Adventures in Fabric Printing

August 26th, 2015

You know that excited feeling you have when you open a much-anticipated shipment and look at your goodies? The “Oh boy, oh boy, this is great and I can’t wait to tear into it” feeling?

Yeah. I’m not there. The custom fabric for my next quilts arrived. Things aren’t so great.

This piece with the bear is okay. I can work with it. Some areas of saturated color have washed out a bit, but that’s to be expected when taking an RGB image and printing it with a limited number of ink colors. Some RGB colors can’t be reproduced in CMYK. There’s also some loss of sharpness, particularly in areas of low contrast; see the sides of the ice cubes and the bear’s face. However, I can touch these areas up with Tsukineko ink. Things will also change considerably when I begin quilting.

GameOverComp

Image file

 

GameOverFabric

Fabric printed from the image file

 

Alas, the other piece of fabric is a total loss.

Here’s the rendered file, the one submitted for printing onto fabric:

Gusher

Here’s the resulting printed fabric:

GusherFabric

Notice that much of the detail is lost, particularly in darker areas. If the fabric is not outside in bright sunlight, the conveyor belt and background blend together and the cups, balls, and even styrofoam containers aren’t particularly noticeable. The whole image disintegrates into a muddy mess. The photo above doesn’t capture how truly horrid the situation is.

Alright. I’m not pointing fingers of accusation at Spoonflower, by the way. I appreciate their service. Really, they just print whatever files one sends them. This situation is just stuff, the sort of stuff which occasionally occurs when one is taking RGB images and having them printed in CMYK. If one’s monitor isn’t well adjusted, if colors are too saturated, if one doesn’t take into account the quirks of printing onto fabric or the quirks of the printer itself, the end result can be less than desirable.

I’ve actually been very fortunate to encounter almost no problems of this nature during years of creating artwork for books and magazines. I’ve also had fabric printed a couple of other times with no difficulty.

Back to the drawing board. I’ll make some adjustments and get fabric printed for Gusher, the oil derrick piece, another time. Since I like to get two images at a time printed on a length of fabric, this unfortunately means waiting until I have another image ready to produce. Annoying, but not the end of the world. The ruined piece of fabric won’t go to waste, either; it’ll probably become base fabric for one of my shopping bags.

bag1

See? A shopping bag made from odds and ends.

Based on this experience, I have some takeaways. I hope my observations will be helpful to others, but of course, your mileage may vary.

  • The more forgiving the image file in terms of color saturation, contrast and detail, the more satisfactory the printed fabric is likely to be.
  • When dealing with any fabric printing service, thoroughly scour their help files. Also, find out what kind of printer they’re using, research its color space (CMYK, Hexachrome, etc.) and its quirks, and plan accordingly. Based on the images on this site I believe Spoonflower may use the HP DesignJet L26500 for some of its printing.
  • Get one of the company’s swatch printouts and compare to the colors in one’s file.
  • Don’t count on images or fine detail printing out as crisply on fabric as they would on paper.
  • Increase the contrast of one’s image. Visual elements with similar colors or similar intensity may simply muddy together. That’s particularly the case for darker colors.
  • Consider tweaking curves in Photoshop or some other program so as to lighten the mid and deep tones. These can always be deepened on the final piece of fabric with Tsukineko ink, but it is very difficult to lighten tones on a piece of muddy, dark fabric.

 

Midtones

Tweaking curves in Photoshop to lighten midtones. Click image to enlarge

Farewell to summer

August 20th, 2015

butterfly

“Happy New Year … of SCHOOL!!!!” my husband bellowed at the boy this morning, thus jarring him out of a peaceful slumber.

Thus dawns the beginning of a new school year and my frantically trying to remember what I was doing back in early June when the boy’s school let out. There isn’t enough coffee in the world to make my brain work right now. I know this because I’ve drunk most of it and all I’ve accomplished is several trips to the bathroom.

Maybe I should start by shoveling out my work area, which is seriously trashed. That way it’ll be ready to go when the base fabric for my next two quilts arrives from Spoonflower. Spoonflower’s website assures me that the fabric is headed my way from Durham, NC via truck or plane or maybe muleback. The Donner Party sort of made it over the Sierras in their horse-drawn covered wagons, give or take a little starvation and cannibalism, so I’m sure the fabric will be here in no time.

I’m excited to start stitching on these new works. Their subject matter has been in the back of my mind for quite awhile, and I finally used 3D software (Blender) to help jell the imagery. As a side note, I’ve discovered that even though the quilts are barely started, they’re good for shutting down conversations.

A week or two ago, we headed out of town to a wedding. “Oh, what are you working on these days?” asked the lovely, glowing bride, hoping to start an innocuous discussion. I told her about one of the new quilts with its apocalyptic man/automaton figure wildly gobbling down oil and defecating out plastic goods. “Oh, um, that sounds dark,” she said diplomatically. Huh. I guess it is.

