I just noticed that a few of my pictures had been “favorited” in Flickr by a man I didn’t know. It wouldn’t strike me normally, as I don’t know most of the people on Flickr.com, however these pictures seemed to be of a particular theme.
So, yeah. The guy had been favoriting a lot of men’s pictures lately.
I just finished up a site I was working on for a friend. It was actually finished a while ago, but I’ve only just uploaded it to the server for public view. I think it is one of the better looking site designs I’ve had the honor to put together. I was given total artistic license to be creative and present her old site in a new, revitalized way. I chose some very drastic changes from her previous design, but the customer was pleased with them. My wife, of Celestial Studios, provided all the photography. The new photos really added a lot to the overall professionalism and aesthetics.
The one thing I didn’t do was create a site that would work on every browser. Unfortunately, this one was designed to work on IE 7 and Firefox 2+. I doubt you’ll get much love from previous versions of IE, though Firefox may not choke too much. At any rate, I don’t know that I’m going to spend a lot of time on making it compatible with other browses at the risk of losing functionality. I do have some minor kinks to work out, but I don’t think the average user will even notice them.
Have a look and let me know what you think – good or bad.
Threadless is a Web 2.0 application involving all the standard components of a social web system and a really attractive product offering to get things going. They sell T-shirts, but not just any T-shirts…your T-shirts! It works by users submitting T-shirt designs or slogans and other members rating those ideas. If you should win, and there are several winners every month, you get cash, Threadless.com money, and phat street cred. I’ve only purchased one shirt so far, but I’ve ranked many hundreds. I so enjoy what they’re doing, it has inspired me to start submitting design ideas.
I submitted my first entry onto Threadless.com recently. It’s a piece I’ve titled “Broccoli Obsession” after a unique attraction I’ve had since high school to the image of broccoli with Ranch dressing. This was my first shot at drawing the image the way I have. Normally I include candles placed around the floret with several monks praying to the idol. It’s also normally more than a five color piece, so I had some difficulty with that constraint. Despite this, I think the image came off pretty nicely and I’m enjoying reading the criticism on Threadless.com of the design. Some like it, others have specific complaints. All very helpful in making it a better image with time. I should also mention that Amy recommended that I fix the Ranch dressing to make it look more like Ranch and less like glue, but I was done with the image and just wanted to get it submitted. The comments at Threadless.com will show that I should have taken the extra time and follow her recommendation.
I have a list of additional images I intend to create. It took me a good while to create this first one and it’s not an image I had to think a lot about. However, I’m committed to getting designs submitted. The money is good, but the idea of creating a popular shirt design for others to enjoy is even more of a selling point to me. Amy and I both are working out ideas, though I’m doing all the drawing right now. I think we’ll be able to collaborate on some photography/vector art stuff as I get better at it.
By the way, if anyone wants to buy me a 12Club membership until I should win one, you may do so here. And if you’re just interested in browsing the Threadless.com website for shirts to buy, please use my StreetTeam link so that I get referral points for your purchases.
*UPDATE Gah! I didn’t do well on my first submission. If, after 24 hours, you’ve accumulated at least 100 votes and averaged a score of 1.5 or less, you get dropped. I was thinking of ways to improve the design, but now I think I’ll hang it up. Time to move on to the other designs and see if I fair any better.
My wife’s wookie calendars are on sale through eBay just in time for the holidays (and the new year). I played the wookie, so I can recommend them for their charismatic character. If you’re a Star Wars fan (or a fan of 6′ 6″ red heads in wookie costumes), you should head over and buy a calendar. They’re a really nice quality – nice enough for Peter Mayhew himself. We met him this past summer and he took one home.
Today marks the first day of DragonCon for Amy and I – it’s 2:00am on Saturday, but it was at 7:00am Friday morning when we began. It took us all day Friday to take care of things at home and get to Atlanta where Amy’s photography would be on exhibition in the DragonCon Art Show. She’s been doing it for a number of years now, so it’s no difficult task for her. However, there were some hold-ups at the show during registration that prevented us from actually leaving until much later. Amy had an intern as well, Riley, so it was that much easier to get the stuff in there.
Later that night we took Balthazar over to Amy’s parent’s house and left for DragonCon officially. We had already checked into our hotel, the Marriott Marquis of Atlanta, and planned on riding MARTA to and from the con as needed. It was late-ish already and I wasn’t able to get back in time to help out with a drumming workshop, but I was just in time to grab drums and Jeff from the hotel and head down to the drum circle. Amy stayed back and finished up her dancing costume for the parade later this morning.
I realized then that I hadn’t yet picked up my badge for DragonCon and Jeff left his in the hotel room. We tried to pass on our good looks, but failed that. Having one badge and the Marriott’s room key between us, I proposed that we try our luck with those. So back to the hotel room, collect badge, face the guardians of the Hyatt and beg for entry. Jeff breezed right though with his badge and I feined struggle with my drum and showed them a bit of my Marriott key card. It was enough to convince them and they let me pass! So there we stayed until almost 2:00am and left to get some last-minute beauty sleep before then parade at 10:00am.
Mental Note: Get badge tomorrow…you pre-registered for crying out loud!
I just recently finished updating my wife’s website for her photography/art business downtown. The new design is a far cry from the old, and now works in more than one browser :) It was ridiculous actually that it took me as long as it did to get around to re-designing it, but she really liked the old design and didn’t want to let go of it easily.
