Site Redesign and Art Update

Hi, everybody! You can’t see it yet, but I’m working on a revamp of my site. My web guy has gotten pulled further into his day job for the time being. So I thought, “Why not jump start my blog while we wait?”

I have been wanting to do this for a while, but I have had issues sparing the mental bandwidth to do so. As an experiment, I started my day by handwriting this copy at the very start of my day. So far, so good.

It has been almost 18 months since my last entry and, believe it or not, a lot has happened since then. Here are the highlights – at least the ones that will be relevant to this blog:

I drifted away from the part-time art classes and I started working full time for a growing publisher called Booktrope.

I applied and was accepted into the MFA Painting program at SCAD Atlanta. As the enrollment date approached, it became clear that the only financial aid I would have access to would be in the form of student loans. It was then that I decided not to proceed with an MFA at SCAD Atlanta. Please don’t misunderstand. It’s a fantastic school with an amazing network of alums, but I just couldn’t square the numbers.

2013 Tuition - $33,750 @ 3 years = $101, 250.


Loans – $20,500 (Unsubsidized Direct Loan) + $21, 873 (Optional Graduate PLUS Loan)

= $42,373

(And 3 years of that = $127,119 (!!!))


While I have confidence that I probably could have found a clever way to pay that off, it made more sense to design my own “program of study” which includes developing my own knowledge / skill base and network of contacts, free from the yoke of crushing debt.

2013 has had a few creative bright spots, but my plan is to get more active and to use my blog as an accountability tool.

So far this year I have:

* Worked on 4 painting projects.* Visited the

Girl with a the Pearl Earring / Dutch masters show at de Young museum

in San Francisco. (The paintings were so jewel-like and the staging was impressive. The paintings seemed to have been lit from the inside!) * Attended a

coptic binding

workshop at

Straw Hat Press

. * Joined

Leisa Rich


Artistic Genealogy trial workshop



. (I’d really like to take the longer, two-day version in the future.) * Took part in

Art Is King

at the

Atlanta Tech Village

and I gave

a quick interview

for the

Art Life

project. * I designed the cover art for the re-release of

Diana McLellan


The Girls: Sappho Goes to Hollywood

. (Design reveal coming soon!)

It feels good to see some of this written out and I hope to do more over the course of the next year. Coming up next: I will walk though more specifics about what I plan to do with this blog and how it will benefit both you and me. (Well, that’s assuming you’re interested in art. Otherwise, I’m not entirely sure you will like consuming any of this content.)


“Your eyeballs may explode..."

Artsy Shark published an article this summer about Threadless. I never really looked into the process before, but if your design is chosen for shirt you can make $2,000.

Once you get through the initial submission and pass (i.e you've followed all the guidelines, don't submit inappropriate or copyrighted material, etc.) the design is placed on the website, open to voting by all site visitors. Of course, at this point you can use social media to drive your contacts to Threadless for votes. The designs with the top votes each week are then voted on by the staff at Threadless. This process whittles the selection from several hundred for about 10 new designs which make it onto t-shirts for sale each week.

I never knew about this process and I might give it a whirl. That's where I bought my zombie Audrey Hepburn t-shirt!

Heart Project (1)

Recently I visited my storage shed and pulled out a few portfolios of work from college and the time before I lived in Japan. Among these is an example of the paintings I did on wood which incorporated carving. I had to abandon this kind of work when I went to Japan and shortly after I returned because I had no space to work in which would allow for woodcutting and gluing cradleboards. Not only that, transportation and shipping were also problematic.

When I found the work, "Up My Sleeve" from 2004, I was pretty excited.

I found this square of plywood at Lowes. It was so ugly, discolored and filled with cracks and worm holes. But once you cut below the surface, there was a yellow-ish layer. Very exciting! It is almost like a yellow cake with chocolate icing. I put it away in storage and have not touched it in almost six years!

I picked it up and carried it back to the apartment last weekend and placed it where I could see it every day. After thinking about it, I want to better incorporate the carved elements and the painting into a unified plane. At the time I made this I was very interested in wood block printmaking. More specifically, I was interested in the wooden matrix left over after the printing was done. I began a few projects exploring this idea, but I could never quite get the two to mesh.

Hopefully I will be able to re-work this piece. I plan to chronicle the process here. In this post you can see the state of this work as I type this entry. This is the first time I´ve done this, but I´m hoping to make this a kind of warm up for my upcoming painting vlogs. The videos should be coming along shortly as we have started assembling a station of sorts around the eMac in the kitchen.

