I Have a New Toy

The first day of my new life was less than eventful.  I did not wake that morning smarter, better looking, or even richer.  To anyone but me, that day was the same as the one before.  But like I said, anyone but me.

Financial aide does not cover parking so we loaded the kids in the car and headed across town.

My block.

They dropped me at the curb, I kissed the kids goodbye, and they sped off to the zoo, or the splash park, but most likely Aldi’s.  I shouldered my bag and headed for the new office.

University of Pennsylvania

Buildings were in fact ivy covered, I did spot some bow ties, and the man at the door of the building just waved me inside.

I sat through a meeting with an outside marketing company hired to help with a project.  None of them questioned my right to be in the room.  I was introduced to all the staff who worked on the floor, most were friendly, others were busy, none told me to go home.  Then it came time for the scary part, the part where I would be told my role for the upcoming year.  The moment where I would be asked to perform a task and then run the risk of exposing my ineptitude.  The moment of truth.

I quickly scribbled down notes of my to-do’s, nodding agreement and understanding along the way.  I was not completely there, I was acting.  A huge manila folder containing a full ream of paper brought me back to reality.

Homework on the first day on the job.

I was to sift through the stack and check the raw data for errors.

I occasionally click on those generic web articles that pop-up with titles such as “Top Questions Asked In Job Interviews”, or “What Employers Look For Most”. Each time I do I see listed “attention to detail” as a priority and each time I reconsider the janitorial arts.  It’s my Achilles heal.

That file was stuffed into my bag, bloated with apprehension.  I did a little exploring, looking for a suitable place to expose my weakness (my assigned workspace is under construction).

I found a quiet spot to my liking, cleared my head, and dug in.  That’s when I realized how this was going to be different.

Fine Art Library

I had assumed Ivy was different because it was harder.  Maybe that’s true. I assumed Ivy would be different due to a competitive cohort.  We will see.  When I opened that file and started to dig in I experienced something I have never felt in my professional or academic life… I cared.
I flipped through pages and dug into data and realized that in this mess lay useful information.  This was a huge pile of things I was interested in!  I reopened my notebook and skimmed my to-dos and tasks, confronting me right there was how this was different.  It was as if someone had looked at my resume, qualifications, skills, and interests, and from that information devised a list of things for me to do.  In fact, that is exactly what had happened. I was no longer a widget.

This is going to be different.

I Grew Up In A Tipi, Part 2

Before our wedding I thought it best to show my fiancé’ all the card she was about to be dealt.  We drove north, past the University, up a scenic canyon, off the road, and finally to where my family had set up camp.  The Cache Valley Rendezvous was always one of the tamest so I figured it the best venue to inform without terrifying my city dwelling bride to be.


We had been dating almost a year and she knew nothing of this.  It was and has been that dark corner of my closet that cannot go away, but hasn’t seen the light of day for more than a decade.  I was not ashamed of my roots, but much like wasabi, too much at once, or even a little bit if unexpected, can be hard to recover from.  The two of us did not dress up, we just played tourist.

It did not take long to shock her.  “Was that man naked?” she asked forgetting not to stare.  “Of course not, he’s wearing a breach cloth, and I’m pretty sure a beard that long counts as a shirt,” I answered.  I could see I was losing her so I suggested we try something more up her alley, like shopping.

Trade’s row had lots of shiny things but no sequins. Glass beads, feathers, carved horns and all sorts of animal products did not elicit the same response from her I had witnessed in countless malls.  Perhaps it was due to the ornamental wares being accessorized by rifles, pistols, large knifes, and steel traps.  It all seemed normal to me.  Perhaps it was the raccoon hat that did her in; the one with the animal’s face left intact and positioned right over the wearer’s brow.  I had to act quickly or she would never last to to the campfire that night.

The people I knew growing up.

Navajo Tacos saved the day.  She had never heard of this staple food, nor had she ever heard of, nor met, a Navajo.  She decided that anything involving fry bread, or its Anglo cousin the scone, was almost worth enduring and she decided to stay.  Unfortunately so did the breach cloth man.

