I’m not on a diet

When people see the change in me, they ask what diet I am on. South Beach? Going vegetarian? Paleo? I have changed my diet, I am not “on” one. This is not an on/off game. This is a commitment to healthier eating and living. To making food choices based on taste and nutrition and to eating mindfully.

But there are principles guiding me:

  1. vegetables and fruit are good in whatever quantity I want them
  2. white bread, white rice, and semolina add calories without much nutrition: avoid them
  3. I don't know how to eat a handful of chips–avoid them until I am able to not eat the whole bag
  4. Cheese should be limited (it used to be the only food I had in the house on a regular basis), but a sprinkle of parmesan on soups, feta on salads adds taste and protein without high calories and inciting my desire for more more more
  5. desserts are rare–only when I really want them, not just because they are there (I don't love cake, so I don't have it just because it is a party)
  6. choose nutrition over empty calories
  7. have fun (more on that in another post)
  8. cook for myself, explore new foods

Another thing that has been a very important guide to me is to have a deal with myself that if I want to go out for pizza once in awhile or have a big plate of spaghetti, that is okay. It is not reasonable for me to think “I must never eat pizza again.” I want to experience food as plenty, bounty, a blessing, not live in feeling of deprivation.

 

That said, I have to be aware that these meals in which I splurge or break my guiding principles can't become a new habit. To live with energy, flexibility, better chances of avoiding stroke, etc. I WANT to eat good foods. It is not an “I have to” or an “ought,” and the process is not about shame and guilt and penury.

 

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Eating Out

 

For most of my adult life, I have eaten out more than I have cooked, and for the last 10 years or so I have eaten out nearly every meal. This behaviour has roots, of course.

There weren't many rules in our house growing up, but eating separate from the family was not allowed. When it was necessitated by my brothers' late basketball practice or my dad's long work day, there was a sadness in the house that one of them had to eat alone. Usually my mom would sit with them, just so they wouldn't be alone at the table. We also had lots of fun at meals, even as adults. Once my mother, in the middle of buttering her Wonder bread, leaned over and buttered my arm, then went right back to her bread. I was about 30 at the time. At my parents' lake house dinners were riotous affairs, with stories and laughter and grandkids refusing to eat anything that wasn't white. My brother Stan (11 years my senior) was generally the instigator, and at one particularly fun meal, my mother threw a corn cob at him.

And mom was the more quiet, civilized one of the bunch.

The first year in my own apartment, I lived mostly on scrambled eggs and canned corned beef hash. Once a week, I went to the Tao restaurant, a vegetarian place in my college town, for a toasted cheddar cheese sandwich and fried rice. I chatted incessantly with the waitresses, and I realized then at 19 I was finding all of those meals alone depressing, and couldn't wait for Tuesday night at the Tao.

So, I eat out. I knew this was one of the stressors on my finances, but I didn't really believe it when friends told me it wasn't good for my health. After all, I ate Chinese food a lot–plenty of vegetables, right? I had yummy creamy soups at Panera or Olive Garden–soup was always healthy, no? A sandwich wasn't much of a meal–couldn't call a sandwich and chips from Jimmy John's overeating, could you?

The first step in taking control of my health had to be giving up eating out. I had to learn to enjoy food, enjoy cooking if I was to raise my awareness of what I was eating and be accountable to it. And if I could save a few hundred bucks a month my financial health would improve too. So I pledged to stay out of restaurants for three weeks (save for a regular Tuesday morning breakfast with my boss).

I was surprised by how easy that was to do for three weeks. What has been much harder is going out occasionally. First, finding things on the menu that I feel good about eating is a challenge at all but a handful of restaurants in town. Second, it seems like one dinner out makes me crave another and another. I've been pretty good about not indulging those urges, but I am surprised how, after four months of this new life pattern regarding food, I can fall immediately back into a strong desire for…for what? Sauces? Being served? Salt, salt, salt? About a week and a half ago I went out for Lucca's pizza (the best in Bloomington). I didn't just eat a couple of pieces. I ate 2/3 of a pie. And the next day I wanted desperately to get pasta or cajunish food at J. Gumbo (about 1200 calories a serving). Every day that week I struggled to stay in line–I didn't eat out, but I had popcorn a couple of nights WITH some butter. I stayed within my daily calorie allowance, but I snacked a lot and I didn't eat very mindfully.

