Don’t Be An Idiot

This morning I got an email from the Risk Management department where I work. The email was a list of bullet points about how to walk safely during the winter months. The tips were common sense and should beknown and understood without an “expert” reminding you about it.

I usually just delete “don’t be an idiot” emails like this without reading them closely. But this time, for whatever reason, I read allthe way to the end. I’m glad I did. Otherwise, I would have missed the absolute gem that was the last bullet point. It read:

  • “When going for a walk in winter weather, carry a small bag of sand or non-clumping cat litter to place on an icy spot that you have towalk on. This will help give you traction and help avoid a fall.”

I can just imagine someone carefully inspecting the ground before each step they take and sprinkling kitty litter on the path just to make sure it’s safe. Or maybe, there’s a more efficient way of doing this. Hence the sketch above.

Five Books for Friday #3

Here we go again with five of the books I’ve been digging into over the last week. The subjects this time around are an interesting mix of projects, publishing, drawing, writing and poetry. Some weeks I find a ton of books all on the same subject I’m currently interested in. Other times it’s a random mix. Either way, I typically learn something useful and get entertained at the same time.

  1. First up is Souped Up, an Instructables.com book edited by Michael Huynh. It’s a mix of projects ranging from food to electronics and woodworking to Décor and furniture. My wife was especially thrilled with Gummy Bear Surgery which details how to create your own frankengummi monsters. This is one of those really simple time wasters that make you wonder how it could take four pages of instructions. But the ideas you get out of those four pages are pretty funny. I get more excited about reuse projects like making clocks out of old computer hard drives. I was only really interested in about a third of the projects in this book. But this kind of book is great for cherry picking.
  2. I love cartooning although I don’t get around to it nearly enough. Like most cartoonists, I dream about putting together a complete comic book someday. The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing Comics by Comfort Love and Adam Withers brings that dream one step closer. It’s not a book about drawing but more a book about the technical and business side of getting your art work into book form (printed or digital) and into the hands of your readers. The book has a lot of great tips on ideation, character development and dialogue. It also steps you through using Adobe Illustrator for layout, coloring and lots of other stuff. Finally, it talks about how to market your work after publishing to get it recognized among all the other self-published comics out there. I enjoyed the “Pro Tip” sidebars sprinkled throughout the book. This type of info is fun to read and gives you a sneak peek at real life implementations of what you’re learning.
  3. I posted a few weeks ago about doing zendoodles. I was inspired by a book my son brought back from the library and I’ve kept it since then to refer back to. Tangles: Amazing Zendoodles to Color and Draw by Abby Huff has some great patterns to get you started drawing your own doodles. You really don’t need a book like this to draw zendoodles or zentangles. The whole point is to create original designs that flow like a stream of consciousness writing. But it’s still nice to see what kinds of patterns you like and the different pen strokes that can get you there.
  4. I’m always looking for inventive ways to be more productive with my time and produce more of whatever I’m trying to do. That’s why I was intrigued by the title of How to Write a Lot by Paul J. Silva. The book’s premise boils down to disciplining yourself to sit down and write regularly. Now, I could have been frustrated that there wasn’t some magic bullet between the covers of this book but it’s refreshing to have somebody just reiterate the plain truth that you already knew. The fact is, if you want to write a lot, you have to write a lot. The book does give you more insight on the subject of course. You learn what barriers to writing a lot you might encounter. And you are introduced to motivational tools, styles and how to write certain types of works. Although this book was written primarily for academic writers, it still holds a lot of great insight no matter what your genre.
  5. I saved my favorite book for last. Alone and Not Alone is a compilation of poems by Ron Padgett. Padgett is a wonderfully accessible poet who uses humor and insight to bring everyday life onto the page. I like writing poetry in all different forms and on all different topics. But I’m very selective in the poets I actually enjoy reading. Padgett is one of those poets I actually enjoy reading. As with most poets there are a few of his selections that are just a bit too obtuse for me. But overall, his imagery, style and cadence just lead me from page to page and poem to poem. Sometimes I’ll read them out loud because I enjoy listening to the words. Highly recommended.

