Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The artist's "lament"

While I don't plan on pursuing art as a career, it is currently my hobby, my pastime, and my passion.

This is what I tell people when asked if I will continue photography in college, or indeed if I plan on making a career of it. I am going to Dickinson to study Chinese and international relations, taking full advantage of their strong East Asian Studies program. I will spend at least a semester (but more likely a full year) in China and/or Taiwan. I see myself becoming a linguist in the future, but of what nature I'm not sure. That's what college is for.

I open with that rather than another plug of my deviantArt page because I like to humanize myself as much as possible. I'm hesitant to talk about myself; the most I'll do is acknowledge that I have several distinct skill sets and/or talents. I mean, how arrogant does it sound if someone asks me if I play any instruments, and I say "Yes, I play seven," or something to that effect? The truth is sometimes best left for the seeker to discover on his own.

THAT SAID, I am selling my prints. Still. Always.

I don't have a central list of them, but if you visit my deviantArt page, you can get a pretty good idea of what's up for sale. Information on pricing, sizes, shipping, and the like will be available in the near future as well.

See, right now, I'm working on several projects at once, and it's getting hard to take on stuff in my free time. If you didn't notice, my last photo uploads were from the blizzard we had in February. That's simultaneously intentional and unfortunate - I'm not trying to get away from the art scene, so to speak, but I am trying to distance myself from hobbies so I can better focus on things with deadlines!

If you are interested in buying my prints, then please email prints@ncat.tk.

Remember I'm freelance (and otherwise unemployed) so any and all support is appreciated!

Think one of my photos would look nice on your wall, your grandmother's wall, your desk, your parent's bathroom door...? Keep thinking that, and keep me in mind.

Any questions about my work not related to the pricing, purchase, or shipping of prints may be directed anytime to info@ncat.tk.

A less optimistic Jimmy might have had "artist" in quotes instead of "lament." But this isn't that Jimmy. :)

Saturday, 22 May 2010


Okay. More early-morning stuff.

I got home at 0030 and was feeling better than I had all day. Figures. My body rhythm is pretty much backwards now. Odd thing is, I'll wake up at 0600 and feel fine. Thank you REM cycles?

This post is quite literally an inventory. I felt as though, since no one ever comes over to my house, I ought to share a list of what's currently clogging my room. :)

I bought six computers for $12 and gutted them all. Well, all but one. One was marked as "not working - will not boot" so I plugged it into a monitor and gave it power, pressed the power button and it booted in half a minute. Booted Windows 2000, but still. Hah.

Computer surplus sales are bad for me. It's like a philandering pothead vacationing in Amsterdam.

• 6 internal CD drives
• 5 internal floppy drives
• 2 floppy drive modules (Dell OEM for Latitude laptops, Optiplex SX-series compacts)
• 2 internal 20GB 2.5" SATA laptop hard drives (Dell OEM " see above)
• 1 internal 27.2GB 3.5" EIDE (PATA?) hard drive (from a dead 1999 desktop)
• 12+ RAM chips ranging from 128MB to 512MB each, not all the same kind (I've no idea what to put them in or what they came from - fail on labeling, Jimmy...)
• 9+ IDE cables (the big ol' ribbon ones) and I don't know why there are more cables than devices that actually use them...
• 2 SATA/legacy cables
• 4 disc Li-ion batteries (from motherboards, naturally...)

Here's where it gets pathetic. 

• 1 plastic cup full of screws I'm keeping for who knows what reason
• More mice and keyboards than there are PS/2 ports on my computers
• 6 empty or nearly-empty (read: gutted of useful, functioning parts) desktop computer cases
• 2 double-ended SATA legacy cables (for laptop hard drives) with no conceivable use at all, as they are female on both ends
• 2 10/100M ethernet routers that are plugged into nothing.
• More power cables than there are things in my house that can use them.
• A mouse that I duct-taped back together after smashing it in frustration. It probably works but is also probably a hazard.
• A wireless optical mouse that I took apart and now use as a tiny red strobe light (so sue me, it's fun)
• 2 broken flash drives, one of which needs solder and one of which was run over by a car but probably might work. Maybe.
• 1 blank 4GB flash drive for which I can think of no practical use.
• Floppy boot disks for Windows 98 2nd Edition. The CDs it requires are nowhere to be found.
• A microphone for a Macintosh computer from 1993.
• An LCD monitor that displays colorful vertical and diagonal lines instead of a recognizable image.
• A computer that may or may not run a port of Linux directly from RAM, as it has, and theoretically needs, no hard drive.
• A dismantled PS/2 keyboard.
• Did I mention a cup full of screws?
• a 50-foot-long CAT5 cable that I use for the two or three feet between my desks.
• a 6-foot-long CAT5 cable that I do not use at all.
• 2 power bricks + adapters for two things that I do not own anymore because they broke and I gave 'em away.
• 3 10-12V DC wall adapters that are too big to be efficient (they block two or more outlets)
• STACKS of floppy disks.
• a few iomega ZIP disks. I had a drive for them but it's vanished.
• 4 USB extension cables that come in handy twice a year if they're lucky.
• I have a damn cup full of screws!!

