Paris – Solidarité

Paris – Solidarité
By Ben W. | BlueCatShip

I woke up and went online and have just seen the news. Terrible.

Why Paris, or France? Good question.

As a broad generalization, French people tend to react passionately towards social justice issues, philosophical issues, and so on, on a somewhat different level or manner than do Americans. Are they any more or less passionate or idealistic or realistic? Well, probably not, but there are differences in national character in how French people express themselves.

This is my impression as a French-speaking American. If I were to live in a natively French-speaking area, I’d have to learn a lot of vocabulary and review some things, but my French is still pretty fluent, thanks to several semesters in college.

Paris is a large international city and a center of commerce as well as the national capital. It’s older and more historic than, say, New York City. This makes it a target for people who want to cause disorder and terror.

France also has a long history, both as a colonial power, but also as an exploratory and trading nation, and a long history of contact with northern Africa and the Middle East. So there’s a long history of both friendly and unfriendly feelings going on between those nations and France. France and French-speaking areas tend to have tolerant relations with these areas, but that isn’t to say that there isn’t also prejudice and tension between French-speaking and north African / Middle Eastern peoples.

So while France has a minority population of people from the area, Muslims and others, Arabic-speaking people and others, there are still tensions, despite tolerance. And that leads some to want to put a wedge in and use those sore spots and prejudices on both sides as a way to drive people further apart or to get what a given person or group wants, disorder, terror, as a way to grab power, wealth, beliefs, and so on, while people are looking the other way. By giving both sides more reasons to dislike (or hate or fear) each other, the people behind such attacks want to gain for themselves and their beliefs.

So never mind an overall history of relations between France and north African / Middle-Eastern nations, any tendencies towards tolerance and peaceful relations, trade, and so on. Never mind that there’s a minority population throughout France. Instead, people bent on causing hate and fear as tools would rather cause hate and fear and try to make people believe what their group wants, to grab what they want to get, make some political or religious statement, further divide and stir people up, and so on.

—–

One of my professors when I went back for my associate’s degree was an immigrant, a Syrian and Muslim, fluent in English, working toward citizenship for himself and his wife, with a child born here in the US. When someone had asked him, during an informal class session, about the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, about perception of Muslims, and so on, he gave an interesting answer.

He said that it’s one thing to be over here and hear about the conflict going on. But it’s another to be over there and have one group fighting another group, back and forth, this group, that group, another group, both within one’s own religion or nationality and outside it from neighboring countries or from minority or majority groups within one’s own country. That is, if someone attacks your neighborhood, your friends, your relatives, assaults a woman you know, kills or maims kids, etc., attacks buildings, monuments and historical sites, sacred areas (mosques, temples, churches, synagogues), then of course people get angry and retaliate. They take things into their own hands to protect themselves. Or they get angry and fight back and cause more violence against whoever they think hurt them. That goes back and forth, on and on. It causes animosity and hate and division, over generations, even if people want to be moderate or peaceful. People can only take so much, and then they react, whether it’s wise or justified or not. And the cycle continues on and on, over and over — because no on stops it and keeps it stopped. No one says enough’s enough, I won’t do that anymore.

He said also that you could either stay in all that and live as best you could and do what you can, as a moderate person, peaceful, religious or secular — Or you could decide enough was enough, and take yourself and your family and move somewhere else, where there was more opportunity and a peaceful life and some more degree of tolerance for differences of religion, ethnicity, and so on.

He chose to move to the US, study here, live here, become an American citizen, and to marry a young woman from his country who had come here, where she was working toward citizenship too, and where they married here and had their first child, who was therefore an American. His English was good, he was mostly moderate both in religious views and in secular views. He was a professor, so an academic, and education and intelligence were important to him.

Be it noted, I didn’t always agree with him or how he did things. Heh. But he was an OK guy, a reasonable person, I thought, and someone you could deal with. He sincerely wanted that American life and ideal for himself and his family. — I can also say he had the worst handwriting I think i’ve ever seen. I can’t vouch for how his Syrian and Arabic writing were, but his English handwriting? Awful. LOL. I relied on taking notes from his speaking, not from what he was putting on the board, which I could hardly read, even knowing what it was. Heh.

But I took his points, his experience and perspective, as key in understanding what it’s like to live in an area where so many very different groups are often in armed conflict and competing for beliefs and ideas, for worldly goods and land to live on, for their perceived ways of life. — And his demonstrated choice, to move out of that and seek a new life elsewhere, even while keeping his own beliefs and his family contacts (of course), that spoke to what he thought, believed, how he viewed things, and his ultimate goals.

