end of elife

Back in the mid-1990s I was relatively young, fast, clear-sighted, and happily riding a wave of innovation. Work was designing web pages, crafting illustrations, developing any sort of visual educational resource. Design work was often interrupted by people needing help with graphics related issues: I can’t see the changes. I can’t open a file. It won’t print. I don’t have that menu… Even after some co-workers retired, they’d call for a reminder or guidance through new issues. I had old versions of most of my software that I could run from disk so we could use the same tools while trouble shooting together. It was part of the work, but undeniably satisfying. What usually ran through my mind behind the voice I tried to keep calm and non-judgemental were muttered questions: “why don’t you upgrade your system? Why don’t you upgrade your software? Why don’t you just use the current, recommended browser?”

A classic sick Mac in a walker.As I got ready for retirement in 2012 I bought a large, powerful laptop and a Wacom tablet to steer it with. For software, I went with the recently released Adobe CS6 Master Suite. It included apps I didn’t need, like DreamWeaver; others that I hadn’t used quite yet, like After Effects; and my workhorses, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, and InDesign. I always picked up the newest release of those apps as soon as they were available and I was determined to continue updating. Life was good, I did personal work, launched my domain, and continued to read extensively to stay in touch. A few months after my departure I read the news that Adobe was going to change from their 18-month numbered release cycle of boxed software to a Creative Cloud model requiring monthly internet verification and constant updating. I’d just relocated, was able to buy fast internet access for the first time, and I realized how fleeting that access could be. Access to authorize CC software on what might become a desktop computer would be impossible. Unavailable. Unaffordable. I opted out. CS6∞

Life was great and everything worked really well. Apple released an OS update — Mavericks? the car that blew up? —  and the word was that CS6 apps didn’t all function perfectly. I couldn’t take the risk; I held off updating till I could be sure. Everything was still great. Then Yosemite was released and about that time I started to get “Service Battery” warnings. Everything seemed fine, but Apple Care, still my umbrella for a few more months, suggested I take my laptop to a local Mac-Approved service center. I did and they were great. Their diagnosis condemned my practice of fully discharging then recharging my laptop’s battery every day. It had unnecessarily taken my laptop battery to its 1000-charge end. I was told I didn’t have to do that with mac batteries anymore, got a new battery (and keyboard!), and was offered an OS upgrade, too. I explained about my software and the tech told me he understood — he was running an iMac on Snow Leopard.

I had hoped that Adobe would publish an early version of the CC software on disk. Something less than current, something not updatable, but available for sale. Something that I could buy and replenish my system. I didn’t have the hope anymore.

Things start to get fuzzy for me about this time; I was lightheaded and disoriented. El Capitan appeared and it was too much for Adobe. Adobe stopped all CS6 updates and bug fixes and I stopped reading everything from Adobe. Safari had been my internet lifeline, but my websites started putting up notices when I landed on their pages: my version of Safari was not going to be supported anymore, please upgrade. I stopped reading anything from Apple. Twitter would only show me the mobile version of my page. Videos wouldn’t load. I switched to Chrome as my default but pretty soon, a banner appeared telling me my version of Chrome would soon be unsupported. Amazon Prime told me only Safari would work for video. Firefox was the last browser standing, then Firefox, too, upgraded beyond my ability to follow. No upgrade was available for any browser I had still running on Mountain Lion; video windows winked out all over the internet.

Finally in these last days, if I stay off of the internet, if I launch my creative applications and immerse myself in digital work, everything is responsive again, effective and stable. I am young, fast and life is good.

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Granddaughter in a snow fort surrounded by imaginary characters.

A fun time for me in both participating in the encampment and doing the final photo illustration.

