FC 143 - Kids Say the Naivest Things

Back at it! I still have a Chautauqua or two post up my sleeve but I couldn't help but jumping back into the Friday Comics as soon as possible. The idea for this one came along the Al-Can highway, seeing a nice sky marred by smokestack output. Someone commented "cloud factory!" and the comic idea was born.

The drawing was initially an exact take on the Texaco/Shell* refineries here on Fidalgo Island but perspective reared its ugly head and I had to do a little coast line tweaking. You may notice that not all perspective/scale elements are fixed, but I suppose that is what lends Friday Comics their charm, right?

Anyway, I hope you have a great Friday (summer Fridays are the hardest to be stuck at a desk).
Friday August 19 2011File under: comic

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Local Farms on the Road

My Chautauqua world heavily revolves around food: when and how to serve it, what food choices will piss the fewest people off*, how much money to spend on it, and where to buy it. Over my past 2.5 tours as kitchen manager, I've tried to incorporate local farms (usually organic) as the source for most of our produce. While the logistics of finding a farm, getting out there, and working with the sometimes limited veggies that are in season can be difficult (esp. with so much fun circus stuff happening that I would love to be a part of), the choice has been a rewarding one for me.

On this tour, I found my way out to at least 5 local farms (nearly one in each community) and walked the fields with the farmers seeing what was ready for harvest. Some farmers just heap the veggies on us, letting us just have past-their-prime veggies. After freshly cutting us kale, cabbage, zucchinis, and plenty of lettuce, Ed in Talkeetna couldn't stop himself. "I'm sure you could find a use for some rhubarb", he said*. And then, with our arms full and almost to the car he insisted we take a bunch of flowers too. When I came back for a second load of whatever he had a few days later, I left him with a couple of comp tickets to our [3+ hour] show.

For me, the health/taste/freshness argument for shopping at local farms doesn't resonate strongly, but knowing the people and story behind at least part of the food I serve does. And since Chautauqua is so much about enriching communities whether through service, performance, or education, participating in the local economy just makes sense.

(On a personal note: if I don't see kale, zucchini, or cabbage for the next 3 months, I won't be disappointed.)
Monday August 15 2011File under: circus, food

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Circus Folk at the Carnie

It isn't uncommon for non-circus folks to mix up circus folks, those who perform skills for audiences, with carnies, those who travel with carnivals to run the rides and man* the booths. Last night, Chautauqua, the band of 45 or so circusy folks I'm currently running around Alasqua with, camped at the Alasqua State Fairgrounds outside of Palmer and the two worlds merged.

Led by a veteran Chautauquan looking to recreate fond memories of the Alasqua tour 11 years ago, we hopped a fence to frolic among the not in use tilt-o-wheels, mini-roller coasters, ferris wheels, and hall 'o mirrors. While being amongst abandoned carnival rides was a little creepy, it was also really fun. And since we are in the land of ridiculously long day light, at least it wasn't dark at midnight when the frolicking reached its peak.

Next time I visit a [working] carnival, I will have a better understanding of the machines from having climbed on and explored them unhampered. But I will also feel slightly less safe knowing that all it takes is a hop, skip, and jump for anyone so inclined to do exactly the same thing.
Monday August 1 2011File under: chautauqua

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Bumpy Road to Alasqua

The Al-Can highway has much myth and lore associated with it, at least in my mind, Being that far away from services with wilderness that close at hand could lead to all sorts of fiascos. For the 2011 Chautauqua tour, all of the fiascos occured before leaving the inhabited land near the border.

Fiasco #1: I've now run away with the circus 4 times. A solid 3 of those have come complete with bus fiascos*. The bus fiasco this time went like this: our bus was supposed to leave Eugene Oregon Thursday morning to meet many of us in Bellingham on Thursday evening. About 5 hours after they were supposed to leave, I got a call saying "once they install the driver's seat and find some side mirrors to install, they'll be on the road". This means the bus hasn't been actually driven in a while which can't be a good sign at all. It turns out it wasn't. On attempting to pull out of the garage, the brakes locked up and wouldn't let go. It took 2 days and lots of hand wringing before things were fixed and on the road north. So while the tour was only 24 hours behind schedule (before even starting), we also lost a valuable day of work on the bus (installing bunks, properly packing, etc.)

Fiasco #2: I cross in and out of Canada frequently enough to forget that it can be an issue for some people. In our case, the "some people" happened to be one of our drivers who had a minor infraction 30 years previous regarding an anti-war protest. In Canada, however, it wasn't so minor, I guess. So at 3 in the morning, we were told that while the bus, truck, and 38 of our 39 members could pass, one of the only totally integral people for the drive to Alasqua couldn't. A switch of border crossings and a little sweet talking later, we averted that potential deal breaker.

Fiasco #3:The majority of the Al-Can highway doesn't really have cellphone reception. That doesn't sound like a big thing but when it has becoming so completely ingrained in our culture's planning, it can be an issue. In this particular case, our caravan got slightly separated due to an unscheduled pee break. The drivers of the uHaul didn't know of the upcoming only turn of the whole trip, so they missed it. We were on the edge of cell phone range and thought that, if they didn't get the messages we left, while we might end up in Alaska, our stuff might end up in Quebec. Again, after much roadside conference, hand wringing, plan B-ing, and more, the issue was resolved when someone came running out of the bathroom (with pants still mostly down) announcing excitedly that contact had been made. Two hours later, the caravan was reunited and back on the road.

