Archive for the ‘Art, Writing & Other Creative Endeavors’ Category

The design for my Zen-artist signatory stamp is finally ready

November 29, 2005

Unfortunately I can’t show it to you here within the blog, but it is finally ready . . .

. . . and with its now-reality, I can, I’m going to for the first time ever reveal to you – my friendly reader(s) – my “Zen name” (beside my deep and abiding faith as a large-C-Christian, I’ve been a practicing Zen Bhuddist for over 30 years), which is: raba

Just out of curiosity, take a geuss as to what “raba” means. When a lay Zen acolyte is initially accepted into the Zen community as I was when I was seventeen years old way back when, it’s tradition that their sensei/teacher/mentor/master gives them a “Zen name”, almost always a Japanese-based name which is reflective of who they (the student) are at their very core.

So, what do you think “raba” in Japanese means? “Light”? “Stone”? “Fire”? “Path”? “Dumbass”?

Nope, none of those . . . in Japanese, the literal translation of “raba” means “mule”, as in the highly intelligent and persistently stubborn cross between a horse and a donkey, and for the wags in the audience reading this, NO, it Does NOT mean “jackass”, it means “mule”, Smile.

For all this time of keeping this gift of my Zen name to myself, I’ve shared it with one, maybe two other people outside the Zen community before sharing it with my wife and stepdaughter recently, but now it’s time to come public with it, since come the proverbial Katrina or California wildfires I’m going to plunge back into my art – which will include a blended East/West style of Zen calligraphy and art – and set up my online gallery at, which I registered the domain for last year and am just now getting ready to put underpinnings of foundation to . . . okay, okay, so mules procrastinate as well be outright stubborn sometimes, sue me, Grin!

With my creation of a design which will become my signature stamp, and no, I didn’t choose to use the Japanese kanji characters which would spell out “mule” for my stamp design, prefering, and keeping in the spirit of the confluence of blending both Western/Occidental and Eastern cultures which is one important aspect of who I am as a man and person and which will be the driving force behind, choose instead to hand-draw (using Corel Draw to create the initial design and Paint Shop Pro to polish it) the initials “R-H-K-C” inside a polygon that’s inside an oval, RHKC standing for Raba H. Kent Craig, my full Zen name.

So, today by announcing this becomes the first step in that journey of the next ten thousand, and I couldn’t be happier.


Today, my art career began again in earnest

November 8, 2005

This morning before beginning work on/at my “day job” as Commercial Division Manager and Senior Estimator for Goldstar Mechanical Services Inc. (NC’s largest HVAC contractor by dollar volume at the present moment) for the first time in literally 25 years I put black acrylic paint to a nylon-bristle artist’s brush and slathered a pre-strecthed store-bought canvas with it in order to lay down the base color for what will become a three-panel triptyche set of theme-matched paintings done for my wife Kris because she wanted 1) to see if I was as good an artist as I had bragged unmercifully to her that I had been when I was much younger and 2) me to do something very original and very nice for our bedroom, something that symbolizes, well, what marriage means to us but which wouldn’t be offensive to a 5-year-old that goes to Sunday School regularly or their parents.

When I started “edging out” the three canvases, two tall and thin and one large boxy one, it felt like I had never quit painting. Why did I quit painting in the first place come to think of it? Oh, yes, life, that proverbial killer of artisitic dreams along with not getting the NY Times to review your what turns out to be only your NYC gallery showing back in the 70’s, life and Yes maybe even a bit of dread that I would enjoy it all over again, I’m just being honest as I always am/try to be now, folks, and it would consume me.

No, it’s not going to consume me even though I’ve rediscovered how much I truly enjoy doing it, I also enjoy making a decent living working for Goldstar and HVAC/heating/ventilation/air-conditioning/plumbing/mechanical trades has been my actual adult career these past twenty-five years and Yes – I do enjoy doing what I do for Goldstar, but my art a professional if part-time endeavor is firmly now “a go”.

Confessing publicly, I have/had planned to do this for at least 2-3 years now and just never got off the couch to make it happen, but for, and this is the confession part, for strictly “mercenary” reasons I had planned to do a series of sports-related-theme prints in time to get them online and hopefully selling during the curve of this year’s Christmas buying season – for the pure reason of wanting an extra part-time income which while iffy entailed very little risk and potentially very decent profits – but for various reasons which would seem like whining so I’m not going to list them here I won’t be able to do these sports-theme prints by Thanksgiving so c’est lie vie, next year, actually after first of the year, I’m still going to do them in the near future and post them to an online gallery which I’m going to create (I do design and build websites professionally for paying clients, too, remember), that will simply happen in the Economic Dead Zone of after-Christmas when everyone’s spent their disposable income for the next few months and when sales conversely will be few but what the hey’, at least I’ll be following through.

Actually, before then I plan on doing at least 15-20 original works of art, mostly watercolors, some acrylic, a couple of pieces of folk art sculpture, some limited edition photographs done with-out digital “enhancements”, maybe some conceptual art pieces as well, and will post them for sale on what will be my online art gallery “”, which won’t be up until probably after first of the year but one never knows…I’ll explain what “ZenMule” means at a later time.