Invention 237: X-Ray Toothbrush

Kids hate getting x-rays when they go to the dentist. For that matter adults don’t usually care for it either. You have to have a big sharp piece of plastic shoved into your cheeks and then you’re told to sit in an uncomfortable chair and hold still while the hygienist runs and hides behind a lead wall. I mean, they’re hygienists, are they even qualified to use this kind of equipment?

So I got to thinking, what’s another situation where kids can have pieces of plastic shoved in their mouths where we could take x-rays without the uncomfortable chair? Then it hit me that the toothbrush is the perfect tool for this. I just have to figure out how to miniaturize a machine needing 10,000 volts to work. I’ll probably just make this a hard wired device which will require an electrician (or at least someone who kind of knows what they’re doing). I’m sure it will be very safe.

Every night this toothbrush will image your child’s teeth to check for cavities or hidden knives in their cheeks. As an added bonus your child gets a healthy dose of radiation which I once read in some random blog actually promotes stronger bones!

Just download the free app on your iPhone or Android and the images will be transferred directly to your device. You can then configure it to send updates straight to your kid’s dentist.

Each toothbrush is shipped with a lead lined parent smock.

A 10 Step Guide to a Horribly Inefficient Shopping Trip

Why would anyone want to make sure their shopping trip is inefficient, clumsy and painful? Why not? Don’t be stuck up and think you have to get in and out, only buy what’s on the list and get home quickly to take care of life’s other responsibilities. Whatever! How’s the store supposed to make any money if you don’t buy a bunch of stuff you don’t need?

So, what’s the most inefficient way to do your grocery shopping? Here’s a list of the top ten methods to ensure things don’t go your way:

  1. Go at the busiest time. This one is obvious so I thought I would get it out of the way first. The more people at the store the more crowded the isles. It’s a sure bet that every isle you turn down will be packed and you’ll quickly move on to the next one hoping it will be better. It won’t.
  2. Don’t make a list. Where’s your sense of adventure? Live a little. Don’t go prepared or you’ll be bored and will miss all of the great products that you don’t need or like but are such “great deals”.
  3. Shop at a store you’ve never been to. This way you’ll be totally unfamiliar with the layout or even the product offering. If you’re lucky, this might even cause you to have to go to a different store for the one item this one doesn’t have.
  4. Use a full size cart when a short cart or hand basket will do. The bulk of the cart will slow you down, make navigating isles more difficult and encourage you to buy more than you actually need.
  5. Use a short cart of hand basket when you know you need a full size cart. When your basket is full and you’ve only visited the deli, you’ll have to take the time to go get a bigger cart and transfer all of your items into it. You can also start with the smallest basket available and stair step your way up until you’ve reached what you actually need. See, isn’t this fun?
  6. Don’t ever ask for help finding things. That would be insane. Store clerks typically know where things are located. At the very least they would be able to point you in the general direction. But then you wouldn’t be able to waste ten minutes looking on the other side of the store where you think the item “should” be.
  7. At checkout, choose the longest line. Need I say more? Actually, I do have more to say. If you see a checkout line with only one person in it and every other line has ten, go to that line! The person is either arguing with a manager about being overcharged ten cents for a pineapple or they’re an extreme couponer who has crashed the register. Either way, this will be an excessively inefficient line.8.
  8. Wait in your long line until you’re the second person, then inconveniently forget to have bought a kumquat. Leave the line to go get it. Alternatively, if you have every item from the store in your cart, hop out of line and go to a closed lane muttering “this one looks much better”.
  9. Question the price of everything that’s scanned. Additionally, you can hand the store’s coupon book or ad to the clerk and ask them to find everything that will save you money. Even if the clerk refuses, you can probably spend an inordinate amount of time arguing about it.
  10. Finally, even if you’re a healthy 25 year old male buying only some bananas and bottled water, ask for assistance carrying your groceries to the car. The employee pressed into service to help you will almost assuredly move slowly and hold you up.

