Sunday, December 27, 2015

Uncle Bart

Children: I am writing this letter because I have much to explain and my memory has never been that great. I intend to read this when the time is appropriate but if you are left without me make sure you are all here when this is read to the group.  
I knew all of your parents, the majority of us came from different times and places from one another. Perhaps one of them would be given the task of sharing this with you if I was not the last one to be alive.  Even those who died from age did not die young.
You see our “ancestors” actually lived in the future perhaps not the future of this planet or dimension but a future somewhere.  They created a device called a Matrix what they intended is beyond me perhaps they needed a power source as the device does produce energy.   What happened was a device was created that permitted travel through time a desire that had stuck with humanity for centuries.   
The device however, does not exactly go though time.  It really just goes elsewhere perhaps there is a linked timeline of elsewheres perhaps not.   The device also enables special abilities with prolonged contact on some worlds with more exposure the powers get stronger and more numerous.  Perhaps this is epi-genetics at work.  Needless to say some bearers of the matrix have been treated as witches though I think the device is more of the Asimov principle at work than actual occult.  There are probably ten or twenty thousand matrixes scattered though the 160,000 different possible locations a matrix can reach.   There is a memory that is impressed upon a matrix that will designate a place that it will bring you to.  It communicates telepathicly with a user and will both inform the user and read their mind as to where they want to go.  With practice you can transport to a place on the world that you have been before and to a specific time within a day or two from when you have left.  
It will never transport you to a place of immediate danger,  but danger may be nearer than you wish.  Even if it has not regained power you can clench it in your fist and tell it to get you away and it will remove everyone in its sphere to a random world.   Ordinarily to dial out you would place it in your left hand point the first number in sequence up, touch your forehead with your right hand, then touch the matrix, dial the next four numbers in sequence.  If you dial 20-20-20-20 you will be taken to the last matrix yours has been in contact with which for now shall be mine.  There are certain places that are locked out of dialing for some odd reason.  Ordinarily you would ask it for options and it would tell you of places you might wish to go.  There are other versions of yourselves you might encounter. Furthermore there are other travelers, some of which do not need a matrix.  There are some worlds that are used to visitors and most who are better shielded from the truth, use caution when using the matrix.  
  There is more to learn and I will probably write it down later but for now I wish you the best

 Your “Uncle”
Bart H.W. Gummins

PS: one of you might want to take notes as a way of keeping track of where you are and what the matrix has told you as it often will give coordinates as options but not repeat them later when you really need them.  I have given you two satchels that will probably fit into most technological levels but they are some hind of future technology, they are bigger on the inside, they are not infinite but will hold a large quantity.  Also I have some other gifts which I will reveal later.   


A vile ginormous dragon
with heads ands and horns and crowns
nibbled on my little sister 
and then it gulped her down

oh parents tell your children
don't do as I have done  
don't feed your sisters to dragons
and watch them gulp her down

at nearly noon the other day 
the dragon knocked on my door
he said “dear sir if you please
may I have some more”

I fed him my brother
what was I to do
if you make a deal with dragons 
you better pull through

he ate my parents and teachers
my cousins and my aunt
i'm out of people to feed him 
and so I guess i'm lunch

tell all the people 
don't do as I have done
don't feed your kin to dragons

they'll eat every last one.

