Sun, Moon, Star, Fire

click image for higher res
 Been exploring mixing up digital and traditional mediums lately. I drew a black-and-white version of this by hand, scanned it in, then used a bunch of different design programs to layer colors and textures throughout. 

Big Life Changes - summer 2022

Marriage, new job, moving across state lines.

Yeah, it’s all going to change by the end of this year.

me right before watching seniors graduate!

 

Easy place to start is getting married. Been living alone for quite a few years... I'm pretty good at it. Decorating my apartment the way I want, eating whatever I want, the quiet... It’s nice that there’s not constantly a TV running (I grew up with my grandparents, and they neverEVER turned off the tube).

 

My current job as artistic director of a performing arts high school is all about serving everyone constantly. I’m always helping teachers, staff, always working to make students’ visions for art come to life. I love it, but it can be draining.


I guess that’s why I love the quiet so much. I barely ever listen to the radio when I’m in my car (people think I’m weird, but I just need the mental clarity time). Coming back to a quiet home has helped me. It’s like meditation.


All this to say, I’m going to have to learn how to not live alone again. My fiancĂ©e lives with like 3-4 people depending on the day. She never eats dinner alone, always spending time with family. I’m very much the opposite. It will take me some mental adjustment.


So, Cari lives in a different state than me... which is why I’m moving.



I’m moving back home to Southern Illinois, finally. Been awhile. I’m looking forward to it. St. Louis is busy, busy. Lots of road rage there... The very first day I moved to STL, my Internet installer ran into my apartment and slammed the door.... Some random guy had attacked him with a coat hanger. I called the cops, and he had been trying to attack cars. 

 

Southern Illinois is more my speed. It’s a mix of suburbs and cornfields, shopping malls and cows. When I drive through Illinois, I always forget how peaceful it is. There’s good and bad in every community, but the spacing is bigger in the ‘burbs+rural, so you just don’t see it as often. Plus, it’s home.

 

Third big change is my new job. Yes, I’m leaving my position as artistic director. I'll be teaching high school English. Technically, that’s always been my background, so I’m looking forward to using my degree as I originally planned.

 

Starting as Technical Director and then getting promoted to Artistic Director was a great ride. I’ve learned so much, so many new skills, met so many interesting people. I had a lot of fun! It was the most work I’ve ever had to do at a job, but some days were just the best.


I think it will be interesting to go from being the department chair of the fine arts department to the new guy, low on the totem pole. I’m looking forward to worrying about my own classroom and not everyone else’s, but there will be many things I miss. I wrote my students a letter of farewell, and so many of them have come up and wished me well (or tell me they are mad at me for leaving J). It’s bittersweet.

 

But, starting lots of new things is pretty much my theme in 2022.


mostly melted

I miss snow. 

I tell my students, when I was their age, snow would get as deep as your knee and school could be out an entire week. All they know are the crop dustings we’ve been having. 

We get less snow every year. 

I remember building forts out of the towers that the city snow plows would put at the end of my street’s dead end. Back then... when I was a kid, you could buy orange trash bags with jack-‘o-lantern faces, but now leaves don’t fall by October (and nevermore in September). They stopped selling those, at least in this area.

Probably for the best. I’ve seen people burn leaves through January. 

The West Coast and Australia burn uncontrollably during summers, nowadays. We’re so desensitized that seeing a half-charred koala wrapped in a blanket, hauled away by vets is perfectly acceptable. I remember when a hurricane front passed over Belleville. I sat in bed, reading a book, waiting it out. 

Leave your car running in the garage, and the fumes can kill you. Highway vehicles release about 1.7 billion tons of that toxic contaminant into the air each year. 

I think the human brain can’t process numbers in the billions (I definitely cannot). But 1.7 billion is a lot-alot. Saturn is 886 million miles from the sun (average). 886 x 2 = 1772. So, if 1 mile = 1 TON of toxic fumes, then our toxicity level is about to Saturn and back... each year. What are the repercussions? Well, let’s ask our friend, Common Sense: 

He comes often recommended, and common sense is great for common problems. Fight or flight? Should I wear a coat when it’s snowing? Should I take a shortcut or the busy street? 

