Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Random Things, Mostly Good

I feel like writing a blog post tonight, but not like doing the work of writing one of the meatier posts I have on my "to write" list.

So instead, I'm going to write a bunch of random things.

Do you remember the dress that prompted my meltdown a couple of weeks ago? It arrived today. It fits beautifully. It needs ironing, and I need to get some shoes to wear with it. Once I get those things sorted out, I'll take a picture and show you guys how great it is.


Last night, I was in the mood to make something, so I decided to work on my next t-shirt design. This may actually be more of a mug design, but whatever, let's call it a t-shirt design. My basic method is to take a picture of something, read it into GIMP, subtract the background, and then do some other things until I have a design I like.

For my first design (the dragonflies), subtracting the background was easy, because I could just tweak the contrast until my starting image was black and white, and then remove the black.

My second design (the popsicles) was a little harder, because I wanted a color image. However, I was planning to "cartoon-ify" the image and put it on a black background, so there was a fair amount of leeway in the background removal process.

The design I'm working on now is not so forgiving. I worked on it a bit last night, but I got stuck. I couldn't get the background removed cleanly and I was just getting frustrated. Since the point was to play around with something fun, I quit and went to bed instead.

Today, the solution to my problem was obvious. It involved changing the background (so taking a different starting picture) and adding a step before I attempted to subtract the background. I essentially started over and got several steps further than I had been last night, all in less than 30 minutes.

Here is a sneak peek of the design in progress:
Coming soon to a mug (or t-shirt? or shopping bag?) near you

I am still deciding if it needs further tweaks, and what sort of products to put it on. But I'm fairly happy with the work in progress.


Yes, the links to the designs in the previous sections go to my tumblr and not to my Etsy shop. But the links in the tumblr posts go to the Etsy shop. I'm still keeping one level of separation between my full name and this blog, not because this blog is super secret but because I write about my kids here and want to make finding this blog relatively hard for their eventual junior high school friends. At some point, Google's algorithms will catch up with me and this will no longer work. My hope is that by that point my kids will be too old to care what random crap I wrote about them on this blog.

My whole charade of separation is fairly ridiculous, I know. But it helps me sleep easier at night, and that's worth something.


Speaking of things in my real name, I have been using my Pinterest account again, trying to better understand that network. I still don't really get it. I've found a few of you to follow (and if there are more of you who want me to follow you on Pinterest, let me know in the comments or by emailing wandsci at gmail dot com). I've found a few other accounts to follow. I mostly pin pictures of places I want to go, pictures of recipes I want to try, and pictures of clothes, shoes, and jewelry I want to buy. Pinterest tries to help me expand my horizons, but so far its algorithms are close... but not quite right. It suggested a beach here in San Diego as a "travel destination." It is a lovely beach and definitely a good destination for someone who doesn't live here, but it is old news to me. It tries to pick clothes I would like, but is currently showing me "modest dresses," which isn't an entirely accurate match for my personal style. And for some reason, it thinks I want tips on camping.

But, I am determined to figure this out. I'm going to be pinning ideas for our upcoming trip to France, and I keep pinning clothes I like, even if the majority come from eShakti because that's what is in my feed.

Anyone out there have Pinterest figured out and want to tell me how to better use it?


My latest Chronicle Vitae post is up. I can't link to it because it is published under my real name, but it is about personal productivity and how it is both simpler and harder to improve than you may think. If you can't find it, I can email you a link. I can find it right now by Googling my last name (which you can guess from my books), "Chronicle Vitae," and productivity.

I am already working on my next post, because that is how deadlines work when editors are involved. (Don't misunderstand: I love having someone to edit my work. They just need time to do their work!) I wanted to write about argument culture at work, inspired by the Kate Heddleston post that resonated so strongly with me. I was talking about that post with Mr. Snarky, and he reminded me of the culture of the project on which I first met him, which could at first glance be characterized as an argument culture. But I thrived on that project, and clearly got along well with my colleagues since I married one of them. After much thought, I think I know the reason: I don't think that was actually an argument culture. I think it was a dialogue culture, and there are important differences between argument cultures and dialogue cultures. I want to explore that a bit... but I realized as I started to dig in that this was going to take more than the week I have left before my deadline.

So I came to my senses, and drafted a post about handling job uncertainty instead, which was something that was already on my planned topics list and doesn't require new research. I'll do the argument culture post next time.


To support my planned post on argument culture, I went and borrowed Deborah Tannen's book The Argument Culture from the library. I decided I wanted it yesterday morning, and was proud of myself for looking it up on the library website instead of just buying it for my Kindle. I determined it was available at the branch in Pacific Beach, which is not far from where I live. So I thought I'd drop by and pick up the book and a guidebook to France on my way to my lunch meeting.

I forgot- AGAIN- that library hours are shorter now than they were when I was a kid. The library wasn't open yet, so I sheepishly drove off without any new books. Luckily, it was Pumpkin's parent-teacher conference yesterday, so I was able to go back and get my books before dinner. Pumpkin came with me and found another book in the Humphrey series that she's loving. All's well that ends well.

And with that, I think I should end this post and get to bed!


  1. It depends what you use pinterest for, I think. I like it for recipe ideas, home d├ęcor ideas (I'm pretty bad at this, and we redid the exterior last year, so it was very helpful), and ideas of things to do with kids. I'll often search for something, and then follow a person who pins things that seem to align with my tastes.

    I don't use it much, however, especially when I'm not actively searching for something. I sometimes use it as a way to remember a link, like or similar.

  2. I use Pinterest solely as an inspiration board. If I like something, I pin it. I almost never do anything related to the things I've pinned. I know it can drive a lot of traffic, but I haven't seen much in that line.

    Although people do still re-pin the images of our ocean diorama, and we did that two years ago.

  3. I started to try using Pinterest again but pretty much set that effort up for failure. Figuring out a new(ish) thing while sleep deprived with a newborn (at the time) is really not the best approach. I know people who are masters at it, though, and I benefit from their sharing repins on Twitter....


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