Feb 282013

Dear Konrad,

We’ve been partners for a year: I’ve never thanked you for your love and support.  You tolerate me and are privy to my most personal thoughts even though I treat you as a tool.  I only take care of you when you run dry, giving you fuel, like coffee, so that you may continue to serve my purpose.

You are starting to show wear from my use: scars and wrinkles, a testament to stories told and time endured.  You are much more durable than I, will last beyond my years, perhaps to be manipulated by my heirs.

Beauteous Konrad, your physique is unmatched in your peers.  My fellow humans do not all have partners such as yourself, but treat their servants like trash.  Without culture or style, these disposables are an insult to nature.  Konrad, you will never kill a sea turtle or be ingested by hungry aquatic life.  You will always be my right hand.

Your deep blue hue and chrome detailing make me feel that I’m driving an antique convertible.  With you, Konrad, the pleasure stems not from the destination, but the journey.  Every journey you record brilliantly, allowing me to look back on our adventures.

Thank you Konrad Flex, Blue Tortoise Noodler extraodinare, you’re always the piston-fill fountain pen for me!


 February 28, 2013  Posted by on February 28, 2013 musings No Responses »
Feb 232013

If I were a pastry, I’d be too sweet to eat, and so cute it would be hard not to take a nibble.

Rich, dark chocolate ice cream oozes into your mouth as you bite into a white fluffy clear-glazed doughnut. A dollop of swirled maple-flavored whipped cream sits atop your Watkins and will always stick to your nose as you bite into the gooey center. The most addictive aspect of the Watkins is its diminutive size; it is little more than two bites, so it is necessary to get a platterful to share with friends, laughing at creamy noses all afternoon.

These sweet treats are the traditional food of the summer solstice, as the ice cream center will cool you off, and being covered in flaking donut sugar will have you running to the swimming hole to clean up, especially after hot waiting in long lines as you would for fresh funnelcakes.


 February 23, 2013  Posted by on February 23, 2013 musings No Responses »
Feb 222013

This thing is elegant, its’s sweet. rad, and a little small for my fingers. But it’s so sweet to be able to type anywhere!!! I feel so cool! This takes up less space than a netbook, and weighs only a few extra ounces more than what I usually carry. I already carry my phone around. I’m over the moon! Can’t wait until my hands adapt to the new scale of keyboard, because it’s actually scaled better to my hands than a standard keyboard. I can actually stretch my right pinkie finger to the shift key! This is the absolutely coolest tech gadget I have ever invested in!! If I’d known about this earlier in my university years, I may have contemplated studying a major that involves typing long papers. The specs of this ultra-cool, productivity-improving, distraction-negating portable typing device are hard to believe: it has a rechargeable battery that should last a month or two, it weighs less than my phone, and takes up a minimal amount of space, measuring a centimeter at its thickest area. I was able to use it right out of the box.

I’ve always wanted a device like this elegant pairing: a distraction-minimal screen that shows what has been recently written, and a touch-typing compatible clicky-clack keyboard, which is light enough to take anywhere. When I realized that my on-the-go busy life with classes and jobs was getting in the way of getting my work done well, I saw that using the available technology better: my iPhone, could be the salvation of my grades without cutting back on rent-earning hours. The impediment to this, however, was the slowness of touch-screen typing: convenient only for limited. fast formats such as texting and tweeting. When looking into wireless keyboards crafted for use with pocket communicators, I was demoralized by the amount that were not compatible with apple products or were dependent on a refreshing supply of disposable AA or AAA batteries (which I would have to buy specially for the purpose, as I have no other devices requiring them). But lo! this past Tuesday, I combined the keywords ‘bluetooth’ ‘rechargeable’ and ‘keyboard’ and found the SPIDER. Call me Little Miss Muffett, I’m spilling my curds and whey over this arachnid.

After ordering the keyboard ASAP, I received confirmation later the same day that it had shipped. I had dreams that night about the keyboard arriving in record time, magically delivered to my pillow. I typed all night. The next day I stalked the shipping status page, watching as it left Texas, passed through Tennessee, then passed by me to vacation in Maryland. Preoccupied by preparations for the opening of Afterpiece, I realized that it wouldn’t be under my hands until today.

After groping the klaxon into reluctant silence this morning, I poked the alarm-inducing device and opened my email. The lack of messages on the subject of packages made me curious – I found the hours of the campus mail center, and discovered the slimness of the chance of getting my package today: there was one hour to process my package before my lunch break – the only opportunity to pick it up, as work would keep me after their closing time. Out of class, I checked my email again – no package notification. I resolved to check anyway. I was surprised by an orange slip, and was shocked! It was time-stamped only five minutes previous. I clutched the light package as I rushed through the sleet to my car.

