Funk & The Power of Positive Thinking

11 Apr 2007 In: Observations, Opinions

Bootsy CollinsSo yesterday I worked from home because I was feeling icky. I had a very sore throat, ached all over, etc. Today I came into work, even then when I woke up I wasn’t really feeling all that much better. Once I got some food up ins and the ibuprofen kicked in I started to feel better physically but I was still grumpy. Of course the only sane thing to do in that situation is to put on my favorite funk album “Play with Bootsy” by Bootsy Collins. Awwww yeah.

Anyway, all of that isn’t especially noteworthy, but as my mood improved I realized something. Funk is an extremely positive form of expression. Funk doesn’t contain large amounts of profanity or racial slurs, it doesn’t glorify violence, it doesn’t do any of the negative things that so many other genres do. In fact, if anything funk actively promotes love and understanding. They should be blaring Bootsy over loudspeakers in Iraq. Who could possibly want to fight while listening to “Love Gangsta”?

Mac Switch

23 Mar 2007 In: Technobabble

I have been struggling for some time with using a Windows PC for work. While I have no problems with my usual tasks (writing code, graphics stuff, etc) I have had problems running code that assumes a linux environment. I tried switching to Linux a few times (redhat, fedora, ubuntu, gentoo) but it never quite worked. I couldn’t get dual-head monitors working or I couldn’t get Photoshop to run (sorry Gimp, you just don’t cut it for me). Anyway, I managed to get a MacBook Pro (not the new core duo, one generation back) and a copy of Parallels for windows tasks I cant find a way to manage with this machine. I feel better about this attempt than I have my others, a while back I tried to switch to a mac at work but it was too slow, being an older machine. Let’s hope it works this time, and maybe I will be able to switch up my home computer eventually as well!

Rockets Red Glare

12 Mar 2007 In: Art, Technobabble

My friend Becker is working on some code to make commenting available on code documentation where it doesn’t exist presently (I wont ruin the surprise, when it goes live I will update you here). I came up with the name Rocket Doc-it for his application, and designed a logo to go along with it, which you get to see now. This is the benefit of being a Blizzo reader, red-carpet backstage all access passes to obscurity.

Rocket Doc-it Logo, large

Intuos, and beyond!

12 Mar 2007 In: Art

So I broke down and bought a tablet. I ended up going with the Wacom Intuos3 4×6. I could have gotten a 6×8 Graphire (the model below) for the same price, but I decided I wanted the higher quality one instead. This is a picture from their website, but its not totally accurate. My draw area is smaller, and mine only has the left set of buttons and controls.
Wacom Intuos3
My first test for the tablet was another coloring attempt of an illustration by Owen Giene. This time he dressed up Cecania as Ghostrider, after seeing and enjoying the recent film. Here is the before and after, but this time you can click on my color version for full size. The thumbnail looks pretty bad, so I wanted people to be able to see the full size.

Cecania of Sore Thumbs as Ghost Rider by Owen Giene - ThumbnailMy coloring of Cecania of Sore Thumbs as Ghost Rider by Owen Giene - Thumbnail

It was a ton of fun to use, and the next day Mason wanted me to draw something from scratch, so I tried my hand at a fish. The sketch is *very* rough, and it will likely take me quite a while to get to a point where anything I draw will be of decent quality, but here he is in all his glory:

Fish by Morgan Whitney

Baby Beatbox

8 Mar 2007 In: Family

When Mason was little he used to beatbox with me all the time, but he grew out of it. I am happy to say that Madeleine has reintroduced the trend!

Color Experiments

26 Feb 2007 In: Miscellaneous

Lately I have been playing around with colorizing black and white sketches in Photoshop. I don’t have a tablet, yet, which I am told makes a huge difference with this sort of thing, but I have some stuff I think turned out pretty well anyway. Owen Giene, the artist who illustrates the web comic Sore Thumbs, recently did a nice sketch of his Cecania character as Alice of Alice and Wonderland fame on his pay site, Cecania’s Private Party. As this is his work, I will only post thumbnails. If you want to see it in full glory you can pay the measly $2/month to join and help a talented artist pay some bills. Here are the black and white, and colorized versions side by side:

Owen Giene’s Cecania as Alice in WonderlandOwen Giene’s Cecania as Alice in Wonderland

At work today I was doing a mock up for an internal application and I decided it needed some sort of theme/title/etc to use as a reference. I came up with the idea of using a cartoon mole mascot because digging was a good metaphor for the site. I sketched him out using a regular pencil on a piece of printer paper and scanned him in. Once I had him in Photoshop I cleaned the sketch up a bit and colorized him. He isn’t as detailed or as high quality as the Cecania-Alice, but I did it quickly. All in all I think it turned out pretty well. It is the first piece of art I have created with these methods from beginning to end. Anyway, here is the mole, enjoy:

Pencil Sketch of Cartoon Mole
Colorized Pencil Sketch of Cartoon Mole

RailsConf Bound!

1 Feb 2007 In: Technobabble

RailsConf 2007

I am very excited to announce that I will be a presenter at RailsConf 2007! My colleagues and I at Vonage submitted a handful of abstracts and two of them were accepted. My topic will be “RESTful Modeling and ActiveRecord”. As soon as I have more details I will post them here. See you there!

