Solo Journaling: Tiny Home Terrarium

Tiny Home Terrarium (Solo Journaling Game by Philippa Mort)

My name is Dapple Coltsfoot. I am a TinyFolk. 

So I am trying to set up a new jar house. I finally decided to move because there were too many people moving into my neighborhood, and trampling my special moss rock, the one that gets too dry sometimes, and the moss turns dull and dead, until it rains again and the moss returns like the flowers in spring. They didn’t care about my moss rock. I just don’t like spaces crowded with loud people, even if they aren’t loud out loud. Sometimes you can be quiet and still be a loud person.

The one thing I brought with me is a lovely feather I found that is too pretty to part with. It has a black tip! I wonder what wonderful bird it came from? 

My special skill is that I have a green thumb – not literally, but I’m good with gardening. And my poor moss rock (but it was too heavy to bring). So I know I will be able to make a lovely new green place to live. I also know what to eat and what to avoid. Even the tricky mushrooms! 

The Rockery is a location to find a nice rock for my home.

So I got up, even though my new terrarium jar is mostly empty, it’s still home, and I would have to leave it to go to the Rockery. Anyway I made sure I looked presentable, and headed over. It took a good quarter hour to get there. When I arrived at the rockery, which I hoped would be empty, it wasn’t empty at all. There was a sad little green frog there, by a moist pool in the middle of the rocks, where the sun doesn’t get to. He was feeling very lonely. Fortunately I showed up! He was lonely but optimistic, which worked out, because I came along to become a new friend. I don’t know what he would have done without me! (I didn’t mind him because frogs are very quiet people.) So I was just starting to get to know him when we both had to hide immediately – a cat was coming! She was a big, white shorthair with a tail waving like a flag shouting danger. We scattered two different ways because the frog could hide in a smaller rock hole than I could. The cat didn’t seem to care about me, and sniffed RIGHT where the frog was hiding. So I picked up a piece of gravel and threw it as hard as I could in the other direction to try to distract the cat. It didn’t work very well. I wasn’t sure what else to do. So I shouted. That worked a little too well, and I had to find a better place to hide, fast. But someone called the cat inside just then, so I was in the clear and forgotten. Dandelions! Who ever heard of a cat that comes when you call it?!

I went back to see how the frog was doing, whose name was actually Scum, which doesn’t sound like a nice name to me, but is apparently a nice name to a frog. He was happy to know that I was in the area, especially since I kept the cat away from him, and invited me back to chat again.

I got to take a very shiny orange rock back to my home. It looks like something you could eat (but it isn’t). In fact Scum gave me a small blue button to put in my home too. He said that buttons with two holes are luckier than buttons with four holes. I am not sure how he knows this but I knew it would be rude to ask.

I settled back in my new home thinking it could do with a few more rocks, but I was tired, so I made a cup of mint tea and tried to get comfortable for the night. I started trying to think about whether there is a plant that Scum would like, since he gave me the rock and the button. Maybe some water plant for that rock pool. I’ve never tried to grow a water plant before. But that is something I will have plenty of time to think about.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Spaceship Repair

So there is this Very Exciting Book that just came out (August 16, 2022) by Richard Roberts called “A Spaceship Repair Girl Supposedly Named Rachel“. You’d better believe I already read it, and you can find my review on Amazon, mine is the really excited review under the name “Rachel”.

Since I am also supposedly named “Rachel” this book interested me. Ok also, I am actually pretty much “Rachel”. Loosely. It’s a long but true story that I can attest to. No really, I swear on the six eternal beating hearts of the ice worm that inhabits the mist between the far moons of Jupiter. Or I would, but I don’t swear.

ANYWAY: this is a boring Earth blog, so I’m going to tell you all the best repair tools I know of and here is a big list of links, like you used to see on blog pages in the late 90s. Eat that, Algorithm.
These may be Amazon links etc., but I don’t have an affiliate link program – buy them in your little local hardware store if you can, and just use these links to read more about the products and make sure I didn’t make them up.

Sugru: Sugru is amazing stuff; it’s like plastic? it’s like glue? But you mold it with your hands, and it sticks to anything and makes it permanent yet flexible. But it doesn’t last forever, so if you buy some you pretty much need to use it within six months. I think it will last longer than six months if you keep it in the fridge but don’t quote me on that. Actually if you quote me I will be delighted, but it might not be a true fact. Here is a link.

