Week 1: Sunday purchases

I promised honesty and transparency, so here it is.  All my Sunday errand running out in the open for you to see.  

Though to keep some sense of personal boundaries, if I buy something you don’t need to know all the details about, I will use euphemisms and such to keep it simple.  


  • Up & Up Girl products: $13.42 
  • Up & Up denture cleaner (for my nightguard that I wear to keep from grinding my teeth away to nothing): $2.94
  • Up & Up cotton balls: $1.89 
  • Up & Up allergy medicine cetirizine $24.99 (it’s a larger quantity bottle)
  • Apples, honeycrisp $7.14 
  • Christmas socks, 2 pairs, $4.00 
  • TOTAL WITH TAX: $56.22 


  • 10.957 gallons @ $2.859/gallon: $31.33 (Word to the wise: Ten cent discounts are great…)


  • Relora $13.99 

So I spent $99.70 today.  


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The above is my slideshow of 10 images.  I chose to document the process of getting my car washed.  It presented a unique obstacle, though: how to get interesting shots?  Initially, I took about 20 shots and narrowed it down to ten at home.  The first one is a basic, deep space, one point convergence shot of the location of a dollar bill changer.  The funny part is, of course, that the changer machine was no where near where the sign told me to go…

I tried to mimic the “under the train” shot style and took a picture from underneath while I changed the bill.  I like the end effect.  The same sentiment goes for the shot of the quarters.  The other people using the car wash definitely thought I was nuts, though.  One of them gave me a funny look when I was taking the shots of the automatic wash before I got back into my car.  Perhaps the middle of the day on a Saturday was not the time for this sort of thing.

The sixth picture in the set is deep space.  It is clear that my car could keep coming in straight for the camera and take up more and more of the frame, just like Block talks about in relation to zooming and focusing the camera.  For ambiguous space, the image of my sunroof getting cleaned by the autowash was not only my favorite but a reasonable example.  It is not entirely clear how large the cabin of my car is or how large the autowash is.  The flat space picture of the autowash floor could be better, though.  There’s a little too much depth suggested with that pesky blue pole in the shot…My  best attempt at limited space was almost okay, but there’s a bit of background peeking out!  The main focus is on the menu button system for the autowash.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Charitable Giving


And for those who like bitty urls, here’s a shorter version: http://tinyurl.com/3xf2vy7

But let’s get to the point.  The article was in my newspaper recently, asking the question “Are web avatar campaigns a force for real change or just slacktivism?”

Apparently, people on Facebook were changing their profile pictures to cartoon characters to raise awareness about the perils of child abuse, etc.  It is an online attempt to replicate campaigns like the ones where you wear a ribbon to raise awareness/show support for cancer research.

But there’s a difference, see.  When you do those October Race for the Cure, wear a ribbon, buy pink tennis shoes, or whatever, you’re usually making a small cash donation.  $1 or two doesn’t break the bank, but it certainly helps out in the long run when enough people do it.

Pink ribbon.png

Picture compliments of Niki K. via Wikimedia Commons

Changing a profile picture on Facebook is done with about three clicks and is a meaningless action overall.  I’m fairly certain there are better ways to raise awareness about child abuse and the problems involved.  You can probably find a child protection group’s Facebook page/real web page and donate to them that way, and then post a link on your Wall that says something to the effect of “Billy Goat Gruff donated to the Prevent Abuse Campaign.  Donate now!”  That will draw more attention than changing a picture.

It feels nice to make people aware, and yes, I’m sure some people are prompted by the picture changes, look into the situation more, and then donate appropriately.  But from the article, it seems most are just doing it for fun.  Or to feel like they are doing something.

I freely admit that right now, I don’t donate my time or volunteer like I should.  Like most people, I make sporadic donations to charities during the year and more so during the Christmas season.  I donated food to the food pantry through my local charity shop earlier this year because I couldn’t figure out online where the actual food pantry for my city is (pathetic, I know).

The Salvation Army Online Red Kettle

Picture from Salvation Army Home Page

But I do try a little.  I promised myself at Thanksgiving when I walked by a Salvation Army bell ringer and avoided eye contact as I walked into Macy’s that from that point on this season, every time I make a trip to the mall I will donate a dollar.  Right now I am painfully trying to save money for my own self to cover college expenses, car payments, etc.

Next Christmas, though, I really want to be in a good enough place financially that I can place a $50 bill into someone’s donation bucket.  Or maybe just put 5 ten-dollar bills into five buckets over one day.  Or maybe I can get an angel off the Angel Trees that are in the malls and make a small child happy for Christmas.  I can do all this now, too, but it would hurt me financially since I have yet to save up the money for my summer school tuition bill.

