Homework Assignment

OK, I’m completely serious about this, so don’t post something silly without posting something serious, too.

I’ve been going through this list of well-designed websites, deciding what I admire and what I feel to be cliché. (I must have some amount of good taste, since I already frequent over half a dozen of the sites.) Anyway, one of the things I’d like to incorporate into my redesign (whenever it happens) is an About Me blurb. Not necessarily the full-page kind, as I’ve tried that multiple times and it just don’t work. More of something concise and amusing, like:

Diana Schnuth is a web designer and photographer in Toledo OH, making her actual living in the world of finance.

So, my homework assignment to you is to write one or two brief sentences about me that would explain who I am, and what I’m about, to any complete strangers who might confusedly stumble upon my site.

May the power of The Pink Pig be with you! Now go!

Belated GIP

I am genuinely disappointed that no one has yet commented on The Pink Pig! I mean, really! His skin is a crunchy treat!

Incidentally, The Pink Pig was scanned from a bag of Meijer store brand pork rinds—since discontinued, I am sorry to say. Anyway, Aaron was trying to cajol me into eating some pork rinds one day and came up with the phrase, “My skin is a crunchy treat!” It’s been a catch phrase for pork rinds ever since.

Rest in peace, Pink Pig! In your absence, the newly-redesigned Meijer packaging will still silently say to us, “My skin is a crunchy treat!”

Design Dilemmas

I’m contemplating embarking on a major website redesign. Not just a “the.details” redesign—a revamping of all the Diana Network of websites. I’m contemplating actually paying for my web hosting, and getting a decent amount of storage space. Perhaps an ASP-enabled server (so I can at least put pre-made scripts on it, even if I can’t make myself learn ASP alone). Hopefully at least PHP and SQL and Perl. Perhaps even abandoning LiveJournal altogether and trying out one of these other packages like Movable Type or WordPress or Textpattern.

Thing is, now that I give the idea some serious thought, I’m not sure how much control I would have over my design and coding if I use blogging software. My goal is to have a more dynamic page with more flexible design elements—”skinnable” is close to what I’m thinking, although I’m not sure if I could think of more than one or two site designs at once. But, anyway, having started as a hard-coder of HTML, it’s hard to give away all control of my coding, CSS or HTML or javascript or what-have-you. Even in Dreamweaver, I have to go in and fix code sometimes to get it the way I want.

And then there’s the Trendy Factor™. I don’t want my site to look exactly like everyone else’s site, spiffy and acclaimed though they may be. Unfortunately, however, my iFrames aren’t very searchable or trackable or navigable, though I once thought they were the proverbial shiznit. I want a clean, easy-to-update site with highly customizable design elements. I don’t necessarily want bleeding-edge web tech, nor do I want a rubber-stamp MT page with dashed lines around the blockquotes and a pretty patterned background behind my main content panel. I want a classic yet fun and moderately untraditional page that looks like I designed it.

When do I find my style? The one that I like as much as I like the styles of others? The closest I ever got was the Saginaires Alumni page, and even that’s beginning to look stale to me. It’s like it’s almost done, but not quite out of the draft stage. It’s missing something vital, some important detail elements.

Now, before I get a rash of “shut up—you design great websites!” comments (which, admittedly, I wouldn’t mind reading for an ego boost), I’ll concede that I do have some good ideas every now and then. I just can’t seem to make them combine into a solid final cohesive product with which I can be satisfied.

Maybe I’ll design a spiffy-looking new website with more dynamic and engaging content. We’ll see.

Fun With Photoshop

After surfing around awhile, hoping to find a used lomo for cheap, I instead found an interesting photo manipulation technique. I first found a Photoshop action to “lomo-ize” photos—basically pumping up the saturation and vignetting (darkening) the edges. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed. But then I found a link to an article on Dooce’s page, and this made me sit down and play for a while:

Here’s a nifty photo I took of a bee on some flowers:

Here’s the same photo after tweaking it with Dooce’s not-so-secret recipe:

Works well on portraits, but I think it looks pretty spiffy here, too.

Back to the Grind

You know you’re a LiveJournal enthusiast (for lack of a better word) when life events prompt your husband to comment, “Well, at least this will make a good story for your LiveJournal later!”

What prompted this comment, you might ask? How about driving all over freaking Toledo looking for something so simple as photo album pages? All I wanted was a couple packs of damn album pages. Non-magnetic, clear pages that would fit three 4×6 prints on a side. Aaron and I struck out at Meijer, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Taylor Photo, Office Max and Target. I mean, jeebus! How asinine! None of these places carry the right damn photo pages?! *rolls eyes*

I finally ordered them from B&H online, along with some photo storage boxes I’d been wanting… but I’m sure I paid more with shipping and all.