While munching a PB+H I used a key to cut the tape of the long brown box, and discovered a beautiful keyboard sealed for my protection on a bed of white styrofoam peanuts. I rounded up the peanuts as best I could. Several escaped under the passenger seat. Any future adventures in the Subaru hatchback will be tainted by the knowledge that there are styrofoam stowaways stashed.

I contemplated attacking the sealed plastic prison with two door keys by moving with ninja-speed to create a sawing effect. I instead chose to be a practical ninja and stashed the entire package in my bag. Staying patient for several hours, the moment I clocked out of sanding duty I teleported to the tool room and equipped myself with a hacksaw. The protective casing melted like butter before my stern gaze.

Back in the car, I freed the keyboard with minor violence (the hacksaw having opened the prison but not freed the prisoner). In the fracas, the pin to bluetooth-pair was lost.

Back at the Nest for dinner, I took apart a discarded pen in an attempt to Macguyver a poking tool, but a small unfolded staple actually did the deed. Now the two are married, much to my delight.

 February 22, 2013  Posted by on February 22, 2013 musings No Responses »
Feb 172013

In preparation for this exercise, I outfitted my mobile with the Flickr and Tumblr apps, so that I may efficiently upload the photos as I take them. Matters were complicated by the fact that uploading via Flickr App would crank up my cell data, so I tried to enable WiFi. My phone then informed me that I wasn’t signed up for Apogee (the dorm WiFi) this semester. I was mystifed by this revelation, as my MacBook Pro has been using this internet for the past month with no issues. Crossing my fingers, I waded through the website to sign up (hoping against hope that doing so wouldn’t deny my computer internet whilst enabling my phone WiFi). Sighing in relief, I prepared to interpret.

Photoblitzing: Exercising visual interpretation skills in a limited time period.

This week’s DS106 photoblitz challenge involves responding to as many of the following prompts as possible in a 20-minute period.

  1. Your first photo is of something that shows the current time! Document when you started the blitz. In the next 20 minutes, try to capture as many of the following photos as you can:
  2. Make an ordinary object look more interesting, almost supernatural.
  3. Take a photo that makes use of converging lines.
  4. Take a photo dominated by a single color
  5. Take a photo of something at an unusual angle
  6. Take a photo of two things that do not belong together.
  7. Take a photo that represents the idea of “openness”
  8. Take a photo that expresses a human emotion
  9. Take a photo emphasizes mostly dark tones or mostly light ones.
  10. Make a photo that is abstract, that would make someone ask, “Is that a photograph?”
  11. Take a photo of an interesting shadow.
  12. Take a photo that represents a metaphor for complexity.
  13. Take a photo of someone else’s hand (or paw)
  14. Take another photo of a timepiece that shows the time you stopped. It should be twenty minutes since step 1, right?

I’m going to give myself an extra 5 minutes to deal with the technical difficulties of using the new Flickr and Tumblr apps to post these images as I go. I’m also limiting myself to local, indoors photos. It’s cold outside. And travel time is time that I’m not using for photographing and uploading.



Phew.  I must say that was more fun than I expected.  It was also the first time that I’ve really appreciated photography as its own medium.  I usually find myself taking photographs for the purpose of recording events or inspiration, and collecting references for drawings.   Taking artistic photos can be really fun!  In order to finish within the time, I jumped around on the list: 1, 8, 10, 3, 13, 9, 5, 4, 2, 6, 11, 12, 14.  In the process, I missed #7, which I skipped several times because I was stumped mentally on how to take a picture embodying openness without falling in the cliché of door images.

Not only was I surprized by the amount of fun I had, but I’m also intrigued by how well the photos look in their inspired order:

PB 1

PB 2

PB 3

PB 4

PB 5

PB 6

PB 8

PB 9

PB 10

PB 11

PB 12

PB 13

PB 14

I’m contemplating how best to elaborate on these images with description and titles.  I feel bad for calling them each “PB #” as a placeholder as I uploaded them within the time limit.  I’ll think of something.

