What the Trump?

I received a letter from the president of the United States.

This is a follow up to my last article CA District 4 Here to Represent!.  It was about a census I received from the Republican Party.  In the article, I went over what I thought of the survey and I answered the questions. I mentioned in that article that I would consider writing another article if I received any more political surveys, so here it is along with the pictures.

I didn’t return the census to the RNC, so they sent me another letter along with another survey.  This one is signed by the president.  Getting a letter from the president turned out to be more disappointing than I had imagined.  It looks like I got on the RNC junk mailing list.  I already answered enough questions from the RNC in my previous article.  I’m not doing it again.  I think these surveys are more about fundraising than caring about anyone’s political views.  I’m not giving the RNC any money, no matter who does the begging.  If you give people attention for misbehaving, they will keep misbehaving, so I’m going to stop right here.

Advertisements

CA District 4 Here to Represent!

Something interesting showed up in the mail.  What could it be? Let’s find out as I open the letter…

District 4 Rep mail1The first thing I notice about the envelope is that it is a “SECOND NOTICE”.  Really? I usually only get fake second notices from sales departments. They know how tapping into one’s sense of urgency causes us to suspend deliberate thought in order to act quickly.

District 4 Rep Census 3of4

Upon closer inspection, I notice the words “Special Notice”.  My ego is amused by how special I am.  I have been selected to represent voters in my district.

Okay, let’s see what’s inside….

District 4 Rep mail2

I received a letter, a census form, and a return envelope.  First, I will respond to the letter.  Then, I will go over all 44 questions in this census.  I blurred out my personal identifiers such as my address, tracking codes, and bar-codes.

 

District 4 Rep LetterPage1 1of6

The 2018 Congressional District Census was commissioned by the Republican Party.

I used to take census with the Census Bureau back in 2000.  All US residents have a legal responsibility to complete the nonpartisan official census.  This is not that census!  I suspect that it was designed to give that impression. The next real census with the actual Census Bureau will be held in 2020.  I don’t think I am legally obligated to complete this Republican bias census.

I kind of feel like I was given this by mistake, because I have never claimed to be Republican and I doubt I ever will.  I don’t usually put my political thoughts in writing, but Republicans asked for it.  I don’t think it’s fair if they are the only ones who have access to such information, so I am posting this publicly.  If I get a census form like this from other political parties, I will consider doing this again.

District 4 Rep LetterPage1 2of6

This census was sent to me at President Trump’s request.  It was designed to help him get reelected.  I don’t want him to be reelected.  Should I still fill out the form?  I am not comfortable with the idea of helping his agenda, but I might be able to nudge Trump’s agenda a little to the left.

I feel like I was just accused of not reporting for duty.  I still don’t even believe that “second notice” bit.  Well, I’m here now and I am here to represent.  CA District 4 In The House!!!

District 4 Rep LetterPage1 3of6

I think this is what happens when Republicans can’t buy updated information from Cambridge Analytica. They have to ask for it directly.  I think I have already been targeted and this census is the propaganda. I bet we can learn a lot of “truth” concerning Trump’s agenda just by reading this propaganda.

District 4 Rep LetterPage1 4of6

I agree that this country is politically divided.  About half of the country is either Democrat or Republican.  The other half of our country is not.  The half that doesn’t identify as either of the two majority political parties has been suppressed by the duopoly.  I would like to see third parties have more access to getting on ballots and getting into the national debates.

I am glad that I have been asked to “participate”.  By posting this, I am sharing my detailed data about California’s 4th Congressional District with all of the special interest groups instead of just the one that happened to asked.  

District 4 Rep LetterPage1 5of6

This is due on April 30th.  I should send it early, because the RNC seem to be having issues with their mail.  I will leave the questions unanswered on the form, until the day I send the census back, so I can take your feedback into consideration as fill out the form.

