My Thoughts... Exactly!

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Category: Noteworthy (page 1 of 9)

A Haunting Image

Chris, a friend of mine in San Diego since 2007 when we met over a beer and some art talk, sends me fun photos, wisecracks, jokes, memes and personal stories from his life as an artist. He’s a prolific airbrush artist, always a pro head-to-toe, hard-working and always busy.

Over the years I have received always-amusing, one- or two-line emails from him. Minimalist commentary from a fellow artist and someone who, like me, enjoys biting back at would-be internet scammers.

Today he shot a few lines and a link at me… notes on his weekend airbrushing shirts for a party, etc.

The first event I did, they didn’t feed us — and the guests got food poisoning!
The second event set me up directly in front of the DJ and his speakers and then they played Pop the Balloon (by sitting on it abruptly) 4 feet from where I was painting!!
It’s never easy!

Then he added,

A tree fell on a car on Ingraham right after I turned around and went home. The driver was killed, unfortunately.

I live nearly 500 miles north of San Diego now, but I wanted to know more… and see if it was someone I know from my life back then. So I looked up local San Diego stories and discovered it was a beautiful, 48-year woman, Nicki Carano — a drummer in a band called Spider Tree, driving herself alone to their gig in Ocean Beach.

Seems a huge tree uprooted itself in the storm-softened soil and high winds pushed it over. It fell across the road crushing three cars. Hers was the only one occupied, and she was reportedly killed instantly.

There is something about the way her life instantly (and innocently) ended that struck me. I actually said out loud, when I saw the photo of her crushed car, “Wow… when it’s your time to go…”

And I thought about the amount in time between life and death — potentially for any of us. Instant for some. I thought of families with things left unsaid, like I love you, or I’m sorry. I thought about how so many opportunities to do right, to do more, to give or to take back — all completely disappear in that same moment in time. Forever.

I read a bit about her and sent back a message to Chris that the driver was a woman, I added her name, and that it appears she was an active musician and teacher in San Diego.

Killed instantly in a freak car accident  when a huge tree uprooted in the storm, crushing her car.

Killed instantly in a freak accident when a huge tree uprooted and fell in the storm, crushing her alone in her car.

Little did I know I was a mere two degrees of separation from Nicki Carano — who leaves behind broken-hearted family, friends, music lovers and drum and tap students, along with fellow performers in the San Diego Academy of Performing Arts.

Chris has known her for 30 years, passed by her shop regularly, just recently bought a flute from her, knew her when she worked in a shop next to his shop on the boardwalk in Pacific Beach when she was a kid.

He’s stunned. Sad.


He added “It’s odd that I found out from you.”

Yes it is. And it’s odd that something seemingly completely random that happened to someone I never knew — a friend of a friend — has profoundly affected me from 500 miles away. My prayers go out for the family and friend of Nicki Carano. #nickicarano

Dishes in the Sink

I know people who “cannot possibly go to bed and sleep” with dishes in the sink. The kitchen must be clean. “Leave them until morning,” is taken as enthusiastically as cursing their firstborn.

Not me. That precious time before bed is my time for having a glass of wine and reflecting on the day. And having a glass of wine.

My morning routine involves recalibrating my vertical balance, teetering into the kitchen, filling up my Braun superheating electric kettle (See on Amazon) with water, starting it, letting the water run from the spigot to hot while I grind coffee beans (French Roast),subsequently dumping them in my French Press, then washing the dishes left in the sink from the day/evening before.

It’s my first competition of the day.

I race my speed-heating water kettle to see if I can sponge-wash everything in the sink — dishes, pots and pans, silverware, mugs and glasses and rack them all before the hot water is ready. This is usually a 4-minute window. I’ve gotten very good at it.

Why do you think they named the detergent Dawn?

Dishes before bed, or dishes when you wake? What's your routine? Click To Tweet

Absolute Rookie

FYI (For Your Inspiration)

Well over a decade ago I ran across a website called… a lot of film and game industry folks hanging out and chatting on a forum, with a lot of pictures.

One discussion thread caught my attention: Journey of an Absolute Rookie. See, I had joined this online forum in December of 2003, and the fellow who authored the first post in that particular thread, Jonathan Hardesty [Facebook Profile], started his thread about a year prior to my reading it.

Jonathan, who uses the handle “MindCandyMan” on that site, decided he “wanted to be an artist.” He told me later, in an e-mail, that he had a boring job and he didn’t want to do it for the rest of his life just to make money and so he thought about what would be a cool job? He liked playing computer games and admired the guys who created the creatures and environments, so, as simple as that, he decided he was going to learn to draw. Then maybe someday he could work for a computer game company.

He discovered the forum, finding artists whose work he admired, and on September 15th, 2002 he crossed over… he posted his first drawings in his journey to learn to be an artist.

Now, to be honest, I would not have ever called this kid “gifted” — maybe “eager” but I probably would have encouraged him to keep his day job, perhaps forever. Okay, I will come out and say that he didn’t draw very well at all. At first…

There is a lesson to be learned about that kind of thinking.

By June of the next year, barely 9 months into his journey to becoming an artist, Jonathan had enrolled himself in some art courses, and was studying Life Drawing. (There is no substitute for Life Drawing when it comes to developing the eye for drawing and/or painting).

He posted his current work, above right, 9 months into his quest. A remarkable improvement.

