Art and Salamis

I don’t think I’d mentioned this here yet, but a few weeks ago I got all excited over a working scanner and scanned a bunch of art, all of this mostly inspired by someone who contacted me regarding acquiring prints for a school library display she was doing on dystopian literature. So I had a few days of hardcore scanning…and rotating and delicately fitting things together, as the scanner is 8.5″ x 11″. But anyhow, if anyone needs art for their walls, I can hook you up (or rather, you’d hook me up by buying art!):

http://varoper.imagekind.com

I’ve got some other stuff I need to scan in, but it’s all lodged in a ceramics studio at some mall or another.

I’ve been working on some Salami Day t-shirt ideas, and am remembering the vast bridge of differences between Photoshop and Illustrator. D’oh! Progress is slow but progressing. I’d love to be able to print up a bunch myself (assuring they’d be good quality and a reasonable price), but I think the initial cost is more then I’d be able to handle, and I’m just gonna end up doing cafepress or zazzle or another of such sites (higher price for the final product, but little to no overhead). Maybe once I get an idea of if the random public might be interested in some quality salami-related clothing, I can consider beyond those options.

Sushi and Twilight!

I’m gonna totally spam now, but I made some super awesome sushi the other day and wrote a post about it at my food blog, so go check out my super fun sushi time if such things intrigue you!

By the way, I finished the first Twilight book. I don’t think the writing is terribly good, but the end really managed to hook me and I now desperately need to get ahold of book #2. Too bad that all of the library’s copies are checked out. So now I just need to find another person that’s trying to sell their copy for $5 (which is how I got the first one).

Hiking at Elliot Knob, as well as food adventures

First, the hiking. Drew, Julie and I went to Elliot Knob this past weekend. It’s a bit west of Staunton. As an aside, I really enjoy pronouncing Staunton the way people from Staunton actually pronounce it, doing so entertains me greatly. Anyhow, we ventured forth with two dogs and a nice picnic. The trail alternated between dirt road and actual trail, and we ended up eating lunch in a teeny field amongst some power lines with a good overlook of the valley below. The last mile of the trail was at this insane uphill angle, which caused our legs to fall off. The view from the top was totally worth it, though. Hiking back was interesting as the last 1/3 was done in the darkness. We were super smart, though, and brought flashlights with us. So we ended up only taking one wrong turn in the dark. Mind you, on the way up I totally led us down the wrong trail at one point. Anyhow, if you have good legs and like hiking straight up, I totally recommend it.

Oh, and here’s some pictures I dumped all over facebook!

In other news, Drew and I had an exiting adventure at Trader Joe’s today, which I’d been wanting to do for quite awhile. I first went to one back when I was like 17 and in California with my aunt. So we got some awesome looking pizza dough for a buck, an awesome looking pack of granola bars for a buck, some chocolate and granola cereal for 2 bucks, and a bunch of other things. It’s interesting, some of the prices were higher then what I’d pay for things, and seemed more in line with your standard fancy organic pricing, and some of the prices were cheaper then I generally pay for similar things (AKA the $1 garlic pizza dough). Mmm garlic pizza.

That area out at Short Pump is insane! I generally avoid that area, as unless you go in the middle of a weekday it’s just a sea of cars and concrete mazes and makes me want to start smashing things. And so, at some point or another, a giant strip of field and trees got filled in with giant apartments and restaurants and stores, kinda crazy. I really hate the whole ‘giant boxes of stores separated by giant highway, so don’t even think of trying all of your errands in this area on foot’ kind of thing. However, I can hope they might be moving in a slightly different direction, given that the apartments had stores on their first floor and such, and the buildings seemed to be getting built in the direction of being more walkable and communitylike (mind you, they’re still building stuff, so who knows). I think that everyone needs to read Suburban Nation, especially if you are a developer, that way you will be making places I want to live in. I can hope things are moving in that direction, what with this whole ‘green movement’ thing and all, as a great way to cut down on car exhaust would be to make it easier to walk to stores from your house then to drive there.