District 4 Rep LetterPage1 6of6

This part of the letter asks for money.  Is this a census or a fundraiser?  It’s all that and manipulative propaganda.

District 4 Rep LetterPage2 1of10

Is this an attack on the media?  Let me remind you of the First Amendment of the US Constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  It could be argued that demonizing the media is an abridgment of the freedom of the press.

District 4 Rep LetterPage2 2of10

All of the stuff in this paragraph comes up in the census, so I will save my comments on this for the questions.

District 4 Rep LetterPage2 3of10

Let me get this straight. Democrats are trying to get more Democrats into office?  Those monsters!  Wait a second.  Wasn’t the point of sending me this creatively manipulative bit of propaganda to promote more republicans getting into office?  Psychological projection is the theory that humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.  When you point your finger at someone, you have three fingers pointing back at yourself.

District 4 Rep LetterPage2 4of10

President Barack Obama is a living legend.  Everybody loves Obama.  President Obama is a tough act to follow.  I understand why Donald is so jealous and obsessed with President Barack Obama.  There was something else in this paragraph, but all I heard was Barack Obama.  Congratulations to Barack Obama for living in people’s heads like that.  I love Obama!

District 4 Rep LetterPage2 5of10

Is this a census or a fundraiser?  It’s all that and manipulative propaganda.   See, I can repeat myself too.

District 4 Rep LetterPage2 6of10

Using the word “the” before the name of a group, is divisive language.  It is used to dehumanize people.  As you read through this, try to keep track of how many times Democrats are called “the Democrats” verses how many times Republicans are called “the Republicans.”  Then you can tell me who is being divisive.

District 4 Rep LetterPage2 7of10

I will do what I can to help get the country back on track.

District 4 Rep LetterPage2 8of10

This letter was written by Chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel.  I checked the commercial business website provided, GOV.com.  She appears to be a real person.  I like that she is a woman.  We need more women in government.

District 4 Rep LetterPage2 9of10

America is already great.

District 4 Rep LetterPage2 10of10

Is this a census or a fundraiser? It’s all that and manipulative propaganda.

That was a very informative letter.  We learned how Republicans use psychological techniques such as appealing to urgency, psychological projection, dehumanizing language, and basic repetition to manipulate their audience.  Now, lets see what we can learn from the 2018 Congressional District Census.

 

District 4 Rep Census 1of4

District 4 Rep Census 2of4

District 4 Rep Census 3of4

The top of this form restates the name of the census, that it was commissioned by the Republican party, that this is a”second notice”, that my input is urgently needed, and that I am special.

District 4 Rep Census 4of4

Anytime a fill in the blank form needs the answer bubble completely filled in, it is because the form is ran through a scanning machine.  That means that this census will mostly be evaluated by robots.  There are some fill in the blanks that might be seen by humans.

District 4 Rep Section1

This census is divided into five sections.  Sections I and II have eight questions each. Section III has 20 questions.  Section IV has seven.  Section V only has one.  There are 44 total questions.

District 4 Rep Section1 Q1

1.1 Other

I will most likely write in, “Independent”.  I am considering, “American”, “Thought Leader” or something else.  If you come up with a better one, I might use it.  I want your suggestions for all of the blank answers throughout this census.

This looks like a good example of third party suppression. Not even one third party was mentioned here.  Here is a List of political parties in the United States.  Of the third parties, I am most familiar with the Libertarian Party and the Green Party.  The question might as well have been, “On a scale from Democrat to Ultra-conservative Republican, how serious do you want the RNC take your answers?”

District 4 Rep Section1 Q2

1.2 No

That would be hilarious, but no.

District 4 Rep Section1 Q3

1.3 No

No!

District 4 Rep Section1 Q4

1.4 Yes

I do want my voice to be counted.

District 4 Rep Section1 Q5

1.5 No

I don’t know who I’m voting for yet.  I will keep an open mind. I tend to vote based on the person and the policies rather than by party preferences.  I am a leader, not a follower.

