29 February 2008

Should I Change My Avatar Photo?

The results are in for the latest poll, and, well, this is what the people chose:

"Nay" 11 (44%)
"42" 11 (44%)

As you can clearly see, my readers (or at least 44% of them) are familiar with the One True Answer.

The photo shall remain.

(Until such time as Jen has a chance to take a better one)

Blog 365

Yes, I signed up for it. Yes, I'm enjoying it. But I got an email from them yesterday that read, in part:

Feb. 29th is the official Blog365 day of rest!
Now that blogging is such a habit, can you go a full day without doing it?
Rest up now, we still have a lot of year left ya know.
And no blogging about not blogging either! That's still blogging!
Blog On! (Except Tomorrow!)

So, I'm taking today off.

Aww, crap. I guess not, huh?

There's another reason for the title of this post, ya know. Despite the fact that the thingy in the sidebar says my Blogoversary is "in 1 days[sic]", it was 365 days ago today that I made my first post.

So, Phydeaux and Phriends is a year old today. But my blogoversary isn't 'til tomorrow. It's all very confusing. Maybe I'll have it all figured out by tomorrow, and can post coherently about it.

28 February 2008

Four Weeks Ago Today...

...I said:

I just cleaned out my pipe, dumped the ashtray and put away both. I am done smoking.

And so I have been. And so I am.

Let's hear it for a healthier me!

Thursday Python & etc....

27 February 2008

Pheaux Phyre Phorum: The __________ Edition

Wilkommen! Bienvenue! Stradsvitsya!

If it's Wednesday, which it is, it must be time for a Phyre!

Beer and mixers, as always, in the creek - munchies on the table - conversation ... well, that's up to you, phriends!

What have you got on ... your mind?

NOTE: I'm dealing with some personal stuff tonight, and may not be very engaged in the discussion. But you go right ahead.

Weather Update

It's cold (23°) and windy, and ....

About a dozen flakes of snow fell here overnight. Okay, more than a dozen, there was a light dusting. Very light.

But not far away, there are spots that got several inches.

I guess the weather gods dropped a few flakes here to say, "We can, but we choose not to."

26 February 2008

And The Front Blows Through

As I write this, the temperature is falling (almost 10° in the last 1/2 hour), the sky has turned ominously dark, and the wind has picked up even more.

This was shot at about 4:00PM EST. It ain't supposed to be that dark that time o' day, right?

I'm just waiting to see how good the aim of the weather gods is.

Tuesday Musical Interlude

The audio is low on this, so turn up the sound ... and don't forget to turn it back down at the end (like some people ... *shakes head to get rid of ringing in ears*).

The Icy Grip of Winter, Parte Dos

I should have known, when I made this post, that the gods of weather would see and laugh and smite me.

I was awakened this morning by a loud boom of thunder, close enough to vibrate the Secret Lair (aka '73 Winnebago) and send Teh Kittehs scurrying for cover (they both hate thunderstorms).

It appears that areas nearby can expect 6" or more of snow tonight and tomorrow. We shall see what happens here.

Probably, though, the weather gods will remember that I actually like snow, and therefore not allow any to fall at this location.

25 February 2008

"Gee, Phy, Why Haven't You Done Any Theatre in Seven Years?

As my longtime readers know, I have done a bit of theatre in the past. From college productions to community theatre to professional summer stock, and I've loved it all. Being involved in theatre productions is one of the few "jobs" I've had that didn't bore me in one way or another.

You see, I get real tired of doing the same thing, day in and day out, in order to earn a living. Been there, done that, got bored out of my mind. Theatre, though, is different every single day. One day you're playing eleven different characters in the comedy "A Tuna Christmas" and the next you're understudy for the role of Daniel Boone in an outdoor drama. Or you're building sets, gathering props, or whatever. It's always different. As I said, I loved it.

For the most part, anyway.

Eight years ago, I was cast in a production of Sam Shepard's "True West" done by a now-defunct theatre company in Asheville. I had done a couple of shows with this company before (a Comforter in Archibald MacLeish's "J.B.", and Robert in Pinter's "Betrayal"), and was asked to play a small role in "True West", which was being produced at the request of one of the regular actors ... he'd wanted to play the role of Lee ever since he saw Gary Sinise and John Malkovich do the show in Chicago (where he had lived).

