Here are a few masterpieces of art I enjoyed while visiting the Art Institute of Chicago recently. As evidenced in my photo portraiture, I have a love for faces. We find portraits fascinating because we are fascinated by people like ourselves. We’re also fascinated by people unlike ourselves. It is who we are and that is what makes us delightfully human. Similar but different. Fascinating.
Because I am still researching my novel based on the Khmer empire in Cambodia, I had hoped to discover some relics or art from this period and the Art Institute of Chicago did not disappoint.
What was disappointing were the descriptions of the artifacts. Which temple site was this taken from? Did the institute know?
One more disappointing concern? The description placards all say “Angkor period”. To be intellectually honest, let’s call it what it is. These were all from the Khmer Empire of Cambodia in the 11-12th centuries. The name Angkor is a reference to two of the biggest temples in this region, Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. The terms “Khmer” or “empire” were not mentioned.
All these disappointments are cast aside for now because of the thrill of discovery. They were beautiful in a way that only those who study the culture can appreciate. Up until this moment I had only discovered a bas relief of an apsara dancer in the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.
For now, I will appreciate the experience but will write to the Art Institute for detailed information about this amazing collection.
I have just completed driving the entirety of Route 66. It is almost 2,500 miles from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. Double this for the return trip, of course.
Living one block away from Route 66 here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, we started our journey to California and back in February 2019 for one week. After a few months, we were able to again, start from the center here in Tulsa and complete the final leg to Chicago and back.
The United States is a beautiful country and I am extremely grateful to have experienced this journey. I’ll provide a photo tour after I’m done processing all the images and notes.
Now that I’ve acquired one of the best writing apps for iOS I had to figure it out and set it up. That was easy to do with it’s intuitive features. I was able to connect it to a few other apps like Mind Node where I could import my mind maps as notes. Loving this.
The one downside so far is a lack of connection to publish articles to my website remotely. I’m still working on this but apparently there is an issue with the XMLRPC connection. Firewall policy rate-limiting?
Overall, it is very pleasing. The one thing it won’t do is write the manuscripts for me.
Cyberspace- A long time ago, before we allowed ourselves to bottlenecked into a few social platforms, fed into massive surveillance machines, mined for our attention, and controlled by algorithms, there was an idea about internet freedom. Cyberspace.
We allowed cyberspace to become dominated by a few large companies. It was unregulated, free. We created things and shared ideas and we didn’t need anyone to do it for us. We just did it.
Web 2.0- We became lazy and enticed by centralized/connected web applications. Back in 2005, I became hooked into the Google platform thanks to Gmail. Flickr was new and exciting way to share photos. In 2006, I was one of the first users of TWTTR (now Twitter) and I even had a MySpace account and then Facebook. We then coined the phrase “social media” and it was good. The internet became a cesspool of ads, trolls, marketing and algorithms after that.
Social Media- No Google, no Facebook, no Twitter. Thanks to the massive digital footprints I’ve left behind, you can still find some references to my usage but I am off of social media. The Flickr account I subscribe to is not social. It is an online repository and cloud backup to my photo archives. I have an Outlook account from Microsoft but that is residual and for using their services (which I am weaning off of.) No more. Most of us rely on those corporate platforms that decide what they think you need to know. Facebook news feeds anyone? Google search, anyone? Controlled by algorithms designed to keep you hooked and sedentary inside their apps.
I’ve spent the past year winding the clock backwards and starting over again. I have fully reclaimed my little hub here in Cyberspace. My domains are secured again. The website is self-hosted. Email domains are mine.
Since the early 2000’s most of us have used and since then forgotten two brilliant tools to consume information; E-mail and RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds.
With E-mail and RSS we control what we want to focus our attention on. For either information or for pleasure. I’ve slowly re-introduced E-mail subscriptions to informative websites I trust. They use it as communicating ideas, just like we did in cyberspace a long time ago. They won’t sell my information and they won’t spam me. When/if they do I’ll simply unsubscribe.
