28 July 2011

Life of Art SitRep #77 Going Green

Every week, I work towards creating a life of art for myself. This is the zigzag filled journey.

Play along in the comments with your own pursuits if you'd like. (That's where I'll cheer you on.)
This week, I

  • Shot 159 photographs: raindrop abstracts, flowers, moth. Imported using Adobe Bridge for the first time and renamed them. Figured out how to add keywords. Pretty cool. You can learn about Bridge in the free-to-download Appendix C of the Photoshop CS5 Missing Manual.

  • Created a new product line.

    Out photographing after a summer rainstorm, I was drawn to the bold pattern of moss on bark. The aging pine tree bark has faded and lost some of its outermost layers. Vibrant green moss is growing in vertical grooves in the bark. The macro photograph shows the alternating stripes of bark and moss as well as the texture of each. The bark is layered, scaly, with fine gradations of color: grays, browns, and even pale green. The moss is comprised of myriad short fine hairs, as though the tree wanted some green fur highlights.

    The color photograph Pine Tree Bark With Moss is now available in my shop on a variety of customizable gift items: iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad cases, prints/posters, cards, postcard, mugs, mini speakers, t-shirts, tote bags, magnets, buttons, stickers, keychains, mouse pad, return address labels, and stamps:
    Check out the complete collection of Pine Tree Bark With Moss products.

  • Tweeted, FB'd, zblogged Pine Tree Bark With Moss.

  • Made new versions of Adobe Passageway, After Hockney, After Hockney - Black and White cards that include easy-to-personalize message templates. Some of my older cards are blank by default which makes them a bit more involved to customize for someone unfamiliar with the site. Been meaning to fix that. Three's a start!

  • Read a few more chapters of Photoshop CS5: the Missing Manual by Lesa Snider. Now way I will finish all 700+ pages before it's due Monday, but I've learned a lot from it already. I've been teaching myself Photoshop piecemeal for years, but this is the best source for explaining how and why to do things I've come across. Any other books I should check out before getting this one?

  • Submitted my link to 17 lenses.

  • Tweeted and FB'd some sales.

  • *******
    How are your pursuits going?

    A year ago on TTaT: Cemetery clouds

    24 July 2011

    Blood Draw McGraw

    For once I had a magazine with me and wasn't too distracted to read it as I waited for the pager in my lap to go off. After several pages of Popular Photography, a ring of red lights lit up the pager as it buzzed. I replaced my bookmark and stood up to meet the person by the counter who was going to draw my blood.

    He was young, maybe mid-twenties? (that should not be striking me as young yet!), slim, and almost my height. He had red hair that was straight but a very curly red beard. It wasn't patchy but it wasn't thick either. Of course, in this heat, I'd probably keep my beard trimmed down too.

    I followed him back to the familiar room of partitions. I'm used to being along the right wall, but his station was in the middle of the room with its opening facing a sink and a hallway leading further back. Several staff members walked past talking, giving the room a chaotic feel.

    He verified my identity and then said, "I'm Kyle."

    "Hey." No one else has ever introduced her/himself when I was there before. As he arranged vials and labels, I said, "This is the first time I've sat in this one. There's a lot of activity going on."

    "I just hope the power doesn't go out. Did you see the lights flicker?"

    "I did. I caught it in my peripheral when I was reading and wondered, 'What the heck was that?'"

    "They're trying to reduce power consumption to be green, but sometimes it gives us brownouts."

    He looked about ready, so I said, "Is it OK if you do my left?" The default set up of all their stations is for drawing blood from the right arm.

    "Sure." Kyle flipped down a padded arm in front of me so I could rest my arm on it. He inspected the inside of my elbow for a minute, feeling for the vein. He seemed satisfied, so he tied the elastic tourniquet around my bicep and put on some gloves. He wiped off my inner elbow and then got the needle ready. "Could you make a fist for me?"