As it worked out, however, the actor who requested the play ended up quitting, and I was bumped to the lead. Not a problem. You'll rarely find an actor that will turn down a chance at a lead role.

At about the same time we began rehearsals for "True West", CtF (the abbreviation of the company's name)was in negotiations with the owner of the old Woolworth building in Asheville to lease the basement and renovate it into a performance space. At a rehearsal one night, a couple of board members were there, and I asked what plans they had for the renovation.

"Ummm, well ..." they had only general ideas, such as "a stage and some dressing rooms". "Well," says I, "if you like, I could do some measurements and draw up some basic plans for the space" ... because the board was preparing a grant application for funds (501-3C non-profit org., and all that) and I knew that, "even though I'm not an architect, I do have a good eye and some concrete plans will be helpful."

They accepted my offer happily, and I did so (I still have the drawings, btw), and they were thrilled with what I came up with - as, in truth, was I.

A dream of mine had long been to build a theatre, and this seemed to be the chance. The Artistic Director of the company and I were talking after I showed the board my drawings, and she asked me if I would be willing to be the Technical Director ... and to be in charge of the buildout (they had a contractor under whose license the permits would be pulled) and, as I was both unemployed at the time and willing to work for much less than an actual contractor, it was a no-brainer for them and me.

And so I began the renovation. A wall down the middle of the space to divide the "house" from backstage, movable stage risers and seating platforms, so we could set up in proscenium, thrust, or theatre-in-the-round configurations, offices for the AD, producer and myself. I also designed and built the set for "True West", which was originally planned to be the first show in the new space.

Things didn't work out that way (there was a "delay" in the grant process), so, even though I did not build a traveling set, we moved it to another space for the run of the show.

At about the same time that we began the run of "True West", rehearsals began for the next show of the season, Ariel Dorfman's "Death and the Maiden". For that production I was going to do set and lighting design, and we would use it to open the space.

All the while, I continued working on the renovation of the space, including a new opening in a cinderblock wall, a scene dock, and a long ADA ramp to make up the 30" difference in floor level from the outside door and the main floor of the space, as funds became available for materials.

As had happened in "True West", one of the actors in "Death and the Maiden" had to drop out (I believe it was due to a scheduling confict, but don't really remember). The director asked me if I would take the role, and I agreed, despite my dislike for the character I would have to play.

From the above "Death and the Maiden" link:

Death and the Maiden is a moral thriller about a woman, Paulina, who believes that a stranger who comes to her home is the doctor who, under a military dictatorship, tortured and raped her many years before.

I had to play the role of the doctor.

So, the rehearsals started back up again, with me in the role of Roberto Miranda, the (maybe/maybe not) rapist.

As we continued rehearsals, and I continued working on the space whenever possible, I was voted onto the board of directors for the company (as TD, this was basically a given). In my new position as a board member, I began to take a more active interest in the procuring of funds for the renovation - I had not before, because a significant portion of said funds were payment to me (and my helper) for the work.

Which was when I found out, after a bit of digging, that the "delay" in the grant application was due to the person in charge of the application (who, officially, was the Producer) never actually submitting it. Well.

That certainly put a new twist on things. After relieving the Producer from his grant-writing responsibility, the board selected a group of people to move the application process forward. I was a part of that group. One of the first things we did, was review the accounting. Well, we tried to.

We asked the Producer, who was responsible for most of the spending, for his records, and he produced, after some delay, a grocery bag full of receipts - a large portion of which turned out to be for gasoline for his car, and beer and cigarettes for himself.

Also, it turned out that there were a couple thousand dollars that were not accounted for. When we confronted the Producer about all this, he accused us of a "witch-hunt", resigned and left town. Hmmm.

Oh, did I mention that he was playing the role of Gerardo In "Death and the Maiden"? Another cast change. And no money for continuing the renovation (not to mention putting food in my belly). And little prospect for getting a grant, since any review of the books would show the cash discrepancies.

We found a new actor to take on the now-vacant role and began rehearsing again. By this time it was mid-July, and the show had been originally scheduled to go up in early May. Basically, we had to start all over with rehearsals, and, at the same time, the board was trying to figure out a way to get the space open, at least provisionally, so that we could perform the show and generate some income.

To that end, some of the board members made credit cards available for materials and such, with the deal that they would eventually be paid back .. or else write off the purchases as donations to a non-profit.