Children of catyclysm

“Lets see here.  There is still a few cans here in the cupboard” I examined what was still in the kitchen.
“What's in there anyway?” hollered Jaq from the back bedroom.
“We've got dog food, corned beef, the usual stuff that's been  left behind, Wait we have two cans of pineapple and a can of chocolate syrup.  It may have been 25 years or more that this has been here but the cans are still sealed.”  
“Pack them up carefully they will not be that valuable if they get damaged.”
I walked across the kitchen and threw open the other cupboards looking for something to wrap the cans in.  I found towels that were deteriorating in the second drawer down and a mess of rotten rags in the bottom drawer.  I decided to go with the towels. “Jaq have you seen any signs of rodents? I haven't seen any mice or anything else.” 
“Nothing, no I haven't seen even a little turd pellet.  Weird.”
I took catalogue of what was of value in the kitchen: canned food,  wood broken from the table and chairs which I stacked by the door, some chemicals which were miraculously still intact,  a couple spools of string,  one good knife and a few that were not so good but worth scavenging, a scissors,  some stale spices and.......
“Nate, Jaq you need to get down here and see this now.”  a voice thundered from below Harris was obviously agitated. 
Jaq ran into the kitchen.  She was already in condition red. “we need to find out what that was.”
I nodded and opened the door to head down the stairs.  I found Harris, Amanda, and Mike in a back room.
“In there” Mike pointed at a door that was ajar.
I opened the door cautiously and let Jaq look in first. The other side of the door had obviously been black once.  The room seemed larger than the space it should have consumed.  The walls were  deteriorating and bare except for the far wall facing the door.  on it was a darkened antique mirror and a cerimonial sword hanging directly above it horizontally.  The floor had four human shaped mounds on it.  Mounds of dead rats un-decomposed strangely sustained.
Jaq said it was weird and I had to agree.  I felt disquieted by the room and returned the door to where it had been.  “So what is the plan?”
Harris took charge and started in “we have been discussing this and I feel that we have two options.  The first option is to just pack up and get out of here. This just creeps me out and I don't want to deal with this sort of thing”  
Mike piped in “that sword is worth more than anything else we might find here. I think it is worth the risk.  We really need to put it to a vote.  This still creeps me out.”
“Fine let's vote. I'm with Mike.” I placed my vote on the table. 
“I remember stories of this sort of thing from before the world went to hell.  My mother read to me from this book there was a lady in there named Frau Tottenkinder she ate children.  This make me feel like we are in one of those stories.”  Amanda was in favor of fleeing.
“I feel we should combine the two options.  I say we pack everything we have up and then come back for the sword.” Jaq offered.  She looked at each of us as all but Amanda and Harris nodded as if to back her plan.  
“Ok but we need to burn this place down and not come back when we are done.”  Harris was ready to compromise. “If anybody asks we will say the safe was rigged.”
“Fine let's pack it up quick and then reunite in the kitchen.”  I set up the next order of action.
We loaded our meager scavenges onto the back of our cargo bikes and returned to the kitchen.
“Is there anything flammable?” I looked at Mike who was supposed to check the garages. 
Mike shrugged “I never got that far......”  'at least he was honest.'
Mike and I went to the near garage and the other three went to the far one.  We found a axe with a broken handle,  several broken shovels and one good one, and a watering can.  
“I don't see a gas can or anything”  Mike looked at me with disappointment.
“What's on the shelves”  I looked at him interrogatively
“Oil, brake fluid, house-paint,  Oh Saw-blades!”  though his eyes gimmered a bit he wasn't finding anything.  We loaded what we could use on the bikes and went to find the others.  
The other garage was more provisioned there was a motorcycle,  car tires,  lawn furniture, power-tools, and several of what were once taxidermied animal heads.   All three of the others were looking down into a plywood box.  I came over and looked in.  the box contained camping gear.  Amanda had a gas can by her foot.  
“Do we have fuel to start the fire?”  I asked Amanda.
“No the can is empty, I was hopeful when I saw it but there is nothing ”  she replied unhappily.
“It's alright. Well then, load what is most useful on the bikes.  We cannot take this all in one trip.”  I poked around while they were loading and found a box of pool chemicals in the corner.  I pulled out a jar of chlorine crystals and smiled.  
Back in the kitchen we had made a pile of dry brush and set the components needed to start the fire out. We headed down the stairs towards the door.  Something was different when we came to the room.  The door was wide open.  I inquired and nobody admitted to reopening the door.  We went back to the base of the stairs and played rock-paper-scissors to decide who would be sent in to retrieve the sword.  Harris acquired the duty despite the fact that he had voted against retrieving it in the first place.  He was still hesitant until I pointed out that the sword belonged to whoever retrieved it.  
Cautiously Harris stepped into the room with a camp axe from the box in his hand.  He was careful to step between the mysterious mounds of rats.  He lifted up the sword and began to turn around when a face appeared in the mirror.  
“HAVE YOU AWAKEN ME?” a voice thundered from the wall.  “ARISE MY CHILDREN.”  at that moment Harris decided he had had enough and turned and threw the axe which bounced off the mirror.  The rats started moving and Harris decided to run for the door.
We ran up the stairs and through the kitchen being careful to kick the cups of brake fluid over onto piles of chlorine crystals.  And left the house to ride away leaving it to burn down behind us.  We were all jittery from the experience but we made it back to the compound safely.
That night I had a dream of 13 walking golems of rats chasing me.   One caught me and enveloped me and I woke up.  I looked down the rows of hammocks hanging in the lecture hall turned dormitory and calmed down relived that the dream was not real. 
I got dressed and headed to the cafeteria.  Harris and Amanda were already there.  Harris has a bundle with him I could only assume it was the sword.  
“Did ja sleep well last night?” I inquired.
Harris shook his head and Amanda gave me a tense look.
“What ever that was, it was not good.” Amanda was shaken up “Faces in mirrors and bodies made out of rats this is not normal.  That place just felt dark.  We do need to go back and finish cleaning up the lot but I don't really want to.”
“We can hold off on that for a bit anyway”  I said taking a sip of the bitter chicory brew that somehow became the official morning beverage in our compound.  I often wonder how the coffee that this was supposed to substitute for actually tasted.  By now any coffee that we found had decomposed beyond use for food.  “Tomorrow we have to take over for one of the teams at the old high-school.”  We had maintained the various smaller communities across town as a way of spreading out protection over usable land.  “Today we need to go and see what what we can get for what we have recovered so far.”
“THIRTYFIVE! I won't take less than seventy. that is a good coat. It's wool and not a moth eaten spot on it anywhere.” Jaq was trying to sell her finds.  
“It's got a hole right here.”  The merchant was trying to wear her down to a lower price.
“You just made that hole.”  There was no backing down for her.
“Fine fifty, will you take fifty I've got a profit to make!”
“Sixty will be fine thank you very much.”
“You are a nuisance  fifty-five then.”  he was weakening.
“Fine. We have a deal.” Jaq extended her hand “Two hundred for the rest of the bundle?”
He dug around the heap and bargained her down to a hundred and seventy.  “You are trouble to deal with”  
“Yet you always pay well.”
We regrouped after our individual trips to the market.  Harris was wearing his sword in a new scabbard, and everyone else was obviously perked. I really could not bear to tell him he should have sold that thing and he was as likely to hurt himself as anybody else “It seems our band has two new members joining us.”  I was reading the orders sheet for tomorrow.  “Looks like a Rosalind and Deidre will be joining us when we relieve  WB 14 tomorrow.”
“Trainees are like dead weight” Mike said obviously frustrated.
“Maybe we should make them wear a red shirt until they learn how a war band is supposed to operate.” Jaq threw out.  
“Let's just get them trained quickly while we are watching over the outpost.” I was trying to think logically.
That night The story teller read us a story from one of the books that was in the library. She read to us from G.K. Chesterton's Ballad of the White Horse.  The words shook me like a storm I felt that I was riding with Alfred against the Danes.  
Ride through the silent earthquake lands,
          Wide as a waste is wild,
          Across these days like deserts, when
          Pride and a little scratching pen
          Have dried and split the hearts of men,
          Heart of the heroes, ride.
Night came and went and in the morning we assembled ready to go and waited for our new team members.
I heard footsteps approaching from behind “Umm hi..........  I'm Rosalind we are here Sir.”  I heard her talking as I turned around.
“Pardon me I only see one of you.”  I was only honest.
“Do not mean to offend but she's right here.” she set her hand on an invisible shoulder.
Jaq whispered to me to just leave it be so I didn't worry about it. “Alright single file we will try to make this a quick walk to the high school.  It's only five miles.”  I did not mention the last mile or three going through thick forest.  My team already knew If the newbie(s) did'nt know about the way the forest behaved they would learn quick.  The trees never killed anyone who left them be.