—–

Around the same time, my mom and I also often ate at a local restaurant that served mostly “Italian” dishes. We were regulars and got to know the owners a little. When we asked where they were from, the answer, carefully, was that they were Persian. (Note that. Not stated as Farsi, not stated as Iranian.) My mom and I both knew “Persian” is “iranian, Farsi.” They said that they put it that way because of so much prejudice against Middle Easterners, especially Iranians, and Muslims. (They were Christians.) They stayed in business a few years before closing the restaurant. But this shows how people’s perceptions and ignorance and prejudices can operate. Tell someone they were Persian, and most people would think that was wonderful. Tell the same someone they were Iranian, and the perception would’ve changed, for most people, because of preconceived notions of what Iranians (and Muslims) are like, versus the romantic notion of what “Persian” is. As someone who knew a little (very little) about history and language, like myself or like my mom, it was as frustrating for us, as mainstream, majority Americans, to run into that from people who only wanted to build a new life in America, assimilate, and leave that old life behind. They had left their home country to escape the bad situation over there.

Later that same semester, I learned from another professor (white American) that a fellow professor in her department was Farsi / Persian / Iranian and having real trouble, because she and her family had had to leave Iran to be safe, and yet she (and family) was (were) facing prejudice over here, due to prejudices about race, nationality, and religion. (Whether the other prof was Muslim or Christian wasn’t stated, but she may have been Christian instead of Muslim.)

So — The problem is ongoing from both (or multiple) sides.

Where does it stop? When do enough people stop and say they’ve had enough of the endless cycle of violence and intolerance, and they don’t want to fight with their neighbors anymore?

When and why does it become acceptable to hate so much over religious beliefs or some other ideology that you and your group think that hurting and killing people who live nearby, neighbors, is justifiable, or even a good thing?

How can anyone believe in any god and claim to want tolerance, peace, love, forgiveness — and yet actively hate and exclude and hurt other people, just because they are different, or believe or act differently?

Note: I don’t exempt my own country or my own religious background from those questions. I am just as offended by that as any “foreign” actions.

The level of ignorance, of prejudice without thought, of outright hatred and greed and intolerance, instead of a willingness to live and let live … offends me greatly. But I don’t therefore want to go out and hurt or kill or drive out or shun anyone because of it. You go your way, I’ll go my way. If we interact, then be decent and civil. Treat the other person like you’d want to be treated. Don’t be awful to someone, just because they are different or believe differently. Why treat someone badly for that? And how is that going to influence them to listen to your ideas, to think about them, and maybe to change their minds to agree with you? It won’t. It only drives people apart. I want a better world than that.

“We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
— Benjamin Franklin

“I may not agree with you, sir, but I shall defend to the death your right to disagree.”
— Voltaire (very) paraphrased

“They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
— Benjamin Franklin, 1755, to the Pennsylvania State Legislature

 

Dye Stuff

Dye Stuff

Copyright © 2015-08-04

By Ben Whisman

All Rights Reserved

In the Pink

Back in July, 2015, I posted at Jane Fancher’s blog and at the Shejidan.com fan forum, to get some discussion: Could boys wear pink? Could boys wear pink dress shirts or pink t-shirts; in other words, was there a level of formal or casual dress or a status or class issue; or were there limits on the styles for which boys might wear pink, or was it doable at all? Was there an age range where younger or older boys could or could not wear pink, or teen boys or young men or older men, and so on?

There were some good responses and differing opinions, but not surprisingly, in America and Europe, the American cultural bias about boys and pink holds out. Now, I should remind you, the reader, that I’m male, I grew up in Texas in the 1970’s and 1980’s, in a conservative religious family. I’m also gay, but I was definitely not out as a teen. I wore pink dress shirts occasionally in high school and college, and have since. Other guys I know, very confidently straight and fairly popular, have worn pink dress shirts or hot pink sport shirts and carried it off without anyone questioning anything. And the girls seemed to like it. I’m not sure if the boys liked it, but the guys who wore pink didn’t get hassled, so far as I know.

So this was an interesting topic, because it’s based on our notions about gender roles and sexuality and what’s acceptable for boys or men to wear, and what it says (or doesn’t say) about them, or about us.

About three years ago, friends got me interested in ball jointed dolls. I had been looking for realistic posable figures to use for models for drawing. But I saw how much fun my friends were having with these, including story possibilities, and well, I had to try it. I hadn’t really played with action figures much since I was a kid or early teen, but I’m a writer/artist kind of guy, and amateur voice actor, so the fun of pretent and make-believe and storytelling are still important and familiar to me. Well, I liked it.

Earlier this year, I got Robby, technically, Robert, a Kidz n Cats 18 inch / 45cm doll by Heart and Soul / Sonja Hartmann of Germany. So I have gotten some outfits and props for him.

When I got a pack of t-shirts, several colors, one of the t-shirts was pale pink. I was having a little trouble seeing a little guy Robby’s age wearing a pink t-shirt and not getting teased pretty badly by other boys. This seemed like a real story possibility. But the outcome would likely be to dye the t-shirt.