Since I first discovered RSS back in the early 2000’s, I was hooked. I’ve relied on it almost daily as an information resource. Here’s why: every website or blog has a feed attached to it. Once you set up or subscribe to these feeds in a feed aggregator like Feedly (free), you could read articles from your favorite websites without visiting them all. No ads, no tracking, no algorithms and in one central location.
I am in control of what I see. No one else. Now, that does not mean I won’t visit the web, far from it. I still use it for research purposes like everyone else but those websites are prevented from tracking me thanks to ad and content blockers. I use a secure browser called Firefox Focus which blocks them. I use Duck Duck Go to perform searches on the web. They don’t track or sell you anything. Pretty soon I will purchase a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that masks my internet provider’s information.
There is a lot of cyberspace out there still. The corporate platforms and strict governments haven’t completely taken over it, even if they do fancy themselves as masters of the universal internet.
I do not advertise and will never have advertisements here. I will never spam or sell anyone’s information. Ever. If you’d like to add my website to your feed aggregator it is [http://chrisdenbow.com/rss].
Over the past few weeks I have slowly acquired some tools in an effort to find some way to get my scattered thoughts out of my head and into some format that makes sense enough for me to pick it back up when I need it. See there? Longest run-on sentence ever. Scattered.
I have pen and paper, including the Pentel Energel and the new Grids & Guides hardback in black. Now I’m afraid of using it for the same reason people are afraid of getting their new shoes dirty. Weird.
Things- Promises to help me “focus on what matters” by seeing calendar events and to-dos together. Collect my thoughts, get organized, plan my time? One can hope!
GoodNotes- This was an automatic buy for me when I upgraded the iPad and Pencil. It allows me to take my handwritten notes in digital form. Handwritten notes & PDF markup? Crazy cool.
MindNode- A brilliant mind mapping tool that allows me to diagram and parse my thoughts visually and helps me brainstorm ideas. I’m using it for story plots and arcs.
Day One- A digital journal app. But Chris, don’t you have a blog? Well, yeah, duh. But sometimes you want to keep your personal shit just that. Personal. Private. DayOne allows me to add text, audio or photos. It automagically logs, location, date, time, weather and even the song you have playing on Apple Music. Why are these important? Because looking back on your thoughts and wondering why without context or surroundings can be futile. And while I’m thinking about it…
Apple Music- No, it isn’t as good or as user friendly as my favorite, Spotify, but Apple Music is just as strong and has exclusive content. And it works beautifully with other apps because it is integrated. Built in. Less shenanigans means more productivity right?
Bear Notes- Elegant writing and note taking. Because the built in Notes is functional but the interface is simple, boring. I am anti-boring.
Ulysses- Promises to be the ultimate writing app. I think that is gratuitous but I bought into it anyway. I shared a little bit about it on the last post and will probably mention it again in the future.
WordPress- You’re reading this article on my website using the WordPress engine on my own server. It was time to take control again.
Will any of these help achieve the desired results? I don’t know but I am looking forward to finding out.
Lately I have been rethinking my writing workflow and trying to find some right solutions. I want to simplify and minimize tasks and tools. And I want them compatible with all my devices.
I’m looking at purchasing a refurbished MacBook Air really soon and selling the Windows machine. That’ll be that once and for all. I’ll be all-in on the Apple ecosystem. Finally.
In preparation for that, I am discovering new tools to assist me but the new workflows are elusive. How can I make the best use of Bear notes, Things tasks and Ulysses writing app? I’m writing this post in Ulysses iPad right now instead of the native WordPress editor. When it is finished, I will send it to WordPress and it will publish automagically for me.
Oops, had to step away. Now I’m writing this in the iPhone app. Easy syncing through iCloud. Love it.
Part of me loves to tinker and play as I discover new workflows and increase my writing productivity. Another part of me just wants it to work with out thinking about it.
Okay, that was false. I’m enjoying tinkering with my new tools so far.