(Feb 20, 2018) It’s been two weeks since the Patriots lost the Super Bowl and we headed out on our combination book tour, cross country sightseeing trip. We’re in the Southeastern United States in search of a new place to live due to historically cold, grey and inclement winter weather in Massachusetts, even though 67 degrees is predicted for tomorrow, February 21 says the Weather Channel.  We were going to leave on Super Bowl Sunday if the Patriots were not in the classic, but since they were, we left Monday morning instead and mercifully escaped all the football fans and WEEI pundits lamenting the loss, debating the “if only”, “what if”, and why Malcolm Butler was benched.

This much is known:  Arlyn Hope Halpern, my wife, has published her spiritual memoir of healing, Dancing into the Light  and is speaking at various book clubs, reading from, signing and selling the book.  Check out the reviews at Amazon!  March 10 she’ll be at the acclaimed Tucson Book Festival  in Arizona.

We have spent countless hours meandering and dining on the various River Walks in the Carolinas, most recently in Savannah, South Carolina, and drove over various bridges, including Coosawhatchie River, a tidal river which originated near the towns of Allendale and Fairfax.  So many towns and rivers have Indian names like Coosawhatchie not to be confused with the Chattahooche River in Georgia.  Further on in our trip, through Florida, we did not make it to the Econlockhatchee River, near Orlando, but sure wish we had.  I grew up near Cochituate, a section of Wayland, 16 miles west of Boston.  Cochituate means “swift river” in the Algonquin language, and Lake Cochituate, it’s most notable feature, consists of four ponds connected by narrow, shallow waterways and is actually located in the towns of Natick and Framingham along with Wayland. I earned by Senior Lifesavings Certificate there, after two attempts.  My mother wouldn’t let me get off the hook  after my first try.

Savannah is a truly charming Southern town originally designed to be a classless city, a place of hope and refuge for Britain’s poor in 1733 by British General James Oglethorpe.  It’s downtown historic district is beautiful with numerous squares and monuments like one of James Madison, and features old oak trees with Spanish moss draping its limbs.  Cobblestone streets at the RiverWalk are reminiscent of Boston’s Faneuil Hall and Portland, Maine.

We learned Savannah is the setting of the famous book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” and also the home of a number of religious institutions like the oldest black church in North America, the First African Baptist Church, and Congregation Mickve Israel, the third oldest Jewish congregation in America, founded in 1733.  Sephardic Jews settled in Savannah shortly after the first settlers came over in 1733 (but curiously there was no mention of this distinction in the otherwise excellent Genteel & Bard  historic walking tour which we took on Sunday morning).  We did learn that there are ghosts in Savannh, as there are ghosts in New Orleans and other Southern cities clamor imag for the travelers’ attention and dollars.

All this history about early settlers, the etymology of place names and pioneers has given me thought that joining a local historical society may be a future pursuit of mine.  What better way to preserve, explore and celebrate our living, cultural institutions, and teach our children that we are all one.


The hardest part of marketing

The hardest part of marketing that I faced in the many years that I practiced it in business settings was gaining approval from senior management on the final version prior to production.  Managers do funny things at final approval stage.  Some lose sight of everything that was approved at the kick off, some insert idiosyncratic preferences, or suddenly become paranoid or fearful that someone in the external audience will make a comment that causes someone internally (like their boss) to question their wisdom or judgment.  Vice Presidents in particular are up tight at the approval stage.

Trust in the people drives successful programs

Companies are so political.  Some managers are more controlling, less trustworthy and/or more insecure than others.  The best work that I (along with writers and designers) developed came from good clients who trusted their marketing communications contact (like me), rather than those managers who thought they had all the answers, or otherwise reacted without working as a team in the whole process.

Anybody interested in a GOSPA?

The freelance writers and designers and I worked quickly, often six or seven weeks from concept through to completion. It was the marketing and creative strategy document produced at the onset and signed off by management prior to copywriting and design that helped so often in receiving prompt sign off or approvals.  This two or three page strategy document was called a “GOSPA” (Goals – Objectives – Strategy – Plan – Activities).  It demonstrated to senior management (depending on the nature of the project it may have been Product Marketing, VP Sales or even the CEO or President) that the project was well-conceived and was not simply creative or designed for design sake.  Clients were getting a deliverable that addressed the situation; it was money well spent.  Writers and designers with whom I worked with loved the GOSPA as well.  It gave direction and set parameters for them to follow.  It was the plan for construction of the deliverable, like a contractor’s construction plans for a new home.  This was particularly important when it comes to direct marketing because it was results – responses based on dramatic offers – that defined the project’s success or failure, and set the stage for subsequent programs.  At Cisco Systems, I was an Offer Manager; it was my job to develop offers that drove response.  Offers were never price promotions or discounts.  Sometimes it was aligning Cisco product or services with other branded content that mirrored m staging and positioning.