I finally got the space ready, had a set built (unfortunately I do not have any photos of the set ... but I was very pleased with it), we got a temporary occupancy permit, and we were ready to perform.

We set opening night for Friday, September 14, 2001.

After the September 11th attacks, we at first decided to delay the opening for a week or so, and then decided that, no, it was not the right time to be doing such a dark play.

Also, the board was split on the question of whether or not to continue trying to get the space open ... and we all just sort of ... drifted apart.

I was not there when they took the set down, and dismantled the stage and house seating. And I've not done any theatre since.

24 February 2008

The Icy Grip of Winter


Not here, not this year ... and maybe never again.

Almost a month until Spring officially starts and, well ...

I swear there are little yellow crocuseseses in this photo!

At least you can see them in this photo, even though these aren't blooming!

(the photos were taken at a house up the hill)

Let's hear it for Climate Change!!!

23 February 2008

It's A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

It sure doesn't feel like a month from Spring here today. It's not the temperature - it only made it to 52°F - and there's even a slight breeze. But the sky is clear, and the sun is warm ... perfect weather for splitting some wood for my neighbor. As a bonus ... or payment, I suppose would be more accurate ... I split one log for myself for every four I split for Neighbor.

My "take" of the split

Anyway, here's a couple of photos of the woods around the Secret Lair (aka '73 Winnebago) for your viewing pleasure

The view beyond the phyrepit.

Mo' woods.

I hope that each of you, no matter the weather in your neck of the woods, has had a good day.

22 February 2008

Regarding Today's Poll

There seems to be a difference of opinion, now that I have quit smoking, as to whether or not I should change my profile photo ("Avatar de Phydeaux" - located at the top of the sidebar).

I am interested in the opinion of my Loyal Readers - and the rest of you poor souls trying to figure out why you're here, and so, have created the poll above. Please vote in it, and, if you like, 'splain your vote in comments here.

21 February 2008

How to Make A Phydeaux

Personality cocktail (H/T to Ouyangdan)

Thursday Pythonic Randomity

Also, three weeks without smoking now. You may congratulate me in comments, or send money ... your choice.

20 February 2008

Pheaux Phyre Phorum: The Holding in the Light Edition

Greetings, Phriends! It's Wednesday again, and you know what that means! That's right, tomorrow's Thursday!!

...Oh, and I've got a Phyre going. Just another month til the Spring Equinox, so the light is increasing here in the Northern Hemisphere. Change is in the air, pholks!

Beer and mixers in the creek, munchies on the picnic table, phyre in the pit. Open thread, say what's on yer mind.

UPDATE: By mutual consent, we have moved to a GoogleChat window ... if you'd like to join, email me here. If you don't have a GMail account, it's free and takes like 10 sec to set up.

19 February 2008

Some Days Are Good Days, and Some Days Are Very Good Days

The Universe was very kind to me today.

Why do I say that, you ask?

  • I got to go to the Gentleman Farmer's and work ... and earn money.

  • I did something specific I hadn't done before - namely replacing all of the jets on a two person Jacuzzi tub - which was just the slightest bit complicated (lots of PVC joints) and fun.

  • I got to talk to my friend Dave, whom I hadn't seen or talked in a couple of months.

  • Traffic on the expressway was light and ... driving about the speed limit, which was refreshing.

  • Best of all, I was in a good mood all day.

As my Siamese Cousin would say:

Thank You, Mother Earth. Thank You, Father Sky.

17 February 2008

On Walking

Today is not a good day for a walk. It's been cloudy and at least drizzly since early this morning (right now I can hear rain hitting the roof of the Secret Lair (aka'73 Winnebago)), and the temperature has hovered in the low 40's. It's also foggy as shit right now.

So, today I have not walked. I'll have to walk extra tomorrow to make up for it.

Instead of actually walking, I've thought about walking.

For those who haven't been following along ... shame on you. Wait, just kidding.... Anyway, my walk is about three quarters of a mile to where the road reaches its high point before going back down the south side of the mountain on which I live. From my door to that turnaround is, according to Google Earth, about a 400' change in elevation. Most of that change is in the first half of the outbound leg, up the gravel drive past neighbors' homes, to the main road.

When I first walked up that hill two and a half weeks ago, I needed to stop at the little rise where the drive reaches the road. To catch my breath. (remember, I'm not only out of shape, I just quit smoking) The past few days I have kept walking when reaching that point.