    "Sure." I made a fist and looked away as he said, "OK, here's the pinch." The pain was very brief, one of the better draws I've had by far.

    I looked back and watched my blood fill the vial. "Do you want me to keep holding a fist?"

    "Yes, I'll let you know when you can let it go."


    He pulled out the vial and replaced it with another. "Are you doing OK?"

    This question always throws me during blood draws, but they always ask it. "Yeah, I'm fine."

    "So do you have any plans this weekend?" Kyle asked.

    It was Friday afternoon, so it seemed a reasonable, innocuous question. His tone in no way conveyed I'm hitting on you, although it didn't convey I'm not hitting on you either.

    "Not really," I answered, with a tone I meant to convey, That's flattering, but it's never gonna happen.

    "What are you reading?"

    The arm rest was obscuring the magazine in my lap. "Popular Photography."

    "Oh, so you're interested in photography?"

    Several responses came to mind in a flash, but I didn't feel like getting too far into it, so I just said, "Yeah," with a smile.

    He removed the third vial and placed a piece of gauze over the puncture site as he pulled the needle out. Used to the routine, I moved to hold it in place when he asked me to.

    Kyle took off his gloves and checked the vials against his paperwork. He checked it a few times and then said, "I'm so sorry. I was supposed to draw one more vial."

    "D'oh," I exhaled. "OK. Do you want to use the right?"

    "If you'd like me to. I can put it right back in where I had it. I'm so sorry about this." He was clearly mortified and doing his best to make amends.

    Oh, what the hell, I thought to myself. I've had blood drawn from the same arm twice in one week and it wasn't that bad. "The left is fine."

    "It'll sting a bit more this time since it'll be more sensitive."

    "It's OK."

    Kyle lifted up the gauze I was holding to check my arm and then put it back. "Keep holding that."

    "I can't believe this," Kyle lamented, "I've never done this before."

    Hmm, that doesn't exactly make me feel better. "Well, at least you realized now instead of after I got home."

    "Yeah," Kyle said. "Wait, there was one other time. I drew 10 vials from this guy. He had a list of labels this long..." He gestured to indicate something longer than a sheet of standard paper. "...but it was folded under! I had three more vials to draw. I had to chase him down in the parking lot."

    I laughed at the image that conjured. (My labels were less than a regular sheet and not folded under, if you were wondering.) I expected the guy to yell at Kyle in the next part of his story.

    Kyle continued, "He said, 'Stuff happens.'"

    "Well, it does," I agreed. I decided Kyle had just been distracted by my good looks, so how could I be mad at him for that?

    He drew the last vial of my blood and before he removed the needle, I asked, "Are you sure that's all you need?"

    "Yeah, I'm sure."

    "OK." I smiled at him.

    Even with two draws to the same spot within minutes, it was still much better than several blood draws I've had. I am getting a little leery of the male staff though. ;)

    A year ago on TTaT: Pinecones, attached

    22 July 2011

    Life of Art SitRep #76

    Every week, I work towards creating a life of art for myself. This is the zigzag filled journey.

    Play along in the comments with your own pursuits if you'd like. (That's where I'll cheer you on.)
    This week, I

  • Shot 55 photographs: bee balm, bela lugosi, hostas, creek, daylilies, lake.

  • Zig: Made iPod Touch vertical and horizontal case templates and 34 iPod Touch cases from my previous designs and photographs:
    Check out the complete collection of iPod Touch cases!

  • Zag: Remade all Case templates with black backgrounds and so they should show up in store in the order I want when using Quick Create: iPod Touch, iPhone 4, iPhone 3, iPad. We'll see if it works. Deleted old templates.

  • My Adobe Passageway postcard got picked for Featured Card of the Week, woo!

  • Got a nice comment on my On the Golden Gate Bridge poster, featured on Shirley Hirst's Outstanding Zazzle Photographers Showcase lens.

