2014 Crop Report

Although my 2014 crop of green peppers has been disappointing, it was still a productive year. Some years, each plant will only produce one or two large peppers. The plants flower early in the season, setting some early fruits. But none of the subsequent flowers set. I think they dropped off in the heat. Also there was a bad storm and the plants were torn up badly.

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Yesterday, I went to the grocery store and found huge green peppers for 30 cents. I could buy four huge green peppers at the store for about the same as the $1.19 I paid for my four pepper seedlings.

1994: The Copyist

Twenty years ago, I produced a painting study for my class with Gelsey Verna. She gave an assignment to copy from a painting. I decided to work from a Raoul Dufy painting I saw at the Art Institute of Chicago. Here is the original on the left, with my study to the right.

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I wasn’t really interested in using his distinctive style of flat colors with black lines over it. I was interested in how he actually painted it. How did he get such strong black lines over wet paint? That’s called “painting wet on wet,” it’s tricky.

I had a very difficult time replicating his technique. I finally used a pinstriping brush normally used in sign painting. I could load the brush with a lot of paint and lay down flowing black lines. But it is long and floppy, so I could not get the fast, consistent strokes that Dufy used. Oh well, that is his primary style, he is well practiced and I am just a painting student, trying to reverse engineer it. I am sure he used a different brush technique than I did.

While making this study, I did learn a lot about wet over wet painting. I thought I did a few spots well, like the red couch on the left. It took the yellow and black overpainting just like the original. And a lot of my black crosshatching in the center seemed fast and rhythmic like the original. But some of Dufy’s color choices are rather strange. I just could not match that pale gold in the upper right or the purple on the lower right.

I only copied parts of the painting I wanted to analyze, simplifying the overall composition. You can’t make an exact copy anyway. What if it turned out brilliant, and someday someone thinks they found a long lost Dufy work?

Art students have a long history of copying paintings, and many museums have a long traditions of allowing Copyists to come into the gallery with their easel and oil paints and work right in front of the real painting. I always wanted to go to the Art Institute and copy directly from the original Dufy. But after I completed this study, on my next visit to the museum, the painting was not on display. Even today it is still not back on display.

Migrating from MovableType to WordPress

I am migrating my blog off the old Movable Type platform. My old blog will still be available at the old address until I get this migration completed.

Movable Type is dead. I knew it would die when Joi Ito took over Six Apart, he screws up everything he touches. Despite Ito’s declaration of support for Open Source software, now Movable Type 6 is closed and the price went from $0 to $595. It used to be the predominant blog software, but everyone got fed up with the lack of updates and the security problems, so they moved to WordPress. Now I have to move as well.

Update: I have successfully moved all my content to this new site, but the formatting converted poorly and I may have to edit almost every post I made for the last 12 years. I am resuming light blogging so new posts may appear occasionally, while I sort out the remaining problems and improve the design.

33 Cent Gas

WIth some shrewd use of discounts, I just filled my gas tank for 33 cents per gallon. I haven’t seen gas that cheap since I took Driver’s Education in high school. I told the gas station clerk this was probably his highest discount all day. He said it was second highest, and showed me a copy of a receipt for 1 cent gas (the maximum discount) filling a 20 gallon tank. Fill er up for 20 cents!


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Noctilucent Rainbow

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This is a crude photo of a rainbow after sunset, a noctilucent rainbow. It was taken at 8:34PM, sunset was at 8:29PM so the sun was already below the horizon. The photo was taken pointing southeast, away from the setting sun. I tried to go outside and get a better photo but it had already faded.


I have never heard of such a thing. I searched online and there are a few photos of this phenomenon, but it is exceedingly rare. Storm clouds in the west were high enough to be lit by the sun below the horizon. It made a bright red sunset, so the rainbow was illuminated by red light only, making a red rainbow.

Dreamhost QuickTime Streaming Server is Dead

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I just got a phone call from a Dreamhost tech support agent, yes, an actual telephone call with a human voice. The tech asked me if I received their notification that they were about to turn off their QuickTime Streaming Server. She said they sent out an email a month ago, but I never got it. Well this is horrible news. I chose Dreamhost for my website only because they supported QTSS at a reasonable price. I even stuck with them when they broke their server and it took me weeks to get through to the guy who could fix it. The tech said that QTSS had not been upgraded for years and they could not perform security updates to the OS on their servers. I don’t believe it. QTSS is written in Perl and there is no reason why it would break with an OS upgrade.
I don’t know what I’m going to do now. The agent said suggested I convert to Flash video. No way. QTSS isn’t supported on iPhones and iOS devices, and neither is Flash. I’m not going to convert to another dead format like Flash. I could migrate to another web host, but the monthly fee for QTSS alone will be more than what I pay Dreamhost in a year. I will probably have to convert to HTTP Live Streaming, but it’s going to take a while to get that running. So in the meantime, all my video content is offline.
It is worth noting that my BlogTV service was the first video blog on the internet. Other people used video on their websites, but I was the first person to use streaming services that integrated with standard blog software. It is starting to look like that blog software, MovableType, is also heading for obsolescence. I suppose this is the disadvantage to maintaining a site for so long. I have tried to keep everything online, and I’m even attempting to resurrect some of my first web pages from the early 1990s. It is easy to support legacy content written for simple standards like HTTP 1.0. But it’s increasingly difficult to maintain some of the more complex, server-side systems. I suppose Dreamhost isn’t to blame for the obsolescences of QTSS. But it doesn’t really cost them anything to keep it running. And I paid them a hell of a lot of money over the years. I expected more from them and they’ve disappointed me before.

1997 – Charles’ Antique Web Server

It’s hard to believe I’ve had a website online for about 20 years. It seems like just yesterday, it was 1993 and I had just discovered a program called Mosaic. It was a new concept called a “web browser.” My university set up a web server and I created a site almost immediately. I wish I had an archive of that site, it was my first presence on the internet. It even got a good review from Michiko Kakutani. Seriously, she emailed me and said my site was invaluable to her work.


The first web server I ever operated by myself was an mkLinux server, running on a Mac PowerPC 8100/110, what an antique. I just located the backup of that server, I was surprised to see some of my old projects from around 1997. They were pretty good if I do say so myself. But back then, it was just a miracle that you had any sort of website at all. I was particularly amused at my website logo, a spoof of “blue label” generic products.


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I think I’ll reblog some of the stories from the old site, they deserve to be resurrected.

Unpopular Opinions from Charles Eicher