Category Archives: Strange things found in my head

Thoughts on this leap day

So when “they” (the Romans?) invented this calendar we use, instead of giving February 28 days and 29 every four years, they could have instead taken a day each from two of the months with 31 days, made February 30 days like most other months, and ended up with seven months with 30 days and five with 31.  That would be a lot more consistent and easy to deal with, don’t you think?

It’d be even better if they put the seven 30 day months first (January to July) and then finished the year with the five 31 day months (August to December).  Leap day would then best be put at the end of July —  July 31st, every four years.

Even better still, 365 days divides pretty evenly into thirteen 28 day months.

I think the 13th month should be called Zorgember.

28? 30? 31? Whaaaaaat?

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Painting: Falling


Here’s another painting I finished recently.  It’s a bit of a departure for me.  And obviously I cannot claim there is no symbolism in this one.  🙂

Falling

Falling, acrylic on 12" x 16" canvasboard

So, a word (or 329) on themes in art:

There are at least three motives that I see behind themes in art, other than intentionally using a theme as subject matter.  Ok, four then.  But the first I wanted to mention is probably the most overlooked for its straightforward simplicity — maybe the artist just likes to paint elephants or palm trees or hieroglyphics or Kokopelli, etc.

Another force behind a theme is that the artist keeps trying to do something, but does not think they have achieved it yet.  The artist can seem to be painting the same kind of thing over and over… because he is.  I have this going on with these.  The second changed direction a little, but the third, which you’re seeing for the first time now, is a return to at least the original direction of what I’m going for.

Mother's Day Painting

Mother's Day Painting, Acrylic on 12" x 9" canvas paper

...in progress

...in progress

...in progress

...in progress

And then there are themes that are more psychological.  ‘Falling’ falls into this category.  (I said “falling falls” — sorry, couldn’t resist)  Ahem, moving right along:

I once heard of the notion of ‘personal imagery’, which is something that is symbolic just to you.  Not something with widely recognized symbolism, like the story of Icarus for example.  For years I wondered if I had any personal imagery — now I realize I do.  Falling is not an entirely negative thing to me though.  Certainly if there is oh, a planet rushing up towards you, then falling is definitely a bad thing.  But if you have a parachute, then falling can be a lot of fun.  Until fairly recently in life I’ve always wanted to try skydiving.  Then there is falling asleep.  When I go to bed extremely tired, I often literally feel a falling sensation as I fall asleep.  It’s nice.  A pleasant plummeting into a sky of dreams.  Then there is zero-gravity free-fall, as in space.  I’ve always though that would be a whole lot of fun.  “Falling in love” is also an interesting euphemism, isn’t it?

So this guy in this painting… I’m really not sure why he’s falling.  I can’t tell if he is tense, as he would be if falling to his death, or just excited and having a blast.  One thing though — with all those bright colors he is a ‘being of light’, for lack of a better term.  Regardless of whether his fall is a good thing or bad, the bright colors represent the greatness of his potential and capabilities.  He makes his own reality, as each of us does every moment of every day.  And I also really cannot say if the dark background represents the foreboding of impending doom, or just the mystery of adventure and wonders as yet undiscovered.  Either way, one thing for sure is that he is not Icarus.

Another thing is that in the moment frozen in this painting, everything is fine.  He’s just falling, and has not hit the ground — or opened his parachute — yet.  In this moment there really are no problems.  Everything is fine.  We need to remember that this is always the case in every moment.  It’s always fine, no matter how bad it seems.  We make problems, and there would not be any distress over situations (aka problems) if we did not create it.  I need to remember that  better too.

So ‘falling’ is definitely a theme I could explore more through painting, or blogging, or just sittin’ and thinkin’…

As always, comments are more than welcome.  Even though I haven’t left you much room for interpretation with this one.  But I would still love to hear what this painting means to you, or any other thoughts.  🙂

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Tiglath Pileser

I collect funny names.  Funny names have a charm all their own.  This “collection” started when I was in high school and reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.  At one point the protagonist, Bernard, is brought before Mustapha Mond, the Resident World Controller for Western Europe.  Philosophical discourse on the state of the brave new world ensues.  But a lot of that went over my head the first time I read it, so distracted I was as I marveled at this incredible name — Mustapha!  Was it a real name?  Could it be?  This is science fiction after all — science fiction has quite the tendency to make up names.  Later I learned that it was in fact a real name!  “I have to remember this!” I thought.  Thus was my collection of funny names born.

At some point after that I further learned that Mustapha, or Mustafa, is actually a very common Arabic name, but that did not tarnish its luster — it was still captivatingly unusual to me.

Next in the collection was Zbigniew.  As in Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter in the ’70s.  Mention of his name on the evening news became part of the background of my life.  So, it’s a Polish name of course, but what a name!  It was definitely on the list.

In college I took a course in medieval history and found it a treasure trove of odd names — Sigibert and Fredagunda were so on the list!  Conversations with friends about this added a few more names from their family trees.

  • Mustapha
  • Zbigniew
  • Sigibert
  • Fredagunda
  • Minerva
  • Wilhemina
  • Felamina
  • Nevaline
  • Erasma
  • Alfareta

And there the list sat, forgotten as mere youthful skylarking… until last week.  Lately I’ve been listening to one of the Great Courses as I commute:  Ancient Empires before Alexander, by Professor Robert L. Dise.  It is fascinating.  The history — not of civilization — just since there have been Empires, extends 300 years further away from the time of Jesus than we stand today.  The first empire (we currently know of) of Sargon of Akkad went from c. 2334 – 2278 BC.  The 2300’s AD is where we’ve placed Star Trek in our fictional future.  And that’s just the first empire; civilization itself goes back even further.  It’s kind of mind-blowing to realize that civilization has more history BC than there has been AD — a lot more.

Ancient history is also a treasure trove of funny names!  Studying ancient history though, you quickly become accustomed to unusual names.  Names like Utuhegal, Hammurabi, Thutmose, and even Shamshi-Adad quickly cease to even raise an eyebrow after you’ve gotten into the idiom of ancient history.  But then you run into a name like Tiglath Pileser!  Wow!  Tiglath Pileser, Emperor of Assyria.  Leaving aside how brutal the Assyrians were — possibly even more brutal than the Romans — I still just have to say, “Wow!  What name!”

Suppiluliumas and Shalmaneser are also definitely on the list!  Suppiluliumas was a Hittite “Marcus Aurelius” or “Constantine” you might say.  A later emperor who reversed a declining situation for the Hittites and rebuilt and expanded the Hittite empire.  Shalmaneser was another Assyrian emperor.  I forget his claim to fame — other than being an emperor of course — but again, what a name!

  • Tiglath Pileser
  • Suppiluliumas
  • Shalmaneser

Do you have any favorite odd names?

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