And here's what is USEFUL:

• 1 MacBook M, late 2006, runs Tiger and OpenArena. And Photoshop sometimes.
• 1 Dell Dimension 8400 with 1.5GB of RAM (pilfered from other machines), 2 processor cores, 3 operating systems, and two hard drives. Oh and two PCI cards, one for wireless and one for ethernet. And it has a USB wireless adapter (Tenda W311U - I highly recommend it!)
• 2 Dell Optiplex GX240 desktops, running XP and Ubuntu 8.0.4 respectively.
• 1 LCD monitor plugged into the Ubuntu computer with VGA, its only input.
• 1 LCD monitor plugged into the other two working desktops via VGA and HDMI. Doesn't it normally go the other way round?

• 1 Dell Optiplex GX240 desktop that runs Ubuntu but got messed up by my siblings, who don't know how to use it because they're kids and it's Linux.
• 1 Dell Optiplex GX280 desktop that I kinda modified. It has no OS (indeed it currently has no HD) but it has 2GB of RAM. It came with 512MB.

Now, ordinarily, I'd say "help me, I have issues, and I'm going to be on "Hoarders" in a few years," but the worst part about all this is that it's all organized and categorized and...well I honestly have reasons for having all this stuff.

It's fun to write about. XD

I'll have pictures soon. Believe me...I will. All this ridiculous crap in the form of a bulleted list is nice and all, but since I haven't done any art stuff in a long time (at least, not any worth sharing) I might as well post pictures of my nerdy side habits...


Tuesday, 18 May 2010

2 AM Thoughts

The theme of this collaborative blog has really drifted away from photography and art in general, unfortunately, so I'm going to fix that starting...now. :)

First off - direct your attention to the links in the boxes on the right of this page (or if you are viewing this post via RSS, go to the main site). In those boxes are a bunch of links. Click them. They're cool.

By the way, remember this is Nate posting. So I'm going to plug my DeviantArt page a little - but also look at Jimmy's, even though he hasn't posted anything in months. He's told me he will, so let's all be patient.

So anyway, I haven't made a post here in a really really long time, so I probably seem like a stranger to most of you. I'm Nate, and I enjoy photography and modelling. I'm actually dating a photographer as well (not Jimmy XD). I'm all about open-source, something my dad got me into when he bought me a computer and loaded it with free open-source software. So even though I run Windows XP, I use Gimp for just about everything. I've downloaded tons of plugins and brushes. I use a very modded Firefox alongside Chrome and I do whatever productive work I have to in OpenOffice. Seriously, so much time and money saved...

The few HDR renders I've done were with my boyfriend's copy of Photomatix, which is an awesome program but not free at all. There are no plugins for it for Gimp either, so I have to use his computer or get it illegally...don't think I'll do that.

My workflow is not nearly as involved as Jimmy's. It's interesting to have a post such as this, where the actual blog owner has his methods scrutinized, but so be it, it's happening. It seems overly complicated (and a bit obsessive) to use Gimp, Photoshop, Photomatix, Gimp again, Photoshop again, etc... to get an image. Jimmy's done some really amazing stuff, don't get me wrong, but he's also been known to take forever switching between programs and tweaking minor things just to change the image the slightest bit. I think it's kinda funny, actually.

Anyway - speaking of Jimmy - our creative paths have crossed, and we're both currently doing digital art and photomanipulation-type stuff. Hopefully, one or both of us will have some stuff posted here and on our respective DeviantArt pages soon!


remember if you are seeing this on Facebook that it was not posted by Jimmy, NullCoding, or someone else.

Saturday, 15 May 2010


I am done.

With what, I'm not sure. It's only natural that once one problem is solved, two more come up. It's the basic principle of entropy - any organized system will move towards disorder at a constant rate. In thermodynamics, confounding variables and outside forces come into play, but I'm an astronomer dammit. No wait I'm a musician. Blah I'm a photographer. Ok I'm Jimmy.

