the symbol means a sudden or untimely death. Could be. God has a cuff? Stock engraving. What I find most interesting is that if this is God's hand, why do we see the backside?  Punishment, as in getting the back side of a hand? And the chopping hands are left hands while the pointing one is a right hand. What connotations or speculations can we garner from this? That the infants were not baptized?

I'll tell you what, I'm about burned out on this post. It may be relatively short but I've been at it for four hours. I've made one more swipe at headstone symbols and come up with nothing more. (Out of all of those copycats, you'd think at least one would cite a reference.) So, where I thought there might be something malicious in the choice of hand position seems to be more a matter of convenience. But, I have to say that I'm still not satisfied. And there is the Crabtree reunion website and forum. But for now, I'm just too tired.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Left hanging

Thinking that I might have to change the order of avocations if I didn't post more poker soon, I encountered this hand just in time to save the edit.

It's the PLO round in the 8 Game. I limp on the Button after the CO does. The SB raises the pot size. The SB is full of shit, raising every hand. I have already stacked him in NLHE when he 3-bet my preflop raise and his post-flop bullets fired made no sense. In this hand, the CO, a fairly tight player, calls, and I do as well with Th2dKdQc. Three Broadways with a second nut flush. Is the 2d an issue? (When is a dangler a dangler?) Is the Kd good enough? I will make that determination on the flop.

The flop is 7dAhJd. I now have a hand. Any 10, K, Q or diamond. The SB bets the pot, CO calls, and so do I.

The turn is the 9h and I pick up more outs with any 8. The SB shuts down and the CO goes all-in with his last $4.83. There is now over $11.00 in the pot. Do I call? If he holds two hearts, my 8h, Qh and Kh outs are no good. He may in fact hold any of them.  He may also now have a Jack-high straight and be freerolling to the flush. Heck, he may even have the nut diamond draw in there with a set of some kind. Whatever he has, he feels good about it. Easy fold or is the roughly 2.5:1 good enough?

My next question concerns the SB. He still has about $7.50 behind. If I call, will he do so as well, thereby making my odds to call that much better? I take a chance. The SB folds.

The river is a 3s and the CO shows a set of Jacks with 7cAsJhJs.

I ran this hand through the Card Player Omaha calculator to see what was what. Preflop I'm 44/55. Not too unusual in Omaha. On the flop I'm even money, even though he hits his set. I slip to 42/57 on the turn. The Hand Calculator, of course is useful in hindsight, so let's see what I had available to me to make my hand, and for him to improve.

He did not have a heart draw, so that opens it back up for me. However, any 7,  9 or Ace gives him a boat, and the remaining J, quads. That's seven outs to improve. That leaves me with four 8s, three 10s,  two Queens, and two Kings, and four baby diamonds (3-6). 15 outs. 

How could I not call?

Saturday, October 10, 2009