That's a nice feeling of accomplishment. Soon I will have to lengthen my walk. Bummer.

I have also encountered other non-automotive traffic on my walks. Kids walking to friends' houses to play or wev, folks out in their yards, a couple of cyclists who had just made the climb (about 900' above the valley on the north side) - and who seemed totally unaffected by that climb, showing me just how far I have to go (not that I expect to be biking up mountains... well, ever, but you know what I mean).

Yesterday, I encountered my first fellow walker. A gentleman who lives on the south side of the mountain and who has been mirroring my walk from that side. Well, actually, I have been mirroring his, as he's been doing this for some time. We just happened to meet at our mutual turnaround point, and stopped to say hello, exchange pleasantries, and agree that it was a beautiful day.

It was nice talking to him, and I hope to meet him again at the top of the road. Next time I'll ask his name, and give him mine. Just didn't think of it yesterday.

16 February 2008

Special Saturday Phyre Post!

You regular visitors have seen my Pheaux Phyre (remember, it's an open forum every Wednesday night!), but I also have a non-pheaux one. I decided that today was the day to clean out and rework it, after not using it for several months.

Anytime any of you are in the area of the Secret Lair (aka '73 Winnebago), you are more than welcome to stop by and breathe in some woodsmoke with me. Especially if you've never sat at a campfire before, which, I am given to believe, is somehow possible. I'd love to be your fire "daddy".

Just cleaned out.

Note the wood ready to be burned, and the seating.

Just email me for directions, and BYOB.

15 February 2008

Two Images Tell the Story

It's perfectly normal for there to be a pollen covered puddle
in the mountains of North Carolina
in freaking February!*

Oh, and heavy haze ... not to mention
green freaking grass in the middle of Winter!*

*fyi ... neither of these is normal. In case you wondered.

14 February 2008

If It's Thursday, There Must Be Python

More pre-Python Python

Oh, almost forgot!

Two weeks ago today, I stopped smoking!

Yay me!

13 February 2008

Pheaux Phyre Phorum: The We Are Awesome Edition

...because, well, we are. All of us.

Mixers, Munchies, and ... more! All in the usual places, so dive/dig in!

Let's talk peeps!

12 February 2008

Exercise and Broody Skies

I decided to get my walk out of the way early today, as the weather forecast is for rain this afternoon and through the night, and I don't want to miss a day. Looks like I made the right decision.

As I write this, the sun has completely disappeared behind the clouds and it's growing darker.

Which is fine by me; I love dark and broody days.

11 February 2008

Nature Rawks!

A walk in the woods today brought forth these images:

A white pine reaches through the surrounding deciduous
trees and grabs for some sky

A large burl* on an oak tree.

Day 11 of non-smoking, btw.

*a burl forms on a tree due to a fungus or an insect invasion of some kind. This 'defect' results in very dense and intricate grain, and is highly prized by woodworkers. And, no, I'm not telling anyone where this particular one is.

10 February 2008

Rainbow Swirly

And I'm not referring to toilets or hazing here.

Cunning Linguist, my friend and sometime contributor here (he's still working on getting a new computer), sent me, via his SO, these photos that he took a couple weeks ago. There was a bit of snow in the air, and in his words, the rainbows "were swirling all over the place. As many as half-dozen at a time."

Other than resizing, the photos have not been altered.


09 February 2008

Saturday Video

So, I decided to take a long walk today, and shot some video along the way....

Okay, maybe not. But I did find that video fascinating, and somewhat saddening ... as the changes in climate are threatening even Antarctica.

I wonder if it's already too late to stop the climate change?

I came across the video while searching for AfroCelt Sound System videos, btw. An awesome band that records on Peter Gabriel's Realworld label. The first tune in the video is from their first CD, and is called "Whirl-y-Reel 1". The first track I ever heard from them. I loved the pipes and techno beat combo, and bought their first two CD's the next day.

(the second tune is from the Edward Scissorhands soundtrack, and is by Danny Elfman)

08 February 2008

Friday Drive and Walk Blogging

I decided to drive over a ridge or two and take a walk along a trail (more a deer path than anything else) that I discovered a couple years ago. And, surprise, surprise - I took a couple pics along the way.

Heading up there.

Looking across a fallow field at the western ridges.

An old quarry up on the mountain.

Gated communities are freakin' everywhere!