For complex problems—problems that aren’t understandable by just the 5 senses, you may consider shopping around for complex sense. 

You can’t look out your window and see how drinking sodas sold in plastic bottles have increased the amount of diseases in the world. Say, that particular plastic bottle is covering the bog, killing the duckweed, which starves the tadpoles, so decreases the frogs, which increases the mosquitos, which increases the spread of disease. 

Our brains barely process numbers in the billion, so why should the same common sense I use to pick out which flavor jelly to put on my toast be used to process what effect 2 Sun-to-Saturns worth of car emissions will have on the population of koalas? 

I guess, all this to say, I miss snow. 

It snowed a little today, mostly melted after a few hours. I’ve only had to scrape my car windows like 3 times this entire winter so far.

2022222222222222222222

New Year post. Here's what I did in 2021...


I proposed to my girlfriend the other day. So, I’m engaged now. That’s probably the coolest thing on this list. The rest is mostly in chronological order.

 

In January of 2021, I became the Artistic Director of a school.

 

The US Capitol building was breached.

 

I played a lot of Stardew with Cari.

 

Marvel had awesome TV shows on Disney+.

 

I played a lot of D&D with two groups.

 

I got summoned for jury duty.

 

Did a lot of hiking with Cari (highlights: Mastodon, Pere Marquette, and Castlewood State Park)

 

Watched a ton of Impractical Jokers.

 

Went to an art gallery for a friend.

 

Helped Cari through a major car accident and shopping for a new one.

 

Went on a fantastical Disney vacation with a road trip.

 

Dealt with some hard times...people I care about in the hospital for extended stay. They are OK now.

 

Started a very serious diet and lost weight.

 

Worked on some seriously awesome writing projects that I can’t talk about yet.

 

Lots of art fairs.


Felt sad when Scruffy, cute little doggo, died.

Went to the STL Renaissance Festival.

 

Went to MO Games Con with Reed and Ryker.

 

Created a new show called PerformLAB.

Brought back live performance to my art school.

 

Did a ghost tour at the Fox.

 

Celebrated 4 years with Cari.

 

I put on a CommUNITY Fun Day.

 

Got back into Animal Crossing.

 

Cooked a turkey for the first time.

 

Got my mom a birthday lunch.

 

Put on a Dance concert, a play, and a Winter music concert (7 total performances) in one month.


I enjoyed Spiderman: No Way Home

Hosted a Christmas party.

The 2021 Road Trip Vacation of Cari and David

That time we raced a hurricane and won....

 









Since they started building it, I’ve dreamed of going to Harry Potter World. We had planned to go do Orlando theme parks in the summer of 2020, but... you know. Originally, we were going to drive down through Atlanta and back, but Cari had a great idea to make a loop around the Carolinas and visit more places along the way. My friend from work (thanks Ms. Rovira!) gave me some good tips on locations, so we used that to plot out a course up the coast.

 

With everything booked, tickets bought, etc. etc.... We’re about to set off... Reports come in about Hurricane Elsa to make landfall in Florida the day after we’re supposed to arrive... By the way, what butthead decided to name a hurricane “Elsa” that is set to brush by Disney?

 

Great, so, a hurricane. I am not trying to be insensitive! I know and sympathize that there are FAR WORSE and terrible things that happen due to hurricanes than a ruined vacation, but still... It was a scary prospect. Had to do some risk analysis as we went. Many of our plans were non-refundable.

 

 

July 4 – St. Louis, Missouri to Nashville, Tennessee 

 

Cari and I set out from St. Louis early in the morning. We saw a Superman statue and made a stop to take some selfies. We also stopped by of the Grand Ole Opry for sight seeing.