As my boyfriend and I drove home tonight, we hit a huge bank of fog on a the long and twisty stretch of road that leads to my street. It happens to be the road that runs between the corporate campus of SAP America and Lyondell (formerly Arco Chemical) and the estate of John duPont, formerly known as Foxcatcher Farm and fully abandoned as of two yeas ago. Half a mile down the road is the deteriorating home of Brian Schultz, the Olympic wrestler whom, in 1996, the paranoid and schizophrenic duPont murdered on the driveway, now blocked by a barbed-wire fence (like the rest of the estate, which extends to 50 yards behind my house in my backyard) and covered in plant growth and whatnot. The house is intact but I doubt it is structurally stable. The barn off in the field behind it was abandoned at the same time; either this winter or last winter, the roof collapsed because of all the snow. The fields are barren now, more meadow than pasture, and only wildlife lives there. Last month some township worker mounted a piece of plywood on the fence in front of the house on which he spray-painted "3901" - a reasonable guess, on my part, of the actual address of the place, since the next buildings in either direction are 3600 and 4018. I live near an untouched crime scene.

It's always foggy right there when it's foggy. That sounds very strange - well duh it's foggy when it's foggy - but I've noticed that the fog stays up there, on the pastures, around the abandoned house, in the woods opposite the estate, and on the road itself, making nighttime driving more of a challenge than it really ought to be. Why doesn't it make its way down into the valley? I live in the valley. I live at the very bottom, actually, because the road goes uphill both ways with respect to my driveway. Which also goes up. I live on a hill at the bottom of the valley. There is no fog there. But boy do those fields look...eerie. Mystical, enchanting, intriguing, sure - but eerie. What a photo that would make - the abandoned, dilapidated, ready-to-collapse house and its crime-scene of a driveway where an innocent man was shot three times by a paranoid, latently homosexual millionaire who then locked himself in his mansion and drew SWAT teams to the quiet suburb (I don't blame the grunts for showing up on his doorstep...I mean, the guy owned a tank.)

But fog pervades my mind whether it exists or not. I used to think that haze was a figment of my imagination, that it wasn't really there - all a fabrication of a differently-wired brain. But the last year or so has taught me more than just how wrong I was.

My previous post about fog contained several statements I would like to rescind and/or amend (you decide).

• The CFO of my school did in fact receive my e-mail. He did not respond to it, though. I ran into him on campus and we chatted for a moment; he informed me that my insurance issues are to be brought up with another person entirely. One of the art teachers - not the gallery curator, not the Security people, not the Chief Financial Officer who signs the checks - an art teacher is responsible for assessing the damages and requesting remuneration.

• I also stated that I have not been reimbursed for the food I purchased for my failure of a reception. The CFO told me that I should have been, but he needed the receipts. I gave the receipts to the curator over a month ago now. The CFO doesn't have them.

Oh by the way I'm broke.

So, in no particular order, below are listed the problems with which I am currently dealing, and (where applicable) the solutions I see hidden in the fog.

My senior project is one giant failure to launch. Currently I have a little over a gallon of fully filtered vegetable oil and that's it. I need methanol or ethanol as well as lye (NaOH) and need to actually do chemical stuff to make biofuel, and have two weeks to do it.

My father is correct in saying that I am doing nothing with my life and lack the motivation that will help me succeed in the future. I am unemployed, I have been unemployed, and I plan on staying unemployed. I have applied for no fewer than eight local jobs that were feasible for me, and have never heard back from any.

A person I know, or rather, knew, is becoming an unwelcome part of my life again. I am (not fully) at fault for the rift between us, but decided to be a man (rather than a hypocrite) and go apologize in one of the rare moments that (name) and I are in the same place. My apology was thrown back in my face instantly and I was told that seven months of my life were "nothing." (because people get along on an all-or-nothing basis, right? right? hm). This came minutes after I told this person, in front of a bunch of other people, that (name) was a strong and independent person with a drive to succeed. If you're reading this, you know damn well who you are - I meant that at the time, but now I scoff at you! Strong and independent my ass. Weak and cowardly, thriving in the knowledge that (name) can influence others to feel as strongly opposed to me as (name) does - that's what (name) is. If (name) wasn't a lazy, courage-deprived two-faced emotional Gordian Knot, maybe (name) would show up and talk to me in person so I could avoid such incisive invective as I am writing now. Believe me, I wish this problem could be solved by simple conversation, but (name) is too stupid to understand conversational dynamics and doesn't know what an "apology" is, because (name) feels that (name) is always right and the world is out to get (name).

Now to the really drama part.