I learned that, while I may be able to allow for the calories in my daily intake, restaurant food begets a desire for more restaurant food–still. I have broken the habitual behaviour, but I have't freed myself of the urges that went with that old pattern.

Tonight I had dinner with a friend, and I had chicken parmesan with spaghetti. A great meal, and one that broke many of the standards I have been trying to meet (no pasta, no deep fried, breaded food, no empty calories), but I ate well the rest of the day, and I enjoyed the meal without wanting a second plate or several appetizers. That wish for more more more wasn't part of the experience. We will see how I feel about my own cooking tomorrow, but I think it is going to be okay.

And, by the way, I have not added any debt to my credit cards since I stopped eating out every day.

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The Testament of Mary, pt. 1

Twice in NY and twice at the Barbican in London. Directed by Deborah Warner and embodied by Fiona Shaw, the play as it was in London was far superior to the already quite fine Broadway premier. Colin Toibin gave the two women great liberty with the text to bring his short novel to the stage, and what they created together ultimately produced one of those performances that will make me say years from now, “yes, I was witness to that.”

Let me first take up the pre-show, “installation” part of the performance. The audience was allowed to wander about the stage, snapping photos and videos of Fiona in a plastic box dressed as the iconic Mary in blue and of, yes, the live vulture on stage. Fiona and the bird aside, there is no denying the thrill to this kid from the midwest of being on a Broadway stage–I nearly broke out into “Don't Rain on My Parade”–but that thrill was paired with an enormous self consciousness about moving from the safety of the voyeur to the middle of the spectacle itself. Nervously, trying not to be reverential or giddy with the camera, in NY I talked to one of the asst stage manager's on stage, even made a crack to Deborah Warner. I wanted to pick up things and move them. Even with the liberty of photos and on stage gawking, there was a strong common sense of “rules” still being in place.

 

 

I had more of a chance on this group think in London. I sat and watched the patterns of movement on the stage of the patrons, which circled around the bird until Fiona entered stage left and crossed to the box. Like a wave, the folks on stage moved over to circle the box. It could not have been choreographed better. In NY, folks pressed against the glass, nudged in front of each other to get a better selfie with Fiona. At the Barbican people formed a semicircle in front with about a meter between them and the box, and it was clear it would be rude to cross in front for a photo or access to the other side.

 

So all of this laid bare the pull of icon/celebrity/spectacle on the viewer, now in some sense a part of the spectacle themselves. The carnival atmosphere (vulture as side show attraction, selfies and videos and chatter) and that Bakhtinian carnivalesque reversal of social place invited us to believe something was being upended here, but, really, in the end, our position as slave to the show (slave to the image) was reified, as we still adhered to unstated rules of behaviour, we still returned dutifully to our seats and the show proceeded as if we had never been there. And though I would say the London crowd was more susceptible to these rules than the US crowd, nobody made off with the bird, nobody shouted from their seats, nobody refused to leave the stage (btw, though ushers did tell malingerers it was time to sit, for the most part, people on stage felt the rhythm change and left the stage at about the same time, as Fiona took up the bird.

Yes, there was a real vulture on stage (I asked a stage manager what was harder to wrangle, the vulture or the audience–she just laughed and said the vulture has a handler). I thought having a live vulture on stage in NY was hokey, gimmicky, and a way too obvious metaphor. Not so at the Barbican. And I think that was in no small part due to DW and FS simply being more rehearsed, more ready for London. In NY, Fiona (yes we are on a first name basis. Well, I use her first name. She doesn't know me) was clearly not comfortable with the bird. She took it up. She leaned back from it as far as possible, and she took it the hell off stage. At the Barbican she was more relaxed. She walked around with the bird, even let her arm bend a bit so the bird looked more casual upon it. She walked contemplatively around the stage with this bird of prey as her companion (I think of Sylvia Plath, “The Disquieting Muses”) Then, periodically in the show, she leaned on the empty bird cage, reminding us of the raptor in the wings (is a bird a raptor if it doesn't eat live things? I like the word raptor, so I'm keeping it). There was much play with light and great shadows of the bird on the scrim upstage. The vulture waiting to feed on the dead, the companion of the Mary whose story we hear shadows the rest of the story. The audience->the vulture->the apostles wanting to feed off Mary's suffering?

