Archive for February, 2009

Great Commercial

February 26th, 2009 No comments

I saw a great commercial this evening about clean coal.  Just watch it… it’s hilarious.  And no wonder: it’s directed by the Coen brothers.

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Google Sketchup Is Cool!

February 22nd, 2009 No comments

This past week I started playing with Google’s Sketchup program.  In a nutshell, it lets you draw 3d models in a quick, simple, and extremely intuitive manner.  I found the program to be immediately accessible, and within an hour or so of playing with it I had managed to sketch up a reasonable representation of our kitchen bar area.  (It’s not a simple thing, either — lots of ins and outs and a few odd angles.)  The next day I took on a bit more challenging project: drafting up a digital copy of my Holga.  It actually actually came out pretty well.  I’ll try to upload shots later when I feel better.  For now… on to another post.

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Steven King Should Write…

February 22nd, 2009 No comments

Steven King should write an autobiography that ends with him mysteriously going missing, and then actually go missing.  Sort of a self-fulfilling prophesy thing.  I figure he’s got the creativity and money to pull that off pretty well, and it would be one heck of an autobiography.  I might even buy a copy.

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Out Sick

February 20th, 2009 No comments

Dore and I were down for the count at the end of this week with a couple of nasty colds.  Congestion, coughs, fever, chills… pretty much the whole works.  We alternated between napping, watching TV, and trying to find things that we could eat around the house.

We’re just starting to feel a bit better, but this weekend is going to be mostly about recovering.

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TODO: Write a Book About…

February 12th, 2009 1 comment

TODO: Write a book about a character in some situation. Modern day society fiction about some guy just trying to get by. He more or less succeeds in whatever it is that he’s up to, but slightly odd things happen to him from time to time. These start to bother him more and more, until he finally can’t think of anything but what is going on. He starts to notice that even things he wasn’t previously bothered by seem to have a sinister undertone. The man at the grocery store checkout glares at him as he is leaving.  The cashier smirks and bobs his head in a condescending way.  The room spins.  And then suddenly he steps outside and everything seems back to normal.  The sun is shining, a bird flies by.  Cars start driving as the stop light turns green.  For the moment, he’s just a guy standing in a store parking lot.  Chest pounding, he takes a deep shaky breath.  And chuckles to himself.  All in my head, he thinks.  I need to get some rest — I’ve been working too hard.  He begins to walk home with his groceries.  The crosswalk changes to walk.  As he steps down into the street a truck’s tires screech as it swerves into the other lane, running the red light and nearly hitting him.  As the truck roars down the road, the passenger lazily reaches out their arm, middle finger extended.  He quickly collects his groceries from where they have dropped with shaking hands.  He waits until the next light turns and scurries across the street, darting glances in both directions. He nervously hurries home, avoiding the eyes of anyone around.  The keys are fumbly and hard to hold, and it takes a minute to open the door.  He steps inside and the door slams shut with a thin, reedy sound.  It’s hollow. He locks the door, but it’s no comfort.  Setting the battered groceries carefully on the counter, he collapses over the sink and takes a long drink of water.  It’s not cold, and tastes of metal and chlorine, but it’s better than the reality outside.  He splashes some on his face and fumbles for the kitchen towel, finding it easily within arm’s reach.  Everything is within arm’s reach in the kitchen.  He wipes the last of the water from his face, but it still feels wet and cool.  The groceries are sitting on the counter waiting, but he ignores them.  He walks to the small table where the remnants of breakfast lie next to the beat up laptop — a hand-me-down from his uncle.  It is his prized possession.  It whines pathetically as he turns it on.  He turns around and goes to get himself a glass of water.  It’s going to be a few minutes.  Finally a beep sounds; it’s ready.

He sits down and begins to write, “My name is Khalib, and this is my story…”

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More Drawings

February 9th, 2009 1 comment

I did a few more drawings this weekend.  I spent a bit more time on these ones, and I think the results are much better (fortunately…).  I’m not going to go into a long boring discussion about these because it’s late.  Enjoy:

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Results: Fifteen Minute Drawings

February 9th, 2009 1 comment

Well, so the results of my fifteen minute drawings are in.  I have to say I’m not as happy with them as I had hoped, but it was a somewhat ambitious goal: I’m still learning the GIMP image editing program, and I’m still working on my composition skills.  I think that next time I might want to spend more time working on making good compositions and less time fighting with the GIMP.

Anyway, here are the results (click on the image to see the large version):

So what do I like and dislike about each one?  Here goes:

Composition 1

This ended up being my least favorite of the bunch.  It’s hard to find things I like about this.  It’s cluttered, the colors are all over the place, and there’s no consistent theme.  There’s also no focal point.  The orange cut-out on the middle green square is interesting, but the color is poorly chosen.

How could I improve this image?  Well, for starters I would try to come up with some consistent theme to tie everything together, and create a focal point for the image.  Throwing things off balance would help to break up the monotony a bit.  Next, I would look at creating a consistent color pallet.  Finally, the picture needs something to create depth.  Either a background or a foreground layer might be nice.

Composition 2

This one’s a little better.  There’s at least a reasonable color scheme going on (it’s still not my favorite, but I do like the two blue tones).  I like the way that the doodles on the left fall out of the space created by the background block.  The two contrasting sides of the picture don’t really do it for me, though.  They are fighting for my attention.  The left is clearly dominant, but the other doesn’t add anything, so it is just pulling my attention away.

I think I could improve this drawing by:

  • Varying the brush strokes for the doodles.  Different thicknesses, pens, and colors would go a long way.
  • Working on the color pallet a bit.  It’s got potential, but is a bit off.
  • Get rid of the right side entirely and focus on the left.  I think it’s got decent potential.