I got almost to where I remembered the trail crossed the road, and was shocked to see new construction of a gated community, perched on top of the mountain, a good 45 minutes from any town. Another view about to be ruined. Sigh.

The trail was still there, and I had a good walk.

The end.

07 February 2008

(It's Still) Thursday (Somewhere) Monty Python

This may be a repeat ... but I don't care. I laugh my ass off every time I hear it.

One Week!

It was a week and about a half hour ago that I put away my pipe.

I believe the proper word here is .....


Phydeaux, the non-smoking blogger

06 February 2008

When Is USPS The Bomb?

When they deliver something wonderful!

My neighbor yelled for me, and told me I had mail. I walked over to get it, and he handed me this:

What could it be? (click images to embiggen)

I came back inside, opened the box, and contained therein was this:

A quilt made just for me!

Quite likely the bestest. gift. evah.

The quilt in its new home.

It's wonderful and, to my eyes, perfect. Thank you, Jen! If you weren't way down there in Costa Rica, I'd give you the biggest hug ever!!

(the differences in quality of the second and third photos is due to the use of my neighbor's expensive digicamera for the former, and my cheap [but functional] one on the latter)

Pheaux Phyre Phorum: The First Wednesday As A Non-Smoker Edition

Hello, phriends! It'll be a week tomorrow, and I'm still hanging in there!

Drinks - hard and soft - are in the creek, and munchies on the table.

What's happening with y'all?

NOTE: It's been storming here on and off today, so I may not be able to join in the festivities [in fact, this is my second third attempt to add this note]. It's an open thread, though, so I don't have to.

04 February 2008

Which State Are You?

From the same people who brought you the "Which Book are You?" quiz, comes the latest sensation to sweep the ... well, this website.

You're New Hampshire!

You're obsessed with independence, and may even be a libertarian. For you, freedom means doing whatever you like without worrying about the petty concerns of others. You're a big fan of throwing out slogans that threaten those who might infringe on your freedom. And yes, everything is set in stone for you. You built your house on the granite. Sadly, your greatest material inspiration recently fell down and can never be rebuilt.

Take the State Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Four+ Days, And Counting

So, last night I tested my resolve and watched most of the Super Bowl over at a friend's house... where two chain smokers live.

It was hard, and I eventually left because I was getting a headache, but I didn't give in to the urge.

I did, however, smell like cigarette smoke when I returned to the Secret Lair (aka '73 Winnebago).


More than four days now... and it's getting easier!

Also, I am so glad the Giants beat the Patriots.

03 February 2008

There's a Change in the Air

I walked up to the top of the road again today. Aware that the weatherman was calling for a chance of rain later in the day, so I kept my eys on the sky... and, checked with the real prognosticators:
2 out of 3 cows agree, it's gonna rain.

While I was polling the bovines, I heard a snort of derision and looked around:
What an ass!

Some people's kids, I tells ya.
I made my way on to my turnaround point and headed back this way. That's when I saw this nice view:
Part of the farm that used to own the whole mountain.

Oh, by the way, it's raining now. And, three days without tobacco. w00t!

02 February 2008

Two Days In

48 hours without tobacco, and I'm still here. No matter where I go, there I am.

I've also started to take more (and longer) walks. Cause I've realized that I'm probably gonna live for a long time (my parents are in their late 80's and going strong, and my grands and great-grands also lived to ripe old ages), and if I'm gonna be around when I'm 80 or so, I should be in good enough shape to enjoy it, right?

I've been walking up the driveway and then to the top of the road (where it starts down the south side of this mountain). According to GoogleEarth, that's 3/4 of a mile each way, and an elevation change of around 400 feet.

I posted a photo the other day taken from along the road.

Today, I decided to walk down the hill through the woods. A shorter walk, but a steeper hill. "What did you see, Phydeaux?" I can hear you asking. Well:

The "yard" behind the Secret Lair (aka '73 Winnebago).

Tree and blue sky, down the hill a ways.

No, there's not much rhododendron around here at all. Why do you ask?

I also discovered that I'm more out of shape than I thought... so I'll be tackling that hill again... and again... and again. The walk was just under a mile all together, but about the same elevation change as going the other way, and coming back up the hill got me.


01 February 2008

Thursday Friday Random Python

I got LOST yesterday, and didn't fulfill my agreement with pidomon

Here 'tis... a day late

Whattaya gonna do, bleed on me?