 

But, enough. Let's talk about my favorite bit of the preshow: the room under the stage. Stage left, a room under the stage was created and covered with clear acrylic. In NY, the room had a sand floor and earthenware pots and a square blue pool. At one point in the show, Mary throws the remains of a fish into the room. It was not touched or referenced in the London production, and it was designed somewhat differently. Earthenware pots (one broken), and a blue lit square at the bottom that had coins or tokens in it–I thought it looked like a gaming table of some sort, someone next to me on stage thought it looked like a pool (a wishing well?) with coins in it. In NY, I thought of this space as a tomb, a sepulchre. The associations at the Barbican were very different–it was less evocative, more cluttered, less, well, beautiful. BUT. The totally 100% cool part, the thing I can't get out of my head: you could only see it onstage. I sat in the orchestra/stalls at all the performances I went to, and if I had not walked on stage I wouldn't have known that space existed, save for the tossing of the fish guts. And the space as a designed one would not have been evident at all. I asked friends who sat in the balcony (one a scene designer, so he probably, you know, looked at the scene design rather carefully) if they could see the room from there, and they said no.

 

SO WHAT THE HELL WAS DEBORAH WARNER THINKING. All due respect to Fiona Shaw (see my response pt II), this haunts me as much as anything from the productions. This room. Cooler. Garbage dump. Empty grave. Plundered (broken pot) storage–memory? Empty space waiting to be filled, or having had what it contained removed? AND, save for the few who wander the stage before the show, there only, really, only for Mary/Fiona. And as carefully lit and set as any other part of the stage–actually, the only part of the stage that is beautiful, uncluttered (NY version, which was more remarkable IMHO). Is the real story, the real mystery, what is beyond the stage? That seems too simple. Fiona Shaw is a pro–I know the spaces and objects around her support her performance, but if that room was there to ground some part of her mind in a thing, a physical space, cool, but she could have found that grounding in simpler things I'm sure.

And yes, I am saying the most fascinating part of the set was not there for the audience at all

[not so sneaky photo of Deborah Warner in the throng]

And here is a photo of two spliffs on stage because I just like saying the word and have a keen fantasy of sharing one with DW and FS and talking about the meaning of life, art and whether or not we think our toes are cute or ugly. As one does.

 

 

 

 

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Touring the Oslo Fjord and Aker brygga

This was a nearly perfect day, thanks to great weather and my dear friend Cheryl. Since we missed our overnight ferry ride from Copenhagen to Oslo, we decided a boat tour of the Oslo fjord would not be too corney, and it would be nice to see Oslo from the water. I also had not yet been to Akerbrygga, though on one of my days walking around the town I was not far from it, as it turned out.

Akerbrygga is a seafront area with restaurants, cafes, shopping, a cool museum, and some beach areas. Now don’t think sand as soft as butter that goes on for miles. This is not Florida. Just as any small spot of green along the west coast provides a footing for a town, an expanse 20 yards wide of rock and sand sloping gently to the water passes for a beach to be enjoyed by young and old, with or without swimwear.

We found a cafe and settled into a couple of comfy chairs to drink lattes. Cheryl did some editing and rocked her haircut, I did a bit of photo editing and read Wolf Hall.
 

 

The boat trip around the islands in the fjord was really lovely. People were in a joyful mood, as the weather was perfect, it was a holiday weekend, and it is not quite the high tourist season. Life in the harbor was busy, but not overcrowded. I was impressed with the speed of the brave sea kayakers, who paddled nearly as quickly as the tour boats motored. Cheryl and I were a bit intemperate in the amount of sun we got, but held ourselves to a single glass of wine on the boat. I was happy to see the Oslo Opera House from the harbor; it is a wonderful piece of architecture (a note on the opera I saw there last week at another time).

 
One of our companions on the boat was an adorable–little doggy.
Dogs in Oslo are very well trained, and are allowed off-leash, which is a pleasure to see, though most are leashed in the busier parts of town.
 
After the boat ride, we took the tram up the mountain to the Ekeberg restaurant, situated high above Oslo i the middle of a park of art and trees. We ate outside with a friend of Cheryl’s, and it was a fine end to a very fine day.
 

 

 

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Oslo 17 May 2014

Norway has not been independent of Sweden and Denmark for much more than a century, but in 1814 it developed a constitution upon its separation from Denmark, and that constitution is celebrated every May 17. I am lucky enough to be here for the bicentennial celebration in glorious weather and in the company of my good friend Cheryl.