By 2004, just 2 years into this crazy idea that he could be an artist and not have to do a desk job, he had found a top-notch Atelier (Fr. – uh-TEL-yay – “an artist’s studio or workshop”) and was getting individual training and assignments to refine his skills. He was not allowed to paint until he could master values:

The mask drawing is what he had accomplished freehand, from life, less than 2 years from Day 1 of his quest.

By April 2005 he had mastered values and was ready to begin painting. Here is his charcoal drawing from a “bust” sitting on a table in front of him.

You can see where this journey has taken Jonathan in these slightly-more-than 13 years [at the time of this post, October 2015]: Not at all remarkably, Jonathan now runs his own atelier, teaching other students to become quite good at drawing and painting. His school is an online venue, Classical Art Online, and the school has a Classical Art Online Facebook business page.

You don't necessarily have to be gifted at #art to become a fantastic #painter. #oilpainting Click To Tweet

What I learned from this is that you don’t necessarily have to be gifted artistically to become a fantastic painter. It seems that what you need is, in this order:

  1. A strong desire and motivation
  2. Hard work
  3. Knowledgable critics
  4. Honest self-criticism
  5. Training from teachers who get results from their students that represent what you desire from their instruction, which is far more important than learning from a teacher who is good at the craft — not every craftsman is a good teacher.

A Dream. A Decision. Hard Work.

WHS ’75 20-year Reunion Video (from 1995)

At the last moment, I was asked to interview attendees. So, I winged it.

If you would like a copy of this 222MB “MP4” video, playable on iPhone, iPad and Android devices, as well as computer, download the WHS Class of 1975 20-year Reunion here.

Under New-ish Management

In November of 2002, I saw this vinyl sign hanging outside a restaurant in Laguna, CA. I thought it was funny. Not the untold, implied story — that part is likely sad — rather, the boldness of Eva as depicted on the sign.

The restaurant is still in business in 2015, and managed, apparently, by Eva, sans-Drew.

Eva’s Carribean Kitchen website and Facebook Page.

Ever heard of an artist-craftsman named David A. Smith? You should see what he can do.

The Making of John Mayer's 'Born & Raised' Artwork from Danny Cooke on Vimeo.

Sharing the Moment (from a YouTube clip)

A non-techie friend posted a comment on a Facebook post I created and referenced a scene in a movie for which she had a YouTube URL. Given that the movie is 102 minutes long, it was not the most helpful reference possible, so I put this together quickly to show the 5 simple steps to getting a person to the exact moment you want them to watch a in a YouTube video — and then to be able to share that unique URL on a Facebook post comment that will take a reader to YouTube and then to that moment in the clip, all with a single click.

  1. Locate the exact frame (or a few frames before) you want the clip to start playing. You may want to use the pause button first (lower left, under the video. It looks like a vertical “equals” sign while the video is playing; a right-pointing triangle when it is paused).
  2. Click “Share”
  3. (optional)Click “the Facebook icon” This feature is for those who want to create a new Facebook Post featuring the video, and has nothing to do with creating a link to post in a comment.
  4. Click the box next to the time notation to put a check-mark in it.
  5. Select and Copy the unique URL which has been altered to move the playhead to the moment you selected
  6. Paste that link in the Facebook comment

That’s it.

Fitbit vs $5 Step Counter #winning

Meritline Pedometer

Inexpensive but not indestructible.

In a fast finish of my fast-paced walk the other day, I decided to run at a fast pace. Apparently, I knocked my clip-on pedometer off in the street where I found it the next day… right outside my house… but it had been run over by a car.

Really, you can expect only so much from any device under such conditions. So I am happily buying another one. One that hasn’t been run over.

I recently bought this $5 step counter from Meritline. That’s $5 including free shipping. Also called a pedometer, it does one thing: attach it to your hip and it counts the number of times you step forward or backward. It’s a digital counter that electronically measures movement using a simple internal mechanism. And yes, the battery is included.

In case you haven’t caught it yet, there’s a fitness fad going around dubbed 10,000 steps a day. This was (and will be again) my timid entry into the “race.”

How Much Do You Weigh? (Dry Weight)

I’m not sure if this is within the realm of complete integrity, but when I opened a can of Trader Joe’s Organic Pinto beans and poured off the heavy, syrup-like liquid in which the beans floated (and only enough to allow the beans to settle in), the can weighed noticeably less, and was only 2/3 full.

Trader Joe's Can of Beans 2/3 Full

I guess they are being honest… maybe overly so. I mean, it’s my fault for thinking I would actually want to consume all 15oz of the stuff in the can. The photo on the front which does not show beans frolicking in a pool of clear-ish sludge is merely a “serving suggestion.” So naturally, I was wondering what the beans weighed before they were prepared properly, you know, bone dry. Ahhh… 2/3 of what I thought I bought.

That’s truth in advertising for you.

One unadvertised bonus: Trader Joe’s does not use BPA in most of their packaging.

Trader Joes Beans Dry Weight

If You’re a Painter, Drive Politely.

I just got a phone call a few minutes ago, in my home, from a fellow who sounded a bit agitated.

“Is this Dave?”

“Yes it is, who’s this?” I usually don’t give out info without finding out the nature of the call.

This morning’s caller sounded like one of my friends, kind of.

“Dave the painter?” he demanded?