I then decided I’d get another pink t-shirt and dye one and keep the other for later story use.

Meanwhile, I’d ordered a lavender or lilac (light purple or light violet) polo shirt for him. When the polo shirt arrived, it was not the color in the photo or description. It was a slightly stronger pastel pink with a tiny bit of lavender bluish cast to it, but still “pink.”

Robby might look sharp as a preppie kid, but it seemed a little much to think, real world, that a little boy would not get teased badly about a pink shirt. He didn’t seem like the kind of boy who’d carry it off so well that the other boys would accept that. I’d decided Robby was a sweet kid with an overactive imagination, and not such a little tough guy, or the type of boy who’d just roll his eyes and laugh and go right on and wear it anyway, and be popular with all the girls and boys, just the same. Some boys can do that, of course, but not all of them. That was also a story possibility.

Do or Dye

So I’d decided to dye one of the pale pink t-shirts and the slighly brighter pastel pink polo shirt.

I had some dye left from an attempt a year or two ago to dye a doll / figure to a darker tan. That didn’t work because it was ABS plastic instead of resin. So I had some Rit dye, cocoa brown, and a couple of other bottles of dye I hadn’t used.

I had in mind a slight change: from pink to a light brown, somewhere between the rosy taupe or fawn color popular in the mid-80’s, to about a chocolate milk color. A weak dye bath of the cocoa brown ought to do that, right? So how much to use for the two little shirts, each hardly bigger than a washcloth?

The dye bottle gave instructions for a half batch and a full batch. The bottle was 8 ounces. So if I scaled the recipe, I could do this easily, I thought. But then it hit me, why not use less, a tablespoon of dye and either the salt or vinegar thay recommended, and approximate the hot water amount. Aha, that should work fine, less waste.

I went by the instructions and used what should have been more water, for a weaker dye job. I used one tablespoon of Rit dye, cocoa brown; one tablespoon of salt, because the t-shirt is all-cotton; and a bit more than 2 cups (over 16 ounces) of very hot water, not boiling. I submerged the shirts and shook them constantly for over two minutes, then let them sit in the dye bath while I put things away. I estimate they had between ten and fifteen minutes to sit in the dye bath and soak.

Then I came back, shook vigorously again about a minute, and poured out the dye water, and rinsed out the two little shirts.

As soon as I saw the shirts, I knew immediately things did not go according to plan, in a big way!

The polo shirt barely took the dye. It’s a bit brownish, but not what I’d envisioned. I realized I’d forgot to check its fabric content. I think it’s likely a synthetic that needed vinegar as the fixative instead of salt.

The t-shirt is all-cotton. It soaked up the cocoa brown, chocolate dye color like crazy. It is now a medium to dark cocoa brown. It looks really good, but I had in mind a very light brown, a very weak dye wash.

Well, I’ve learned a whole lot. I am not sure if I’d used less dye and more water, if that would’ve given me the lighter brown I was after. But now I’ve dyed cloth for the first time, and now I know the results can be very different from what you’d expect. So the trick is to get the experience and to learn how to adjust the process to get the colors or effects you want.

The two little shirts are drying now, before I put them in to wash, to fix the dye and get out any excess. I plan to be careful not to leave the shirts on the little guy, to avoid the chance he might pick up dye into his vinyl skin.

Once the shirts are washed and dried, I’ll have pictures of the results. This should be interesting.

I expect to be happy with the medium-dark cocoa brown t-shirt, even though I would’ve liked it to be a lighter brown. I could always try again with another shirt later.

I might want to adjust the color on the polo shirt. We’ll see how it turns out.

I still feel I learned a lot and had fun doing it, and now I think I could try other dye projects and learn more. If I like it, I could try selling projects, with a little more experience.

To Dye For

Now I am very curious about cloth dyeing. I know this is a very old art process, related to inks and paints, long used for dyeing cloth and fibers for all sorts of purposes. I know from art and calligraphy that dye stuffs were prized in ancient times for things like indigo, sepia, Tyrian purple, and a great many others, and teas and onionskins and so on were other sources.

So I know that ancient and medieval peoples used many natural substances to dye cloth (and leather) and to create paints and inks and colored wax.

I know also that with the refinement of modern chemistry beginning in the 1700’s through the present, people began creating more stable and less toxic synthetic dyes, along with refinements of natural dye stuffs.

Therefore, I’m curious to learn some about dyeing as an art and craft, for fun and potential profit.

I’d welcome pointers to books, ebooks, videos, and rescources.

I am a science fiction fan and so the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism), though I’m not a member, and their crafts are of interest.

I studied liberal arts (English, French, etc.) and some computer science in college. So history and culture, including pioneer, New World, and Old World crafts, are also of interest.