It was her wedding day and all, so I didn’t mention the second quilt. It features the red plastic polar bear figure from the children’s game “Don’t Break the Ice”. The ice has been broken and the hapless polar bear is clinging to a chunk in a large, featureless ocean, in danger of slipping away in exhaustion and drowning.

PolarBear

Here’s the latest incarnation of Mr. Bear now that he has eyes and skates and such.

I’m trying a new, smaller size with these quilts to see if I can get them done with good quality and out the door. It was pretty disheartening seeing submission dates blow by this summer. Good to spend time with the boy, though. In another couple of years I’ll have to handcuff him to me the moment he gets out of bed if I want to see him. Much as I hate blowing submission dates, there will be more.

In the meantime, farewell to the sights and sounds of summer.

Peacock

Rhino

water

Pagoda

lions

Flamingoes

Claude

Box modeling “Game Over”

August 2nd, 2015

I’m working on some 3D models for a quilt whose tentative title is Game Over. This is as good a time as any to post about it, I guess, because my Carpal Tunnel and Thoracic Outlet syndromes are acting up. (A “nice” reminder of my time as an engineering physicist at a particle accelerator, contorting my body and twisting knobs for 8-12 hours straight at a time.) It doesn’t happen too often, but when it starts to flare up, I “get” to take a break for a couple of days. Usually I notice the signs and can avoid it. This time the mouse I use for modeling broke and I foolishly decided to try a different style of mouse. Whoops! Ibuprofen and rest time.

Anyhow. Models. Gotta say, I love the tools that are commonly available these days. As noted elsewhere on this site, back when I started doing 3D work, modeling with primitives (spheres, cubes, cones) plus some lathing and extruding and maybe some spline curves were the rule of the day, at least with consumer-level software. No doubt one could get more advanced/flexible tools if one worked at one of the studios which were beginning to spring up, or one bought some of the higher end software packages which were starting to appear. I didn’t have access to those, though, and I was burdened by the small issues of having to work my way through school and earning a living. It was one of those “claw your way up” situations, and I had to put my dreams aside for awhile.

Here’s what I’m working on now, “box modeling” a character. One starts out with a cube …

box

which one subdivides …

box2

starts moving around the vertices …

box3

extrudes some faces here and there …

box4

smooths things out …

box6

adds some ears …

box7

starts to build a body …

box8

adds some arms and legs in a similar fashion, etc.

box9

Box modeling! Neat stuff, eh? Maybe in a couple of days I can make the bear some eyes, skates, and a little hat.

Here’s another model from the same project. It may seem familiar to those who’ve played a certain child’s game which involves hacking apart a plastic iceberg, thereby sending a plastic polar bear to its doom.

iceCube

Here’s a water model. Haven’t decided which direction I’ll go with the sky, whether it’ll be gloomy or sunny.

water

You can probably guess where this is going. I hope that when I pull all the pieces together, I’ll have a nice cautionary apocalyptic scene to get printed on fabric for my next quilt. I have a couple in the works. Global climate change and environmental matters are much on my mind these days. Maybe that’s one of those things that happens after one has a child, one starts thinking about how one is leaving the joint for future generations. (Not to imply that those without kids don’t.)

Years ago, after one of my failed relationships, it seemed wise to get out in the sunshine, do some volunteer work, and focus on something other than myself. I considered volunteering with an environmental group such as the Sierra Club. There are always organizations, both local and national, which need a hand with mundane tasks like removing kudzu and poison oak from trails, counting two-tailed polywogs, etc.

My mother darned near defecated on herself when I mentioned it in a letter. “The Sierra Club is a pack of devils!” she replied diplomatically, then there was a bunch of spittle-flecked stuff about how God had put man in dominion over nature and it was there for us to use, etc. Ah, my mom. Always good for a crackpot letter. The problem is, I think her attitudes reflect those of many Americans, right down to “n—— carry razor blades in their shoes” and waiting with great glee and anticipation for the Biblical End Times to arrive. (She may even have a special End Times Potato Salad recipe. I wouldn’t be surprised.)

There are a lot of humans on this planet. We have a tremendous impact on what happens here. The stories we tell ourselves and how we respond to them matter.

Are we, like my mother, enchanted with the notion of Biblical apocalypse and think it’s coming any day now, so heck, why not help it along? Yep. We can certainly do that. Drill baby, drill. Let’s burn, drill, frack, bomb, pollute, and kill slavishly, without regard for the consequences. What does it matter? The End Times are coming. We can make sure of that.

On the flip side, would we like to respect and nurture the diversity of the flora and fauna that remain? If we’re of a Biblical bent, do we think that “in dominion over nature” has more to do with being mindful caretakers than with being spoiled children who stomp all over their toys and then whine because they’re ruined?

Well, it’s probably clear which side of the fence I’m on. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my arm and shoulder are still too messed up to quilt, so I have some two-tailed polywogs to count.

The Halfway Point

July 19th, 2015

About halfway through summer, halfway through various projects …

MQU1

This arrived last month, the July/August edition of Machine Quilting Unlimited.

