Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Finished Pool More or Less (Piscina è Quasi Completato)

Even in Texas, it was too cool today to go swimming, and so it was that today was the day I finally moved off my laz the pool photos off of my camera. You can see my own version of a typical line of cypress trees in the background here. I keep thinking I should have bought larger ones, but the selection and quantity of the larger ones was severely limited. I'm also wondering if I should plant forward in between each tree to make a solid tree line. Also, I'm seeing life sized hand carved marble statues on either side of the spa. Or maybe just a gigantic hand and head reaching skyward, as if a giant statue was buried in the ground... No that would be lame, two statues it is.

Luckily, since the contractor would work with me a bit, they poured the deck substrate down about 5/8" to the coping stone. This will allow an anti fracture membrane to go on and also a healthy 1/2" thick tile that has a pre-cut (read: not much work for me) pattern. Unfortunately now though, I have substandard choices for the marble, so maybe I'll find something in Italy at the end of the month. I have to finish it fairly soon though as the building permit will run out and I'll have to file for an extension or something. Maybe some friends on the city council can help out if I drag it on too long? Nah, I'll be done before then.

Basically, I now have a 110 meter empty canvas to 'paint' on with marble and mosaics. It. is. cool.

Here is a side view of the steps to see how the mosaics catch the sun, even under water.

Here is one of them up close... I didn't realize that I was blatantly ripping off the Caesar's Palace logo until after it was done (Apologies to Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. But honestly, I left more than enough compensation on your roulette table this past March, guaranteed).

And here is yet another picture... Are you bored yet?

Everybody can stop by for a swim (best bring a wetsuit since it's a bit cool now).

Non credo che è quasi finito! Purtroppo in Texas, trovo che l'acqua si raffredda in autunno. Ho bisogno di comprare qualche famoso marmo di Carrara (ma non questa pietra economici ho campioni di altri luoghi).

Friday, September 25, 2009

How I Made An 'A' (Tentativo di Attentato Scongiurato)

As I was leaving work from the center of downtown Dallas yesterday as I sometimes do, a lady that I can only describe as frazzled and unkempt walks into the parking garage elevator while I'm waiting on the lift. She said 'I can't believe the building was almost blown up!', which raised a bit of concern on my part. When you hear that something only almost happened, what are you supposed to think? So I pragmatically replied, 'Well, it was a good thing it wasn't then, huh?'

Then my mind raced on questions like, 'Well, if the authorities told this lady, why didn't our company hear about it?' and things like that. Apparently the distribution of terrorism control information is an imperfect system at best. While driving home, I get the real scoop on what happened.

A Jordanian illegal immigrant had purchased a fake bomb from the FBI, parked the truck carrying it next to a nearby downtown building, and even went as far as pushing the buttons on a phone which the agents said could be used to detonate it. Hahaa!!! And then Ashton Kutcher ran out and shouted at the would be mass-murderer, 'You were punked, dude! Hahhaa!' (in my mind that part happened, anyway).

I kind of wondered what happened when the number on the phone was dialed. Did an agent pick up and say something? Maybe he was patched through to the automated FBI feedback system so he could leave a big thumbs up for a job well done? Heheh, we may never know.

So no one was in danger from Hosam Maher Husein Smadi (or 'Sam' as his friends called him). Samadi = Sam reminds me that mjenks just had a post about a 'Sam' of Middle Eastern descent who was a social retard and was basically shunned. Hopefully, this guy wasn't the same Sam who read mjenks post and went over the edge (probably not, because of the whole time differential and other factors).

In college, I only crossed paths negatively with one individual from the Middle East. As some of you are familiar with, in college, there are not assigned seats. This fellow I'll call 'Privileged Iranian', had apparently sat in one of the seats up front the previous day in a biology class. He glared at me with the white hot hate of 1000 suns for sitting in 'his' seat. I honestly don't think I've ever seen someone with as much absolute hatred in their eyes about anything, much less something as trivial as not sitting in the same seat as yesterday.

It was humorous. Then he confronted me and shouted. I laughed (because it was funny since the situation was ridiculous to me) and then threatened to kick his ass (c'mon, I was young), and the next day he didn't show up. It probably had something to do with his twisted sense of honor or some crap, but if you go to someone else's country, play by their effing rules.