(name) thinks it's okay to talk shit about me to my friends. More specifically, a certain friend who is closer to me than anyone else at my school, and friend who has told me secrets that (friend) has not told others. A friend whose support is something I cherish because I have few true friends. A friend who does not know (name), only what (friend) has heard about (name), and had to endure (name)'s childish and cowardly attacks on me behind my back. (name) made sure that I had left the location before talking to (friend). Pathetic.

Let it be known that I can and will ruin (name). I will tear down every wobbly support beam of (name)'s social standing. I will destroy (name)'s reputation among (name)'s few "friends," with whom (name) shared only jadedness and naïveté. I will make (name) rue the day (name) crossed me.

On my blog, I fight with flowery language. In the real world, I fight with fists and switchblades only when provoked. I know some things. I could break (name)'s arm or finger or give (name) a terrible concussion. Besides the obvious legal consequences and the fact I'd be thrown out of my house and expelled from Dickinson, I would gain nothing from the experience. Also, not being "Human Weapon" material, I'd probably hurt myself in the process. Last time I punched something, it was a wall, and I swear it punched back.

Basically, violence sucks. Violence is not a means to an end. So how, then, ought I to deal with this person? Some primal instinct tells me to club (name) into submission or run (name) through with a blade made from sabre-tooth tiger tusk. It's natural and scary. Humans seek to right their wrongs. Humans also seek to right those who wrong them. We are animals. We do this through force. Nowadays, we call it war and make it out to be a terrible scourge. Prehistorically, it was just how things were done.

I hate drama.

I mean besides theatre - I love watching plays but boy do I hate working behind the scenes. I can't deal with the people who work in the theatre at my school. They're full of crap. The person who fired me from the theatre talked at great length about his reasoning (without really saying anything) and in the process, contradicted himself twice and repeated the same thing four different ways. Then, having claimed to be interested in the problems I had with the others in the theatre, he dismissed my offer to explain as a futile effort that wouldn't change anyone's mind. Alrighty then. Mighty fine leadership figure there. Fuck it, I have better things to waste my time with. :)

But oddly, I see a lot of that in this case as well. Yeah I hate drama when I'm not watching it acted out on a stage. I absolutely despise drama when it involves me, though! This makes my blood boil, though. Talking shit about me to one of my only friends behind my back after throwing a heartfelt apology back in my face...(name) is a pathetic excuse for a human being. (name) had talked about (name)'s father and how he's a terrible person, etc, etc, and I believed (name). I had no reason not to...I mean, (name) was right about him. But talking to (name) and finding the worse to best express and articulate the apology that had been burning at my mind for so long - that made me cry. It really did, because I meant every word. I meant all of it - but that was then.

So hey, (name) - I'm not sorry. And if it means anything, those were fake tears. And you're actually weak and very dependent. Fat, too. I doubt you'll succeed in life with your 2.5 GPA. Oh, but I could be making that all up! Maybe I am sorry, maybe I was crying. Maybe you are strong and independent and beautiful and smart. How would you know if I'm being serious or not? How do you know what to believe? (hint: think about my values and then think about your own - oh wait...)


Holy shit. I really hope that no one is reading this particular post and using it as a gauge of my personality. I am not an angsty teenager! Far from it - I am far too anti-social to know large amounts of people and therefore have little to no right to stand in judgment on anyone else - simple because I don't know anyone else!

Oh, and also, my life doesn't suck. I am reminded of that every time I see my Gabriel. The way he smiles, the way he looks into my eyes, the way he carries serenity with him is all the conviction I need to carry on living like my problems don't exist to stop me, but to make me stronger.

Sure, the fog is dangerous when it's dark - but it makes a beautiful sunrise.

5-15-10 - JFB free speech without judgment

Monday, 3 May 2010


It's my last week of classes now, and it couldn't have come at a more convenient or more inopportune time.

This particular post is taking me a long time to write, as I currently have a fairly unpleasant sinus infection that has spread throughout my body and is causing me terrible pain in my wrists, back, and knees; as a result, I can barely breathe through my nose, can't really taste, and find walking up stairs and lifting normal items to be painful and involved. I also feel really hot but have no fever. The best part, though, is that I am not contagious and, though I feel miserable, am still obliged to go to school.

So my "sickness" makes this final week of classes "inopportune." But I am glad to see it come, all the same, because this means I only have several more days when I will ever have to deal with the inanity, insincerity, and impracticality of high school.

Mentally, I graduated from high school around December. I also turned 18 a few years ago. In reality, I am a 17-year-old high school senior, which means that my opinions are naïve, my worldview is narrow and jaded, and everything I say is wrong. Most importantly, though, my status means that I am automatically put at the bottom of any kind of priority lists and treated as second-class within the school and most other organizations.

