The Beauty in Brisket

The Beauty in BrisketOne of the things about trying to live the artistic life is that you become very aware of all of your senses. This is particularly true if you have a family full of good cooks. Food is, and has always been, an integral part of our home life. This goes back to memories of my grandparents carefully preparing Sunday brunches and my aunt canning and preserving everything in sight. It extends through to my dad and his love of grilling and smoking during the summer.

This past week, everyone in our family got together to have an end-of-the-season meal together, and my dad was the cook for the occasion. 
Nearly everyone in my family has an opinion about he best way to prepare their favorite dishes. This becomes the discussion topic of choice at almost all of our get-togethers. I know from experience that this can be a bit hard on the nerves of whoever is in charge of cooking, but dad is up for the challenge. Dad says that as long has he has the right equipment everything else falls into place.

Needless to say, my father is very proud of his grill, and he swears by his electric smoker.

The Beauty in BrisketSince my mother insists on having “colorful food” we can always be sure to have plenty of vegetables, but the centerpiece of the meal is always his smoked brisket or ribs and his sauces. This time around we ate brisket, roasted potatoes, pinto beans, corn and salad. Brisket is, admittedly, not always the most aesthetically pleasing food. It comes out looking black and is hard to plate it and messy to eat, but I cannot tell you how good my dad’s brisket tastes.

Dad’s food is an event. This is partially because it takes a while to prepare it. He takes his time and is careful in everything he does. Most of it has to marinate or sit in seasoning overnight and takes hours to cook at a low temperature. This develops the flavor in a way that cannot be replicated otherwise. Because of this, “Cook it low and long” is something of a motto for dad. Having said that, he says that having the right smoking equipment means that the process is really simple and there isn’t much maintenance or cleaning.

While I was watching my dad cook, I realized that his way of preparing food is really very craftsman-like in its approach. It emphasizes the tradition, quality and time. In our modern culture, food is often about convenience or about the quick rush of sugar and fat to the system. We often don’t think of food as something that takes time and skill to create, but some of the best traditional recipes require just this.

The way that my father approaches food has a long tradition and is more in keeping with the values of I would typically associate with a leather worker or a basket maker—someone who creates a handcrafted product that they can have pride in. Even more, his cooking fosters a sense of community and tradition within our family as it gives us the tie and the reason to gather together to talk about food and the happenings in our family.

Pets and the Professional

Pets and the ProfessionalI know that I usually post about art here, but for this post, I am going to talk about something a little more personal than usual. My sister has been trying to make a career change recently. She has been unsatisfied with her 9 to 5 job, and a while ago she mentioned that she might be going to go for training so that she can start doing something new. I actually wasn’t completely sure what she was planning until recently when she and I talked on the phone. Over the course of our conversation, she told me she plans to become a professional dog groomer.

Okay, she has mentioned this career path before, but I admit that I was a bit surprised.  Then, I thought about it and it really makes sense for her. We have always had pets and she was the best with them of anyone in our family. She loves all animals and really is the caregiver of the family. She has an extremely calm and patient personality and is very good with dogs in particular. In turn, they seem to gravitate toward her in a why that is really special.

I naturally had a lot of questions for her. The first thing I asked her about how she can get training for this new enterprise. She pointed me to for more information and said that I would be really helpful in giving me more information. She is currently enrolling in a local program, which is very exciting for her. After that, she may try to get on with a vet or existing business, but what she really wants to do is set up a on-call grooming service so that she can be her own boss.

While I was looking over the link she gave me, I noticed that dog grooming requires not only good business sense but also a lot of technical knowledge. Even more, grooming is often very breed specific. I started to think about how particular some of the cuts are for dogs like poodles and Pomeranians. Those dogs really have a sense of style! It takes a steady hand and an eye for proportion and form to mange doing one of those cuts well.

I think my sister has the sense and ability to make this work for her. It is what she really wants, and I know that she will appreciate having more flexible work like this. I’m proud of my sister and I know that she will succeed in both her training and her future career.

Kayak Fishing to find Natural Beauty

Kayak Fishing to find Natural BeautySome of the most beautiful outdoor experiences that I’ve had have been going out on a lake in the woods for fishing trips. Fishing may not seem like the most artistic of pursuits, but it actually is. One of the things that it does forces a person into a different pace of life. It teaches a person to have patience, slow down and to take in the environment around them. I think these qualities are essential for appreciating the beauty of the natural world.