“Well, yes, in some circ—”

Sometimes a person will punch in a wrong number and get me by accident, and in their confusion they’ll ask “Who is this?” My favorite response is, “Well, I can’t tell from here. I can’t see you.” There’s usually a bit of silence before they explain.

“Is this your white truck parked in front of me?” he cut in.

“Um… where are you?” I asked as I went to the kitchen window only to see a calm, empty street in front of my home.

“I’m in San Jose, just ready to enter Sunnyvale… I’m trying to find the sonuvabitch that just cut me off the road, and there’s a truck in front of me with “Dave the Painter” on it.

“No, that’s not me. I’m not in a white truck. I’m in my kitchen. And I don’t own a white truck.”

Whew! I was able to talk him down to calm, but, man! sometimes the confusion about how to explain to people what I do can be dangerous. “I’m an artist” is way too vague. “I’m a painter” often results in gratuitous requests for a quote for three rooms and the garage. “I paint people” sounds like a performance piece for a warehouse art gallery opening in San Francisco.

I told him I paint portraits, not houses.

I hope he feels better, soon. It must have been a let down to reach a gentle paint-pusher on the phone in his kitchen making coffee.

Why Does This Look Familiar?

Let me state right off: I am not likening our president to Hitler or Stalin.

But let me add to that, I think it’s reprehensible to make use of children, who do not have enough maturity to make decisions affecting the society they live in, to position oneself politically, or attempt to soften one’s image, or appear warm and fuzzy by making use of children.

I say: If politicians want to visit a school and greet children, do it in secret, with no cameras or journalists.

That goes for Bush, Clinton, Obama… all of them.

In 2002, I and my wife at the time had dinner with a couple of friends from Germany, here temporarily on work visas, and we were chatting about the still-recent 9/11 event.

They talked about how interesting it was to see moods go from horror, to acceptance, to resolve, to getting to work immediately, and to see Americans join together in solidarity, all in the span of a few days. Then, almost as if they were confiding in a close friend, in whispered tones, they told me something I will never forget: It was frightening to them to see all the US flags coming out, being waved by everyone.

I presumed this was some leftover or handed-down fear of the American flag being associated with bombs or gunfire, but no, it was from a position of national shame. Germany, they explained, is still deeply embarrassed by what the Nazis did. And Germany is still embarrassed by all the enthusiastic nationalism, patriotism and “Germany’s the best!” attitude they all engaged in. And of course, the horror it all led to.

Germany, they had learned in school, had become a country of flag-wavers just prior to the Nazi takeover. To them, all the flag waving was, to my German friends, now, a dire warning of politicians winning the hearts of an entire country — because when you can do that, then you can do almost anything in the name of your country. I was so blinded and deafened by national pride and a “need for national vengeance” at that time that I thought they were crazy for comparing America to Nazi Germany in even the remotest way. But I noted that it was an interesting take on all that was going on… as the USA prepared to go destroy both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Over 10 years later, I can still hear their voices and see the looks on their faces as they talked about what could come after the flag-waving… and I am very inclined, now, to think they were right. There is much to be concerned about.

Watch what America’s leaders do. Does it resemble anything we have seen in the past? Does it matter much that we are America and they were the bad guys? Are America really the good guys like we’ve been taught? Are we really spreading democracy? And if we are a Republic (rule of law) why do we spread democracy (rule of majority) anyway? Our founding fathers went out of their way to avoid democracy. Do we have more flaws than we let on? Are our flaws as big as the Emperor’s naked behind? Are we the only ones who don’t see what we have become?

I see what’s going on with gun control, using crises, using children… I see that the Executive Orders of yesterday have little if anything to do with any laws that would have prevented what happened at Sandy Hook, yet they were leveled on the American people as a response to Sandy Hook. What is the bigger picture? What is in our future? What kind of world is my grandson going to grow up in?

My German friends may have been righter than they could have imagined.

Update — 2/19/2013

Since I wrote this it has come out, but not widely reported by the bought-and-paid-for Media, that Adam Lanza did not use a so-called ‘assault rifle’ (not even the AR-15 he was reported to have used) in the massacre. He used only hand-guns. This makes the Executive Orders banning guns as a response to the Sandy Hook massacre nothing but a political show, using the deaths of innocent children as a smoke-and-mirrors springboard for a political grab. Whether you believe in a person’s right to bear arms or not, you must in all honesty admit that the gun ban has no roots in Sandy Hook beyond showmanship and fantasy.

I hope we get to the truth of why and how these innocent, precious lives were ended. The official story, again, has a stench about it.

Economic Lessons From a Cupcake Factory

Hostess Brands — a lesson in economics and the job market.

By David R. Darrow

A young woman who was regularly in my life until a couple of years ago used to complain every day after work about how her job sucked, and how she was carrying most of the weight and how the owners rarely came in, and how she’s been there over a year and they have not given her a raise… She resented that they called her on Sundays from their boat in the ocean to see how sales were for the day. ‘Rich pigs.’

One day, when she was done ranting, I decided to voice my opinion, “The people you work for not only don’t owe you a raise, since you agreed to work for them for the wage you are getting, they also don’t owe you a job.”

From the look on her face, the idea that not getting an automatic and significant raise after a year was clearly a foreign thought to her, and I could tell she wondered how I could be so out of touch with reality.

At one point or another I have taught each of my own children the realities of the working world: You work for a dream and you work for wealth. If it’s your company, you work for your own dream and your own wealth, and if you work for anyone else, you are working for their dream and their wealth.