District 4 Rep Section1 Q6

1.6 …

I want my opinions to count.  I am a Gen-Xer.  We are smaller in number than Baby-boomers and Millennial.  We have been ignored, overlooked, neglected, and under appreciated all of our lives.  I have no reason to believe that this is going to change now.  I might get better recognition by leaving this answer blank, but I don’t want anyone to have a chance to change my answer.

District 4 Rep Section1 Q7

1.7 Very Close

On a scale of not very much to very much, how serious do I want my answers to be taken?  I think every voter in my district thinks exactly like me.  That’s how much.

District 4 Rep Section1 Q9

1.8 News Websites, Friends, Facebook, Radio, Candidate Websites, Social Networks, Other

Republicans assume I disagree because I follow too much liberal media.  Guess who’s on my liberal media list.  I follow The White House on Facebook. I follow my representatives and various other political figures who I like on Facebook; President Donald J. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Jerry BrownSenator Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren,  Gavin Newsom, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, Congressman Tom McClintock, Senator Ted Gaines,  Assemblyman Kevin KileyBernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama.  Some news outlets that I follow on Facebook are Vox The Free and Equal Elections FoundationDemocracy Now!Independent Voter, and OsiyoTV.  I also follow my politically diverse friends and family.  I made Yahoo my homepage because it seems to post a wide variety of news stories from a wide range of new sources. I listen regularly listen to a radio show called Coast to Coast AM.  I’m not on Twitter, but I do hear about a lot of Trump’s Foolish tweets.  None of my friends take FOX News seriously.  They joke about it being Trump’s only news source, but I suspect that he also listens to conservative talk radio.  I wouldn’t consider my media choices particularly liberal.  Judging by question 1.1, I understand why Republicans would see it that way.

In section one, we established that I am not Republican nor am I likely to vote Republican.  I’m not part of a major age demographic.  I might be under the influence of  liberal media, depending on your perspective.  I’m going to have to put my faith in the scan-tron robots to be counted fairly.

District 4 Rep Section2District 4 Rep Section2B

Section two will ask about my District’s views on general issue.

District 4 Rep Section2 Q1

2.1 Wrong Direction

District 4 Rep Section2 Q2

2.2 Unsure

The Republican half of congress is supportive of any crazy idea that their Republican leader throws at them.  The Democratic half does not support the agenda.  “Unsure” is the closest possible answer to half yes and half no.

District 4 Rep Section2 Q3

2.3 No

California leans to the left.  My state representatives care about all of the people in our state and country.

District 4 Rep Section2 Q4

2.4 No

There is a saying that you can judge a society by how well they treat their most vulnerable members. Our federal leadership is redistributing our country’s wealth away from the social support programs that have direct effects on our most vulnerable citizens.

District 4 Rep Section2 Q5

2.5 No Opinion

“Grab ’em by the pussy”  Those words came directly from Trump’s mouth.  If that’s what he is remembered for, that’s his own fault.

District 4 Rep Section2 Q6

2.6 No

Replace the words “politically correct” with “showing respect” and read that statement again. It seems like people who get a kick out of calling people derogatory names are the only people who think being politically correct has gotten out of hand.  They are also only people who get a kick out of Trump coming up with all of those derogatory names.  The rest of us consider that kind of bullying behavior juvenile.  I don’t think Trump is going to grow out of it.

District 4 Rep Section2 Q7

2.7 Rebuild Nation’s Infrastructure, Put an end to gun violence in our schools, Address National Opioid Crisis, Address the care of our Veterans, other

I’m not sure what I will write in “other” yet.  I think these are the safest issues for Republicans to address.

District 4 Rep Section2 Q8

2.8 Education, Race Relations, Environment, Cutting Federal Deficit, other

I am not sure if I should mark what’s important to me or what I feel safer about letting Republicans handle.

There are 20 questions in Section 3, so let’s get to it.

