Category Archives: General

The generation of useful objects

Facebook is family violence, isn’t it? This last little revelation, that Facebook messes with your feed from your friends in order to mess with your head and record the results, is actually not driving a lot of Facebook users away. They shrug and say isn’t that the way it is everywhere? They can’t expect any better treatment than that. It’s not important to them that they weren’t informed and didn’t give explicit consent*.
Isn’t that what happens in family abuse? The victim gradually becomes desensitized and starts accepting a little more abuse, a little more. Until finally he/she accepts much more than would have been acceptable in the beginning.
Are our kids going to become a generation of passive abused and used objects, because of social media and NSA?

*That one little mention of ‘research’ in the TOS would never make anyone think of experimental psychological studies actively performed on the users, especially since the phrase “we receive about you” is a passive construct.
That little mention: “…In addition to helping people see and find things that you do and share, we may use the information we receive about you for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.”

Off topic, it’s not possible for any review board to believe that users’ checkmarked OK of that TOS constituted informed consent to those experimental studies.

Notes about gesso

Update: If you want to know the best whiting I’ve tried so far, it’s marble dust. It’s cheap, hard, somewhat absorbent, but not too absorbent.
It can also be mixed into paint to make the paint go further and last longer, if you’re on a budget. You’d be surprised at how much you can mix into oil paint before the marble dust actually tints the color. In water media, it indeed tints quickly and can even be used as a cheap white paint.

I’ve been reading like mad about gesso. I think I love gesso. I’ve jotted down what I’ve read. I only hope that what I’ve read is factual, not a lot of painters’ myths. 🙂

My notes about size and gesso:
Size: a glue used to seal the pores of the painting support, in order to isolate it from the paint and vice versa.
For example, the lignins and acids in wood would eventually leach upward into the painting, yellowing the paint, without being sealed off from the paint. Inversely, the paint might all be absorbed downward into the support. Also, the oil in oil paint could rot both fabric and paper. So, we want something penetrating into the fibers of the painting support, surrounding and isolating them.
The traditional size is rabbit skin glue. (now, if it were squirrel skin glue, I might be tempted to make my own. Darn squirrels are eating the peaches off the tree…that reminded me to locate the pellet gun).

Gesso / ground: a base for the paint. You apply it to the painting support: canvas, board, etc. It gives the paint something to grip to. So, it is somewhat absorbent. However, if the ground is too absorbent, a diluted varnish might be needed over it.
Gesso is also chosen for a desired painting surface: smooth or textured. Some gesso can even be used as modeling paste (cool, I could sculpt mountains into a painting). Gesso can be mixed with paint or pigment and used as a painting medium, if desired.
Acrylic gesso (no need for size) can be used with acrylic and oil paints, but an oil-based gesso cannot be used as a ground for acrylic paint. Also, acrylic gesso is incompatible with egg tempera.

For homemade gesso, you can mix a glue and a whiting/filler, with sufficient water to spreadable consistency. The whiting can be gritty, to give texture, or a fine powder, for smoothness that still has ‘tooth’ (grip). Gypsum absorbs the initial layer of paint evenly, for an even paint film, so has been preferred for centuries.

Possible glues:

unflavored gelatine
casein + alkali (borax preferred)
PVA glue (Elmer’s glue)
methyl cellulose adhesive? (I doubt it)
hide glue

talc/baby powder (soft)
calcium carbonate
corn starch
baking soda (too absorbent!)
(addition of titanium is optional: only for a brilliant white)

For casein glue, I decided to use the recipe from this site

1 Enameled or Pyrex pot (non-metallic)
1 qt skim milk
6 oz  vinegar
4 oz distilled water  (tap water is susceptible to bacteria mold growth)
1 oz  borax (can be substituted with baking soda, quick lime, aqua ammonia or ammonium carbonate)

The casein protein in milk has historically been used as glue. Addition of an alkali makes it glutinous. Borax as the alkali makes a PH neutral glue, suitable for all pigments. The borax acts as a preservative too (not eternal). This glue is an emulsifier – will take oil.