“They do not enjoy giving you money. They do not think you deserve a job. The only reason they hire you is because they will make more money if they do, or they will have more time to themselves and their other interests if they do.”

The problem I have always had with unions is where they fail to recognize (or believe) actual economics (“financial math”). They want to fight for all their members to receive “fair pay” and fair benefits, and so they make demands on other people’s money.

Well, the Union just killed 18,500 jobs at Hostess. All 18,500 jobs would still be occupied if there had been some flexibility on the part of all to take a little hit to the income to allow Hostess to attracted needed investor capitol. (Seems smart investors don’t want to put their money into a company whose operating costs are higher than their income. Weird, huh?)

Hostess’ CEO determined that there was a breaking point, a point of no return, and he named it in no uncertain terms.

An insufficient number of employees returned to to their jobs from the union-directed strike to operate the company at a profit, and the camel’s back snapped.

Just like that, 18,500 people are added to the unemployment statistics, falsified for political reasons though they may be..

And I will bet all 18,500 of them think they deserve their job.

The company is liquidating so they can pay back a portion of their debts to others who gave them credit. It’s more than just the company owners and the employees who lose.

Sometimes gratitude comes too late, when it could come, as a matter of the will, every day.

So it goes with Democracy, which America’s founders attempted at all costs to avoid: As one wise man put it, Democracy is two wolves and sheep voting on what’s for dinner.

A time may soon be coming when all we’ll have is our wits. That’s when it will really seem unfair.

Change it: Your Comcast/Motorola HD Cable Box may be outputting 720p, not 1080i

Just found out that when Comcast installed my Motorola HD Cable box, they set it to output a 720p signal via the HDMI out to my 1080p-capable HDTV — technically this is HD, but at the lower end. Picture seemed blurry compared to other HD sources (BluRay, Netflix, etc).

In some cases your box may be outputting 480p, 480i or 480 Stretch (perhaps others), and the tech-help scripts do not point them to setting the device in the following way.

Fix: I found a solution online. (You must have an HD box and HD service, and your TV must be capable of displaying 1080i or 1080p).

  1. With TV on, turn the cable box power off
  2. Push the Menu button on Remote or Box
  3. Wait several moments for a User Settings menu to appear on screen. (It comes up, even with power off)
  4. Using cursor keys, navigate to the HDMI setting. It probably says 720p next to it. (if it says 1080i, that’s the max. Not many, if any, stations are broadcasting at 1080p)
  5. If it’s 720 or lower, press the OK/Select button. Screen will blank out and reappear with new setting. Every time you press the button, it jumps to a new setting. Do it until you get the highest your box offers.
  6. Once you have 1080i or 1080p showing, turn the power back on with the power button. You should now have a better picture.

For detailed information on the difference between 720p and 1080i click here.

Emergency Number on Your Locked iPhone

Using a custom image as an emergency number for your locked iPhone

Share this:
I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency) Solution for Locked iPhones.

Write the emergency number down and take a picture of it. Set it as your Lock Screen Wallpaper image.

If you are unconscious no one will be able to get into your phone, but when they power it on, they’ll have a number to notify someone!

Go to: Settings > Brightness and Wallpaper > WallPaper > Camera Roll > Choose the photo, then > Set > Set Lock Screen.

Or make a custom Lock Screen image in Photoshop. Use the proper dimensions and resolution for your phone:

• iPhone 3 and older: 480h x 320w pixels @ 165dpi.
• iPhone 4 and newer: 960h x 640w pixels @ 326dpi (Retina displays)
• iPhone 5 and newer: 1136h x 640w pixels @ 326dpi (Retina displays)

Alternate: make your own: “If found, please return to {name, address and email}”

Share this!

Interesting Documentary about Aspertame

I heard recently that “Aspertame sweetener is the excrement from E. Coli bacteria that have been fed toxic waste.” It sounded outrageous — and I have preferred diet drinks over sugared for several decades — so I started searching Google for answers.

I found this 1.5hr video that raises concerns.

For several years I have been mildly concerned about changes in people I meet: grown men I know going through long periods of debilitating depression, the changes in the health of entire populations, namely obesity, etc.

I remember buying chicken breast at a local Vons market, and the breasts were enormous. At the time, I was only thinking about a hearty barbecue, and was delighted to find ‘man-size’ pieces of chicken, but later I got to asking myself how ‘they grow chickens’ with such enormous breasts.” It has to be something unnatural, because when I was a kid, the chicken breasts my mom prepared were maybe 1/3 this size.

I’m not smart enough to know what the right answers are, but I’m getting increasingly concerned about any non-natural additives in food, manipulated growing techniques (genetically-modified foods, etc).

I think I am now done with diet drinks and artificially-sweetened foods. Why bother?

Open Letter to Langnickel Royal Brush Co.

Contact Addresses: &

Royal Brush Manufacturing
6707 Broadway
Merrillville, Indiana 46410
United States

Please deliver to the President/CEO of Royal Brush Manufacturing

Dear Langnickel,

I don’t know if you guys realize what a gold mine you are sitting on, and how you are squandering the value of it through manufacturing inconsistencies (handle length, handle color, unavailability, etc.) and quality inconsistencies.