 

Before knowing about Elsa, I had thought leaving July 4th could be fun, so we could do fireworks in a different city. Turns out, Nashville claims to run the biggest fireworks show in the country. Brad Paisley performed a concert, then fireworks were set off, timed with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. It was pretty great!

 

 

July 5 – Nashville, Tennessee to Atlanta, Georgia

 

We drove pretty hard all day, waking up late. We were tired after the fireworks, also driving in Atlanta was stressful. We had planned on doing some historical exploration, but we were beat. We instead opted for swimming and eating dinner at the hotel (most of our hotels were Drury, so we always had a pool and they do a “free” dinner/drinks each night).

 

Also, we watched the weather reports and formulated a decision. Basically, the hurricane was hitting the shores of Florida (a good ways north of Orlando) on July 7th, and then passing above Florida to the Savannah, Georgia area. So, the choice was wait it out another day or two in Atlanta, or get to our hotel in Orlando tomorrow and outrace the arrival of the hurricane and hope it doesn’t suddenly turn toward us. We chose to go for it!

 

 

July 6 – Atlanta, Georgia to Orlando, Florida

 

We were serious about making the 8 hour drive as quick as possible to avoid Elsa, so we ate breakfast and made good time. We blazed through the drive. Had about 5 minutes of Florida-type rain, but the rest was clear skies and an easy drive. We got to the hotel and swam, enjoyed our evening. We made some stops to enjoy the palm trees and catch some rays.

 

 

 

July 7 – Orlando, Florida

 

I opened the curtains early and it looked stormy and windy... but that passed quick. The hurricane completely missed us, basically. Far north of us. Anyway, that was that, and it was Harry Potter World/Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure day! It only really rained in the morning, and the lines were pretty short (probably due to locals cancelling plans for Elsa).

 

I’ll take a moment here to say I know Harry Potter is going through a problematic phase due to the author’s dumb opinions on an important matter that she is 100% wrong about. I have very complex thoughts in regards to supporting Harry Potter as a franchise (but I don’t want to go into them here, but I would discuss it with anyone who wants to message me privately). Regardless, I had an amazing time seeing Hogwarts and Diagon Alley, and everything. Special, magical, full immersion into my childhood’s literary escape. I will say, I liked pumpkin juice more than butter beer, but the butter beer ice cream was fantastic. We also rode Transformers, Jurassic Park’s River Adventure, Skull Island Reign of Kong, Shrek 4D, Revenge of the Mummy, and a special surprise was how amazing the Bourne Stuntacular was (we got in right before our shuttle back to the hotel came)!

 

Overall, we really lucked out, missing the hurricane. Whew!

 

 

July 8 – Orlando, Florida

 

Our original plan was to hit up the beach and rent a goft cart, rest up before more parks tomorrow... but David got the bright idea to switch it up and do Disney’s Animal Kingdom instead.

 

I REALLY loved Animal Kingdom! I think it’s the best designed park out of all of them, for this reason: constant shade. This park was just pleasant to walk through. Lots of plant coverage, between rides and animal exhibits. We did Kilimanjaro Safaris, The Lion King show, Kali River Rapids (the first and last ride of our day!), Maharajah Jungle Trek, Expedition Everest.

 

About mid-day, we had lunch under this sheltered area, and it proceeded to DOWNPOUR rain pretty hard... but honestly, it felt WONDERFUL and cooled the park off for the rest of the day. Also, as soon as we were done eating, the rain stopped and didn’t return (we timed it well!). We rode Dinosaur the Ride, Bug’s Life Show, Na’vi River Journey. The Flight of Passage’s lines were 2 hours, so we skipped and rode River Rapids again. Overall, just a fantastic day at a park we hadn’t originally planned on going to.

 

 

July 9 – Orlando, Florida

 

Magic Kingdom – a hot day, but we got it all done! Cari surprised me by pulling out a Minnie Mouse skirt and shirt that matched my Mickey shirt. She had me do her hair in Minnie Mouse ear-buns. I did my best! I called her Cutie Mouse all day and she blushed (not deleting that, sorry, Cari!).