 

The day started with some breakfast with friends of Cheryl’s, then a trip to the palace to wave at the king and to watch some of the children’s parade. After walking 5-7 miles every day this week up and down the hills of Oslo, my feet did not hold up well, so the day ended for me around 3. Cheryl was off to meet other friends, our breakfast hosts were headed to Aker Brygga, and I headed home to ice my feet.

Norwegians dress up for this event. If they are not wearing the region-speciific traditional costumes, or Bunader, they wear suits or dresses; I even saw many men in tuxedos. People eat ice cream and sausages (which look like completely nasty hotdogs, sometimes wrapped in half cooked bacon–I did not partake). There is drinking, but that seemed largely to be saved for the evening, excpet for champagne with breakfast.

I was glad to have had the opportunity to see these celebrations. Flowers, flags, fancy Bunaden everywhere. People eat ice cream and watch the lengthy children’s parade. A celebration of national culture, unlike our 4th of July which is much more a celebration of military history and might. Though The throwing of candy and the lightiing of fireworks makes for a pretty good time too.

Still, the end of the day with some sushi on the rooftop with Cheryl was as swell as any other part of a great day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Line 6 Amplifi Review

My evil coworker Eric, who knows all too well the way my mind works and my pocketbook empties, sent me a link a few weeks ago to some info about the then-forthcoming Amplifi from Line 6. He was thinking of getting one, but he realized I would likely compulsively buy one, so he could get the skinny on it from me before he ordered his.

Indeed, the next time Guitar Center sent me a coupon, I ordered one up.

I had been thinking of getting some decent bluetooth speakers for my living room, as the iMac to Apple TV to amplifier to nice speakers has been giving me fits (sound dropouts, the Apple TV needs to have the TV on to “wake up,” I can never find the Apple TV remote). Since I had planned to spend ca. $200 on some Bose speakers, the 350 I was to pay for the Amplifi was really more like 150, so, heck, I was practically getting it for free.

(you see why, in spite of a decent salary, I am always broke)

So, the bluetooth speaker feature of the amp was appealing. I am such a crappy guitar player, that I really didn’t need a new amp. My little Fender Champ is just fine, thanks. On the other hand, I don’t have a clue how to go from a cool jazz sound to some jangle for my Rickenbacker, and I’d rather actually play the guitar in the eveing rather than spending 4 hours twisting knobs to figure it out. Thus, the idea that I could pick a song I like, let the Line 6 iOS app analyze it and send those settings directly to the amp sounded like just the ticket for me.

After two days with the amp, I told Eric not to bother. Maybe version 2

Now a month later, I have a bit more appreciation for the device and its potential, but I’m still not crazy for it.


So, when you unbox the thing, the first thing to note is that it really is pretty cool looking. Simple design, with the knobs tastefully recessed. The second is that the instructions are about 2 pages long and basically useless.

It is all about the app, my friends, and therein lies the rub. The app is powerful, but the interface is just not quite ready for primetime

Once you download the app and create a Line 6 account (you can’t do anything without a Line 6 account), you give the app permission to access your music on your iPad or iPhone. If you have (foolishly) signed up for Apple’s cloud service for your music, you probably don’t have that many songs actually on the device, but you may have 20,000 in the cloud. The Amplifi app shows them all, with no way to search or skip down the alphabet. So if you want to load up the Zombies, scroll away half of your life. You can set the app to only show the songs actually on the device, but, again, if you only have 5 songs on the device at a time, that is not very helpful. Okay, yeah, if you actually PLAN how you are going to use the iPad for your guitar session, you can make a playlist and download the songs you need, but who plans just messing around?

Once you choose the song, the app pretty quickly finds some settings in the cloud and transfers them immediately to your amp


You can even go in and make a bunch of tweaks to the sound, including a whole host of different amp models. Of course knob twisting is exactly what I don’t want to do, but since I don’t know a Marshall from a Vox, I have enjoyed this feature just for learning purposes. When you find one you like or make some changes to a preexising one, you can save it locally, or upload your new sounds to the Line 6 cloud.


