My first canvas stretching

Friday, 31 July 2009 18:07 by salim

Shobha has been bugging me to stretch one of her paintings for sometime now. Actually, more than one. But since I have not done that in my life before, I was a bit apprehensive. Even though she loves me dearly, tearing or damaging one of her favorite paintings could be intense.

She is getting ready to go to Virginia for a show and I had no excuse for procrastinating it further. So, today evening, I mustered all my courage and started on the painting.

The stretch bars were already here, we bought it a few months ago. I was actually trying to find something very thin to stretch, but apparently there are no such products readily available. Bob The Builder, my remodeling contractor (more about him in another post) suggested some weird contraption using steel or aluminum bars and channels etc. But, i was not convinced.

So, the first task was to assemble the frame. It was funny and a bit frustrating. Since I did not want my first frame should be crooked, I started carefully making sure that the corners were perfect 90 degrees. However, like any other frame, the moment I got one corner right, all other corners would become crooked, almost defying laws of geometry. Finally I got the trick. I just made sure that one corner is nicely flushed, got a square, made sure that there is no space even for a hair between the square and the frame and splasch. There goes the stapler. Guess what, it went in smoothly.

The first time I used that stapler for fixing my rig table, I had hard time pushing the staples through the wood. This was an old kitchen counter and probably had a harder wood. The frame was, on the other hand quite soft. The staple went in like knife in butter. (Every time I hear that saying, I think about cutting butter that I just took out from the freezer. Since we shop at BJs, and we are not Buttertons, we have to keep our butter in the freezer).

To my utter amazement, the rest of the corners behaved so well once I stapled the first one. May be they realized that resistance is futile.

Now comes the stretching part. I am well versed in the theory of the process, but it is always hard to translate it into practice. Following the instructions, I finished the four points, and then eight. Just to check it, lifted the painting and it is sagging like… something that sags liberally. That is when I remembered. There is a pliers that is specifically designed for stretching canvas. Shobha of course had it. So, I started stretching and stapling. Naturally, i had to take out the original staples as they were causing wrinkles. It was easy at first, but towards the end, the stapler was getting harder and harder to press.

I had no idea how to fold the corners correctly. So Shobha like a master showed me how it is done. I still dont know how, but I will call her again the next time we do it. She will be our official Corner Folder.

After the final staple, I attached the hanging hooks and wire and lifted it up, expecting something to horribly go wrong. It was perfect. Taught, crisp… beautiful painting. Here is it

singers_thumb1 

It is called the Three Singers. I love the painting, especially the singers. I definitely scored a point today!

If you want to see more of Shobha’s paintings, visit her online galleries here and here.

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ATT blocks 4Chan, and I did not try to check it out till now!

Monday, 27 July 2009 17:34 by salim

That is pathetic, for a person who considers myself as well versed in new web. Better late than never, as they say.

No, I am not going to put a link in here as it could lead to pretty NSFW pages. It is a very vibrant community. I will definitely make it a habit to visit them.

But coming to the core of the matter, It is absolutely crazy that ATT would try something like that. What a lot of people don’t understand is that freedom of speech cannot be optioned. It is either absolute or not at all. Being said that, 4Chan, on its front page, and most of its pages show a very interesting slice of humanity. There is absolutely no reason for this to be even considered offensive unless you are in the habit of going into totally strange cultures and finding them as offensive and carpet bombing them.. Oops, I forgot, we have done that.

Now there are lots of contradicting reports about the action. Truth, as always lies somewhere in between. But, it is important in once sense. ISPs, if they have to block a site or IP address for some security reasons, should be upfront about it. Blocking it without prior notification to the users or to the website is a breach of contract, which ATT is not very shy to do.

It was an interesting episode. And I found a good place to checkout from time to time or may be even hangout.

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Cardinals in the secret garden

Saturday, 25 July 2009 11:53 by salim

There is a cardinal family living in my secret garden. They are the most tricky, elusive birds. Absolutely beautiful as well.

Every time I see them, I run to get my camera. It is almost like they have an instinctual distaste to be photographed. The moment I aim my camera at them, they fly away.