The casein glue can be used as size, in gesso, in milk paint and as a fixative. It’s strong, is somewhat absorbent. It dries brittle, so use is limited to rigid supports. It’s water soluble until dry (another way of saying that: it’s insoluble when dry!).

The making of PVA gesso was simple. I squirted Elmer’s glue into a container, added the same amount of water, then stirred in baby powder. Later I realized I prefer corn starch. It’s smoother. Oh, I added a little baking soda to the Elmer’s glue/water mix, to neutralize the slight acidity of the glue. When the gesso was dry, I had to sand it smooth with fine sandpaper.

My preference is the casein glue + corn starch gesso, for a smooth, flat surface ground, which can take any paint. I have no idea whether corn starch is stable, archival-quality. My purpose was to slap some homemade gesso onto corrugated cardboard and make practice paintings. But I’m so impressed with the homemade gessoes and the ability to paint on all sorts of surfaces, that I’m going to look into it more.

Update: I’ve learned that strong sunlight cracks gesso. 🙁
For more on gesso, read the section Grounds, starting page 18, in the casein booklet:

YouTube ‘video’

I made a little first slideshow of some paintings & drawings for YouTube:

It was spur of the moment! I use Linux Mint Cinnamon Edition, and all you have to do to record your desktop (whatever you’re doing on your computer) is press the key combination Ctrl-Alt-Shift-r. I started an image slideshow in an image viewer, pushed that key combo. When the slideshow was on the last image, I pushed the key combo to stop the recording. Cinnamon makes a movie in WebM format and puts it into your home folder. I uploaded that to YouTube. It took an eyeblink amount of time.

Update: I just saw that users can create photo slideshows directly in YouTube. I am such a doofus.

Hugo art show

Yesterday, I went to the Hugo, OK art show. I didn’t know about it beforehand, so didn’t enter. When I wandered over to the adult painting category, I was pleasantly surprised to see a local(?) artist with a definite personal style and great painting technique. Her name is Susie Murphy. I’ve googled and can’t find her work. That’s too bad. She deserves a lot of exposure. Actually, you deserve to enjoy her art.

I also saw a drawing by a neighbor of mine, Mike Pinson. Yep, right down the road lives a cowboy who draws realistic portraits of cowboy life.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. Maybe the little villages foster talent, exactly because there isn’t much to do. Out in the countryside especially, where cable TV and internet don’t reach.

p.s. Maybe I can beg a photo from someone else who attended. I want to get up a photo of a painting by Susie Murphy.


What a migraine feels like

The pain starts as a minor tightness in one side of the forehead, or my eyes start aching. I take painkiller. After an hour or two, the pain intensifies and becomes a knife in the forehead and slicing down into an eye. Light hurts, any sound hurts. I lie down on my belly. Lying on my back is out of the question; the pain becomes more intense. After a couple more hours, more painkiller. It doesn’t help much. The pain becomes a sharper knife; the nausea starts. When I finally have to vomit, I can’t stop. I keep heaving till I think my ribs are going to come up, until I pee on myself. I try to clean myself up and go back to bed. The phone rings, which hurts my head and makes me vomit again. This time, after a million heaves, I don’t bother getting up off the bathroom floor.

The hours go by. My mind wanders from the pain to random images, some gory and gruesome, some of family and friends. Sometimes sleep takes me from the pain for a while. Sometimes the pain is so bad, I rap my head against the floor. During that second of contact, there’s no pain. So I rap again, of course. If I lived in a city, I think I’d contact a drug dealer for something strong enough.

The hours go by. Eventually I slurp a little water from the tap in the bathroom. I know I’m dehydrated; don’t much care, except that it might worsen the pain.

The days go by. The worst part is over; the pain has become more manageable. A Tramadol actually has some effect. I try to cook something and do a little laundry. I check my email, but the older messages, further down in the inbox, will never be answered.

