Snowmageddon 2 Aftermath

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Jan 292014

So after all of that frantic forecasting of dire events happening, and predictions of huge amounts of snow burying us all in our homes…

… we got an inch of snow here. And it’s already melting.

I feel bad for the folks stuck in Atlanta and other places further south, that don’t have as much equipment or experience dealing with this kind of stuff, but here it’s a non-event event. Maybe farther east it’s a bigger deal (they got a little more snow than we did), but it’s hardly the “Snow event of a generation” as a certain weather forecasting cable channel hyped it as. The same channel kept saying we were going to get 3-5 inches, when the snow had already moved out of the area.

For the record, the National Weather Service office in Raleigh nailed the event perfectly. Their estimates weren’t as exciting, though, and wouldn’t pump up ratings, so just about nobody went with their more conservative forecast, which was spot on.

Besides, I already had the “Snow event” of my generation in January, 2000, when we got 20+ inches of snow here. The forecast that night? 3-6 inches. So we were all kind of stunned when it just kept falling and falling, and piling up and piling up. It took more than a week to get back to normal.

This stuff? We’ll be back to 70-80% normal by tomorrow. 100% by Friday.

Hardly the “event of a generation.” At least not here.

But if you’re stuck somewhere, it’s closer to the truth, isn’t it?

I’ve been there, too. On my way back to college one spring, I got stuck in Norfolk for one night, then in Charlotte for 3-4 days as I tried desperately to get back to school at UNC. U wound up having to drive across the state on icy, snowy roads in an old rear-wheel drive car that was itching to careen into a ditch. (It didn’t.)

So those stuck out there in this mess have my sympathies.

Eyes on Fire

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Sep 262013

Two words you never want to hear from your eye doctor: viral conjuntivitis.

Trust me on this.

Imagine your eyes are on fire, and, in order to put out the fire, you decide to pour a beach full of sand on them. Now they are hot and gritty. Hmm. It needs something else. How about rinsing it all off with alcohol and gasoline, so now they sting, too? Might as rub some itching powder around your eyes, and just light the whole mess on fire.

That’s what this week has been like. Not really fun.

Interestingly, it’s almost 2 years to the day that I had just about the same thing happen while I was in Tokyo. The drugs there worked a little faster. The medicine I got works, but not nearly fast enough for my liking.

To be fair, the burning and gritty sensation is going away, but they still randomly itch like hell.

Anyway, my eye trouble has kept me away from the computer. As they’re getting better, I’m able to do more work, but I have to take frequent breaks.

I have a cold mask that works wonders. I should have bought two, so I could keep one cold while I use another, but this is good enough.

Raise the Mast!

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Aug 092013

I spent a few hours creating a new masthead for the site today. I’ve been wanting to do this sort of old-fashioned mechanical arrival/departure sign motif for a long time, but hadn’t found a good way to make it work. I came across this tutorial on how to make a flip clock in Photoshop.

Applying it to make a mechanical signboard wasn’t too difficult.

The only problem for me was getting Suffusion to line it up, center it, and link it to the home page properly. I spent about 2 hours wrestling with it, trying to find answers, because Suffusion’s control panel is a bit disorganized.

Setting a Clickable Linked Mast in Suffusion

First, have an image ready for your header. I needed a 1000 x 85 pixel image for mine. I also created a 1000 x 85 pixel blank image, too.

Step 1: Go to the Dashboard>> Appearance Menu>> Header. (Not in Suffusion yet, we’re still in WordPress!) DON’T select an image. Go down to Header Text. Check “Show header text with your image.” Why? Because this will create an anchor tag in the header for the image we wind up using. Also, make sure that a text color of some kind has been selected.

Step 2: Go to Suffusion Options>> Skinning>> Header. Select “Custom styles” in the first box (otherwise nothing will change.)

Step 3: For Header Background Image, select your BLANK header, and upload it.

Step 4: Set your tiling. I set mine to “Do not repeat.”

Step 5: Set the background image position. I used “Middle of the Page.”

Step 6: We’re STILL in the Suffusion >> Skinning>> Header menu. Go down to Header Foreground Image, and upload the image you want to use.

Step 7: Click on Save, and save the changes.

I added a few other things to my header, because I like it this way:

Step 8: Go to Suffusion Options >> Other Graphical Elements >> Header. For “Header Layout Style,” I selected “Header is outside the main wrapper, its background and contents are aligned with the main wrapper.” Because I like how it looks.

Step 9: For “Blog Title/ Header Alignment,” I chose “center.”

Step 10: For Description / Sub-Header Alignment, I chose “center” again.

Step 11: For Description / Sub-Header Vertical Alignment, relative to header, I chose “Below the header text.”

