Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Getting rid of old things: Just mail it away!

I just stumbled onto the thing that is going to finally let me fix the mess that is my craft closet - The Give Back Program.

Basically, you go to the Give Back Box site, print out a shipping label, slap that onto a box, and voila! Just put it in the mail and you're good to go! There is also the option to have USPS come to your house and pick up your boxes, which means you can get rid of a lot of stuff at once. (Which I plan to do once I gather together enough supplies for a weekend purge.) This seems ideal either for folks with no time, or folks with no transportation.

Give Back Box recommends reusing old boxes from shipments you've received, so there's a recycling component to it. Best of all, the only weight limit is USPS' maximum (which happens to be 70 lbs.). The only downside is: No electronics. (but there are plenty of other services that will collect those for you. Or you can flex your maker skills and reuse them for parts!)

For me, personally, just getting rid of old stuff has been the biggest hurdle to my getting organized. I've made plenty of attempts, but my plans fail from the start without the ability to send stuff off to where it can be useful. I've printed off several labels now, and am about to hunt down cardboard boxes and tape.

Later on, I hope to post about my experiences with mind-mapping, and using that to plan an organization system before I go moving things around again. I'm hoping to share that info in a few weeks.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Bumble: Plants and Fungi

Hey it's near springtime here in the Pacific Northwest! And that means everything is damp, overcast, and chill. yay! It also means the sun is coming out a bit more, and soon we'll be able to plant things.

I personally really love going out to all the parks and nature areas I can while spring is starting out, just to see all the bits of new green growing everywhere. I love how evergreen trees get this lovely pop of bright green needles at the end of the old darker green ones. It's like they put on a bit of nail polish for show.

We've also got plenty of fungi. I haven't studied them as much, but I am super keen to do that this year. I learned recently about the Mycelium Network, aka the internet for plants, and I am fascinated.

Gentle person talks about plants: I found Jeremiah Johnson while researching how to grow oak trees from acorns. His videos are both informative and just wonderful for anxious times.

This next video is about how trees communicate and transfer nutrients through their mycelium networks. Tree social behavior is fascinating to me.

 And now some time laps mycelium, mushroom, and mold growth.

Friday, March 17, 2017

It's okay to lose your metaphorical heart, or to break it.

You can sooth it up with art supplies and warm drinks. You can dive deep into the cracks to find out what's tearinig it apart.

You can do some kintsugi and patch it up with gold. Fill the cracks with gold and see the beautiful design that life carves into it.

 You can also just make a new one. You can explore new things, new people, new places. You can graft the remains of your old on onto these things, and grow a new one.

Or you can borrow one, because some folks have extra to spare. Take a little into a bowl, feed it love, and watch it grow like friendship bread.

There are a lot of ways to take care of your metaphorical heart, and you can always choose a different way if you feel like it.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Bumbling onto the Photo Booth app (Image heavy post!)

I keep the apps I don't like that Apple won't allow me to delete in folders labeled "Useless." Every so often, I pull them out to play with them and see if they've improved or if I've changed my mind. During some down time last week, I gave Photo Booth another shot. I discovered it has this kaleidescope function:

I love making tiled art, so I'm definitely going to fuss with this. I am also interested in seeing what designs I can make just by photographing things.

Next, I played with the Light Tunnel function. I'm delighted by this!

It reminds me of a halo streaming from the sides of something amazing (In this case, a statue modeled after one of our cats.)

Then I took a photo of different parts of a beautiful poster sent to me by Budaedu (A group that mails buddhist literature & art for free. A lot of the literature is Pure Land stuff, but they do offer a wide variety of things.)

After taking these photos, I noticed that the color scheme seemed much easier to understand. I decided to take a picture of a green nature-themed pitcher to see a monochromatic color scheme.

Then I decided to try it out in brighter light.

Awesome! I started to wonder if I might use these pictures to capture colors that I can re-use in digital art. To test that out, there's nothing better than a rainbow!

I decided to try just capturing a warm color scheme.

Then I decided to try and make it look like things were glistening in the light. I really enjoy the effect here with the metal - and I think this is useful for understanding how to recreate shiny metal in colors. The curvy shape of the knotwork seemed like it would naturally show the darker variation in colors next to the brighter ones, and I think it worked!

My only regret there is that since I was just holding the iPad by hand, I had difficulty centering it.

Now for some fun. A basket with bubble-style holes in it. I really like the colors here.

And the face of a little ceramic Halloween Owl.

The Light Tunnel reminds me a bunch of zooming off into space, since that is a long-standing tradition in sci films to show when a space ship is flying fast. So I decided to capitalize on that. I don't think it worked too well, but I do think this effect is something interesting I can play with later.

This first one reminds me of a planet having a sunrise.

This is one of those Beany Baby toys with big sparkly eyes. I decided to move the camera around to catch different shapes of the orange sparkle.