Apoxie Two-Part Resins/Clays: This stuff is SO STURDY that you can mold/repair outdoor all-weather yard ornaments or make actual ship repairs with it. I mean car repairs. SERIOUSLY it will repair a real car. Then of course buff and paint it if you want it to look pretty. Here is a link.

Evil Ted’s molds: These don’t repair anything. These make whatever you are making look Extra. They come in “Hero” and “Villain” and “Steampunk” and “Cyberpunk” what more do you want? You can use them with several brands of air dry clays, and so they are light for costumes/affixing to things that don’t bear much weight. Here is a link.

Garden Velcro: This is just a big spool of green Velcro that was created to tie up your tomatoes, so you have to hunt for it in a garden supply store/garden section of the hardware store, and maybe can’t find it all year around. But it’s awesome for attaching anything to anything else/cables/organizing stuff. I use it all the time for holding up Christmas decorations (or basically anything you want to Velcro to something else). Especially Christmas decorations because it’s green, so you don’t notice it if you hide it in pine. Here is a link.

Nano Tape: You may have seen all the clickbait ads where someone is putting a mason jar on a wall with tape, and, great googlie mooglies this stuff actually works. I bought a roll for everyone I know for Christmas and ended up with a lot left over, but currently I am using it to secure a very big socket extender to my wall outlet. I do shove it back in place sometimes, but it’s been there years and hasn’t fallen off the wall. Here is one example.

Insta Crates: You know how you need to lug parts and whatever around in a crate, and then you take them out and use them up and have a bunch of crates stacked in the corner under a sheet and then the cyborg hides snacks in there and forgets them and it smells after awhile? Well anyway: You can get COLLAPSING CRATES. These are especially awesome to put in your car trunk because they take so little space, until you need them to take up space. Here is one example.

Goo Gone: If you are like me, and a little crazy when it comes to sticky residue, you need Goo Gone. It will remove, well, the sticky residue from old tape, or price labels, or basically it removes any gross film from any surface. It’s great stuff. I don’t know why I keep having the spray bottle part break when I buy it, though, and end up transferring it to another bottle with no label that I have to keep remembering what it is. I live an exciting life. Here is a link.

Actually I could go on, but this is already a long blog. Apparently I have just enough patience to write about one blog post a year. Sorry about that. Maybe I will come up with more. Thanks for reading! Let me know if you buy any of this stuff and it works for you.

On Thanksgiving

 

thanksgiving

I was reflecting a little bit about thankfulness. Usually when you go around the table telling each other what you are thankful for people say “family, food, God, a job”, and those are all great things to be thankful for, but they are kind of surface level things. Then you dig a little deeper, and say you are thankful that you don’t have <disease X> like <person Y> has, or thankful you haven’t gone through <disaster Z>.  Er, no zombies involved. The deeper you think about thankfulness the more it really changes your perspective.

Thankfulness isn’t the same thing as happiness. You can look back on things and be thankful to have gone through them, even when they did not cause you any happiness at the time. Gratitude is such a healthy thing; a thing I need more of. I’m so caught up in complaining! How can I really show joy and complain at the same time? I can’t.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!  I am truly blessed to have so many friends, and a God who has promised to never give you more than you are able to handle, but always provide a way to make it through and do the right thing. (I Cor 10:13)

If you need some thoughtful encouragement in your life, I highly recommend reading Dr. Michael Peck’s Daily Prescriptions. They are always worthwhile.

JavaScript is Messy

I told a friend I was having trouble with JavaScript and she said “JavaScript is messy”. I thought about this and she’s right. I am only starting to learn it, but it does have more instances of “you can do this legitimately a bunch of different ways1 than you might want your computer language to allow.

I have trouble even remembering where you need to put a “{ }” or where you just need a “;”. I don’t think those are the “messy” parts, those are just me learning the grammar of the program; learning the punctuation.

But when browsing StackOverflow I can find questions like “Why is JavaScript inconsistent across browsers” and articles on Reddit like “My JavaScript is Messy” and ycombinator articles that just confuse me (but contain some good links).

I guess JavaScript is a language. Languages grow and change. It was created by a guy back “in the day” on Netscape, and now it’s being used long after Netscape is cold in the ground. I’m sure they didn’t develop it in the 90’s thinking that it was going to become this big standard thing, used by everyone, everywhere. Now people are so constantly and consistently asking JavaScript to do things, lots of other programming frameworks and libraries have been built up around just trying to make JavaScript work faster/do things you want better/easier/more consistently. Like Node.js and Angular and JQuery and Bootstrap.