As we sat in camp with family and friends we regaled her with tales of rendezvous past.  She was unimpressed with my boasting of winning the men’s division “mountain man run” at the age of twelve, wanted nothing to do with black powder, but was frighteningly natural with a tomahawk.  I told her of how it was common for the nights to get a little loud at some encampments, and how it was just as common to find those who got too noisy to find themselves paraded through camp at unreasonably early hours wearing horse hobbles being forced to ring non hangover friendly cowbells.  She had never heard of hobbles.

I don’t think she had ever heard a dulcimer before that evening either.  The campfires of my youth were not the contrived sorts of scout camps.  They were places where camp business was handled, awards for the day’s contests were given, and where my father would compete for the tall tales trophy.  He was especially good at creating fantastic lies of his mountainly exploits and recounting fictional adventures.  He explained how he had battled grizzly bears, Black Feet, and mothers-in-law.  His stories won prizes and the hearts of his children.  I think it took another Navajo Taco to win the heart of my wife.

The breach cloth man my wife saw, forgot the rest of the outfit displayed above.

The two of us have never been back.  We soon left that part of the country entirely.  As I write this the summer is coming to a close, she is with the kids at a city park, and I’m in a library at a major University.  I hear jackhammers through the window, can see lots of golf shirts and boat shoes, and I smile to myself knowing I can “stick” a Green River knife from more than ten paces.

I Grew Up In a Tipi… No Really, I Did. Part 1

I used to dread that day every year.  We would all be sitting in a classroom, excited to see our friends after a summer’s break and the teacher would ask, “So, what did you do over summer vacation?”

Other kids who knew, would snicker as it came close to my turn.  I had the same answer every year, my answer always caused the most fuss, “this summer I wore buckskins and lived in a tipi.”

Me and my big brother... and home.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of it while it was happening, just not any of the time spent explaining it to the suburban kids at school.  It was different.  Different isn’t cool to suburban fifth graders.  Turns out it isn’t cool to many grown ups either, as I learned in the office the other day.

My family were members of H.U.M.M. the High Uinta Mountain Men.  Every summer since before I was born, my school teacher parents would load up the van with supplies, as well as us kids, and head from rendezvous to rendezvous.  If you have never heard of, or been to one of these events, nothing could fully describe it.

Chores included gathering fire wood... I usually avoided chores.

They would range from what seemed little more than a tourists fair in Fort Bridger, Wyoming, to the strictly primitive “Nationals” at various locations including Glacier National Park in Montana.  Hundreds, or even thousands, of people would set up camp; tipis, lean-tos, and wall tents, dress in buckskins or pioneer garb, and trade, barter, and compete in all sorts of contests of mountain man skills.  That would be the official description.  At a glance it would look more like a bunch of bearded guys and girls drinking moonshine out of tin cups, carrying Bowie knives, and shooting black powder rifles.  Both descriptions together give a pretty good idea of what went on.

Learning to start a fire with flint and steel. Because one should know how to do such things.

My dad, an art teacher in winter, would trade hand crafted powder horns and engraved knife handles.

Some kids made their business debut with a lemonade stand, I made mine trying to barter a woven sash for a cigarette lighter crafted from an antler.  I found it on Traders Row, a dusty road through camp, with booths and blankets set up along side. It was an imaginative child’s treasure trove.  You could find any type of animal fur, beads and broaches, knives in any size, tools, tomahawks, and any variety of clothing most appropriately worn in 1823.

At each new camp my brother and I would seek out old friends, scout new treasures, and find the lay of the land.  The important things to find were: anyone selling candy, anyone selling knives, and where the shooting range was set up.

Once we knew which direction the guns were pointing we would head up the opposite mountainside.


We always set our sights on the highest point and tried to reach it before dinner time.  We would hurdle sage brush, climb under scrub oak, and do our best to out altitude the quakies.  The start of the summer was always a little rough as we did our hiking wearing moccasins.  It would take a couple treks to toughen up our feet.

Trad Illustrations

Some ideas are good, some are great, and some belong on the cutting room floor.  Sometimes, when an idea is imagined, its hard to tell in which category the plan belongs.  That’s what phones and email are for.  I called John.