Today morning, which by the way is very gorgeous, I was standing in my porch beaming at the new cherry tomatoes that are coming out. And there they were. Both of them, very carefree, pecking around the plants. This was the first time I was able to see them at this close distance.

The male has one ruffled feather, may be he just had a fight. The female was quite content, just pecking without looking around. He did turn his head towards me and alerted his mate. But after some thought they decided to stay.

I resisted my urge to run back and get my camera. This time, I just watched them. They look even more bright and colorful under the deep blue sky, bright sunny day. Yesterday’s rain have left the leaves gleaming. I love this, and I can keep this image in my mind, without the need for a photo.

I am going to continue to try to get them in my camera. One of these days, I will, and I will share it. Until then, if you can read mind, come in my REM sleep today and replay it :-)

Invasion of Crows

Tuesday, 21 July 2009 23:55 by salim

It was a quite cloudy day. Low clouds always give me headache. Sinus problems. Yes, yes, I know, I should stop smoking.

So, in the morning, I was lying in my favorite couch sipping my tea. Suddenly I hear crows.

Crows are a constant presence back home in Kerala. Some of my best memories involve distant crowing in the afternoon. Have you ever listened to the lonely crow? Especially in a hot afternoon. It is kind of magical. But, it is downright creepy when you hear a crow at night.

Anyways, I walked outside and saw a whole bunch of crows at the top branches of the oak. I think I have seen one or two crows around, but never in this many numbers. They must have found something.

In Kerala, one kind of crows are believed to bear the souls departed ones. In the anniversary of death, we call the crows to come and eat cooked sun-dried rice. Take a dip in the pond over there, climb up without drying, clap your wet hands, and there the crows (Bali Kakka – Sacrificial Crow, no we don’t kill them. Rice is the offering to the crows).

It was weird to hear that many crows in Philadelphia. They are much bigger than back home as well. May be they are planning a Hitchcockian invasion!

New home, not so new beginning…

Saturday, 18 July 2009 23:30 by salim

For quite some time I have been very lazy in writing in my blogs. Oh, I can come up with thousands of excuses for not doing it. But lets say, I was otherwise occupied.

Now that I have this spanking new server from one and one and migrating all my web sites to this one, I thought the blog should be the first one to come here.

My old blog, which was using CS got hacked either due to my sloppy management or due to some bug in CS, I just killed it. Now here we are. Lets see how resilient Blogengine.net is. So far, it is very nice. The installation is a bit hands on, but except for a frustrating issue about CAS (which was solved by turning on user profiles in application pool) everything else was pretty neat.

I have to comment on the excellent tool from Aaron Lerch that helped me to import my old blogs from blogspot. Worked like a charm. Too bad he closed the comments.

Well, lets see how this goes…

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A non-pedantic, civil musing on GovindanKutty and racial prejudices...