Step 12: Finally, to get rid of the Search box that always shows up in the header, go to Suffusion Options >> Sidebars >> Right Header Widgets, and select “Hide the search.” Voila! The search box is gone, no longer cluttering up the header image.

More importantly, when you click on the image at the top, you’ll go back to the home page! Just like a normal website!

Suffusion does some things that annoy me a bit, but generally it’s been a good template system to work with. It just has its own quirks that require some learning and experimenting with.

Progress Report

 Art, Japanese Language, Music, News, Photography, Technology  Comments Off on Progress Report
Jul 252013

So I start a lot of projects on this blog, and some get finished, some don’t. I use David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” approach to constantly examine what I want to do vs. what I can do. GTD is a lifesaver in that regard. It helps keep me focused when sometimes it feels like I’m being torn apart by ducks.

So here are some short updates on projects I’ve been wanting to work on/finish.

The Grammar Songs

I discovered that in order to make it work, I need to improve both my Japanese and my music production skills. I studied music from 4th grade all the way through college, so I know a lot about performing music, but I don’t know as much as I should about composing and producing it, which are two entirely different skill sets.

I’ve been using Coursera to work on the production side, and now I need to work more on the composition side. And when it comes to writing lyrics, that’s the result of daily writing exercises.

My Japanese is pretty good, but it’s not quite at that level yet, so I’m working on it. Same goes for melodies. I’m looking for a way to get more music theory under my belt.

Japanese Studies

Those are going pretty well. JOI makes it easy to load up on classes for grammar, conversation, and vocabulary when I need to, and they meet my level, which is a godsend. Being an advanced student in a room full of beginners can be helpful sometimes, but it’s hard to make progress that way. So I’m glad JOI has classes that meet my needs. That’s going well so far.

Also, because of work, I work with Japanese people on a pretty regular basis. The only downside is that since we’re in the US, we mostly speak English and follow US business customs. Not all the time, but a lot of it. Those times when I need to slip into Japanese Mode it comes in really handy.

3D and 2D Art

Well… that had to get put on the “I’ll do it after the JLPT” pile. There’s just too much going on right now, and too many projects require my attention, so I find it’s best to whittle it down to what I can handle. I still want to get into it, but I need to find the right time/place to do it.

I sketch whenever I can. I’m not very good at it, but it’s relaxing, and it’s fun. It also helps me with my photography, and my eye for how I want to compose photos.

Where ARE the Photos?

That’s another thing that’s being put on the shelf for now. I have a giant pile of photos to edit, and just no time to do it. Editing requires big chunks of time for me, and unless I’m getting paid to do it, I just do it when I can. I’m going through the older stuff and gradually adding it, though. I don’t know of a good way to bump old posts up to the top of the site just because they have new material. Maybe I’ll create a new tag?


Well, ever since my class in Raleigh ended, I’ve been going to my usual calligraphy classes. Before the classes in Raleigh ended, though, I spent some time studying Edo-moji, and that was a lot of fun. Now I’m trying to decide what to do next in calligraphy/shodo.

Other Site Stuff

I recently moved the site over to Suffusion, and I like it as far as CMS/frameworks go. I can’t really call it a template, because it’s more like a framework you have to set up and tweak yourself to get it to really sing. My current design is a little Spartan, but I’m from the Jakob Nielsen school of web design. It needs to be easy to read, and accessible first above everything.

Sprucing Things Up

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Jul 252008

I know I haven’t posted anything in a while, and it’s because I’ve been extremely busy. I also haven’t been traveling much, other than to the beach and mountains, so I didn’t have anything interesting to add. Or if I did, I was just too busy to do it. But now I do have some things I want to post about, so I’ll start adding them soon.

Some of the stuff I want to cover:

I want to go into some detail about how I’ve been approaching my Japanese language study. It’s a non-traditional, non-standard method that has been working well for me so far, based on some techniques other people have discussed, with modifications to suit my learning style, time, and pace. I figure I can also go through the uncomfortably large pile of Japanese language study books I’ve managed to acquire over the years, and share my opinions. (Whatever those are worth.)

I figure I should also go into some better detail about traveling in Japan, although I think you can get a lot from the stuff I already wrote. For example, I can’t remember if I posted the whole list of trains I took, how much they cost, and how much I saved by using a Japan Rail Pass. I also want to clean up some older posts and centralize links about things like getting train timetables, hotels, maps, and the like.

But first and foremost, I need to clean up the blog’s design a bit. I just sort of threw this thing together while I was traveling in Japan. I didn’t want to take time away from traveling to spend hours squinting at a computer screen, so the template is very… uhh… “retro,” I guess. Yeah, retro. (And I don’t like it like this.)

So if the site acts a little odd, or looks a little odd, then it’s because I’m probably messing around with a template somewhere.

To make up for the silence, a photo of the moon at Wrightsville Beach, NC:

Moon Over Wrightsville Beach

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