MQU2

There are several neat articles in the magazine (Marianne Williamson! Awesome!), and they also included my piece Why Knot? They’re a nice magazine to work with and their graphic designers/layout people do a great job. It’s a pleasure to have my work in their publication.

While I’m on the topic of Why Knot?, I’ve learned that it has been juried into IQF Houston, so it’ll be making a road trip to Texas this fall. I don’t think I’ll be going, so I hope my quilt won’t be taking on bad habits in my absence … smoking, eating barbecue, harassing coyotes. Who knows?

What else do I have? Work I can’t post. Hot diggity. It was totally worth visiting this page for that, wasn’t it? Seriously, I find it a pain. Just when I’m juiced up from working on something and could cheerfully post progress photos and the like, I can’t. A couple of things have the “work must be hermetically sealed” exhibit requirement. By the time I can post progress photos, I’ll be on to the next thing and my attention and enthusiasm will be on that, not on whatever I’m working on now.

I will note that I’m working on some 3D-rendered surface designs, though, a couple of apocalyptic environmental pieces. Once the designs are fixed up, I’ll ship them off for printing, then stitch on the resulting fabric.

oil

Sometimes I spend days trying to get something just right and it goes to pot. Here I was trying to do a fluid simulation to depict an oil well. Yep. Things weren’t going well that day. Fortunately, I save versions as I work. I was able to go back a version or two and rescue things.

Garbage

I also had the great idea of creating a mountain of rendered garbage for the scene’s background. The result did look like garbage, but more in the metaphorical sense. The texture I have on the garbage bags makes them look more like laundry detergent pods or a nasty variety of candy, and the bag arrangement looks more like a stone wall than a mountain. Okay. Part of art, writing, and many other endeavors is fearlessly trying stuff and being willing to admit when it isn’t working out.

I’ve spent hours either making or casting about for 3D models for my scenes. Here’s a model I ended up making, one of those ubiquitous red plastic cups:

SoloCup

Hmm. Maybe should have added a few more vertices to smooth it out. Anyhow, good enough for the job at hand. I could have bought a model – here’s a nice one for $19 – but it wasn’t that hard to make and didn’t need to be too precise for the scene I was building.

There are many, many sources of 3D models these days, some free and some for coin. One such source is the Daz3D site. They particularly specialize in models of humans and accessories. Now and then they offer freebies. A couple of months ago, when they were offering something gruesome like a haunted asylum or zombies (maybe it was zombies haunting an asylum?) I asked my ten-year-old son whether we needed such models. He took a look at the gloom and gruesomeness in the ad and bellowed “Oh HECK YEAH!” He could think of jillions of occasions when he might personally need 3D models of zombies or an asylum, and that wasn’t even taking into account my own needs. Really, is there any occasion for which zombie or spooky asylum imagery aren’t appropriate?

I duly registered with Daz, obtained the freebies, and filed them away on my hard drive. Strangely enough, our need for zombies and asylums wasn’t as great as we thought, so they haven’t yet been used.

Since then, though, Daz and I have become great friends. I say this because they send me an email every day or so, which is what good pen pals do. Usually the letter is filled with colorful and, dare I say it, fetishistic imagery. The subject lines are things like “BOGO is a Go-Go” and “It’s a Zevtastic Weekend”

Here are some samples:

Fashion

Hot damn. Everybody knows how much I care about fashion. Sea vehicles, too.

 

Adventures

Not sure I want to know what the related fantasy items are.

 

Utility

Huh. I’ve never seen anything like that at the hardware store. Maybe I was too focussed on stuff like caulk and bolts.

 

Crazy

You know, I’m beginning to suspect that I’m not in the core part of their target market. Members of their target market are probably more the sort who like to gaze at breasts.

 

skyler

Bleh. Nope nope nope. Don’t want to know. Seriously. I’m not joking. I don’t want to know what people are doing with this model, particularly the way it’s dressed and posed. I’m a mom. I even get skeeved out by boy bands. Justin Bieber naked? Bleh. Get thee hence, Satan. Don’t want to see the buttocks of anyone younger than me unless they need a diaper change.

 

Freaky

Wait. The rest of the ads weren’t already freaky?

 

main-promo

No idea. More breast imagery, though. The outfit looks uncomfortable – the strap across the chest, and what if you need to use the restroom? – but I guess 3D models don’t care.

 

Woodlands

She looks annoyed. Maybe the 3D models do care about wearing freaky costumes. Or maybe the ears are uncomfortable.

I’ve considered unsubscribing from Daz’s emails, but I never know when they’ll offer something I need. Also, I’ll reluctantly admit that I’ve begun to find them entertaining. I never know what they’re going to send next, and I can only speculate that the young men who form their target audience eagerly await each email and find it very, um, stimulating.

Meanwhile, summer. Outings. Camps. Play dates.