Admittedly, I don’t know if the market for your Royal Sable (series 55xx) is currently big enough to reorganize your manufacturing processes, but I do know that virtually every major portrait artist and influential oil painter I know who uses Langnickel brushes is actively looking for a suitable alternative, citing the same things I experience on a regular basis.

First of all, let me tell you that everyone I know, who I have convinced to give your Royal Sable long-haired, long-handled filberts a try LOVES them. It’s an absolutely BRILLIANT concept… The shape is flawless and the fiber length is unmatched. The springiness is superb, and the strength of the hairs is wonderful. I paint better because of these brushes.

Just a few of the names of influential artists I know who use your brushes: Morgan Weistling, Richard Schmid, Jeremy Lipking, Dan Gerhartz, Casey Baugh and many, many others, including myself. I personally have a live broadcast venue, (Dave the Painting Guy) that reaches over 500 interested viewers (and rapidly growing), many of whom always want to know what brand/series of brushes I use.

I always tell them the brand name and series, but I always add, “You will come to love and hate Langnickel Royal Sable brushes. You will love them because they feel right. They apply paint just right. But you will hate them because you never know what you’re going to get with them, and they do not manufacture enough for the market — they are very difficult to find.”

I tell them plainly that I can receive in the same batch purchased a brush that lasts for months, even years, and a brush that loses half or even all it’s hairs immediately when I pinch out the oil into a rag. Many of my Royal Sables have become useless in an hour or two because of so many lost hairs that the remainder do not stay on the ferrule any more. (Can’t you embed the hairs in an epoxy or glue to keep them inside?)

These brushes shed like no other brush I have owned. This is one of the only frustrating outside influences I experience when painting, interrupting the flow of the usual problem-solving that is the joy of painting.

One of my favorite brushes is virtually always out of stock, everywhere I look: the 5520 #8, blue handle.

By the way, what’s with blue handles and red handles in the same series number? It is my belief that the filberts, 5520-blue have longer hairs than the 5520-red — why don’t you have a different series number if they are going to be that different? If they are not supposed to be different, please note that they are extremely different, and these inconsistencies are hurting your popularity.

And if you’re going to have long-handled brushes or short-handled brushes, PLEASE make them a different series number. When ordering by phone (the only way I will order Langnickel brushes) I always request that the sales person get hold of the brushes personally so I can ask about the length of the hairs, the length of the handles, the color of the handles, etc., BECAUSE there is no consistency.)

Look, some of the most popular in influential artists in the US use Langnickel bushes, and virtually every artist who likes their work always wants to know what kind of brushes the artist uses. You cannot buy honest word-of-mouth advertising, and there is no such advertising more believable, therefore important.

Is there anything you can do to improve the quality, consistency, series numbering and availability of Your Royal Sables in the 5520, 5525, 5590 series and others?

I sincerely want to promote your brushes with no “buts”…

David R. Darrow
<address and phone number omitted here>

Update #1
I just received (less than 2 hours later) a phone call from ‘George’ who owns Royal/Langnickel who apologized for the inconsistency in the brushes, and promised he will see what he can do to introduce better consistency, check the cement inside the ferrules, etc. — I dunno. But he did say to send them any brushes I am dissatisfied with and they will replace them.

Please, if you read all this and agree, leave comments to this blog post below, and also write to Langnickel yourself. If they are doing their job right, they will be searching the web to find out what people think of their product. Be kind and be to the point. Be encouraging. Let them know how you as a painter would prefer their brushes could be improved. Everyone is having a harder-than-usual time of things these days.

Update #2
Following George’s call to send them any of my brushes which have been poorly manufactured, I mailed 3 of my brushes which had either become poorly shaped because of loose hairs/fiber or brushes the ferrule of which I had to crimp with a pliers.

(I mailed them by sandwiching them in a folded piece of corrugated cardboard 1.5″ loner at each end than the brushes; included a letter explaining that the fibers were coming out too easily; sealed it, addressed it, stamped it.)

Within a reasonable amount of time, I was shipped free replacement brushes, along with a letter explaining that they understood the handle/series confusion, and explained that they are aware of an issue with the glue or cement they are using, and are switching over to a newer one. Some of the brushes previously manufactured with the older cement are still in “circulation” in various inventories, so they cannot guarantee that won’t happen again in the short term, but the letter reiterated that “Langnickel stands behind all its brushes. You may return any that are unsatisfactory and we will replace them.”

Update #3
2014, October 7 — Langenickel has stopped manufacturing these, but the good news is you can get a far superior version from Rosemary & Co., a handmade brush company in the UK. The Rosemary & Co. Master’s Choice Series brushes, which solve all the problems of the Langenickels and match the specifications of leading portrait painters who worked with her to develop these fine brushes can be purchased from a USA distributor, Claudia Williams, from her website.

Simple Gratitude

So, what’s with people?

Since I got my first digital camera in 2001, I have carried a camera with me nearly everywhere we’ve gone out to dinner or site-seeing. I snap pictures, I show people the pictures I have just shot of them, catching them being themselves… like the candid photo of the woman and her sleeping child, at left.

I always offer to e-mail them the picture when I get home. They write down their e-mail address and hand it to me, saying, “That would be great.”

I always follow through.

But only about 1 out of 50 ever even writes back to say “thanks!”

Isn’t that weird?