Kayak Fishing Equipment

When I was out fishing I spent my time in an angler kayak. I love kayaking because it feels really connected with the water. However, the small size of my kayak meant that I had to be very aware of what fishing gear that I took for the trip. So, I take only the essentials like a rod, a tackle box, a landing net, a spray skirt and the valuable fish finder. I tend to use a shorter rod due to my range of movement when seated in a kayak and I have a very small tackle box with carefully chosen types of tackle that I can creatively adjust to fit my needs on the lake.

Given that we have such a small space to work from, you may assume that the last thing take with me, the fish finder, seems odd or unnecessary, but I can assure you that it is not. One of the things that has benefited me the most was buying a Humminbird 408120-1 597ci. It has a great screen and is portable so that I can move I from the kayak to larger boat if I want. It really does help guide me in finding the best places to be, and I definitely catch more than I used to without one.

Kayak Fishing Tips and Tricks

While having a fish finder helps me to figure out where to be, I cannot stress enough that kayakers still have to be aware of surroundings. Kayaking is mostly about relaxing, but it has its share of excitement too. Kayaks are so small that they are always potentially in danger from larger, motorized boats. Any disturbance on the water from a boat, the weather, or even a fish on the line with a lot of “fight” can cause some interesting moments. These moments are really where making sure the paddle is always on hand and the spray skirt is fastened properly come into play.

Now, even with careful attention to what I take along, kayaking presents a unique challenge for me as a fisher. We simply do not have the same workspace as other fishers for making lures, so I find it best to decide on what lures I want to use and prepare them ahead of time. We also have to adjust our fishing technique since we are so low to the water. I try to keep the end of my rod as high as possible to help offset some the balance problems when I am reeling in a good catch. Also, I like to use a net to bring the fish in, but I know there are other ways as well.

I do pretty well in finding and catching fish from a kayak, but even if I am having a slow day it’s okay by me. The beauty of being on the water and being able to paddle around to see different parts of the lake is one of the best things about the experience.

Rising Culture of Fitness

Rising Culture of FitnessFor far too long now, obesity has been an ever expanding problem in the United States. According to the last major study on the subject, as many as 33% of Americans are overweight or obese, and that’s a number which has been steadily rising over the last 20 years or so.

More recently however, more and more people are skipping the fast food meals, the second helpings and the saturated fat, as well as getting more active and less sedentary. There is a rising culture of fitness in this country and it puts a smile on my face to see so many people aiming for a healthier lifestyle.

Now maybe my perception on the subject is a little slanted because of a recent interview with a pretty intense Crossfit coach. Perhaps. You can gain more information at this website, so there’s no need to take my word for it when you read anything here. This fellow I spoke with was a little brusque in manner, but he was very informative on the subject of Crossfit, a trait that makes him an effective coach, no doubt. I learned so much about Crossfit from him that I think I can speak a bit about it myself.

The main idea in Crossfit is to avoid overtraining any specific muscle or muscle group by getting the entire body involved in every workout. It may sound daunting, but it’s possible to achieve this healthy measure and work your entire body in less than 10 minutes. Think of Crossfit like an advanced form of calisthenics, where multiple exercises are used instead of the traditional jumping jacks or rope, and weights are also included to increase the intensity and yield of the workout. Practically anyone can do Crossfit and practically everyone would benefit from it, so it’s no surprise its popularity is booming.

Workouts can be pretty intense even without weights for those who haven’t been very active lately. Like any other exercise, it’s important to stretch thoroughly before you get started. There is no warmup necessary for Crossfit, since Crossfit is like a warmup session taken to the maximum level. You still can’t avoid stretching though, so make sure to get limber if you don’t want to get injured.

There’s only so much you can do yourself, with the talent you’re given and your ability to move and burn calories. Crossfit is therefore best in conjunction with nutrient protein supplements for Crossfit. It’s possible to find specific blends available, but you might be ok with many different protein supplements. Building muscle takes protein, and exercising damages muscles, which must then rebuild. Without an adequate amount of protein in your daily diet, you will actually harm yourself with Crossfit.