At the beginning of the summer, I drug the boy down to Legoland. I like going to Legoland. My kid doesn’t, or at least not as much as he used to, but he endures it for my sake. I have to have a child to visit Legoland; adults aren’t allowed to visit by themselves.

I took these photos with my hand-me-down iPhone, thinking that I should pare down the amount of stuff I carried on the trip. I wish I’d taken a decent SLR along. There was lint and dust under the iPhone’s lens. Cleaning it out will require taking the phone apart. I can remove artifacts with Photoshop, but it gets to be a pain. Kind of a waste of time to remove something that shouldn’t have been there to begin with.

bison

Legoland. Is there a more perfect amusement park on earth? I don’t think so.

 

Miniland

I love every bit of it. The giant models of buildings in Miniland …

 

StarWars

… the Star Wars exhibit. Okay. I’m not into Lego Friends, but I guess I can’t blame the Lego company for their pink-burqaed, cynically capitalist attempt to lure in young females.

 

hotel2

You know that windmill you drive by when you’re going through Carlsbad? That’s the hotel we stayed at. The interior of the windmill is sad. There’s a massive vaulted space which should feel airy, but somehow it contrives to feel depressing and outdated. Just off to the side there’s a TGI Fridays which is accessed through a door in the windmill, a door which slams uncontrollably and loudly enough to rupture one’s eardrums. The experience pretty much destroyed every fantasy I had about windmills.

 

hotel

Here’s the view from our hotel room. Gorgeous! Pipes. A wall. Wires draped here and there. That must be the deluxe courtyard view touted on the reservation website.

Well, I guess this is what happens when you don’t cough up the $400+/night to stay at the Legoland Hotel during the height of the season.

 

Musee

Another trip, just for the day, up to the Musée Mecanique on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. The place is so cool. Tons of old coin-operated mechanical arcade machines. One can have a lot of fun on $5-10.

 

AnnSam

Plaque outside the building. It has a decidedly grotty, impromptu look about it, as though a passerby stuck it up with an entire tube of adhesive. I imagine Ann and Sam aren’t with us anymore – not too many people reach their 70th anniversaries – but their plaque lives on.

 

Sal

Laffing Sal. I believe one of her twin sisters lives in Santa Cruz.

 

BellyDancer

Good. Guess that takes care of sex ed.

 

Sailor

Poor fellow. He has a skin condition. Hope he’s not on meth.

 

FloppedOver

Another case of substance abuse, perhaps strong drink?

 

MarriedWoman

I didn’t look at this Nickelodeon reel. I had a strong suspicion that it would depict something unpleasant. Dishwashing or toilet scrubbing, maybe. Putting up storm windows. Other things married women wish to avoid. To heck with all that stuff.

 

Elephant

While up at the wharf, I made my family visit the Rainforest Cafe. I was curious. I’m glad we did it. Now we never have to go again.

Seriously, if you enjoy dim lights, fairly expensive food which aspires to be more than it is, and animatronic animals which make jackhammer-level racket every so often, this is a great place. Otherwise, perhaps not so much. The waitstaff were pleasant enough, though. Can’t blame them for the fact it’s a tourist trap.

hat

They do hand out rather nice little paper hats. I need a bio photo for some website or other. Maybe I should send this.

 

adventure1

Also hauled the boy and one of his friends up to the Adventure Playground in Berkeley this summer. Think “Home Depot meets Lord of the Flies”. I’m kidding. It’s a great place, actually, where kids can earn the right to use tools and woodworking materials to build their own creations. The staff there go to great pains to make sure the kids have enough freedom to learn and enjoy themselves while keeping the experience safe.

 

adventure2

One of the kid-built play structures, formed from salvaged materials.

 

adventure3

Inside one of the structures. Spooky-cheerful.

 

Vasona

Another day, taking the dogs out for a walk beside a lake, because I’m an idiot.

 

dogs

I thought it would do the dog we recently adopted, the white furball in the photo above, some good to get out. Go someplace in the car other than the vet’s, get some fresh air, see some new things.

Alas, he whined pitifully all the way to the lake and most of the way back. Ryan the weiner-basset didn’t whine, but he did slobber all over the front window and pass gas in my face during the drive. Neither dog particularly wanted the (plain) hamburgers we bought them, saving them until they were home again. Too excited, I guess.

Both of them were brats at the park, pulling on their leashes like crazy and barking at other dogs. At least they had the sense to not try that with the geese. Ryan seemed to tell Jake “Be cool, man. Be quiet and don’t look ‘em in the eye.”

Ah, well. Maybe it’s like dealing with kids. You have to take some chances and work with them a little before things get better.

 

mustaches

A disguise for every occasion? Yes, please! I particularly appreciate the lack of gender discrimination. I might want a mustache to supplement the one I’m already growing. One never knows.

Only 4 1/2 weeks of summer left. It’s palpably trickling away. Time to get the boy out for more experiences while he isn’t old enough to be ashamed of being seen with his mom, and get another quilt design or two ready to go.

