A little blog refresh

I’ve refreshed my blog’s look again! I’m pretty happy with the Twenty Eleven theme and how easily I can change colors and images and such.

Here’s how my blog looked this morning, with its pink background, Gibbs Gardens header, and profile pic from last May:

pixelscribbles screenshotAnd here’s how it looks now, with header and profile pic from Sunday’s trip to Little River Falls:

pixelscribbles screenshotI’m not sure how long my blog was pink, because I don’t seem to have screencapped it when I updated it. The last screenshot I have is from 2013, when I put a Sweetwater Creek photo from 2012 in the header. I do know that Gibbs Gardens photo was taken in August of 2014, so that sort of dates it, I suppose.

Anyway, it’s nice to have a new look every now and then.

The Bourne Ailurophilia

Last night I went a little nuts on Twitter trying to come up with funny titles for Bourne movies.

Some highlights:

Then this morning I came up with a new one, and I was so amused I decided to go all-out and make an image for it.

In case Twitter gets sent to the cornfield someday, here’s the image:

Jason Bourne stares wistfully at an adorable kitten.

Design with character

I have always loved the arts of home design: architecture, landscaping, interior structures, and interior design. When I was a kid, my mom subscribed to home decorating and remodeling magazines; I’d pore over them eagerly, dreaming of the spaces I’d one day create.

Even though I’ve never owned any property, and thus haven’t had the opportunity to really make a design mark anywhere I’ve lived, my enthusiasm for design hasn’t waned. These days I watch home buying shows and home makeover shows whenever I’m staying somewhere with cable (this kind of programming is oddly limited on Netflix and Hulu). I also greatly enjoy going on tours of homes, be they national landmarks or simply local houses with plenty of history and character. Ultimately, that’s what I’m interested in: how long the home has been around, who has lived there, what architectural and design features it started with and what got added along the way.

My personal design philosophy is that the history, the things that make a home unique, should be preserved when a home is renovated. I prefer remodels that maintain structures and features from the home’s original look, or from somewhere along the timeline of the home’s life. With new builds, there’s no need to try to interject fake vintage style; you can go ahead and use modern building and design techniques such as open floorplans, clean lines, and light colors. But if you’ve got an older home, why strip away everything it’s been for the years and years it’s existed to try to fit into a cookie cutter modern mold?

One example keeps coming back to me over the years. It was a bathroom remodel on some TV show I watched with my mom. The focal point of the room was a huge blue bathtub, completely walled off by a blocky structure covered in meticulously-applied blue tile. The owners admitted to a love/hate relationship with the bathtub; they loved the character, but felt the dark blue color and blocky style overwhelmed the room. The rest of the room was tiled as well, adding to the busy feel.

Ultimately the designer ripped that tub out and replaced it with a modern beige one, luxurious of course, with a clean, updated look. It was the most disappointing remodel I’d ever seen. The room went from fascinating to just like every other modern bathroom.

I agree that the room felt small due to all the dark blue, but surely that issue could have been mitigated in some way other than destroying the main reason the room was interesting. Lighten the walls. Increase the size of or add windows. Something. I could even see removing the old tub and replacing it with a nice garden Jacuzzi, so long as the blue tile structure remained.

I think the homeowners were pleased at first, but I bet nowadays the utter blandness of that bathroom gets to them, at least a little.

One thing I’m not sure designers think about when they do “modern remodels” is the fact that all they’re really doing is giving the home a later date than its original design. In a decade, or perhaps even less, the things that seemed so cutting-edge and fresh will look like throwbacks. Just enough out of style that the home starts to feel dated.

And then another renovation starts to seem necessary. Perhaps designers are aware of what they’re doing.

Someday, I would love to own property with character. I’d strive to keep the home’s character in its design. I’d make it usable and livable for modern needs and desires, but not at the cost of what made the home attractive in the first place. And I’d look into the history of the place and maintain records for it. It would be my way of preserving a little corner of history.

Okay, how about this?

I’ve lived with Apartment Arrangement Option 5 for two weeks now…and I’ve decided I hate it.

My goal was to create comfortable home bases for me and Sean while expanding seating areas for visitors. What ended up happening was Sean would sit on my couch to play video games or watch DVDs. If you remember, I moved his area to be against the wall. That ended up being fine for using his laptops, but not for just relaxing, so he’d lounge out on the big couch when he wanted to do that. I like sitting next to him, don’t get me wrong, but if he feels like stretching out, there’s no room for me.

Another problem is that the loveseat, along the wall next to him, became a dumping ground for stuff while serving zero purpose in terms of seating. It turns out it’s just awkwardly placed, with no decent views of anything.

Yesterday I came home to find Sean and his dad sitting on my couch, and that made me fully realize how inconvenient the layout is. The couch offers the best view of the TV, so obviously guests would want to sit there…meaning I probably get cut off from my laptop, which I don’t really like moving around.

It didn’t solve the problems after all; it just shifted them.

