Create a Crossword - CHECK

Years ago, I made a list of things I wanted to do before I died. I was reminded of this list recently by a [great!] post over at IHJ. (Another great example of a life list, and actually the one that inspired me to make my own years ago, can be found here*.)

I'm not going to post said list because it is still a work in progress (both in terms of refining goals and attempting to accomplish them). One of my proudest to cross off, however, was trying out for Jeopardy*. I didn't get on, but that's okay because it still felt great to have tried.

But I digress. This post is supposed to be about the latest thing I've been able to cross off my list*. As an avid crossword puzzle doer for years, I've always wanted to create my own – not a ghetto one like we made in high school using all the words from the spelling list, but a newspaper worthy crossword that adheres to strict standards (at least in format if not in content).

So here it is: You're in My Top Level Domain Now. There are a few words that I am not overly proud of and a few others that are obscure pop culture references that only very very few people will get, but it's not bad for a first try. Have a go. Tell me what you think.

(You can either print the puzzle (please make sure it shrinks to just print on one page) or you can do the puzzle as it is on your computer screen. The "software"* isn't as fancy as the commercial ones, but it does the trick.)
Wednesday February 6 2008File under: games, coding

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One Panel Comics

:D
Like I mentioned in my last post, I've kind of got comics on the brain lately. I'm growing esp. fond of the one-panel comic genre. It is hard to explain: maybe it has something to do with the experience being non-linear. Or maybe it is because the subjects often vary so widely. Of course it doesn't hurt that there's usually not much to read*.

Anyway, I thought I might highlight some of my favorite one-panel comics. Many of them you've probably heard of* and some of them are more obscure. Common newspaper ones include Bizzaro (which has a neat co-posting arrangement* with Neatorama), the Lockhorns, Herman, That's Life, Pardon My Planet, and Rhymes With Orange. And then there was the Far Side: the world may never see another comic so great. (For full disclosure, not all of these are always one-panel, but most of them are most of the time.)

There are a whole slough* of web comics out there which I have only barely gone through. Most of them haven't made the "big time" (e.g. newspapers) because of either content or quality of drawings. But I think they are often as good or better than their printed cousins. Anyway, be warned: these may not appeal to everyone's taste. See Mike Draw and The Fretting Zoo. Also, XKCD is worth a mention although it is only occasionally one panel.

Anyway, did I miss any? Do you have any good one-panel web comics that you'd like to share?
Monday February 4 2008File under: misc, links

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R. Crumb at the Frye

Museums = culture*, right? Whenever I am feeling under-cultured, I try to find my way to a museum, preferably art*. On a recent visit to Seattle, in an effort to pass the time and up my lagging culture, I visited the Frye Art Museum. It was my first visit, but the great experience insured that it won't be my last.

The exhibition we went to see was about R. Crumb, a name that I have heard many times but never could quite place. After seeing some of his pieces, I realized that I was quite familiar with his work. The reason that I didn't make the connection is because I didn't think comics would ever make it to the walls of a museum. There were great examples of his work from one panel posters to 4 page comic book stories and much in between. Not only was it great to see a more accessible form of art in a museum, it was great to see some of the process of a famous comic artist (what with me spending an increasing amount of time thinking about my comic series).

Anyway, if you are look for a fun time that can also be cultural, check out the Frye Art Museum in Seattle. Oh, and I almost forgot, it's free!
Sunday February 3 2008File under: misc

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FC 17 - On Being Unique

I was feeling particularly creative this week so I had a go at the artistic side of the comic myself. Granted it is nothing in comparison with the usual artist types I sucker* into doing the dirty work, but it gets the jobs done. After dinking around in Paint Shop Pro* for a long time, I was again reminded how talented my other comic artists are and how grateful I am for their contribute.

It is kind of a coincidence that this comic is running this week where we got snow here in Anacortes. I've had the idea for a while, actually probably the last time we had a good snow.
Thursday January 31 2008File under: comic

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GreenPrint

A friend of mine works for a company down in Portland with a really great idea which turned into a really great product. The idea is to minimize the amount of printing we do from our computers not by threats, guilt, or peer pressure*, but simply by eliminating all unwanted/unnecessary printing, like those pesky near-empty pages that always seem to show up after printing a web page. As I understand it (I've never actually used the product because I only print about 4 pages per year and I am extremely cautious to make sure there aren't extra pages), this program intercepts the data sent to the printer and then allows you to pick and choose what you want to print. It also has other options like printing to PDF and tracking paper saved.

The company is called GreenPrint and they've just offered up a version of their software for free called GreenPrint World. The two minor downsides are that it is only available for PC (sorry Maccies) and there is a little bit of "tasteful advertising" involved. Anyway, you should check it out. Besides a listing of their products (they also have corporate versions which could really do some change), they have some interesting facts about office paper consumption.