Living with a Star

Last week NASA released new hi-def pictures of the sun. These were taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory(or SDO), launched in February 2010, the SDO is part of NASA´s Living with a Star (LWS) program. How great of a name is that?! The mission of LWS is to "study those aspects of the connected Sun-Earth system that directly affect life and society." Pretty interesting stuff. Between this and the launch of the super secret X-37 this past week has been pretty crazy regarding space news.

To pull this back to the subject of art, it´s interesting to see how far NASA has progressed in terms of their photographic technology. In fact, they have created a handy chart to show the difference in resolution between technology civilians have access to as well as previous things they've used for space photography.

I wonder what kinds of photos NASA would be able to take of Earth with the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Griffiths / Desiderio

Oil painting is a nasty business. I personally admire people who can do it. People who have the patience to deal with the stickiness, the solvents, the fact that their work doesn't simply dry are of a far more patient ilk than I.

During one of my painting studio classes at UGA my professor, Margaret Morrison, was able to have a visiting lecturer, Vincent Desiderio, come to our class and speak about rendering figures in oil paintings. I liked what he had to say. If you have a look at his paintings, it´s quite obvious that he is devoted to creating oil paintings in a classical style.

Super simple summary of the process: first, the painter lays down a ground on the canvas. These days painters generally use gesso, a thick, chalky paint. Gesso works to prime the canvas and seal it, protecting it from the oil paint which, if given enough time, will eventually eat through the fabric. (To visualize it, think of the effect a greasy burger and fries have on a brown paper bag.) After this, a traditional painter will begin to build their painting by painting a thin layer of color. Usually a brown or an umber. Then the painter will build up color by painting in layers. Paint a layer of shadows, wait for it to dry. Paint some midtones, wait for it to dry, etc. This is why so many classic oil paintings (and the works of those inspired by the old masters) tend to have very dramatic lighting. They´re often building the lightforms emerging from the darkness.

Even though I don´t like using oil paint, I enjoy the work of skilled oil painters. Every time I see a traditionally rendered oil painting, it reminds me of Desderio's comments about the importance of light. He referred to the the point where a curved shape shifts from light to dark as "the turning." Capturing The Turning makes all the difference.

I was reminded of this the other day when I was introduced to the work ofMitch Griffiths.

According to the press release for his upcoming show, The Promised Land:Griffiths uses a traditional, almost forgotten style of painting, inspired by the light and composition of Old Master paintings, but he uses this style to depict the issues concerning 21st-century British society. His main subject is the transient and throwaway nature of contemporary culture, which is held in stark contrast to the permanence and indelibility of oil paint on canvas.

Griffiths says: “Once you paint a MacDonald’s burger box in oil paint, it becomes important and immortal. It’s a permanent mark of the disposable.”

This exhibition references 21st-century Britain and, taking the Union Jack as the recurring theme, it explores the inflammatory nature of what the flag represents alongside what Griffiths perceives to the overriding concerns of today’s society: consumerism and self-obsession followed by the need for redemption.

Griffiths cleverly employs the painstaking method of traditional oil painting to chronical the downfall of an empire. He builds these beautiful narritives about the middle class using a medium which was once exclusively reserved for capturing the idealized likenesses of royalty.

Desiderio, on the other hand, uses the uses traditional oil painting to elevate his subjects and the moment in which they exist. His investment of time and materials express the depth of emotion within the picture plane.

Seeing the works of both painters makes me want to get better at painting and rendering the human form while telling a story.

Circle Sushi

Last Friday I went to Circle Sushi, a local and highly reviewed sushiya-san in Sandy Springs. It may be silly, but I had been looking forward to that dinner all week. In addition to kabocha tempura, tofu and makizushi, we ordered not one, but two small bottles of Yaegaki Nigori sake. For those unfamiliar with sake,nigori-style sake is unfiltered. Instead of being clear, nigori sake is cloudy because the the solids which are created by the fermentation process are not filtered out. And it´s a much sweeter drink because of this. I was especially excited because on their sake menu,Circle Sushi has Yaegaki Nigori and in tiny Japanese font 兵庫 was written next to it. 兵庫 = Hyogo, the prefecture (or state) I used to live in in Japan. Once we got the bottle I read the copy on the back. The English was quite different from the Japanese. In Japanese the manufacturer made a point of mentioning that this sake was made in Himeji (姫路), the exact city I used to live in. Local specialities are not as big of a selling point in the U.S., so the English played up the "Japaneseness" of the product.