Sometimes I wonder if that guy might end up in a terror training camp or funding one. It's a good thing I'm not in charge of the military, because I would probably use horrific and atrocious tactics (the likes of which the world hasn't seen for thousands of years) for dealing with any cities filled with people like this. Am I alone in this type of thinking? Sure, I know several Muslim people from this part of the world, but all of them seem to be pretty well balanced. It is a shame that some crazies ruin things for everyone.

I have a bit of a story about that biology classroom by the way. The night before the final exam, I was persuaded to go on a drinking spree with one of the fraternities at the lake. Let's just say that the 'Coors Silver bullets' had wounded me a bit. It was cold out, so I threw on an ice hockey hooded sweatshirt that was exceedingly warm and headed out to take the exam.

As the exam booklets were being handed out, a guy to my right exclaimed 'Man, you smell like a liquor cabinet.' Shrugging it off, everyone started to take the final exam. About 20% of the way through the exam, I began to notice how warm the heater was in the room. Even the professor was shaking his head and commented about how hot it was. Being overly hot and hung over, I started to feel sick but choked it down for another 30% of the test.

After what seemed like an eternity of overly hot stuffy torment on a flipping stomach, I stood up, walked quickly to the door grabbing the little metal trashcan on my way out and proceeded to puke at least 120 oz. of Colorado beer into the trashcan just outside the classroom door.
Of course, it was highly embarrassing as other members of the faculty stopped by and with pity in their voices asked if I was ok. I mumbled yes thanks, picked myself up and went back into the biology final exam. I made an 'A' on the final.

Uomo pazzo comprato una bomba finta, è stato arrestato dalla polizia in Dallas.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Museum Fun (Museo con Tiepolo)

A few weekends ago, I saw a unique exhibit at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. The last great Venetian painter Tiepolo (Giovanni Battista) from the neoclassical era was featured by Philip Haas.

Haas was commissioned by the Kimbell to create something interesting based on two Tiepolo sketch paintings it has in its collection used as models for some of his frescos.

The film was shot from several angles to be shown in a specific viewing room set up with architectural elements from ancient times. The film was projected on the ceiling and four different walls simultaneously, and many times the projections interacted with each other.
For example, at his easel the actor playing Tiepolo looks at real people acting as mythological beings arrayed as if in a fresco and paints them. Mirrors in his studio reflect actions and points of view on the other walls and ceiling.

It wasn't very fast moving (that would make someone sick), but it was better described as subtle changes over time on the different projected panels.

At first it was a little strange being in a room where you can't see all the things going on, but you see some things changing. It was like being in a 360 degree media room that was showing neoclassical stuff. It was pretty high resolution, so it was different to be standing in the midst of all the crazy images.

I'm normally a Dallas Museum of Art kind of guy, but if you are around the Dallas area and have the time, Kimbell is well worth a visit (also, it is free).

Normally after such an interesting exhibit, I would normally be ready to get out the lime plaster and authentic colors and do a fresco now, but I'm getting ready to go to this place.

and this place...

and this place...

Friday, September 11, 2009

What? I Can't Hear Because of Water In My Ears (Che Cosa? Acqua Della Piscina è Nelle Orecchie)

One of the following photos is a picture of part of my pool.
Is it:




Does anyone know what all the above pools are? Any of them? Bueller? Bueller?
If you guessed 'D' you are not incorrect. At least you get a sense of how the custom gold mosaics shine in the sunlight.

Apologies for no complete pictures yet, but I've been busy swimming, landscaping, and stuff so I haven't had time to take a proper photo.

I've been planting authentic Cupressus Sempervirens (Italian cypress) along the fencelines. When I started digging the first hole in the mid-afternoon, I said to myself, 'Self, I'll surely have these six trees planted before dark.' Well that was before the spade I was using made a scraping sound across the bottom of the hole.

I thought for sure that I had found some old Civil War era treasure chest, or at least some 180 year old canned goods or something useful. But, no such luck, it was a rock-like clay that I can probably best describe as shale. You have heard of the Earth's crust? Well I had found one of the crunchier sections of it. I saw this as a good opportunity to drag out my ten pound sledge hammer and a crowbar (and even some goggles to shield the eyes from the flying rock chips). Does anyone else type 'Googles' when trying to type 'goggles'? Luckily, this strata of geological botanical prophylactism was easily pierced and the trees were quickly planted.