District 4 Rep Section3A

District 4 Rep Section3B

District 4 Rep Section3 Q1

3.1 Not Too Confident

Are we talking about the economy for the rich people or the economy for the rest of us?  I still haven’t recovered from the last recession.

District 4 Rep Section3 Q2

3.2 Inflation/Rising Prices Overall

Our rent prices are going up faster than our raises.  My husband and I use to want to own a house by the time we retire. If housing costs continue to raise at these levels, we might have to settle for retiring in an RV.

District 4 Rep Section3 Q3

3.3 No Opinion

There are too many variables in this question to give a good answer.

District 4 Rep Section3 Q4

3.4 No

I am concerned that too many taxes were cut.  We have to pay down our national debt.  I am worried about how Trump might try to make up the difference given his disdain for minorities, women, foreigners, and the needy.

District 4 Rep Section3 Q5

3.5 Fixed

As the richest most powerful nation in the world, it is rediculous that we don’t have universal healthcare.

District 4 Rep Section3 Q6

3.6 No

We already have tax-advantaged Healthcare Savings Accounts.  Only rich people can afford them because healthcare is expensive.  Are Republicans trying to put healthcare out of reach for the bottom 99%?  You do realize that if we all die, the rich people won’t be richer than anyone anymore, right?  Trump will have to flip his own hamburgers.

District 4 Rep Section3 Q7

3.7 No

First, I’m more about building bridges than building walls; about bringing us closer together instead of dividing us farther apart.  We need to fix our broken legal immigration system so more people can migrate here legally.  We need migrants.

Second, us humans share this planet with a wide variety of other species.  The border’s wildlife has enough to deal with without their habitat being obstructed by a wall.

Third, I think Trump’s ridiculous wall idea is an ego driven monument to himself.  He’s probably trying to compensate for something.

District 4 Rep Section3 Q8

3.8 No

I am representing my district in California.  We send the Federal government way more money than we get back. We would probably be better off financially by declaring our independence form the US.  The US needs us.  Withholding funding from California would be a mistake.  California is itching for a revolution.  Don’t push it.

District 4 Rep Section3 Q9

3.9 No

Trump’s xenophobia is showing.  We are taking about turning away refugees.  These are families of people just like you and me who have been trapped in the danger zone.  They are pleading for safe harbor.

Allow me pass along some words of wisdom from Brad Paisley.

“What if she’s an angel sent here from heaven
And she’s making certain that you’re doing your best
To take the time to help one another
Brother are you going to pass that test
You can go on with your day to day
Trying to forget what you saw in her face
Knowing deep down it could have been her saving grace
What if she’s an angel”

District 4 Rep Section3 Q10

3.10 No Opinion

I’m not sure how our immigration system works.  I thought the work visas were based on skills.

District 4 Rep Section3 Q11

3.11 Yes

Even if you don’t believe in climate change, you have to agree that life is better in a safe and clean environment.  Putting tariffs on solar energy isn’t helping.  Letting oil companies contaminate our land and water by reducing regulations isn’t helping either.   California’s 4th Congressional District cares about our environment. We need to keep the planet habitable to humans for as long as possible.  When it comes to climate change, we believe the science.

District 4 Rep Section3 Q12

3.12 Worse

White supremacists have been coming out of hiding, emboldened by Trump, who they see as their guy.  They felt vindicated in their racism the moment that Trump was elected. Trump made America racist again.  Trump also made America more misogynistic again. I don’t consider those positive attributes.

District 4 Rep Section3 Q13

3.13 No

I think education should be fully funded by the federal government instead of being so dependent on local property taxes.  Rich districts keep getting fantastic schools with all the bells and whistles, while poor districts get underfunded.  If we start funding education at a federal level, more children will receive a proper education.  Teachers would get paid well, no matter their zip code.  While we are at it, let’s give All of our students free breakfast and lunch at school, no matter their family income level.  This will help alleviate some of our nation’s  hunger epidemic among our children. The children suffer when their parent can’t access food.  If Republicans insist on creating roadblock to food  for needy families, the least they can do is get food directly to the children.  It is really hard to learn if you are hungry.  Feeding and educating our children are the most important things we can do to help our nation’s children grow into healthy productive members of society.

