Something Pithy Here

"Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop." -- The King of Hearts

I'm an adopted Texan. As they say, "I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could!" I post pictures and opinions as suits my mood, mostly because I can. Hooray Internet! 

So far I have three blogs here. By the Way is the oldest. I started it in 2003. I lost a couple of years to Vox because I was too lazy to bother to export when they shut down. I consider it an exercise in accepting impermanence. When I followed my husband to Singapore for his first expat assignment, I started (T)expatriate: A Southern Girl in Singapore. That covers 2010 and 2011, give or take. Next came Oslo, and (T)expat 2: Norwegian Boogaloo,  in 2012. Now I'm back home, and back on By the Way.

Pix live on Flickr. I toss links out on Twitter when I feel like it. I'm still not sure what to do with G+ but I kinda like it.


New Necklace


I've just finished a new necklace! I'm also trying to come to grips with Lightroom mobile and figure out how it alters my photo processing workflow. (And by alter I guess I really mean reinvigorate.... And by reinvigorate I might as well admit I mean bring back from the dead.... Srsly folks, I posted Ollie's pix on Flickr after the Austin MotoGP and the previous pix in my account were from last year's Austin MotoGP. Now that is just sad. And I hear Trotter and Cornhouser violently agreeing, wondering just where in hell the pix from last year's trip to England are already??? Sorry. I've been lame in the photo department. I've been dithering.)

Anyhow, click below to see the beady story.  I'm rather taken with the Adobe Slate app and presentation. We shall see if it lasts.

Bead Complete

Lightroom Lightbulb

As in, I figured out something that made my life easier! 

I have a bunch of panoramas in my Switzercation photos, and I like to stack them in the Library view of Lightroom to keep them tidy. The stack commands don't have shortcuts (that I know of) so that has always been a rather tedious process--select, stack, expand, set the top picture to the stitched image, collapse, rinse & repeat.... 

Today I discovered that when you create the stack, LR assigns the "most active" photo as the top of the stack! That eliminates a lot of steps. Now it's just select, select the stitched image, stack and I'm done. I also discovered that I don't have to use the menu to expand and collapse. Just click on the the stack icon. Boy did that make me feel stupid. And, should you want to change the top image, click on that stack icon of the new top image whilst expanded, and voila, that's now the top image. 

I also got cleverer about building the panos. Previously I'd find the set of photos, pick one and choose Show in Explorer, then drag the files from Explorer into ICE. Today I had a set that I had run through Develop first, and realized I needed to export the developed images before I sent them to ICE. So I set up an Export preset, and at the bottom of the preset found a place to specify a program to run after export.... So I hooked it up to the ICE executable and it works like a charm. Still have to manually import the finished image, but all in all, these two discoveries make me really happy! 

I love Lightroom :-) 

OMG the cyuteness!!!!

So I saw this unbelievably cute little boxed "cake" at the store (I suppose if I read Chinese I might have a better idea what sort of cake--I am assuming it's a CNY type of thing) so I had to buy it. Imagine my delight when I opened it up at home and saw the shape of the little cake inside :-)

OMG the cyuteness!!!!
OMG the cyuteness!!!!

[Edit: Posterous is dead (I vaguely remember that happening) so a bunch of my pictures disappeared. It only took about AN HOUR (well, maybe not quite, but still) to figure out how to embed a $%*&ing Flickr picture here. Jeepers.] 

And geekness ensued….

I’ve been frustrated with the performance of my laptop lately, and so have been entertaining the idea of a fresh install. The Windows Home Server is nicely established, so I have backups there, on mozy and on the MO’s big-ass hard drive. After much dithering, I took the plunge on Monday and installed Windows 7. So far things have been (mostly) awesome!

First of all, the installation process was clever enough to realize I already had Vista, and offered to keep all my data (and programs, I think—not really sure because I didn’t choose that option) or go with a blank install. I wanted to wipe the slate clean, so I chose the install. Then I still had the option to keep a copy of my old stuff! Very cool. Yet another backup, I guess….

The install picked up all the basic drivers except for my card reader, and I found those with the “look for this on the web” option. (I haven’t hooked up my printer or scanner yet, so I suppose I shouldn’t get too giddy, but still.) Network, WHS, various Live applications, all so far so good.

EXCEPT. The one thing I didn’t bother to check for compatibility—Windows Live OneCare. Which I have just paid my subscription for. And is apparently being end-of-lifed by M$! Soooo, something called Avast is now pulling virus protection duties. I am still irked by this one. But 7 is purty, and for this magpie, that goes a long way, so I suppose I’ll get over it before long :-)

Signs a Man Really Loves You, #13

If your man agrees to bring home some postcards for you from Dubai, and then can’t decide which ones to get so he gets them all, and then also writes one to you each day he’s gone so that you will have some to keep as well as some to send, then he really loves you. If he also brings you some Arabic-language fashion mags, a newspaper and some pretty money, then he’s really racking up the points!

PostCrossing 4: Moths and Maths

My awesome parents sent me the Dover Pictura Butterflies book a while ago [OMG – I can get Dover books on Amazon? With Prime?! Watch out pocketbook…] and there are a few full page illustrations that I thought were particularly gorgeous. I wanted to add something to the illustrations, so I scanned a table of numbers from an old builders’ reference guide and faded that into the background. Then it occurred to me that a customized PostCrossing “cancellation stamp” would be a cool thing to have, so I poked around a bit and sure enough, found a tutorial. Translating the “warp text” instructions to gimp-speak was a bit of a challenge, but I eventually found the text along path option and was on my way. (You’ll need to click through to the original images on flickr to see my cool cancellation stamp :-)

Moths and Maths

1. moths and maths 05, 2. moths and maths 04, 3. moths and maths 02 Created with fd's Flickr Toys

The last two of these will go out today!