We went to the field across the street, dragging our sled, looking for bad guys to throw snowballs at. The “CDA” was the latest bunch of baddies, straight out of Monsters, Inc. Sledding was rough, though. Even walking was difficult. The four inches of powder had an inch of icy crust on top that broke apart and snagged our feet. Instead of throwing powdery snowballs, we discovered that we could use the broken chunks of ice to build a wall. The wall soon became three walls, and that became our fort. As we worked, my granddaughter pointed out the characters that were helping. “There’s Judy Hop. She’ll help us” or “There goes George. We have to shave him.” All her regulars showed up, many didn’t make it into the picture. Maybe they will another time. Anna and Elsa were just off-camera playing with Pongo and all of the Dalmatian puppies. Later, on seeing the photo, my granddaughter said, “Why isn’t Bat Pat on my head?” and “Why does Sully have your coffee?” Good questions.

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candle light

Toasting marshmallows by candle.

I had to share this holiday-ish image. We use mini marshmallows on toothpicks. I’m always within reach and blow out the candle if I have to get up. It’s lots of fun, and I think most of that comes from close participation.

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another coloring page

Black and white drawing of child reaching through a mail slot to pet a cat.

Again, I took way too long; started in June. I guess this was faster than the first, but still. The little guy is Skullboy. Known as “My spooky guy,” the folks at Jabebo let my granddaughter pick him out for her birthday. She loves him and loves to color- We’ll see how the two work out.

The Jabebo Studio is owned by some wonderful people!

Edit added:
Apparently while I was finishing this post, my granddaughter rendered her own version of Spooky Guy. Her mom just sent it to me; I love it!

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Pumpkin with a molded face.

I started making pumpkins with painted clay faces back in 1991. In several of those twenty-some years, I made as many as six for friends and colleagues. I thought faces on inanimate objects would be an interesting way to make a photo illustration. My first was an apple with a surprised look as it fell from a tree. Pumpkins were a natural follow-up; I made them at Halloween for clients and for the bar at the restaurant I cooked for. Then Photoshop happened. Continuing to try to use the illustration idea in a world suddenly filled with easy digital perfection seemed silly, but the idea of a realistic pumpkin was still a lot of fun. The pumpkins rot away, leaving their painted clay faces. I think the impermanence of the piece adds to the fun. This is my return after several years of being too busy and I thought to take a few snapshots during the process. Not many. I hate taking pictures. But making the pumpkins is a lot of fun. I think I’ll enter this one in the Library’s pumpkin carving contest.

The process is straightforward: I push modeling clay onto a pumpkin and sculpt it into the shape I want. The clay gets finished with acrylic paint. Pretty simple. The faces have evolved, of course. I paint the eyes and teeth naturally for no reason other than I think they look good that way. They get finished with acrylic gloss medium. Everything else is painted with orange that’s mixed to match the pumpkin.

Edit added Nov 3:

It was a good fight, and we won! A tad worse for the battle, but folks usually poke and prod. Totally expected, though always a bit disheartening.

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Line drawing of Bob the Builder done by me and my granddaughter.

“Let’s draw Bob the Builder,” she said. We draw a lot, but I always think it’s not enough. I grab pens and paper and we lay on the floor.

“How’s this?” I say after drawing his head.

“It needs legs.”

“Okay. You draw ’em.”

So she did. She usually crawls over onto my picture anyway. You can look at kid’s drawings, but watching them work, and getting to hear any patter that takes place is wonderful. The dark balls at the end of the legs? “I need to give him toes,” she said as she colored them in. “There you go.”

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coloring page

Black and white drawing of child leaving the local donut shop.

This took way too long; not so sure about completing a coloring book. Eye surgery was part of the delay, but still, a simple drawing shouldn’t take months. When my granddaughter saw it, she asked, “Is that me? Why am I all white?” I guess I need to print a few and let her color it.

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different way of saying

A coiled garden hose on the side of a building.

My just-turned-three granddaughter and I were walking down the alley. She looked over at the side of the VFW and said, “They have a very nice water rope.” Well, yes, I guess they do.

I asked her mom if she’d ever heard the phrase; it sounded pretty unique to me. She hadn’t, but added that Hailey has seen and held fire hoses. Maybe a hose is a fireman’s tool? Regardless, I like water rope. It has a bit of poetry to it. Or science.

