Good Night, Robin Williams

Good Night, Robin Williams

Robin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014) The other day, when I heard that Robin Williams had died, and that it was (at that point) a suspected suicide, it broke my heart. Having grown up watching Williams on TV and in the movies, I had trouble believing that he had taken his own life. Then when the word came out that he was suffering from depression, and that it really was self-inflicted, it killed me. Depression is so powerful, so all-encompassing, that even the people who bring joy and laughter to millions aren’t immune to its effects. I had the idea that I wanted to do a fun illustration of him, kind of an homage, so I started sketching, based off a photo I had found. The problem is, I am not great at drawing people. Given that constraint, I thought maybe it would be better if I tried to make it more of a modern piece, where the color and lines weren’t realistic, but representational. Bright colors would lighten the mood, and the picture could be a celebration of a life rather than inspired by his death. I am also not great at that kind of art. My wife looked at the picture above and said he looks like “an evil Ronald McDonald.” And she’s right; this image is scary. But it wasn’t meant to be. I thought about not posting it, just holding onto it and making it my way of processing the news. It could live in my iPad forever and only show up in screensavers of my camera roll. But then I began...
Phoenix DinoCon

Phoenix DinoCon

Today I’m volunteering at the 2014 Phoenix DinoCon, a fan convention for folks who like dinosaurs, and yeah…I’m a little bit excited.     Having never really been into ComiCon or any of the other myriad of conventions out there, this will be my first time into that arena. I’ll be working the registration table, so I’ll get a chance to see everyone who comes through the door face-to-face, which should be fun. I suppose people will be there in costume, so that will be something to see, although with the temperature upwards of 100° and humid, and not to mention the chance of the seasonal monsoon storm, I doubt there will be many people dressed up. Either way, I’m looking forward to it. I may post the behind the scenes video of the “today” image above but it would be pretty short, and not to mention dark, so it might not make for a great clip.  Sunday edit – I was right…this doesn’t make for very compelling footage. But since it’s available, why not. You can see at the end where I experimented with getting more text on the image before finally deciding to leave it alone. No sense overcomplicating an image that was only going into a tweet, anyway. Also on Relatively Average: Another portrait attempt Good Night, Robin Williams Hanging out with the full...
Getting away from it all? Take it all with you

Getting away from it all? Take it all with you

Two weeks ago today I was pulling into the driveway of a tiny cabin in the little Bear Paw fishing village on Panguitch Lake in Utah. Escaping the 110° inferno of Phoenix, when dad and I arrived the local temperature was 70° and slightly overcast. There was a light, cool breeze. It was about as close to my ideal environment as I get during the course of the year. Except for those RVs. If you’ve been following along, lately I’ve had this kind of minimalist epiphany. Not that we really have that much stuff to begin with, but that’s been more of a financial implication than a deliberate decision. I like having big TVs and fun cars and more rooms in the house just as much as the next guy, but we just could never afford to go crazy with things. The house that mere months ago I was disparaging because it was too small and we’ve probably outgrown it The old car that I love but wouldn’t it be cooler if it was just a bit older and maybe be the original M5 version of the same model When do the new Apple MacBook Pros come out again because this one is starting to act a little wonky and it may just be time to upgrade anyway You get the gist. Now, however, after just a couple of months of getting a little bit more zen about things, I feel like I’m starting to look at stuff differently, like my attitude has caught up with my paycheck. Since we weren’t hoarders or shopaholics to begin with, it’s really just...
Soaking it up

Soaking it up

We spent our last day of our fishing trip much the way we spent the previous four: get up early, drive down to the lake, climb down the steep embankment to dads “lucky” fishing spot, fish for a couple of hours pulling in a total of one (mine, thankyouverymuch), before deciding to call it quits. The decision to bail was made easier by the fact that I developed a knot in my line that took me the better part of an hour to untangle, and that dad, who seems adverse to using sunscreen was beginning to burn. After a giant lunch consisting of most of the food left in the fridge that dad didn’t want to haul home, we decided to drive up to the ski resort town of Brian Head. I had managed to talk him into playing a round of disc golf while there, but the course was closed on Thursdays. While talking to one of the employees there about the course a couple of college coeds showed up who wanted to ride the ski lift (also closed) so we were brushed aside so he could flirt with them. We stopped for a couple of photo opps at Cedar Breaks National Monument before coming back to our home away from home, and began to plot our evening: dinner, then fish some more. Fortunately, neither one of us wanted to go back out in the sun with the high likelihood of not catching anything, so after an afternoon of reading and relaxing we spent the rest of the evening cooking dinner and feeding the chipmunks. After dinner, the Chipmunk...
On being way off the grid

On being way off the grid

Tuesday night, the end of day three of the annual camping and fishing trip I take with my father. This is the second year he ponied up for a small cabin, in contrast to our regular camp tents. Last year, he decreed that he was too old to be sleeping on the ground, but I suspect the real reason was that he had gotten a little tired of the daily battle with Mother Nature when it comes to meal preparation. On these trips the plan is to fish all day, or at least until we caught our limit or enough for dinner, then get back to camp and hang out and prepare dinner, only to have a monsoon storm whip up and drive us racing for cover while dousing our dinner table with cold rain. Dad and I have taken this annual pilgrimage for about the past seven years, missing only once due to a conflicting event, which we did together. This time is important to us, so we try very hard to make it a priority, not only because we both like to fish, but mostly because it’s one thing we can do to spend time together. Prior to the “too old for this” declaration, like the swallows return to Capistrano, we always made our way back to our own favorite campground in the mountains outside of Durango, Colorado. One of the benefits of the Colorado trip was the fact that we were so far off the grid…12 miles to be exact. That was the distance between me and one bar’s worth of service on my mobile phone....
Developing a taste for minimalism

Developing a taste for minimalism

I wrote earlier about my response to a presentation I attended on the concept of minimalism. While I’d heard talks on it before, and even one by the same person, it never really stuck. I’m not sure what was different this time, but this time the message hit home, becoming more than just a nice idea. I spent that afternoon and evening reading up on the philosophy, soaking up everything I could get my hands on. I found that people I knew or have met around town were going through the same kind of process I was…simplifying, minimizing, trying to take control of their things and subsequently their life. I even spent the weekend reading several zen lifestyle sites (example), which I would usually have just dismissed as a nice idea but not really applicable to today’s busy life. Or more specifically, me in my life. Any way, I decided to put into practice some of what I’d been reading. A big part of minimalism comes just from eliminating things that don’t add value to your life. Does clutter add anything to my life? Not if you don’t include frustration. So last Saturday I made a first pass through my closet, getting rid of the low-hanging fruit: clothes I hadn’t worn in a year…or in some cases – ever. Shoes that I had quit wearing because they hurt my feet, but never gotten rid of. After boxing up the clothes, I looked around the house for other areas I could address. I was struck by the amount of stuff that filled many of the surfaces. Not that the house is messy,...