  • Zblogged and Rocklawn Arts blogged about new iPod Touch cases.

  • Added zblog to zazzle store profiles. Moved twitter down to appropriate spot. Used Rocklawn Arts account for both. Added My latest creations and my latest sales to my Rocklawn Arts profile.

  • Made Epimedium Flowers iPhone cases with dark pink BGs.

  • Changed Rocklawn Arts twitter background to River Mountain Scenes which matches ClaireofRA BG. Better than having generic yo. Tracked image down via view source on CoRA twitter. Rah!

  • Rearranged store. Put b&w's all up front. Changed top picks to iPod touch cases.

  • Changed Rocklawn Arts sidebar in TTaT to say 'photography & design' instead of 'cool, unusual photography.'

  • Tweeted and blogged stamp sale.

  • Changed "top picks" to items on sale various days.

  • Tweeted a variety of sales and products.

  • Added and subtracted some photos from store contenders. Narrowed moss shots from 8 to 4. Took out some daylily shots and added earlier ones I hadn't. Deleted some golf course pics.

  • Submitted store links to 5 lenses.

  • Updated related designs of early rainbow products to include Rainbow Planets instead of photograph product in file. Changed most for Rainbow Stripes but proved to be real pain, so leaving others.

  • *******
    How are your pursuits going?

    A year ago on TTaT: Sunlit trees

    21 July 2011

    Still absolute scum

    Growing up, I went to a very small public school system. I graduated with 50 other people, most of whom I'd known since kindergarden.

    Two of that 50 are convicted rapists. Neither were friends of mine, but I knew them both. One annoyed the hell out of me senior year in Humanities (a 2-period-long combination honors English & History course) by asking me to tell him stuff that had just been explained. If he'd have fucking paid attention, he would have heard it.

    The other was more part of the drinking/stoner crowd in high school. His dad was our gym teacher in elementary school.

    13 years ago, the two of them drugged and raped a woman repeatedly while a third roommate videotaped it. The tapes were never recovered, but idiots that they always were, they showed it to people who came forward after the victim filed charges.

    The one who annoyed me in Humanities was caught, tried and ultimately plead guilty. He served 22 months or so of his 15-20 year sentence before his conviction was thrown out due to a mistrial. He was convicted again last year, but just given two years probation and time served. He also has to be part of the Sex Offender Registry for life. Last I heard, he was living on the opposite side of the country.

    The other one went on the lam and was caught about 3 years later. He was convicted and is serving 9-10 years which is probably up not too long from now.

    The videographer, a younger guy not from my school, finally plead guilty though with greatly reduced charges. Initially he was tried under laws that made him as culpable as the rapists for being there and not stopping it/encouraging them, but there was a mistrial. He must have a good lawyer though because he only got 2 years probation when all is said and done. He did at least say that things occurred just as the victim had said, though I'm not sure how much consolation that provides all these years later.

    The initial case was entirely hearsay except for the victim's testimony, but I never had any doubt that my two classmates could be that stupid and cruel. They deserve more jail time, especially Annoying Guy and Videographer. I don't care how good they've been since.

    Two years ago on TTaT: Anxiety medley

    17 July 2011

    The Return of the Black Pig

    The black pig is back! I thought I'd blogged about the black pig before, but I can't find it. I may have just tweeted about him/her last year.

    The black pig can be found lying in front of a small house's front porch on rare, joyous occasion. S/he has a rope tied around its waist to keep it from wandering off, but I've never even seen it standing, just chilling out on its belly right next to the porch. There's a ramp that leads up the stairs to the porch and we've often wondered if it's for the pig. The black pig is a large creature, no petite pot-bellied pig. Remember Suzanne's pig Noel on Designing Women? The black pig is about that size.

    We stopped seeing the pig last fall when it got cooler out. There was always the possibility they had the pig to eat it, but I started looking for it again in the spring. Last night was our first sighting of 2011. Yay!