Demonstrations at pioneer villages or Ren Faires, for instance, have always been interesting.

So comments and suggestions and resources are quite welcome!

Audio Drama Update 2015 June

I have just turned in my lines for the third episode of Star Trek: Shadows of Tyranny.

I was delayed too much, getting this episode done, and will make sure (somehow) it doesn’t happen again. There’s been frequent heavy rain and thunderstorms here, off and on for a few weeks, that has finally calmed down. There’s been construction in my subdivision and the highway and streets nearby. But still, I feel like I dropped the ball. I’ve been concentrating on other work, but the audio work is imporant to me. I intend to build toward pro, paying gigs. So the lines are in.

Dropbox, oddly, is not showing the files synched from my local computer to my Dropbox account online. Odd. And I don’t see any way to force it to refresh or fix the problem.

I therefore sent the file two other ways. One or both should get there, still before deadline, I hope.

I’m awaiting news on Episode 2’s production and release date. Episode 3 is still in production, of course.

I’m also awaiting news on a separate production for while I sent in lines and retakes some time ago. No news yet.

Giant Gnome’s Star Trek Outpost is still looking for an audio production engineer, and one of their cast members is recovering from a recent hospital stay. (She’s also on another podcast audio drama I follow.) Here’s wishing her a full, speedy recovery. Meanwhile, the Gnomes have released another mini-episode from a Comic-Con appearance, and they’re working on their next full episode.

The team at Star Trek Excelsior are still in production for their upcoming episode, #404, if I haven’t lost count. They, too, are looking for audio production engineer talent.

In addition, the folks at the Firefly Podcast: Balls and Bayonets Brigade, are running a fun, recorded RPG game, with each session recorded as an episode. The ladies at Sending a Wave, UK Browncoats, have been busy too. Both are recommended.

Oh, and a friend in fandom recommended recently the Wolf 359 podcast, which has a small, very dysfunctional crew on a space station outpost. The show takes risks and can be very sarcastic and occasionally dark. It’s quite good.

 

Star Trek: Shadows of Tyranny – Episode 1

Star Trek: Shadows of Tyranny – Episode 1: Revolutionaries will air Sunday April 5th, 2015 on Bay of Islands Radio at 7:00 pm NDT.

Listeners will be able to stream live at the following times on:

http://boir.ca/2013/live-streaming/

Pacific Time 02:30 pm
Mountain Time 03:30 pm
Central Time 04:30 pm
Eastern Time 05:30 pm
Atlantic Time: 06:30 pm
Newfoundland Time: 07:00 pm

Learn more at: ShadowsOfTyranny.com

When the podcast feed is available for iTunes and others, this blog post will be updated.

Update 1:

Star Trek: Shadows of Tyranny will also be carried on TrekRadio.net .

The podcast feed is available at:

http://www.shadowsoftyranny.com/STsoft.xml

An iTunes subscription link and other podcast feed links have been submitted and will be available soon.

Update 2:

Star Trek: Shadows of Tyranny premièred on Sunday, and is now available for download or streaming from their site.

The podcast is now available for subscription feed from iTunes and Stitcher. Login to either service and search on ( Star Trek Shadows of Tyranny ). Of course, the subscription is free. The promo is available now, and the first episode should be available as soon as it clears the services.

The podcast is also being carried on TrekRadio.net .

See Also: Ben’s Audio and Voice Work

Prelude to the Wookiee Problem

I am thinking up an article / essay on “the Wookiee problem,” or alien speech and the related problem of including mute characters.

I am not sure when this will show up as a finished post, but when it is, I’ll have it posted on my site and blog and will link to it from a few forums and blogs I visit.

This also relates to the portrayal or inclusion of mute people in fiction, though I’m not sure yet how I intend to address that.

I don’t know yet if I want to go even broader, to portrayal of things like handicaps or ageism. I don’t yet know if it’ll be more than one post.

But I want to write something, because the problem of how to write a character for an audio or video play, or for a novel, without having the character be a sidekick, and with taking into account the realistic things a character has to deal with, when he or she can’t avoid or magically cure the condition: a realistic, strongly portrayed character.

 

Audio Dramas Update – 2015-02

See Also: • Audio and Voice Work (Site) • Audio and Voice Work (Blog) • Starship ExcelsiorShadows of TyrannyStar Trek Outpost

Starship Excelsior

On 2015-11-29, the Starship Excelsior podcast released Episode 402 – Guards, Get Them! in which I play the guest role of Turgas, an alien. It’s my largest role to date.

On 2015-12-26, they released Episode 403, At Death’s Door. I’m not in it, but I’ve been a fan of the series since I first found it a few years ago, and I’ve done guest roles a few times since then.

They are in production on Episode 404, which will be found as soon as it’s released.