The pain disappears. Thanks to the daily doses of the beta blocker Propanolol, it’ll be a couple of weeks before I have another migraine. I try hard to live in the present; to exist happily in the pain-free days, but that’s in fact impossible. I’ve become bitter and I’ve become afraid, afraid of the coming pain.


La doloro komenciĝas kiel milda premo, en unu flanko de la frunto, aŭ en la okuloj. Mi glutas kontraŭdoloran medikamenton. Post horo aŭ du, la doloro intensiĝas kaj iĝas tranĉilo en la frunto, klingo suben en okulon. Lumo doloras, iu ajn sono doloras. Mi kuŝas sur mia ventro nepre; surdorsa kuŝado fortigas la doloron en la kapo. Post aliaj du horoj, pli da medikamento. Apenaŭ efikas. La doloro iĝas pli akra tranĉilo; la naŭzo komenciĝas. Kiam fine mi devas vomi, la vomado estas senfina. Ĝis la muskolaj spasmoj kvazaŭ suprenirigas la ripojn; ĝis mi pisas sur min. Mi penas lavi min kaj reveni al la lito. La telefono sonoras — tiu sono doloras kaj igas min vomi denove. Ĉi-foje, post miliono da spasmoj, mi restas sur la planko de la necesejo.

Horoj pasas. La menso vagas de la doloro al hazardaj imagoj, iuj makabraj, iuj plaĉaj bildoj de familianoj kaj amikoj. Foje dormo forkondukas min de la doloro, portempe. Foje, la doloro estas tiel intensa, ke mi batas la kapon kontraŭ la planko. Dum tiu sekundo de kontakto, estas neniu doloro. Do mi batas denove, kompreneble. Se mi loĝus en urbo, mi opinias ke mi kontaktus drog-ŝakriston por narkotikaĵo sufiĉe forta.

Horoj pasas. Fine, mi deĉerpas iom da akvo de la krano en la banĉambro. Mi konscias ke mi estas seka (dehidrata?) kaj estus indiferenta, escepte ke tiu stato eventuale plifortigus la doloron.

Tagoj pasas. La plej terura parto estas malantaŭ mi; la doloro estas pli traktebla. Dozo da Tramadol eĉ fine mildigas la doloron rimarkinde. Mi penas kuiri kaj lavi vestaĵojn. Mi kontrolas retleterojn, sed la malnovaj mesaĝoj pli subaj en la leterkesto neniam ricevos respondojn.

La doloro malaperas. Danke al la ĉiutagaj dozoj da “beta blocker” Propanolol, eble du semajnojn mi vivos sendolore. Mi forte klopodas vivi en la nuno; ekzisti feliĉe en la sendoloraj tagoj, sed tio, fakte, ne eblas. Mi iĝis amara kaj mi iĝis timema, timante la estontan doloron.



Honesta priskribo de la sento de plurtaga migraine (status migrainosus) angle, migreno aŭ hemikranio esperante.

*Kelkaj homoj ne komprenas ke 1. hemikranioj/migrenoj ne estas same kiel aliaj kapdoloroj 2. kelkaj homoj trasuferas hemikranion dum tagoj, ne horoj 3. kelkaj homoj ne trovas kuracon, malgraŭ konsultadoj kun pluraj kuracistoj

*Suferanto de severaj migrenoj estas neeviteble maldungita, do jam ne havas sanan asekuron. Vizito al la urĝejo aŭ enhospitaliĝo sekve, estas tro multekosta. Aldone, nur ĉipaj medikamentoj estas aĉeteblaj. (jes, mi parolas pri mi)


La majstro kaj Margarita: «Nu jes, sendube! Tio estas ĝi, ĝi denove, la nevenkebla, terura hemikranio, malsano ĉe kiu doloras duono de la kapo. Kontraŭ ĝi ne ekzistas rimedo, malestas kuraco. Mi provu ne movi la kapon

My aunt Bonita, who committed suicide at least partly because of severe migraines.