Projects

May 31st, 2015

BustBank

 “Bust Banks” seen at ToysRUs; ready to leer salaciously at a child near you.

The “Bust Banks” above have nothing to do with the rest of this post. I just found the scene amusing.

May has been a good month. I had work at AQS Lancaster and AQS Paducah, back when those occurred. As a result, some opportunities have just come my way. More on that another time.

I’ve also been accepted into the Textile and Fiber Art List, a top notch organization of fiber artists and textile businesses. They showcase some really amazing artists and artwork, so I’m quite tickled to be included. (Seriously – go to their site and check out the artwork! Even if you aren’t in the market for artwork at the moment, browsing the site is very enjoyable.)

Odalisque

Meanwhile, I’ve been steadily chugging away on Odalisque, as shown above. It’s taking forever to stitch. Maybe if I wasn’t so intent on faithfully depicting textures, I’d be done by now, but noooooo. I have to obsess over the details instead of just stippling over the surface like a normal person might. At this rate it’s going to take a solid year to complete.

 

Stitching

I’m also working on a new piece or pieces for an exhibit to celebrate the 50th anniversary of humans landing on the moon. These are supposed to be under wraps until the exhibit, so no photos of the surface design. Once I fulfill my commitment to the exhibit, I’ll be getting some more 3D/CGI-based fiberworks in the pipeline.

 

DinoCard

Yesterday I made this, a 3D/CGI image which will inflicted on one of my son’s friends in the form of a birthday card.

The other day, I had lunch with a nice lady and had trouble explaining what I do. “3D/CGI. Are you working in CAD?” she asked politely. Ehhhhh … not so much. It’s sort of a cousin of CAD, and increasingly I’m using my renderings as surface designs for fabric.

 

MoldyBerry

On a personal note, my kid won a blue ribbon at the school district’s science fair. His experiment involved prepping strawberries to see if the onset of room temperature molding could be delayed, then days and days of checking the berries for mold. It grew a bit foul at the last, when some of the samples began to liquify and ferment instead of molding. Then there was the whole process of analyzing the data, doing a writeup, and talking to judges. It was a good experience for him, and I really appreciate the fact that his school district held the event.

 

GameBoard

Another of the boy’s school projects, producing a board game to help report on one of the insipid Boxcar Children mysteries. You know – the ones which were written around the time of the Great Depression and had a group of four orphaned kids living in an abandoned boxcar. They often feature scenes like:

Henry: “Wow. The four of us sure did work hard solving that mystery! Now we’re all really hot and tired! Benny, let’s go swimming!”

Violet: “Super! Jessie and I will stay here in the hot boxcar, do dishes, and cook! Then we’ll sweep and dust instead of having fun, because we’re females living in an indeterminate year during the 1920s-1940s!”

The first time I read a scene like this with a group of kids, I had them flip to the front of the book and look at the copyright date. I then asked them to compare the scenes to current social norms to see which things have changed and which have stayed the same during the last 60-80 years. Personally, if I’ve been working really hard and other people are going swimming, I’m going too. We can all roast potatoes in the fire together later.

Anyhow – fun project. Good opportunity to show the boy some features in Adobe Illustrator and introduce him to bland clip art.

PotsPans

Another project. It has little or nothing to do with artwork – well, other than my needing to eat in order to create art – but it made me happy. These sliding racks aren’t as space efficient as simply jamming pans willy-nilly on shelves in the cabinet. However, I’m trying to transition to having less but appreciating and using it more. I still need to finish this job by screwing in some side shims, though. (Feel free to place bets on when and whether I will actually get that done.)

garden

Another project. There had been wooden raised beds, but they gradually rotted away and become precarious. Demolition of the old beds was fun – occasionally I’d call my son over so he could watch me tear a 2×6 in half with my bare hands, and sort of not mention to him that the board was completely rotten. The new beds are composite. I hope they’ll hold up better than the wood beds, but we shall see.

In the back, one can see a large barrel. I’m using that to store clean waste water, such as the cold water one normally flushes down the drain while waiting for one’s bath or shower water to warm. I also salvage water from the kitchen whenever I rinse vegetables, drain a pot of pasta, etc., and pour that directly on the garden. California is in the grip of an epic drought, and there’s no telling when – or if – matters will improve. So far I’ve been able to water the garden using only water we’d normally waste.

Meet Jake

May 7th, 2015

Jake1

This is Jake, the newest addition to our household. He was a neighbor’s dog.

Jake2

Things Jake likes #1: hitting us up for food, particularly if meat is involved.

I’m not sure how we ended up with him, other than he and our existing dog, Ryan, may have had a conspiracy. Jakey stayed with us on an emergency basis several months ago and Ryan took a shine to him. They played like little furry madmen. When the neighbor retrieved him after a week, we figured that was that and said our goodbyes.

Jake3

Things Jake likes #2: napping.

