Stephanie is teaching a class starting in April at the LaGrange Art League called "Creating Abstract Art Using The 'Pour' Method."
Details, and sign-up information are on their site. She's taught this class in the past to much acclaim, but this is the first time the sessions will be held in the evening, so people with regular jobs can attend. Classes start April 6th at 6P.M. Sign up now!

For more information about Stephie's art, please also check out
For Matt's writing projects, please go to Enjoy your visit here!

12/08/17: I just found out today that Dr. Jerry Pournelle passed away back in September. I don't think I've read any of his fiction (since I don't read much science fiction) but his column was one of the high points of my Byte magazine subscription back in the '90s when we used to get all our tech news on paper. A few years after the magazine folded, I found that he took his writings to the web, and I followed him there for a while, until it seemed to me that he started to write more about political issues rather than technical, and as my politics didn't line up with his, I stopped reading. I'd think about him from time to time, like when I used one of his favorite phrases "the day was eaten by locusts" to describe a non-productive work day, and I would check back every so often and pick through the digs at President Obama and other things Democratic to find out what he was up to tech-wise. I realized today that I hadn't checked there in a while, and going to his site, I found that he had passed away, and I'm kind of sad about that.

11/23/17: There's a story that I've told to people many times that I've never told here. The main reason was because I would have to dig out some of my old comic books to get visual aids for the story. But this week, my brother had sent some images from some old Marvel comics, from an Internet treasure trove that he found, so I asked him if he could find the two issues involved in the story, and he not only found the issues, but he found the panels in question. Thanks, Chris!
     I've always had a pretty good vocabulary, going back to high school and before. Even today, I'll be writing an e-mail at work and a word will pop into my head, something that seems appropriate but is not one that's used regularly. (One such example is obviate.) I don't think I use these words to sound smart, or to try to confuse my intended audience. They just seem to be the right word to use at the time, and usually are.
     I've been asked about this, if I knew where this vocabulary comes from, and I always tell people, "comics." My brothers and I started reading comics in earnest in the Fall of 1973, and I seem to remember struggling in school up to that point, but once I started reading comics, my grades picked up. Maybe that's a coincidence, but I don't think so.
     There is one incident that stands out in my mind, that I've told people about many times, and thanks to Chris, I now have proof. It happened in 1974, based on the cover dates I would say probably June. I had just come back from the store with my weekly haul of new issues, and in that pile were two Marvel comics, Amazing Spider-Man issue 136, and Daredevil issue 113. Both have cover-dates Sept, 1974, which is how I guess it was in June. I do remember buying them both on the same day. The picture here is of the covers of those two issues.
     I read Spider-Man first, since it was my favorite comic at the time, and the story picked up where it left off the previous month, in the aftermath of an explosion in Peter Parker's apartment, which he shared with his high-school buddy Harry Osborne who was slowly becoming the new Green Goblin. The panel, as I remember it, was on the second page, a picture of Peter holding a piece of metal, and it contained a word balloon in which he was saying something about Harry taking up pyrotechnics as a hobby. That was not a word I was familiar with, but I don't know that it registered with me at the time. I did notice, when I read the Daredevil issue next, that the splash panel had an image of Daredevil, in the middle of a lightning storm, overlooking the city, and one of the captions said something about the pyrotechnics of the storm. I remember stopping at that point and going to the dictionary to look up the word pyrotechnics. If you click the picture of the comics, you can see the panels that I saw. It didn't hit me until many years later that a medium like comics, one that has historically been thought of for children, would use words that might send a pre-teen to the dictionary for a definition, but I guess I was not your typical pre-teen, because I did go to the dictionary to learn what the word means.
     As I mentioned, I've told this story to people who have asked about my vocabulary. I've also told this to friends who had children who were reaching reading age. I tell them that it's okay if their kids want to read comics. There's lots to learn from reading comics. The trick is to get them to read anything.

11/10/17: Two days ago, we had the first real cold snap of the year. As I was walking into work from the parking lot, I heard sounds in the trees as if hundreds of squirrels were running around. It took me a second to realize that the many leaves that were remaining on the trees had frozen overnight and were snapping off and falling through the branches, making the sounds I was hearing. As I approached the building I worked in, I noticed that the color of the leaves had turned, seemingly overnight, so I took a picture of the area in front of the front door. I then turned around and saw the rising sun had illuminated the tops of the trees, an effect that I always liked, so I snapped a picture of that as well to share with Stephie.
     Two days later, I was walking in and saw an entirely different scene. The leaves were almost entirely gone from the trees, and even more surprisingly, gone from the ground as well. I turned around and while the difference was not as obvious as in front of the building, the leaves were gone from larger trees as well, and again, most of the leaves were gone from the lawns. Kudos to the grounds team for their quick work.