 February 17, 2013  Posted by on February 17, 2013 musings No Responses »
Feb 042013

In this video Kurt Vonnegut comically and relates a simple method for analyzing stories, briefly mentioning how these stories together reflect Western Civilization’s preferred story shapes.  I feel that this method is too general, and doesn’t encompass the subtleties that create intrigue in stories.  It also focuses on only one character, and changes in fortune over time.  Though many stories focus on the fares of one individual, others involve and develop more than one character – this is especially the case with multi-seasonal TV shows or serial novels with long story arcs.  These long-form stories have a primary character, but theirs is not the only fortune that changes.  Another flaw is the ambiguity of the Beginning-Electricity axis.  The notation of this direction and the manner in which Vonnegut explains it does not allow for the interpretation of stories that are not told in a time-linear fashion.    The nature of storytelling is indeed linear – moments happen in sequence to create meaning, but often the storyteller invokes flashbacks or omits information to create suspense or to manipulate the perception of the story recipient.  An example of this is Severus Snape’s lengthy flashback at the end of book 7 remedying the prolonged friend or foe debate created from a dearth of information on his motives.  How, then to portray the linear change in perception which develops the story but does not immediately influence the fortune of any character?  Indeed, I am being too harsh.  My criticism comes from a perspective of structual analysis, in the interest of creating compelling stories of my own.  Vonnegut is not presenting a framework, but a contour.  Because it is so general, the method of analysis can be applied to any story.

In the spirit of Vonnegut:

G                                                            *
|                                                            *
|                                                          *
|                        ****                        *
|                      *      *                      *
|                   *          *                    *
***          *               *                *
|    *        *                  *             *
|     *     *                    *           *
|       ***                      *        *
|                                    *     *
I                                      **

A quiet but beautiful daughter lives happily with her father, even though they are of below-average socioeconomic status.  In exchange for a life-saving favor, her father reluctantly sends her to live with a terrifying monster who lives like a lord.  After some time with this monster, the girl realizes that his terrifying appearance conceals a humble soul and becomes friends with him.  Learning of her father’s advancing age or illness, she leaves the fancy manor and returns to the humble village.  The monster is distraught without her and is brought to the brink of death.  After caring for her father, the girl with an attractive exterior and caring heart returns to the monster and saves his life by professing her love.

A genre of digital storytelling that I am particularly interested in is webcomics.  Some webcomics are not exclusively digital and exist also in print form, but others make use of the digital interface and exist solely on the internet.  An example of this kind of story is The Wormworld Saga by Daniel Lieske.  Though not yet complete, this is definitely a digital story because it makes use of the scrolling nature of a browser window – a format named the Infinite Canvas by Scott McCloud.

 February 4, 2013  Posted by on February 4, 2013 musings No Responses »
Feb 032013

Between Five Card Flickr and the original Five Card Nancy,  Nancy makes a more cohesive story.  It took me several attempts in FCF to create a five-image sequence that did not demand a lengthy and warped narrative for a relationship, while Nancy’s inherent visual coherence lends itself better to scrambled storytelling.

The final Five Card Flickr result:


Fates sending a message, old-skool,

Soon way of the dinosaur, no more,

Paper flower funeral for fool,

Extra limbs and eyes so sore,

Climate change melts poles, not cool.

1 & 4 by bionicteaching    2, 3, & 5 by Serenae

The poem format seemed appropriate for reinforcing the relationship between five disparate images, which, surprisingly were from only two photographers.  Its curious, because I know part of the reason I chose the images I did was some compositional and mild conceptual relationships.  The phone was an intriguing beginning – it seemed a catalyst, and it created a space for a narrative.  The stegosaurus’ position echos the curve of the first photo’s table and the black and white is nostalgic in the same manner of the design of the phone.  I didn’t pick up any conceptual ties between the flowers and the prior pictures, but it didn’t involve people or buildings, both of which seemed inappropriate.  The chaotic crowding of the image does provide a foil to the quiet emptiness established by the first two.  The frog introduced a living element, related by evolution to the dinosaur, and the composition of having one compelling element to the left of center with a foreground in the lower left and a short depth of field mimicked the opening image.  Intriguing that they are both by the same photographer, I realized at the end.  The ocean scene seemed a good ending to a story, and also inspired my interpretation.  During  grade school, whenever I needed to write a ’1-page paper’ Dad would recount his tale of how he would exactly follow the length parameters by ending the story’s page with the closing phrase ‘and then the world blew up!’.  This account always elicited a laugh and for several uninteresting assignments I was very tempted to emulate him.


On the other hand, Five Card Nancy makes choosing a cohesive narrative relatively simple.  I did use the ‘draw again’ feature several times; after the first four panels established the dream-sequence/ odd experience narrative, I actively looked for panels that would serve well as an ending sequence, but not close the interpretation to a strange dream.

