"The Childe...More restless than the swallow in the skies..." -Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Visit My YouTube Hovel...er Channel

Childe Jake's Pilgrimage Now Sharing Video

I've set up a YouTube channel, linked above. Not unlike my periodic "Cosmos Clearinghouse" posts, it is a gateway to content I've encountered, enjoyed, and find enlivening. As of yet, it does not include videos of my own making (Your welcome). Upon arriving, you'll be treated to the following playlists:

  • My Cosmos Clearinghouse
  • Featured On My Blog
  • deGrasse Tyson (Meet one of my favorite scientists)
  • Fresh Hell (A hilariously self-deprecating web series by actor Brent Spiner)
  • Potter's Field (A local duo including my friend Rochelle. They specialize in "Creepicana.")
I hope you'll stop by. If you do, consider leaving a comment letting me know you visited. Below is a sampling of what you will find. It also demonstrates the musical style "Creepicana." Happy summer to you!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Farewell to Our Space Shuttle Program

Original Photo's Credit: NASA

The above photo, prior to me adding a caption and frame in Photoshop, was taken from the space shuttle Atlantis on July, 19th, 2011 after undocking from the International Space Station for the final time.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cultural Hash from a Childe's Mind

The Shot Heard ‘Round My Ears

The images continue to jar my mind. A couple days ago I experienced the ‘unthinkable’. Police cars surrounded a beautiful suburban home. There were hostages inside. Guns were drawn. And I had been asked to serve as negotiator. In hindsight, I should have hesitated. I’m not trained for this sort of thing.

Nevertheless, with a police officer escorting me, I began walking across the lawn toward the front door. As we passed in front of a bay window, the sound of gunshots and shattering glass rushed into my ears at over 600 mph. I jerked my head to the right to see who was firing. Through the breaking window, the assailant’s shimmering blond hair, glistening blue eyes and glossy skin made her identity unmistakable. I was being shot at by Suzanne Somers.

Of Celebrity-based Dreams

Okay, so I was dreaming. The scene I am describing took place in my mind. Still, this is not the first time I’ve dreamed of being assailed by celebrities. Old-timers who remember MySpace might have read a status update that went something like this:

“Last night I dreamed that Kevin Bacon wanted to beat me up.”
Multiple times, in a single slumber, Mr. Bacon burst into my dreams threatening to pummel me. Brandishing only fists and sheer gravitas, he caused fear that bordered on nightmare levels. And he kept coming back, always briefly, like his cameo in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Now About Ms. Somers and the Glock

Oddly, I felt no fear as Suzanne emptied half a clip in my direction. Coolly, I drew a Beretta. Then I dashed for the front door while returning fire. Suzanne dropped to the floor. I hadn’t hit her, but she knew I was a lethal wea threat. And this is significant. In most dreams where I handle guns, they misfire. It’s a chronic problem for me in REM sleep. Yet, in this dream my pistol fired to great effect. (Shut up, Freud.)

Tragically, I think Suzanne took down the officer who’d been at my side. He didn’t make it to the front door. For the remainder of this kill-or-be-killed dream, the only two players were Suzanne and me. And there would be no retreat or surrender.

Help Me Robert Redford, You’re My Only Hope

What it is the deal with celebrities appearing in my dreams? To be candid, I wish the dreams were more sexual. We usually just wind up commiserating like weary insomniacs in a Denny’s at 3 AM. The encounters are so…whatevah. Not anticlimactic, mind you, just disappointingly matter-of-fact. Sometimes they are even embarrassing.

Take that night I dreamed of meeting Jeff Bridges. Out of the blue, he appeared next to me. A bit Starman-struck, I sheepishly said, “Did you have fun making the Tron sequel?” With gruff annoyance he shot back, “Well, obviously it didn’t turn out too well!” It made me wish I could be back in that sublime dream where Robert Redford visited my bedroom...

Anyway, I admit all that to say it was even more shocking to be trading bullets with Suzanne Somers. The dream was unprovoked and without real-world context. I’m not a fan of Ms. Somers, but neither do I dislike her. Plus, I have no recent memory of seeing her on any programs I watch. Yet here I was storming the home she was held up in like the Sundance Kid...but with mastered thighs.