    Further down the road, I got to see the tiny, tiny goats. They are so small it's hard to tell if they are baby pygmy goats or baby regular goats, hence 'tiny, tiny goats.' I also saw a deer and as I pulled into the driveway at home, a turkey. All in one excellent outing last night!

    What animals have you seen lately?

    A year ago on TTaT: Lez Chat

    15 July 2011

    Life of Art SitRep #75 ZPro!

    Every week, I work towards creating a life of art for myself. This is the zigzag filled journey.

    Play along in the comments with your own pursuits if you'd like. (That's where I'll cheer you on.)

    Custom Postage in my shop is $6.00 Off per sheet today only! (Valid through July 15, 2011 at 11:59 PM PT.) Use coupon code: ZBDAYPOSTAGE

    Small stamp Medium stamp Medium stamp 

    This week, I

  • Shot 132 photographs: post rain flowers, bela lugosi, etc.

  • Drew test sketches with color. The moment I thought of making the center section of the abstract design blue, my geek mind saw the rainbow colored circles as an array of planets. I roughed a version out in photoshop to check colors and then made the Rainbow Planets design in Inkscape. Wrote product description for it and created a new product line, woo!

    Check out the complete collection of Rainbow Planets products:
    Rainbow Planets 

  • Tweeted, FB'd, Zblogged Rainbow Planets link.

  • Became a Zazzle ProSeller (or ZPro)! Actually I qualified about 6 months ago, I've just been waiting for Zazzle to revamp their ProSeller program. Finally got to check it off my list, yay! Also appreciative of the credibility the ZPro badge gives my stores and me within the Zazzle community. On to the next ProSeller tier!

  • Added 24 photographs to store contenders.

  • Wrote 50 questions for a new lens, 50 Art Polls, which also includes several of my designs and published it. If you're a Squidoo member (free), please stop by and "like it." Pretty sure anyone can take the polls, logged in or not, which also helps my ranking. :)

  • Posted new lens on forum so people can add their store links.

  • Added coupon codes to Rocklawn Arts and American Southwest Scenes lenses.

  • Tweeted, FB'd, blogged, zblogged poster sale. Also tweeted a bunch of other sales and products throughout the week.

  • Changed store intro to include poster and then card sale as they came up. Changed top picks to appropriate sale items for the day.

  • Watched most of "HDDSLR Filmmaking with Gale Tattersall" (he's the DP on House) on Creative Live.

  • *******
    How are your pursuits going?

    A year ago on TTaT: He was a yellow dog named Blue, Leaf + Deck (3)

    13 July 2011

    Bona fide tower

    We drove past a cool tower surrounded by scaffolding. "That's so cool," I said, "too bad the light's all wrong. We need to be going the other direction."

    "Would you like to turn around?"

    It was a token question, out of politeness. But you know what? Screw that. With undeniable conviction, I answered, "Yes. Yes, I would."

    I caught this next shot while driving past: back in the bad light, but it gives you a full view of the tower.

    Even though the scaffolds and structure don't look like it, my photos remind me of watching Atlantis launch live on Friday.

    As excited as everyone doing the coverage was, I was anxious until they were in space and safely detached from the fuel tanks. The first shuttle launch I remember watching live exploded.

    3 years ago on TTaT: Random Scan Sunday 8: Fall foliage

    11 July 2011

    As good as it gets!

    60% OFF Prints/Posters in my shop Today Only! Desert & urban landscapes, geometric patterns, abstracts, flowers & more!


    The sale also applies to all of the official brands on Zazzle like Star Wars, South Park, Harry Potter, DC & Marvel Comics, myriad bands, & more. (I'll get a referral if you buy anything after clicking through those links. Which would be rad. :)

    Valid through July 11, 2011 at 11:59pm PT.

    A year ago on TTaT: Sketchbook, page 37

    08 July 2011

    Life of Art SitRep #74 Two-fer!