The need for photo pages arose after the realization that I hadn’t put any photos in my photo album since Halloween. That’s nine whole months. Hello, slacker! So, I went through my overstuffed photo box (here again, note the need for those storage boxes I ordered) and located everything that had happened since October 2003. That would include Christmas, moving into the new house, getting Mei, visiting Fort Meigs, Fourth of July fireworks, and the Ann Arbor Art Fair. I have a stack of photos about half an inch thick that finally have names and dates written on them, but no homes. Bah. (And that doesn’t include the ones that don’t make it into the album—I’m more discerning about that sort of thing than I once was.)

And in other news, today is the final day of my vacation. Aaron still has all this week off of work, but I go back tomorrow morning. I guess I don’t really dread going back to work, but I’m certainly not excited about it. As Aaron says, I finally got to feeling like a normal human being again. It kind of gives me a teeny tiny taste of what it might be like to be retired.

Pretty pathetic, I know, dreaming of retirement before we’ve even had kids, but still… I guess if you don’t want to work for The Man, though, your only options are a.) start a successful business, b.) own a farm, or c.) win the lottery / receive an inheritance. Those options don’t include d.) become homeless (like my uncle), or e.) go on welfare (like my Mom when I was really little), since I don’t currently consider those viable alternatives.

And as follow-up: I’m currently trying to purchase a lomo on eBay, though my patience is being sorely tried. I want my new toy now, dammit! I don’t want to have to wait and snipe an auction tomorrow night! Gah!

*deep breath* I’m OK now… I just want my lomo. I’m excited.

Lomography

One of the blogs I check on a regular basis is [daily dose of imagery]. I’ve been noticing that, in his technical photo info, he sometimes mentions a “lomo,” and he’s even won an award for one of his “lomographs”.

So, finally, I’m like, “OK. What is this lomo thing?” I go to the lomography page that Sam linked from his page, and it’s weird. I follow some links, check out eBay, check out PhotographyReview.com, check out the Popular Photography forums, and find mixed reviews. What I did find for sure is that the lomo:

  • is a Russian-made compact 35mm camera
  • has a fast wide-angle lens with manual focus and adjustable speed/aperture settings
  • has a lens coating which makes colors more saturated
  • receives mixed technical reviews from photo-snobs and art-snobs
  • seems to have a two or three-roll learning curve before producing “good” images
  • is currently more expensive than it should be, due to its cult status

Therefore, after obsessing over the lomo for an entire day, I have decided to purchase one—but only if I can get a new or gently used lomo for around $60. New, they cost $199.99 with the instruction manual and case. I’m not down with that… but if I can get a relatively cheap point-and-shoot with adjustable settings that can fit in my purse or pocket, I’m all about it.

Beth, was that four-pane motion-capture camera of yours a lomo? That’s not the model I’m going for, but I saw that the actionsampler looked kind of like the camera you had back in 2001 or so.

Food Glorious Food

This morning, I decided to be all spiffy and make Spicy Chicken Papaya Curry for lunch. Aside from some minor papaya issues (hey, the recipe didn’t say to peel the damn papaya!), it was quite tasty. I’d include a link to the recipe, but the people at the Cooking Club of America don’t have it listed on their site yet. Bah. Anyway, if you like fruity and spicy Thai-esque foods, lemme know and I’ll type out the recipe and post it. It was really delicious… after we sliced off the papaya skins. 🙂

Then, this afternoon, we stopped in at the Low-Carb Solutions store on Reynolds, hoping to pick up some Cinnamon & Butter Flavored Pork Rinds. Unfortunately, they were out of the pork rinds, but we found a new snacky food: Parmesan, Garlic & Olive Oil “Soy~Teins.” Yummy, yummy stuff… as was the Asher’s Sugar-Free Dark Liquid Raspberry chocolate bar we shared. And Heather, the owner, was nice enough to take down our name and number so she can call us when the pork rinds come in.

I also picked up a bottle of Da Vinci Gourmet Irish Cream Sugar Free Syrup. I’d heard those Da Vinci syrups were supposed to be absolutely scrumptious—and I’d heard right. When we got home, I looked up a recipe for Italian soda (since we have a whole two-liter of club soda leftover from making our low-carb pizza crust). OMG. So, so good. I’m going to be buying more of these Da Vinci syrups. *yum*

Bad Plant Day

It all started when I saw that my jade plant was much, much wiltier than usual. It had been getting a little wilty lately, so I’d stopped watering it, having recognized the early stages of stemrot. (The jade is a succulent, related to the cactus, and can’t handle overwatering.) And, sure enough, when I checked it today, the stemrot was in full force. Damn plant couldn’t stand up on its own at all, the almost-trunk was papery-dry on the outside and empty on the inside—all rotted out. Damn.