Case in point would be the fiasco with my March exhibit and the disgustingly large amount of vandalism that occurred. Five of my photos were damaged and roughly 10 others tampered with. Lots and lots of pins were torn out of the walls, bent, or used to scratch or poke holes in my photos. Most noticeable were the holes poked in my ear and eye in one photo and the six on my face in another.

I already made a post about this, I know - but I never shared the financial details. I don't plan to, either, as it's an issue between the school and me, but this being a public space, I will share my experiences dealing with the financial people at my school.

Oh wait. I have no such experiences.

This would be because I have not received a reply to the e-mail I sent to the CFO of my school on April 16th. Two and a half weeks, and no reply.

Following is my exact e-mail, unedited. I deliberately did not include any numbers or any hint of how much of a settlement I expected. Hell, I didn't even say how many were damaged. I intended to make him want to ask me those questions and, as a result, have to set up a meeting with me in which I could explain my case:


In March, I had an exhibit of my photography in Centennial Hall's gallery, and when I took it down on the 25th, I was faced with the unfortunate task of assessing the damage that had been done to many of my photos by other students.

I assessed this based on the asking prices I'd set for each photo, and have come up with a list of each damaged photo, the exact damage that was done, and the prices of the photos that were compromised.

In the contract I signed for use of the gallery space, there was a clause saying that my work would be insured at its asking price, so I would like to arrange a time to meet with you and discuss this issue.

Thank you for your time and effort! I look forward to resolving this unfortunately large amount of vandalism.

So - no response from the CFO (to whom this was sent), and no indication that his secretary, to whom I talked about this (she advised that I e-mail him), has informed him that a disgruntled student has invoked his right to justifiable recompense and ought to be contacted forthwith.

It should also be noted that I was forced, at the last minute, to provide food for my own reception. I found out a few minutes before the doors opened and had to borrow my boyfriend's car to rush out and buy about $60 worth of food for all zero of my guests - money I should not have had to spend, money I was told I would not have to spend, money which I have not as of yet been reimbursed.

Again, I have said this before, but it helps to keep things in context. I have gotten nothing but the short end of the stick in all my art endeavors at the school. Friends of mine who have hung paintings and photos around the school have never had to deal with vandalism (believe me, I asked!!). Teachers have never seen their artwork damaged. Currently, in the gallery, a teacher has hung a bunch of his complicated clay tiles on the walls. It's a hell of a lot more elaborate than I could even describe - fired clay hanging on a wall - by itself, mind, not with mounting hardware, and nothing has been broken by the overwhelmingly unintelligent and disrespectful population of students at the school. I don't think it's just those little paper signs saying "Please do not touch."

At the same time, I am taking great pains to not seem paranoid. It would be very easy for me to play the so-called "Rainbow Card" and whine that some student is a rabid homophobe with a silent vendetta against me. It would also be very foolish of me and would completely remove my right to label others within the school as "insincere" and "stupid."

The buzz-word in this particular case is "pathetic." Five teachers have independently used "pathetic" to describe vandalism of my photos. The CFO's secretary called it "unbelievable" and "totally disrespectful." The head and assistant head of the Upper School used words like "disrespectful," "callous," "rude," and "degrading." Hearing so many members of my school's community use words like these to describe the same thing when given the same description (from me) leads me to believe that those words actually reflect on the student community itself in addition to the act of vandalizing my work.

Face it - this was an isolated incident. It must have been, as the photographer whose works were displayed prior to mine reported no damages at all, nor have any ceramists or painters. So this is one idiot student out of many.

Lately, someone has been stealing stuff from people's bags and lockers in the gym. This doesn't affect me, as I keep my valuables on me at all times (and don't go to the gym anyway). But today, the entire Upper School was told that the thief (or thieves) would be expelled, plain and simple.

Ok, so if you catch a petty thief, chances are damn good that the kid will fess up and return all the stuff he swiped. It's happened in the last two incidents of theft during my time at this school. Same assistant head of Upper School, too (disciplinary stuff goes to him).

If you catch the person who vandalized my photos, he won't be returning anything! He'll offer a cheap apology, probably in e-mail form because no one has any balls around here, and it'll be extremely complicated to try and weasel out any sort of remuneration, especially based on my asking prices. Just you wait.

As a result of all this shit, I haven't done any photography stuff in what seems like ages. Once I finally, finally get this all resolved, it'll (hopefully) be back to the old grind - which, not being "high school," isn't really so bad. :)