The GOSPA defined the expectations and terms for approval.  It prevented a manager from changing course (at approvals time) on a whim, or without very good reason.  Dramatic changes at sign off changed timelines and deadline dates, and effected costs too; this was spelled out in the GOSPA for all to see and understand.

Two decades ago management had two or maybe three chances for review and approvals of content and design.  The GOSPA was laid out the agreed prioritized messaging, positioning, target audience/profile, concept, along with timeline based on assumptions and expectations.  Review should have been pretty easy.  At Progress Software, my GOSPAs were recognized as exemplary.

Review Cycles increase in the Internet Age

But in the last decade review cycles increased at least for me, at the firms that I worked at.  Why this occurred I’m not entirely sure.  It was either my ineffectiveness to manage my manager(s), or changes in review expectations, or a result of a different pace in business, or new technology.  I worked in a number of start ups and market conditions changed so quickly; one day during development all was good, and then it all changed.  In my last position, it was not unusual to have five or even six rounds of approval for a simple two-sided data sheet.  This was unnecessary.  It took away the joy of the marketing imagination and cost the company more money because of the amount of time incurred.

A writer who draws

Saul Steinberg, most famous as a cover artist for The New Yorker since 1941 says of himself in “The lines of Saul Steinberg’s mind” published in Chicago Reader (July 7, 2017) that he was “a writer who draws”.  Neither a cartoonist or illustrator (though he has been chacterised as both, and doesn’t consider himself either), we can all agree his style is unique.  Many of his drawings use text, “but the words don’t illuminate the images or vice versa”, instead the letters embody concepts or ideas or internal thoughts or perceptions, being both graphic and literary.  Influenced by architecture, inspired by a wide range of sources including maps, children’s art, calligraphy, handwriting, postcards and underground comics too,  he always maintained that he was an outsider, and tried to convey that in his art.  It’s his use of calligraphy and handwriting that has drawn me to his creations.

In my marketing communications/direct marketing days, primarily in the 1980’s and ’90’s at successful hardware and software firms, I enjoyed being able to choose freelance writers and designers, boutique agencies and creatives to work on my marketing programs.  Sometimes I paired up accomplished writers and designers who didn’t know each other, encouraging them to collaborate, like Bob Cargill of Cargil Creative , a former president of NEDMA, and now a social media pundit, along with Caryl Hull of Hull Creative . Both of them were wonderful to work with and produced memorable and successful programs.  I worked repeatedly with the established designer/writer team of Jory Mason and Don Crane of Crane Creative of the South Shore.  The two of them clicked and produced outstanding work as she was a visual thinker with a strong marketing sense, and he was a marketing writer with a strong design sensibility.   Sometimes it was her concept to write in a certain way, sometimes it was his notion to produce with certain colors, shapes and fonts.  Her grandfather, John R.Neill was a recognized pen and ink illustrator.  Both Jory and Don worked in legendary Boston ad agencies before going out on their own.  Most of our work was done at both Data General and Progress Software.  That was so much fun, brainstorming with both of them, and then sweating the details while staying on schedule and budget.  I remember showing my father, a small businessman some of my marketing collateral and mailers, and he always asked with a scrunched up facial expression, incredulously  “you get paid to do this?”  I guess if I had been a surgeon and saved someone’s life or a lawyer who argued a case that effected the welfare of many he would have been more impressed.

Sixteen years ago almost to the day (February 2, 2002 to be exact), I was introduced through e-mail to two individuals and their respective non profit organizations.  John Vitolo, an ornamental pen master of Bethesda, MD told me about  IAMPETH, and John DeCollibus of Westboro, MA, invited me to join both Masscribes, a supportive guild of calligraphers, lettering artists (maybe Steinberg could call himself that?) and art enthusiasts.  IAMPETH is a group of 1,100 ornamental pen men worldwide of The International Association of Master Penmen, Engravers and Teachers of Handwriting.