District 4 Rep Section3 Q14

3.14 No

I’m not obsessed with undoing everything that Obama did.  Trump’s irrational hating on Obama is part of the reason people think Trump is so racist and obsessed with Obama.  Trump cares more about undoing Obama’s policies because they are associated with Obama rather than basing these decisions on the content of the policies themselves.

District 4 Rep Section3 Q15

3.15 Yes

Amendment II states that, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

I think it is important to make sure mentally unstable people don’t get their hands on guns.    There are some guns that civilians should not have access to.  Militias could make an argument for needing more advanced weapons. I am going to suggest that “well regulated militias” take more responsibility for their obligation to the Second Amendment.

District 4 Rep Section3 Q16

3.16 Yes

The VA is notorious for it’s insufficient care for our Vets.  Veterans should get to choose their own healthcare providers.

District 4 Rep Section3 Q17

3.17 Yes

Yes, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

District 4 Rep Section3 Q18

3.18 No Opinion

District 4 Rep Section3 Q19

3.19 Yes

Let’s demilitarize law enforcement a bit. We can equip our officers with cameras and non-lethal weapons.  We can give law enforcement more bias awareness training.  Let’s also get more minorities to join the force.  When law enforcement is re-humanized and knows how to be respectful to all civilians equally, law enforcement will earn more trust and respect.  This will make everyone in our communities safer including law enforcement.

District 4 Rep Section3 Q20

3.20 Yes

Wow, I didn’t know that Republicans were willing to admit there was Russian interference in the 2016 election.  We should definitely secure our elections immediately!

 

District 4 Rep Section4

District 4 Rep Section4 Q1

4.1 No

Our military already takes over half of our budget while our citizens have been neglected.  If we are not fighting for our citizens, what are we fighting for?  Something’s got to give.

District 4 Rep Section4 Q2

4.2 Other: Technology

Cryptocurrency, blockchain networking, quantum computing, Artificial Intelligence, robots, cyber-warfare, internet of things, and autonomous machines come to mind

District 4 Rep Section4 Q3

4.3 No Opinion

I’m more worried about Trump using nukes.  He tends to escalate aggressive behavior.  If I were President, I’d discusses this with our top military intelligence as well as our allies.

District 4 Rep Section4 Q4

4.4 No Opinion

This question sounds Islamophobic. Again, If I were President, I’d discusses this with our top military intelligence as well as our allies.

District 4 Rep Section4 Q5

4.5 No

I have no idea what Republicans have in mind.  The United States are enormous.   Would California’s 4th Congressional District get a missile defense shield?  Is there an eminent threat that requires a missile defense shield? How much will it cost?  This is the first time I have heard of this plan.  I am not convinced that it’s necessary.

District 4 Rep Section4 Q6

4.6 No

I don’t see the point.  If China and Russia took a more muscular attitude towards us, how would we react?

District 4 Rep Section4 Q7

4.7 Yes

Yes!  We need a strong cyber-security force.  We are entering the age of quantum computing and blockchain networking.  Updating and maintaining our cyber-security infrastructure should be an ongoing process.

District 4 Rep Section5

District 4 Rep Section5 Q1

5.1 Prayers

I am going to show the RNC the same courtesy they have been showing to Puerto Rico.  I will send my thoughts and prayers.  Wait.  Puerto Rico wasn’t mentioned even once in this entire Census.  I will just send my prayers.

