Friday, August 31, 2007

New Website Design

I have spent a few weeks overhauling my website for the first time in nearly two years. Primarily I have been using it as a testbed for trying out different CSS (a type of website code) techniques and learning new applications for website design. Take a look around the site and let me know if you see any glitchy stuff. I've already found some in Internet Explorer and fixed them.

At some point I'm going to go back and edit some content too, because I found some weird things, like pictures that weren't loading correctly. I've also been meaning to go back and edit my journal entries from Egypt because I know there is some factual information that is wrong here and there. So, watch for those changes as time goes by.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The creative malaise is broken, but there is no outlet

It is late. On Saturday night. I have had A LOT of coffee. When I have lots of coffee, my creative brain won't stop. Usually it means I am up all night uncontrollably developing crazy ideas for artwork. That is EXACTLY what is happening now. Unfortunately I have no outlet. I have no studio space. I have no way to execute my ideas. So the ideas remain locked up. My brain spins and spins. Ideas churning. No outlet. Blah.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Painting the Narthex

A buddy of mine at church named Scott came up with this great idea to paint the Christian year down the length of the narthex, a long hallway, at my church. I immediately got ideas in my head about what it might look like and eventually opened up Illustrator and laid out my ideas

First the idea went to a committee for approval. I thought it was going to be too wacky and expected resistance, but much to my surprise people seemed to like it. Essentially the narthex is divided into seven sections with eight pillars spaced evenly. The idea was that the spaces in between pillars could be seasons of the Christian year, and the pillars themselves could represent special days with some sort of icon at the top of the pillar. Three curvy stripes, representing the trinity, flow the entire length of the wall. Check out the image to the left.

The Christian year, as represented in this piece goes in this order: Advent, Christmas Day (a pillar), Christmas Season, Epiphany (a pillar), Ordinary Time, Transfiguration Sunday (a pillar), Lent (with two icons in the middle of it, one for Ash Wednesday, the other for Palm Sunday, Good Friday (one side of a pillar painted black, which really isn't obvious in the illustration), Easter Day (a pillar), Easter season, Pentecost (a flaming red pillar), some more Ordinary Time, and Christ the King Sunday (the last pillar).

A few weeks ago we started out by prepping the area to be painted by cleaning off dust and drippy stains. Apparently there was a leak in the roof at one point a nobody bothered to clean up the stains. After that we applied painter's tape to mask of the areas for the base coats. I missed out on the first painting session, in which the first coats were applied, but the members that volunteered did a great job.

Today, Scott and I applied the first coats of green for Ordinary Time. I was thrilled that this was actually becoming a reality. Our church has been in a color rut for about a decade now, so it is exciting to see a color other than white or beige on the walls. And besides, I just love to paint.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Christianity in Iraq

Something that gets completely glossed over in the news media, amidst the reporting of Shia on Sunni, and Sunni on Shia violence is the fact that thousands of Christians live there too. Unfortunately they get caught in the crossfire and are the subject of violence all the time.

My Iraqi friend that I met in Egypt recently sent me a link to a video that highlights this fact. I will warn you that there is some graphic content in this video, but I think it is important to know how our Christian brothers and sisters are being treated there, so I encourage you to watch it.

Here in the U.S. we largely enjoy religious freedom while these people are constantly persecuted for their religion, which I think should give us a better perspective of the freedom we have.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Atlanta Tour - Civil War Style

I have never been very good at exploiting the attractions of my own fair city. I am great at traveling elsewhere and taking in the sights. I've just never been good about doing that in Atlanta.

I have always wanted to take a tour of Atlanta's famous Civil War battlefields, so when my dad asked me if I wanted to go on a tour of the Battle of Atlanta, I jumped at the opportunity. The tour was held by a local man in the city of East Atlanta (yeah, who knew there was actually a city called East Atlanta. I just thought that was everything east of I-285). It became a family affair since my Dad, my brother, my mother and I all went, and it turned out this was the 143 anniversary of the battle itself.

