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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Big Brother in London

Britain considers database of phone and e-mail traffic

The Associated Press

Thursday, October 16, 2008

LONDON - The British government is considering setting up a database of all phone and e-mail traffic in the country as part of a high-tech strategy to fight terrorism and crime, its senior law enforcement official said Wednesday.

The official, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, said Britain's police and security services needed new ways to collect and store records of phone calls, e-mail messages and Internet traffic.

Technological changes have created an online world that is complex and fragmented, Smith said, and important information like telephone billing data is not always retained.

Opposition politicians and civil liberties groups condemned the idea, and the country's independent reviewer of terrorism laws, Lord Carlile, said the government should not be allowed to set up a vast "data warehouse."

The Home Office said one option was the creation of a database that would store all phone numbers dialed, Web sites visited and e-mail addresses contacted by everyone in Britain.

Officials emphasized that such a database would not store the content of phone calls or e-mail messages.

But Chris Huhne, the domestic affairs spokesman for the opposition Liberal Democrats, accused the government of hatching "Orwellian plans for a vast database of our private communications."

A civil liberties group, Liberty, said there were "huge dangers" in collecting so much data about every person in the country. "The bigger the data haul, the greater the temptation to treat innocent habits as suspicious behavior," said the group's policy director, Gareth Crossman.

Lord Carlile said any new law must include strict limitations and protections against abuse.

The government said that the database was just one of several ideas being considered and that no bills would be drafted until after public consultation next year.

My comment: Art / Life / Art sort of thing:

Interestingly, there is a series being shown on PBS right now on Masterpiece Contemporary, set in London, about just such a system being abused.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Let There Be Clouds!

I seem to be constitutionally incapable of taking a straight square photo of a painting. Oh well. These clouds are PINK ... yes, believe it or not. Pale, pale pink, to be sure. I think they give a lot of life and dimensionality to the painting.

The sky is cutting into the foreground for the time being, so that when I reinforce the tree trunks they will be in front of the sky.

What a Difference Value Makes!

While this sky is currently "chalky" and too flat, it brings the foreground to life by showing the trees against a light sky. While it dries, I upload and share with you.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Aspens in Process and Progress

This is the painting now. I have re-applied a very dark green background for the trees. Why did I bother putting in all that red-orange, you ask? It is there, it is just not consciously visible. Like nature*, a painting has underlying colors to give strength, body and impact to the ones on the surface.

A portrait of the painter as an old pirate.

Making a nice green ... out of red, yellow and blue ... ah the magic!

Yes, blue and yellow make green, but it is not nature's green yet!

All these tones appear in the painting, in what is technically known as "the central blob of color", the aspen leaves.

*in nature, leaves are red under all that green. In the fall, the green is stripped away to reveal nature's underpainting!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Aspens in Progress

I am in ecstasy during this part of the process. You can still see the ground in certain areas, but I have used mostly complementary colors for the underpainting, so that scraps of those colors will enliven the mostly yellow, green and blue of the image.

By the way, this painting is 36"H x 24"W x 1 1/2"D, on heavy cotton canvas and heavy stretcher bars.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Genesis in the Studio

I took this photo on vacation, and I really like the contrast of the white aspen trunks against the dark evergreens. I manipulated it in Photoshop to emphasize that contrast in the printout, which I will use to paint from. The road entering from the corner is something I really like, although it sometimes can be a dangerous placement, because it can lead the eye out of the painting, unless used carefully.

Here is the printout with my gesso mixing container and brush.

There is something very satisfying about making a canvas. This one is a recycle, so it already has a hanging wire on the back.

Tabla rasa ... the canvas before the application of the gesso.

Sign of the Cross ... the first application of the colored gesso is done out from the center to the centers of the four edges in order to prevent pulling the stretcher bars out of square. The gesso, acrylic paint and water are very strong and the canvas drooped toward the center, as though it might not tighten up, but I knew it would, from past experience.

The Ground of Being ... the deep blue-violet will be a nice place to begin. All the lighter colors will "pop" from this deep background. For me, this part of the process is exciting; it must be accomplished quickly before the gesso begins to tear the canvas.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Awww Bombo Is Happy!

In Age 3 of Human Age, one sometimes acquires a pet crocodile, even though it is a beast one hunts, as well. This is Bombo, my pet croc. The text says:

"Bombo, the crocodile, is very happy -- it's looking at you with love in its eyes!"

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Another Binge Classic!

I could eat every one of these (plus the dozen still in the oven) and No One Would Ever Know!

So I dare not eat even one, because I remember the Chocolate Chip Cookie Hypnotic Trance :(

Foil Is Not Totally Evil!

I try not to use a lot of aluminum foil, because it is hard to manufacture and to reuse, but sometimes ... I had a request for REAL brownies (no mix, all the chocolate, sugar, flour and butter you need for a year, you know, like Mother Used to Make).

But I digress ... the point is, look at my brownie pan on the left! I followed the directions and lined the pan with foil, and *guilty giggle* no cleanup (well, other than the bowls, beaters, spoons, counter, and putting away the ingredients)!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Steve's Two Year Death Anniversary

Somehow in all the computer insanity of hard drive losses, I have lost all the digitized photos I had of Steve :((. I can picture him, and I miss him.

Last night, all my descendants and I met at a burger joint and celebrated Patrick's 42nd birthday, and toasted Steve. Kirk now has a tattoo over his heart, saying (so far) Stephen. I guess he will have the dates of Steve's life put on there as well.

Valari says she wants Steve's old pickup truck to drive when she gets her license. Patrick is storing it in the meantime. It is a black 1999 Ford F150 with a bullldog from a Mac truck on the hood. Not the usual teenage girl ride.

Monday, October 06, 2008


Over and over, in my life, the way I perceive someone has changed drastically and suddenly with an internally audible "click". Frequently, when I was dating, I decided to break it off with someone based upon a sudden change in my perception of them. I tend to think the best of people, but when they repeatedly do things that I find unpleasant, eventually I have the "click" experience, and it is all over.

It happened again today at yoga class. I am in the habit of talking with the others and sometimes helping them get things out or whatever.

One of the students spoke to me letting me know she does not like my ways. A few weeks ago, I said something like "I think we are supposed to be doing ..." whatever it was at the time. This student said, jokingly I thought at the time, "smarty-pants". I laughed it off.

Today I went to put my blankets on the stack, and this same student happened to put her blanket there just before I did. Under her blanket was a big misshapen lump, and I started to straighten it out. She said, "Take charge, Ellen". CLICK. I will be subtly avoiding her from now on. I will refrain from speaking to her about the class. She clearly feels I am interfering, and I will be on opposite sides of the room from her whenever possible.

Ding Dong the Brush Is Gone ...

Which Old Brush? The Hurricane Brush! Ding! Dong! The Hurricane Brush Is Gone!

I saw a truck in the neighborhood yesterday on my walk with Bear, and I was so happy that they finally got to our area.

They have been taking all the fallen trees and brush to special dumps, they told me, where it is stored, then chipped up to make mulch for the city parks and so on. I was very glad to hear that.

Today they took our brush, and the grass underlying the piles is still alive! I am thrilled. The truck that took ours was from Fort Myers, Florida. The one I saw yesterday was from Brevard, Florida. They said, yes they know hurricanes. I can only imagine.