Shadows of Tyranny

The team at Shadows of Tyranny, an audio drama podcast set in the Star Trek Mirror Universe, are still in production on the first two episodes. Their latest update has announced a tentative release date by the end of February or start of March, 2015.

The series will be in six episodes, as currently planned. Remember that it’s set in the Mirror Universe, where the crew of the Enterprise were space pirates, not exactly evil twins, but close to it. So it’s more suitable for teens and above.

I play a series regular, Ens. Chekov, complete with a Russian accent. I’ve gotten compliments on the accent, and I would hope it sounds reasonably authentic to real Russians. I had a great time doing research for the accent, only it didn’t feel like work to listen to real Russians and ex-patriates. It’s also great to play such a great a character.

Other Stuff

I’m a fan of Giant Gnome’s Star Trek Outpost, and I’ve auditioned before for another of Giant Gnome’s series, the 13th Hour, a thriller.

I have submitted lines for an episode of another audio podcast series that may get a revival. That’s in pre-production. I’ll have more news on that as things progress.

I’ve had great fun and learned a lot so far, doing fan-based and other amateur voice audio work. Those have been volunteer, unpaid gigs. But I enjoy it so much, I intend to continue doing that. It’s great fun to play a character, to pretend and act, to be someone else for a little while. It’s also great fun to give other people a lot of enjoyment for a little while, a break from real life. So this is something I will be doing long-term.

I’ll have some more auditions and possibly more roles coming up in 2015. I also will be looking into local voice and audio work here in town, with an ear towards, hey, a paying gig. It would be super to appear in an anime, for instance. I will also be looking into applying as a reader for Audible.com, but I won’t know about either of those for a while.

More updates as I get news! Stay tuned!

 

Ben’s Fonts – The Long and Winding Road

Way back in the 1990’s, I had Fontographer and Freehand, and created several fonts in various draft stages, a handful of which were nearly complete.

But these were backed up on 3.5in floppies, or (maybe) on a Syquest cartridge, or old iomega Zip disks, because “optical drives” (later called CD-R/RW drives) were so very pricey.

This also wasn’t my “real job” (though for a while it was part of it) and I didn’t get much support work-wise or personal-wise, from my folks. So I could only work on them in my spare time. A project for a friend produced a font based on Kabel Ultra that might still be out there somewhere, for all I know. But that was about the only thing that got released. (No excitement from my folks, either.)

Through a long comedy of errors, in which I didn’t personally have enough backup disks, and others that were backed up were destroyed (media life gave out, the drives died, water damage ruines some backups) — I have not run into backups of those old Fontographer source files. (I’m still hopeful I’ll find them in some usable form on some backup, but I’ll have to get more creative about it, with old, no longer supported media and drives.)

Ah, but I also had Freehand drawings: Freehand 3, 5, 10, 11 or MX, up through the last-ever supported version. Usually, it was only the .fh* files, though depending on a project, there might be .eps or .tiff or other formats exported.

My own copies of Freehand started as university student discounts, for which you had to be currently enrolled. This meant that at some later point, I had to buy the program at full price, because it refused to upgrade. Fine, I had Freehand on Mac originally, then later on Windows.

And then a couple of computers died. One was taken out spectacularly when my cat jumped on the desk…and knocked a full, large glass of iced tea into the laptop…which died a horrible death then and there.

This meant my only working copies of Freehand were gone. — And because Adobe had killed the old Macromedia website domain name by then, and had dropped support, I couldn’t re-install and get a working version up and going. (I intend to see if I can bypass that somehow, with old, old Mac versions. But that probably is a lost cause.)

This meant I have a ton of old vector outline drawings that are useless. — Adobe Illustrator would do only a partial import, and sometimes not at all — on a file format that was by then also owned by them. Wow. Impressive. Not.

Along the way, they also stopped supporting Fontographer, and for a while, only the big, pricey competitor, FontLab Studio, was available. I couldn’t afford it then.

For a very long while, I was very, very (VERY) unhappy about this. I had a huge amount of good work that I couldn’t show and couldn’t import and reuse, because the file formats were no longer supported. This was years worth of work, essentially my entire professional and personal career. I was not a happy camper. At all.

But then FontLab bought Fontographer and resurrected it, along with FontLab Studio. Oh, that was really good. Maybe. I went over-budget and bought Fontographer, then a few months later, went over-budget again and bought FontLab Studio.

And then everything went kablooey, in my finances and personal and professional life. The economy crashed, my finances with it, and my grandmother’s health was really failing by then, a long, drawn out slide towards the end. For several years, the only “work” I was doing was unpaid volunteer work, and also unpaid, full-time primary caregiver for my grandmother. Things were pretty dismal. At the end of it, I’d lost nearly everything.

I had to pick up the pieces and start over somehow, though. I had to make a living too. I was living month-to-month on minimal income. (I still am.)