Jade Jewels

Several years ago — maybe 10? — my mother sent me off on my drive back home from visiting her, sending along the typical snacks and hot coffee for the 450-mile drive to San Diego, a traditional send-off. In the bag of goodies, she also included a snapped off branch from a Jade plant, with the message that this was from one of the same plants my grandmother had planted in the 1940s or 1950s.

They are easy to plant… you just stick the branch in the ground and water it once in while. They grow.

This plant is still with me, and today I noticed it has flowered. Raindrops bejewel it, adding interest and sparkle. Each flower measures about 5/8″ (1.6cm) across.

Inauguration Day 2009

What an exciting, historical day. At 4:13am, I awoke, and my first thought was about what a big day it is for America. Even though I did not vote for Barack Obama, I cannot help but feel the excitement of this time in history, and I find myself very enthusiastic about the celebration today.

The TV
in my
will be

They are saying that there hasn’t been this much excitement since President Reagan’s inauguration. And I regret that my kids were too young to appreciate what a unique, great man Reagan was. But I am glad they are all more than old enough to be impacted by this moment in history.

The TV in my studio will be on all day, I know, because I don’t want to miss a thing.

What is astounding to me is that in my relatively short lifetime — which has been about 20% the length of the age of our own nation — I have been alive and walking on the planet in a time that saw back-of-the-bus treatment for Blacks, lynchings, “Whites Only” drinking fountains, Dr. Martin Luther King’s marches and speeches, hearing him described as a rabblerouser, his assassination, Rosa Parks, the Watts Riots, Rodney King, OJ’s slow ride, and so much more… to a black man being elected President of the United States.

I always knew that someday we’d have a black president, but for lack of any black candidates that I would want as my president based on their merits — and believe me, I wanted to vote for a black man, if for no other reason than to prove to something to myself — I just never really thought I’d see this in my lifetime. I guess I just thought I would see an endless parade of also-rans every four years for the rest of my life, and someday I would pat my grandkids on the head and tell them, Yes, someday, little ones, there will be a black president. We’re getting closer… would’ve loved to see it.

Today is like a wedding party (except that the honeymoon messes with the metaphor). It’s a huge day that signals a new beginning — and the party should be huge, the champagne should flow, the smiles should be broad. But then real life sets in. We get busy. We have a bride and a groom, yes, but the bride is in traction, she’s lost a lot of blood, her pulse is strong today, but her vitals signs are in question. Not a great start for a new marriage, though not an impossible situation.

* * *

I keep hearing about what a remarkably smooth transition the transfer of power has been at the White House. But I have not heard one commentator say what I believe in my heart, that the reason for this is, in large part, due to the class and dignity of the man who is still president at this moment as I write, George W. Bush. Say whatever you like about the man, but there is nothing surprising to me at all that he would demand the highest standards of cooperation from all involved in handing over The Power and White House. I would imagine that he led by example alone. He’s shown nothing but the most extraordinary humility and dignity from before the election, right through this day.

I contrast that to 2001, when the new staff entered the White House to find, amidst the estimated $20,000 in vandalism connected to the former administration’s staff, childish acts such as removing all the W keys from the computer keyboards that were left behind, and the re-routing of over 100 incoming phone lines to the White House, just to cause confusion. Moments like these — including this current transition — have helped me see the difference between ideologies and the people behind them.

I generalize, of course, but therein lies the beauty of generalizations.

I voted for someone else in the Election, and still someone different in the Primaries, and the outcome drew the same response in my soul: my disappointment will not cloud my respect for the office or for the dignity of the person holding that office.

Barack Obama, just like anyone that has come before him, is just a man. His blood is red like mine, and he breathes the same air. But he has a job that demands my respect, unbiased scrutiny, understanding, and even forgiveness for inevitable mistakes to come, and a heart, soul and mind that deserve my prayers for Wisdom.

I would hope that every American feels this way today.

I have a Dream.

Update: Second Term
I could not disagree with the policies of an Administration more than I do with this one. —dd, March 11, 2013


I don’t know what the 6th gets you. First anniversary is paper, 50th is gold, and if you make it to a 75th, you’re supposed to get the most expensive one, titanium, and all I can figure is that if you get something made of titanium it comes with a Last Will and Testament for you to sign.

Well, we got married barefoot on Ponto Beach in Carlsbad, six years ago. It was a Sunday afternoon, and our 6th was a Monday. So we went to Trader Joes to find a wine to commemorate our anniversary. There wasn’t one wine with a six in the name. We thought of getting two bottles of Tres something. And we have our eye on a bottle of No. 8 for two years form now…

So we settled on Barefoot Chardonay, which we drank while watching the second installment of the 24 season opener.

It was a great anniversary!

Jan Darrow Geist, oil on canvas

Jan Darrow Geistby David R. Darrow
11" x 14" (27.9cm x 35.6cm)
Oil on Canvas Panel
This painting is not framed
Not For Sale
Collection of Doris Darrow
Sunnyvale, CA – USA

About This Painting

I started this painting on the one-year mark of the passing of my oldest sister Jan. She passed away on September 29, 2007 after a several-year battle with breast cancer.

During those years, she truly lived as a survivor, full of life, eager to help others and help carry the load of women at the hospital with whom she shared the room while getting regular chemo treatments.

have been
her 57th
if she’d
the tradition

In the end, her passing was a blessing as she was finally free from her tired and broken-down body. We miss her, but have so many fond memories, and so, in that sense she lives on with us.