Some genuine gold leaf is now on order for the gilding of my carved sign letters, but not before I'll be painting an authentic cinnabar (red mercuric sulfide) and linseed oil primer to make the gold leaf shine.
Maybe you are contemplating the fancying up of a garden gnome or plastic flamingo outdoors? If that's the case, you should use genuine gold leaf. Typical gilding leaf found in stores in the US is what they call 'Dutch Metal', which will corrode when exposed to the weather (no offense Dutch Donut Girl).
You can also buy a variety of gold leaf that is called 'double', which is ironically only 10% thicker than regular gold leaf, but will last for a very long time. I guess there is something to the expression 'Giving 110%'.
I wonder what cheap pikey fellow came up with 'double' to describe +10% where gold is concerned?

Also on my mind lately are recreations of ancient couches with outdoor cushions. I'm working on carving couch legs (I'll need 12 of them for three couches).
The bronze they'll be cast in will need to be around 3mm thick according to UK sculpture expert Ailsa Magnus (check out her enormous iron balls).
That much bronze will still be fairly heavy for 16" tall legs with a 1.5" diameter and cross supports for the wood I'm going to connect it to. The endgame with the couches is to have three in a 'U' shape, which is a classical 'Triclinium'. The triclinium was how dining went down 2000 years ago, but I'll probably just put a fire pit on a mosaic pavement and have everyone drink wine there.

Have a great weekend and I'll really be posting more complete pictures soon (seriously, really, I promise).

Riuscite a indovinare l'immagine della mia piscina?
C'è una foto di tre divani voglio fare (triclinium antiche)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Those Kids Were Almost on the Short Bus (Autobus Quasi Disastro)

I was driving to work this morning and couldn't believe my eyes, I saw a near collision! A large yellow schoolbus in a lane in front of me was heading the same direction I was. Out of nowhere, a white Toyota Camry sped directly towards the bus and nearly hit it and my car. My car and the bus were both heading South and the Toyota was heading North. Luckily the Toyota didn't cross the double yellow line that was between our vehicles or there could have been serious damage and maybe even loss of life.

In other news, whenever a pool contractor mentions that they will give you time between cleaning and plastering to do your custom tilework, be sure to ask about the actual window of time. Would it be wrong for me to have assumed, say, a day? Why yes, it was wrong. Maybe four hours of daylight (a half-day)? Wrong again!

My cleaners finished at 8pm and the plaster subcontractors were scheduled for 7am the next day. During this time, I had to lay the tile on thinset, let that dry, seal the stone, let that dry, then do the grout, and yes, you guessed it, let that dry also.

Normally when I do such tasks, I have the wonder of working in daylight where I can actually see the results. But instead, picture a guy awkwardly holding a flashlight on the neck like a mobile phone while frantically wiping grout at 2am. Yay. I'll post some pictures soon, you know, after I finish swimming because I don't want to take the camera in the pool.

I apologize that I've been extremely busy lately, and haven't had spare time to acknowledge awards and memes and stuff, much lest post. But here is a meme that I can get out of the way. The Jules has tasked me with describing seven traits, and I've seen some of you blog-geniuses out there doing this one so I will attempt to answer also. I wonder what happens if two bloggers simultaneously tag each other *looks up and to the left, resting head pensively on fist*? Would we have infinite meme recursion? Well I for one am not going to tag anyone, but do with this what you will:

1) Lack of patience on the phone is definitely a trait of mine. If someone can't communicate what they are trying to say in the first minute or two, they should just get *off* the phone.I'm not saying that you have to talk like '1920's Reporter Guy', but just say it already...

2) I make things and probably should have my own manufacturing company by now. Whenever I see something nice, my first thought is usually 'How can I make that?' Don't most *normal* people think something along the lines of 'Where can I buy that?'

3) Owing any institution or person money makes me extremely uncomfortable, so I live on the positive side with no debt and within my means. If you want to drive me crazy, buy me lunch and refuse to let me pay you back, ever (But I'll find a way to pay you back, even if you don't realize).

4) Whenever I see a puzzle (especially word or anagram scramble related), there comes with it an obsessive compulsive need to solve.Here is one for you that I just thought of:

'Manic Arranges' = '?' (source words are a clue to the answer)

5) Cold weather is much more enjoyable to me than hot weather, maybe it's just because I live in Texas and am tired of hot weather. Even on a boat, the cold is nice.

6) When picking my passwords, I always **** * ** **** *******. **** ** **** * *******?

7) Under any circumstances, I will not eat watermelon. Or anything that tastes even in trace amounts like a watermelon including but not limited to cucumber, cantelope, honeydew melon, watermelon bubble gum, etc.

Everyone have a great weekend. I imagine all of the US folks will since it is a three day stretch...