A few years back I joined Masscribes  and attended a potluck luncheon in Plymouth, MA one Sunday afternoon. Besides learning about calligraphy inks, papers and nibs, the metallic structure that “makes the mark”,  that produce the line of ink on to paper,  I saw holders like scroll nibs, mapping nibs, and elbow nibs for Copperplate writing,  I saw textured, smooth and colored papers from which to choose,  I met a calligraphic rock star, a young man who was the White House calligrapher in residence and heard stories about his 3-person staff and project work he produced:  invitations and menus to State dinners while workijg for then-president Barack Obama.

Now that it’s 2018, I can begin to get started with a class on Calligraphy and Illustration, to start out with the basics and make my mark, getting it right through patience, good teaching and practice, practice, practice.

Update, June 20, 2018: I have not been able to find a teacher and instead have a few books and YouTube videos to draw from in my pursuit.  Steinberg was self-taught, so maybe a Halpern can be self-taught as well.




My hero, Orr

I learned there is no perfect time in life to do the things that one wants to do; I didn’t want to have regrets that my father had late in his life when he regretted not living as much as he’d like before he was too old to do so.

I want to drive less and walk more. I want to continue to follow a spiritual path, belong to a synagogue, be active in a social cause, be of service to those who need a helping hand in order to sustain their lives.  As a copywriter I’m interested in fundraising.  I may volunteer in the sciences, either a non profit focused on cardiology or neurology or cognitive sciences or disabilities.  I’d like to build the readership of this blog using social media and networking. I’d like to take technical illustration and drawing classes, collect writing instruments and paraphernalia, and become a scribe, possibly in Hebrew.  I have numerous passages from our prayer book collected already and will start with these in the springtime.  I want to share with those close to me in my family, and with friends.

It wasn’t until the last few years that I started to develop interests outside of work, rather than holding them off until retired, in the future. With our financial advisor, we created a retirement plan. Part of the plan included moving away from the cold of Massachusetts.

How to escape and live well

Orr, a fictional character, a World War II bomber pilot in the farcical novel Catch-22, by Joseph Heller seemed to have handled his life’s struggles the right way.  He is one of my life heroes for how he surreptitiously managed to escape the war (and live happily ever after) while everyone thought he was crazy.   Every time he flew he crashed his plane.  When he eventually succeeded, he crashed his plane in the war near a neutral country like Sweden and the truth was revealed.  It wasn’t that he was a bad pilot; he was actually practicing how to crash and escape the war.  What a plan developed in plain sight of everyone else!  How clever!

Another hero

Andy Dufresne, the protagonist in Stephen King’s classic 1994 Shawshank Redemption movie is another hero of mine.  He cleverly planned his escape route another way, also in plain sight of his fellow prisoners, prison guards and warden. He was a model prisoner. He volunteered in the prison library, but faked out everyone, as he secretly carved out an escape route from deep inside his prison cell. He was given two life sentences for killing his wife and her lover, and had the time to devise a plan to escape.  He too developed a plan and succeeded.

I learned how to survive and even prosper at my last place of employment by adjusting my attitude, and accepting the position for what it was, rather than trying to bend it into something it was not or could not become. I had to re-invent myself in the process, learn some new tricks, and remain open and agile, and grateful for what I had instead of fantasies about what I didn’t.

The future is not today’s problem.  Nor is the past. It is best to keep my mind and body in the present, so that’s what I aim to do each day.  All I really have is today’s 24 hours and all I need to do is be open and let it happen in the day.  In the past I got emotional when things didn’t happen according to my mind.  No need to get stuck in it!  Tomorrow would come and I would deal with tomorrow when tomorrow came.

I gave notice last Tuesday. I’m retiring in a few weeks. There was surprise by senior management as I had given no indication that retirement was on my mind.  I’ll be 66 in a few weeks (February 3), and I have a plan for the beginning of the rest of my life.


Another River Styx

December 28, 2017:  My application for Social Security benefits was officially entered and accepted today; I join the millions and millions of others to join the ranks.  This new stage in my life reminded me of a presentation written and read by one of my oldest and dearest friends Nate Keedy when I turned 50 years old.  He called it “crossing the River Styx, joining the rest of us on the other side of 50”.  And now signing up for Social Security benefits is like crossing another River Styx.