But what if you don’t want to match something in your library, but you know you want a surf tone? There is surely a search field in the main menu—


Um. Err. I know I saw one somewhere…

SO, you have to choose a song–any song– to get the “now playing” window to open (no, you can’t do that directly from the sidebar/main menu). Then if you look closely, you can type a search into the field in the upperish right. It might look like it will do a search relative to what is playing, but I searched “Ventures” from this window and got just the array of sounds I wanted.


(The helpful purple pencil was my addition)

The software hasn’t crashed on me, and I’ve started enjoying messing around with different sounds, but the UI needs some smoothing out.

Other reviewers have complained about the paucity of preset stores on the device (4), but once I figured out I could store many more in my tones library in the app, that didn’t bother me. I still haven’t figured out how to assign one of the four buttons to a tone setting from the app, though, so I am absolutely app dependent for using the Amplifi.

And what about that whole bluetooth-speaker thing? The sound is great, though, at a distance of about 15 feet from my computer, I am experiencing some dropouts (I am beginning to suspect my new iMac). There are some other small gotchas. First, I like to use my iOS device to operate iTunes on my computer with the Remote app. The Remote app doesn’t seem to like connecting to my computer when the computer is connecting via bluetooth to the Amplifi (I can think of no reason for this; the app works via wifi). Also, every time I want to connect the iMac to the Amplifi I have to reset the connection–push the bluetooth button on the amp, run back to the computer and select the Amplifi. If the computer goes to sleep or I decide to play my guitar for a bit via the Amplifi and associate it with my iPad, the next time I wake the computer to play through the amp, I have to do a physical reconnect.

It makes sense that the amplifi will only connect to one device at a time, but in my perfect couch potato world, I would like to be able to control the amp volume with my phone and change songs in my iTunes library with the remote app, but the magic isn’t happening.

Finally, the name is dumb. Try finding out more information about this amp by searching “Line 6 Amplifi” and you will get links to every damned Line 6 amplifier, and then some.

iSharilogo144
Line 6 Amplifi

This review was very helpful in getting me started with the amp

– Posted from my iPad.

Location:Bloomington, IL

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Tripit or Tripcase?

I have been a Tripit user for a few years and have been very happy with it. I am currently on a trip associated with work, and the agency that books travel for the University uses a service called Sabre, which owns Tripcase, and my plane reservations were automatically saved as a Tripcase trip, so this gave me an excuse to compare the two apps.

Essentially, these apps both allow you to track the details of a trip that you might otherwise store in a bunch of notes or emails: plane and hotel reservations, restaurant invitiations, meetings, theatre tickets. Everybody has their own system of lists for such things, I suppose, but Tripit actually helped me learn to organize things into one place, while not losing the ability to pull out the crucial bits–what is my flight number? what is the hotel address for the cab driver?–quickly without sorting through bits of paper or lots of calendar entries. I wouldn't travel without one of these apps loaded with info.

Both apps have iPhone apps and web viewing and entry. I have found that both apps sync quickly with new info I enter on the web. You can share your Tripit plans with other folks who have signed up with Tripit (free), and there is a business version of Tripit (which I haven't tried) that allows folks in an office to keep track of each other's meetings and travel plans, and, I presume, allow the office staff to make changes as new businessy appts or travel plans change. I usually travel alone, but when I have traveled with others Tripit really helped us keep reservations that we made separately straight. Tripcase allows sharing too, but one difference is that those with whom you share your trips get updates by email when you make a change to the trip. This is probably good for business travel or when an office staff person might be making arrangements for a group of people, but for the casual, just-let-your-family-know-where-they-can-find-you use, it is pretty annoying.

The absolutely dead cool thing about these apps is how easy it is to import information. When you get an email confirmation of a reservation from a hotel or airline, just forward it to plans@tripit.com or plans @tripcase.com, and the apps/service parse the information into readable information with the pertinent details–times, dates, confirmation numbers, contact info, addresses in the right places in your Trip. I'm sure there is some protocol the original sender's message has to use for this to workI dont know what it is), but I have not had an airline or hotel reservatiob import failure yet. The way this information is rendered in each app is quite similar, though I find Tripcase a bit easier to read (big fonts for these middle aged eyes). With TripIt Pro (annual fee involved), you can check flight status and get alerts. TripCase did this in the background on this trip, though if the reservation had been made with a non-Sabre agent, I can't say if I would have gotten those alerts. My contacts also got updates on my trip from TripCase (as emails for them, phone alerts for me)-when the plane left, when it landed.