Font production was one thing that turned out to be promising and maybe workable. I had Fontographer and FontLab Studio. I’d have to start from scratch, but I could do that. I remembered much of what I’d done on those old fonts, all those years ago. (By now, it was the 2010’s.)

It is not encouraging to start redoing all the work you know you’d done twenty years ago, completely from scratch, when you know that somewhere, on some diskette or other media you haven’t run across again, or that you don’t have a drive for, you have old, but now reusable source files, with all that work already done and ready to go. Somewhere. But I wasn’t finding the files.

So I started with redrawing old stuff and of course, to make myself feel a little better, to try to get excited again, I began new drafts, new ideas.

There was some progress there, but it was slow. I was trying to do other things (fiction writing, getting my life and my home and my finances back in some kind of order) and well, I was a mess, and so was my house, reflecting that, and…for a very long time, I couldn’t see any progress happening. It kept getting eaten up by things, or I’d stagnate from depression.

Well, I kept at it. But I wasn’t concentrating on the fonts. That turned out to be a mistake. I was also falling further and further behind in my life, and had to reassess several times, and also had to pay from remaining savings to stay afloat.

After yet another very down period, I reassessed again. What I was doing just wasn’t going anywhere fast enough, and I was desperate for some way to improve things. If my fiction writing still wasn’t proceeding fast enough to gain income…that meant font production was my best answer, at least for now.

I began doing that, devoting more time to it. I also saw I had to step up work on my house…without enough budget to do that. Very discouraging, still.

But font work began gaining speed and momentum. It began to be exciting again. I could see progress. Still not fast enough to make a difference, maybe, but it was better than nothing, and better than before. So OK, let’s keep at this.

Meanwhile, I had, for a while, bought Adobe Illustrator. But the interface was very, very weird, even though (or because) I was an old hand at Freehand. I would go along and Illustrator would do something completely strange, or I’d have so much trouble with it that it wasn’t worth it. I had CS3 and CS4. … And then Adobe went to their Creative Suite subscription model, monthly subscription to use the program. Don’t pay for even one month, and the program, and thus all your files, become unusable. The fees started at $19 per month and went up to $29, $39, or more, per month, depending on what suite options you had. Uh, no, I could not afford to do that, to pay monthly or to pay yearly for $240 or 150% or 200% or more of that, the cost of the program new, or the cost of an upgrade before. So I swore off Adobe’s products completely. Can’t afford ’em. (I’m not the only one. Just look at the reviews of Illustrator on Amazon: 1 star reviews from over 20 former users and new users. People are looking for competing programs that don’t cost too much and that work well.)

So…I was very, very frustrated still, with very limited ways to get artwork in and out of Fontographer, and no usable scalable vector outline drawing program. (I’d tried Inkscape several times, but it refused to work on either a Mac or Windows for me.)

Just recently, Inkscape has come out with Inkscape 0.91, which I *can* use, at least partially. Now that I can get it to work at all, I’ve begun trying to learn it. This might (at last) give me a workable vector drawing program. (I haven’t yet figured out where and how to control snap-to and the grid spacing, something very, very basic. But I’ll find it, or find that it doesn’t work, still.)

And then — Omigosh! I can (partially) import/export SVG to EPS, and due to another program on my Mac that likes (partially) some old Freehand format (.fh10 and up?) — I can now import at least some of my old artwork (drawing files) into Fontographer and into Inkscape. Oh, hot diggity! Excellent! — Hmm, but both Inkscape and Fontographer are buggy about this. For example, if I output EPS from Fontographer, especially for a sample of “All Glyphs” in the font, to have a backup and printable art from the font drafts…that EPS from Fontographer…is buggy and refuses to preview or open in absolutely anything I have, including the Mac’s own Preview and Finder views.

Also, I’ve discovered that Fontographer insists it wants individual characters on a single line, or else it scales the whole drawing. Oh, ugh. It omits some things too.

But it’s usable, sort of. I can get *some* of the old vector drawings I have into Fontographer, which saves me somewhat from starting completely from scratch. Oh, if only I had those old .fog Fontographer source files!

But between the work I’ve been doing on font production, and newly discovering I can import and export some things, both for Inkscape and Fontographer… I am suddenly a lot more able to do something, and do it faster, than before. If I can overcome a few more things, to ease the import/export process, I’ll be even more productive.

I have some things nearing readiness, but it will still be a while before they’re ready for submission, before they can be considered for publication (and sales) and (ahem) income I really need.

But now I have real progress! This is terrific news!

Hmm, I see that due to the scaling and importing, I’ll still have to redraw some things, but at least I’ll have what I did before to go from. Maybe-maybe I can convince it to scale so I can adjust the old art more easily, so I can avoid some redrawing. But even if I do have to redraw, I now have more to go on than memory alone.

