“daily sketch 4240” by nosoart

My friend Jim Hines is at it again. Operation Cover Pose, in which Jim poses uncomfortably like women featured on the covers of science fiction books, intends to raise $10,000 to help end violence against women. The Pixel Project‘s Indigogo page has already met it’s opening goal so now we’re just adding cream.

Now there’s an idea! Jim in whipped cream.


Administrative Announcement

Vashon Island is, apparently, a Key Lime free community. I looked, and looked again, but all I could locate were the big Mexican limes. No Key Limes, no Key Lime Pie. I was a sad panda for about seven and a half minutes. Then I got over it by eating a piece of chocolate.

Speedpaint #43 by Sylar113

A Broadspectrum Thank You

For my forty-third Birthday, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who took a moment to wish my good fortune.  This thank you is social medium agnostic and intended to trickle out into the ether for full saturation.

Now onto the first day of my next year!

Snapshot of America


I’ve got to stop doing this to myself. I am now parked at my favorite coffee shop on the island, after a very productive morning. I woke up this morning and the sound the ice maker in our freezer finally drove me beyond all forbearance. “Grind, click, grind, click,” all the time now. After cleaning out roughly a decade’s worth of dust accumulation from behind and below the machine I tromped to the garage and came back loaded for bear. Well, ice in any event. It took the heat gun and a screw driver, but the damn thing has been removed and now sits on my kitchen counter like the pesky critter it is. Maybe I’ll have it mounted and hang it over the fireplace.

So, knowing that I’d already been pushed well beyond my maximum patience threshold during the wee hours of the morning I came to the coffee shop and sat down preparing to write. A warm cuppa in hand, I sat down and opened up a browser menagerie. Facebook was front and center.

While wishing a few of my friends birthday salutations I glanced at Facebook’s trending window and “what the hell?” Out of pure disbelief, I expanded the window. “Wow!” I’m thinking to myself. “What a crazy place we live in.”

Perhaps, I should have stopped myself. Maybe I should have known enough to switch to Twitter or comb through the morning’s news stories via PRI. But three “stories” solely about Republican politics in American? This thing looked broken, and I’m all about fixing things this morning. I expanded the module in order to increase my sample size.

  1. Randy Weber: US Representative Endorses Senator and GOP Candidate Ted Cruz for President
  2. Donald Trump: Republican Presidential Candidate Announces Plan to Overhaul Tax Code and Cut Taxes
  3. Carly Fiorina: Republican Presidential Candidate Defends CIA Tortue During Bush Administration
  4. Munk Debates: Party Leaders Discuss Syria, National Security in Foreign Policy Debate
  5. Citizens United: Bernie Sanders Says Overturning Ruling Is His Test for Supreme Court Justices
  6. Elizabeth Warren: Senator Calls for Police Reform in Speech Delivered at Edward Kennedy Institute
  7. Carl Icahn: Billionaire Investor Says He Endorses Donald Trump for President
  8. UN Women: China Co-Hosts United Nations Summit on Women’s Rights
  9. NASA: US Space Agency Says There Is Evidence of Liquid Water on Mars
  10. Vladimir Putin: Russian President Meets with President Obama at UN Assembly Amid Syria Tension

Truth be told I know very little about the algorithm that governs this little module, my suspicion is that it’s a near-real time list of new-like articles trending in popular media bent toward my personal preferences. While the former seems to be true-ish, the latter seems contradicted. Of the ten articles trending at that moment I have only passing interest in half of them, all of them on the ass end of that list. Anything more than passing interests is invested in #9 and 10.

But wait, here’s an opportunity to understand how something in my world works (if only a little better). Yeah, I started googling. Sure, the internals of the code aren’t going to be exposed, I get that, but there’s plenty that can (should) be discovered by manipulation and deduction. I found this and it does a pretty good job of confirming some of my suspicions.

The good news is that the module can be taught. You’ve got to highlight the headlines you don’t want to see anymore and tell Facebook that they’re ruining your cup of coffee. Or go on ignoring the “click, grind, click, grind” of the damned thing a little longer, either will work and on balance they take about as much energy.

I think what bothers me the most about this is that, in the aggregate, this is where some measurable majority of my fellow Americans invest their time and interest. It is possible that there’s some sort of deal to rest a thumb on American media to skew the news, but despite this possibility, news is a participatory exchange of information. Cream apparently isn’t the only thing that will rise to the top.

While I’ve got your attention I want to appeal to your better natures. There are less than two days left to push this petition onto the desk of the President and we’re so damn close to making this happen. As of 10:00 AM PDT only 4,412 moderately compassionate people need to be found.

I know you’re out there, I’ve got to trust that you exist. Please take a moment and click on through to the We The People site. Add your voice to the many Americans that want to do their part to help the incredible humanitarian crisis sweeping through Europe.

If, for some reason, you can’t find the courage to help people so clearly in need by allowing them a place in your country, then take a moment to help them in another way. Donations to Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontiers go directly to refugee relief efforts underway in the region. They seem to be the only organization (despite existing mandates) making material and logistical impact directly to these people.

Not since the Berlin Airlift has anyone provided the same level of material aid and there’s still plenty of need, plenty of innocents dying. If we want the suffering to stop, we’ve got to be the ones willing to stop it.

Wake Up

The sun was just breaking the eastern horizon, climbing through the narrow slit of clear space between the Cascades and the cloud cover, when the dream woke me. I was breathing heavily, sweating despite the open window, and crying. I was grateful to be awake all the same.

A nightmare? Yes, but not the usual sort. Tess and I have been investigating fostering children and, as a result, the flavor of my anxiety and consequently my dreams has changed.

Five years ago the dreams were similar. In these, I would have misplaced my then soon to be born second son on a shopping trip or dropped him accidentally down the kitchen sink drain. Clearly, my anxiety concerning childbirth is significant. I’ve played the part of expectant father twice now and both times, as the day got closer and closer, my dreams fixated on all the things I might fuck up with this new little life.

This morning’s dream wasn’t about birth or even me making a complete mess of child rearing. Nonetheless, it’s been clinging to me like a stinky t-shirt on a hot day. For some reason, Tess and I owned something like a timeshare at a condo. The place was small, and we were, if I recall correctly, visiting this place. We walked into the room and quickly realized that someone was living there. Tess was upset that the timeshare wasn’t cleaned before we came, and I discovered a man named Doug emerging from the bathroom.

My memory is a little hazy at this point of the dream, but stuff happens between me and Doug. It becomes crystal clear, however, when Doug lifts his baby girl and puts her in a plastic bag like an article of luggage. He intended to carry her out to his waiting work truck (don’t ask, it was a dream), but I jumped into this situation and took the girl from him. I couldn’t stand there, even for a moment, and watch her struggling in the plastic.

As soon as I had her in my arms I realized that she needed a change. I laid out a towel on the bed and had to cut off the diaper. Doug dropped some nappies next to me, which looked kind of like medical gauze, and I threw them from the bed. When I got the diaper off the girl, I was so angry. She had a horrible rash, clearly this guy’s neglect had lead to this situation. Fortunately, my imagination had expelled him from the dream; I’m not certain what I might have done to him given the freedom of that dreamscape, if he wasn’t instantly missing. I cleaned the baby girl off in the sink, taking care not to hurt her fragile skin, and spent what seemed like hours holding her and trying to calm her.

She screamed and raged until I woke up from it.

Now, I know that the orientation we attended had an effect on me. They played a number of videos and I cried during one of them. I wasn’t the only one crying, and I know that those that weren’t were employing big voodoo to distract themselves from that horror show.

I’m still processing the information we gathered at the fostering orientation. I know that some of that information has plunged part of my mood into a low place and I’ve yet been unable to overcome this funk or the anger that seems to follow it around. Some part of me just repeats the words “How could you? How could you?” A mantra, equal parts indignation and pity.

I have a good friend that has been working for the office of the State’s Attorney General for about ten years. His job is to argue for the safety of these kids, he takes children away from the “Doug” of my dreams. Before this nightmare, I wondered at the mechanisms he has in place to deal with that trauma. I now envy him, his ability to detach from these horribly unfortunate situations while remaining compassionate and capable of dealing with all these children. I’m not certain I can do this.

“How could you? How could you?”

Syrian Refugees

“One does not ask of one who suffers: What is your country and what is your religion? One merely says: You suffer, that is enough for me.” – Louis Pasteur

If you agree with Pasteur and you’re a US Citizen click here to do something about suffering.

I’ve been avoiding my computer for a couple of days now. My avoidance is a result of finding myself at the end of my rope. After posting this IOTD images of a drowned toddler who washed ashore began to come up in my searches about the refugee crisis happening in Southern Europe.

When your little boy is running around asking you to play with him, you do your best to pay attention to him. Perhaps he wants to break out the Legos or, like this morning, maybe he just wants to help you with what you’re doing. So you let him, you encourage him when and where you can, but you protect him.

You know how fragile his little life is because you were there when he showed up. You hold his hand in the parking lot. You wash off the dirt that might have lead in it before he can ingest it. You worry about him the moment he’s out of sight. At least, I do.

So imagine what my imagination is doing after seeing this.

My heart is sick of enduring this toxicity. Our heart, humanity’s heart, seems rotten. Making matters still worse, it is no longer possible to silently shoulder my remorse and growing sadness since the public nature of information and the subsequent boundless commentary that comes along with it, is with me at all times. Lacking empathy and imagination, so many of us become stone, refusing to be touched by tragedy. I tuck my phone in a drawer and close the screen on my laptop.

When I was a kid, back in the late 70’s, my parents took in a family of refugees from Vietnam & Cambodia. They lived in the basement of our house for a while; I don’t recall how long. I do recall that they did things very differently than I was used to, waking up to dried fish cooking in a hot wok was probably my first multicultural experience. My parents gave those people a way out, they made a broad impact in the lives of many strangers.

Now, a lifetime away from those days sitting in curiosity at the top of the stairs to the basement, I feel my inability to effect meaningful change. To simply make things liveable if not somehow better. I’m not a religious person, not even a little bit, but there is at least one passage from the Bible that I think bears repeating.

“[27] But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, [28] bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. [29] If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. [30] Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. [31] Do to others as you would have them do to you.” – Luke 6:27-31

This petition at hopes to “resettle at least 65,000 Syrians by 2016.” It is possible that many or most of them would be kept in refugee camps until they could be matriculated, but that has to be better than dying at sea or in a war-torn country. And signing a petition is literally the least you could do.

These people need immediate relief. The US State Department estimates that there are globally 15.4 million refugees. Syrians make up nearly a quarter of that, and that’s how FUBAR things are there. But our system isn’t much better is it? Elected officials count their coup, pundits make their petty points, and these people are dying. These children are dying. None of this is just or right.

Sent Him Off to School


Bitter-sweet morning here at my house. My eldest son, with whom I am proud of beyond words, loaded his things into his rig and headed off to college this morning. This makes me feel at once a little older and perhaps happier. So much potential wrapped into such a smart package.

I say this to all parents, but especially to those parents that are new to this game: Cherish all the moments you get with your kids because they will leave home well before you’re ready to see them go. Justin, you are a thoughtful and considerate young man and we all love you for your wry laugh and energy. Bon voyage my little bug.



Strange Light on the Sound


We’ve had one thunderhead move over our little bit of paradise today. It sprinkled some rain, sent a few bolts into trees, then dumped a whole lot more rain, and then it really made up its mind to pressure wash the house. But all day long this smoke has been hanging around casting the sunshine that’s making it through in this red-ish-blue-brown ennui. It’s like living under a perpetual eclipse.