Today would have been her 57th birthday if she’d continued the tradition, but she resides now in a place of Greater Celebration centered around honoring an Awesome Creator rather than the years she spent on Earth.

This painting now hangs on the wall of my mother’s home in Sunnyvale, CA. It is on a wall facing the entrance to the hallway, where my mom sees it every morning when she wakes up and walks down the hall to the kitchen to get her morning coffee.

On my Dave the Painting Guy show while I was creating this painting, I mentioned that I would probably give it to her husband, my brother-in-law Dan Geist. I hadn’t really thought much about where the painting would end up, and it was fairly last-minute that I even decided to paint it on the anniversary of her passing.

* * *

There are certain things that in the interest of decorum we just don’t talk about with some people in some circumstances. I had wanted to tell Dan at some point that I respected him highly for his marriage to my sister for some 32 years, but that I wanted him to know that I actually wanted him to find new love in his life… that I respected him so much as a man, a father and a husband that I would consider it a shame if some fine woman out there missed out on spending the rest of her life with this fine man. I wanted to tell him that I would never consider it the slightest dishonor if he decided to date or remarry.

A week or so after I painted this, Dan called to have a heart-to-heart and to tell me that he had been seeing a woman for the past few months, and he was feeling very strong feelings for her, that they got along wonderfully, and — always the gentleman — he wanted to know how he might “break it to my mom.”

I told him that he probably ought to tell her exactly as he told me, and that he should expect that she will be delighted at the news. Our family understands that “till death do us part” is, in fact a promise, with a distinctive limit. “Jan’s gone,” I said. “You can love her memory, but she’s not here anymore. You need to move on with your life — I believe Jan would have wanted that.” I knew my mother and siblings would agree.

Not that it mattered.

As we brought the phone conversation to a close, I said to Dan, “Oh, by the way, out of respect for you and your new love, I think I will send the original painting to my mom, instead.”

He laughed and told me “That would be great.” ◙

Amazon Gives Back

You know how it went down.

I got this idea in my head that I could make money from my website… turn my blog into a million dollars. Just build it and they will come. Free money just for tucking ads in your pages.

Sad reality: you probably did not know that any ads exist on this page. But they do. My first ads were placed on my site in 2001, and they were for I figured that as long as I was going to mention some of a small handful of art books I would actually recommend, I may as well get a referral commission from someone selling the books. Amazon.

Between 2001 and 2007 I made $1. Yep, that’s one dollar. And it should further be noted that it is 1 US Dollar, which has gone down in value over that same time period.

They only pay out when you reach a specified higher balance in the account — which I have observed will never occur in my case if they keep taking my money back.

Also, in that same time period, Amazon determined that there was no existing live on my Mars, so they took away the dollar.

If you click on the thumbnail above you’ll be treated to my private information regarding the financial exchange between Amazon and myself, and will not that Amazon is a giver.

Amazon Gives Back.

To the State.

VisualHub Disappears. I am sad.

Tyler Loch, the funny, sassy, brilliant mind behind one of the most useful video conversion utilities ever made for a Mac just announced he is closing his website forever. Just a vague explanation as to why:

After much soul-searching (it’s not you, it’s me), for personal reasons, Techspansion is closing its virtual doors.

I think he’s being held by aliens, like Art Bell was a couple of years back.

I could be wrong.

This is sad, to me. For a brilliant mind to have constructed something that made it SO easy for the rest of us to do video conversions, he was also remarkably funny. His button for advanced settings, for example, produced an advanced settings control panel that starts with the warning “Don’t! You’ll screw it all up!” — which was usually true.
Visual Hub
Anyway, boom, it’s gone. Can’t buy it.

He posted backup instructions to users who have bought it, and also claims that the back-up instructions will soon disappear, too. So I am preserving them here.

In honor of a great tool by a great guy…

In order to get VisualHub working if you need to switch computers, you need to back up two things:

1: VisualHub itself
2: The conversion engine

To back up the conversion engine, Copy the folder at:
/Library/Application Support/Techspansion/

…for good measure, you can also back up your Preferences file, containing your registration info in case you lose the original purchase e-mail. It’s at:

As far as I can tell, VisualHub 1.34 will continue to work up to and through Snow Leopard. I obviously can’t predict the future and what Apple will do, though.

Thanks for enjoying Techspansion’s software. It’s been an amazing journey.

And here’s what you get if you cancel an operation in VisualHub:
VisualHub Cancel

Cards and Letters

Birthdays are nice. You not only get e-mail greeting cards from friends and family, but also from every stinkin’ online service or membership you have given your birth date to. I had forgotten half my accounts.

I got a birthday greeting from Coca Cola, MySpace, eBay, PayPal, Facebook,, SmoothJazz 98.1, MovieLink, Blockbuster, Workworker’s Journal, WetCanvas, Southwest Airlines, and many others…

I feel very special, and somewhat famous.

Surround Sound Birthday

51st BirthdayIt’s great to finally, again for the first time since I was 1 year old, to have my age digits match the number of audio channels available for my listening pleasure. We didn’t have stereo when I was 2, and neither AC3 nor Quadraphonic existed until well after I was 3. Wow. That was geeky.

So today is my 5.1 birthday.

Anyway, as you can see, I don’t wake up so pretty, but the coffee has a wonderful effect on my waking mood. I am grateful for yet another day, and another year living in this great country, with outstanding children and a satisfying profession. God has been good to me — more than I deserve.

