I went down to New York City and Bryant Park this past weekend so that I could take street photos. That’s something I’ve written about before but this is the first time this year I’ve gotten to do it. It’s a warm weather thing so I don’t make it down in the winter. The last time I was in the city was the end of September and it’s now the middle of May. I’ve shot street photos in April before but not this year. I think it might have been warm enough on one April Saturday but I can’t quite remember. All I can recall is that there were a couple of Saturdays over the last few weeks that I wanted to go but but weather or lethargy kept me from going. If I could blink and be in Bryant Park I’d go there all the time but since it’s an hour and a half trip by public transportation I’m not always up for the going.
It was an old school sort of train trip for me this time. Back in my days of taking the bus into the city I used to always have my Walkman with me. A portable cassette player of the kind we all carried in the 1980s and into the 1990s. That’s what got me through my bus trips. Listening to music. I always bought a good set of headphones rather than use the ones that came with the player because I wanted comfort and good sound. Those old orange cushioned headphones were not that. As the 1990s passed I got a portable CD player but I still liked the cassette player too. In the early 2000s, though I still listened to music on CDs, I bought a new portable caste player that could also record sound. I bought it to carry around and record sounds that I would then digitize on use on my computer. I still have that cassette player even if I don’t use it any more. Sometime around 2005 I bought and iPod shuffle and the mp3 player became my main source of music on the bus.
I mention all this because I no longer have a main source for music on the bus. Due to changes in public transport and my no longer commuting regularly I take a train in when I go into NYC. For some reason I haven’t listened to music much on the train. I’m not even sure why but I think it’s for a few reasons. The bus was a straight shot into the city. I’d get on and not get off until the last stop at the Port Authority Bus Station. There was no reason to pay attention to the ride so I’d put on my headphones and tune out. Often I’d even fall asleep. With the train I have to get off after about forty minutes at Secaucus Junction and catch a second train into the city. Plus a ticket taker has to come around and punch my ticket. I can’t just zone out like I do on the bus.
The second reason is that I want to travel light. Since I’ll be walking around the city four about five hours I don’t want to be weighed down by a music player and headphones. Sure they’re not that much weight but it’s still easier to not bring them. Plus I prefer the larger over-the-ear headphones to the smaller earbuds so they can take up a bit of room in a bag. I’ve tried bringing my earbuds but they eventually hurt my ears and it doesn’t seem worth it. So I’ve only listened to music a few times on the train.
What I did most of the time last year was read a magazine. I saved a magazine I have a subscription to called The Sun specifically to read on the train. That worked well. I enjoyed reading it as I rode the train. But this time I had already finished reading the magazine by the time I finally decided to head down to the city. That morning I was looking around for thing to read. I have lots to read but I didn’t want to carry it around all day. I’ve brought my iPad with me before thinking I could use it to shoot video or edit photos on but I never did. I was usually too busy with my camera to bother taking out the iPad. I did read some stuff on it during the ride though. That hardly seemed a good enough reason to lug it around. If I wasn’t going to use it as a tool I wasn’t going to bring it. So I haven’t brought it in a while. I briefly thought about reading on my iPod but it’s so small that reading on it seemed to annoy me more than entertain me. I also didn’t want to carry any real books or comics because of the weight.
In the end I brought my iPod (I was going to listen to music in the car on the way to the train anyway) and tucked my noise-cancelling earbuds into my bag. I figured I’d listen if the mood struck me. It never did. Instead I looked out the window and thought. I don’t even remember what I thought about but it was a pleasant and sunny morning so my thoughts were light and airy as the trip went on. I momentarily entertained the idea of playing a game on my iPod but the thought was fleeting as I wasn’t in the mood. The trip was nice enough and I made it to the city and took some pictures. I also, by chance, ran into a friend who I hadn’t seen since High School in 1984. That’ll get the mind pondering the world and its mysteries.
I caught the train back at the end of the day and continued my looking out the window, watching the scenery go by, and thinking my thoughts. It was a fairly empty train with only about ten or fifteen of us in the whole car. I couldn’t really see what anyone was doing but I did look over and see one woman looking at the screen of her phone. Somehow that made me glad I wasn’t looking at a screen. As I take street photos I take a lot of pictures of people looking at little screens. It’s just what people do these days. I can remember when cell phones first became big and people were always talking on them as they walked. Now that almost never happens. Everybody is looking at their phones. Except me. I was old school and looking at the scenery.