Visually the panels fit together naturally, as they share a visual drawing style, comic language, and color scheme.  There is even some compositional movement from frame to frame, especially between the final two panels – the road and bush line up perfectly.  The yellow wall and background are consistent between several frames as well.  I especially enjoy the fact I don’t need to write a poem to tie the sequence together.

 February 3, 2013  Posted by on February 3, 2013 musings No Responses »
Feb 032013

in[SPIRE]. The cream of the crop of a creative class: an irresistable ocean of delight… in theory.  In looking for a particular project to review from the cacauphanous collection, I opened several in tabs to examine.  Indeed intruiging – I relished the opportunity to read about the making of a coffee-related gif, an episode of Animal Hospital  (especially given my passion for Bat World Sanctuary) and an assignment entitled Draw It!.  Here’s why everyone should love bats:

My hopes were dashed at every turn.  The former links led only to domain-fail messages which showed, in the form of miserable blue dead ends, that DS106 is not #4life 4everyone.  Even more heartbreaking was the link that worked.  Draw It! details how to photoshop an image and give it a drawing-like aesthetic.  Also known as ‘no actual drawing happened in the creation of this image’.  To persons untrained in drawing, it no doubt looks nice.  It looked like a nice photorealistic, albiet boringly composed, graphite drawing in the thumbnail.  In the full-size it’s pretty shifty, though.

Photoshop converted drawing of a Lion

The background is way too crisp for the style of drawing that has a central subject – an artist with the skill to reproduce a subject with that level of detail would frame and structure the composition differently – with more focus on the face of the subject.  Referring to this method of image-modification as ‘Draw[ing] It! is entirely inaccurate, as it lacks the most fundamental change that happens when drawing- the transformation of interpretation.  Often this is an unconcious occurance, but at times ommission of irrelevant detail is a concious choice, as would have happened in the background.  A more accurate and informative title would be ‘Drawrize It’.  If that had been the case, I wouldn’t have a reason to rant.  Furthermore, the directions were difficult to follow, especially after step 5.  No mention of the level of Photoshop used, no screenshots of the process.  I hope you can soothe your disappointment as I did by watching the adorable movie above.

 February 3, 2013  Posted by on February 3, 2013 musings No Responses »
Feb 012013

Stories are how people make sense of the world around them, and present their experiences to others, often with the side effect of influencing or informing the recipient. Stories are humble things, that go unnoticed in the fabric of daily life. Most meetings in the day are punctuated by anecdotes. These mostly or semi-factual accounts aren’t the stuff of legend and may be forgotten in a few hours.  But storytelling is the most ancient art, predating cave paintings. Ancient man conveyed stories with theatrical gestures, cook-fire lighting, and simple language.  Methods of crafting tales and legends have evolved, diversified and infiltrated every media, especially the internet. However, some traits of tales are still the same – stories always lean on a shared framework of communication – language especially, but often pictures.

Storytellers create the terms by which a narrative is conveyed. Often, to create the setting, a storyteller will put on a mask, physically or metaphorically. The internet makes this especially easy, as the medium of information transference is entirely impersonal. The entirety of the internet is story-sharing, from blogs and news sites, to games and tweets – every bit of information transferred from the mind of one human to another is the potential for storytelling. Storytelling can be a way to live vicariously, or share more deeply than possible as just a person. Stories can be fictional, told from a created character’s perspective, but stories can also be uncomfortably true, as the seeds of stories always grow from the loam of raw experience.
When I think digital storytelling, my mind immediately jumps to graphic novels like ReMind, and the Wormworld Saga. Though webcomics are far from the only medium of storytelling on the internet, its a kind with which I am familar and aspire to create.

 February 1, 2013  Posted by on February 1, 2013 musings No Responses »
Jan 172013

It has been an overwhelming week for a social media neophyte booting up.  Never before have I had such an internet presence, learning about so many new tools and their use so quickly.  As a consequence, I turned to my strengths in making my first Daily Create.  I used Quicktime to record my screen activity whilst drawing a cherished, ordinary, functional object; then used iMovie to accelerate the recording.

As with any school assignment, I endeavored to follow the parameters: “Find nearest over-looked everyday object. Fabricate a story about it being a key part of your childhood.” whilst retaining internet anonymity and furthering my own creative development.  I feel that TDC is a fantastic motivator to practice drawing from life, my dream of being creative every day.

 January 17, 2013  Posted by on January 17, 2013 musings No Responses »