Blessed Be

 

 

 

 

 

 

Effie Yeaw Nature Center

Edward and I went on a photo trip at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center.  Edward found it online.  To get there, you drive though a residential neighborhood near Sacramento, CA.  The narrow street suddenly opens up to a large open nature area.  It’s a short drive through the middle of a golf course to the nature center.  Parking is $5.  The building is only open on the weekends, but the nature area is always open.  We took some of the trails from the nature center down to the river.

We spent spent a couple of hours on the trails, mostly chasing butterflies.  It was windy and the butterflies were moving too fast to get any clear shots of them.  The wind didn’t get in the way of taking pictures of the sculptures near the center, though.  I used Bot, my 3D printed figurine, as a photography model for a few shots.  Then, a squirrel came to eat some grass near us.  I got a shot of a squirrel.  It was a relaxing trip.

 

 

Salmon Falls Bridge

My husband and I went on a photo trip to Salmon Falls Bridge.  The wildflowers are in bloom.

Deanna at Salmon Falls

My first goal was to model shirt ring that I designed and printed.  My husband took this picture of me along the trail.  I had been trying to think of things to print with my new 3D printer.  I keep ending up with dresses that are too long, so I decided to print a shirt ring to help hold them up.  I use to use shirt rings in the 80’s to stylishly make my oversize shirts look more like they fit.  I used this image in my last blog post, My Introduction to 3D Printing, to help illustrate my 3D printing work flow.

I printed a cute little toy robot and named it Bot.  I thought that it would make a good subject for some photos, so I brought it with us on our hike.  Bot’s color is similar to our California soil, so it blended a little too well. Bot still made an adorable little model.

I got a new 12-50mm Olympus lens that can do macro and zoom shots.  I tend to take a lot of macros of bugs on these photo trips, especially in the spring.  Finding and getting clear shots of insects is challenging because they are so small and fast.  I brought the lens on our trip to Daffodil Hill, but there weren’t many bugs out that day.  There were more bugs out on the trail this time.  I like this lens because I don’t have to switch lenses as often.

Salmon Falls was lovely. The sun was bright and flowers were out. It was another beautiful spring day in California.

My Introduction to 3D Printing

JGAurora.jpg

I got JGAurora 3D printer a few months ago.  I learned a lot about 3D printers by assembling it myself.  It was like assembling a computer.  It comes with videos, a user manual, and Cura on an SD card.

I’ve already made a few upgrades.  I got a PRINTinZ plate for my bed.  I had to design and print a little stint to lift my Z-axis switch up by 4mm to get the plate to fit.  The plate is very smooth, so the prints come out significantly smoother when I was using blue tape.  The filament sticks to the plate better and pops of the plate easily.  I also made a spool holder.  The spool of filament rolls very smoothly on barrings.  I might add a few more upgrades later.

I’m starting to develop a work flow.  First, I use a program called 123D Design to design my 3D objects.  After saving the objects as STL files, I use Cura to generate the G-code files.  I save the G-code on and SD card.  The SD card is inserted into my printer.  After that, it’s just a matter of picking the file to print from the SD card.

Bot on a Scanner

You don’t have to be a 3D designer to get into 3D printing.  There are sites where you can shop for the files or even download them for free.  Thingiverse, for example, has a 3D printing community where people share designs.  So far, I’ve printed The $30 3D scanner V3 by daveyclk and Jointed Robot by Shira from Thingiverse.  The scanner is a turntable with a spot to hold your phone.  It’s used in conjunction with 3D imaging apps to stitch multiple pictures of an object together to create a 3D image.  I haven’t tried it yet, but the scanner has a lot of good reviews.  I made the robot to get a better idea of how I might make joints in future projects.  It’s good to see how other people put their designs together.  I haven’t posted much on it, but if you’re interested, you can follow me on thingiverse here.

It’s so fun having a 3D printer.  I have been into arts and crafts all of my life.  There is only so much detail you can get with ceramics.  I like the precision of 3D printing.  I love how easily a piece can be replicated; the detailed memory of a piece stored on a tiny little SD card.  3D printing is awesome!

Daffodil Hill


Edward and I went on a photo trip to Daffodil Hill.


Daffodil Hill is only open a few weeks a year, weather permitting. Visit their website and call ahead to make sure the gates will be open.  Arrive there early for good parking.  Entry is free. Donations are welcome. They sell flowers at the gift shop. There’s a picnic area near the entrance. We ate at the snack bar across the street where they were barbecuing hot-dogs and hamburger.

Daffodil Hill is charmingly rustic.  While you’re there, you’ll defiantly know you’re way out in the country.  You might loose track of the time by a hundred years or so, though.

There are a wide variety of daffodils.  They are mostly yellow or white or a combination of the two.  They’re all beautiful.

There are also a lot of tulips at Daffodil Hill. While most of the daffodils are in the fields, there are planters full of colorful tulip accents everywhere.  It seemed like every time I found a good shot of the flowers, a crowd of people would line up behind me to take the same picture.

 

I got plenty of pictures of flowers from this trip.  I even edited some of my images to make them look more like paintings.

Check out the rest of my Daffodil Hill photos on Flickr.

Sim City Autumn Tournament

I’ve been playing Sim City.  I recently participated in my first seasonal tournament.

The seasonal tournaments are series of competitions over several weeks. Everyone who joins the tournament starts at the Neighborhood League. The top ten players get promoted to the next league.  The bottom 50 gets demoted. I made it all the way up to the Metropolis League, the second highest league.

image-1

Seasonal tournaments give extra prizes. The autumn season was giving out castles. Each castle gets progressively bigger as the player levels up in league.   I got five out of six of the castles; the  Old Town Stronghold, the City Fortress, the Countess’ Citadel, the Princess’ Tower, and the Royal Castle.  I missed out on the Imperial Castle.  I needed to at least get tenth place, but I ended up in 19th place.  Even though I didn’t win the top prize, I still beat most of the other players.

Mud Pies

In my blog, “Bucket of Mud”, I explained how I made my bucket of mud. First, I gathered chunks of bone dry Navajo Wheel clay into a bucket. Then, I added water, mixed, and repeated. After my bucket was full of mud, I wrote my very first blog about it.

Since then, I’ve been preparing to throw the clay.  Mud gets messy. I scooped up a creamy, chunky glob of it and plopped in onto a bat. Thwack! Thwack! Mud pies!

d-copy1

Then, I started the hair scavenger hunt.  Hair seems to be able to teleport directly into mud and it’s strong enough to slice through wet clay.  Pulling the smooth strands from the clay was a bit challenging, but not as challenging as getting the hair off of my sticky, muddy fingers without getting mud everywhere. Next thing you know, I had several bats covered in mud pies and two hands caked in mud.

I let the mud pies dry out a bit. Then I wedged them.  Wedging is like kneading dough.  Wedging makes the clay’s texture smooth and consistent.  It also gets the air bubbles out of the clay.  There are two wedging techniques, table wedging and spiral wedging.

I learned how to table wedge before I learned how to spiral wedge.  To table wedge, take a lump of clay and smack it down onto a table.  Slice it in half, flip the top half over, and smack it down onto the other half.  Slice it up.  Flip it.  Smack it down. I use the table wedging technique when I want to quickly prepare a lot of clay for hand building or sculpting.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I use the spiral wedging technique to prepare clay for being thrown on the wheel.  To spiral wedge, smash a lump of clay down and forward onto a table.  Roll the front of the lump of clay back over the back of the lump.  Roll it back.  Smash it forward.  Roll it back.  Smash it forward.  There’s a rhythm to it.

My lumps of clay come out in conch shell like cones.  The clay particles align in a spiral up through the cones.  The particles will also flow in this direction while being thrown.  Particle alignment strengthens the structure of the clay.  After smoothing out the lumps into cones, the clay is ready to be thrown.

