31 August 2012

Life of Art SitRep #134 Aha!

This week was something of a full court press on multiple fronts. I made more headway on my photography archive, watched as much Creative Live as I could manage, updated the rest of my existing calendars with 2013 dates, made some Clocks and many more Samsung, Motorola Droid RAZR, and HTC Vivid Tough Cases.

The "aha" came from realizing I could change fixed black text to white with a simple invert command thereby bypassing selection which can yield jaggy results if not perfect. Shouldn't be too hard to change the color to something else if I wanted either. A Hue/Saturation layer or Curve should be able to do it.

I'm starting to see easier ways to do things in Photoshop which is nice. Just takes recognizing them amidst the sprawl of the program.

This week I continued sans mouse to better learn my tablet. I focused on using the pen which makes some things faster but there's still things I'm doing unintentionally that are difficult to undo. Frustrating. Ultimately I don't feel that dexterous with the pen since I don't write much anymore. I also type a lot and use keyboard shortcuts, so it's awkward to have a pen in hand, always needing to put it down/pick it up.

I'm looking forward to plugging my mouse back in on Sunday, but I think I'll keep my tablet plugged in too. Each has their place I think.

A year ago on TTaT: The Power of Water, part 2

30 August 2012

Best laid plans...

What's the point of making arrangements, giving everyone a couple weeks to follow through, calling to double-check everything's been done and told "Yes," if a few weeks after that it's like those arrangements were never made?

I'm very frustrated right now.

For an industry that's supposed to promote health, it's ironic how much stress and anxiety dealing with doctors, doctors' offices, pharmacies, and health insurance causes me.

I think this is a case of the pharmacy thinking they were doing me a favor by sending a renewal request to my old doctor, but instead it's all hopelessly complicated now.

Not quite "hopelessly" perhaps, but wheels are now in motion in a tight time frame that may leave me screwed.

I'm not sure if it's better or worse that I don't have to make the calls to try to sort this out. On the one hand, I hate making these calls. On the other, it's literally out of my hands. At least for now. I could call and yell at my insurance company for telling me everything was sorted, but I don't think it'd help or make me feel any better.

I was hoping writing this out would make me less worried, but in some ways it's just helped me visualize the possible worst case scenarios in much greater detail.

On to something else then for distraction. I had an epiphany this morning about the best and easiest way to transform text in a png file from black to white. Invert! Time to give it a try.

A year ago on TTaT: The Power of Water, part 1

26 August 2012

Wonder Woman: Mission's End

Wonder Woman: Mission's End (Infinite Crisis)43. Wonder Woman: Mission's End by Greg Rucka

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an epic conclusion to Greg Rucka's arc on Wonder Woman as well as a key transitional piece to a subsequent run. That's the thing with comics, there's always more back story, more analog hypertext routes to follow.

In this case, I'd start this arc from its beginning in Wonder Woman: Down to Earth. Then read the Wonder Woman graphic novels: Bitter Rivals, Eyes of the Gorgon, Land of the Dead, and then Mission's End.

There's some crossover with the Infinite Crisis storyline in Mission's End. It's not critical to have read it first, but if you find yourself wanting to more about OMACs, try The OMAC project. I only happened to read some of those when backtracking from a different run of Wonder Woman.

Mission's End is really the book I was looking for last year when I read Wonder Woman: Who Is Wonder Woman? and didn't get some key references. Though Who Is Wonder Woman? is the start of another run, Mission's End contains key turning points that carry over.

I really enjoyed Rucka's view of Diana as ambassador and superhero sans the secret identity. Overall a nice collection of character driven stories.

A year ago on TTaT: Life of Art SitRep #81, or 3 squared squared.

24 August 2012

Life of Art SitRep #133 Finding the Wagon

...to get back on it. Progress this week though.

Shot 138 photographs.

I got a small tablet for my computer months ago but never warmed to it. During a Creative LIVE workshop recently, a tech guru said that when they hire new staff or interns, they always take their mouses away leaving them only with a tablet to use for two weeks. So I'm trying it. I started Sunday afternoon and am gradually grumbling less about it particularly now that I understand how to select text with it.

Think I need to set one of its buttons to the Dashboard since I miss easy access to that. Still occasionally triggering things I don't want to happen but less so, so that's somewhat encouraging.

I also started adding new Case-Mate Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Motorola Droid RAZR, and HTC Vivid Tough cases to my store Rocklawn Arts:

Hmm, somehow I just pulled this tab out into its own window. I did not mean to do that. At least I didn't lose my post.

Just managed to do that a second time so calling it quits seems like a good idea.

I'll just add that I watched the 1st two days of Photoshop for Photographers with Ben Willmore on Creative LIVE. The replay of Day 2 is airing now for free and Day 3 starts at 9AM PST on Friday.