I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got seven new comics.
Check them all out here:
So there I was nearing the end of my usual bike ride early on Sunday morning when my bicycle started acting funny. The pedal under my left foot felt weird. It seemed to be twisting a little under my foot. I stopped the bike to inspect it but couldn’t see anything wrong. I even checked the bottom of my shoe to see if my old sneakers were wearing out and the sole slipping off them. Nope. I got back on the bike to give it another go and that’s when the whole pedal and its crank arm fell right off. Somewhere along my route the hex bolt that held on the crank arm (that’s the part that connects to the bike’s axel on one end and the pedal on the other) fell out. That’s not supposed to happen!
Luckily I was about a mile from home so I didn’t have too far to go. I put the pedal and crank arm onto the axel and tried gently pedaling to see if it would fall out. It did fairly quickly. After all there was nothing holding it in but a little friction and the pressure of my foot on the pedal could easily overcome that. It was a mostly flat ride with a slight downhill grade the last quarter mile home so I made it by coasting and gingerly pedaling as the crank arm fell off a couple of times. I was really annoyed when I got home.
I had just replaced both crank arms on my bike last year and have had a little problem with them. Mostly it’s been that the hex bolts that held them on would loosen slightly and cause the axel to shift almost imperceptibly but enough to make my front gear not shift correctly. Just about a month ago that happened and I tightened the hex bolts and everything was okay. That’s what made this so weird. I never felt anything was wrong until the hex nut was long gone and the crank almost off.
After I got home I looked around to see if I had an extra hex bolt. I have a bunch of old bike parts around in case I need them but somehow didn’t bother to save the hex bolts from my old crank set. I had a thousand other useless things but not the part I needed. I wasn’t even sure if I could buy a hex nut all by itself or if I would have to spend $40 on a new crank set. I went on Amazon to see what I could find and found some crank set hex bolts. They were from a third part seller and the reviews on them were mixed, mostly because they weren’t the name brand they were claimed to be, but in the end they were $6 so I ordered them. What choice did I have?
Before ordering the part I actually went out to look and see if I could find the hex bolt on the road. It was a long shot. I couldn’t even ride my bike to look for it so I only covered the last mile or two of my ride on foot. I found nothing. After all the hex bolt could have fallen out any time on my ride and then it took time to work the crank loose. I didn’t give myself much chance of success to begin with but it made me feel good to try before I ordered the part.
Since the part would take about a week to get here (I declined to pay the $5 for faster shipping) I looked around to see if I could find something to use as a temporary fix. That way I could still go on bike rides while I waited for the new hex bolt. Turns out the bolt has a common quarter inch thread (I think) and I found an old round plastic knob with a quarter inch bolt on it. Though it looks familiar I can’t remember where the knob is from. I put the pedal crank on the axel and the bolt on the knob actually set in place and grabbed the threads in the axel. Since it was a knob I tightened it down by hand. I thought it might work.
A couple of days later I finally got to test it out with a ride. I barely got out of the driveway when the pedal started wobbling. Not good. I tried tightening the knob but that didn’t help so I turned around and went back home. After I got home I got a piece of wood and a hammer and banged the pedal crank onto the axel to force it on more. Then I put the knob back on and tightened that by hand. I was hoping that would now be tight enough and started another ride.
After stoping one more time to turn the knob even tighter things went pretty well. I could still feel a little wobble in the pedal but it wasn’t nearly as bad as on my first attempt. I decided to continue with my ride. After a couple of miles (my ride is only eight or nine miles and 35-40 minutes long) I thought I should watch the ground with a little extra scrutiny in case I might see the hex nut. Turns out just a few minutes later I did. There it was. Right on the side of the road a few miles into my ride where it fell off a couple of days earlier. It was missing its rubber cap but was there none-the-less.
Since I have a small saddlebag under my bike seat with a portable thirty-in-one bike tool set in it I thought it would be a good idea to take off the knob and put in the hex bolt. I found a quite spot and did just that. I knew there was a hex wrench of the right size on my tool set since I had used it to tighten the hex bolt en route before. I think the rubber cap just keeps out the weather so I didn’t worry about that. The rest of my ride went smoothly. Nice.
