#100happydays Week 1(ish)

Posting on Tuesday did not end up happening so here goes for the last week! Things that make me happy:

  1. My cat Padfoot
  2. My bike: Currently residing in my living room for indoor cycling while the weather is less than appealing for outdoors exercise. The picture is an old one of my bike outside because my living room is currently a mess and I don’t want photographic evidence of it. But riding the bike is the perfect way to procrastinate on cleaning.
  3. Frozen bananas: Cold and creamy and covered in chocolate. They are wonderful.
  4. Premade gluten-free pizza crusts: Trying to get a gluten-free pizza crust to rise usually results in really dense flat bread, so I was ecstatic when I discovered decent premade ones in the freezer section of the grocery store.
  5. Hawaiian pizza: Needs no explanation.
  6. My gastroenterologist: Making my life easier one FODMAP at a time.
  7. My travel mug that looks like a disposable coffee cup: It’s cheap, durable (I have dropped that thing so many times), and doesn’t hold onto weird smells like all of the spill proof ones I’ve owned over the years. It isn’t spill proof, but the opening is so small that I can usually catch it before anything comes out. This is actually the second one I’ve owned; I lost the first after a year (purchased at the grocery store from a bin) and loved it so much I sought out the exact same one again (this time found at Target) and it has lasted two years. All of my previous travel mugs lasted 6 months tops because of that odor issue.
  8. My crampons: I have nearly fallen to my death* while hiking on icy trails before, so I’m excited to finally have crampons to help prevent slipping. Also, the instruction images from the packaging are pretty fabulous.

*May be an exaggeration.

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British Library GIFs

The British Library has released 1,000,000 public domain images on Flickr, so to celebrate I made a couple animated GIFs…



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I was recently introduced to the 100 Happy Days project, which seeks to help people appreciate the good things in their lives by taking a picture of something that made them happy every day for 100 days. With various sources of stress in my life right now, this sounds like exactly what I need. So here it goes!

I will be posting a weekly update (for about 14 weeks), but will be uploading the pictures daily to a Flickr set. As my inaugural photo, I figured I should probably get the big one out of the way – Padfoot, my cat, my greatest joy, and the unofficial star of this blog.

Padfootday1I am never again allowed to use her as one of my 100 things, though she may make cameos in such happy things as rubbing a kitty’s belly or playing with laser pointers.

Happy day!

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Photoing up for the DS 106 Remixathon!

DS 106 is doing a daily creates remixathon, which sounds like a heck of a lot of fun. For today’s daily create the assignment is to create a visual for a Two Headlines tweet. And I happened to find one that suits my interests…

The original Star Wars selfie is hard to top, but I decided with the Apple spin I could at least make a valiant effort. So here it is:

ImageThe original images are not even close to creative commons licensed, but I’m going to claim fair use for this one. Image sources: Apple Inc Headquarters, Darth Vader, iPhone 5c

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Padfoot, Queen of the Night

The queen stalks the night. She wanders through her domain, checking that things are as they should be, searching for stray movement. She sees a flash, she pounces. Alas, it is only a leaf. Not one of her subjects sneaking out after dark.

She enters a clearing. The sky above is full of strange light. Like the color of the grass and trees. She wouldn’t be able to tell, it looks much like any other night sky, but the color has borders, edges, swirls that reach high into the sky. She wishes she could jump that high. But it is not to be.

She spots a car. Or at least that is what the humans call it. But this one has been here for a long time. It is covered in rust and pieces are missing. Leaves spill out. And buried among the leaves, she sees movement.

She prepares. She gets low to the ground, and this time she watches. Watches the mice dart back and forth.

And then she lunges.

The mouse squeaks in surprise and fear. His last thought is that he should have stayed in his hole as his queen’s jaw clamps down.

The other mice scurry away, but she is not concerned. She only needs one to set an example for what happens when you break the curfew.

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Life Plan: A Six-Word Story

Creating a poster of a six-word memoir feels almost like cheating.  You’re supposed to be telling the entire story using only those words. Being able to use pictures makes it easier. But then again, you are limited to a single image (or single arrangement of images), so you still have to choose wisely. And summarizing your life in six words … well, personally, I’ll take all the help I can get.

For those who know me, this poster will be obvious. They’ll remember when I claimed I would some day work the UN, they’ll remember my years of pre-med, that period when I gushed about GIS. Hopefully they will also remember my attempts to pursue these careers and discovery that either 1) it wasn’t a good fit, 2) the barriers to entry were unrealistic for me, or 3) (and most disappointing) the field is in transition and 5 or so years from now the work that I love will be no longer be a part of it. I feel like many people in their early to mid-twenties are in similar situations – life plans don’t pan out or turn out to be mistakes, and you have to revise your plan over and over, eventually feeling your way towards the right path. (Though those who enter and graduate college knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives never seem to quite understand this.) So although the icons in the poster are specific to my life, I suspect this is the six-word memoir of many.


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Playing with a Stapler

My desk is full of everyday objects. Including a red stapler. It is a Stanley stapler, not Swingline, but I could easily pretend to be Milton with it.

ImageSo for the Common Everyday Object assignment, I decided to celebrate my red stapler with a photoshopping extravaganza.


This first one is actually a very simple effect in Photoshop. In the Adjustments panel (in GIMP this is the Color menu) I went to Curves. The tool initially gives you a single RGB graph with a lone gray line, but you can select Red, Green or Blue. There are also pre-built “curves” that will automatically change the image such as creating a color negative. I played with the four different curves, sliding the line up and down at various points along the graph until I found a combination that was interesting. It’s a simple technique (and gets a lot more fiddly when you are trying to actually blend something in with another image), but for this assignment I decided to just go with a fun semi-neon effect.


ImageFor this second one, I decided to transform the image to a single color. There are a number of ways you can do this, but the easiest is to 1) select Black & White or under Hue/Saturation desaturate the photo. 2) Go to Channel Mixer and play with the Red, Green, Blue, and Constant channels. Slide them around until you find a combination you like. To achieve the above effect, in the Red Channel I set Red to -32%, Green to +102%, Blue to +135%, and Constant to +62%.


This third one is just a simple Filter. From the Artistic Filters I played around with a few, but finally settled on Cutout. It creates an interesting stippling effect for the surface of my desk.


For the last one I decided to go with an underwater effect. First I went with a Distort Filter called Ripple. Then I overlayed a copy of the original at 40% Opacity with an Artistic Filter called Sponge. This created distortions of the stapler image similar to those you see when looking at something lying on the bottom of a swimming pool or a clear body of water. Then I added a Photo Filter called Underwater to add a greenish blue tint to the image with a 47% Density. The density is yet another slider that you can play around with until you get the particular desired hue. Finally, I wanted to add the ripples of the water’s surface, so I overlayed an image of the ocean’s surface with 32% Fill. I didn’t like having it on top, so I moved it to be below the underwater filter, and finally had the effect I was going for.

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