Saturday, 18 July 2009 21:51 by salim
(This post was written in collaboration with Shobha (http://www.chaaya.com) Last post was meant to be a comment and I was not really looking forward to write a follow up on that. But, it looks like I have to, as GK has posted a reply to it (which in itself could be a post) in the comments of the original post in question. (.(http://chespeak.blogspot.com/2008/12/barak-obama-and-skyscrapers-of.html. The comment is towards the end) As a good blogger, I should have left my reply in the comment section itself, but Blogger comments are very limited and I cannot put any formatting, links or pictures (ohh yes, I have one for this). So, I decided to make it into a post as well. There are several parts in GK's reply that I have objections about. []one, as human hue, white is superior to black. forced to make a choice, we would like to be white, not black. which is not to say that to like to be white is necessarily to hate those who have not been lucky to be white. My friend FT told me that I should not be pedantic and should not show resentment (she had it in all CAPS) when I am having a discussion. So, I will be very civil. So, this time, I will start with two stories. One is a native American legend. (http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/TheWell-BakedMan-Pima.html. Here is a more literary retelling of the story http://www.ralphmag.org/CM/cave-god.html). The short version of it is, that the creator made man out of clay and baked it in the fire. But Coyote the trickster fooled creator into baking the first one too little thus having a pale color and the second one too long, with a black color. Creator got very angry, sent the trickster away and made the perfectly baked red skinned man. The second story (I couldn't find a web reference to it), I think was "told" by our own VKN is about the dilemma of European missionaries in explaining the White God and Black Devil to African people. But, we don't have to look far to figure out the connection between the assumption of white as a superior skin color and its relation to social power structure. All we have to remember that some of the prime symbols of female and male beauty in Indian mythology have dark skin. I understand where GK is coming from and acknowledge that in Kerala, and probably in India as a whole, there is a tendency to consider white skinned people as more desirable than dark skinned. But, instead of realizing the social factors behind it, elevating it into a human reality is quite a stretch. I am sure the well known culture critics who have commented in this article could explain it in a more academic way than I could. "fondness for white as a human complexion is a, shall we say, psycho-social reality. if it is a curse for humankind, let us kick the god who made it so. lala har dayal once proposed that a chemical substance be made that can be injected into the skin to turn it white. that would have enlarged the scope of human choice, and solved colour problem in the flick of a finger, but that was not to be." Now, we are going even further to attribute a regional social attitude as a divine reality. (By the way, it is quite possible to bleach one's skin off all melanin and become white.) I don't know if I am reading too much to these two paragraphs, it seems to me that GK is suggesting that the only way for races with dark skin to succeed is by procreating with white skinned people and turning their offspring to white! two, diversity is all very good, we may even delight in diversity, as desmond tutu put it, but it is not good to make everything equal to everything else. I am a bit confused here. Diversity, by definition, is the opposite of making everything equal to everything else. It is the acknowledgement of the exact opposite, realization that everything is NOT equal to everything else. (I have to say, I am quite disappointed that I didn't even make it to the Romantics... It is just pseudo-romantic.) aborigines of nilambur forests, cholanaickens, live in caves and on wild berries and locusts, [...] do we say it is their style, it is their choice, and that their style, their choice, is as good as ours? no. i do not rate those environmentalists [...],as significantly sane. we need to allow ourselves the human right to exercise comparative cultural judgement." No one is questioning making personal judgments on comparative culture. It, as GK writes, is a human right. However, when that judgment goes further into making decisions (often autocratic) about the lives of the "other" culture, it becomes an infringement of human rights. Every societal group assumes their culture to be the right one, better than the "other". This, again, is a right of a people. I have the right to be a Nair and forage for fish and crabs in the streams when not fighting a fierce "war", and the Cholanaickans have their right to forage for wild berries. It brings up yet another example from the not so far in the past. As the new worlds being found by the middle age travelers, there was a huge "concern" about the lack of culture and morality among these newfound worlds. It probably was a very earnest effort from the part of the Missionaries that flocked to these African and South American societies to convert the unbelievers and aborigines to "civilization". But, we now know that, many of these "uncivilized" cultures were, in reality, were technologically and otherwise as much or even more advanced than the European societies at that time. A fine example is the recent researches into El Dorado and the discovery of Dark Earth. (http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Feb06/AAAS.terra.preta.ssl.html, http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2002/eldorado.shtml). One can, of course take the more colorful route of assuming all the achievement of these early civilizations are from visiting Aliens. "[..]do we want to become black and dress our hair like some blacks? like cholanaickens? we mouth a lot of praise for theyyyam but do we like to train our children as theyyam artists?" The question is never whether I want to braid my hair like "some blacks". (I would love a Bob Marley hairdo though. I am slowly getting there.) The question is about being me, and part of my culture is the right thing to do.

(This post was written in collaboration with Shobha (http://www.chaaya.com)

Last post was meant to be a comment and I was not really looking forward to write a follow up on that. But, it looks like I have to, as GK has posted a reply to it (which in itself could be a post) in the comments of the original post in question. (.(http://chespeak.blogspot.com/2008/12/barak-obama-and-skyscrapers-of.html. The comment is towards the end) As a good blogger, I should have left my reply in the comment section itself, but Blogger comments are very limited and I cannot put any formatting, links or pictures (ohh yes, I have one for this). So, I decided to make it into a post as well.

There are several parts in GK's reply that I have objections about.