I’d been unhappy for days, but that galvanized my need to do something. So I went back to my Photoshop file and messed around some more. A lot more. Until eventually, finally, I came up with Apartment Arrangement Option 10, a revision of Option 5.

See how Sean and I will have our own departmentalized seating areas? But we can both move to the main couch, directly in front of the TV, and snuggle together if we want. It’s the best I could do, given our ridiculously narrow living room with its inconvenient doors and bizarro closet jutting into the room.

Sean’s agreed to try it, but he said “Not today”. ;> So we’ll see how this does, here in a couple of days. Wish us luck :>

Final office layout

Here it is: the second best possible configuration for my office. (I can’t do the first best configuration because the cables and internet jacks are all on the wrong side of the room.)


The floor plan.


View from the door leading to the north side of the building. Speaking of wires…I’m thinking of covering them with a curtain.


My workspace.


View from the door leading to the south side of the building.


View from that same door, looking straight over my desk.


View from the north side door again.

So far I really like the new layout. People have plenty of room to walk, and I don’t have people coming up behind me all the time. I think this’ll work!

Previously: Office Evolution

Even More Previously: Transition and What can I say, I like moving furniture.

Edit: Added floor plan and captions.

Office evolution

This is what my office looked like originally.

At first I shared the office with a full-time graphic designer. Nowadays I have the office to myself, except when various people come in and use the graphics computer.

When that change first happened, I rearranged the desks like this:

This was okay for many months. I really liked having the extra work space that the second L-shaped desk gave me. However, the room was really cluttered, and I felt I could do more with the space if that second desk was taken out. I ended up trading it for my boss’ old desk, and I put the graphics computer on her desk rather than the flimsy white table it had been sitting on. Everyone was pleased to be using a real desk at last, and I was happy that the room was more open. You can see that layout in this movie I took at Christmas time, and in these two pictures:

However, the loss of the arm of that second L-shaped desk eliminated what I considered to be useful privacy. Now I had people coming up standing behind me all the time, which was the last thing I wanted to encourage. It’s just not feng shui.

So I spent a few months pondering what sort of furniture arrangement would make it so that people wouldn’t stand behind me, and also allow better traffic flow through the office, since it’s essentially a hallway these days. Finally I drew up a floorplan of the room using the ceiling tiles as measurements, and that enabled me to move things around without actually moving them…so I tried lots of different arrangements that I hadn’t considered before.

That led me to this work-in-progress:

It may not look like much in the pictures, but I got it rearranged a bit more after I took them, and I think it’s going to be pretty sweet when I’m all finished (and I’ve had a chance to dust, yeesh). Only time will tell if it’ll keep people from coming up behind me, but the idea is that the arm of the desk pointing towards the door will create the feeling of a hallway, so that people won’t turn left and come into my desk area.

What’s great about this layout is that there is a much wider path to walk through the office. I’m thinking it will work out pretty well.

I’ll put up final photos once I’m done.

Edit: I just realized you can’t really make out the door I’m talking about in any of the new pics. It’s to the left of the CD shelf. You actually do see it in the second new picture, but it’s hard to tell that it’s a door :>

(That gray strip alongside it is not the door frame; it’s a shadow due to the fact that the wall juts out behind the door, causing the door to only open about 90 degrees. The reason for this is there is a water fountain on the other side of the wall. And Now You Know.)

Damn it

I was scrolling along down my blog and noticed the archive for June 2001. That’s the one post from my Japan trip journal that I managed to get typed up. I never typed up any of the rest of it (though the notes on my galleries for the trip heavily drew from the journal).

That made me realize that not only have I lost the Japan journal, but I’ve lost all my old diaries. The huge three ring spiral-bound one full of high school thoughts. The little books I used to buy as a kid and write in. The journal I took to GSP. I typed out some of this stuff, but nowhere near all of it.

I never got around to typing out those Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Darkwing Duck stories either (they were written on my old Apple II e, and those disks are long gone). They were all in three ring binders on my bookshelf. Now they’re gone, too.

The diaries were inside one of the end tables. I could pretend that they were somehow safe because they were in there, but that would be ridiculous. They probably spontaneously combusted due to the heat, if the end table itself didn’t go up in flames, which it probably did.

Monica Lewinsky I am not

It’s my first day back at the internship since the fire; I skipped last week. Things have been going okay. I’ve been offered condolences by everyone…and a king size wrought iron canopy bed by the vice president. She’s moving and doesn’t have the space for it anymore. If we end up getting that cute little two bedroom with the horrible thrusting garage, the bed would definitely fit in the master bedroom…

At any rate, I’ve had actual work to do today, which has been fun and challenging and interesting and all that. For the first half hour or so, I read a book called The Complete 35mm Sourcebook, which was quite interesting. I got through about half of the history of the format. Then I ran an errand to the Augusta Chronicle and helped prepare some items for an advertisers meeting.

After that, the real work began. I attended a meeting wherein the account manager told the art director and myself what was needed for three upcoming ads. I was asked to write slogans/headlines and create mockups for two of the ads.