When importing other information, such as emails regarding theatre tickets or dinner reservations, the apps differ a bit. You can send these emails to plans@ for both of them, but only Tripit knew what to do with the information from a ticket vendor, though I had to tweak it a bit, and it also included all the garbage about not being late and and liability exclusions and all of that other junk noboby reads or wants in confirmations for theatre tickets. I had to add the info manually in TripCase. In both programs, adding activities is similar, though TripCase annoyingly requires an end time for each activity (if you just want to note you need to meet someone at noon, it is irritating to have to change the the default end time of the next day or the end of your trip for each event in your trip.

One of the handy features is that both apps will automatically grab maps for you if you have entered an address for your activity.

 

One feature Tripit has that TripCase does not is the ability to attach photos to your activities. It is nice to be able to add a photo of the front of a hotel or the poster from a show you are seeing. Or just a pic of a friend who is appearing in MacBeth at Lincoln Center:

That is hardly a necessary feature, but it is fun when you are planning a trip about which you are excited, or if you are on a tour where you are staying in a number of places, and you need help keeping them straight.

All in all, if you are using one of these apps, there doesn't seem to be enough difference in them to make an argument for switching. TripCase renders very nicely on the iPhone, so it is especially nice if you just want to use the app to keep your connections handy and your confirmation numbers all together. For a quick check, TripCase has the edge. For a bit more flexibility in what you track on a trip, including images of where you are going or who you need to see there, I still like TripIt. And if I don't reup for TripIt pro, I can use another free app to track my flights and get updates on departure and gate changes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stumbling toward a logo through Photoshop

Okay, so last night I decided to play with Photoshop and create a logo for this site.  I am not a graphic designer.  I am not a Photoshop pro.  I am not very visually creative at all, really.  But I had this idea of using a fountain pen for the “i,” and I wanted to see how it would look.  This is what I came up with:

isharidotcom437x600

I think it isn’t bad.  Then this morning I thought: duh.  I’m starting a blog.  I should have documented how I made this.  So I had to redo it today.

Naturally, I can’t remember just how I stumbled into the final product last night, so today’s result is a bit different:

iSharilogowwhiteringflatwithdot

 

Here is a recreation of how I got to this point using Photoshop CS 5  (And, by the way, a massive and angry rant about Adobe is just around the corner, but I digress).  Again, keep in mind I don’t know what the hell I am doing–there is probably a far easier way to do this, and someone has no doubt created some actions that would make all of this possible in a few clicks, but here is how I did it this am.  Took about 10 minutes, then add another hour for the documentation (and I still forgot to take screenshots of the history list before I saved the file and the history disappeared.

First, I went to my friend Brian Gray’s SmugMug page.   Brian and his wife Andrea are the proprietors of  Edison Pens, where Brian makes beautiful and high quality pens, including some reinventions of classic filling systems.   I’d be happy to tell you more about Edison pens, or you can make inquiries to Brian, of course.  Brian is also an excellent photographer, and his pen photos not only look great, but they show off the features of the pens very well.  And he uses white backgrounds, which is important for my purposes.  After looking through the images and discovering about 10 pens I want to buy NOW, I picked this image of a Pearl pen (one of my favorite designs of Brian’s–I have two) because the purple color suited me, and there is just enough pattern in the acrylic to add some interest to my logo without being too busy.  Since I wanted the pen to stand for the letter I, thinking the nib itself would suggest the dot over the i, the shorter, proportionally thicker barrel of the Pearl worked better than, say, a Morgan or a Herald (two other Edison models I admire).

purplepearlEdison

 

So, first things first, I had to get this pen in the upright position.  After some trial and error, a clockwise rotation of about 57 degrees got me the result I wanted.

rotated

 

Next I had to crop out the cap of the pen, and, by the way, the rectangular crop box also gave me a decent reference point showing I did have the pen more or less vertical.

cropped

 

Once cropped, I had to give myself some working room, so I expanded the canvas a bit vertically and a lot horizontally, making sure in the canvas resize I positioned the original canvas in the middle left position.