I still have two new hex bolts coming in the mail and when they get here I’ll put one of them and its rubber cap on but it sure did make me feel good to find the old one.
I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got ten new comics.
Check them all out here:
The land that lies between idea and execution in called work. I’ve heard many a creative person bemoan the fact that they have no ideas. They wanted to do or make something but they had no idea what to make. I can understand that because ideas aren’t always so easy to come by especially by those who aren’t really practiced at it but I’d say that at least as often people are scared away by how much work it took to see an idea through. If you are not dedicated to putting in the work it takes to pull off an idea there is no point in starting. That’s where a lot of people find themselves. With no point in starting.
I find myself in that place when dealing with video. I want to work more in video but it’s an inordinate amount of work. It’s also one of the most collaborative of the mediums. It usually takes a whole lot of people to make a movie. People who want to make movies are usually very motivated to do so. I’m not as motivated when it comes to video so I never seem to get anything done. That’s the way it is in the land between ideas and execution.
I’ve also met plenty of people who are reluctant to talk about ideas. They often say it’s because they don’t want to give anything away or that don’t want to jinx anything but I’ve noticed it’s just as often because it’s embarrassing to talk about an idea that never comes to fruition. Sometimes a new idea get you so excited that you don’t know you’ll never be able to pull it off. Once you realize that you can’t pull it off you come crashing down hard. That is no fun.
This topic comes to mind today as I sit here and reflect on some work I’ve done and some work I have to do. For a while now I’ve wanted to make some kind of book. A physical book. I’ve managed to finish a couple of digital books over the last year or so but nothing I can hold in my hand. I decided to look into some print-on-demand stuff on the web once again. I’ve looked before but usually the books aren’t suited to comics or art. They still aren’t but I noticed one site started doing fairly cheap full color twenty page magazines. That intrigued me and I thought it was something I could maybe do.
Of course then it took me a while to nail down an idea. What did I possibly want to fill twenty pages with? I have enough art I’ve made over the decades to fill plenty of twenty page magazines but that still doesn’t mean I have an idea. I did finally decide to go with art and not words though. My last two digital books were a comic book and an art and story book and I didn’t want to do any writing for this one. I already have a third digital book ready to be written so I wanted a purely visual one. That lead me to some recent drawings I had done. My “Painted Lady” cover series and my Swirl series.
Both of those series involved female figures with decorated bodies so they fit well together. The only problem was that I only has three of the Swirl prints finished and I was going to need ten if I was going to fill up the twenty pages. I decided that wasn’t going to stop me and I would finish six more. A bold idea but now I’m in the middle of the work part and it’s a lot of work. It always is.
At first I decided I’d work on them two at a time. I’d draw two in pencil at six by nine inches, blow them up and ink them at ten by fifteen inches, and then scan them into the computer to color them. Sounded like a good plan but after I finished inking the first two I really didn’t feel like working on the computer to color them. So I drew and inked two more. That took the better part of two days by the way. A lot of work.
Today I decided to start coloring them. Working on the computer seems to take more out of me than working at the drawing table. Especially this type of coloring. I color these Swirl drawing in Illustrator but the technique I use is to draw more color shapes than are in the ink drawing. I color the ink drawing in flat colors and then add swoops and shapes of color with no black holding line to add depth, dimension, and interest to the drawing. It’s similar to what I do in my paintings. It takes a bit of thought and contemplation to do. And I have to build it up piece by piece. It’s one of those processes that takes longer than it looks.
Since I had four of them to do I made the decision to get as much done on them as possible without finishing them. That allowed me a little more speed at the beginning of the process because often finishing them takes the most thought and energy. That’s when I have to look at the piece and judge all of my decisions to see if they work. I find that the further I am from realism the more thought it takes to finish a piece. Especially these pieces for some reason.
As I write this I made it through coloring three Swirl Women today. I didn’t finish the three but I got most of the work done on them. I still have the fourth one to start plus one I have left over from when I first started doing them. That’s a lot of coloring left to do but I’m burnt out for the day.
Another of my habits is to put my finished drawing onto my painting easel. I stack them up there, usually two across, so I can look at them. Right now I have two of the inked Swirl Women up and I have to say that I’m very happy with them in black and white. I’m sure I’ll be happy with them in color too but there is something to be said about the simplicity of a black ink line on white paper. Plus it’s making my head hurt right now to think of how much work it is to color them.