2000 Notebook: Transition VI

13 February 2000
Too Young to Be Sane
I had to install a new computer in the laboratory's pump room this afternoon. I had a choice of plugging it into one of two separate electrical outlets. Using outlet "A" would have required me to run an elderly extension cord through a puddle of water. The floor between the computer and outlet "B" was dry, and likely to remain so.

Amazingly, I chose to use the socket that posed the least risk of electrocution. Understandably proud of my newfound interest in self preservation, I bragged to Scott about my decision.

"I wouldn't be so smug if I were you," he replied. "After all, you had a fifty-fifty chance of being right."

For some reason, I found his putdown reassuring. I'm too young to be sane.

14 February 2000
Real Like Lumpy Oatmeal
The advertisement for the 3dfx computer video card shows the grim, fluorescent-green tableau of a hospital operating theater. In addition to the surgeons leaning over their customer's chest cavity, a young man in a t-shirt eating a slice of pizza is also hunched over the patient.

So far, it's just another advertisement.

The professional photographic illustration was more or less what one would expect in these times, but the copy featured an unusual sentence:

    "If it [the damaged appendage] looks like oatmeal, then that's the way it's gonna look."

My cousin accidentally smashed my right index finger with a sledge hammer a few decades ago, and I clearly remember what I saw immediately after the impact. What a few seconds before had been my right index finger was now lumpy oatmeal, or porridge. With ketchup.

Ever since that day, I have never ever put ketchup on my oatmeal.

15 February 2000
A Short Afternoon at the Galleries
I went to several San Francisco art galleries today; I saw a few things.

I went to Art Exchange, one of my favorite venues. It's not pretentious and snooty like most of the others. I forget how it works, but I believe almost anyone can exhibit a piece or two or three of work there. I thought the eclectic mix was curated pretty well; there weren't too many weak pieces on display.

I noticed a number of good pieces from maybe five meters away; I also noticed a few stinkers from that distance. I was somewhat disappointed that the pieces that attracted me were done by famous artists: Jasper Johns, Sol Lewitt, Robert Motherwell, and so on. I've associated fame in the art world with good marketing for so long that I almost forgot that talent sometime figures into the equation.

I then went to more traditional galleries a few doors down the street. I started with the Robert Kroch Gallery, which was showing two-meter square black and white photographs of popular tourist destinations: Niagara Falls, Greece, Antarctica, et cetera. Not to be outdone, the gallery on the floor below exhibited three-meter square black and white photographs of solitary trees. Each of the photographs was hung "upside down." I had to admit it was a good way of using so-so photographs to make a nice conceptual piece.

I wonder if the people who buy them will turn them "right side up" when it's time to hang them over the living room couch?

I don't know who made any of the photographs. I didn't ask.

16 February 2000
Molly Ivans Knows a Thing or Two About Art
Molly Ivans writes a lot about stupid politicians. Molly Ivans writes, "There's an old saying in politics: it's better to be lucky than smart." I wish Molly Ivans would write about art.

17 February 2000
Completely Irrelevant
Shelley smelled a red herring in my argument, and told me so.

"That has, that has zero--no, make that negative zero--to do with anything," she said.

She was, as usual, correct.

18 February 2000
Feeling Playboy
I saw an amazing periodical at a bookstore today: Playboy. I used to find magazines like Playboy and Helios interesting when I was in third grade. So that's what people look like with their clothes off! I haven't looked at such publications much after that. I find heavily-retouched photographs of young women with bad hair and improbably large synthetic breasts the opposite of erotic.

(In the interest of historical accuracy, I must admit that I did buy a copy of Playboy in 1980 to read an interview with John Lennon after he was murdered. And, in that same quest for accuracy, I must add that the Lennon interview took place before he was killed.)

A lot of people claim they buy Playboy to read the articles, implying that soft-focus photographs of deformed young women are of no particular interest. After my experience in the book store, I believe that's true in a very few cases.

The copy of Playboy I saw was printed in Braille. I'd never seen a Braille publication before. Except for a bit of printed information for sighted distributors and librarians on the cover, the entire periodical was thick brown paper with raised dots. I leafed through the pages. Each one presented a monotonal grid of bumps, much nicer than the other versions of Playboy I've seen. There was nothing bovine about it.

19 February 2000
Seventeen Types of Dust
I read that scientists have identified seventeen distinct types of dust. I thought I'd photograph each of the seventeen different dusts; such a collection of images would make a great portfolio. I'd call it something like Seventeen Types of Dust. You can't go wrong with prime numbers.

After researching the project, though, I discovered that I'd need an electron microscope with a radioactive sample chamber to see the differences. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to be satisfied with generic dust for a while.

20 February 2000
Last Day Bonfire
Last night, I dreamt I was visiting a close friend who knew I'd die within the year. I believe cancer was, or would be, the culprit. Given the otherworldly certainty of dreams, I had no reason to doubt a thoroughly trustworthy friend. For the rest of the dream, I lived the cliché of living each day as if it were my last. I spent my visit with her as if we'd never meet again.

And then I woke up, with a very sore throat.

I'm not a hypochondriac, but such a clear omen, followed by an undeniably raw throat, could be cause for concern. I've had one or two unlikely dreams that came true, but not many more than that. Fortunately, I was twenty-seven in my dream, so I assume I would have died by now. Maybe I did; who knows?

I'm embarrassed to write triteness like "living each day as if it were my last." If I ever were to spend a day as if I'd never see the next one, I'd drink pints and pints of bitter in front of the bonfire that was consuming all the bad work I've created in my life. Things like this.

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©2000 David Glenn Rinehart