Thursday, January 27, 2011

Where's the Beef?!!

Somebody at work turned me on to this guy's blog page, Words From The Mountains. If you clicked on that link -- why didn't you? -- you'd see the July 22, 2010, entry titled "The Ghost of Woodburn Hall." It tells the story of a prank from more than a century ago, when some agricultural students led a cow up into Woodburn's bell tower.

Cows being -- well -- dumb, this one managed the climb up several flights, but it seemed unable to walk back down. Consequently, it was removed in much the same way that the dead horse in Animal House had to be removed from the dean's office, albeit before the days of chainsaws. Thus was born the legend of the Woodburn Hall Cow, whose ghost is still mooing in the night.

Now the reason for the story about the unfortunate cow is because I had done a vector drawing of Woodburn Hall, based upon a night-time Christmas lights photograph that I had taken. I was able to catch the night-time look of the building, but I was hesitant to attempt the lighting effect.

Something about my showing this Illustrator drawing to a coworker caused him to remark that my picture needed a cow, whereupon he told me of the legend. Lest you think that I keep strange company, this person is a director-level at the University.

It's funny how an idea grows.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Stitching in Illustrator

Still on the subject of Ukrainian rushnyky, I thought I'd take on one of my mother's pillow embroideries (left).

She does these patterns free-style, with no design in mind when she starts. My interpretation used a single, uniform cross-stitch, whereas my mother's original features a variety of stitching styles.

I flipped the central portion and made it into a repeating brush pattern (right). It's funny how the eyedropper tool in Illustrator interpreted the orange-gold color -- it came across more bronze in Illustrator.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Illustrator stitches

Some time ago, I showed off a few faux cross-stitch patterns of traditional Ukrainian "Rushnyky," literally towels.

I doubt I could claim credit for applying the techniqe of using a cross-stitch "X" pattern to build an elaborate design in Adobe Illustrator, but I came up with the idea on my own and developed it through experimentation.

Here's an inset portion, showing a two-color stitch pattern:Once you have a few patterns, you can start to replicate them and lay them out into a larger work. Here is a completed rushnyk from a design I copied:

There's a really cool trick you can do in Illustrator, where you can take something you've designed and make it into a pattern brush. The pattern brush can then be applied to a vector shape like a line, rectangle or circle. The basic square of this pattern lends itself particularly to a rectangle, because you can designate a specific design to be a corner piece in your brush pattern.

To do this, I first stripped away the outer zig-zag border. Here's what the replicated squares would look like in a corner pattern:Once the pattern brush is complete, you can begin applying it. Here is a circle within a square with the rushnyk brush pattern applied:

Note that you can change the stroke. The circle is one-half the stroke of the square. The only problem with creating these elaborate designs is that you can run out of memory when you try something large based upon an elaborate design.

Friday, January 21, 2011

GOP's not-so-secret agenda

I read this morning that with health care reform now "repealed," the GOP congress is going after climate change. Just like health care, the GOP sees any attempt to regulate greenhouse gasses as being job-killing.

According to Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., "We will be active and aggressive using every tool in the toolbox to protect American jobs and our economy by rolling back the job-destroying (greenhouse gas) regulations." (I suppose the Republicans' filibuster against the auto industry bailout last year was also done out of concern for jobs.)

It just so happens that I've obtained a hither-to unknown wikileaks release on the GOP's agenda for this year:

  1. repeal health care reform
  2. rewrite the Clean Air Act
  3. repeal the 14th amendment
  4. repeal the 13th amendment (arguably a symbolic gesture)
  5. prohibit the teaching of evolution
  6. declare war against Poseidon

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Saving the Weasels

The GOP-controlled congress is living up to its promise of trying to roll back health care reform. HR 2 has been given the odd name of Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act. The words Repealing and Killing have negative connotations, however. If the GOP would take my advice -- they won't -- they should name the bill positively, say Save the Weasels Act.

Make no mistake about it -- since the current health care reform law has made it illegal to cancel an insurance policy because of a pre-existing condition, Insurance Policy Processing Clerks have been having a tough go of it. Many of these weasels, whose job it is to cancel insurance policies, have been out of work. You'd think that the GOP would have extended jobless benefits to these, their brethren. But they are looking at the big picture. If they help the insurance companies recover their enviable ability to cancel policies, then the weasels will have their jobs back. Brilliant!

Besides, weasels don't contribute much in the way of campaign donations.