Go forth and print green. After all, millions of trees can't be wrong.
Wednesday January 30 2008File under: links, environment

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Snow Day

Wasn't it just a week ago that I was diving into the waters of the Pacific to go for a nice swim? Well, this morning I woke up to a couple inches of snow covering the ground. For those of you in Iowa, Minnesota, and Ohio, you probably don't fully appreciate the way snow affects places that don't get snow very often. It is looked on as a novelty rather than a hassle. And since around here it usually doesn't last through the day, you gotta get out and take advantage of it when you can.

First thing this morning, I put on some gloves and went outside to scope the quality of the snow: decent for packing and enough to embark on a modest-sized project. After mulling it over for a bit, I came up with the idea of building an arch. It felt very Andy Goldsworthy-esque. As I worked, the snow got even better for packing which I knew meant it was melting fast. Well, I'm proud of my little arch – so proud, in fact, that I went a little crazy with the camera. Here is an attempt to make it bigger than it is and here is Tussieroo enjoying it*.

After my snow architecture session, I went up to the local sledding hill with the neighbors. (Sled technology is vastly improved since my days.) Good times in the snow. They say more snow for tomorrow. Maybe I will attempt something more ambitious like an igloo*.
Monday January 28 2008File under: misc, pics

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Mexico Pictures for All

I tried to take pictures on this trip. I wasn't always where the action was and my camera accidentally got switched to macro mode for a while rendering those pictures not so great, but overall I got a few good ones. Other people got a lot of good ones too. (Many of the pics I've used on the blog have come from other people's cameras.) Anyway, one of the great things about group trips is that afterwards, everyone can share their pictures with everyone else.

For all those interested, I've posted my photos on Photoworks.com (disclaimer: I used to work for them and might very well do the same in the future*). To see them, click here. Or if that interface doesn't suit you, you can try this one. (I don't really understand why there are two different shares and what the difference is. Maybe one you have to have an account to view and the other you don't. I dunno. That all came about after my stint.)

If any other fellow veggie bussers have their pictures somewhere shareable, I'd be stoked to get copies. Who knows when I will get the urge to scrapbook*, do a slide show, or relive that crazy month of January of aught 8.
Sunday January 27 2008File under: pics, Mexico

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Mexican Food


River and I at one of the many taco stands. (The cook was nice enough to offer to take the picture)
I love Mexican food. More specifically, I guess, I love American*-style Mexican food, as that was pretty much all I knew...until recently. Mexican-style Mexican food is awesome! Granted they don't have some of the staples of their northern cousins (burritos and chimichangas all seem to be imports to Mexico rather than exports), but the street tacos can't be beat.

Even after eating mostly Mexican food for a month straight (I'll admit I had a hamburger every now and again), I am not even close to tired of anything wrapped in a torilla. Aside from the great gobs tacos and quesadillas I ate, I also got to try a few new things: ceviche tostadas, fruit flavored tamales, and avocado pie. Oh man, the avocado pie at Tacos y Mas in Yelapa really hits the spot. (Add that to your list, Sunset Magazine.)

So unlike Italian food in Italy and Chinese food in China, I rate Mexican food in Mexico as as good as or better than the interpretations I grew up knowing. The food alone is a good enough reason to head south.
Saturday January 26 2008File under: food, Mexico

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FC 16 - Alliday

This week's comic is a collaborative effort by a bunch of us bus people while we were sitting around waiting*. Well okay, most of us just sat around and said "wouldn't it be funny if you made him wear..." and then we all laughed but then realized it wouldn't really be that funny. Kelsey waded through what we all said and turned it into this brilliant comic. I like it so much, in fact, that I've posted the original, unaltered version here. (I did go ahead and colorize a version just to see how it would turn out. Not too bad*.

(Oh, and while many of the previous comics* have been based in personal experience or represent my personal views, this one is/does neither. Any similarity to actual people or situations is purely coincidental.)

To add a bit of interactivity to this one, let me ask this: how many holidays/special occasions can you see represented in the picture?
Thursday January 24 2008File under: comic

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Little Reminders

One of the many reasons I travel* is to remind myself of the freedom we all have. I know it sounds kind of silly, but for me it works. Too often, I get caught up in my routines at home and forget that on any given day, I can do anything*: go out to eat without a reason, call a friend I haven't talked to in years, or leave town on a whim to some exotic place. Because they aren't part of my routine, I often miss the opportunity. Travel has a way of getting me out of my routines, out of my comfort zone and forces me to think about my decisions. That fresh perspective on decisions reminds me of all the freedoms that were there to begin with.

While traveling, however, I also get into routines (granted they are different from the ones at home*). So sometimes, even when traveling, I find it necessary to shake things up and act on an impulse. Two days ago, I did just that and bought a plane ticket back to Seattle. Not to worry: the bus is still functioning and everything is still going to plan. No knock-down drag-out scuffles that led to the decision; just a whim. Now I am back in Anacortes, wading through the waiting mail*, catching up on computer stuff, trying to remember my little lesson on freedom, and contemplating my next adventure.

To those of you who have been reading my blog to follow your friends on the circus bus, I will have a post of pictures from the trip up soon. And if I hear anything more of their adventures, I will pass that along as well.
Thursday January 24 2008File under: travel, Mexico

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