Actually doing something charitable and sweet for someone else is the best feeling in the world.  But changing a picture?


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Free for the Taking


Initially, when I think of this word, I think of a “free” space on a Bingo card.  That, and bright yellow starburst shapes on packaging, calling attention to an extra doo-dad included.

File:Bingo card - B&W.jpg

Picture compliments of Abbey Hendrickson via Wikimedia Commons

But the word has different connotations.  As blogger Chris Anderson points out, free products are part of a new way of doing business.  “The idea that you can make money by giving something away is no longer radical.”  Cell phone companies rigidly adhere to this business model: a trip to investigate cell phone prices will reveal (upon careful inspection of the price tags) that cellular providers make up the difference in add-on service fees and “perk” fees.  For example, smart phones often involve a monthly fee of $10-15 a month for Internet access.  This is required as part of the phone plan.  Therefore, the carrier will not allow customers to use smart phones unless they pay for internet access, too.  What a pile of baloney!

On a brighter note, I freely admit to being a fan of gifts with purchase.  Oftentimes, the gift comes with a purchase you were planning to make anyway.  Take Clinique make-up.  Gifts with purchase always include travel-size versions of popular lipsticks, moisturizers, and mascaras.  The minimum purchase amount is usually $26.50 or lower; not bad if you need foundation and powder!  Plus, baby-size make-up is just more fun to use.

However, since I work at a bank, I’d like to consider another business model: “free with stipulations.”  All of our bank accounts come with a monthly fee of either $8 or $10 dollars, sometimes $25.  All those fees are waived when certain requirements are met: a $25 monthly transfer from checking to savings, a direct deposit of $100 or more, etc.  Then, you enjoy benefits like discounts on check orders, and possibly discounts on loans.

Many customers upgrade for the interest rates or the prestige.  We always make sure to put a customer in a package that will not result in fees.

This past Saturday, I offered a customer with a sizable balance in a free checking account if he ever gets offers from tellers and bankers to upgrade his account (We have to have sales conversations with customers.  It is our job.)  His resentful response? “Every time I make a deposit.”

No need for snark, customer.  We are paid to sell products, and we are expected to offer products to better serve you.  And shouldn’t you be used to this if it happens “every time?”

A lot of the fuss over the “free” model is the psychology of free.  Anderson points out in his article, “Give a product away and it can go viral.  Charge a single cent for it and you’re in an entirely different business, one of clawing and scratching for every customer.”  This is so true.  Free bank accounts made it so easy to get customers signed up.  Now, we still offer “free” accounts, but there are requirements, and they aren’t free, but the fee is waived.

This is a really complicated way of saying that the concept of free is tricky.  Be a little wary if something is free.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Cloud

File:Nubes movimiento2.gif(Wicked moving cloud image compliments of Wikimedia Commons via Jorge Barrios)

At the very beginning of the semester, I remember looking at the syllabus for this class and seeing “The Cloud” listed for this week and wondering, “What the heck is the cloud?  Am I in over my head, taking this class?”

It is debatable, whether I’m in over my head.  As for the cloud, I finally got my answer this week.

The cloud is a reference to the “open, remote, access online” idea that has really blossomed in the past few years.  In class, we discussed the possibility of even not purchasing office software (whatever brand it may be) and using the free/low charge “cloud.”

That could be nice.  Lord knows I forked over some money to buy MS Office 2007 years ago.  That would have saved me money if it were in the cloud.

Or would it? Now that I’m deeper in my academic career, Powerpoint and Word don’t quite cut it.  I need creative programs like Photoshop and frankly, there’s nothing like it.  In my Photoshop class, we watch tutorials produced by Adobe, and the creators are able to point out all kinds of subtle but large differences between the different versions of Photoshop.  Certain tweaks and alterations are only available through Photoshop.  Freeware just doesn’t cut it.

Now, if I lost use of my laptop, could I get by for two weeks using the cloud?  Absolutely.  Nice challenge, really.  But it wouldn’t be easy.  I count on access to my computer to get to the internet, and it has all my passwords stored.

This is probably a good time to consider the benefits of the cloud…I don’t want to be in a pickle one day with a crashed computer and no access to files!

