Archive for April, 2010

The 2010 Great American Oil Spill

Posted in Critical Commentary of Civilization, Environmentalism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2010 by Drogo

BP Offshore Oil Spill Along US Gulf Coast in 2010
Southcoast BP Oil Spill of 2010

Hundreds of thousands of gallons of Crude Oil have poured into the Gulf of Mexico, every day, for days now. The Oil is gushing from a well 5,000 feet underwater. An explosion and fire on a drilling rig on April 20, 2010; left 11 workers missing and presumed dead. The rig sank two days later about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. Immediate States Affected: Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas (basically the Southern Coastline).

The oil slick was 16 miles offshore the Mississippi River Delta, the marshlands at Louisiana where the river empties into the ocean. The Coast Guard and Navy aided BP with 100,000 feet of protective booms have been laid down to protect the shoreline, with 500,000 feet more standing by. Two Air Force C-130 Hercules planes have been sent to Mississippi and were awaiting orders to start dumping chemicals on the oil spill in the water.

Coast Guard Admiral Landry said a scientist from NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) had concluded that oil is leaking at the rate of 5,000-25,000 barrels a day, not 1,000 as had first been estimated. At a rate of 210,000 gallons a day, many species are already suffering and worse is expected as the massive environmental disaster barrels toward the Gulf states. Migrating birds, nesting pelicans, river otters and mink along Louisiana’s fragile islands and barrier marshes are all endangered.

Wind patterns pushed the spill into the Louisiana Coast, prompting consideration of more urgent measures to protect coastal wildlife. Among them were using cannons to scare off birds and employing local shrimpers’ boats as makeshift oil skimmers in the shallows. As the vast oil slick spread across the Gulf, driven by winds and currents from the site of the leak, fishermen in coastal towns feared for their businesses and the White House stepped up its response to the worsening situation.

Cleanup crews began conducting what is called an in-situ burn, a process that consists of corralling oil in a 500-foot-long boom, and burning it. Burns will not be effective for most of this spill. 97 percent of the spill is estimated to be an oil-water mixture.

Last week, Forbes magazine published what the top U.S. corporations paid in taxes last year. “Most egregious,” Forbes notes, is General Electric, which “generated $10.3 billion in pretax income, but ended up owing nothing to Uncle Sam. In fact, it recorded a tax benefit of $1.1 billion.” Big Oil giant Exxon Mobil, which last year reported a record $45.2 billion profit, paid the most taxes of any corporation, but none of it went to the IRS.

Exxon tries to limit the tax pain with the help of 20 wholly owned subsidiaries domiciled in the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands that (legally) shelter the cash flow from operations in the likes of Angola, Azerbaijan and Abu Dhabi. Of $15 billion in income taxes last year, Exxon paid none of it to Uncle Sam, and has tens of billions in earnings permanently reinvested overseas.

President Obama ordered a freeze on new offshore drilling leases until a review of the oil rig accident that caused the spill could be concluded, and new safeguards put in place.

“I continue to believe that domestic oil production is an important part of our overall strategy for energy security,” Mr. Obama said on Friday, addressing concerns about whether the administration would continue with its plan to increase drilling in the Gulf.

Even so, he said, “the local economies and livelihoods of the people of the Gulf Coast as well as the ecology of the region are at stake.”

Mr. Obama, speaking in the Rose Garden of the White House, said he had dispatched two Cabinet secretaries to the region to assess the damage. He ordered Secretary Salazar to report within 30 days on what new safeguards were needed to prevent future oil spills.

It is a bad year already for fossil fuels, as this follows the WV Coal Mine Explosion and Collapse that killed 29. The odor of Oil has already extended inland, and Federal warnings for respiratory conditions have begun. It will be many years before clean-up will be finished. So long as we are using Crude Oil to the extent that we are, we are all fucked. But I would rather be fucked by Oil pumped at home, rather than going to new Wars for it in the Middle East and other places abroad, in addition to spills like this. We don’t need any more Wars over this shit, when we have so many other energy sources.

* In August 2010 the Well leak was killed, with a final total of 4.9 million barrels having leaked into the Mexican Gulf

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Circle Garden

Posted in Arts (Design & Performance), Nature Studies, Organic Gardens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2010 by Drogo

The Circle Garden

Celtic Guard-In of Vegetables inside, and Herbs as Guardians around the perimeter, outside the fence. The circle being one of our most natural and primal symbols: sun, moon, earth, wheel of the year, cycles of life, etc… Known and respected by ancient tribal shaman and cultures around the World.

So I asked: “Why do we not have more Circular, or Round gardens?” It seemed like the answer was not because of any natural reason, but rather due to our artificial applications to our evolution, that are not always congruous with other natural elements. Square or Rectangular gardens or farm fields are by far, the normal standard; and this development is historically parallel to rectangular architectural convention as well. Once wood is cut and straightened in lumber mills for boards, as a rectangular object it is necessary to make building easy with right (90 degree) angles. However, if wood is left more in it’s natural rounded state (the sides of a branch), then our designs are different to accommodate that practicality. I began to see our lack of rounded landscape features as ignorance, and part of our stubborn opposition to the strongest Natural form.  Indeed after years of working the garden, it is not only easier to work soil within rounded edges by hand tools, but it is more spiritually rewarding to me, and therefore I enjoy it more.