[]one, as human hue, white is superior to black.
forced to make a choice, we would like to be white, not black.
which is not to say that to like to be white is necessarily to hate
those who have not been lucky to be white.

My friend FT told me that I should not be pedantic and should not show resentment (she had it in all CAPS) when I am having a discussion. So, I will be very civil.

So, this time, I will start with two stories.

One is a native American legend. (http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/TheWell-BakedMan-Pima.html. Here is a more literary retelling of the story http://www.ralphmag.org/CM/cave-god.html). The short version of it is, that the creator made man out of clay and baked it in the fire. But Coyote the trickster fooled creator into baking the first one too little thus having a pale color and the second one too long, with a black color. Creator got very angry, sent the trickster away and made the perfectly baked red skinned man.

The second story (I couldn't find a web reference to it), I think was "told" by our own VKN is about the dilemma of European missionaries in explaining the White God and Black Devil to African people.

But, we don't have to look far to figure out the connection between the assumption of white as a superior skin color and its relation to social power structure. All we have to remember that some of the prime symbols of female and male beauty in Indian mythology have dark skin.

I understand where GK is coming from and acknowledge that in Kerala, and probably in India as a whole, there is a tendency to consider white skinned people as more desirable than dark skinned. But, instead of realizing the social factors behind it, elevating it into a human reality is quite a stretch. I am sure the well known culture critics who have commented in this article could explain it in a more academic way than I could.

"fondness for white as a human complexion is a, shall we say,
psycho-social reality. if it is a curse for humankind, let us kick the god who made it so. lala har dayal once proposed that a chemical substance be made that can be injected into the skin to turn it white. that would have enlarged the scope of human choice, and solved colour problem in the flick of a finger, but that was not to be."

Now, we are going even further to attribute a regional social attitude as a divine reality. (By the way, it is quite possible to bleach one's skin off all melanin and become white.) I don't know if I am reading too much to these two paragraphs, it seems to me that GK is suggesting that the only way for races with dark skin to succeed is by procreating with white skinned people and turning their offspring to white!

two, diversity is all very good, we may even delight in diversity,
as desmond tutu put it, but it is not good to make everything equal to everything else.

I am a bit confused here. Diversity, by definition, is the opposite of making everything equal to everything else. It is the acknowledgement of the exact opposite, realization that everything is NOT equal to everything else.

(I have to say, I am quite disappointed that I didn't even make it to the Romantics... It is just pseudo-romantic.)

aborigines of nilambur forests, cholanaickens, live in caves
and on wild berries and locusts, [...] do we say it is their style, it is their choice, and that their style, their choice, is as good as ours? no. i do not rate those environmentalists [...],as significantly sane. we need to allow ourselves the human right to exercise comparative cultural judgement."

No one is questioning making personal judgments on comparative culture. It, as GK writes, is a human right. However, when that judgment goes further into making decisions (often autocratic) about the lives of the "other" culture, it becomes an infringement of human rights. Every societal group assumes their culture to be the right one, better than the "other". This, again, is a right of a people. I have the right to be a Nair and forage for fish and crabs in the streams when not fighting a fierce "war", and the Cholanaickans have their right to forage for wild berries.

It brings up yet another example from the not so far in the past. As the new worlds being found by the middle age travelers, there was a huge "concern" about the lack of culture and morality among these newfound worlds. It probably was a very earnest effort from the part of the Missionaries that flocked to these African and South American societies to convert the unbelievers and aborigines to "civilization". But, we now know that, many of these "uncivilized" cultures were, in reality, were technologically and otherwise as much or even more advanced than the European societies at that time. A fine example is the recent researches into El Dorado and the discovery of Dark Earth. (http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Feb06/AAAS.terra.preta.ssl.html, http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2002/eldorado.shtml). One can, of course take the more colorful route of assuming all the achievement of these early civilizations are from visiting Aliens.

"[..]do we want to become black and dress our hair like some blacks? like cholanaickens? we mouth a lot of praise for theyyyam but do we like to train our children as theyyam artists?"

Image019 The question is never whether I want to braid my hair like "some blacks". (I would love a Bob Marley hairdo though. I am slowly getting there.) The question is about being me, and being part of my culture is the right thing to do.

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