Jake and Ryan weren’t okay with this. Jake would shove his face under the neighbor’s fence gate and howl when we went outside, or escape and come scratch on our door. When that wasn’t going on, Ryan would insistently try to lead us over to Jake’s house. The dogs wore both us and the neighbor down. In the weeks and months that followed, the two of them had many play dates together and would sulk when they were apart. “Jake’s hiding under the bed,” the neighbor would report, “do you mind if he comes over?” Ryan would look at us like puppy murderers when we took Jake home after a play session.

Jake4

Things Jake likes #3: play-fighting with Ryan.

It was pretty clear that, at least in his mind, Ryan had adopted Jake. One day the neighbor walked Jake over and formalized it. The neighbor needed to move and wasn’t going to be able to have a dog for awhile.

Jake5

Time for more napping.

Jake and Ryan are now spending their days together doing happy dog things like passing gas, napping, hunting for rats, digging, and going for walks. They’re buddies. We weren’t planning on getting another dog, particularly one whose yaps are weapons of eardrum destruction, but sometimes one needs to accept love when it comes. Not all good things in life are planned.

Jake6

Getting cuddles from a human

Jake7

Aaaand … more play fighting

Jake8

Time for another nap

Jake9

More fighting, this time by my work table while I was foolishly attempting to work.

Jake10

Tidy dirt pile? Who needs that?

Jake11

Jake12

 Treat time, which is always a big hit with dogs.

Jake13

Fight time.

Jake14

Nap time. Do you see a pattern here? Naps, fights and walks with snacks in between.

Jake15

End-of-week “doggie soup”, made from the remains of a CostCo roast chicken and whatever veggies are okay for dogs

Jake16

Nap time.

Jake17

Beg for food time.

Jake18

Fight time.

Jake19

Napping with his bear.

We hope he’ll be happy here. We’ll try our best to give him a good home.

 

 

Maui

April 25th, 2015

Whee! It’s vacation photo time! Who doesn’t enjoy looking at the photos of random strangers and acquaintances?

ferns

My family and I went to Maui a couple of weeks back, sort of a short notice adventure. All of us were incredibly stressed out, so we put the bird and the dogs in boarding, threw some toothbrushes and swimsuits in backpacks, and headed for the airport.

haleakala3

These photos are in no particular order. Maybe that’ll spice things up. This one is of the western coast of Maui, shot from the top of Haleakala, more than 10,000 feet up. Note that we’re looking DOWN at clouds.

Haleakala2

Looking into the crater at Haleakala. (Haleakala is a shield volcano.) One can hike the crater, four miles each way. We didn’t, though. The altitude and the cold were a bit much. “I sure am glad we walk three or four miles a day,” I told my husband in a congratulatory fashion as we huffed and puffed to the top of one peak. Just then, a younger couple came piling past us with no trouble, each carrying a child.

Lindberg

Jumping around a bit … Charles Lindbergh’s grave in Kipahulu, on the Hana coast.

graveyard

The graveyard at Kipahulu. It seemed rude to photograph Lindbergh’s grave without acknowledging the others.

HanaRd

Driving on the south side of the island, edging around the base of Haleakala.

coast

View of the coast from Kahanu Garden.

haleakala

Suddenly we’re back on top of Haleakala, staring down into the crater. I’m sure others have said the same thing, but I’ll say it as well: it was otherworldly.

dolphin

A bottlenose dolphin leaping gleefully into the air. At least, I assume it was jumping out of glee. Maybe it had a personal itch.

Jesus

“Jesus Coming Soon”, signage on top of (presumably) a church in Lahaina. Very tasteful and subtle.

Buddha

Just down the road from “Jesus Coming Soon” is the Jodo Mission, which purportedly has the “largest Buddha outside Japan.” Dunno; I haven’t gone around and weighed or measured all of them.

fruit

waterfalls

Seen on the Hana coast. There were a mind boggling number of waterfalls. It was almost literally the case that each time one would go around a jog in the road, there’d be an insanely gorgeous waterfall beside one’s car.

hut

Whee! We’re back in Kahanu Garden, staring at a hut. Not sure what this one was meant for. My son used it as a place to shelter while picking grass from between his toes.

grindstone

“Hoana – This grindstone was probably used to sharpen and polish adze blades.” Still in Kahanu Garden.

temple

A fine view of the hills, a hale holding an outrigger canoe, and Pi’ilanihale Heiau, an ancient temple.

Buddhist

Back at  the Jodo Mission.

LilyPond

Lily pond at our hotel. The place was truly hellish, with five pools and a couple of water slides.