We came to find out the "Battle of Atlanta" was actually confined within a small area east of town, near the modern-day intersection of I-20 and Moreland Avenue. The organizer gave us a packet of maps with positions of different army groups juxtaposed with modern days streets and highways. I was amused to find out that modern-day Flat Shoals Road is actually a native American trading path. That street existed in some for or another long before the original European invasion.

Unfortunately the primary map the organizer gave us, while read right-side up, had North at the bottom. This confused me all the way through the tour. I was so confused in fact, that I thought the attacking group was the Yankee army, when in fact it was the Yankees that had dug in and the Rebel army was making a flanking move to take them out. I'll have to go back again next year, and get it all sorted out, finally knowing which way is up.

Another fantastic sight we got to see is Atlanta's historic Cyclorama. The Cyclorama itself has quite a history, but it is its subject matter that makes it so special. It is a LARGE painting in the round depicting a part of the Battle of Atlanta. The audience begins by taking a seat in a darkened theater, and when the lights go up the entire seating area begins to spin clockwise. Your initial view is as if you are standing in the middle of the battlefield facing East, and in fact you can see the small spires of Atlanta on the horizon. A fixed moment of the battle is raging all around you as gray clashes with blue. A narrator points out historically documented events that are depicted in the painting. The seating area completes its 360-degree journey, and you are back where you started.

Dinner with high school friends

Myspace is a neat thing. You can get reconnected with old friends from a different era. Truly amazing. Recently I got together with my friends Tara and April both of whom I hadn't seen in years.

Tara and I figured it had been at least 8 years since we last saw one another. I was amazed to learn she had a child and was enjoying motherhood. She is also on the verge of completing her massage therapy education, so if you are in the Conyers, GA area and you need a massage, I can refer you to her.

April (the same April I wrote about two posts ago) is now a school teacher. Though I thought it hadn't been long since I last saw April, it has actually been three or four years. She seems so sweet most of the time, though she does have a fiery personality that lurks just below the surface, the one you rarely see. I presume that is what enables her to put up with a classroom of kids for a whole year I am sure. She claims it's a part of her Sicilian heritage. I won't argue. She is living in Loganville now.

We chatted and gabbed for quite some time; so long in fact, our waitress practically kicked us out. (FYI it was at the new Chili's in Snellville)

R2-D2 Mailbox

Oh, and when Curt, Joan and I went to lunch at the CNN center, we found the one and only R2-D2 mailbox I have ever seen. In addition to memories about band camp, I think we can add this and safely say I am a dork.

DCI Southeastern Championship

On July 14th, I went with my friends Curt and Joan to see the Drum Corp show that was here in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome. What a show! It has been years since I really reflected back on my marching band days, but this one event brought back so many memories.

The sweat, the sunburns, the welling-up feeling you get at those big hits in the music and drill, the camaraderie and hours and hours of teamwork that culminate into a show that you will remember for a lifetime. Sometimes you just need something to jog the memory.

There were flocks of high school students that swarmed the place, their eyes wide, eagerly awaiting their favorite corp to perform, perhaps dreaming of being on one some day. That ship has long since sailed for me since you "age out" of drum corp eligibility at the ripe old age of 21. I can look at those teenagers and remember feeling the same way though.

There are a few veteran corps though that perform as exhibition corps (as opposed to competition corps). The one pictured above is Corp Vets (Yeah, that's right. When you say it it sounds like Corvettes. Ha! Clever, huh?) They seem to have a blast!

April, a friend of mine from high school who is now a school teacher, recently wrote in her blog about being nostalgic about this time of year because this is when we started up band camp (Yes, band camp!). She wrote about this call-response thing we used to do to make sure we were in the correct marching posture. I had completely forgotten about it. It was pretty rapid-fire and went something like this:

How are the feet? Together!

Stomach? In!

Chest? Out!

Shoulders? Back!

Elbows? Frozen!

Chin? Up!

Eyes? With Pride! Eyes? With Pride! EYES? WITH PRIDE!

Thanks for that memory, April.