I do finally have a Dropbox account where I can store all my “back and forth” files in the cloud.  (“Back and forth”= school files which I work on at school and at home.)  All I can think is, “Where were all these programs when I was in high school and badly needed them?”  It can save me the hassle of emailing big files to people to proofread: just go to Dropbox, look at my essay, and no problem…it’s all there…

All in all, Dropbox looks amazing to me, and I’m excited to keep using it.  And I know I will never go all “cloud,” but for school projects, I will make lots of use of Dropbox.  No more needing a flash drive or forgetting my laptop- everything I need will be right there!

Cloud image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nubes_movimiento2.gif


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Video Games are Art

Roger Ebert, what were you thinking?

Many moons ago, he made the foolish comment that video games could never be art.

Very foolish indeed.  See, computers and their pixels allow digital artists to combine various bits of colored light to make graphics and images for visual consumption, either for interface reasons (icons, etc) or for business reasons (recreating logos).  Sometimes, they even mix it up a bit and design cool visual effects for business hand outs and advertisements.

File:Adobe Photoshop logo.svg

Compliments of Wikimedia Commons

And just so we’re clear, these tasks require computer programs like Photoshop, and these tasks are not always easy.  It takes time to put together a pretty design for a client and modify it upon request.

Video games are a clear example where characters are built from the ground up, designing a beautiful or frightening image for players to interact with.  The games have long periods between released versions…perhaps because the designers have to create the game from the bottom up?

No, the artists are not playing with the traditional brushes and canvas.  Some of them might use a sketch pad to visualize the character before they start the actual process, but that is just to organize their thoughts better.  You can’t build something unless you have a plan.


Compliments of Wikimedia Commons

Ebert also dislikes the interactivity of the video games and claims this goes against what it means to be art.  Does Ebert shun Performance Art, too?  Granted, Performance Art is queer at best sometimes (like artist Chris Burden locking himself in a locker for five days with the bare necessities), but it is accepted as art.

The kicker is when Ebert talks about “the real question is, do we as their consumers become more or less complex, thoughtful, insightful, witty, empathetic, intelligent […] by experiencing them?”

The question is, Ebert, are you saying all books and classic forms of art have more to offer than video games?  I don’t think romance novels, meaningless books, asinine movies like Superbad (sorry to everyone who liked it, I thought it was a horrible and offensive movie), or grating music should be placed before video games on the Scale ‘O Worthiness because they aren’t video games.  All people had back in the day was cuneiform and paints made of berries, and maybe some canvas.  If those artists had access to an Apple or Photoshop, they would have had so much fun!  Don’t you think if Michaelangelo could have played with graphic programs to plan out his murals, he would have?

Now, I don’t play with video games, and I haven’t for years and years.  But I do respect people who design them.  They work hard on their crafts and deserve the same status that other artists get.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment

Confections, Mmm!

Word on the street is that a literary confection is “an assembly of many visual elements, selected from various Streams of Story, then brought together and juxtaposed on the still flatland of paper” (Tufte 121).

And here I thought he would at least touch on the confections we all know and love:

Petite Fours - one dozen - Click Image to Close

(Picture compliments of Dawn’s Bakery, who apparently makes wicked lovely-looking petit fours….oOo, I should not be looking at this when hungry…)

But no matter.  Visual confections are how we present complex concepts.  Best case scenario?  The visuals enhance the writing.  Worst case scenario?  The visuals just make life miserable and harder to understand.

My favorite confection from the reading?  I have one.  It is a beautiful drawing by Christopher Scheiner: in Rosa Ursina, he compares himself and his research to bears and their activities.  The three bears are each individually sequestered into pod-holes in the underground house, and the holes are two-dimensionally divided (in the drawing) by roses and the occasional grass snake.

I can’t find a copy of the bear etching online, but I found a different drawing by Scheiner elsewhere.  Please don’t hit the shopping cart button and buy it unless you really want the image…

The point is, Tufte wants readers to realize that there is a method to how visuals can enhance and detract from information.  Another drawing includes itty-bitty numbers hidden in drawings of churches.  Tufte has to enlarge the image and take away some of the drawing just so the “landmark numbering” is apparent.

This, in my opinion, is a wonderful example of a visual confection:


Thanks to cnobleza’s blog, a fellow WordPress user, for the above picture.  (She seems to have a similar assignment to me, documenting her learning through a blog, but she’s doing a teaching degree instead.  Interesting.)

See how useful that picture is?  To the point, and it shows how the rain comes down and evaporates and all that other coolness.  Definitely useful.

This is all anyone wants in a diagram.  Whatever you call them, visual confections/diagrams make learning easier when they are designed well and are not too abstract.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment