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Holidays 2018

I’ve not written in a month. On December 12 I finished a my second dog drawing and mailed them both off to my brother. He knew I was into pen and ink and had taken the photographs of his dog and a friends dog with his new Nikon full frame DSLR.

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I was fully expecting them to think they were bad because so much of my art simply gets shelved. But to my great surprise, he sent me a nice check for the two drawings. Pricing pet drawings is anybodies guess. A quick check on etsy has prices ranging from $28 to $350. Mine take me around 6 hours to draw. Assuming I was drawing well, what would an hourly wage be? The whole artist pricing structure is a mystery.

With school out and commissions in the mail I was a free man. I drove to Jtree in 30 hours. It took me 4 hours to get the 30 miles from Tacoma to Olympia thanks to a massive truck wreck that blocked all lanes of I-5. At 2 AM I slept in a rest area somewhere in southern Oregon, woke up at dawn and drove the rest of the way to Jtree, arriving at 1 AM. I didn’t know it that night, but there is now free BLM land camping down there. I learned about it from a friend who is a travel nurse. He lives in his van and parks it either there or in the hospital parking lot. The BLM camping has been there forever…I just never hunted it down.

Day 2

Hooked up with my friend Richard and Annie. We did a bunch of routes around Hidden Valley including Bousioneer and Hands Off. We loaned our top rope to Lilly and Matia who didn’t want to do the down climb off The Blob. Matia invited me to camp with them since they had an extra parking spot. Making friends at Jtree is the only way to get a camping spot. The campground is permanently full with climbers…but if you make a friend, you are golden.

Day 3

Richard and I met up with L. at Hemingway where we climbed White Lightning 5.7 and Overseer 5.9. It got cold so we diverted to some sunny walls in the afternoon.

Day 4

Richard advised me to take a rest day every 3 days to keep my fingertips healthy.  I painted the West face of Chimney Rock while Lilly drew the same scene in colored pencil.

Day 5

Richard set me up with Annie and we spent the day doing easy stuff like Mikes books and Double Dip. Annie is a lot of fun and works as a Nurse Practitioner.

Day 6

Richard, L. and Todd Gordon picked me up and drove us out to Outer Mongolia. It’s a one hour approach along the boy scout trail. Todd lives in Jtree and is a super nice guy. Later in the trip he invited everyone to his house for New Years. I chose to do the usual bonfire at Hiden Valley but regretted it. There were 3 drunks this year and it sort of sucked the fun out of it. I heard that Todd’s friend John Long was there. Several of my friends were there and got to meet the legendary Largo.

Day 7

I took my campmate Lily over to Echo where we did double dip. I talked her into doing her first lead ever over by the Solarium. She aced it.

Day 8

was another rest day. I painted chimney again, but from the north. The weather had been baking for a week straight by now.

Day 9

Chad arrived while Richard, Annie, L. and I were doing a moonrise picnic on Cyclops. Chad is a great partner and a very funny guy. I’m well known for making easy climbs look hard. Chad makes hard climbs look easy.

The days blur together

The routes blur together after Chad arrived. It got cold for the last two weeks. We still climbed but had to stay on the sunny sides. Here is a brief list:

Flake – me
Orphan – me
Dandelion – Chad
Bousonier – both
Papa Woolsey – both, Chad onsighted it in the dark
Double Cross and Sexy Grandma – both
Chalk up another one – Chad
Damper and Pinched Rib – me and Chad respectively
Stick to what – me
Popes crack & Touch and go – Chad
Heart and sole – Chad
Fisticuffs – me

Breakfast and the shutdown

Chad loaned me some bacon, man that stuff is good! There is something about camping in 15 degree weather that makes me hungry for old fashioned unhealthy fat. After the first week the government shutdown happened. The rangers opened the camping pay box and stopped charging for camping. They basically walked away from the park, leaving the doors wide open and all the park offices shuttered. There were still LEO’s patrolling and responding to rescues and car accidents…but it was a weird time in the park.

On 1-02-19 they shut down the campgrounds, turning the park into a day use area. It seemed dumb because our restrooms and dumpsters were in fine shape. Volunteers (Todd included) were bringing up TP. The only bad thing I saw was cars parked illegally and one tent set up on a trail by hung over New Years eve partiers. There were TV crews up there so I guess there was chaos in other areas of the park, but we didn’t see it.

Last rest day

I was unhappy with this painting of Cyclops. I couldn’t get it off life support and considered wiping it down to blank canvas. But before that happened I decided to throw in some blue. It may be breathing now. Several friends who saw it liked it.

I’m home now and unemployed until April when I may have an opportunity to teach again. Trouble is I need a job right now…bills to pay and all that. I’m going to start looking for work this week. My wife saw me typing all this stuff and asked me who reads it. I told her no one, except maybe me in 5 years when I’m looking back and wondering where the time went. It’s fun to have a record.