10/20/17: Many of you know that I'm a fan of old movies, and as an extension, old movie theatres. We had an old, beat-up local theatre (the Brighton Theatre on Archer Ave.) in our neighborhood when we were growing up, and I saw many a movie there on the big screen, especially once I was old enough to walk there myself. The Brighton is gone, torn down as so many of the neighborhood movie palaces have been, but I still get excited when I get a chance to go to one of the few remaining theatres from the cinema's golden age.
     I had one such opportunity today, as Stephie and I made the trek up to Waukegan to see Chris Issac perform at the Genesee Theatre. The Genesee was built in 1927 and had shown films until 1982, then sat unused until 1999, when the city of Waukegan bought it. They made many changes, both inside and out, but it still retains some of the feel of the movie palace it once was. I don't think they have the ability to show films any more, but it's a great place to see a band play, and Chris Issac put on an excellent show.
     But if you go, you need to stop by the lounge on the second floor. We were there early, and were milling around, looking at the decor, when someone suggested we go upstairs. On the second floor, in what looks to have been a lounge for the theatregoers, they have a display of memorabilia relating to the building's history and past life showing films. They have the console from the pipe organ that was used when silent films were shown. There are blow-ups of newspaper articles, from the theatre's grand opening to when the manager invited John Dillinger to watch a film there (and claims that he actually attended!) There are reels of film and film cannisters to show how movies had to be transported to the theatre to be shown. I highly recommend spending a few minutes there if you find yourself in Waukegan for a concert.
     While I was marvelling at the blow-ups of the architectural diagrams of the theatre, I struck up a conversation with the security guard posted there. We talked about the demise of the local movie theatres, and how I try to visit the remaining ones when I can. He said that his family ran a theatre in Twin Lakes, WI, which is a coincidence because my aunt and uncle had a vacation home there when we were kids, and we visited there at least once a year. I don't remember a theatre there, but then he said, "And my brother used to manage a theatre on the south side. It was called the Brighton." I said, "That was the theater in my neighborhood when I was a kid!" He said, "Yeah, what a shithole," to which I replied, "Yeah, but it was our shithole."

10/18/17: There has been a trend in recent years of people taking pictures of their food and posting them on on social media. Thinking it a frivolous waste of time, I never thought that I would do such a thing, but that's exactly what I have for you today. Here's a picture of one of my favorite lunches.
     Years ago, I discovered that I really liked the Mild sauce that Taco Bell provides in little packets for use on their fare. I would go there regularly for lunch (there was one nearby work) and would always grab a handful of Mild sauce packets that would wind up in my desk drawer, for use primarily on McDonald's Breakfast Burritos. I always felt a little guilty about taking so many, and was happy when I found bottles of the official Taco Bell Mild sauce on the shelves of our local Jewel. I usually buy a couple at a time just so I have one handy.
     Around the same time, I discovered Trader Joe's Fat Free Bean and Rice Burritos. No, they're nowhere near the quality of a decent Mexican restaurant, but they're inexpensive, filling, and although a little high in sodium, not as bad for you as many frozen meals. Perfect for taking to work for a quick lunch. And I found that a little Taco Bell Mild sauce gave it a little boost, flavor-wise.
     I've been eating this combo for years, but recently, I've had an epiphany. I've been trying to add more veggies to my diet, so I've taken to buying bags of frozen veggies and heating them up to have with my sandwiches at work. Recently, I had a half a bag of corn in the fridge at work swo I thought I'd add it to my burrito dish. It may not look that appealing, but the flavor was outstanding. It added a sweetness to the dish that I didn't realize was missing. Now, when I bring the TJ Burritos to work, I make sure I have some corn in the freezer to top it off. What a combination!

10/02/17: I've written in the past about problems I've had with news aggregators on the Internet. Whether it's truncated headlines or stale links, it seems that the material presented could benefit from some better programming, or at least someone looking at the results. I spotted another one yesterday, right in the middle of coverage of the horrifying attack on concertgoers in Las Vegas. Can someone please explain to me what the algorithm was that thought that "ashley simpson naked pictures" was somehow related to a maniac with military-style weapons shooting up the Las Vegas strip?

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