Category Archives: art

tumblr: Arts & Crafts / Design Binge: Arden’s 2nd Birthday…

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Arts & Crafts / Design Binge: Arden’s 2nd Birthday Gift Package

It’s only Monday of my week off (official announcement at the end of the month, but hint— just treated myself to these new Dark Wash Neon Converse Oxfords in “Purple Cactus Flower”, perfect for taking the next big step in my life), but I’ve already gone on one arts & crafts / design project binge putting together the main part of my niece Arden’s second birthday package even though it’s still a couple of weeks out. (Obviously, I took these photos all Memento-style as I wrapped everything up and am now presenting them essentially backwards, as if opening the gift yourself, so: SPOILER ALERT for little Korean American girls named “Arden” who are almost 2 years old— quit snooping!)

Photo #1:
White gift box with rainbow color stripes and a curly silver ribbon, all mostly to hold the card…

Photo #2:
Now opened, another, smaller gift box is inside— dark purple decorated with pink and white glittery flowers and a handmade/homemade birthday card made from textured “Parakeet Green” card stock and a wide, pearly white vellum strip decorated with matching glittery stickers. Clipped to the front of the card are two pink “crystal” (plastic) butterfly hair clips (pair #1)— foreshadowing…

Photo #3: Inside the smaller, purple gift box are two pairs of gemstone butterfly hair clips in blue and purple (pairs #2 & #3). A fancier variation on the butterfly theme for special occasions.

Photo #4: Inside the card, a custom birthday message to my niece— granted, she may only understand the “Happy Birthday” part, but hopefully, she’ll hold onto this and have it to look at if and when she eventually looks back and reflects on this particular time in our family’s life.

Photo #5: And finally, of course, the copyright and credit label on the back— I’m playing around with the company name “With An S” or something like that.

What do you think?

Posted via tumblr: published on March 24, 2014 at 11:02PM

tumblr: Finally doing about half a decade’s worth of…

Finally doing about half a decade’s worth of #SpringCleaning and found these while tossing out the box my @DirecTV replacement receiver came in— held onto them because don’t they just scream “Arts & Crafts”? Like they’re just begging to help make/decorate Easter eggs or some third-grade science project growing lima beans?

Posted via tumblr: published on March 13, 2014 at 09:29PM

tumblr: Custom Icons for Your Desktop: If I have to look at it all day,…

Custom Icons for Your Desktop: If I have to look at it all day, I might as well make it fun…

I started customizing my icons awhile ago, but since I just got a brand new personal laptop for the first time in a long while, I went all out and replaced as many as I could and feel pretty happy with the way things look now.

Besides, your desktop, virtual or physical, says a lot about you, your personality, the way your work and even your current state of mind (messy desk, messy mind?).

How do you customize your icons?

Check out these instructions, including how to change Dock icons using LiteIcon (see software below).

My current desktop (it changes frequently) is captured above and as I go through some examples, I’ll be sure to give credit where credit is due.

Icon Sources

All of the icons I use are freely available (although you may want to check the specifics if planning on doing anything other than personal with these) and from two primary sites unless otherwise noted or custom-made (more in the software section below).

  1. Pixelgirl Presents – also includes wallpapers and other goodies (and from the same awesome woman behind ShanaLogic), and
  2. interfacelift, which also includes wallpapers and other goodies as well.

Almost everything is available for both Mac and Windows, sometimes Linux (and you can always convert using tools from the software section below).


Photo #1: As you can see from the shot of my entire desktop, I’m not going for a particular theme except for maybe a little “steampunk”, maybe even post-apocalytpic sci-fi at times, thus the “space-themed” wallpaper, Orbit by Gerry from one of my favorite desktop wallpaper websites, Simple Desktops.

Photo #2: Starting from the left, some Dock examples:

  1. Finder – Lego Systems 1.0 by Sean King (I use this set for the default for almost everything)
  2. Dashboard – Kaijubees by Melissa Scroggins.
  3. LaunchPad – Little White Sheep holding a rocket launcher from Aries by flamela.

Photo #3: Then, a little something for the geeks:

  1. Terminal – computer screen from the icons inspired by the tv show “LOST” by Hein Mevissen.
  2. eclipse – Blend by Laurent Baumann.
  3. Gimp original icon! – Mascot Wilber with a paintbrush in his teeth.

Photo #4: And as good as Apple is at design…

  1. iPhoto – painting of Mt Kilimanjaro, Kenya from the Hemingway icon set by Leslie Sigal Javorek.
  2. iTunes – gramophone from Vintage Icon set (apologies, more info coming soon).
  3. VLC – vintage TV from the same Vintage Icon set as above.