I got curious how glass would fare. I like it, though I think having it on a black or white background would have been better. Or maybe something blue or purple to get a more interesting color scheme.

Lastly, I tried out a picture of patterned fabric. I discovered pictures just don't turn out if you bring them that close. I think this is good enough, and it does magnify the pattern. Using Light Tunnel to find the color scheme in fabrics should be very, very useful.

I don't care much about the other features of Photo Booth, but I do highly recommend these two. They take almost nothing to learn about, and are super fun to use. In my experience, having simple things like this to be successful with is very helpful for keeping the motivation needed to move forward with a skill.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Time enough

I've stopped looking at scheduling and decluttering tips. In my experience, these are like diets: They work for a little but, but ultimately aren't sustainable and don't solve the problem. I still believe there is a way to make it all work, but I also think looking inward is the key to figuring out how.

Here are some things I've learned about myself and scheduling:

1. No "Do this every day" tasks that aren't necessary.

I can only do so many "Do this everyday" tasks. So instead of a bunch of individual must-do tasks, I do better with a category of tasks ("Create something" instead of "Draw 30 minutes" or "write for an hour.) Trying to do a category every single day doesn't seem to work for too long either, but at least is better than individual tasks.

I am considering doing some finite 'every single day' projects, though. For instance, spend a week studying anatomy for 2 hours every day. I'll consider that on Monday.

2. A Mr. Bumblepants in motion stays in motion.

It's hard for me to get started and to stop. The in-between is just fine, although I also spend a lot of time anxiously thinking about when the project will be done. So I don't have to account for motivating myself during the task. I just have to get myself to and from tasks.

This also means that I need to work on letting go of an unfinished project. If the project needs to be done all in one go, then I need to plan ahead for that, or just do it right then. Otherwise, I need to accept that I will not finish during my work time, and that has to be okay.

2. Time exists and is finite.

Time is not a constant in the rest of the universe, but here on Earth it stays pretty regular - a fact my brain has not come to terms with.

It's very easy to say, "Oh, I'll just get this done real quick," and shove an hour long task in front of everything else. And from there, it's easy to say, "I'll just work on this till it's done," and then lose time that day for anything else. This is most disappointing when the project turns out to be a flop - a whole day wasted for no results.

Instead of tossing away that day's schedule for a new project, I have started writing down new projects that pop up, so I can add them to a future schedule. I'm having some success that way. I am also discovering that there are time when jumping in and tossing a whole day at a random project is very good for me.

3. Just accept the insomnia.

I have a lot of trouble sleeping. Sometimes it's anxiety where I can use coping techniques to chill out. Other times, it's like a switch is on in my brain that doesn't turn off until 8:00 or even 12:00 the next day - at which point I've got to drag myself through all my things. This can go on for a few days at a time, and I progressively feel more sick and unable to get anything done.

I will definitely continue to try getting a consistent sleep routine down, but I now accept that I will simply have cycles of bad sleep which will lead to bad days. I have done things like simply ignoring the schedule for bad sleep days, or having alternative schedules that work better for those times. These two ideas seem to be in the right direction.

I'm going to continue working on my sleep problem, but in the meantime I am getting a lot more done now that I'm accommodating my obstacles. The specific ways I cope seem to matter less than the fact I make space for myself to cope.

There's definitely more to it than that.

Of course there is. All the articles on de-cluttering, de-stressing, totally taking apart and rearranging how we go about our tasks - I think it's really just a sign how put upon we all are to figure it out. How can accomplish the Herculean task that is living? How can we deal with all the changes?

I think making time to sit with our brains and see what's there, playing around with them to figure out how they work - I think that's how solutions get found.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Bumble: Techy things and weirdness

Now that I have a desktop properly set up, I feel that I'll be able to post a lot more. Yay!  (For the record, attempting to write and edit in a blog on a tablet is not my cup of tea.)

So it's time to try out the Weekly Bumble again. This is a collection of stuff I've found interesting throughout the week. I'm aiming to have one up every Sunday.

Techy stuff

Firefox Test Pilot


The history of the Umlaut - Bring back Volap√ľk! Umlauts for all!

The Planeteers still exist! - Yes, you can follow Captain Planet on Facebook. You can even become a volunteer, although it appears the movement isn't all that active right now.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Trip To The Park: A peaceful exploration game

I was introduced to Twine a few days ago, and I love using it. I have enough HTML skills that I'm able to do plenty with it already, but there is also a lot of cool coding stuff I can learn to make awesome games with it. I really enjoy creating rambling settings, so I am happy to begin exploring an interactive storytelling method for that.

And guess what? I've already made my first game! It's called "A Trip To The Park." It is free, and you can play it at itch.io.

I originally intended to use the videos I put in the game on this blog. Instead of making a few blog posts about waterfalls and ducks, though, I figured why not make it a game that people can come back to again and again?

I have more pictures and video to add, and I plan to add more later. I may try to alter it with fresh video every season, so that the park in the game changes along with the real world.