Drinking the sake made me miss Himeji and my friends who are still there. In terms of Japanese cities, Himeji isn´tthat large. Its population is a smidge lower than that of Atlanta. (To put it in perspective, Tokyo has a population of about 13 million and Osaka has about 3 million people, making the 530K-ish populations of Himeji and Atlanta quaint.)

I was lucky enough to be involved with a very active group of creative people in Himeji. While it´s on my mind, I thought I would give a bit of space here to promote a few of these folks:

Ryoko Ami: International traveller and educator. Ryoko is a prolific photographer and craft artist. At the moment she is currently charged with teaching the childen of Japanese employees working abroad in Guadalajara, Mexico.

She is quite dedicated to journaling and keeping an up-to-date blog. She created a new blog to chronicle her experience in Mexico. In her free time, Ryoko makes many different crafts. A short time ago she created a series of handmade books.

Hiroko Fujimoto: Small business owner and graphic designer. Her small speciality shop, Horn, imports interesting items from all over Japan and the world.

Kaori Hasegawa: Graphic designer / small business owner / creative facilitator. Kaori owns and operates Nayakobo, a full service graphic design and web design business. Naya also incorporates a large inner space which is often used for teaching, exhibitions, creative meet-ups and networking sessions. Centrally located, Naya has an amazing view of Otemae Park and Himeji Castle.

Emiko Yamada: Photographer. Emiko works primarily in digital photography, focusing on portraiture and building narratives through several series of photos. Emiko and I collaborated on the EMerge exhibition before I left Japan.

A Quick Translation Note: Most of these pages are presented in Japanese. This shouldn´t deter you from checking them out. If you use Firefox, there is a great application called Rikaichan. I use it almost daily. As you float the cursor over different words a bubble with a translation of the Japanese text will pop up on the screen. If you want to translate large blocks of text, I suggest using Monash University´s WWWJDIC site. It will not produce whole paragraphs like babelfish or google translate, however, it will help you to avoid weird machine translated English.

I hope to return to Himeji some time in the next year or so. In the meantime, I'm brainstorming ways to create international projects with the Himeji group via the web.


My obsession with volcanoes rivals my obession with trees. I loveunusual trees and unassuming volcanoes. From what I´ve read, the Eyjafjallajokull wasn´t dormant, but it was/is usually quiet enough that people feel comforable living near it and getting close enough to take amazing photos.

When the eruption happened a few days ago, I frantically searched for high resolution photos of the event.

This week The Boston Globecovered the breaking story on their weekly feature, "The Big Picture."

I highly recommend adding this RSS feed to your reader or just adding this site to your regular rotation because they always cover interesting stories and they are true to the name: the pictures are always quite large. It´s a welcome relief after reading most mainstream media websites which always attach small, low-resolution snaps to their copy.

The Eyjafjallajokull eruption reminds me of when I visited Mount Aso volcano in Japan. The soil surrounding the volcano is great for planting, so the area is rather rural and full of farms. There are also lots of hot springs. Making it a popular place for tourists. Aso-san ("-san" being the moniker attached to volcano names in Japan - this is not the same as "your name-san." Rather it is the Chinese character for "mountain") is an active volcano. But it´s pretty quiet. There are kiosks with gift shops and restrooms and parking built on the side of the mountain. Once you´ve parked you can walk to the top and look into the crater. All that is separating you from the acid green liquid below is a series of wooden stakes with ropes connecting them. Compared to the green at the foot of the mountain, the sides of the volcano look like the moon and stink of sulfur. Next to the ropes stand small shrines where one can make wishes or offers to the spirit inside the mountain.

With all of the earth-changes this year, I hope everyone will become more mindful of their surroundings and stay safe. If you happen to have a camera on you, chronicle the event with lots of pictures.

Sustainable Art

Fuseproject is participating in the Salone del Mobile in Milan this year and their team has created these amazing "crystals" made from recycled paper and LED lights. According to the Fuseproject website: For our 4th collaboration with Swarovski debuting at Salone del Mobile we wanted to try something a bit different. While our previous large scale lighting sculptures have showcased the crystal in a grand scale, with this latest project we wanted to bring the notion of accessibility and sustainability to crystal lighting.