And on a completely different note, we saw Coraline a few days ago. I really liked the animation style, and I highly recommend the movie to anyone who likes artsy animation and cutesy horror.

Fatal error: Cannot redeclare pclziputilpathreduction

So I decided to do what all the cool kids are doing these days, and upgrade to WordPress 2.7.1. Thing is, when I tried, I got as far as getting the upgrade zip, then I get this nasty little bastard on my screen:

Fatal error: Cannot redeclare pclziputilpathreduction

After poking around on google a bit, I found the solution. Seems that the WordPress Automatic Upgrade plugin was causing the actual attempt at an automatic upgrade to die. Maybe the new WordPress upgrade was making faces at the plugin, so said plugin decided to make life more difficult for all of us involved. In any case, all you have to do is disable WordPress Automatic Upgrade, and WordPress 2.7.1 upgrades quite happily. Which also means that now the whole automatic upgrade dealio is packaged with WordPress, rather then being a separate plugin. Works for me!

Bad Makeup and the Uncanny Valley

So I was looking at Walmart’s free samples, as I sometimes do when I get bored. It’s a great opportunity to get free teeny packets of granola and newfangled tampons. Plus, it means I get more in the mail besides bills and junk mail. In any case, there was a free sample to try some Maybelline foundation (err, ‘liquid makeup’). Now, I don’t use foundation. Never have, except for a few times in middle school when my face got hijacked by a bored friend. I’ve been under the impression that the people who do use it use it as either a blemish remover (to hide all those old acne scars, etc) or as a gesso of sorts for the face (i.e. viewing the face as a canvas of sorts for painting makeup and using the foundation as a means to start with an even base, as a geisha would). The free sample of foundation, though, used these as it’s advertising points:

ad

The idea of airbrushed equaling perfection is bad enough, much less the oxymoron of “airbrush natural finish”, which is text further down in the ad. Or, for that matter, the curiousness of considering it natural to have a face completely devoid of any means of the skin being able to breathe. What this did lead me to think about, though, was the uncanny valley.

For those unaware, the uncanny valley is why something almost but not quite human comes across to actual humans as quite disturbing. It explains zombies, as well as people being creeped out by The Polar Express. So I’ve decided that there’s a conspiracy, here, between the makeup industry and lazy animators. It would take some crazy algorithms to produce the sort of chaos necessary to replicate all of the variances of skin shades and body irregularities and eye movements and slight facial changes to make something appear as a real person, and not simply as something eerily close to a person, so close as to be uber-creepy. Such algorithms would take hard work, and it’s just easier to pay off the makeup industry to convince people that pores and irregularities are what’s actually unnatural. Make people look like almost-people, so that the uncanny valley eventually becomes normal, rather then creepy.

On another note, I wonder how a Turing test would deal with humans trying to pass themselves off as robots, rather then robots trying to pass themselves off as humans.

SNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and the economy.

I am super excited about the snow. It has been years since I’ve seen snow in this glorious of a quantity. The inches keep piling up, and it’s still going strong! I have a recipe for snow pudding that I found which I’m going to attempt, as I’ve never made it before and it would be fun. I’m also gonna drag Drew to a random flat area with me so I can build snow things. I’m thinking somewhere on Monument where there’s the large grassy area in the middle. This way I can make some sort of glorious sculpture that will stare at all the suckers driving to work tomorrow.

In other news, I stimulated the economy today. Everything I got was on sale, but that’s pretty standard these days. — the power is flickering, crap. I hope I finish this before it gets bored and dies — Anyhow, I got hookups from Christine for some sweet sparkly shoes with her 40% discount from Journeys. Also got a few shirts and 4 pairs of underwear from JC Penney. Technically two pairs were free, as they had a “spend $50 get $10 off” deal going on, and I added on the extra two pairs just so I could make $50 worth of stuff. Can’t have too many pairs of underwear, though! I also finally got to spend my Michaels gift card. I love craft stores, there’s so much junk to look at that is neat. I got a set of 8″ round cake pans, which I hope to put to good use soon, as well as some red dye, so I can finish off a few shirts I managed to dye a bad salmon rather then red not too long ago.