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Christmas at Joshua Tree 2017

I can’t spare the time to write the story of my trip this year. But it was awesome, perhaps the best jtree trip in 9 years. Good climbing trips are all about finding a good partner.

Clouds high above Vitaliy on Sexy Grandma
Clouds high above Vitaliy on Sexy Grandma

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Vitaliy
Vitaliy on Papa Woolsey

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me on bambi and godzilla
me on bambi and godzilla

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Me leading Fisticuffs, 10b
Me leading Fisticuffs, 10b

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Vitaliy following Fisticuffs
Vitaliy following Fisticuffs

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Night photography

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Micah following The Watershute 10B

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Vitaliy on Orphan

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Craig following The Watershute

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Me leading The Watershute. First bolt is 20 feet up. It’s a scary lead but the stemming feels secure to get there.

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Vitaliy following my hangdog lead of Heart of Darkness, 5.11

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Rapping off Strawberry Jam outhouse rock

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Me and some awesome friends

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New Years eve

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New Years eve

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Switching gears

Chimney Rock, Jtree
Chimney Rock, Jtree

I’m back at work from my Winter Break. I have one class this quarter. The reasons for my low class load are complicated, and best not discussed here. I can say however that enrollment at our college is down 14% across all programs. Enrollment in state technical colleges like ours is directly related to unemployment, which is also very low at 5%.  The one class I do have is fully enrolled. I love sharing my passion for the internet and all the clever things you can do with code.

Because of my reduced class load, I’ve decided to stop painting and focus my energies on web design, which has a better chance of earning me money in the short term. Painting full time was a dream I’d always wanted to pursue. And over the last year I got that chance. True, I was working 2 days a week, but that left 5 to paint, and I painted a lot…to the point where making art felt like work. Doing it full time literally took the fun out of it. I felt like every painting had to suceed because of that burning pressure to get good enough for a big show in a gallery.  Many, many of my paintings were just plain bad. In my wifes words: “A sixth grader could paint that”.

Chimney Rock, Jtree
Chimney Rock, Jtree

I did do some really nice work, and I treasure those moments of happiness when my paintings were going well and I knew I had a winner. But I never felt they were good enough for  a large gallery. I think a couple years in a fine art program would do the trick, but I really can’t afford to pull that money out of my savings…especially without a guarantee of sucess.  So for now at least, I’m spending my days off  studying new web technologies, and  updating my front end web skills to current standards. I’m not that far off, but my website definitely needs an overhaul.

I have a working demo here, but I can’t link to it because it’s been taken apart when the site when live. (edit 2-27-15)

It is fully responsive to changes in the viewport width, and features some unique transitions between thumbnails and full size images. I used to use a prebuilt jquery slideshow plugin. However this new webpage uses a thumbnail function that I wrote almost entirely from scratch. I’m still working some bugs out, but it’s been lot of fun creating a gallery page using my own code and ideas.

Specifically, the two main new functions I’m using are flexbox and column-count. They enable me to have variable height thumbnails that wrap in columns. I merged that concept with parent columns built with flexbox, and have nailed the classic: “In search of the holy grail of web design“…without using floats, or positioning.

In case you don’t know, the holy grail  in web design is to get 2 fixed width columns on left and right, with an expanding liquid center. It’s easy enough to do with floats and positioning. Since tables died out, I’ve been teaching that style of interface design for 10 years.

I’d been hearing from my students that there were new technologies coming online that made it easier. Things like the grid systems, and prebuilt web aplications like WordPress, which I use to manage this bog. They manage the columns for you, so you can concentrate on content.

But when I heard from a student last quarter about Flexbox, I decided it was worth a look.  I studied a couple training lessons at www.lynda.com and realized the browsers had finally matured enough to support real graphic design style column functionality.

I’ve got that nailed down pretty tightly, and I’ve got it fully responsive.

My Christmas break was super fun, and we had a great time down in jtree this year. Here are a few pictures, including recent backcountry snowcave camping trip. We got back from Cali’, and immediately went snowcamping.

Chimney Rock, Joshua Tree
Chimney Rock, Joshua Tree
Me climbing F8, Joshua Tree
Me climbing F8, Joshua Tree
Sue in the Iron Door cave, Joshua Tree
Sue in the Iron Door cave, Joshua Tree
Craig playing banjo on top of Chimney Rock, Joshua Tree
Craig playing banjo on top of Chimney Rock, Joshua Tree
Craig leading with his banjo, Joshua Tree
Craig hiking to the top with his banjo, Joshua Tree
Sue following a 5.8, Joshua Tree
Sue following a 5.8, Joshua Tree
Me with my painting New Years day 2016, Joshua Tree
Me with my painting New Years day 2016, Joshua Tree
Sue digging the snow cave
Sue digging the snow cave
Sue at our snow cave
Sue at our snow cave
My daughter cooking dinner
My daughter cooking dinner
Coffee is ready
Coffee is ready