As I was laying down my base coat on the canvases this morning, I couldn’t help but “accidentally” create a beautiful (to me) Japanese-theme mountain landscape of a steep mountain valley shrouded in the fog of morning – which I was also surround by in real-life this morning as I did this outside on my back deck – before painting over it…yes, my talent is still there, if anything with slightly advanced age my hand is steadier and my eye more keen to details and my bank of memories much larger to draw from, so who knows, this just might fly and even if it doesn’t, at least I’ll have a ready-made stash of Christmas presents to give out to lucky friends and relatives next year, Grin!

In praise of accidental high literature & poetry

November 4, 2005

Got somehow fooled this morning (again!) into opening what I thought was a legit piece of email and of course it was a piece of spam but the skill and cunning required to get it past the GoogleMail/GMail spam filters (I forward all mail sent to my and other similar email addresses to my main Gmail account so that the universe-class firewalls and filters that Google provides for free can do their job) was a true work of art.

I’ve mused on this topic before within the bowels of my personal sections of my website in Spam-Poetry where I harvested random bits of text-fluff from the taglines of spam designed to try to get past spam filter gatekeepers and compressed them like so many bits of curddled milk into something resembling a block of cheese-poetry which actually is pretty amusing to read, but the filter-fooler-tagline this morning in that silly bit of ethereal horsedung just somehow struck me as near-high-art in short story writing skills, so I present it to you my dear reader unedited:

The chieftain appeared to doubt the wisdom of the enterprise, not being able to understand how the boy could expect to succeed; but he graciously issued the required order, and by the time Rob reached the city gate he found a large group of Tatars gathered to support him, while the entire camp, roused to interest in the proceedings, stood looking on. Rob cared little for the quarrel between the Turks and Tatars, and under ordinary circumstances would have refused to side with one or the other; but he knew he could not hope to recover his electrical machines unless the city was taken by the band of warriors who had befriended him, so he determined to force an entrance for them

Without hesitation he walked close to the great gate and shattered its fastenings with the force of the electric current directed upon them from the tube. Then, shouting to his friends the Tatars for assistance, they rushed in a body upon the gate and dashed it open.

Just shaking my head…

What I actually do for a living

October 26, 2005

I’ve had some enquires about, what with my primary personal website having a welcome screen that is my Web designer personna mainly plastered on it but my site containing tons of other stuff and makes many references to my HVAC/mechanical contracting career among other professional interests, what I actually do for a living.

Well, welllll, my primary job, what I get paid every week to do, is Senior Estimator and Manager Of The Commercial Division for Goldstar Mechanical Services Inc. out of Charlotte, N.C,

, Goldstar Mechanical at this moment being (very highly probably) the largest new residential construction HVAC contractor in North Carolina.

While I run the small commercial division as Manager of said that sells new and replacement HVAC/heating & air conditioning systems to/for new and existing commercial buildings, a lot of most days is spent running heat loss/gain calculations (used to properly size HVAC equipment installations) using an expensive but necessary program called WrightSoft,

, which I have a love/hate/tolerance relationship with after having used it on a daily basis since this past April, both their residential and commercial versions. This is engineer-level work but I’m one of those engineer-level folks on many levels who just happens to have the knowledge and experience without the engineering degree per se’.

I also do extensive market research using Reed Construction Data’s proprietary construction market database,

, from which, it’s one among many other sources of leads for new work, I sell Goldstar’s services including design/build HVAC systems for commercial and residential installations.

Yes, I did do Goldstar’s website and yes I know it sucks but I did it according to the specific direction of my boss who also signs my checks so as long as he’s happy with it which he is then I’m also not too ashamed of it, Smile.

Speaking of that, of course I also, in my one hour of free time per month, also create websites, re-do existing websites to make them more user-friendly and compliant with Federal Section 508 guidelines and offer my SEO/Search Engine Optimization services for customers who have a hard time working the “natural” i.e. non-pay-per-click listings on Google and MSN Search and Yahoo etc., and will do most anything for a legal dollar if it involves The Web which I’ve been on since 1990.

And, of course, I also Contributing Editor For Project Management for “Contractor” magazine,

, which I have been since 1998 and is a lot of fun, my editor, the best editor I have ever worked with, Bob Miodonski, giving me the opportunity to pass on bits and pieces of my accumulated so-called wisdom and knowledge of mechanical contracting to the next generation of project managers and estimators coming up through the ranks, that and did I also mention I get to raise a little hell and kick the shins of pompous jerks mainly General Contractors while also educating? Yeah, it’s more fun than the proverbial barrell of monkeys and I’d ALMOST pay them to do that, Bob, you didn’t read that if you just did, okay, Grin?

And, AND I’m also US Business Agent for my brother, Gary Hoops, who owns Circle H Ranch in Tanzania, he growing up in East Africa while I grew up in NC, if you don’t know this story you need to go to the more sections of my website, , and poke around some to find out the story or stay tuned here as I post occasionally about this and that dealing with African issues because of this connection.

and, AND, ANNDDD of course I’m trying to get back into my art and my music, art right now is easier than music since art doesn’t require daily practice while music does.

AnnndDDDDD, well, enough for now, don’t want Mike, my boss at Goldstar and whom I routinely give 45-50 even 60 hours per week when required, thinking I have much of any actual free time on my hands, Smile But Sincere, since it’s through his graces and his signing of my weekly check that allows me to pay my bills and make a decent living for my family and my job with Goldstar always does, all kidding aside, take precedence over my other business and hobby interests.