Nate read his letter to me at a surprise 50th birthday party that my wife Arlyn gave me.  My brother and sister in law and a bunch of other friends converged at a Middle Eastern restaurant in Newtonville, MA.  I want to share parts of it:

“I met Richard in social work graduate school in 1976. So I have known him for over half of his life. I don’t know if that sounds good or bad. Back then we lived in a three decker in Somerville with two other roommates, Paul and Alan.  Richard was the studious one. He locked himself in his room, pouring over social work tomes all by himself with just his pipe while the rest of us enjoyed ourselves watching “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” and contemplating waxy yellow build up. He worked extremely hard in school and then the next year, dropped out. Richard forsook the field of social work to seek a greater fortune in business. Of course with today’s economy he probably wishes he’d stayed in social work.” (This was winter 2002.)

Well, I didn’t really look back after leaving Simmons School of Social Work.  And I am still the studious one, starting to research and make plans for new activities and pursuits as I re-invent myself nearing the ripe old age of 66.  I have a lot planned.  Most of it is in the works and I will share it here.  Of course, I still believe ” life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans” (John Lennon), so it’s going to take some initiative on my part and luck to ensure that my master plan comes to fruition.  Or maybe whatever happens will be just fine.  Who really knows what’s in store for anyone’s future, be it tomorrow or a decade hence.

Making up for lost time

Some of these planned activities, these engagements, these pursuits are “driven” by a sense of making up for lost time.  For example, when I made the mistake of entering graduate school in social work.  I was too young to do that.  Other mistakes and fears prevented me from doing other things in my tender years, so I will want to try new things as well.  I was too young and untested to be in social work grad school; I did not know what my real calling was then.   That was the gist of the lesson I learned there.  But if I hadn’t made this mistake, I would never have met Nate, nor about some of the lessons of life that have been pivotal for me.

(Several years back, I rounded up the old Somerville gang.  Alan was now living in Chicago, had published a few books to go along with PhD, and sent his regards, but Paul, Nate and I got together on several occasions meeting in Cambridge and New Jersey where Paul lived as a public policy publicist for the state university system of New Jersey.  Aside from his immediate manager, his group reported into Governor Chris Christie.  The three of us would have continued I’m sure if it weren’t for Paul’s untimely death while surfing in Fiji, commemorating his twenty fifth anniversary with his wife Susan.

As I look ahead, thinking about the future, I recall the mindfulness meditation teacher Mark Coleman, author of “Make Peace with Your Mind”. In it there is a poem called “Not Running From Here” which speaks of the importance of looking deep in oneself and not running away from yourself.

Here is a portion of the poem:

“You can always pretend.  Try putting on a face other than your own.  But that’s a game that’s never worked.   And only burns a deeper hole inside.

And when you touch the emptiness inside you’ve spent a lifetime running from.  This is the first step that begins the slow journey of completeness . … Keeps inviting you deeper into the roots of yourself.  Claiming your place that has always been waiting right here”.

So as Mark maintains, while I become older there is still a lot of work to be done psychically and emotionally so as to allow myself to journey onward and be of service to myself and others.













Organization and order

Striving for order helps organize the mind and set a course.

Starting in July 2007, I started organizing and loosely cataloging hard copy (print) news clippings, many from the New York Times, in large 2″ thick, 11″x17″ scrapbook-size binders with three “D” ring style metal rings and clear plastic top open inserts from Michael’s craft store.  Perusal of them, and one sees certain subjects appearing more than others. I’m on my fifth scrapbook now, surprising myself that I don’t have ten scrapbooks or more, ten years later.  The first clipping in the first scrapbook is an editorial by Frank Bruni of the New York Times Op-Ed page: ” A Profile in Cowardice” in which he criticizes then President Bush for exposing his true character appearing a tough-guy yet fundamentally a coward.  Since Bruni still writes for the Times, he could be writing about Trump in the same terms, and maybe he has done so already, or will.  But I digress.

I am a saver.  I always have been from my early years.  I clip coupons, I save articles. I save old clothes, some from high school days.  I save pennies, nickels and dimes in a little pink plastic container, the bottom half of a pink piggy bank, and when I accumulate a lot of coins I upend them into a glass jar and when nearly full with all the spare change, I take my coins to a coin counter at the supermarket and spend 8 cents per dollar, or to the community bank and total it all up at no cost, receiving a receipt for use in the store, or deposited back into my savings account. I have a collection of New England Monthly magazines and Direct Marketing magazines which were published decades ago. Luis Tiant, the colorful Boston Red Sox pitcher is pictured on the cover of New England Monthly and profiled in one of the issues.  I also collect shirt tags or labels which are stitched at the inside neck of the shirt.  I have a small matchbook collection saved for over fifty years including a real classic: it’s got six panels plus a cover that profiles the activities of one fictitious Elmer Slugg, a drunk.  I envision the day when I will seriously collect fountain pens, nibs or other decorative writing paraphernalia, but that’s not anything immediate.  There’s so much history about pens that I would first have to learn.  There are pen clubs and collectors worldwide who write, collect, trade and sell amongst themselves.