What is art?

catching up on posts here

Art for the sake of art?

Many people have a tendency to blame post-modern thought on the ability of individuals to proclaim simple things art.  It is post-modern thought that allows the critique as everyone is entitled to their own personal rectitude within this framework.  If I may be so bold I might say that every physical object, every sound, every action possesses a quality of art.  Beauty is not the basis of art.  Art is rooted in emotion and so there is a element of art in the undergarments that had been left hanging on the door knob,  the screech of nails on a chalkboard and, the simple act of the neighborhood shopkeeper combing his hair over his bald spot in vain failure.  Fine-art on the other hand has no practical purpose other than entertainment.  A long gallery wall of doorknobs with various undergarments suspended on them is more highly appreciated than seeing your spouse perpetrate such an act and forget they left them there, though just as grating the screech of nails in an avant-garde composition is somewhat expected and, an actor in a play with a combover is a entertaining detail rather than the village joke.  

Now actions even bad activities embody a element of art.

Make A Drum......Punk

I realized I had intended to post this in the past but had not so i give it to you now.   the original had pictures they are now saved in the archives so i will edit them in later.

So.... make a drum, punk!
A Short Demonstration In Printed Format By Ted Damman

Some people have said that the oldest instrument after the human voice is the drum. The ShiJing mentions drums used for ritual use in China some time around the 10th century BCE. The Rig Veda mentions drums used as military signals in the 1 6th Century BCE. Without doubt the drum is far older than printed record. Do you want to insert yourself into this historical tradition? Then by all means pursue this end. Do try to read this article all the way to the end to get the full grasp of what is important. I will put a materiel list at the end as a way of summary. You will need some experience working with ceramics in order to build this. I will use terms that may seem foreign to the average reader, so if you are unsure what a term means search for it online in order to educate yourself.
I have had a fondness for the idea of making drums from ceramic materiel’s for a while. I appreciate the flexibility of the medium of clay and have learned much in the process.
I have learned so far that the way I work with clay makes for an abrasive bearing edge and a rope tuned system that may work well for a metal or wood bodied hand drum is problematic. I have found that gluing the head on is the most effective solution for me.
I have experimented with a few alternatives to goatskin for drum heads, calfskin was only a slight improvement. This seems to me not worth the additional cost. Strapping tape with the fibre threads running through it is great for teaching children to build drums but is inferior for any serious attempts at drum construction. There is also a certain drum size where the strapping tape is most effective.
Finally I have found after reading up on building udus that low fire adds resonance due to the clay body being more open. in practice I have found that this is not exactly true even with udus. A Orton cone 6 firing is more effective
than any low firing I have tried with an
added benefit of the richness of glazes

I would like to share what I have discovered so far. I would like to try more experiments in the future and write another article but that is dependent on many factors.
First I like to start with a bowl as a mold to add uniformity, it is important to keep in mind that unless the bowl is absorbent the drum in the mold will not dry as quickly as the part outside the bowl. So try to build a form with an exterior opening as it will help the form dry correctly. I like to sand (250-400 grit) the bowl and apply 2-5 coats of slip to the inside of the bowl to prevent clay from sticking. It is important to apply more coats between one drum and the next being made.
Next using coils build up the sides of the bowl being sure to smooth and compress. I aim for 1 cm walls and scrape a good bit off the outside later. Make sure you build up what will later be the rim of the drum so it is thicker when you are ready to fire
When the body of the drum is the shape you desire let it dry to the point where it is at or just beyond leather hard,
whereupon you can then carve and decorate and smooth what is sticking up outside the bowl.

When you are ready to pull the drum from the bowl have the foam block from an couch or chair cushion ready to set the drum on. Spray the now exposed coils with the vinegar and water mix and smooth and scrape till you feel good about it. Try to make both parts feel uniform. Leave the Inside kinda rough this eliminates unwanted high overtones.
Shape the inside of the bearing edge to curve in a bit
Bisque to ^06 or so
Glaze the outside leaving at least 9cm in order to glue the head onto and fire while it is sitting on the rim side. (Do not Glaze any part of the interior that is not visible when assembled.
When you are ready to install the head find a place where you can leave the drum standing to dry for 48 hrs or so. You need a goatskin head at least 9cm larger than the final rim size. I try to construct so the build size is 9cm smaller and make use of shrinkage. My clay shrinks 9% or so your clay will likely differ. You need hose clamps large enough to encircle the rim and the tool needed to tighten, non waterproof white or wood glue preferably the best within reason, a turntable to set the drum on, and a light damp sponge
First place the head in a 5gal bucket of water or tray so the head is fully immersed.
Set the drum on the turntable and try to get the rim level. Set up the hose clamps and test fit them
Put glue around the edges.
Place the head so it overlaps the shell
Place the clamps over the top and apply even pressure pulling wrinkles out of head before

it is tight.
Place sponge in the center and leave the drum be for 48hrs to dry.
By the time you are done letting the glue dry and have removed the sponge you are probably impatient to play it. hold off for a couple more days. What you can do is remove the hose clamps and trim the weird flap of extra drum head off.
What you need here is a very sharp knife. I keep a paring knife for this but you can use an x- acto knife with a utility blade or whatever you can control. see my picture as it shows my technique.
List of tools.
I will assume that clay, glazes, trimming tools, potters ribs, etc. are already familiar to the reader of this article. If you have no idea what I am talking about stop reading this enter 01 33547043 into the search bar on Amazon. The book that corresponds will start you out right. The more unusual things you will need are:
-Hose clamps to fasten end to end until you have a large enough size. (I use these as trimming tools as well)
-A glazing wheel or lazy susan
-Sharp Knife

-Goat skin drum head of the correct size. -Glue
-Foam pad
-Bowl to use as mold

Slainte, I wish you well in your drum building future.

Post Script: if you want to know how to take care of your drum (you know you do) do a quick search online and find what you need. Though i will recommend these pages. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

I drew this this morning as preparation for a sign I will try to add the finished bit.