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a music video

Man do I hate taking pictures.

I’ve enjoyed my granddaughter’s one man band for several days now. It just started this week: she turned on the electronic rhythm, picked up a plastic maraca and harmonica, and started playing. Last week she just danced. It’s a pretty cool development. I don’t think she’s ever seen anything similar. Maybe there was Goofy as a one-man-band in Mickey’s Circus. The concert happened spontaneously several times and I finally thought to grab the iPad and capture a few seconds.

My problem is that I’d rather watch her than take pictures. Especially moving pictures that require I step even further out of the moment. You see, I can tell that for a three-year-old this is pretty cute; after all, I’ve watched it all week. But this video really pains me. I think she may have stopped because I shifted in my chair. Then I stopped shooting. When she stood and looked at me – right at me – she said, “How do you like my music?”

It was a wonderful moment. Missed by the camera. My finger was touching the button as she started to speak. I can’t see the video without being annoyed with it. And really, that filming process and the result kept me from fully enjoying the concert and aftermath. Damn, I hate cameras. Maybe it will be different once everyone is seeing life through their phone, and they’re always on.

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thinking about social media

A flock of twitter birdsI’m on twitter as @drs18; I’ve been using the service since 2007. I use facebook, too, but after the vitriol of the 2012 election, I use it only to gather information (from “liked” pages) and see pictures my daughter posts of my granddaughter. Twitter is more tolerable and crafting a stream that’s helpful or interesting is easy enough. I confess to following people and topics on Medium, too. Occasionally I get flashes of insight into value.

I saw a twitter post that linked to a longer article, 7 Life-Changing Books to Read This Summer. It seemed easy enough to look into and maybe a book in the short list would be worth a bit of time. That twitter post linking to the list had 36 “shares” (36 people reposted the post as is to their own friends) and 83 likes. The actual article with the list was already a month old and had over 5000 shares. I skimmed down the page; there was a nice stock photo at the top and clean cover shots of each of the seven books. Each, too, had a two paragraph synopsis. All seemed pretty standard but one really caught my eye: The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters. The only link to more info was the cover image. I clicked it thinking I might buy or at least find at the library, but it went to the wrong book. Yeah, I could search amazon for the title but that glitch just galls me. Hypertext can make it so easy to refer to something. I posted a response on twitter directly to the author and the host- two people who were targeted when I hit “reply”. An hour later the author “liked” my reply. The hosting site never responded. Obviously, the author didn’t read my post or quite understand what it was saying when she “liked” the fact that there was a misdirecting link in her article. I guess that isn’t surprising when I realized over 5036 readers didn’t notice or didn’t care. Nor did the readers who read those posts.

So, was that really anyone ? Or was it a case of everyone mindlessly reposting something: “Hey this is something you might like. Something I’m intelligent enough and hip enough to care about. I didn’t actually read it. And I didn’t click on any of the links. But you might like it just on my say-so. And BTW, it says so much about me and my lifestyle…”

After several days the link was still incorrect so I went to the personal contact page for the article’s author and used the contact form to point out the link to the wrong book. Several days later I received an email from her saying thanks- the editor did it but I’ll let them know. When I checked the next day, the link was fixed. All that time, all those people, and not one was engaged enough to find or report the error. 5.1k shares of the article. 36 shares of the twitter post. All meaningless.

I read an article on Quartz yesterday. Psychology shows it’s a big mistake to base our self-worth on our professional achievements. I mean really read it. It’s very good, and it was very satisfying in that it came to me shortly after I watched a youtube talk by an old colleague. The colleague’s talk was okay, but something about it annoyed me. The Quartz article helped me formulate my own thoughts on why. The kicker is that the truly interesting Quartz article is written by Emily Esfahani Smith, the author of the book that I wanted to find after seeing it in a list and failing to find it. An intereting coincidence. I need to buy her book. And read it.

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