So, I sat down and yanked the damn plant out of its pot, removing the rotted parts from the still-healthy parts. Currently, the healthy parts are sitting on top of the microwave stand so they can be repotted later. I’ll leave them sit for a few days, to grow a callus where the roots will be, then I’ll repot them and attempt not to kill them again. As I seem to do every few years.

With that crisis handled, I went upstairs to water the remainder of my plants, only to find that the cat had been up on the plant table and had severed my barely-recovered begonia right under the healthy, leafy part. It was only just getting used to being potted, and was finally beginning to stand up on its own and bloom again. Damn cat managed to pop off the top, where all the leaves were resprouting and the one bloom was just budding. Now, I was already pissed off at myself for having given my jade stemrot, so woe be unto the cat if she even sets foot in the same room with me today. She’s already discovered this, and is giving me a wide berth. Anyway, I took the decapitated begonia top downstairs and put it in a vase to sprout roots again.

Now, on to the outdoor plants. The coriander is just about dead, the dwarf hydrangeas are definitely dead, there are bugs eating my rosebush, my lavender isn’t blooming and neither is my rock cress or baby’s breath, and my pearlwort, while having spread mightily since May, is now looking brown and icky in spots.

Fucking plants. Why do I even bother?

Lazy Days

Yesterday was a moderately lazy day. We got up, ate lunch, looked for garage sales, did a little thrifting, and watched a matinee of Fahrenheit 9/11. Great movie—if you haven’t seen it, you should. I never considered myself a “swing” voter; more of an apathetic one. This year, though, I’m definitely going out to vote, no matter what I once said (oh, about four years ago) about the electoral college.

This afternoon, Aaron is over at Kris Heath’s apartment, helping him install Windows XP. See, Kris doesn’t believe in paying for antivirus protection, apparently, and his computer got royally screwed by various viruses and spyware programs. He managed to get it back up and running well enough to back up all his mp3’s, I think, but most of his applications are corrupted and too screwed up to function. So, Aaron’s over at Kris’s place, helping him install a new OS. *shakes head*

Meanwhile, I’m here at home, chillin’. About to clean out the cat box, and balance my checkbook, and maybe put some of my clothes away, and put some photos in the photo album.

Yeah… life is good.

The Vacation Thus Far

So far, you already know about the Art Fair and the Zoo trip. Next, on Tuesday, we visited COSI in Toledo, and were particularly disappointed to find that it was nothing like the Cleveland Science Center. At COSI, there are a zillion hands-on exhibits for the younger kids, but very little for big kids like us. The highlight of the day was the Distorted Gravity Room, where the room is built with the floor at probably a 45° angle, if not greater, and with no right angles in the doors or windows. Makes it very funky to try to walk from the entrance door to the exit. Weird, wild stuff.

But that was the highlight of our visit. Overall, I think we spent an hour and a half or so at COSI.

Today we drove out to Sauder Village to see how the settlers and old folks lived. I brought my 35mm camera, but ended up not taking very many photos at all, since most of the interesting stuff was indoors. Aaron and I both had a great time, even so. In each one-room building is a Sauder worker or volunteer, dressed in period clothing, who explains the building and the history behind it. We ended up looking into one original home, a replica of the first home in the Black Swamp, a one-room schoolhouse, a farmhouse, a community jailhouse, a mill, a printing press (including two linotype machines, for the VCT-minded—very cool), and various other buildings, in addition to walking around the grounds and checking out the museum building. Fun time, definitely worth the price of admission.

So, that pretty much concludes the major trips we’d planned for this week. Sometime tomorrow we plan to go see Fahrenheit 911 and maybe hit some earlybird garage sales. Friday we had considered going to a Clutch show in Flint, but I think we’ve opted against it at this point. We may go to the Art Museum for free. Saturday, there’s the community garage sale on Clymena, then we’re going to the Full Moon Walk with Kris and Jamie. We’ve still got some stuff left to keep us occupied, but no more major road trips.

In other news, we happened upon the Concert for George Harrison on PBS tonight. Not something I would have thought to rent on my own, just to watch, but seeing it on PBS was actually pretty cool. It featured a bunch of people we didn’t know, plus Clapton, Petty, George Harrison’s son, Ravi Shankar, Ringo, and McCartney, and Monty Python. Good concert, well-produced.

And I’m out. Word.