PostCrossing 3: Lounge Here!

These urban silhouettes by PRaile were my inspiration for this series. I’m kind of surprised that I have so few downtown-type pictures, given that I can see it from my front porch, but I did find this picture that I took a while ago of some random bar.

Original image for Lounge Here! postrcrossing series

Instead of completely silhouetting it, I played with the “photocopy” filter in GIMP and kept some of the wording. Then I masked out the background and tried a bunch of different scrapbook paper backgrounds.


I’m quite pleased with the results, and one of them even got a fave on postcrossing! How cool is that :-)

PostCrossing 2: The Medieval Collage Series

These were lots of fun! I sorta-kinda followed a tutorial on PSD Tuts, although I obviously changed the theme. (Unless you consider “medieval” really vintage, I suppose….) I had to do a lot of research to learn about layer overlays and some of the other techniques, and how to accomplish similar effects in GIMP, but that’s the whole purpose of these exercises, after all!

Medieval Collage 01

I ended up with three versions, two of which have reached their destinations. (Click through the pic above to see them all on flickr.) I only have two cards traveling right now, so I need to get on the ball and come up with my next batch! Maps seem to be a popular request, so I’m thinking maybe I’ll try something along the lines of this map collage that I did a while ago.

Jump Ring Jamboree!

Mom came to visit last weekend and we tried some new things. We put together a saltwater etching setup, and it actually worked, somewhat to our surprise ;-)

We called it our “6th Grade Science Project”….

Saltwater etching setup

We tried brass and copper, and got good results with both, although we did learn that if you’re using Sharpie markers for the resist, you should use a black one, and use a regular old-fashioned felt-tip type, not one of the new retractable super-fine-point jobbies. See the November 2008 issue of Art Jewelry for all the juicy (ha!) details.

We also played with pliers and made some great chain jewelry. I started with an article from the March 2009 issue of BeadStyle and very quickly had an awesome necklace. It’s an easy project, although I didn’t like their version of the earrings once I had put them together. I just eliminated the bottom two sets of rings and was much happier with my results.

Jump Ring Jewelry

I get all my brass and niobium jump rings from SpiderChain, and I recently discovered her other site, Silver Weaver. What a feast for the eyes and imagination! Having previously realized that the tiny niobium rings are great with larger sterling rings in Japanese 6-in-1, I was inspired to try a variation that I saw on Spider’s site. I’ve worn this bracelet almost every day since :-)

Jump Ring Jewelry

Now that Spider has more sizes of niobium, we’ve ordered some of each size. I can’t wait to see how Byzantium or some of the other patterns work up with them! (And yes, obviously I talked myself into trying a different color mix! This batch is “fire,” and we ordered some “water” and “peacock” in the larger sizes and I honestly cannot decide which I like the best.)

PostCrossing 1: The Colored Zentangle Series

Hooray! My first postcrossing postcard was marked received yesterday, all the way from Germany :-)

I’m using postcrossing as an excuse to learn how to use GIMP. My plan is to work in batches, making a series of similar layouts so that I get to repeat the techniques I learn several times. Plus I like groups of things, and it sounds so capital-A Artsy to have a series.

Thus, the Colored Zentangle Series (plummy BBC accent, please!)

A while ago I scanned one of my conference call doodlings and have been thinking since then that it would be really cool to color it in.

doodling at work

  • If I didn’t have a pen and paper around during conference calls I’d go nuts….

This turned out to be a bit more complicated than I had expected. I started just using the Fill tool, but that left little white artifacts along the boundaries between the color and the black lines. So I did some research and learned about the Color to Alpha tool. That got rid of the white, but using Fill on the result still was not satisfactory. Then it occurred to me to make the alpha-ized image its own layer, on top of the background, and color on the layer beneath. That way the color could come right up to the black lines, or even extend into them a little, and since the lines were on top, it would look nice and neat.

For most areas I could use the Fuzzy Select (magic wand) tool, grow the selection by a couple of pixels, switch to the background layer and fill with color. For areas that had open boundaries or where the scan was not as clean, I experimented with the Free Select tool, which I really liked once I got the hang of it. For very small areas it was easier to just color freehand on the background layer. I got a lot of practice with my pen and tablet!

Here is my first result:

(Note: The postcrossing links won’t show the postcard’s journey until it is marked received at the other end.)


I also made a simpler color-blocked version:


From here it was just a matter of playing with the sliders in the Hue and Saturation dialog to come up with some other color combinations that I liked.




I love them! They look really nice printed on photo paper, and I’m using 4x6 adhesive labels for the address side. I hope they stand up to mailing well. (I suppose I could mail one to myself to find out….) Now that one has been received, I can get a new address to send to, so I’m off and running on my next batch, the Medieval Collage Series.

Crazy Cat

Lorax has decided that her favorite new spot is one of my dresser drawers. If I leave this drawer open too long in the morning, presto, it sprouts a cat.

Here’s a tail….

Lorax in my dresser drawer

And with a bit of trick photography, we find the rest of the beast!

Lorax in my dresser drawer

Powered by Squarespace. Copyright 2003 - 2013 Darcy Curtin. All Rights Reserved.