    Every week, I work towards creating a life of art for myself. This is the zigzag filled journey.

    Play along in the comments with your own pursuits if you'd like. (That's where I'll cheer you on.)
    This week, I

  • Shot 152 photographs: plants, Mom and Dad, bridge view, school buses, and a crazy cool tower with scaffolding, among other things.

  • Used Inkscape to make Dark Red and Blue Rectangles and Light Blue and Dark Blue Rectangles images. Wrote product descriptions and created product lines including my first gift tag, woo!

    Light Blue and Dark Blue Rectangles and Dark Red and Blue Rectangles are now available in my shop on a variety of customizable gift items: iPad and iPhone cases, binders, prints/posters, cards, postcards, mugs, mini speakers, t-shirts, tote bags, magnets, buttons, stickers, keychains, mouse pads, ornaments, necklaces, bumper stickers, return address labels, gift tag, and stamps:

  • Tweeted, FB'd, zblogged Dark Red and Blue Rectangles and Light Blue and Dark Blue Rectangles folder links.

  • Unlocked a squidoo ad which will run for 1 month. Picked my Official Harry Potter gear lens since the timing is apt and perhaps the ad exposure will translate to a referral or two.

  • Revised Rocklawn Arts zazzle store introduction.

  • Starred some possible daylilies for shop.

  • Added Fireball Hibiscus to secondary title and tags for Red Hibiscus With Raindrops.

  • Tweeted Firework Hibiscus folder link for 4th of July.

  • Watched "Photographing Fireworks with John Cornicello" on Creative Live which you can still watch for free. Fun! If you're short on time, you can read his post which covers most of the show info. Alas, I didn't get out to photograph any fireworks myself because I haven't been feeling up to snuff. Perhaps I'll manage to track some down later in the summer.

  • Watched Scott Kelby video with a couple quick Lightroom (or Camera Raw) tips.

  • *******
    How are your pursuits going?

    Two years ago on TTaT: Latest note to self; Love, Loss, and What I Wore

    06 July 2011

    33. Going in Circles

    Going in Circles33. Going in Circles by Pamela Ribon

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    If you're not reading Pamela Ribon's blog, Pamie.com, go add it to your feed reader right now. I'll wait. Really, it's funny and well worth it, GO!

    All set? OK.

    Going in Circles is a novel about a woman going through a difficult separation from her new husband. Sounds kind of bleak, right? It is a bit at first, but her coping mechanisms add humor and her sadness appropriately sets the stakes for the story.

    Rest assured that the humor increases the further into the book you read and the tone becomes lighter.

    Also, there's roller derby! Whip It is a fun movie, but it doesn't give you a real feel for what's it's like to learn and play roller derby. Ribon's book does, as it should since she plays the sport. I was fascinated by all the skills and strategies the rookie skaters, or Fresh Meat in derby parlance, have to learn.

    I'm not sure if all editions of the book have it, but the one I read (a "pocket readers guide") has a roller derby glossary in the back as well as an interview with the author, both of which I thought were cool.

    If you're reading this, Pamela Ribon, thank you for the acknowledgment! I am one of those good people you mentioned and am pleased to be in such good company.

    Everyone else, go read Going in Circles! If you're on the fence, read her blog for a bit to tip the scale.

    A year ago on TTaT: Scene from the Candy Aisle, Sparkles and shadows

    05 July 2011

    Local Jungle

    On the same postprandial meander during which I photographed a goat stampede, I also shot through a downpour by the train station and took a lot of photos of the storm clouds over the mountains by the river. I loved it all.

    Once the rain stopped and the sky started clearing up a bit, the wildlife by the river was so crazy loud, I shot some video of it. Didn't really expect to hear much since the camera microphone is notoriously weak, but the birds and frogs really were that loud. Enjoy!

    Click to play.
    (Run time 0:26, you need sound to appreciate it.)

    A year ago on TTaT: Spring thaw waters