So my efforts haven’t gone to waste, check it out: http://www.celestialphotography.com/
Amy (aka “Fox”) Gradin was voted “Best Photographer” this year at Dragon*Con. This is a most excellent reward for her hard work. We’re seeing more photography at the show now – more than in years past. She had some fear that her stuff was loosing its niche, but I think this award should give her peace. The Chewbacca series has been a very successful one, with purchases (nearly all of them) both inside Dragon*Con and out. I should take this moment to give special thanks to Jeff McClure for the use if his costume. Thanks you, also, for being convenient and up on the whole business of entertainment. Without you, there would not have been the same inspiration for this work. Werrk guur mooh…Gahgahgahgahgah (from the mouth of Chewie)!
Tomorrow (technically, later today) marks our first day attending DragonCon this year. We’re real excited about it. We were very close to getting a hotel room this time, but fell short of the timing. Amy put some really funny Chewbacca pictures into the art show this year. We’re hoping for a real success with those. It would be our first major win if she does well with it. She also made some very nice brochures to promote her photography business to the Sci-Fi addicts. I’ll keep updates coming as I can; pictures and stories.
Spirituality and religion are distinctly separate tracts within mankind’s existence. Spirituality is what is. It is what you sense and what you feel. It’s also what you feel through others. Empathy, if you will. The acknowledgment of an infrastructure, to put it in technological terms, if we are the applications. What this infrastructure is actually made of is probably best described as faith. Everyone has it, whether it’s faith in nothing or faith in a supreme being. To be without spirituality is to be without faith. Flying solo in life, so to speak. Religion, on the other hand, is something the faithless can have. Man developed religion long ago to help explain spirituality. With a lack of scientific sophistication, religion also explained the world around us. When the spirit is explained, it can become a religion. Maybe I should say that when explained, it’s spiritual, but when taught, it’s religion. Fine lines, but I’m sure the intelligent reader can discern the difference.
Friday night, outside of Celestial Studios, I was approached by a man – Neil, I think – with a conversation starter. Not being naïve to this sort of thing, I had a good idea that the guy was selling something. As one would expect in this part of the country, what he was selling was religion. I don’t look particularly lost, so this guy (and his companion that never spoke) was just taking a chance on me. He explained this later in our conversation. The conversation starter was a card with an intelligence test on the front (i.e. trick question). I don’t like being confronted with trick questions because I know they’re designed to create failures. That’s a hit at anyone’s pride and I take little interest in trying to outsmart them. At any rate, the conversation moved smoothly into the realm of spirituality. He asked me questions that pinpointed me as a sinner – pinpointed everyone in existence as a sinner, himself included. At this point, we began to talk about morals and ethics. I believe it was also at this point that the conversation turned into something more challenging than Neil first intended. I chose to describe to him my philosophy on morals and ethics. That is, their being something developed by society. Morals are fickle, like man. Murder was a favorite for Neil, because it’s an easy extreme. I pointed out, however, that murder can be justified by a society, but not a victim. That is, everything living has a will to survive. Any attempt to challenge that will, whether in theory or action, can initiate a defensive response. Not a good moral to argue. Despite my best efforts, the conversation continued to circle back to murder. We also worked through the metaphors to Judgment Day and Christ’s history. What was interesting about Neil’s schtik was that he was only talking about spirituality, not religion. In fact, he acknowledged that religion is man-made and error-prone. He also explained that the importance to all of this was not in the specifics, but simply a trust and faith in Truth. These are all very good things that I stand behind today. I’m thinking to myself, “why are we having this conversation? We’re on the same side!” It’s at the end of the conversation that Neil tells me to assume for a moment that the Ten Commandments (the major topic of conversation throughout) are the rules and Judgment is based upon a black and white adherence to them. I abide and must generally remain silent for the finale. Because I’m making the assumption requested, any questions asked are designed to ensure my guilt. By the end of the conversation, it’s made clear that I’ll burn in everlasting Hell unless I can change my mind in matters of what is now religion. I was able to hang with him up until he transitioned from spirituality to religion. I lost the game at that point.
I must say, I really like Neil and the way in which he witnessed to me. Of all the people who have, his arguments were the best. Of course, in the end we were still talking about religion. I’m interested in religion, but more from an analytical approach. Kind of like the way we’ve all studied ancient Greek mythology. I’m not a religious person yet. Perhaps I will be one day, but it’s hard to find a group’s practice of spirituality to match my own. I imagine it’s the same story with many people – they just settle for a close match. That, or they simply adapt their spirituality to match the religion; not true spirituality. That reminds me, Neil said that if someone had to explain the Bible to you, you’re probably in a cult. That’s pretty extreme, but I can see the truth in it. I took that to mean that the explanation from another encompassed their perception, when it should be yours alone. It seems logical then that I can deduce if someone has to explain a spirituality (e.g. religion) to me, it’s also cult. Heavy-handed, but it’s no different an assumption than the crude, black and white judgment foretold by a religious zealot.
By the way, on the back of the card I received from Neil was a website: www.raycomfort.com. It’s an evangelism site. I haven’t read through it beyond the first page, but I see mention of avoiding false conversions; a “tragedy.” I like that message. That is a great tragedy in my mind as well, and it goes for any religion or spiritual belief. It’s like lifting weights. If you’re not really into it, why are you doing it? It’s not like you’re fooling anybody – you’re just cheating yourself. What are your convictions?