Life is beautiful — even when I am not.

Father’s Day with No Father

I miss my dad.

It was three years ago that I saw my dad for the last time. I am grateful to God that I had that last opportunity to spend my Father’s Day 2005 with him, and to be able to sit beside him as we watched along with the family my tribute video — a short story of his life in music, pictures and video clips.

Since that time, I am aware of the seeming finality of death, through the many, countless events I have wanted to share with my dad over the phone, or via e-mail; the new technologies that I have acquired or learned; or the accomplishments of my children about which I would love to brag, as if I had anything at all to do with their skills and knowledge.

51 years ago, I was born to my mother and him on Father’s Day… my actual birthday falls on a Monday (tomorrow) this year. But Father’s Days are not what they used to be. I now own the coffee mugs and some of the other gifts that were mailed to him for this occasion, and I remember him with each cupful of my favorite morning beverage…

My uncle Willis died just a few weeks before him that year, then my sister Jan just over two years later, then my dear brother-in-law Scott a couple of months ago. Joanne, my surviving sister, joined my brother and I at my mother’s house for her 80th birthday last Tuesday, and as we rode to our favorite childhood Christian Family Camp Mount Hermon — just the four of us — I commented about how these four of us were now “the whole family.”

It seemed small.

And through circumstances no one wants to face, and with a bit of irony, I am the only married Darrow child. And I am grateful to God for the many graces that have come come my way in that arena.

I, for one,
intend to
just go back
to blogging
the way I
did before
Wednesday, in celebration of what would have been Joanne and Scott’s 31st anniversary, we went to San Francisco on what turned out to be the most beautiful San Francisco day I can ever remember. It was a glorious family time with my mom and sister. Mom, at 80, can walk faster and with more energy than many 35 year olds I know.

We talked about our losses over the last three years, and decided that those heavenly incarnations of those we lost would be very disappointed to find out we didn’t get back to our lives and live them richly with every bit of the personality they knew here on earth, so I, for one, intend to just go back to blogging the way I did before: just as corny, irreverent and playful as I have been — with all due respect to those who have passed on.

Living is pretty nice, after all. I intend to enjoy it.

Making California A Safer Place

Some brilliant minds tried to get the City Council of Los Angeles to “proclaim a moratorium on murder and violence” for 48 hours in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. [story]

Once the moratorium is lifted, murder and violence is permitted to return to it’s normal schedule and intensity.

How do these people rise to the positions they do? The stupidity of this ridiculous feel-good gesture astounds me. What’s next? Reduce the affects of acid rain with a moratorium on gravity?

The Virgle Project

What better to do with ones remaining days. What the heck. I applied. [details]

Crime and Punishment

I don’t agree with Obama on very much except I like the idea of ‘change.’ I’m kind of flexible that way, and I get tired of stuff easy.

Except French toast. But that’s a another story.

Anyway, since he has not been clear on what the changes would be if he were president, I can’t vote for a man who holds such vague ideals. I also have difficulty voting for someone whose whole name shows up as 2 or 3 misspelled words in my spell checker. But that’s another story.

A day or so ago Obama spoke from the heart [YouTube video clip], clearing up any misunderstandings as to where he and I differ so greatly:

“Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old,” he said. “I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby. I don’t want them punished with an STD at age 16, so it doesn’t make sense to not give them information.”
–Barack Obama, March 29, 2008
Emphasis mine.

Punished with a baby?

And the other punishment he could think of was a sexually transmitted disease? These two come to mind as, by implication, similarly overly-severe punishments?

Man-o-man, do we ever see things differently. It is just so sad that anyone would think that way — and I know many people do — but horrible if that person were to be the most powerful person in the Free World.

I don’t like his concept of “mistake” nor of accepting responsibility for a mistake.

What happened to the concept of children being a blessing… even more so on the heels of a mistake? That’s called grace.

American English, Please!

Someone recently told me — as several of us were complaining about having our support phone calls sent to countries where English is not the primary language of the support person — that if you request to have the call handled by an American-English-speaking person, they have to transfer you.

Today I got to put that to a test while trying to make a balance transfer with Capital One. When I called their help line, the gentleman who answered the phone had such a strong accent that I was literally having to ask him to repeat every sentence that had 5 or more words in it, and so the transfer-to-America request came to mind.

I asked him, “Excuse me, but where are you located?”

“I am having
a difficult time
“In the Philippines, Sir,” was his reply.

“I’d like to ask that you transfer me to an agent in America, please.”

“May I ask why?” he asked.

“Yes, it’s because I am having a difficult time understanding you, and therefore I am also uncertain as to whether you can understand me fully.”

He began laughing. “Oh, I see…” He chuckled again. “You’re having trouble understanding me,” he repeated, somewhat condescendingly. When I confirmed that that’s what I had said, he said, “Okay, I will transfer you to an American-speaking assistant. I hope you could understand that.”

LongStoryShort: I was transferred, but not without some grief.

I did however report it to Marissa, my ‘American-speaking assistant,’ who, as it turns out, was working in Canada when we spoke. She assured me that she would make a note ‘a-boat’ my difficulties with the man in the Philippines. The rest of the call went as smoothly as the best American customer assistance I have grown to expect.

At the end of the call, I asked to be transferred to her supervisor to whom I complimented her excellent, friendly and patient service.

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