It is a pursuit in our work to try to achieve the maximum effect with the minimum amount of materials and energy: we want to create consciously and conscientiously and yet there is a need for beauty. So the challenge is to re-think how to achieve the magical effect of many crystals on a chandelier: can we amplify a single crystal and create an entire chandelier?

Traditional chandeliers are made of numerous lights and crystals, we wanted to change this equation: 1 crystal + 1 low energy LED light + a faceted paper shade = AMPLIFY. Resulting in multiple beautiful reflections and rainbow color bursts…Just what is expected from crystal, but this time the effect is amplified to get the most out of just one crystal.

AMPLIFY is a beautiful single crystal light, or it can be grouped to create a bigger effect.

We designed 6 different shapes, each one carefully crafted to maximize refractions on the inner surfaces. This effect can be seen on the faceted shade material, thus emulating the cut and reflective nature of the crystal inside. Each chandelier becomes its own large glowing crystal.

The AMPLIFY chandelier’s aim is to put the Swarovski crystal effect into the hands of more people through the simple construction, easily accessible light source and sustainable material. Each of the chandeliers will be available in production from Swarovski in the next year. To continue to amplify the concept of accessible crystal, each of the six unique lantern shapes are housed in a flat package that echoes the shape of the chandelier it contains. The packaging graphics are simple and illustrative to reflect the different shade shapes and components contained inside.

The Swarovski Crystal Palace MilanAMPLIFY launch exhibit will present 50 AMPLIFY chandeliers, contained in a black lacquered room as a large sculptural cluster, emerging from the dark with blazing crystal effects, yet sustainable.

Fuseproject blog

Dream Entry

I dreamt about the sun this morning. I´m sure that´s because of all the weird stuff I´ve been reading lately. There´s a theory on the conspiratorial news sites that I like reading. The theory is that there will be a huge CME – Cornal Mass Ejection soon. The thought is that this is what the huge 2012 event is going to be. It will be triggered by gravity pushing on the magnetic bubble created by the sun. These outside forces are supposed to make the sun act like a pressure cooker.I was thinking about this today after I read about Caleb Charland’s science photography earlier today. Especially when I saw his Circle with Matches. In my dream the sun was huge and brighter than usual so I used an index card to cover the main body of the sun. With it covered I could see smoky tentacles coming out of the sides.

I hunted for a bit and found an awesome page of photos of the sun on The Boston Globe´s The Big Picture. I adjusted one to look a little closer to the image I had in mind:

The coronal curls in my dream were much more energetic than this. But you get the idea.

AIDS Awareness Posters from France

I was reading something on of all places New Scientist magazine online.

These are some lovely AIDS awareness posters from France:

Don't worry about the Japanese, though. I tried to find the poster online, but it apparently is gonna take a bit more searching. However, please enjoy this video designed to encourage young people in Japan to take AIDS very seriously and get tested (anonymously and for free).

Vigilante Justice: Japanese Old People Style

I had a big Japanese test this weekend. I had been studying a little bit every day, but I was cramming from after work on Friday until very  early on Sunday morning. I didn't sleep on Saturday, and I didn't go to bed until late on Sunday so I was dead at work on Monday. I thought maybe I could squeeze in an hour or so for a nap before my English class on Monday night. I woke up about 20 minutes after when I was supposed to have met the family. In a panic I gathered my coloring sheets and electronic dictionary and ran out the door. I went to open the gate to go out into the street and saw a tumbleweed sitting there. It was carefully placed on the stoop (or whatever you'd call the poured concrete that is 2 inches tall and only extends about 2.5 feet from my gate).

I'm pretty sure that this was a message.

I think someone pulled the old grass/ dead weeds from either a: the crack in the ground under my mailbox where grass comes out or b: the ditch that runs along the side of my house. Then they quickly formed them into a tumbleweed about as big around as a steering wheel.

I was in a hurry and didn't have time for this, so I ran off for my appointment.

When I came back the tumbleweed had blown perfectly into the center of the small intersection a few feet south of my house. I went inside and left it there.

I got up this morning, in a hurry again, to get to school.

The tumbleweed had been placed back in front of the gate.

Not really thinking I picked it up and threw it beside the gate, on the inside.

It hit me when I got to work what I should do with the tumbleweed.