I nailed down my headlines pretty quickly, and I’ve done two mockups for one ad, so I’m pretty satisfied with my work so far today. (Of course, I still need to mock up the other ad, for which a rough draft is actually due today. I’m actually waiting on some information in that regard…) I suppose I should admit that a lot of my work has been “cheating”; that is, I’ve lifted quite a bit from the company’s existing ads. However, that’s what they want…so there you go.

It’s really cool that the company is using me more now. I’m definitely getting some good experience.

FABULOUS!

“It’s fine. But it has to be fabulous.”

I’d read about the problems creative directors had with trying to get a concrete idea of what their clients wanted, but now I know their pain.

*goes off to make something fabulous*

Gone

what used to be our apartment

So, our apartment burned down last night.

We were awakened at about 2 am by some sort of loud noise. I actually don’t remember what it sounded like. All I remember is thinking that one of the air conditioners down below our office window might have blown up (they had been making a lot of racket lately). “What the fuck?” I said (sorry, Mom), running out of the bedroom and into the living room.

Only to see a wall of flame coming through the patio door.

“Shit.” (Sorry again, Mom.)

I didn’t even stop to think about how the flames were coming through when there was supposed to be a door there. That simply didn’t occur to me. I went back into the bedroom and got my glasses and rings and put them on, then came back out, then said, “We need to get our phones,” and ran back into the bedroom and got it. I thought briefly that I should go into the office and get my purse and camera…but I figured that someone would put out the fire soon, and I shouldn’t endanger my life by going past the fire in the living room, even though it hadn’t yet started burning anything inside (that I could tell).

So I went outside and started down the stairs.

Sean was doing something during all this time, I don’t know. He came outside with me, and he was the one who thought to pull the fire alarm. But when I started down the stairs I realized he wasn’t coming. He was doing something at the apartment, going back in. I didn’t see that he had a fire extinguisher. All I could think was that he was trying to save something from the apartment. By this time smoke was billowing out the front door into the breezeway.

“Get out of there!” I yelled at him, repeatedly. It really didn’t take long for him to give up on putting out the fire and join me below. A fire truck had already arrived.

We stood and waited while the firemen took their sweet time getting a hose upstairs. Then they paused to bang on the door of the apartment below ours. As if ours wasn’t on fucking fire. As if there wasn’t time to save our stuff.

At some point we walked around the building to see what it looked like from the back, and then we could tell that the fire had started in the apartment below ours and traveled upward via the patios. We still don’t know what exactly started the fire.

The fire didn’t seem to be abating at all. There was a fire truck back on that street too, but it wasn’t doing anything. “They’re incompetent!” I cried. “Put the fucking fire out!”

We stood and watched the fire infiltrate the office, and then the bedroom. We watched our ceiling burn away. We watched the second floor patio collapse and spread the fire onto the first floor.

At some point the truck on the street just beyond us finally started spraying a huge jet of water onto the roof, and the fire was reduced to thick grey smoke within minutes (seconds?). We had already called our parents, and now we walked around the apartments the long way to get to the front entrance where Sean’s parents had arrived to pick us up.

All we had were our phones and our night clothes: underwear, T-shirt, and shorts for both of us. We had no shoes. We had no keys. We had no wallets or money or credit cards or drivers licenses. We walked barefoot to Cheryl and Reid’s truck and got in and they took us to a gas station to get a drink and then back to their house. We showered and changed into borrowed clothes and sat awake for a long time.

Our apartment, and everything in it, is gone.

We have no home.

We have no possessions.

We don’t even have chargers for our phones, and as I discovered today, they don’t make accessories for our outdated phones anymore. We’ll have to buy new ones.

We’ll have to buy new everything.

We didn’t have renters insurance.

Yes. Yes, we are stupid. Thank you for pointing that out. I promise you, though, we already know.

My camera, my constant companion and translator of my memories, is gone. (I took today’s shots with Brooke’s camera.) My computer, with all my saved chat logs from the last ten or so years, all my writing, all my photography, all my archives–and yes, all my anime, is gone. My souvenirs from Japan–my beautiful hand-made pottery tea set, my wallscroll with calligraphy done by my host sister Yoko, my other dishes, my journal that I hadn’t gotten around to typing up and blogging–are gone. All my photographs that weren’t digital, that were instead shoved into the compartment on one of the end tables in the living room, are gone. All my books–hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of books–are gone. Our DVDs are gone.

Everything is gone.

detail of what used to be our office and patio

I’m posting this from Brooke’s computer. Sean’s parents don’t even have a computer, not to mention the Internet, so I may be scarce for awhile. Sean and I are both all right, though, and we’ll be in touch.

We are being taken care of. Our families and friends are already pitching in to help us replace our clothes and get new keys for our cars. We’re going to be all right.

I’m still in shock/denial. I’ve only cried once–only let myself cry once. I haven’t been alone enough to cry.

I lost so much. But I didn’t lose Sean. Last night, all I could do was cling to him.