It's pretty great and not only because I understand it. :) He's a very good teacher and is focusing on the key elements and how to use them rather than trying to teach all of Photoshop. You don't need to know it all. There are usually 6 different ways to do everything, but you just need to know one. I'm getting there.

Two years ago on TTaT: From my other related life

21 August 2012

In Case You Were Wondering...

...there is NO SUCH THING as "legitimate rape."

Rep. Todd Akin's statement, "First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," freaks me out for several reasons. How can someone be that ignorant, misinformed, and/or entirely lacking in empathy for rape victims? Who on earth were the doctors who gave him that idea?

A 1996 study by the American Journal of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found “rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency” and is “a cause of many unwanted pregnancies” — an estimated “32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year."

Akin is currently a U.S. Representative to Congress and the Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri. Terrifying.

He has since said he "misspoke" while Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have been distancing themselves from Akin.

Do NOT be FOOLED! Republicans would have you believe Akin is an outlier to their party, but he is not. Overwhelmingly their agenda is to outlaw all abortions, even for rape victims and mother's whose lives are in danger, and to make many forms of birth control illegal.

Eve Ensler says it better than I can in her letter to Todd Akin in The Huffington Post:
As a rape survivor, I am reeling from your recent statement where you said you misspoke when you said that women do not get pregnant from legitimate rape, and that you were speaking "off the cuff."

Clarification. You didn't make some glib throw away remark. You made a very specific ignorant statement clearly indicating you have no awareness of what it means to be raped. And not a casual statement, but one made with the intention of legislating the experience of women who have been raped. Perhaps more terrifying: it was a window into the psyche of the GOP.

You used the expression "legitimate" rape as if to imply there were such a thing as "illegitimate" rape.
Please click to read Eve Ensler's letter to Todd Akin in its entirety. Really, please do, it's definitely worth your time.

One final thought from me: it is so very important people recognize agendas against women coming from elected officials and those running for office. Maybe it seems like these issues don't or won't affect you or are even morally wrong. This is America though, right? The land of the free? If Republicans are for less government involvement in people's lives, then why do they want to legislate my body?

Get informed and VOTE this fall!

19 August 2012

Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room

Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room41. Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room by Geoff Dyer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Zona is indeed as its subtitle describes "a book about a film about a journey to a room." I would recommend it to film buffs, fans of the film Stalker or its director Andrei Tarkovsky, or fans of Geoff Dyer's. The more of these interests you have, the better.

I hadn't seen Stalker before I started reading, but it didn't matter since much of the book is Dyer's detailed recollection of the film. Not quite a perfect summary though. For me, the heart of the book is in its numerous footnotes (easily accessed at the bottoms of relevant pages) which contain much of his commentary and research about the film. There's a humor that drifts through his writing that I always enjoy.

By the end of the first section of the book, I was intrigued enough to want to see the film. Ideally one might view the film first and then let some time pass before reading the book or vice-versa. I liked the film much more than I thought I would. It's shot beautifully though most things are in a state of ruin. I saw a few things differently than Dyer and he noticed a good deal more than I did. (He did have the benefit of seeing it multiple times in theaters though.)

In any case, I enjoyed my experiences of the book and the film. Not for everyone, and heads up, the movie is 163 minutes long. I watched it subtitled from the Russian, but I think there's a dubbed setting on the dvd also.

A year ago on TTaT: Life of Art SitRep #80 Staying the course

17 August 2012

Life of Art SitRep #132 Looking up...

...or down the track as it may be. Still getting my bearings while trying to address some bigger picture tasks.

There was the usual minor stuff: posting products to promotional blogs, tweeting,
blogging some recent new products, reading an issue of Popular Photography, removing a couple items from my store's sidebar.

I watched some of day 1 of Skin. The Complete Course with Lee Varis. It continues live on Friday and Saturday on Creative Live. It's not just about photographing, lighting, and retouching skin (though that is the main focus).

One cool tip in the why-didn't-I-think-of-that? realm was about Photoshop set-up. If you're right handed, put your tools bar on the right side of your screen next to the palettes. If you're left handed, put everything on the left side. Putting everything together keeps you from going back and forth over your image to make adjustments/use tools. I set up my PS workspace this way and also reordered my palettes so what I use most is now on top.

I made a new droplet in Photoshop but it still didn't behave as expected. However I did discover some promising news that means I do not have to redo a lot of previous work. Made some headway on an archive issue that was giving me trouble. (Argh, iPhoto!)

How was your week?

Two years ago on TTaT: Things, more of them. 19, in fact.

16 August 2012

Note to self, vol. XVIII

Don't try to watch a strange, subtitled, 163 minute long, 1979 Russian movie when you are already exhausted. You will start passing out when they are in the Zone.