Please stand by…

27 Jan 2007 In: Miscellaneous, Technobabble

Last week on a whim I decided to switch hosting companies for my website.  For the last few years I have been with Hostdime who, initially, offered an amazing package for an amazing price.  However, they have not kept up with the times, and at this point would not even support PHP5, let alone Ruby on Rails, so on a referral from Stephen Becker I have moved to Dreamhost.  I would not say the transition has been painless, but the problems I have encountered were resolved quickly via e-mail.  Dreamhost offers a ton of space and bandwidth, as well as up to date versions of the things that matter.

Due to my overwhelming brilliance I wiped out my database backup of this blog during the transition.  Thanks to Google’s cached pages I was able to retrieve all of the posts and put them back in here, but the dates will all have to be edited manually in the database to tighten things up.  Anything with a date of 1/1/01 is a restored post with an incorrect date, hopefully they won’t last long.

I have some new projects up my sleeve and I will share them with you as thy progress.  It should be fun!

In Memory of Miriam

10 Jan 2007 In: Miscellaneous

Miriam ShapiroFor anyone that doesn’t know, my grandmother Miriam Shapiro passed away last week. She and my grandfather, Sam Shapiro, have always been an inspiration to me. They were amazing people. For archival purposes, here is her obituary, photo, and the contents of the speech that I gave at her funeral.

Deseret Morning News Obituary

Contents of Obituary:

Miriam Shapiro

Miriam O. Shapiro 1918 ~ 2007 Our beloved mother, Miriam Oliner Shapiro, born March 14, 1918, died Jan. 3, 2007 at St. Joseph’s Villa, where she had been a resident for the past eight and a half years. She was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, the daughter of Jake and Rose Oliner. Miriam graduated from South High School in 1935 and was a graduate of the Class of 1939 Holy Cross School of Nursing. After graduation she practiced nursing at the Fort Douglas Hospital during World War II. On June 29, 1941, Miriam married the love of her life, Sam Shapiro. They both enjoyed their lives together for 61 years. Sam and Miriam were owners and worked together for 40 years at the Eagle Company, a successful commercial uniform and bowling shirt distributorship. After retirement from the Eagle Company, Miriam volunteered as a Pink Lady at the Salt Lake Regional Medical Center where she was known as the “Cookie Lady” for providing her wonderful homemade chocolate chip cookies to the doctors, nurses and staff and also to her family, neighbors and friends. Miriam is survived by her children, Patti Shapiro, Denver, CO, Heidi (Richard) Weinsoft, Salt Lake City, UT and Gary Shapiro, Jerome, AZ, her sister Frances (Kalman) Sherman, Hendersonville, NC, sister-in-law, Marion Sher, Salt Lake City, UT, eight grandchildren, and 16 great grandchildren. Preceded in death by her husband, Sam. Miriam was a long standing member of Congregation Kol Ami. The family would like to express their sincere thanks and gratitude to the countless nurses and caregivers on One East at St. Joseph’s Villa who so willingly and diligently provided wonderful care to our mother, Miriam. Funeral services will be held at 12:00 noon, Friday January 5th at Evans & Early Mortuary, 574 E. 100 So. Interment, Montefiore Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Congregation Kol Ami, 2425 Heritage Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84109, St. Joseph’s Villa, 451 Bishop Federal Lane, Salt Lake City, UT 84115 or charity of choice.
Published in the Deseret News on 1/5/2007.

My Funeral Speech:

I knew that today I would want to stand before our family and friends and try to share some of my thoughts, and allow you to see Miriam through my eyes. At first, I was disappointed because the only memories that floated to the surface were archetypal grandmotherly images that seemed a little too cliché.

But after some reflection, I realize that not everyone is so fortunate. I took for granted this person who so effortlessly granted comfort, and warmth. I remember the bottomless candy dishes, how she would take me to the department store downtown and get me a balloon, the butterfly shaped jell-o with fruit cocktail I liked so much, and of course the cookies. No one ever stops talking about the cookies.

I know that for the rest of my life, I will always have those pleasant moments to reflect upon, and take comfort in; which is a legacy worth celebrating.

Today, i do not mourn the death of my grandmother, but take comfort in the knowledge that she has been reunited with Sam. May everyone be so lucky to have a person like Miriam in their lives, granting security and comfort in times of doubt, and knowing that they were loved unconditionally. Grandma, go now and begin your everlasting journey, and know that you will always be here with us, in our hearts and memories.

Happy Anniversary Amy!

20 Sep 2006 In: Miscellaneous

Today is my 3rd wedding anniversary. It has been very hard to be away from my girl for the last 3 months, but I get to see her tonight and I am very excited. On October 4th Amy, Mason and Madeleine will make the trip to join me permanently and I am thrilled. We have a nice little rental in Piscataway and Amy has some good job prospects, and it looks like we have a couple of strong candidates for renters for the house in Denver. Hopefully things will get back to normal soon for our family, and Amy can actually start getting some sleep. Thank you for everything you do for me Amy!