If this person was OCD enough to do this, then I think it would be the best placed the tumbleweed next to the gate on the inside. If I left it out on the street side eventually someone would begrudgingly pick it up and throw it away (much like the time someone placed a small bag of dog shit that they had apparently poop-n-scooped during their dog's walk -- I took that bag and slung it into the intersection. It was gone the next day). But if I had left it in a spot clearly visible on the inside of the gate that would probably send someone off the deep end.

The Theory of Everything

The theory of everything has been put forth by someone who's got a lot of time on his hands - a surfer dude who probably has a lot of quiet time and space to contemplate what makes up the fabric of reality itself.

The group of symmetries of this strange geometry called E8 is one of the most intriguing structures that Nature has left for the mathematician to play with," commened Prof Marcus du Sautoy of Oxford University, currently in Auckland. "Most of the time mathematical objects fit into nice patterns that we can order and classify. But this one just sits there like a huge Everest.

What makes this group of symmetries so exciting is that Nature also seems to have embedded it at the heart of many bits of physics. One interpretation of why we have such a quirky list of fundamental particles is because they all result from different facets of the strange symmetries of E8. I find it rather extraordinary that of all the symmetries that mathematician’s have discovered, it is this exotic exceptional object that Nature has used to build the fabric of the universe. The symmetries are so intricate and complex that today’s announcement of the complete mapping of E8 is a significant moment in our exploration of symmetry.

E8 has been used to explain forces in the universe - like gravity - and how they all work together in a single unified theory.

The ways that E8 manifests itself as a symmetry group are called representations. The goal is to describe all the possible representations of E8. These representations are extremely complicated, but mathematicians describe them in terms of basic building blocks. The new result is a complete list of these building blocks for the representations of E8, and a precise description of the relations between them, all encoded in a matrix, or grid, with 453,060 rows and columns. There are 205,263,363,600 entries in all, each a mathematical expression called a polynomial. If each entry was written in a one inch square, then the entire matrix would measure more than seven miles on each side.

The result of the E8 calculation, which contains all the information about E8 and its representations, is 60 gigabytes in size. This is enough to store 45 days of continuous music in MP3-format. If written out on paper, the answer would cover an area the size of Manhattan. The computation required sophisticated new mathematical techniques and computing power not available even a few years ago.

It's hard to wrap my head around this stuff, but it's really impressive to see all of this math, all of these calculations, together in a single visual representation.

Dream Entry

So I should have written about my dream sooner, I guess.  I was looking at news online today and saw that the Orionids meteor shower to supposed to peak early Sunday morning. In my dream, giant meteors were flying through the dusky sky. At first I was watching them from the back of my dad's house.  (Well, the dream version of the house.)  I had pushed open the sliding glass door and was trying to watch them, although only half-heartedly doing it because I was trying to figure out what I should do next.  I had the BBC documentary when they showed Berlin getting slammed by meteors in my head: 

The strange thing is that the overhang on the back of the house only goes out about a foot, but I was standing far enough in the house that I could only hear the meteors and not see them.  I could see that the sky was turning red too.

Jump to the next scene where I must have been looking for members of my family, but I could only find my youngest sister, Sarah.  I was trying to tell her about the meteors as we were on a large bus.  They started streaking across the sky and she freaked out and ran up the aisle of the bus from which we could suddenly see a full panorama of the sky.  Kind of like the whole roof of the bus had suddenly disappeared, but the floor and the wheels and everything was still there and moving.  The sun must have been setting because the sky was orange and red and the meteors were big and like big broken pieces of concrete.  Like big pieces of a highway.  The rocks were very low in the sky and almost car-sized, yet I didn't see or hear any of them crash.  (Also, a large white circular spinning UFO flew by too.)

Lately, since I've been so busy, most of my dreams kind of rehash what I did during the day, or I live a scenerio from a movie or TV show that I watched.  (When I woke up this morning, I was having a dream that could have been a story on the Japanese TV show I've been downloading called At Home Dad.)  But this meteor dream must have come from somewhere else.  Lord knows it didn't come from the J-news (the only thing I watch on broadcast TV here).  In the mornings before work I watch Mezamashi Terebi. And the thing I noticed about the news here and at home is that both places tend to have their heads planted firmly in their asses.  I mean, if the news here is given the choice to report on a crisis in Africa versus, say, a noodle festival in Kanagawa, they're going for that noodle festival, dammit. Don't believe me?  My morning news is good in that there is a clock at the top of the screen to tell me what time it is.  But they follow the same segment schedule every day. So by the time they show "kyo no wanko" ("Today's Puppy,")

I have five minutes till I need to be out the door.

Rainy Day at Work

Here I am sitting on my empty row again at work. Of course, I have other things I should be doing. My expensive Japanese textbooks came yesterday. I could be studying those, but as I said before, my motivation is still pretty much non-existent. I would have snuck home for a little break, but it has been raining this morning. I think this is happening because I cut my hair so short. I can't wear it down on days like this, no matter what length it is. In other news, I came home from work the other day to find that I have been moved from the unwashed masses and have become a Silver Elite member of NWA worldperks program.

I finally have an actual card instead of the paper print out that you usually have to use to get credit for miles. It's sparkly! Actually, I might have only gotten that card because it came from their Asia-Pacific offices where they still care about customer service.

Anywho, my account says that I have 54,576 miles since enrollment. I'm pretty sure I flew most of that. There are a few bonuses thrown in the mix. Like the time I got stuck in Detroit. They gave me credit for the flight to Atlanta that day even though it was cancelled. And I played the online Spin the Wheel game today and got 60 miles for a trivia game. I still need to figure out where I'm going to go with my free miles. I either want to go to another island in the Okinawa group or Hokkaido again so I can see Asahikawa Zoo. It's the most famous zoo in Japan.

Other than that, I've been trying my best to think about what I'll be doing when I get back. I don't want to be one of those people that leaves here without a plan and becomes a temp in perpetuity. Eff that. I've been giving a lot of thought to doing some Spanish classes on the side. I want to continue my Japanese studies, but realistically I don't know what good they'll do me unless I teach here or some kind of international cultural relations. Spanish would be super useful, at least in the mid-term. I've been trying to find distance learning stuff online. UGA has a program. I remembered after I thought about all the distance learning stuff I had to sort as it came in from prisoners all over the US when I worked at the GA Center for Continuing Education. They have Accelerated Elementary Spanish course.

Crowd Farm

Two MIT grads propose a way to harness the energy created by crowds to generate power.

In principal, a large-scale version of the setup could harness the collective energy of commuters bustling toward subway stations , shoppers marching through mega malls or fans dancing at a rock concert. Already, the students have shown how the simple act of sitting on a stool can generate enough power to turn on four LED lights.

If They Leave...

Baptists turn from public schoolsYonat Shimron, Staff Writer Published: Aug 26, 2007

Convinced that God has been erased from public schools, Southern Baptists are now working to open their own schools, where Jesus is writ large and Bible study is part of the daily curriculum.

Church leaders are not calling for a wholesale exodus from public schools, which would be a monumental hit, considering that Southern Baptists make up the nation's largest Protestant denomination with 16 million members.

Rather, they talk about alternatives to public schools capable of educating a new generation ready and willing to advocate for biblical principles rather than popular culture.

"In the public schools, you don't just have neutrality, you have hostility toward organized religion," said Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest. "A lot of parents are fed up."

Southeastern is leading the push, sponsoring a Christian School 101 workshop Monday and Tuesday. The program is designed to train church leaders to open private schools.

At Southeastern and elsewhere, Southern Baptists have become convinced that fighting to change the system is futile. They say public schools have long demonstrated a commitment to teaching evolution over creationism, world faiths over Christianity, sex education over abstinence, moral relativism over Christian claims of truth.

A history of alienation

The denomination's disenchantment with public schools is not new. It dates to the 1920s, when states debated the teaching of creationism vs. evolution.

Evolution increasingly won, despite the famous Scopes Monkey Trial in Tennessee, which gave the victory to creationists. The 1962 and 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decisions banning prayer and devotional readings from public schools only increased Southern Baptists' ire.

Since then, alienation with public schools has grown alongside the nation's culture wars, pitting evangelical Christians against secularists.

"Southern Baptists see the new religious establishment in this country as secularism," said Bill Leonard, dean of the divinity school at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. "It dictates pluralism and diversity of values relative to doctrine, politics and sexual values."

Southeastern seminary is fighting back. Ten years ago, it launched a master's degree program in Christian school administration to help train principals.

"Are we going to be satisfied with the thousands of hours children spend in an environment with the absence of support for what we hold dear, and in many cases, hostility to it?" asked Ken Coley, a professor at Southeastern who runs the master's program for Christian school administrators.

The 40 or so people who have signed up for the workshop Monday are church leaders primarily from small North Carolina towns, where there are few private Christian schools. They include the Rev. Ed Rose, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Wendell. Rose, whose church sits next to a 4,000-home development called Wendell Falls, sees an opportunity in fast-growing eastern Wake County.

"All our studies show the demand is off the charts," he said.

The Triangle supports at least 15 private Protestant schools, most of which are not exclusively Baptist but enroll large numbers of children whose parents belong to Baptist churches. North Raleigh Christian Academy, the largest of the Triangle schools, enrolls 1,290 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. About 55 percent are Baptist, said Superintendent S. L. Sherrill.

Many of these schools bear little relation to those founded after the desegregation battles of the 1970s, when many Baptists pulled their children out of public schools to avoid forced busing and integration.

At North Raleigh Christian Academy, 5 percent of the student body is African-American, and its nondiscrimination policy is prominently displayed on its Web site.

"That's an area in our strategic plan we'd love to see improve," said Sherrill, referring to black enrollment.

Southern Baptist leaders are careful to reiterate that they have no desire to harm the public schools or offend its workers, many of whom are proud Southern Baptists. And indeed, many Southern Baptists are quite happy with their children's public education.

"Enloe High School is a great school," said Thomas Dresser, referring to the Raleigh public school that his daughter, Virginia, attends. "It's real diverse, and there's lots of opportunities. I think it's possible to get a good education about your faith at home. It's not essential you get it at school."

Values in the classroom

For an increasing number of religiously conservative parents who are fearful of what they say is the culture's permissive drift, private schools look attractive. "We've had no issues with smoking, drinking or drugs," said Kathy Filidoro of Raleigh, who sent her four children to Friendship Christian School in Raleigh, an offshoot of Friendship Baptist Church on Falls of the Neuse Road. "My children love God and want to serve him."

For many parents, traditional values, rather than Christian values, drive their choices. Wanda Martin sent her two daughters to North Raleigh Christian Academy because she wanted them to respect their teachers, dress modestly and avoid the glorification of pop culture idols such as Britney Spears.

"As a parent, I want to teach them decent behavior in society," she said.

Others say the private schools are more academically rigorous and benefit from lower teacher-student ratios. Most of their graduates go to college. That, too, is part of the attraction. Southern Baptists want to train their children to compete in today's culture while carrying the mantle of their faith.

"Most evangelicals are biblically ignorant and uninformed," said Edward E. Gamble, director of the Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools, a Florida outfit that is hosting this week's workshop. "We think it's time we took ownership of the education of our children."

On Motivation and Coloring Books for Adults

I've hit a low point in my motivation this week.  I don't know what it is.  Maybe a third or fourth wave of culture shock.  I feel really cranky and my Japanese speaking skills are still not great.  Which is enhanced by the willingness of around me having no problem commenting on how silly I sound.

I was online today searching for stuff for the English lesson I have to do tonight.  I work with a family for an hour each monday.  Four kids, aged 11, 9, 6, and 4.  They're  sweet, but the two youngest are manic as hell.  No matter what game I come up with at some point the 6 yr old or the 4 year old (either taking turns or at the same time) start crying.  I then have to refuse to play and just wait for the 11 year old to police the situation. Which is what they seem to want any way.  Still it's frustrating because I'm planning activities way below the 11 year old's level and when I do stuff that's accessible for the younger children it always ends in fighting.

I end up getting paid about 4,000 yen (about $35) for sticking out the hour.  I just wonder what the mother thinks when she hears the screaming and stuff from the other room.  My guess is that she's in the kitchen, drinking a beer and watching the clock.  Happy for her one hour off a week.

After many weeks of making my best attempt at planning games, I'm going back to one of my favorites: coloring.  The kids love it, I love it.  There's no bickering - save for who gets which color.

I decided to mix it up today and searched for Japanese webpages with coloring activities.  I'll write the English names of objects next to the pictures and run off copies.  In searching, I remembered how popular coloring books for adults are in Japan.  My guess is that it's a good stress reliever.  You can check out the page I found here.  If that's not enough you can always copy and paste 大人塗り絵 (otona nurie) into Google.

My most favorite page, though, is the colorable lessons for kids. Little slogans.  Like, "Let's wash our hands," or "Let's brush our teeth."  They also have "Poop in the toilet!"