But back to the binders.

Since the clippings are not organized in any subject categories, i.e., politics, health, art, retirement, I have to wade through them all to see what I have clipped and saved.  The binders are more like a box, with all the clippings thrown in to it. Organization and order in particular is not my strong suit, though I’m working at it because order unclutters the mind.  Keeping binders filled with important articles of interest to me is a step in the right direction; but order with categories separated from each other, or placed alphabetically in the binder would make the binders more purposeful, more useful.

Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler writing about a hundred years ago provided three reasons to strive for order in one’s life:

1. Knowing things are well arranged creates a feeling of inner satisfaction and confidence that everything is under control.

2. Order helps you find things when you need them and saves you time in doing so.

3. Many things will function only if arranged correctly.

The subjects covered in the first binder are pretty consistent with the subjects in the other binders: it starts with an editorial from the New York Times that endorses Barack Obama for President, an editorial from David Brooks highlighting the effects of income inequality on political discourse and public policy, an obituary of a Rabbi Philip Berg, “an updated Jewish Kabbalah mystic”, information on estate planning, travel to Perth and Sydney Australia, and Latin America, and a book review by Al Gore of Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction, which explains that man-made climate change underway right now threatens to eliminate 20-50% of all living species on earth within this century.  There’s a small article about an exhibit at the Smithsonian that features beautiful Persian Calligraphy, and a “how to consciously age”, this from the Spirit of Change tabloid newspaper.

By saving these and many more articles, all of which hold meaning to me as I navigate this world, I can use these articles as beacons and pathways to navigate life in a purposeful way.  It’s so easy for me to get sidetracked.  Collecting memorable articles and guides helps me stay on course, as my life unfolds, making up for the mistakes I have made, and helping me correct course for my own good, my family and all those in my constellation.

Forgeries detected through chemistry

Its been a little while since I’ve posted; life caught up with me.

One of the things I have grown to like in the world of chemistry is how to detect deception and forgeries in the most mundane of things. Consider paper documents such as a will, mortgage or contract.

Speckin Forensics is a forensic document expert witness firm skilled in detection of handwriting and inks used in writing.  This firm is retained regularly to review memorabilia items for authenticity.  Words, initials, signature and documents are all subjects of scrutiny by the expert handwriting analyst. A positive identification of authorship or non-authorship can normally be made by a forensic analyst. In order to conduct a proper examination of a signature, the document examiner first needs the original document that contains the questioned signature. If no original is available, it should be noted that there are several methods of forgery that may be detected by examining a photocopy, microfiche, image or fax copy.

Erich Speckin is a forensic document analyst and ink dating specialist.  He has been called in on high profile cases involving the Martha Stewart case where she was charged by the government for improper stock trading and a John Lennon memorabilia forgery case when a man was bilked $191,000.

Art and artifacts are authenticated through chemical analysis

Aside from legal documents, art and artifacts such as Persian silks have been shown to be fake through chemical analysis. Analyzing amino acid signatures reveals forgeries.  (If you’ve been reading “off the hook” regularly, you’ll appreciate seeing the word “signatures” again.).

First reported in CEN (Oct 16, 2017), a weekly scientific journal published by the American Chemistry Society, “chemists have used telltale chemical traces to affirm suspicions of ancient silk forgeries ….In 1924, archaeologists unearthed rare Persian silks from the Buyid period (AD 934-1062) at the burial site of Princess Bibi Shahrbanu in Iran. Shortly afterward, suspected fakes appeared in the antiquities market. Decades later, carbon-14 dating has proven that at least some of the Buyid silks sold after 1930 are forgeries.

It is reported in the same article that a forensic chemist at George Washington University, Mehdi Moni, developed a dating test that studied certain amino acids in the silk, amd one of his graduate students, Christopher Rollman developed a means to determine how forged silks might have been artificially aged. In chemistry-speak “the high levels of D-aspartic acid, D-phenylalanine, and D-tyrosine together indicate artificial aging of silk” says Ernst Kenndler of the University of Vienna.  So there you have it.