This garden is organic. We make loads of compost on the property, wheeled or brought by shovel or bucket over to supplement the garden soil. Perennials dominate the garden, keeping it alive automatically every year. Some perennials are evergreen, while others simply die back, to regrow from roots, bulbs, or seeds every Spring. Water is mostly supplied naturally by rain, or rain catchment systems. Additional water (especially during droughts) is supplied by conserved town water. Upside-down reused glass bottles of water saturate the soil for hours. Most of the garden is from volunteer plants now, re-established and perpetuated annually during growing seasons. Otherwise organic store-bought seeds or seedlings are purchased. As seedlings grow, I use mulch from the yard or neighborhood: cut lawn grass in bags, leaves raked from last Fall, old cardboard weighed down, and fallen bark from dead wood. Before Winter comes I have harvested various amounts of: garlic leeks (lemon grass), chives, basil, peppermint, rosemary, lavender, sage, mullein, lambs ear, lambs quarters, wild mustard lettuce, wild spinach, dandelion, tomatoes, green peppers, sun flowers, squash, cabbage, chard, spinach, lettuce, kale, etc… most of which flowers and produces seeds by the end of the year, even after cutting some of the leaves of the plant.

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Grand Piano Conversion to Harp-Shelf

Posted in Adaptive Reuse, Sculpture, Services, Sales or Trade with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2010 by Drogo

Grand Piano Converted into a Harp-Shelf

Hardman, Baby-Grand Piano

Kaplon-Stowell House, Harpers Ferry, WV

The name Hardman dates back to 1842, and was one of the highest quality New York pianos available. Hardman famous features include: spruce soundboard, high quality action, and beautifully crafted cabinetry. Grand pianos come in 2 sizes, Full & Baby; Baby-Grand pianos are not for babies, they are only slightly smaller than a Full-Grand.

This baby-grand piano was purchased by Kip Stowell (RIP), for his mother. Kip’s mother, Helen Stowell, entertained guests and played bridge as well as the piano in Massachusetts. It was purchased ‘used’ in the 1950’s and has been in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia since Kip’s parents passed away in the 1970’s. Kip Stowell (Walton Danforth Stowell I) was mayor of Harpers Ferry, and this piano was last played on his victory election by Harpers Ferry antique dealer, entertainer, and friend of the family, Ken Norton (RIP). Wikipedia has an excellent article titled ‘Walton Danforth Stowell’ for more information.

Nena Stowell played the piano frequently for 30 years. Walton Jr. also played this piano, and even created his own way of writing music from drawing the keys. The family wanted to sell it, for extra cash and to free up some living room. Despite the low price offered publicly for years online, it was impossible to find any potential buyers to sell it locally. The buyer had to have access to a vehicle large enough to fit it safely, movers strong enough to carry it, a place to put it, and a respect for the piano as musical instrument, sculptural object, and historic furnishing. And no haggling. So a new concept was designed for the piano.


Piano features:
* Musically in Fair Condition (untuned & needs some key adjustments)
– After spending an additional $200-$1,500 (estimated) in functional and maintenance work
* Body Structure is in Good Condition, Dark Wood (Cherry or Walnut) Finish
* Complete with Bench that opens for storage inside
* Fully operable lid & music shelf
* Dimensions: 62″L x 59″W x 40″H
* Weight: 727 lbs

step 1 : Remove Legs; back, then front; use car jack and strong people

step 2 : cut and stain new legs; screw new legs on securely and squarely

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step 3 : lift piano up on the key-board, roll on to new legs; move into place

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step 4 : add shelf

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step 5 : add things to shelf, light creatively

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Way to Throw (at) A Birthday Party

Posted in Arts (Design & Performance) on April 27, 2010 by eposognatus

Often, though we desire a thing for ourselves, we’ve little reason to create it for that reason alone. It takes the spirit and joy of another to bring that thing into creation, and when this exuberance takes hold it works one’s hands just as deftly as if in a fit of our own creative passion, though with a strange blindness to the desires of self.

This piece came into being as if of its own will, to be given to another and never destined for any other purpose. It was remarkable how each scrap from which it was made came together, as if all intended. It is always a delight to serve as the midwife to such a simple delivery.

Atlatl
Materials: Wood (cherry), antler, artificial sinew, leather.
Darts
Fibreglass fencing poles, leather.

Ballenger Creek Park Nature Trail

Posted in Nature Studies with tags , , , , , , on April 26, 2010 by Drogo

The Ballenger Creek Park Nature Trail is in Frederick, MD

Abstract Basics

Posted in Arts (Design & Performance), Education / Schools with tags , , on April 24, 2010 by Drogo

Lesson 1: Abstract Basics

Prehistoric Harpers Ferry, From Above

Y Harpers Ferry, Reverse Plexiglass

Harpers Ferry Expressionist Abstracts

Prehistoric Harpers Ferry, Aerial View

Posted in Arts (Design & Performance), Education / Schools with tags , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2010 by Drogo

Primitive Harpers Ferry, From Above

Camp Hill Carriage House Collection

2010 Tony Catanese and Walton Stowell II


This is the natural landscape of Harpers Ferry, as the Native American Indians would have known it. Before man-made architecture such as bridges, stucco buildings, and roads. In a time when it did not even have the name we know it by yet.

This view of the abstract painting is oriented to the cardinal directions of a map; North, South, East, & West. We did not include the architectural features we had outlined on the Plexiglass, instead leaving it “el naturale” like it was during the time of the Native American Indians, and before…