While perhaps "fiasco" is a strong word for these events, it sure felt pretty extreme, although it was probably compounded by the lack of sleep*. And, aside from a few close calls with hitting moose or bears in the road and almost running out of gas 14,239 miles from the nearest gas station, the rest of the trip was fiasco-free! With the trip behind us, now we have the rest of tour to look forward to! Stay tuned!
Wednesday July 27 2011File under: circus, travel

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Chautauqua Goes to Alasqua

It's that time of year again, time to hit the road with a group of amazing people to camp, cook, and live completely outdoors doing shows, parades, and workshops in small towns along the way. The New Old Time Chautauqua 2011 tour is headed to...ALASQUA*!

While I'm excited for all the vaudeville/circus fun to come, I haven't quite gotten my mind past the epic trip that is entailed to get 50 people and all their camping and performing gear to our country's northern most state. While a few members are already there or are going to fly up, 39 are slated to go by bus via the Al-Can highway. Over 2000 miles in 3 days*. How many pee breaks, hot springs, border crossing issues, and peanut butter and jelly sandwichs are we goign to tally up? Probably a lot. No matter what the count, watch out Alasqua, here we come!

(For previous tour posts, browse backwards for 2009 and 2010. Or check out Chautauqua's official website to learn more.)
Wednesday July 20 2011File under: circus

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FC 142 - View from the Top

Procrastination is quite amazing. So many times, I spend all of Thursday dinking around, doing nothing in particular, and waiting until the last minute to put together the week's comic. But on a day when I have more to do than time*, I find myself diligently getting the comic done by 5:00 in the afternoon. Really, it is amazing how procrastination works.

What did I have to do today? Glad you asked. I had to pack for a month long camping/circus trip. And get all my business attended to. Rumor has it that Alasqua isn't as wifi friendly as the lower 48. Anyway, more about that adventure soon.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the comic. It seems like such an obvious joke that I can't imagine that it hasn't been done before. But, as they say, there's no such thing as an original thought. At least I know my drawing style will never be copied. And if it does, I pity the fool.
Thursday July 14 2011File under: comic

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DIY Recycled Cardboard Insultation

How do you build on a big old warehouse on a budget? Well, first step is to get a bunch of generous friends to help pour the foundation. Then you take 6 months of inexpert yet can-do spirited labor to erect the thing. Then, when it comes time to insulate, you get creative with a bunch of used cardboard and styrofoam.

Since the warehouse has* radiant heat floors, code says we've gotta have some heavy duty insulation on the walls and ceiling. It turns out insulating a big old 2 story, 50x30 warehouse can get expensive. Then someone came up with a great idea: use cardboard!

The process is basically this:
  • Cut and sandwich 6-8 layers of cardboard in manageable regular size (ours were approximately 2'x6') chunks combined with tape (chunks are 2-3 inches thick)
  • Sprayfoam a thin coat on the inside of the metal siding to create a vapor barrier
  • Sprayfoam just a couple squirts and quickly stick cardboard in place and hold it there until sprayfoam sets
  • Seal edges with sprayfoam, again for adhesion
  • Sprayfoam over cardboard so it appears you have 4 inches of sprayfoam insulation
You may notice liberal use of sprayfoam in this scheme. It just so happens that we have a sprayfoam trailer on premise that makes it all feasible. But that doesn't mean that you too couldn't save some money (and save the environment) next time you have the need to insulate something.
Wednesday July 13 2011File under: quarry

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FC 141 - Modern Day Indulgences

So many things I could say about this comic. "Artistically", there are a few. For one, I'm pretty dang proud of my stained-glass piece (even if it is kind of obnoxious...). Secondly, I'm trying out a new style of not using black lines everywhere and then filling them in. In this comic, I'm trying it only with the husband and wife.

The inspiration for this comic comes from a number of my friends who have gone to www.getordainedonline.com* and become ordained in order to perform marriage ceremonies. One of them even insists on using a Reverend in front of her name*.

Anyway, happy Friday! (Summertime Fridays are probably the hardest for cubicle dwellers (or at least they were for me, back in the day. So hopefully, if there are any cubicle folks out there reading this, I hope you enjoy!)
Friday July 8 2011File under: comic

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Bridgetown USA

A poster of the image seen to the left* hangs on many a Portlander's wall. And I can see why. It's an awesome poster of an awesome concept. The bridges that span the Willamette and Columbia Rivers are varied and interesting, a deserving point of pride for a city with many things going for it.

This weekend, I got to see some of the bridges from a new angle, on the water. A friend scored us some tickets to a Blues Cruise (part of the Portland Blues Festival) aboard the Portland Spirit. While we had to escape to the deck to avoid boozy blusies, we were treated to a spectacular view of some of the city's great bridges*. We also got to see them raise various bridges for us drawbridge-style, which was also exciting.

Yep, on every visit, Portland unveils a new, fun side of itself. I can't wait to see what it is next time!
Tuesday July 5 2011File under: Portland

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FC 140 - Blood Drool

There's a funny cycle to the ideas for my comics. When I come up with one, I usually think it is incredible funny. And down the road, when I look back on them, I feel a sense of pride in having done it and usually chuckle a bit as well. But in the middle, when I'm actually making and posting the comic, I'm not so sure. Perhaps that is the way it is meant to be.

Anyway, that's my story for this comic. "Dude mistaken for vampire because he has gingivitis" seemed hilarious at the get-go. Now that it's all framed up, it just doesn't make me giggle the same way. Alas. Hopefully it is just me, and you will find it hilarious. Or at least mildly amusing.

Anyway, happy Friday and happy July!
Friday July 1 2011File under: comic

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