Composition 3

I’m not going to say a lot about this one.  I was getting a bit bored and distracted by “Grey’s Anatomy” (what… it’s Dore’s show…).  I’m always a sucker for blue and orange, what can I say.  The squiggles are becoming a bit boring, aren’t they?  I need a new gimmick.  I liked using the speed-influences-color setting to add some flair to the stroke.  That adds some dynamics.  But it doesn’t save compositions, though.

I like the big background because it pulls you in, but otherwise this is pretty boring.

Composition 4

This is the only one of the bunch that I would actually call a composition.  I really liked the background placement, even if it’s not the prettiest color.  I liked the text as a compositional element.  (Notice that it’s ABC’s.  I actually have no idea where “abrogated” came from; I can’t recall ever seeing it before it just popped into my head.  It turns out that it means, “to abolish, do away with, or annul, especially by authority.” [source] Who knew?)  Once I got to “carnation” I just started doodling what looks almost, but not quite, entirely unlike a carnation.  Oh well, I’ve never been much of a doodler.

If I were to make this better, I’d look at fixing up the colors and adding a few more elements to shore up the empty space.  I’d also try to do something with the sorry excuse for a carnation. 🙂

Assignment: Fifteen Minute Drawings

February 6th, 2009 No comments

Assignment: Create four drawings in scratch in GIMP in one 60 minute period. Each drawing should be different in concept than the last. The focus should be on creating solid composition.

Results to come…

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Superbowl Party!

February 2nd, 2009 2 comments

Dore and I hosted a Superbowl party on, well, Superbowl Sunday.  Actually, more acurately we hosted our friends Matt and Maria’s Superbowl party.  It turned out to be a really great event, and it gave Dore and I the motivation we needed to completely finish moving the junk out of our living room.

I’m not going to go into too many details because it’s late, but here’s the skinny on the party to make everyone jealous:

  1. Matt, Maria, Brian, Dore and I
  2. Homemade onion dip (courtesy of Alton Brown and the Food Network)
  3. Mom’s own recipe guacamole
  4. Veggie tray
  5. Chips
  6. Beer (four kinds)
  7. Mixed drinks
  8. Homemade slow cooker chili
  9. Fresh cornbread
  10. Big screen TV
  11. High-def satellite and DVR
  12. Commercials
  13. Mochi’s touchdown dance

Oh, and some football.

All in all it was a very fun day, and everyone left stuffed and happy.  Well, as happy as you can be when your team doesn’t win.  I became a big Cardinals fan over those 4 hours, and I felt like I could almost remember some of their names.  I think there was a Larry at one point.  So yeah, it was sad to see them lose.  It may take a bit of time.  Oh look… guacamole!

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To Build a Bookshelf

February 2nd, 2009 No comments

On Saturday, I tackled a project I’ve been planning for a couple of weeks: building bookshelves for under the windows in our bedroom.  I wanted to do this for a couple of reasons:

  1. The space under the windows is a bit odd, and I didn’t want to have to try to find shelves that would fit.
  2. Even if I did find shelves that fit, they’d probably be expensive or really poor quality.  And I’d have to deal with either bringing them home from the store or having them shipped.
  3. Bookshelves are probably the simplest woodworking project imaginable.
  4. It’s fun to make things yourself!

I had drawn up the designs last week and figured out more or less what I needed at the hardware store, so getting the materials went quite smoothly.  Having a well thought out plan was key in not having to run back for more supplies or buying too much.  Dore and I found all of the pieces that I needed at the hardware store, as well as a couple of new tools that I didn’t have.  We had the store cut the shelving to the right lengths, which saved me a bunch of time, not to mention getting rid of the need to buy a saw that will just take up space.

So after running around the hardware store for about an hour we headed back home to get to work.  I got set up outside in my “shop” (aka the communal table outside our apartment) while Dore got ready to go to lunch with our friend Maria.

It took a while to get my bearings, but everything seemed pretty straightforward.  It’s a bookshelf, for goodness sakes; there’s really not that much to it.  I used 1×10 pine lumber for the shelves, which had the advantage of being cheap, but the down side is that you have a lot of knots and blemishes to work around.  I spent a bit of time agonizing over which piece should go where, but finally got it sorted out.

The initial build went pretty well, and I was moved along pretty nicely with the sides of the shelves.  When I got to mounting the shelves on the sides, however, I did have some trouble because I didn’t account for how I was going to nail and screw everything together.  With the shelves in place I realized that I actually needed to be careful about the order that things went together so that  I would have enough work room.  (Think of trying to drill in screws with only 8 inches of work space… yuck.)    I took a while, but I finally sorted out the exact order of operations.

Dore helped with the final steps of putting everything together, and we finished up about 5:30.  The final book shelves were not the prettiest I’ve ever seen, but they aren’t bad.  They are level and pretty square, so I’m going to call it a success, even if the shelves aren’t quite tall enough.  If I do build similar shelves again there are a couple of things I would do differently:

  1. I put the top shelves on differently than the other shelves, and this led to problems.  Mainly the top board is a bit warped, and I wasn’t able to line everything up perfectly on top.
  2. Make the shelves taller!  I ended up with shelves that are just slightly shorter than a standard-height hardback novel.  Bummer.

Being able to put some more of our junk away was a major benefit of this project.  We got through another three or four boxes, and now we’re almost completely done unpacking.  Hooray!  But more on that later.

Oh, by the way… the whole project ran about $90 for the wood and hardware and about $45 for the tools that I didn’t already have.  Designing took about an hour, and build time was about 5 hours.  (A lot of the build time was due to not having done this before.)  I did not stain the shelves yet; that’s a project for another weekend.

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