CruiseShip

While we were in Lahaina, a cruise ship docked. I nicknamed it “Princess Cruises: Scourge of the Sea.” Its passengers weren’t intentionally rude, I don’t think, but they were mindbogglingly oblivious. They gathered all over the place with their little blue cruise ship shopping bags, blocking sidewalks and restroom entrances, and seemed impervious to phrases like “excuse me”. On the positive side, many of them made me feel downright svelte.

chickens

The Thrifty/Dollar rent-a-chickens. Actually, the chickens weren’t for rent; they just liked to hang out around the rental car place. They turned out to be handy. When we went to turn our car back in, I told my husband “Just look for the place with the chickens.” Immediately thereafter, we heard a hearty “Bacawwww!”

bananaBread

“Best banana bread?” Maybe. Or maybe they mean “Best Banana Bread” as a sort of brand name, not a claim. I didn’t care for it. It had the texture of a dishwashing sponge and an odd flavor. Perhaps local tastes are different. Me, I like to saute the bananas in butter and brown sugar before adding them to batter.

whale

We saw many humpback whales, including a calf, his mother, and her suitors. Heard them as well. Marvelous. The last time I’d heard humpback whale song was on an LP my folks used to play while they’d pound alcohol. I much prefer the whales in person and without drunk people around.

bird

Gatecrasher at one of our picnics. No biggie. There are crumbs and fruit enough for everyone.

waterfall2

Waterfall on the Hana coast.

waterfall

Yet another waterfall on the Hana coast. Truly a hellish place.

AirView

View of some coast or other from the air.

Lillies

Lily pond at the hotel.

HandLance

We visited a whaling museum – or, as I liked to call it, “The Killing Museum”. I didn’t take too many photos. Turns out, after you’ve seen and heard whales in person, seeing the tools for killing and dismembering them is rather upsetting.

Anger

“Anger!” Clearly a modified sign, but I like the concept of angry coconut trees. My husband privately sneered when the park guide told us “more people are killed here by falling coconuts than by sharks”. “We had coconut trees all over the place when I was a kid. Nobody ever got hit by a coconut!” I didn’t argue with him, although I did quietly wonder whether the umbrellas we’d been issued would deflect an angry coconut.

Leaf2

Leaf1

Leaves and more leaves.

Gecko

A gecko at the hotel.

One afternoon as we were splashing in a pool, the trade winds came in and caused the palm trees to thrash around violently. Moments later, I saw something small moving in the water. My policy is to try to remove insects and creatures from water if they’re alive, so I scooped the thing up on my arm, then climbed out and approached the pool attendant. “Um. What kind of critter is this?” I gestured at the thing clinging to my arm. “That’s a gecko.” “Oh. Where do they belong?” “In the bushes.”

I bent over sideways and tried in vain to get the creature to climb on to a convenient bit of shrubbery. It refused, and in fact snuck across my back where I couldn’t reach it. “Do you need help getting it off?” the attendant asked, “It seems to like you.” “Well, I guess I was better than the alternative of drowning.” “It was sweet of you to save it,” he replied, in a tone of voice which implied just the opposite, a tone which implied that he frequently sees geckos and they’ve gotten on his nerves, maybe started haunting his dreams even, and it would be nice if all the damned things drowned in a swimming pool. Nevertheless, he pried the gecko off my back and put it in the bushes.

“That was good luck,” my husband informed me later, “saving a gecko is good luck.”  He isn’t normally a superstitious person, but geckos are evidently a different matter. He lived in Oahu as a child; some local beliefs must have seeped in.

Later, while I was sitting outside by a lily pond, another gecko came tooling along the sidewalk and paused to study me. “Watch out,” I told the gecko, “People are coming. They may step on you.” The gecko moved away from the center of the sidewalk, then skittered toward me. “You have a nice face,” I informed it, then took the photo above. The gecko bounced up and down a couple of times, then ran into the bushes.

When I told my husband about this second incident, he exclaimed “Two geckos! Or maybe it was the gecko you saved from the pool! You’re going to have all kinds of good luck!”

I think I already got a good dose of luck when I married him.

FernSpiral

WaterLily

Out and about

March 31st, 2015

I walk three or four miles a day. When you walk three or four miles a day, sometimes you see stuff.

dogs

Dog butts. I see a lot of those. Only one of the dogs in this photo is ours, the rust-colored weiner-basset. The other two are a neighbor’s, although the terrier in the upper right is doing a good imitation of moving in with us.

 

cat

A cat taking its ease. Turns out that cats who are taking their ease really don’t like to have their photos taken. After shooting me a dirty look, it ran off.

 

flamingo

Somebody played dress up with their flamingo. I admire their style. I have weeds in my yard, too. Maybe I should get a flamingo and dress it up?

 

manikins

Shockingly nude manikins at Weird Stuff Warehouse. I guess the featureless expanses of lumpy plastic offended someone’s sense of decorum.

 

pumpkin

A pumpkin vine hanging over the top of a six foot tall fence. That’s a pumpkin with aspirations!

Alright. Blah blah blah, I’m in this exhibit and another exhibit, have stuff in a book which just came out, and am working on some projects. Can’t write much about that stuff, though, because the video/display on my computer keeps going amok. It’s a known issue with this type of computer. Hopefully Apple will address the problem without my having to open my wallet. In the meantime, it’s about time for things to go haywire again, so sayonara.

Filoli

March 11th, 2015

tulips

I took these shots a few weeks ago at Filoli, an estate about thirty miles south of San Francisco.