I just spent about 2.5 hours importing some old artwork, a drawing for a font idea, nearly 52 letters, and putting those into place in Fontographer. But I see those will have to be rescaled and adjusted, or redrawn, because there’s something slightly off in the scaling factor. OK, so even if I have to draw from scratch, I still have my old artwork, usable vector outlines, to go on.

It only took freakin’ 22 years, from 1993 to 2015, to get that old drawing into the start of a Fontographer font file.

If that isn’t dogged determination, stubborn patience, and a lot of crud along the way, I don’t know what is.

I have a fair number of other source drawings I can also import and use, again, even if I have to redraw because of scaling or other issues. I still have those to go on. They date from about 1993 to 2010, originally in Freehand, a few from Illustrator, by importing EPS or exporting SVG or AI files to EPS.

Fontographer and FontLab Studio will not import SVG in their current versions. Only EPS. They’ll import bitmap files from TIFF or PNG to trace. I really hope they’ll be upgraded to import/export SVG and web fonts.

But… This is a big deal. I can now open and use at least *some* of my old drawings from part of my professional career, over 22 years and since.

I would be exceedingly happy, excited, overjoyed, if I could import, open, save, and export everything from my old Freehand files, versions 3, 5, 10, 11, MX, up through the final version.

If I could open and use those, import them in my programs, and save/export to other usable file formats — I would be unbelievably grateful, relieved, and…ohhh yeah. — I would love it if Inkscape or some program could do that! Absolutely, I’d love it.

Hmm, I’m not sure how much I have from before the 1990’s still, but I started out back in 1984, when dinosaurs ruled the Earth.

I still need to see if I can reuse whatever I still might have on old media, if it’s readable at all. — I was surprised, you can still get a floppy drive that claims to work on a modern Mac or Windows PC. Not sure about old iomega Zip disks. Old Syquest cartridges? I’m not sure I have those, and pretty sure I don’t have the drive, which died and would need to be replaced.

But dang it, I can now use more of my old files than I could before. This is a real improvement.

I’m getting closer to having fonts ready to submit for consideration for publication and sales.

More on that when I’m further along and have more progress, or a submission ready.

But hurray! Overall, I’ve just had a win that was 22 years in the making! Imagine being able to use a file from 22 years ago, to finally get to make a font from a drawing I made back then.

That’s really something! Maybe you have to be there to understand. But I’m pleased. Still a lot of work to do to get it done, but — It’s really something! Yippee! Hurray!

Oh, I’d be so happy if I could get Freehand files to open/import and save/export into other, modern formats. So, so happy if I could do that. How happy, you ask? Heheheh, you have no idea!

Chicken Fusion Recipe

Chicken Fusion
Preliminary, to be Adjusted
By Ben Whisman | BlueCatShip
2015-01-21

This recipe got its start in a very roundabout way from a batch of chicken strips I fixed with too much pepper in the lemon pepper to suit my taste.

I made stir-fried rice and added a little sour cream, before eating it all.

Then inspiration struck on something else to try. The result is a preliminary recipe based on that, which I’ll modify after testing it out.

* Determine measurements on spices, cans, bags;
* Determine amounts for optional ingredients;
* Determine mix for Cajun gumbo veggies, if people can’t find pre-packaged;

* Instead of Season Salt, try:
{
1x salt
1x black pepper
2x basil
2x oregano
1x powdered cloves
1x cinnamon
1x allspice
1x nutmeg
2x cilantro
}

* Consider a dash of Curry Powder.

Ingredients

1 pkg. (?? oz.) chicken strips, uncooked, no breading, thawed
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 dashes Season Salt (Lawry’s or other) — how many tsp.?
2 or 3 dashes Lemon Pepper shaker mix — how many tsp.?
2 oz. Lemon juice
2 to 4 oz. Mango nectar?

2 cups cooked brown rice
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 eggs
4 tbsp. sour cream
1 large pkg. (?? oz.) Cajun style gumbo vegetables, thawed (available in the frozen foods aisle)
1 can (12 oz.?) diced or chopped tomatoes

Equipment

Wok or Skillet
Wok Spatula
Butcher Knife (to dice chicken strips and optional mangoes)
Measuring Spoons
Measuring Cup

Procedure

Dice chicken strips into bite-sized pieces, about 1 inch (2.54 cm).
Add olive oil to pan. Coat chicken pieces with olive oil, season salt, and lemon pepper.
Bake or fry, stirring occasionally to coat and brown evenly, about 15 minutes.
Add lemon juice and mango nectar to brighten flavor and keep from drying out. Cook 5 minutes to reduce down.
Reserve.