And I’m sure I’ll love the speed and ease of use those bring. But first, I’m still trying to work my way into a basic knowledge of JavaScript. The best resource this week has been the Mozilla Developer Network. This is a great, thorough explanation of just about everything you could want to know as a front end developer.  If you were somehow trapped on a desert island with a copy of MDN you would emerge from the harrowing ordeal with a substantive knowledge of the web as we know it today, and also, starve to death.

Ok, back to trying to make a for loop without crashing my browser.

1What is up with “Object Literal Notation” people. OR you can use a constructor? Too many choices!

 

Meanwhile at Udacity (Week 2)

So Monday was my first “live” session with the Udacity teachers. First I attended a Google Hangout where they discussed some of the more advanced projects. It didn’t pertain to the project I am currently working on, but it was good to know that this would be available to re-watch when the content was more relevant. They have a great library of videos full of content like this; many other people have asked questions about the same projects I will be tackling. This is really useful stuff (if I remember, and take the time to use it).

After that was the “Coaches, Coffee, Code & More” live session. This one was not on Hangouts, it was on rabb.it and I had a lot of technical difficulties with it. In spite of that, it was a personal voice/video chat session with 3 students and 2 coaches. To me, these are the kind of interactions that are setting me up for success with Udacity. I felt like I had a rocky start because I kept applying to the wrong Google group (and consequently was not accepted). In addition, there were (and are) some other technical difficulties on the Udacity site, which have kept me from really feeling close to my “cohort” of students. But when you can spend live time with the teachers, it helps me realize they want to help you succeed.

I didn’t get to any of the “hard projects” yet. I’m really expecting a challenge, since even these first easy projects are out of my comfort zone! But right now I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Online Learning Tools (Part 3)

I’ve discussed some sites already, but I have to get in just a few more that have helped me and may help you.

Lynda.com
This was the first online learning site I ever chose to throw my hard-earned cash at. It has a fantastic variety of tutorials, the majority of which are overviews of various software packages. It’s a great site, but you won’t get nearly as much out of it if you don’t own the software you are studying. With Lynda you get “all you care to learn” tutorials for one monthly fee. I am of the opinion that I learn better on the Udacity/Udemy sites where you have actual quizzes/projects, not just watching someone else tell you what each button does. I haven’t tried every Lynda course, though. Some may be set up in a more hands-on system, but there is no way to interact with the instructor.

A couple more I haven’t used, but want to mention:
Treehouse.com
SitePoint

On to the “art-oriented” tutorials.

Craftsy
Much like Udemy, Craftsy is primarily a “Pay to learn” site, and offers the same one-on-one interaction in the comments. But, frankly I have found more interaction on this site; people want feedback and critique on their art. I found this to be a friendly learning space, and it has many free classes. It also has coupon codes in your e-mail box almost every day, so think about which e-mail you want those to go to when you make your account.

Pencil Kings
I found this site by accident when searching the web for art resources, and I’m glad I did! It offers a great set of free “delivered to your e-mail inbox” tutorials. For a monthly fee you get access to many more. I haven’t taken the time to go through all of my free tutorials. It seems to focus on solid sketching fundamentals. They are always of a very encouraging tone! I believe you get to interact with the instructors as well.

Chris Oatley
This brilliant artist quit his job at Disney in order to start an online teaching school. He is passionate about teaching, passionate about art, and his classes are real “classes”; you have a lot of one-on-one interaction with the teacher, and get out of it what you put in. I haven’t taken one of his classes, but a close friend did.

Here are some other places to find good art tutorials:
deviantART
Ctrl+Paint
YouTube

Basically anywhere you can search for a tutorial, you will find some. But to improve, you just have to spend time doing the thing no matter what it is!

 

Westwards!

I have just returned from a trip out to Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. It was beautiful! I can’t believe I haven’t updated this site since May, and it’s almost “30 characters” time.

I saw a lot of “Martian landscapes”. In fact, the hotel I stayed in (near photo #1) was the hotel the Disney crew stayed in for the filming of “John Carter of Mars.” It’s also a fun book series, even though the movie didn’t stick to it very closely.
These photos don’t adequately express the awesome view. (Completely unlike what I usually see here in Ohio!)

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