Image as seen at http://www.dalynart.com

I knew I had bothered the right person when he knew who Leyendecker was with no explanation. He suggested I don’t just do some paintings, but I make it a blog.  Imagine that, a blogger suggesting you start a blog, groundbreaking.

I have already written about who Tinseth is, and what he does, and he has already told me my shoes are horrible a million times.  I don’t always listen to him.  I still refuse to wear a madras jacket, I regularly wear denim, but I do need new shoes.

He was right about the blog thing too.

School Isn’t In, but I Am

Yesterday I was a cog in the corporate machine.

Toiling away

Today I inhabit the ivory tower.  Well… more like I’m now a very small cog in the machine that is the ivory tower.

Let the learning begin... soon.

Classes have not yet begun, the dust of summer construction has not yet settled, and I have now met the group I will be working with.  I think the receptionist is  a PhD, last year I spent half my nights sleeping in a van.

1924 Olympic Rugby

In 1924 the world gathered in Paris to participate in gentlemanly competition and sport.  This gathering was brought to modern memory, well… relatively modern memory, in the 1981 best picture winning film, Chariots of Fire.  In this film, and in history, a group of British runners excel against great odds to earn victory and honor.

That film missed the best part.

image found at http://www.dalynart.com

The day before the track and field events, the United States Rugby team defeated France to win the gold medal.

By 1924 the United States had fully embraced American Football and forgotten the oblong ball.  In the lead up to the Olympics, a group of interested men in San Francisco raised funds to send a team of Yanks to Paris.  They scraped up a few familiar with the game, then added a number of Stanford basketball and football players to round out the squad.  They learned the game while steaming across the Atlantic and arrived ready to play.

And play they did, beating Romania 37-0 and then capturing the gold against the hometown team 17-3.

Sporting the best looking uniforms the Americans have ever worn (true to this day), the Californians not only kicked, but stomped, the hornet’s nest.  In the opening acts of the game, Stanford basketball captain Lefty Rogers, knocked the French star unconscious.  By the end of the game a riot had erupted in the stands and the American national anthem could not be heard over the chorus of boos and rabble of the crowd.  One player was beaten with a walking stick and the team was granted a police escort to the locker room.

Rugby was never played in the Olympics again.

Next month the world will gather to play rugby.  The world cup, held every four years, is the planet’s fourth most watched television event.  The American’s are not expected to win… a game.  But the games have not yet been played and time will tell.

But there is more than hope on the horizon.  When the summer Olympic games kick off in Brazil, rugby will be represented.  We will enter the games as the sport’s defending gold medalists, and as such, we can dream of defending that award and hopefully we will be wearing that shield on our chests.

When What You Don’t See, Matters

When I sit down to paint, I often just sit and stare.  I look at the work in progress and imagine what I’ll do next, visualize how I will do it, and then once I’m done, I just stare some more.  Hopefully it’s because the finished product is worth staring at.

Sometimes the image stares back.

I did this sketch, just for fun. I found the image in Flusser’s book, liked it and scribbled it out.  Its nice enough, but if you have seen the photo you would know that there is a son missing.  The man has two sons, I lost interest before I got to the smaller boy holding the fishing pole.  Now when I stare at the image all I see is the glaring hole to the man’s left.  There is an offended ghost looking back at me sulking that his brother has become the favorite.

There is now meaning to this doodle.  It has gone from exercise in pen and ink, to essay on father/son and sibling relationships.

All thanks to what I did not draw.

Today I post this image at www.dalynart.com I painted it because I liked the look.  Two “Trady” guys sitting on a bench waiting on the Greyhound.  Add some late 30’s font and voila! Old school Greyhound add…. sorta.

This is the image I referenced for the painting.

These are Freedom Riders sitting in a holding cell after being arrested for riding an integrated bus.  As I was looking through some old images I was struck by how presentably appointed these young people were.  I look at blogs throughout my day and many said sites would suggest people today should dress the way they did then.  I like the way they acted; what they did and why.  So I did a painting.

It isn’t over the top or preachy.  It stands on its own as a stylish ad.  But an add for what?

A Mention in the Deseret News

So I get a Facebook message from an old friend saying he always expected to see my name in the paper, but always assumed it would be followed by the word “convicted”.


Thanks Keith and Vai.