In wok or skillet, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil. Add pre-cooked brown rice, stir to heat.
Creat a small well in center of pan. Break 2 eggs, scramble, keep stirring, and mix into the rice, so you have bits of scrambled egg among the rice.
Add 4 tbsp. sour cream and fold into rice to cream it.
Add gumbo vegetables and can of diced tomatoes. Stir to cook and have rice absorb tomato juice.
Add reserved chicken pieces. Stir to combine. Cook about 2 to 5 minutes to heat all and combine flavors.

Notes and Suggestions:

Add more mango nectar if desired. Add bite-sized mango pieces, if you have them.

If desired, you may wish to add a little garlic, shallots, and onions, sautée before adding chicken pieces to cook.

Add 2nd bag of gumbo veggies and more rice, to extend the recipe. This would still give each person enough chicken. Or simply double the recipe.

Serve immediately. Approx. 6 servings.

Audio Dramas Update – 2015-01

Semi-Update:

I am still waiting to hear back on news regarding Star Trek: Shadows of Tyranny, the audio drama in which I play Mirror Chekov. They were supposed to premiere today, but no news yet. I haven’t heard back since early this week. Hoping it’s only a hiccup and they get back to me. Also hoping it’s on track for this weekend, as that hasn’t changed as far as I know. Candidly, I liked the first episode script and thought the second episode script was weaker. I hope the further scripts will be better. I’m looking forward to seeing them. I was cast as a regular, so I’m in it as long as ol’ Chekov lasts.

I turned in lines (finally got the retakes finished) for another audio episode still in planning / pre-production. This was an alien character for a known species, but as I got into it, and as I did the lines again, I had several realizations about doing an alien accent like that, which will go into a post on my blog this weekend. I only realized that after doing the retakes, though. So, live and learn. I don’t know at all when that will enter actual production and release. It’s for an audio drama that went on a long hiatus, and now may come back with both new and some old members behind it.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year’s Eve!

My day yesterday began with a most ambiguous arrival by message cylinder. One was quite sure for a while that perhaps one’s financial situation was very badly in error, a mistake on the part of the sender, or else a most infortuitous change in its situation of some kind.

After wondering how I could (at all) survive such an outcome, great calamity, dread, and near panic…one calmed down and resolved to take the beast by the tail, to call and find out what in the lowest mahen heck was going on. One did not expect to discover this or get to speak to a real, live person before a holiday.

However, there was an intrepid and congenial and intelligent young lady on duty, and prompt, and one was quite, quite surprised to get quick and smart answers to one’s (rather stunned) questions. One is sitll extremely grateful to have encountered a smart worker, as one has too often encountered the opposite at times.

The young lady looked things over and gave a very satisfactory and inexplicably fortunate (for one) outcome. One is assured, however, that this was likely a one-time adjustment, and that one’s monthly proceeds might not increase any; and further, that if any further adjustment occurred, both positive or negative change was possible. However, the item one had received, in one’s favor, was not in error, most astonishingly; though one had not received any message cylinder with any missive explaining or announcing this eventuality.

One had further questions, to be sure of what was going on. One received good, courteous, thorough explanations. One thanked the young woman profusely. One remained quite stunned the rest of the day, having gone from expectation of extreme catastrophe to equally unanticipated good fortune.

Once the item is cleared, one may pay off some debts, and one need not worry about keeping one’s home for the coming year. One may possibly have certain repairs done. One may actually put into savings for a while. One shall have sufficient time, one earnestly hopes, in order for other income to begin, from font production still in progress, or from other things, such as possibly ebooks or audio work.

So…one is still quite, quite overcome. For the first time in years, one has breathing room for a while. It is not an absolute nor a permanent solution. It only takes care of things for a while. But the effect is quite, quite needed.

Meanwhile, current production has been having some mild upswing in inspiration and productivity. One is continuing to learn, at least, and to create, which is much better this month than had been. So one has a good chance, perhaps, of making the most of one’s good fortune.

So…this has one very much in relieved good spirits. Never mind that the unexpected result will be mostly or completely taken up by paying off some things and perhaps a repair or two. But those, one could not have otherwise done in a great many months. So even though more temporary, it is still…most greatly appreciated. It is…whether it’s random chance or a blessing, one no longer cares to guess such things. But it was most needed and will be very well used and appreciated.

Just…unimaginable for such a positive change to have occurred. But so, so needed, and so very welcome.

So…one goes into the New Year in a much better situation than one has had in some years, and one is both glad and yet still astonished and not quite able to fathom it.

Happy New Year, to all and sundry. Here’s hoping things will improve for everyone in the coming year.

Here’s also hoping all will find someone special, friends, new family, loved ones, a partner, pets, with which to share and enjoy life, as one is still convinced this is a needed and welcome thing. One wishes to find same also, as one remains too lacking in these matters.

Nappy New Year, peace and prosperity and love, for these three are in too short supply amongst all humankind, and are to be cherished and encouraged when so rarely found.