Then came the tricky part.  I had to get rid of the shadows from Brian’s initial photo.  I set the magic tool (or whatever it is called) at a tolerance of 20, and I captured most of the gray.  I had to do a little touch up, as a bit of the left edge of the nib was sucked up in the selection (I did this with the masking tool, but a more careful trial and error of the tolerance setting probably would have worked as well. Also one could just mess with the eraser).  Since I was only preparing this for the web and for email, I didn’t get too precise with this.  I smoothed the edge under the select menu with a border radius of 1 pixel (I think 3 would have been better) and hit delete.  Okay, note that in some versions of Photoshop the delete key just, well, deletes.  But in more recent versions, it calls up the fill menu.  If so, choose fill at 100% opacity with the background (white) color.  A bit of touch up with the eraser, and I had this

expandcanvas

For my name, I simply chose the paint tool, picked a size, used the picker to select one of the darker tones in the pen, and wrote my name.

namedrawn

 

Trust me, it took FAR more time to write all this and crop the screenshots than it did to do it.

Okay, so far this is cool, but it is in this next bit that I do things the way I sort of thought them out–I am sure there are more straightforward ways to create a drop shadow than how I do it, but this is my process, more or less.

The first thing in my thinking is to regard the background layer–and at this point I only had one layer–like a canvas, and you can’t get rid of the canvas.  So I make a duplicate copy of that layer.  I select all of the white area, and hit delete.  Nothing looks different, but what I really have is a layer on top that is only the purple stuff (pen and my name), and a layer on the bottom that has that plus the white of the canvas.

With the white area (now clear) still selected, I select inverse under the Select menu.  Now I only have the purple stuff selected.  I chose feather (7 pixels) under Modify Selection.  Now I make the backround layer active and create a duplicate layer again, which I sandwich between the first duplicate and the background.  I make this new, middle duplicate my active layer, and hit fill.  This time, I choose the foreground color (purple, from when I wrote my name), and set the opacity at 50%.

Next, I select the move tool, and offset this middle layer to the right and down, and a magic drop shadow appears (the 50% fill being between the clear part of the top layer and the canvas of the background)

dropshadow

 

Except I notice I have this crappy fringing around the pen and the handwriting.  I think it has to do with feathering (or not) my selection when I eliminated the white of the top layer. Shit.  Shit. Shit.  Dammit.  But I am not doing this damned logo a third time, so F it.  If you wand to get rid of the fringing, feather your selection of the white stuff.  Or don’t feather it.  Or something.  But the more I look at this, the more I think maybe this white fringing actually makes this image look more like a “thing” you know?  More like an intended look relative to my first logo.  Yeah, maybe I like this.

Then I used the type tool to add the dotcom, which automatically creates a type layer.  I used a default  dropshadow for type Action to create that shadow, and I messed around with the transparency of the layer (I think it ended up at 75% or so).  I couldn’t decide whether I liked the drop shadow on the type or not, so I ended up backing up to the pre-action spot in the history panel to get this finished product.

addtype

 

Sort of.  See, when I look at this, I get that the nib of the pen is the dot of the I.  But I think maybe it just looks like Shari with a pen in front of it.  So I added a dot.  I don’t like it with the dot.  But it might communicate better.  And I really can’t decide which of these images–last night’s or this morning’s with the fringe–I want to keep.  Dammit.  I am not good at making decisions like this.

iSharilogowwhiteringflatwithdot             or       isharidotcom437x600

 

Then I wrote all of this and though, hmm.  How about a splat?

iSharilogowwhiteringflatwithsplat

 

 

 

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Mavericks

The Mavericks install went smoothly on all three machines I have.  So far, I don’t care one way or the other about it, save that I am happy it is free.  The only issue I have had is that second monitor on my iMac at work developed an annoying flicker.  Some reports out there suggesting unplugging the monitor, then restarting the machine, but several attempts at that did nothing.

Somehow, magically, overnight the issue resolved, and there was no flicker today.

Apple’s updates to other software have been much more confusing.  I was able to update Keynote and Numbers for free, but Pages asked for $20.  Then on another machine, under a different Apple ID, Pages was free.  Reports today are that these upgrades were only supposed to be free for the elements of iWork purchased independent of a computer purchase, which all of mine were.  So while some folks got full unplanned freebies, I believe I paid 20 bucks I shouldn’t have.

Fact is, I have never used Keynote.  I do like Pages, and I am hoping that the ability to work across devices without losing edits will have me working in Pages much more.

The real Mavericks

The real Mavericks

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Filed under Apple, Technology