My Dad’s Drawings

In an act of sublime procrastination, I spent a recent Saturday afternoon building shelves and moving all the CDs from the basement to the studio. See, I could have been writing my final case study for my Quantitative Decision Making class, grading home work, writing lectures, etc.  Instead, I strapped on my trusty fish-heads, now in their 8th season, and spent a glorious day sawing wood in the heat.

Well Worn Jack Purcells

I have a lot of CDs because I was a wholesale music buyer. That, and meeting the occasional semi-famous person were the perks of the job. The only perks.

The girls helped me unpack them. They are COMPLETELY out of order, and about 200 CDs are missing jewel boxes.  We had a great time  – I really don’t know how I managed to get by without my Lubricated Goat album.


At the bottom of one of the boxes,  I found an envelope from my father. He addressed it to my great aunt in 1984 and never sent it –  as we can see, he didn’t have her zip code.  I don’t remember putting this envelop in the box – I don’t even remember seeing it (maybe Onespot does – he helped me pack all this up).


It contains drawings, each signed by him and containing a brief explanation of the drawing on the reverse side. I couldn’t believe my eyes – and what’s better, there was a drawing in there that I didn’t remember him doing.



Train Station

bridget goyvaerts house in maryland

Eastern shore farm house

Light House

I don’t believe that the people who pass on ever really leave us. And, in a very real way, my father has been popping up a lot lately. I ran across that Picasso quote that I wrote about, and then several of his old friends from his childhood have found me on the web and sent their regards.  And now, these drawings.

So, I want to share these drawings with you. Thanks, Pop!

You’re both right

hecanMy dad used to say this to me. All the time. I’ve always thought he made this up. Over the years,  I’ve learned that he was right. It goes along with Yoda’s “There is no try – there is do, or do not.” This concept is an important keystone in optimism. We are our own worst enemy – and we are also our greatest ally.

Today, I stumbled on the quote elsewhere on the web and realized that it was Picasso who said:

“He can who thinks he can, and he can’t who thinks he can’t. This is an inexorable, indisputable law.”

So, while I’ve come to appreciate the truth in Dad’s words, I think it’s amazingly cool that he quoted Picasso at me as a kid.  Completely awesome.
Now, if I can only figure out who made up all those dirty jokes he liked so much…

Water Tower Watch

I love water towers.

As a young lad, I used to ride my bike across town and gaze up in awe at the base of this one:

Big Blue (courtesy of Neil Herzinger)
[Photo by Neil Herzinger]

I’m embarrassed to say that I wrote a poem about it in high school. And I’ve written other things about water towers. I’ve described how the internal mechanisms work, and taken hundreds of photos of the water towers on the east coast.

I’ve seen water towers get make overs:

Make over

I’m fortunate in that I can see a giant War of the Worlds from my front door – it’s about 4 miles away. And, curiously, there are a pair of water towers standing to the south of my house, shown here:

War of the Worlds and Muncipal

Here they are last spring:

In the Spring

And here they are today:

So it’s with horrified fascination that I report the bigger of the two is being dismantled. I hope it’s merely a repair.






More Plates


I intend to docment these proceedings in my flickr water tower set. More soon.

Sometimes, we get lemons…


Sometimes, we get lemons when we are expecting bacon.  Sometimes, life spits in the soup.  Sometimes, our date stands us up.  Sometimes, meetings go on too long.

So I created “HeyGoodJob.com for those sucky days when you could use a pat on the back.

Tell your friends. Spread some good vibes. You rock.

Update: Now defunct JD 1-17-2018.

Provocation of Wonder

This past Wednesday, Robert Bringhurst gave a talk at UMBC entitled  “What is Language for?” His talk touched on linguistics, art history, poetry, typography (which is what attracted me to this talk) and ornithology.

Robert Bringhurst

He began by explaining that, for a linguist, there’s great difficulty in understanding the origins of language because earliest written proof is only about 5,000 years old.  People, however, have been talking and singing and telling each other stories for many, many years before that.  I learned that language is an ecological phenomenon – there is a relationship between it and its environment – and languages are living things. They can grow, shrink, adapt, remember and die.

Edward Sapir proved that sign language is a fully qualified language.  Apparently, before he came along, linguists had some doubt about this because of the missing phonetic component (lingua).  Language insists on being among humans, even if they are unable to speak or hear.  And what of that? Does language exist for other species than human beings?

Mr. Bringhurst then put on his ornithologist’s hat and walked the audience through a diverse sampling of bird song and bird calls. For me, the most interesting was that of the raven – raven’s can’t sing, they call. They mate for life and make friends with other ravens. And when they meet in groups, they develop calls that they use in those groups. And here’s the amazing thing – if a raven is looking for his friend, he will use one of the calls that they use together – if the other raven is in earshot – he will come. It would seem that ravens give each other names.

So, what is language for? Applying meaning. What is meaning for? Meaning is for itself.  The stories, however, are for us.