As very much a non-chemist, I find it fascinating that chemistry illuminates the truths of our material world be it energy, building materials, foods, polymers, health, travel, animals, space, antiquities, and so on. In doing so, it exposes even more insight into human behavior and psychology which has really been my lifelong interests.

My first encounter with chemistry was in grade school in Natick, Massachusetts with my teacher Ms. White, one of the few grade school teachers I remember; it may have been the fact that her dress ended a few inches above the knee.  She certainly made learning much more interesting than Mrs. Bent, my third grade teacher.

Chemistry is so difficult to understand yet is highly practical in day to day terms. That’s why I look forward to receiving each weekly CEN issue even though for the most part it is way, way over my head.  I do learn about unexpected cause and effect relationships that occur in our physical world which is something I can appreciate. The applications described make for fascinating reading and understanding. I’m a much wiser and more intelligent student of life because of it.


Frozen in time

U&lc: Upper and lower case: the International Journal of Typography published by International Typeface Corporation, was one of the publications that I received while in college and for a few years afterwards, though I was not a graphic designer. This tabloid size journal printed on newsprint ran upwards of 100 pages each issue and celebrated the benefits of new type design featuring experimental typographic compositions, along with illustrations, cartoons, imagery and stories. Production ran from 1970 through 1999. I eagerly awaited each issue though my father, a food industry businessman, made it abundantly clear that he wasn’t going to pay for college and have me graduate with a “worthless” art degree. I remember the day very well when he made his decision known. It was fall 1972 on parents weekend at college. We were walking around the campus and we arrived at my favorite class: sculpture. I had shown my parents two pieces I was especially proud of: a clay and wooden piece that looked like a piano keyboard, and a black Naugahyde and styrofoam sculpture I had created in David Smith’s studio.

The sculpture I was most proud of consisted of 88 clay keys on a wooden plank.  It was a piano keyboard. But the keys were squished and misshapen because I had “played” Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue on the soft tan colored (clay) keys, and had then separated the keys one by one and had them fired in a kiln.  When hard, they were re-assembled and super-glued onto the flat brown wooden plank. The notes had been played on the keys and were transformed into permanent hardened shapes.  The new squished keys gave tangible form or expression to the musical score.  They were frozen in time. The keys were no longer rectangular, as they had changed shape and form as they were malleable clay and not stiff ivory. The sculpture depicted the effects of time and aging by using a musical score.   The keys were originally soft like a baby’s face, hands and skin. Once soft and smooth, life occurred and the misshapen keys became expressions of loss, hardship along with some joy.

My mother was totally supportive of my self-expression and creative endeavors.  One construct that comes to mind was my first outdoor sculpture made of construction materials stolen from a nearby home construction site.  To this day, I don’t know what the materials are called, but they were each about four feet long, rusted metal with ceramic nubby rounded pegs about 1″ long.   There were probably forty of these pegs on each row and there were four or five rows on each total piece weighing about ten pounds each. I painted each of the pegs rainbow colors of green, red, blue, yellow, orange, alternating. I in turn took each unit and tied them to a vertical metal bar.  My mother loved it and the entire assemblage about four feet square was positioned in front of an unsightly air conditioner unit which was underneath one of the several wraparound wooden decks of our modern one floor, flat roof house.

Inside the house, next to the piano in the living room, hanging on the light greenish-grey grasslike colored wallpaper was another rusted metal piece of art.  I guess this was my rusted art period!  Shaped like an “L” with weld marks around the entire edge, it was about three feet long and about 10″ wide at its maximum width; otherwise it was only about three inches wide.  At the bottom was a small two inch metal wheel with hard rubber on its circular edge. It was permanently affixed to the bottom right side of the metal.

On some Saturdays when I wasn’t taking piano lessons, my mom would drive me in her first car, an Opel, to a scrap yard nearby in Framingham, where I would climb and scrounge around the scrap heap looking for objects I would take home and work with for other artwork, and pay for with my own money.  I liked being on my own free from others exploring. Other days after school while waiting for my dad to return from work and we could have dinner, I toiled away in the downstairs basement, and just to see what happened, burned large blocks of white styrofoam into black plastic shapes that woukd harden in front of my eyes.  I probably burned some of my brain cells at the same time by smelling the toxic fumes.  Maybe this explains why I am the way I am.

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