As I burst through the door, Suzanne dove into a bedroom. She tried to shut the door, but I forced it open. Now trapped and separated from her prized hostages, she crouched down between the door and the wall. No words were spoken. We both still had a few rounds left. And though I hope readers are finding this a bit humorous, at the time I didn’t find it funny at all. I believed it was real. Perhaps two feet apart and separated only by a thin door, Suzanne Somers and I were about to kill each other.

About That Robert Redford Reference

While attending Weber State University in Utah, I attended a screening at the Sundance Film Festival. The movie I saw did not star Robert Redford, neither did he attend the screening. After the post-viewing Q and A, I drove to my grandma’s house where I was staying at the time. Soon I fell into a contented sleep in the back bedroom.

At some indistinguishable point between waking and sleep, I looked up to see Robert Redford walking into the bedroom. Like all trusted visitors, he had entered my grandma’s house through the backdoor. Apparently, someone had notified him of my attendance at his prestigious film festival and he decided to follow up. Quite nonchalantly, Mr. Redford sat down on the foot of the bed and warmly asked, “Do you have any questions?” Then, with the same starry-eyed dumbness I presented to Jeff Bridges, I asked Mr. Redford a mundane question about the cinematography in The Natural. Like so many of my celebrity dreams, it quickly fizzled into nothingness.

Last Man Standing

After a heartbeat Suzanne Somers emptied her mag, and I sent several rounds through the door at her. Somehow I didn’t get hit. And I don’t know if I took down Suzanne. The dream abruptly ended. But I can tell you that at such close range, gripping powerful handguns, for both of us to miss would have been a Pulp Fiction miracle.


The more I think about this dream, the less funny I find it. What humor there is largely dissipates when one considers I had this dream only days after a horrific real-life shooting in Grand Rapids. The dream itself I find absurd, especially my Lethal Weapon-esque performance in it. But the question of why I had it at all gives me pause. No conclusions. Just a reason to wonder.

Lastly, should this post ever actually find its way to Suzanne Somers, I can only say that I don’t know you personally. To the limited extent I have observed you through media, you seem talented and hard-working. I wish you continued happiness and fulfillment in life and in dreams--provided you refrain from taking hostages. Honestly, I don’t know why my brain slung such hash at your expense.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My Cosmos Clearing House for STS-135

What is STS-135? Look Down and Dream Up

My brilliant plan was to do a post showcasing dramatic images from the Cassini Solstice Mission taking place at this very moment above Saturn. But...

A few moments ago I read a wonderful post by a fellow blogger. If you are one of those folks who gives my blog the time of day, I thank you. But this week, I ask you to spend a couple of minutes reading the following piece instead:

An Eye Witness Perspective from Blogger Pillownaut

It is my favorite type of blog post--personal, straightforward and well-written. If you enjoy it as I did, I hope you will pay Pillownaut the compliment of posting a comment.

Now for my favorite image of STS-135...so far!

Shuttle Atlantis as seen from a NASA training aircraft -- CREDIT: NASA/Dick Clark

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Spring Images of Washtenaw County Michigan

An Oak Tree Near Dexter, Michigan

I shot this at my supervisor's request earlier this Spring. She wanted a nice picture of this particular tree using the company's new Nikon D7000, and she wanted it before the leaves arrived. I did a bit of touch up in Photoshop to bring out the clouds and hide a utility box.

Below is how the same tree would appear in a bad Highlander sequel (which is to say...a Highlander sequel). I wish I could say this abstract version was a technical feat, but I was just experimenting with Tone Curves in Adobe's Camera Raw. What are Tone Curves? As the picture makes clear, you should ask someone other than me.

Here is the same scene touched up with the Patch Tool in Photoshop. Bye-bye to all evidence that there are parking lots and vehicles nearby.

'A Bird of Free and Careless Wing...'

The above words are Lord Byron's and reference a bird of spring. The stanza I took them from is kind of a downer, so I won't quote the whole thing. In any case, here is one of many finches that abide in Washtenaw County--seen through the blinds of my office window. It made several concerted attempts to get through the window before settling down and saying cheese. This photo was taken with an older Nikon Coolpix 2500. For me this image, like the ones above, was really about introducing myself to serious cameras and software.