Sandcarving- we’ve made a new word.

What I do hasn’t had a name until recently. You could put a bunch of tedious words together to describe it, but it hasn’t had a real name of it’s own.

Etching is described as lightly scratching a surface. Carving is associated with hammer and chisel. Engraving brings up images of vibrating electric hand tools from the ’70s. Sandblasting is what you use to strip paint off an old car. Yet all these things are used to describe (at least the results) of what I do.

So now, we have a new word. We are sandcarvers! (With a squiggly red line under it telling me it’s not a real word.) It’s not even in Wikipedia yet, though there are articles that use it.  I like it, but we still need to figure out if we want to be “sandcarvers” or “sand carvers”, and figure out how to get those people who make things on the beach change their name. And those guys in that band.

Don’t worry about sinking

There are theories that state the oceanic crust formed under the ocean- causing magma to cool quickly and become dense. Continental crust, on the other hand cooled slowly and was less dense. That means that with all the jostling, colliding and ramming of plates, the continents will always “float” on top of the oceanic plates.

What a comforting thought!

Remember Customer Service?

I remember a day when customer service was more than providing basic service to a customer. More than just being politically correct and not abrasive (even that is missing occasionally). I remember when customer service was a skill learned from common sense, apathy, respect and from receiving it yourself- not from attending a special training course from some corporate headquarters. I remember when putting groceries in a bag and operating a point of sale credit card system were skills. Now at the big stores, someone with no training just shoves everything into a plastic bag (why be careful, it’s all going to move around in there anyway) and expect us, the customer, to learn their credit card machine. I have even received snotty looks when I take too long to figure out the buttons on one I haven’t used before. They tell me it’s for security, but then ask to look at my card anyway. Who are they trying to kid? They pay the employees less money and expect less from them. This keeps products cheap. To me, they are saying “We don’t need to treat you well, we know you’ll be back because you’re cheap”.

Does that mean you have to pay more for products to be treated well? Sometimes. Fancy, pricey national chains usually have great customer service. But if you want great customer service without paying extra, just look around you. Literally. Look locally. Small outfits in your neighborhood want to see you again. They want you to tell your friends about them. They’re not paying for a corporate office with training rooms and certificates. They have common sense, feel for you and respect you. To me, they are saying “You are a good person doing good things and we want to help, so we will be good to you and see you again soon!” How do I know? I’m on both sides of the wallet too.

What is art?

It may be hubris to attempt to describe what art is. It certainly isn’t easy. I mean, art was around before people wasn’t it? This may be a bit of the “if a tree falls/sound” thing. Can a truly magnificent sunset on a beach be called art, or is it only after it is reproduced on paper that it becomes art? According to several definitions, art is only human- This comes from Wikipedia; “Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items (often with symbolic significance) in a way that influences and affects one or more of the sensesemotions, and intellect.”. Intellect is defined as a human trait, although I think there are animals that create art (the bower bird is a good example with not only thoughtful design, intent to provoke emotion (in a female), but also song and dance).

If art can only be created, admired and judged subjectively by humans, then there will never be a definition of art because we can never agree with each other. By most definitions of art, graffiti and tattoos are art, but who would want to hang those on their wall? A very artful poster of Steve McQueen on a Triumph motorcycle on the set of “The Great Escape” hangs on my wall, but who would call that an image of self expression worthy tagging or inking? Don’t even get me started on music!

Anyway, let’s just say what I say is art is art and what you say is art is art and what we both say is not art is not art. Since you and I are the only ones who matter, that should do it, don’t you think?

The epiphany

Quite a few years back, at about 13,000 feet above sea level on a mountain called Long’s Peak, surrounded by the boulders of a massive hill slowly falling apart (and freezing my butt off) I decided that I simply love rocks. Why? It would bore the snot out of anyone reading this, but I will try to share some of my perception. I have always appreciated geology and physics. But it was that morning just after sunrise trying to “conquer” a 14k ft+ landmark that a unique focus sunk in to my being.

There is an obvious grandeur in mountains and canyons, but it is also in the details. The next time you get a chance to sit down and really look at a rock, try this. Look really deeply into a small section of it, like a quarter of an inch square. Try to see all of the tiny inclusions, cracks, folds and bends and shiny bits. Think about how they got there. Think about how old it is. Think about what it went through to be as it is now. Get it wet, then rub it a little. See how it changes. Now back your gaze away to take in the enormity of the place it came from. In all of it’s types, compositions, distributions, millions of varying properties and millions of varying uses, if it weren’t there, we’d have no place to stand. Maybe climbing up a fairly steep mountain trail at three in the morning, several degrees below freezing with pretty thin air to breath had something to do with it, but I think that’s pretty cool.

A little history of carving in stone.

Since the beginning of human civilization, people have been smearing animal shaped stains on cave walls and rock outcroppings. It wasn’t long before they started chipping the rock out to make petroglyphs, tablets, stelae and such. Some cultures went positively bonkers with the idea and carved stories into just about everything they built. The reason for carving messages and symbols in stone becomes obvious when you visit places like Egypt, China or the former stomping grounds of the Aztec- they last a long, long, long time.

For thousands of years the preferred method of carving in stone was pounding a heavy piece of steel on a pointy piece of steel. This method is still used today, though the pieces of steel have gotten much better. In the case of sandblasting, the pointy ends are made of silicon carbide which are really, really pointy and quite numerous.

Modern uses for stone with images carved into them differ a little from those made in the past, but are still surprisingly similar. “So and So live here” “John loves Martha” “I miss my cat” “You are HERE” “This is mine” “There will be corn growing here soon” “I made this” “You did a good job” “These are things I like” “This is who I am” “I want people to know this for a long, long, long time”.