That goes for any kind of exercise, so don’t think it’s a negative quality specific to Crossfit. It’s pretty hard for me to find anything wrong with the exercise plan, except that it can be difficult to get started for someone who wasn’t already active. If you just don’t push yourself too hard, there’s no reason you can’t be among the many in our rising culture of fitness. Take your time; just make sure you keep going.

The Art of Sport

The Art of SportSport has become a vital part of our existence. Imagine a world without football! Whether it is football, basketball, tennis or any other sport, people love it in any form as long as it is a sport. I’d recently read an article about sport being an art by J.M. Boxill, which was quite good and mirrored some of my own opinions on sport.

While not everyone would agree with me on sport being called an art form, I’d certainly put up a strong argument for it. There are many who think that aesthetic appeal is an entirely different aspect and should not be confused with art. But Boxill believes that sport is indeed a form of art that provides a means of expressing identity for both women and men. There are many kinds of sports, which can be considered as an art, for example this one.

Sport as a skill

While many see sport as a technical efficiency or skill than an aesthetic performance, I know this is not true. Why I’m saying this is because when an athlete gains the required expertise in a sport, he ceases to look on it as a skill, as he has mastered it already. He starts to make it look more attractive or in some cases for distracting the opponent.

Popularly called as signature movement this can be found in almost all sports. For instance, the bicycle kick of Pele is quite famous and a rage among football fans. You can see this in basketball too where players use their skills to arrive at efficient moves that not only win the game, but also make it more interesting to watch.

Shift towards art

While critics may reiterate that in a sport the ultimate objective is to win rather than emphasize on beauty, I think that the core concept of sport is misunderstood here. It is a given thing that a sport is played to win. But winning is not the only thing that motivates a player towards excellence. The term, ‘graceful losers’ has emerged because of this. Rather than play a lousy game and win, playing well and losing is what most athletes would prefer. When the exhibition of skill is stressed, victory loses its sheen and this is why I believe that sport is indeed an art.

Beauty in sport

Beauty, I accept is not the only objective for which a sport is played. Artists do not aim at creating beauty, but focus on their creative skills more. This is how sport is also a form of art. When explained in more technical terms as Boxhill says, artists create to get the message across in a way that appeals to our innermost conscience. Sports has its own aspect of beauty, which makes it part of an art but the beauty alone is not the sole reason for it being considered as an art. Self-expression is what makes art exclusive and in sports this is seen in the winning.

There are many more reasons that make sport more of an art form on which I can go on. But the main thing I want to stress upon is universally a sport is watched not for the win or loss in a game, but because it is an art that has to be experienced.

New Seven Wonders of the World

The world today is filled with many wonderful from natural formations that leave you speechless to magnificent feats of human ingenuity. People have been exploring and wondering over the many awe-inspiring sites in the world for centuries. In fact, it was the ancient Greeks who began the tradition of identifying the Seven Wonders of the World. That is, those sites which are so wondrous and inspiring that one should visit them if he or she wants to have a truly profound experience. Of course, for the ancient Greeks the “world” consisted entirely of the Mediterranean region. For that reason, the list has been modified over time to include wonders from all over the world.

The Original Seven Wonders of the World

The list created by the ancient Greeks included many ancient wonders that are no longer here today. There were many amazing architectural constructions and artistic creations whose splendor we can only imagine today. The list included:

  1. The Colossus of Rhodes: a 100 foot tall statue of Helios (a Greek Titan).
  2. The Lighthouse of Alexandria: a 400 foot tall lighthouse that once guided the ships coming into the largest port in Egypt.
  3. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon: a magnificent and magical botanical garden
  4. The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
  5. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
  6. The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus
  7. The Great Pyramids of Giza

Of those original seven, only one (the Great Pyramids of Giza) still exists today. Therefore, it became necessary to create an updated list of wonders, reflecting the monuments and sites that still remain. The lists have changed frequently over the years and even become more specific. Today, we have lists spanning the wonders to be found in all of existence—from the seven wonders of the natural world to the seven wonders of the industrial world. There is even a list of the seven wonders of the solar system! Continue reading “New Seven Wonders of the World” »

Differences between Art and Craft

Differences between Art and CraftAll too often, art and craft are seen as the same thing. Today, you will even find the phrases combined into the generalized hobby of “arts & crafts.” Despite this common perception, however, art and craft are two very distinct forms of human creativity. Each have their own, unique strengths and specialties.