When I left the mall, the snow was falling all around me. It was magical and glorious and took forever to get home because I and everyone else around me were barely doing 40 in the 65mph zone. Did I mention that I’m super excited by the snow?

I may have found a solution to the “where to go in a week or so?” dilemma. I’ve never been to Asheville, NC, and was thinking about going there to get some serious hiking in, as I’ve heard it’s a really neat town. I found a really cheap hostel there, I think I can manage $15 a night! Might be taking Christine with me for company, depending on what her job situation’s looking like at that point. Mind you, if the weather in a week is still like it is now, my plans may change to someplace a little further south. Then again, maybe not, hiking in snow could be pretty awesome.

Online art and travel prospects

I’m finally getting around to getting a bunch of art onto some websites for the purposes of selling prints. See, there’s a big pile of such websites out there, the perfect place for people who want wall art to seek it out. It’s about time I started taking advantage of that outside of the pre-existing art I have up through OWP, which is neither art I am excited by nor art that gets me more then piddly amounts in the way of royalties. I suppose I can’t complain too much, as I apparently made $85 last year in royalties. Which, while by no means a lot, is still more then I’ve managed to make before off of such things. In any case, I have a scanner now. One I’d assumed didn’t work. It was one of two, donated to us by Drew’s dad, who was not sure if either worked. The first one did not, and because of the that, the second sat for a rather long time, due to me more or less assuming that it would be nonfunctional. Well, it works! Yay! All 8 1/2″ x 11″ of it. Which makes scanning anything larger then that a pain. Photoshop is my friend. We’ll see if I can do much of anything with these 18″ x 24″ babies I’ve got sitting around here.

In other news, what should I do for spring break? I don’t *technically* have a spring break, mind you, but I’ve decided to give myself one anyway. See, I’d wanted to drag Drew off to do something fun for that week, as it is his spring break. But then I found out that his is pretty much all gonna be devoted to D&D purposes with Robbie and JD. So I figured I’d just take a chunk of that week and go off on my own. I want to leave the state, and go meandering around and look at interesting things in a cheap way. I might try couchsurfing.com, and see what sort of fun that could evolve into. I’ve also got people who I’ve never met irl, or people who I’ve met rather infrequently, or people who I haven’t seen in a long time due to distance and/or falling out of touch. So if anyone wants to hang out with me the week of March 7-14 (and maybe even give me a couch to crash on some night!) I’m up for suggestions! I’m up for any suggestions, really, if anyone knows of anything neat going on on this side of the Rockies (which is about as far as I’m willing to travel, I figure).

So, uh, give me ideas!

Miles, Mucous, and Mewling

The flow of items from my sinuses out the exit holes has begun to slow. This pleases me. So, in theory, at some point the evacuation will be complete, and I can get back to life as scheduled. My toilet paper rolls have been very stoic through all of this. I, uh, don’t buy tissues. I figure that anything that’s good enough for my butt is good enough for my nose. The thing is, there’s multiple types of ‘disposable soft papery absorbent material’, the notable ones being toilet paper, tissues, napkins, and paper towels. I find that I can easily combine the first two into one and have no problems. I know of various folks who combine the latter two, using paper towels for napkin-related purposes. While I have done this on occasion, I must confess to being a veritable napkin fiend, and have a definite preference for them for all of my mouth-dabbing needs.

Drew and I have been making great use of the Henrico Public Library system as we crush through the Miles books at lightning speed. I just killed off ‘A Civil Campaign today’, and it was delightful. I will be sad when I run out of Miles books, as I want be a mercenary and go to fancy Vor parties and hang out with hermaphrodites at the Orb. I suppose that is the problem with books that are good to escape into. Also, I find that this is the good part of reading certain other sorts of books, such as pretty much anything by Jane Austen. I read them and think they are exciting while reading them, but am otherwise perfectly glad to not be living in 19th Century England as a young lady whose sole purpose in life is to find a good husband.

