The Pennies Project

Header verticalI began a new project on July 7, 2015, with seven boxes of pennies: 16,252 of them.

My goal is to create a sculpture, one day at a time, built with pennies and daily reflections about time, structures, metal, inheritance, value, and the meaning of each small unit that becomes a life.

If I live to be 100, all the pennies will be in the sculpture and it will be completed.

I created a few rules about the project, which I outlined in the first post.

The number of pennies comes from the amount of the last check from my father: the final installment of a monthly annuity of $162.52 paid out for five years after his death.

This project is also a tribute to him.

John Nash outgrew mental illness

Here’s the important quote:

By the early 1990s, when the Nobel committee began investigating the possibility of awarding Dr. Nash its memorial prize in economics, his illness had quieted. He later said that he had simply decided that he was going to return to rationality.

“I emerged from irrational thinking, ultimately, without medicine other than the natural hormonal changes of aging,” he wrote in an email to Dr. Kuhn in 1996.

Source: John F. Nash Jr., Math Genius Defined by a ‘Beautiful Mind,’ Dies at 86


Photographer Tom Zimberoff on portraits:

I think a good photographer photographing people will do most of the work before they ever place a camera between themselves and their subject — spend as much time with that person as possible intimately watching them, seeing how they move and how they interact with their environment, and listening to what they have to say, and understanding what their interests are so you can juxtapose some of those ideas with your own.


Membuka (To Open)

Inside this marbled garden

dried leaves sweep into neatness,

bristles shush and smooth my rising.

Calm strives beyond decoration.

I touch anxiety’s vein

in every translated question.

The line goes dead.

Tired of trying to reconnect,

I retreat in salty solitude.

Between crisp sheets I fall

into batik nightmares —

the prisoner’s dilemma.

But in the morning

the grass will be clean and

I will open again, for the listeners

May 4, 1999

Even wild hogs have a history

In the long history of invasive species in Appalachia, no story is more striking that that of the European wild boar. Often called Russian boars, they probably came from Germany. In 1908 an English corporation established a private hunting preserve in Graham County, NC, and stocked it with game animals including buffaloes, Russian bears, and wild boars. None flourished except the shrewd and resourceful boars that soon escaped into the mountain wilderness where they have proved enormously destructive of the woodland ecology. In 1959 the Great Smoky Mountains National Park began an eradication program that has to date removed over 10,000 hogs. But still they survive, a continuing threat to the wellbeing of the natural environment.

via European Wild Boars.

The Power of Mushrooms to Save the Planet

Fun facts about mushrooms – starting from the cell level. What makes them so amazing, the author notes, is

 their cell walls are made of a molecule called chitin instead of cellulose that you’d find in plants. Chitin is bendable yet tough. Its ability to defend itself from outside pathogens makes it valuable in medicine and as food. Perhaps best of all, it grows quickly. Some strains that start about the size of a fingernail can grow into 200,000 pounds of biomass in just a few months.

via The Power of Mushrooms to Save the Planet – News Watch.

This, too, is Dubai

Abstract of limbs, beaks, feathers of flamingos

My work frequently takes me through Dubai, where I lived for two years. I still feel a great pang of sorrow and homesickness when the plane touches down at the airport.

I saw many things about Dubai that casual travelers didn’t … but more about that in other posts.

One of the actual tourist attractions in Dubai, however, is something I never got around to while I lived there. It’s Ras al Khor, the watery headlands of Dubai Creek, which is home to many thousands of birds.


Abstract of limbs, beaks, feathers of flamingos

I spent some hours there watching and photographing these flamingos. It’s hard to really capture the huge flocks in an overview shot, so I paid more attention to zooming in on the details.

With my new Canon Powershot SX50, I actually got photos of the wrinkles in their knees, the yellow of their eyes. Far closer than I could get with my 300 mm on a Pentax – the Powershot has an equivalent of 1200 mm lens.



Dead on Arrival

Today I read that the Times-Picayune laid off half its staff. This news was greeted with the usual comments from my former colleagues:

Newspaper management are the dumbest fcks inthe history of American dumbfckery and they’re not getting any smarter. God, I hate these people.

Welcome to the mass of unemployed journalists, and good luck trying to find another job in this economy, especially at a newspaper, and if you’re over 40, forget about it

In a few months, we’ll be hearing from those laid-off Times-Picayune folks wondering why, with three decades of reporting and editing experience, they can’t even get a follow-up email in response to an application.

I can tell you why. Continue reading