In a nutshell, one could describe the differences between art and craft as follows:

  • Art is the use of various tools and materials in order to express an idea, emotion, or set of ideas and emotions.
  • Craft is the use of various tools and materials with the sole purpose of creating a real, tangible product.

However, this distinction is too brief and nonspecific so let’s dive deeper into the unique characteristics of each one.


Artists, art historians, and art critics will all give you different answers to the troublesome question of “what is art?” These widely different definitions are part of what makes art so wonderful. It is a boundless medium of expression that can take on many different forms and meanings the imagination and conjure up. It is precisely this boundlessness which makes it so difficult to define. Continue reading “Differences between Art and Craft” »

Influences of Technology on Modern Art

Influences of Technology on Modern ArtArt has been around for as long as humanity has been making tools. The two skills grew together out of the same exceedingly creative human mind. In this way, art and technology are inextricably linked together, evolving together even if they are not evolving on exactly the same path.

As technology evolves, our lives and the world around us changes. As our lives and world change, so to do our expressions (both what we express and how we express it). In modern art, we can see this link more powerfully than ever as new technologies offer an even wider range of mediums which artists can use.

The turn of the 20th century, for example, saw major shifts in artistic mediums. It was at this time that photography was invented and with that came a whole new way of representing the world around us. Around that same time, film also emerged providing artists for the first time in history the ability to create moving pictures. This changed the scope of what could be expressed. No longer was the artist limited to expressing a single emotion or a single moment in time. With film, the artist can tell a story or show a more complex and detailed perspective of a single moment and emotion. The possibilities were endless.

Later on, the computer came into being and brought a slew of new technologies and abilities including digital media and the ability to digitally manipulate photographs and other images. This meant that there was no longer a clear distinction between representing the real through creative production (painting, drawing, etc) and depicting the real through objective mediums (photography, film, etc). Now, one could take a photograph of a real scene and manipulate to look however he or she chose. Continue reading “Influences of Technology on Modern Art” »

European Capital of Culture of 2014

2014 European Capital of CultureRiga is a capital city in Latvia, and a major center of culture in the North-Eastern Europe. I wouldn’t necessarily compare it to epicenters of the past like Alexandria, but it’s one of the most vibrant spots in the eastern world, let alone the whole country of Latvia. There are fairs, festivals and other gatherings that have people coming and going all year round. There are operas, orchestral performances and plenty of live exhibitions to see too, which is why I think Latvia’s capital city is one of the hottest spots in Europe today.

Summer is just getting started in Riga, which hosted a major event for book lovers back at the beginning of the year, right in the middle of January. Men, women and children, all joined hand in hand, passed books from the National Library of Latvia all the way to the Gaismas Pils, or Castle of Light, many kilometers away. That’s really old news though.

Still to come in July of 2014 are the World Choir Games, where tens of thousands of singers from nearly a hundred different countries will all gather together and let their voices be heard. That’s in stark contrast to the Born in Riga event, wherein a series of performers playing alone tried their hardest to outshine one another.

There are other events planned for later in the year, once the weather cools down and more people are willing to take to the streets, rather than stay inside in their air conditioning. For instance, the Staro Riga, the biggest and most expansive light show in north Europe, is coming up in the middle of November. Likewise, the European Film Academy Awards will be taking place in Riga at the close of the year, near December 13th.

These are just a few of the numerous events which have either already happened in Riga in 2014, or will be happening later on in the year. There are really too many scenes, shows, sights and sounds for me to list them all here. Instead, I want to close by sharing a short story about a time I went to Riga myself.

I already mentioned the event I attended – it was that book passing thing. I can’t remember the name of it, but I surely recall the long chain of people, stretching all the way to the horizon and rolling right over it, as far as my eyes could see and then farther still. It was at this event that I managed to visit with some local business partners who work for Citrus Solutions.

Naturally, I was somewhat surprised to see those two guys at the book passing event I attended, but it wasn’t so shocking in retrospect. They’re always going places with big crowds to be seen, be heard, spread the word about their business, that sort of thing. Anyhow, they told me about some changes they were thinking of making to, their company website.

Now, me, I’m a big fan of most human constructs. We aren’t just a part of history – we make history, each of us. They came to me for any advice on how they could make their website something that would withstand the test of time and they got what they came for, let me tell you. I should be seeing them again later this year when I revisit Riga for those film awards I spoke about.