 

Festina

Festina Lente.  I think that means “make haste slowly”, or maybe it means “your navel lint is festering”. If I’d bothered to study Latin in college, or if I’d gone to a high school whose primary goal wasn’t preparing people to work at the local trash can or potato chip factories, perhaps I’d know. In any event, it sounds pithy and profound, like the sort of thing which should be cast into a garden plaque.

 

face

This poor fellow seems unhappy. I guess hanging out on the base of an urn for years on end will have that effect.

 

mist

So, yeah. Filoli. Lovely estate. Tons of gardens and flowers, great place to stroll and take photos and maybe see some deer. I think some TV shows and movies have filmed there, although who keeps up with that stuff? If you’re in the area, it’s well worth a visit.

I’m actually in the mood to visit someplace else, someplace which isn’t in California or even the continental U.S. I’d like to hop on a plane and head to Paris or maybe Rome. They’re nice at this time of the year. But that isn’t in the cards right now, so over the winter break I grabbed a couple of cameras, handed one to my son, and drug him up the peninsula to walk among the posies.

 

gryphons

Whee! Concrete gryphons! That’s how you know you’re at a classy joint, when they have gryphons rather than garden gnomes.

 

entrance

This entranceway is lovely when the wisteria is blooming. Right now it isn’t blooming.

 

knocker

Rather sweet door knocker. I think it’s brass. The lighting wasn’t wonderful, alas.

 

gourds

This is neat, some birdhouse gourds attached to willow or vine arches in the middle of a field of daffodils.

 

lawn

Yep. Horrible place to have to visit. Fresh air, flowers, misty hills.

 

clockTower

For some reason this reminds me of The Village in the old TV series The Prisoner.

 

building

vase

arch

keystone

That reminds me: I need to see about getting more pore-cleaning strips.

 

 

pool

purple

Trees

TheBoy

There’s the boy, my partner in photography. Bless him for hanging out with me that day. (Although I’d still prefer for all of us to be jetting off to Paris.) I know he’d rather be hanging out with friends or playing video games, but now and then he takes pity on me and accompanies me on a minor adventure.

Forty Years of the Utah Teapot

March 5th, 2015

UtahTeapotPoster

A couple of weeks ago, after dropping my kid off at a Laser Quest birthday party, I ventured across the street to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. It’s a marvelous place, the Computer History Museum, and if you’re ever in the Bay Area and have any interest in computers, I urge you to visit. Their exhibits span the range from slide rules to robots to modern day computers, with many pit stops in diverse topics such as punch cards for weaving Jacquard, guided missile systems, and video games. While other museums may have ‘a’ something-or-other, such as ‘a’ key punch machine or ‘a’ Babbage Difference Engine sandwiched in with other science exhibits, the Computer History Museum has a broad range of ‘a’s and ‘the’s. As in “Wow. That’s the original Pong Machine that Al Alcorn stuck in a bar in Sunnyvale, complete with crooked name plate.” Or: “Wow. That’s a chunk from the ENIAC.” Plus there’s a neat gift shop with nerdy stuff.

One of the museum’s ‘the’s is the Utah teapot, the one digitized by Martin Newell back in 1975. Holy cow! Has it really been forty years? Well now, that’s something worth celebrating, so I did. I came home and whipped up the graphic above, which is based on Martin Newell’s original pencil sketch of dimensions and a rendering of the resulting model. Oh, and I may have used some artistic license as far as aging the paper and so forth; I wanted to call to mind da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. In reality, Newell’s sketch is very tidy, executed on decidedly unstained quadrille paper.

Happy birthday, Utah teapot, and a big thank you to Martin Newell for sharing his work with the world.

The Utah teapot is something of an icon to those who work with 3D graphics. As the story goes, back in 1975 when Martin Newell was “a member of the pioneering graphics program at the University of Utah”, he needed a “moderately simple mathematical model of a familiar object for his work.” He was having tea with his wife at the time, and she suggested modeling their tea service. He did and, in addition to using the teapot for his own work, shared the data set with others. The rest, as they say, is history.

HomerTeapot

Since then, the teapot has become a beloved icon to many of us and something of an inside joke. It has appeared everywhere from test renders to papers submitted to SIGGRAPH to films such as Toy Story and Monsters Inc. Even Homer J. Simpson has had his teapot moment! Not bad for a humble white teapot purchased from a department store.

ToyStoryTeapot

The teapot is of course not Newell’s only accomplishment, just the one most familiar to many of us. He’s had a long and productive career. However, it’s a bittersweet fact of life that we don’t get to choose the manner in which we’re remembered, if we’re remembered at all. Per Tom Sito’s Moving Innovation: A History of Computer Animation, “When Newell spoke at a SIGGRAPH conference in the late 1980s, he jokingly confessed that of all the things he has done for the world of 3D graphics, the only thing he will be remembered for is ‘that damned teapot’”.

I think I could make my peace with that.