Sunday, December 18, 2005

Scheier pottery

This afternoon I happened to catch a short documentary about potters Mary and Ed Scheier, Four Hands, One Heart. It was a very inspiring story of two people making beautiful, useful things and a beautiful life.

The couple taught for a number of years at the University of New Hampshire, which has developed an emphasis on sustainability, including the importance of beauty.
All Bach

Thanks to Jack for letting me know of a BBC radio program that is playing all of J. S. Bach's works between December 16 and 25. Here's a link to the online schedule. I may have to retrieve my computer speakers from the garage and hook them up, as my laptop's built in speakers are rather tinny sounding.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Anatomy of a utility bill

If you've been wondering if you should swap your older refrigerator for a new, energy efficient model, wonder no more. Just do it.

This summer I finally replaced my second-hand fridge I had bought from someone at work when I first moved into my placed six years ago. My electric bill is now consistently lower than my (fixed) garbage bill. And I use the green power option, which is the most expensive electricity option.

For example, for the two months of service ending 12/06/05, my total kwh usage was 125 compared to 402 last year. That's an average of 1.95 kwh per day versus 6.70 kwh per day a year ago (which was lower than usual anyway, for some reason).

So my total electricity charge for the most recent two months was $20.59, and the "refuse service" fee was $22.56 for the smallest size bin.

The gas bill, of course, went up considerably, from about $15 to $17 per month to $25 on the last bill.

Of course, these are Southern California-level utility bills. I don't even turn on the "central" gas heat (central, so-called, because the old gas wall heater is located in the middle of the hallway in the center of the duplex). And I haven't yet plugged in an electric space heater this winter.

[Typo corrected 12/18/05.]

Friday, December 09, 2005

Going Dutch

Life is so rich. Why is it that one can know superficially about something most of one's life, and then suddenly two or three things come together, and you realize there's so much more to explore about the subject?

Take, for example, Vincent Van Gogh. An ear, starry nights, sunflowers, self-portraits.

But then, you read the introduction and first chapter to Don Postema's Space for God, a book you had seen for months but not picked from the used bookstore until just recently after having studied a few chapters at church, and learn why Postema includes so many Van Gogh paintings in the book:
In his art Van Gogh was trying to grasp life at its depth. Since I have found that spirituality means living in depth, I believe I have learned something of spirituality from Van Gogh. (p. 21)
Then you're regrouping, once again, by browsing in a bookstore, and you come across a small, Touchstone paperback of The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh. As you page through, randomly reading excerpts, this passage strikes you, even though you're not sure of all the references:
[P]ainting and, in my opinion, especially the painting of rural life, gives serenity, though one may have all kinds of worries and miseries on the surface of life. I mean painting is a home and one does not experience that homesickness [...]

And I was sick of the boredom of civilization. It is bettter, one is happier if one carries it* out—literally though—one feels at least that one is really alive. And it is a good thing in winter to be deep in snow, in the autumn deep in the yellow leaves, in summer among the ripe corn, in spring amid the grass; it is a good thing to be always with the mowers and the peasant girls, in summer with a big sky overhead, in winter by the fireside, and to feel that it always has been and always will be so.

One may sleep on straw, eat black bread, well, one will only be the healthier for it. (p. 229)
*I am not sure exactly to what "it" refers; but I think it is the life of painting, regardless of the difficulties.

But now, to work, in a grey cubicle.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Women reading

A collection of paintings from the fifteenth through the twenty-first centuries of women reading.

(Via Diane at Going to Pieces.)
Free energy

This morning, slightly before 7:30 am. There is a third line hidden behind the middle line.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sign of the times

In response to an article in the NYT about the photograph of the illustrator of the classic children's book Good Night Moon that was digitally altered to remove the cigarette from the illustrator's hand, someone further "purged" an illustration in the book by suggesting digital alterations to make the book "safe" for small children.

(Via Karen at Ideaphoria.)

Friday, December 02, 2005

Hotel week

The thing about living in a hotel for this past week was that everything was so simple and focused, the way I wish my life usually was. I brought all the clothes I needed for the week and nothing more. They were ironed and hanging in the closet or put away in the drawers by Monday night. Each morning I only had to choose which top and which pair of trousers to wear that day.

Breakfast was set out ready to eat each morning. I had Kellogg's Raisin Bran with a banana sliced on top, hot tea, and orange juice.

I even read the daily Bible readings appointed for this first week of Advent.

The room was tidied for me each day, which encouraged me to keep my things tidy in return.

A group of us were working at another company testing some software they are developing for us. It was very structured, follow-the-script type of work without the distractions of the home office environment.

Then back to the hotel in the evenings. Above all, it was the lack of distractions, the enforced restriction of options that made the week so different. When I got home this afternoon, though, I couldn't settle down to one thing.