Photo #5: Of course, just to remind you, a security camera from The Bourne Ultimate icon set by leoyue just to remind you of the NSA watching you.

Photo #6: And finally, what did I use to make all these screenshots? See Homer sticking his hand out as if he was stuck in a well? From The Simpsons Icons by Anton Gerasimenko and Egor Zhgun and well, looks like he’s looking for something to Grab.


  • Img2icn: for creating and converting images to icons: this lightweight tool takes multiples image formats, including jpg, png, etc. and converti images into icons not just in the ICNS format for your desktop, but also for your iOS device and website favicons as well. Some icon sets you may download listed here or anywhere else might be in ICO or ICNS format already, but still won’t work for some reason, you may try sending your ICO or ICNS files through Img2Icn anyway— it’s always resolved the issue for me. Price: you get plenty of free use before they ask you to pay, but for all that functionality and being super easy to use, it was definitely worth the $3.90 I eventually shelled out. Download or buy at the Shiny Frog product site.
  • LiteIcon (for Mac OS X 9 only): another simple, lightweight app for customizing your desktop icons, including those “permanently” in the Dock (such as empty/full trash can) that you wouldn’t be able to use the standard technique for as mentioned at the beginning of this post. It also allows you to set new default icons for all general folders, smart folders, etc. across the entire system. If you’re not running Mavericks (Mac OS X 9), check out CandyBar. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good recommendation for Windows, but if you do, please drop me a note and I will update this info here.

Posted via tumblr: published on March 09, 2014 at 03:32AM

tumblr: My uncle is quite a talented artist with no formal…

Cigarette Carton Floral

Magic Marker Diptychs

My uncle is quite a talented artist with no formal training— as is often the case, life got in the way of him possibly becoming a professional artist, but still, he often creates amazing drawings like these with the simplest and most inexpensive materials.

For example, the first piece above is around 20+ years old and you can’t really tell from the photo or even when it’s framed and hanging up on the wall unless you get up close, but there are a few horizontal creases because his “canvas” was the blank side of an opened/flattened cigarette carton. I even remember him creating a big, gorgeous watercolor on a cheap paper tablecloth.

The bottom two pieces were from a sketchbook full of drawings my uncle did with just whatever pens/markers were available while he was visiting my parents for a few days (I think to help them fix up the back porch/deck a bit— he’s also got some great carpentry skills).

Rather than try to align them perfectly for a single frame, I’ll probably hang the bottom two as diptychs, but either way, I can’t wait to get home and hang up all three!

Posted via tumblr: published on December 27, 2013 at 12:17PM

Dark Knight Rises, Colorado Shooting & Violence in Entertainment

I loved The Dark Knight Rises— I thought all 2 hours and 45 minutes of it was gripping and had great twists and turns, surprising even someone like me who has been keeping up with all the pre-release buzz, news and teasers. Overall, it was an excellent finish to an excellent trilogy. (And I hope all the talk about rebooting the series already is just that– talk. Can’t we just take a moment to enjoy the long-awaited arrival of this film?)

However, the recent shooting at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises at a suburban Colorado movie theater raises some interesting questions– and not just about gun control. It’s hardly worth a “spoiler alert” to say the movie contains a lot of violence– if you’ve been paying any attention to all the press for the movie, you’ll know the much-advertised, primary antagonist of the film is the diabolical, masked Bane, one of the most violent, cold-blooded and ruthless villains in the DC universe (and the wonderful Tom Hardy’s portrayal of the character is much truer to the comic book and therefore, much more frightening than the almost farcical version in 1997’s Batman & Robin). As comic book fans know, Bane’s intelligence and cunning only make him that much more terrifying and dangerous– after all, he’s the only man to have “broken the Bat”*. His role in the story and the sheer scale of his nefarious plans up the ante considerably when it comes to violence.

So, there was one particular scene in The Dark Knight Rises where guns are being wildly shot in a crowded place during which I couldn’t help being reminded of the shooting in Colorado (there’s more than one of these scenes in the movie so I can’t even remember which specific one it was– just my immediate reaction). I don’t really subscribe to the much-debated idea that violence in entertainment somehow promotes violence in real life, especially among young people (think video games like Doom and Marilyn Manson being blamed for the 1999 Columbine High School massacre), but those who do often blame and point out the popularity and commercial success of movies like those in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy or, little more than a decade ago, The Matrix films. They say that, in addition to the large amount of it, the way in which that violence in such entertainment is depicted glorifies it and thereby promotes it. For example, Batman may have a strict “no guns, no killing” rule, but certainly those around him don’t always follow that rule, so there’s always plenty of both– and often more. And though Batman isn’t an alien or superhuman– ridiculously athletic, highly trained, and combat clever as hell, but still just a “normal” human being– he’s still kicking a lot of ass and taking a lot of names. After all, despite their efforts at diplomacy (how many times have we seen the “Superman achieves global nuclear disarmament” storyline?) and the admittedly key ability to outwit their opponents, superheroes ultimately win through the use of physical force– not non-violent protests, marches, or civil disobedience. And in the end, watching superheroes like Batman– the very definition of the “good guys”– beat up a bunch of bad guys is incredibly violent, but also incredibly satisfying (hello, they’re the bad guys?!) so there is certainly some glorification in that.