On a related note to the first part of the preceding paragraph, I can’t believe that vorkosigan.com is actually available. I’d get it if I could figure out a decent use for it. I love to make a good website and all, but I’d need content first, and the only think I can think of is a resource website, of which there are already a few. Mind you, they look like they haven’t been updated in about 10 years, designwise, but the content seems more or less updated. Anyhow, I’m gonna randomly brainstorm for content and see if I can think of anything creative or interesting, as I could use another site for my portfolio.

My latest hobby, at random, is cat tents. I will come across a cat that has decided to take a nap on a chair or couch. I will then pile the areas around that cat up will pillows, and then drape a blanket over the area to create a tent/cave. It is very cute and sometimes the cat will leave and then come back. Works for both cats as well. You wanna know something crazy? There are some people that prefer kittens to cats. I feel that this is crazy talk. The kitten is the pesky little thing you put up with until it finally blossoms into a lazy huggable cat.

Oh yeah, and I finally figured out (more or less) how to make a passable pad thai! Yay!

Misery and More!

So I’ve got the worst of both worlds going now: cramps and a cold! It’s super fun. At least the cold isn’t all that bad, the sore throat is a real pain, but the fever isn’t too high and my stuffy nose/congestion is minimal. It has allowed me to get in a lot of reading and movie time, which is always fun. Less getting work done time, though, but such can be expected when one is illing I suppose.

This morning, it was glorious. I looked outside and saw snow, in big fat chunks! And then it stopped. And then it all melted. Sigh. It was really pretty while it lasted, though. I really want to wake up to a foot of snow one of these days. Highly unlikely, but a girl can dream.

V-day, Experiments, etc.

So Drew and I had a lovely Valentine’s Day. I made really weird cheesesteaks and we watched Patton. Oh, and we both got sick, that was the most romantic part of all! Just a minor head cold it seems, enough to be annoying but not enough to get in the way of too many things. I also managed to finish another Miles book. Need to see if the library has the next one too. I’ve got one I actually own that I haven’t read yet, and I discovered too late that it’s actually the middle story in a compilation, so I’ll inevitably have to check out the compilation and just switch books for the middle story. Ah well.

So about 2 months ago, Carolyn acquired some reject wrinkle cream from someone or another, and passed a bottle onto me. Being the experimental type, I decided I would do an experiment. I would only apply it to the left side of my face, and would just use whatever normal lotion on my right side. The bottle was actually two little bottles, one for under-eye, one for upper-eye. The upper eye actually suggested you’d feel a tingling sensation of lifting. First off, I did not feel a tingling sensation. Second off, a tingling sensation likely has nothing to do with ‘lifting’. I had this facial wash for awhile that also had a ‘tingling sensation’, I felt like I was soaking my face in mouthwash, it was horrible. I do not approve of artificial stimulants being added to products to give the illusion of working, it’s no good at all. It’s what makes me hate using some types of mouthwash, and I’m glad that at least Act keeps that kind of thing to a minimum (though, the bubblegum flavor avoids it altogether, which I appreciate).

In any case, I didn’t use the upper eye stuff in the experiment, as the area above my eyes is like a cave and is simply not comfortable to apply lotion to. I used the bottom eye stuff on the bottom eye areas for a month. At the end of the month, I noticed no difference. Thus, snake oil it is!

I used to almost never use lotion, but at some point in the past several years, my skin started getting drier. Or working for OWP and washing my hands 2384792743 times a day caused it (on my hands, at least). Not sure. In any case, when I’ve applied lotion to my face, it’s been sort of an overall sweeping gesture of an application. With this eye lotion stuff, though, I’d need to lean in closer to the mirror to ensure the lotion got applied to all of the strategic eye areas. Because of this, I noticed more pseudo-wrinkles forming then I’d ever had the attention span to notice before. I’m glad to have finally chucked the stuff and returned to plain old moisturizing-type lotion.

In conclusion, wrinkle-removal cream should be called wrinkle awareness cream. I look forward to never using any ever again and to accepting my mortality gracefully.