I went back and found a good stopping place, but I don't think today is the day to finish watching Stalker. I like it a lot more than I thought I would so far though. Geoff Dyer (one of my favorite authors) wrote a book, Zona, about the film. You don't have to have seen it to read the book, but about halfway through the book I decided I'd like to and the library actually had it on DVD.

Now to finish the movie before I go back and finish the book...

Two years ago on TTaT: Here's lookin' at you, kid

12 August 2012

The Nerdist Way

The Nerdist Way40. The Nerdist Way by Chris Hardwick

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Hmm. I would have given this a three if he'd left out his handful of sexist jokes which popped up like periodic road blocks saying, "Why are you giving this book your time?!" It's a fair question since it's another self-help book where the author's credentials are only his experiences.

My impression of Chris Hardwick from a few episodes I've seen of The Nerdist on BBC-A are that he is not sexist. I believe he was sincere when he wrote that he wants to help people feel better with his book.

Why then include some sexist jokes? They feel like the jokes male comedians still feel compelled to tell if only to bond with each other. Or as a way to bond with other men in general. The various dick and balls jokes would fall in this realm too.

It would be easy to say I'm overreacting, but I bring it up because it made me feel that this book was aimed at male nerds rather than all nerds. Also the sexist jokes, and let me stress here that there were only about 5-10, were nonetheless off-putting and did not make me feel better. I leave that to Chris Hardwick to consider.

Intentional or unintentional sexism aside, there's quite a bit of value to the book. It's broken into three sections: Mind, Body, and Time. In them, Hardwick relays stories from his journey and shares his nerd-style approaches to changing from drifting, drunk chubster to successful, sober fit guy. I wasn't familiar with his past, so I found a lot of these back stories really interesting. He talks about aimlessness, panic attacks, and drinking among other things.

Though I grokked 95% of his nerdy references, I think his exercises (he calls them "charactercizes") favor people into RPGs. (His book is peppered with tasks to help the reader put his suggestions into action.)

I really enjoyed his interview with Trainer Tom in the Body section. There are even workouts with diagrams. They are actually described quite well.

My favorite thing from the book is, "Oh, lizard almonds! Won't you EVER learn?! Now, back to the cave with you, or I'll make you stare at yawning kitty videos for a half hour!" (For context, check out the grey box on page 40, hardcover edition.) It's in the Mind section which I found most useful with its tips to trick your brain into productivity and out of anger, anxiety, and the like.

For me, this book is very much a take what's useful and ditch the rest affair. What's useful will vary from nerd to nerd, but may make this book worth a look.

A year ago on TTaT: Life of Art SitRep #79: 50% for 50-for-50

10 August 2012

Life of Art SitRep #131 Stagger

Well, I got my computer back on Tuesday, but I still feel out of the groove. The things I had in mind to do once I got it back have had glitches and stumbling blocks.

S'aright. I'll find my way back or maybe forge a better path.

This week, I shot 39 photographs and got a niggling thing about my store account fixed.

And, of course, I watched more of the Olympics. Did you see any of the rhythmic gymnastics? In years past, I have routinely scoffed at the ribbon twirling arbitrariness of it. But have you seen it done with the balls or hoops? Some of the team routines with balls as the apparatus were actually amazing. Still strikes me as more performance than sport, but it certainly takes a great deal of athleticism and grace to do. So brava, ladies, and good luck tomorrow (today I reckon by London time)!

A year ago on TTaT: 50% for "50 for 50"

06 August 2012

Still computerless....

...at least in all the meaningful ways because obviously I'm on a computer right now. A PC with a horrible keyboard, agh!

But it's given me a great excuse to watch an awful lot of the Olympics.

My favorite athlete so far is the female archer from Bhutan. She was one of 2 competitors from her country and she got to be the flag bearer for the opening ceremonies. In archery they have wildcard slots that allow more countries to compete even if their archers aren't ranked as high as the medal contenders. The idea is that seeing someone from your country compete will increase interest in archery. It's a cool way to grow the sport.

In any case, the Bhutan archer had the wildcard slot in female individuals and even though she was outmatched, you could tell she was shooting her best and that she was really happy to be there. Such a great smile! And she gets to go home as an Olympian, how awesome is that?

Two years ago on TTaT: Life of Art SitRep #26

03 August 2012

Life of Art SitRep #130 Reprieve?

I've been without my computer since Tuesday but I rocked out 3 new designs last weekend. Gives me good reason to spend a fair swath of time watching the Olympics or reading. :)
5 Bisected Blue Lines Greeting Card
5 Bisected Blue Lines Greeting Card by RocklawnArts
You can sell greeting cards , invitations, stamps and more on Zazzle.com!

I could still use help renaming a photograph, so if you have a moment take a look and let me know what you think. I'd really appreciate your input.

This keyboard is maddening and I don't have my usual files to draw from, so I'll cut this short.

Go Olympic athletes! You all rock!

Two years ago on TTaT: Nature's spotlight