Castello di Amorosa

Castello Di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa is a beautiful 13th century Tuscan-style castle and winery. Dario Sattui was inspired by his Italian heritage, his love for medieval architecture, and his desire to make “superior wines in a magnificent setting”to build Castello di Amorosa, Castle of Love.

PB120076

My husband, Edward and I love travel photography.  These are my photos from out trip to Castello di Amorosa.

Napa Valley

We visited the Castello in mid-November.  It was a relaxing drive through Napa Valley, California.  Thirty of the Castello’s sounding 171 acres of land are dedicated to growing grapes.  The golden leaves on the vines glowed with the morning sun.

Castello Di Amorosa Chickens

A couple of cottages frame the path leading to the castle.  The animals in residence act more regal here.  Even the chickens seem to hold their heads higher as they cross the road of the Castello.

Castello Di Amorosa Gargoyle

This gargoyle guards the Castello gate.

Castello Di Amorosa Drawbridge

Cross the drawbridge over the mote to enter Castello di Amorosa.

Castello Di Amorosa Rooftops

Check in at the Castello.  The tours include wine tasting.  The tours are very popular. Tickets can be reserved ahead of time.

Castello Di Amorosa Courtyard

This is the vaulted loggia along the main courtyard.  It leads to the lower courtyard and the chapel.   Apartments for the Nobles overlook the courtyard.  The Castello has three courtyards.

Castello Di Amorosa Dining Hall

Castello di Amorosa’s Great Hall is a magnificent display period class and style.  The doors to the Great Hall are adorned with over 2000 hand-forged nails, a show of social standing.  Frescoes grace the wall with stories of life and love.  Pizza could be served here hot, right out oven that’s outside the hall doors.

Dragon Sconce

All of the Castello’s ironwork was hand-forged by Italian artisans.

Castello Di Amorosa Tower

Some of the Castello’s medieval elements include it’s five defensive towers with battlements, ramparts, stables, a prison and a torture chamber.

Castello Di Amorosa Wine Seller

The Castello di Amorosa has has eight levels, four above ground and four below.  Two thirds of it’s 121,000 square footage are underground.  Of the Castello’s 107 rooms, 95 are devoted to wine making.

Castello Di Amorosa Banquet Setting

Castello di Amorosa specializes in producing small lots of superior quality wines.  The Castello’s wine is only sold at the winery or shipped directly to customers.

Fancy Grape Juice

I tasted the wine.  My favorite wine was the La Fantasia.  It’s a sweet fruity sparkling wine that’s low alcohol.  We also tried the grape juice.  It was the best grape juice I had ever tasted.  We ended up buying a bottle of grape juice.

PB130222_pp2.jpg

Next time we visit, I’ll have to bring a few outfits for a fancy photo shoot.  Edward loves when I model for him.  It would also be good to arrive much earlier, so we can get more shots before the crowds show up.

Castello Di Amorosa Backdoor

We had a fun photo trip and got a lot of great shots.  Castello di Amorosa is an extraordinary castle in a beautiful setting.

Bucket of Mud

Bucket of Mud

I have a bucket of mud.  This is special mud.  It has the potential to become something else, something new.

I filled my bucket with rocks and pebbles, bone dry scraps of Navajo Wheel clay.  Then, I added water.  I could hear the fizzing of the rocks soaking up the water and releasing little bubbles of air.  The rocks dissolved.  As the mud settled to the bottom of my bucket, I added more rocks and more water.  Eventually, my bucket was full of mud.

I’m turning this mud into workable clay.  The trick is to get the clay to the right consistency.  It has to be dry enough to hold it’s shape and wet enough to be malleable.  It takes the right mix of time and energy.

This is my first blog.  Like my bucket of mud, my blogs will take time and energy to develop.  Will they become brilliant inspiring works of art or overly glorified handicrafts?  I don’t know.  I invite you to join me as I find out.