But long before there were riveting “Army of One” commercials, even before someone hit someone else for the first time so they could steal the Coke bottle to mash up their vegetables, humans have been telling fantastic tales of battles, wars, and ultimately, warriors– both fictional and real. And while violence continues to exist as part of the human condition, we will need warriors– in fact, heroes– to meet those challenges to not just protect themselves, but those around them as well. They fight so we don’t have to and certainly, there is and should be glory in that and those stories should be told, including on the screen. Of course, not every movie is so cut and dry on X being good, Y being bad, and therefore, standing on moral high ground when it comes to X having to beat the crap out of Y, not to mention all the collateral damage. And of course, with media, a lot of it has to do with context and tone: do we see at least some of the ugly, bloody, grotesque side of violence or do people bounce back like cartoon characters? Is the music– or any music at all– appropriate for what’s happening on screen? A violent rape is graphically depicted in the 2002 French film Irréversible, but I don’t think anybody who has seen it– and it is so powerful that many cannot tolerate just watching it– would say the act is in any way glorified. Even in comedy, violence can be put into a context in which we know not to take it as seriously, that we don’t have to be realistic here because the entire situation is absurd.

I suppose the real question is whether highly increased, repeated exposure to such violence in media– all of it or just the stuff you think glorify it– desensitizes us, especially people like teenagers who are either too young or otherwise so impressionable that they become swept up in romanticized depictions of violence and suddenly, moral high ground isn’t so important anymore. How exciting was it to watch Neo and Trinity blow that building and those Agents to pieces to rescue the beloved Morpheus? Yes, even in the fictional sense, they didn’t really do that since they were in the Matrix and nobody really died because those Agents were just computer programs, but that kind of goes along with my point, right? Such key plot points allow us to justify and reconcile such violence by “good” people. So, if we consume more and more of such violent media, does that subconsciously encourage us to lose touch with the horrifying reality and consequences of such events, thereby, if not promoting, at least justifying and distancing ourselves from the reality of more and more violence?

Yet, as I watched The Dark Knight Rises, rather than distancing myself from it, I felt like the realism provided by the high quality of the production intensified the seriousness and impact of what we were seeing. Perhaps more than any news coverage short of actual footage of the shooting could, the added drama created through movie magic somehow makes up for the fact that you’ve temporarily suspended your disbelief. You know it’s just a movie, but what you’re seeing is such a well-made dramatization that the terror of such a moment is really driven home and has the added benefit of not requiring the exploitative and tasteless showing/viewing of the tragic and ugly deaths of real people. Essentially, just the news of the shooting still fresh in my mind changed my visceral reaction to seeing the fictional presentation of a similar event– while I might have been more apathetic or, for the most part, unaffected by such a scene before, the experience and perhaps my outlook on such violence were fundamentally changed, much like how most of us felt and perhaps still feel about anything related to airplane/air travel safety and terrorism in the wake of 9/11 (think how sensitive Americans were about just seeing or not seeing the Twin Towers in the New York City skyline in movies released shortly after the attacks).

In the end, it’s a bit of a “chicken or the egg” problem– does watching “glossy” depictions of violence in popular entertainment and media promote violence in real life? Or do such realistic and/or dramatic depictions discourage such violent acts by giving us a “harmless” way to experience the severity and horror of such events? Considering all those “bombs bursting in air” in the lyrics to our national anthem alone, from music (in addition to the obvious, think lyrics to the popular French-Canadian children’s song “Alouette”) to movies, from books to TV (they get away with showing some truly sick stuff in countless police procedural and “true crime” shows), from Internet videos to even commercials (think the heavy amount of cartoonish violence in Super Bowl commercials), one thing is certain: depictions of violence are an essential part of the human art of storytelling. While some may like to think of violence in entertainment and media as something new– an unfortunate sign of modern times– we’ve actually been riding this cycle of violence from the very beginnings of human history and culture.

* On the name “Bane”: the film’s timing provides a nice little accent to the amusing coincidence that the character’s name is a homophone of Bain Capital, the frequently mentioned center of the Romney news story that just won’t die– with a pre-emptive apology for the pun, some might say one of the “banes” of the Romney campaign.