 

We headed straight for Pirates Of the Caribbean, did Jungle Cruise, Tiki Tiki room show, ate some snacks then went to Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. Country Bear Jamboree was dead. We did Mickey’s Philharmagic to cool off, then It’s A Small World. We explored the castle, then did Space Mountain (ride half-broke down, so it took longer), Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger. We had a fancy dinner date at the Liberty Tree Tavern, then the fireworks show began right after. Truly a magical day!

 

 

July 10 – Orlando, Florida

 

Our final Theme Park day was at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Yes, I got my 7am queue for Rise of the Resistance. I really think this was the best ride/ride experience I’ve ever had! I LOVED it! We did Star Tours, Smuggler’s Run (top three best rides EVER), and explored the Galaxy’s Edge. Muppets were broken down, sadly, but we ate lunch at Rizzo’s Pizza (Pizza Rat) which was awesome! During lunch, we heard everyone in the restaurant gasp, yell, or shout... turns out it was the second and last shot to get in queue for Rise of the Resistance, and everyone was either really happy or sad. The virtual queue experiment is frustrating to me. There’s got to be a better way.

 

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway was phenomenal (top three best rides EVER). The projection mapping + trackless ride is such an amazing experience. We did Toy Story Mania, watched more shows, and of course, the Tower of Terror. Another hot day, but I think Runaway Railway, Smuggler’s Run, and Rise of the Resistance were the best rides ever in any theme park. So awesome!

 

 

July 11 – Orlando, Florida to Savannah, Georgia

 

Before setting out to Savannah, we headed to Cape Canaveral to do the NASA visitor’s center. It was really fantastic. Gotta thank Cari’s aunt for the idea to go. Took a bus tour, watched some shows. Saw a spacecraft or 6. We ate space ice cream. Definitely go do this if you have an extra Florida day to use! It was a nice break from theme parks with an educational slant. 

 

We didn’t get
to spend as much time downtown Savannah as we wanted, because we were sleepy after so much walking. But the hotel was nice!

 

 

July 12 – Savannah, Georgia to Greenville, South Carolina

 

Before heading to Greenville, we stopped at Tybee Island in Georgia and went to the Lighthouse Museum. We climbed to the top, explored several houses with furniture/items from the era. We then headed off to the beach and took in some sun. We waded through the ocean, then enjoyed a moment at a beachside restaurant. I collected some seashells. I had found Tybee while browsing Google Maps. Definitely recommend going for a chill day of Lighthouse and beach! Wish we had another night here, actually.

 

Got to Greenville, ate, and swam at the hotel. Relaxed!

 

 

July 13 – Greenville, South Carolina to Asheville, North Carolina, then to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

 

From Greenville, we drove to The Biltmore Manor, a giant home that housed some extremely wealthy people. We took the manor tour and did a wine tasting. A fantastic day, really. Drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains a bit on the way.

 

After, we drove to our next hotel in Pigeon Forge, staying at a place with three swimming pools, two hot tubs, a splash pad, and an entire lazy river. We stopped on the road and got Bojangles, which is a food place that one of our favorite Youtubers talks about. It was a big box, so we took the rest with us.

 

The rest of the drive was beautiful, as we headed through the Smokey Mountains. Stopped several times at some viewing spots and took in the majesty.

 

 

July 14 – Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

 

Our first full day here, we took a down day. We mostly enjoyed the hotel pools and hot tub (which we had to ourselves). Ate the rest of the Bojangles. We went out to drive up and down the Pigeon Forge strip, which is a giant tourist trap, but I love tourist traps so there’s that. We stopped at some shops (some were so bad we left immediately). Cari saw a Wax Museum, so we did that. After, we headed to our reserved dinner at the Pirate’s Voyage Dinner and Show, which was absolutely fantastic. Lots of special effects. Great food. Great talent! Makes me want to create something like that for my students...

 

 

July 15 – Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

 

With our Wax Museum tickets, we got entry into three other activities. One was a robot 3D shooting game/ride. Then we did a Zombie-themed haunted house, and after was a really good house of mirrors. The lighting in the mirror house made all the difference. Like, mirror mazes can be cheesy, and they did have a discount Fiona, but the house was well painted and lit up.

We went back and swam in our hotel pool, and then we headed to Dolly’s Stampede Dinner and Show. It had nearly the same food at the Pirate’s dinner, so that was annoying. The show was fantastic, but not nearly as good as the pirate one (plus, it smelled bad). Kinda felt awkward to be in a North vs. South show, especially since it’s 2021. It all ended with a “We’re ALL united in the USA!” type song, which is weird considering the premise, but OK. We sat with the North and the North won. So, history, it seems, has not changed.

 

 

July 16 – Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to Louisville, Kentucky

 

We headed for Louisville to our next hotel. Unpacked, finished some pizza we got on the road, then did a Mega Cavern tram tour. I figured at this point, we’d enjoy doing something that drove us around (our feet were dead), and a cavern tour sounded different from anything else we’ve done. The underground tour took us below the grounds of the zoo, and we saw a stockpile of road salt that was enormous. Lots of mannequins displays there, and a random movie about nuclear fallout. I enjoyed it! Cool and refreshing!

 

 

July 17 – Louisville, Kentucky to St. Louis, Missouri

 

We wanted to drive by the Churchill Downs before heading home. The Downs were beautiful, but the surrounding neighborhoods were pretty run down.

 

We drove home and enjoyed a night in a soft bed!

 

I’m editing a big video from the vacation, so I’ll be posting that soon!

Relativity

 


I think Albert Einstein's theory of relativity is one of the most mind-boggling concepts. It has really pushed by brain for the fiction concepts I've been working on. 

I'll start this out by saying, I'm no scientist (or mathematician or physicist...), so I might get some things wrong (feel free to point errors out to me). I also have a simplistic concept of relativity stored in my brain, which is warped by the artistic abstractions and imaginative modifications I come up with.... so... This writing isn't about balancing any equations or being spot on. Most of my research comes from a read of A Brief History Of Time and also Google searches.

Concepts I found on the Internet: 1. The basic idea is that instead of being an invisible force that attracts objects to one another, gravity is a curving of space. The more massive an object, the more it warps the space around it.

2. Gravity has an infinite range, although its effects become weaker as objects are set farther away from each other.

The classic example used to break your brain into understanding relativity is playing a game of ping pong on a moving train. 


So, if you're watching the game of ping pong from on the moving train, it will look like it's going the normal speed... but in reality, it's going the normal speed plus the speed that the train is moving. 

If the train were transparent, and you viewed the game from on the ground, you'd see the ping pong ball going 100 mph and not 10 mph. 

I think that's mind boggling in itself. 

But then, to think of gravity as not just an attraction of an object to the ground, but a curving of spacetime itself... That gets my mind going. Also, gravity has unlimited range, but weakens as the objects get farther away. 

Imagine the sci fi of that. What if a machine could trick the laws of physics into making two objects that are far apart be considered by universal law to be close together? What if you could curve space so that two distance spaces touched? I know a million shows have used wormholes and portals, but the concept is really much deeper if you really think about relativity. 

Even the word relativity inspires me creatively. Like, isn't so much of art about relating this and that? Isn't so much of why a character can enchant a reader about the relativity of that character to the universe she/he occupies? 

Break relativity down into an artistic abstract for a minute. Think about the relativity of creating a fictional world, but putting something of significance into it, something that affects the gravity of your world/story. 

Create a home, in your brain. Create a family. Create where the adults work, where the kids sleep and play nearby. Now, create a dangerous object, hidden somewhere. That danger really curves the space, warps the universe of the story. Who will find the dangerous object? Who will use it? Where did it come from?

Think about the relativity of yourself in your real life. How do you bend/shape/warp/curve the family/friends/coworkers/places/gravity around you?