So there you have it, a ten step plan to have the most inefficient shopping trip possible. And here’s a bonus tip if you want to go pro. Wait until you’re just pulling into the garage before realizing you forgot the key ingredient for dinner tonight. Happy shopping!

Zen Eye

I just started messing around with patterns after my son came home from the library with a book on zendoodles. I finally had to stop myself because I could have just kept going and going. Maybe I’ll continue with this drawing or maybe I’ll start something new and better. Either way it gave me a chance to experiment and figure out what kinds of designs I like better.

Rebate Cards You Wouldn’t Want To Use

There are a lot of advantages to consumer rebate carts. But they’re all for the companies giving them out. For the consumer, you get a pseudo-debit card that expires 12 seconds after it’s mailed out. By the time you get the card in the mail after 6 to 8 weeks, the account maintenance fees have reduced your $3 rebate to 17 cents. Of course, you can still use that amount at any retailer that accepts credit cards – right?

There are some brands that have a unique advantage in the rebate card racket. They could almost be totally assured that the rebates would never be used. All they would have to do is make the card a bright color and emblazon their brand names the top. In no particular order, here is my list of the top 10 branded rebate cards nobody would want to use:

  1. Dulcolax
  2. Preparation H
  3. Bengay
  4. Gas-X
  5. Rogaine
  6. Tinactin
  7. Imodium
  8. Vagisil
  9. Benzoyl
  10. Depends

Violent Strawberries

For a while now I’ve kicked around the idea of using some old and new drawings as pages in a coloring book. There are plenty of coloring books out there with perfectly drawn mandalas and flowers. So I’ve started choosing things that are a little, different. Below is an example of one of the different drawings that I plan to use as the base to one of my pages. I’ll have to expand it a bit and add more features so there is more for someone to color in. But it’s a start. 

Have an idea for a coloring page subject that you’ve never seen in existing books? Let me know.

 

 

 

Dare to Sketch

I’ve always done my sketching and drawing in lined notebooks or on plain printer paper. I’ve never bought a sketch book. I must have been scared to make less-than-perfect drawings in something that costs more than, well, free.

If you draw on a sheet of paper you can just crumple it up and throw it away if you don’t like it. In a sketch book, you’re committed.

Fear of imperfection is a terrible thing. It’s hard to overcome. It can affect all areas of your life. And it can keep you from realizing your life’s full potential. Even if you’ve determined not to let fear rule you, it often creeps up stealthily. I see this fear in myself when I don’t want to commit imperfect code to GitHub. I even recognize fear when I keep interrupting myself while starting a good book. I’m afraid I might not be able to understand it or finish it or accomplish what it’s trying to teach.

Fear of imperfection is a terrible thing. It’s hard to overcome. It can affect all areas of your life. And it can keep you from realizing your life’s full potential. Click To Tweet

A book I found recently at the library has started to change the way I think about sketch books. Dare to Sketch: A Guide to Drawing on the Go, by Felix Scheinberger is a great motivator for starting to sketch in an actual book. Scheinberger gives the reader permission to make mistakes with sketches and to not make the images perfect.

Sketching isn’t fine art. It’s a way to capture the world around you in a personal pictorial narrative. Scheinberger emphasizes the personal aspect of sketching. It’s for you and no one else. These are your own private drawings, almost like a journal, that documents your own private artistic journey.

Sketches may be personal and private but of course you can show them if you want to. Scheinberger puts plenty of his own sketches in the pages of his book. It’s encouraging to see just how imperfect they are. By seeing the author’s rough line work and often disproportionate shapes, it gives the reader confidence to start sketching even if they don’t think they’re very good.

So I went out and got a sketch book. I’m determined to use it as an exploration tool for my drawing art. It won’t be a “public” book so I can make terrible sketches and not worry about what other people think. Instead, the challenge will be in not judging myself too harshly.