Sunday, December 23, 2012

How biodegradable is PLA plastic?

PLA plastics have come up often as the more eco conscious choice for 3d printed plastics.  With plastics having such a bad rap (petroleum based, some release toxins) I had to look into it a bit more my self.  I searched reprap forums read articles.  This article is the best I found and it covers the perspective of a high volume manufacturer using PLA plastics.  The article doesn't cover any offgases released while processing PLA or when it comes in contact with an object at it's melting point.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

3d printer purchase

From Dave Durant and Chopmeister

I've requested samples from Ultimaker and MakerBot to see the quality first and and feel the texture of the final print.  From my research temperature adjustments and changing the layer height can drastically improve the quality of 3d prints.  The major issue I have is being able to see lines on the print.  The end results should be as smooth as a baby's butt.  I don't want to be sanding down plastic miniture animals at 1 in the morning!

Ultimaker prompty responded and will be sending it to me free of charge.  Makerbot sent me a link to some form looked like it was just made.  Freshly made food is great!  A fresh google document form as a response to a sample request looks like they are trying to make me think they'll send me a sample.  I haven't spent any money yet, but when I do, it would be nice to know whichever 3d print support staff I choose will be there to help if I can't find answers on a forum or on my own.

I did find a blog post with some hard numbers on the layer thickness and a picture of the final 3d print, and the Ultimaker looks superb.  Several photos later I my jaw dropped at the accuracy of the Ultimaker at high speeds.

Here's the post I read.

Returning to the story

Neil Strauss, multiple ny times best seller said these words during a 2 day seminar with Tim Ferriss.
"You'll find you have a passion towards the things you were doing when you were 10 or 11."  

What was I doing at 10 years old?  It was a dark time for me.  My parents just divorced and really there was no space to stop life (school, church) and process it.  I had to keep going.  But no human can suffer loss or any life change without trying to compensate.  Without trying to regain the in-the-moment innocence and curiosity of a child.

So I played tons of video games.  Until playing was instinctual.  At the time, Tetris and Street Fighter were the two games I enjoyed mastering.

I also programmed code in a language called BASIC to draw parallel lines.  Sounds boring, but I got a thrill out of writing code to draw parallel lines.  Eventually I got to the point where I didn't have to draw each line, but could do 8 times more parabolic curves with only 12 lines of code.  This didn't come out of nowhere.  I had a friend, named Bill, who was truly gifted at anything he did and as he skimmed his attention across basketball, programming, car repairs (couldn't follow him here), my curiosity for these things ignited.

The other thing I did was play basketball.  Again immersion to the point of instinct.  Practice became rituals.

My mentor was the one who guided me through all these things.  He was an angel who stepped in my life when I could've gone down several wrong paths.  His name is Mr. Crews and he pushed me to write code that did more with less.  He pushed me to bet Tetris high scores and he recommended an excellent technique for practicing basketball after observing me play -- shoot around the basket at a fixed distance then step away from the hoop and repeat.

To top it off, Mr. Crews would take me out to lunch on Wednesday nights.  His generosity and willingness to teach and share will always be appreciated.

When thinking about these things, and the nature of negative events to slow me down until I consider quitting whatever it is I'm doing, I realized my 2013 creations/goals should line up closely with the things I did around 6th grade.  I'm not going to solely do things related to video games, basketball, and programming, but my creations will be heavily influenced by these things. I hope to exercise this sort of story creation connection the year to come.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

4 Christmas Cards left to send out.

I think I've sent a total of 30ish Christmas + Thank You cards.  It is by far the most cards I've ever sent out and each one was watercolor painted and there were no copies.  Last night I worked on another silver glitter card and painted a jeep on rocks while sitting next to my daughter, Maya, who was making watercolor hand prints and shapes on scrap paper.

She has seen me on the craft table several nights now painting these cards and loves copying me whenever she can join in.  It's wonderful to see her try new things and was glad to let hand print a few cards.  Most of her daycare teachers and a couple friends Oregon, both just had a baby girl, got a "Mayan" hand print.

The cards were painted and shipped so quickly I don't think I have many pics of them.  I did take one picture of a request from a friend to paint a squirrel handling a yo-yo.  It was a perfect request.  Taking something pretty innocent and giving it a playful spin.

This whole business of making cards and sending them out to people at the end of the year was out of guilt and gratitude.  I have been more like a recovering zombie parent in the years leading up to 2012 where I was barely able to tumble down the front steps and drive to work due to being sleep deprived.  Young kids will do that to you.  Now I feel the creative juices slowly flowing again.  Inspiration is making its way from the distant mountain top down to me and I have the power to do something with it.  All those years of getting Christmas cards and squirrel them away on the mantel without a return thank you or similar card are behind me and I took a moment and think about the good things of 2012.

All the invitations to peoples houses, visits to our house, the meals, the kind words, the laughter + time shared...  All the fellow parents who had enough cheer and sympathy to help being a parent be a little easier....  Family members who visited, but won't be seen for the holidays...  All these people will get a thank you.  The kindness shown over time really does lift my spirits and I hope to be grateful for it and give it to others in-kind.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Paper Folds to Jewelry

Here are my designs 3d printed in stainless steel.  These aren't the final product pics, but you'll get an idea how I went from the folded paper design (original set of rough drafts) to the final result.  These will all be pendants and I goofed on setting the ring in the proper orientation.  I've ordered brass split rings to deal with this since the stainless steal finish is slightly brassy.

The boxes have arrived, and I'm just waiting for the chains, and clasps before I post the final result on  The entire process felt very good.  I enjoyed folding paper for a few months to figure out what designs worked.  I also enjoy setting everything up so a future customer can open the box,wear it, and continue saving the world.

The 3d printers used for these pieces are from i.materialise in Belgium and it took around 3 weeks to go from design to doorstep.  I hope to shorten this time by either making these by hand or ordering via 3d print months in advance.

Friday, November 30, 2012

3d Printer Purchase

I visited NYC in June and used a 3d printer at a hackerspace for the first time.  Before that moment, my experience with 3d printing was very much at a distance.  I did research on buying one, then stopped when a very smart mechanical engineer friend told me it was a bad idea.  3d prints I sent to customers were primarily through and occasionally through

Actually seeing a 3d printer in person, isn't as sexy as watching someone hand craft a really funky scarf.  This experience doesn't really compare to that at all.  It is more like speaking something into existence and watching your words be built 1 millimeter at a time.

There are downsides to 3d printing like having to stop a print when you see it isn't structurally sound or needing to file down prototypes, and even making sure everything is level takes quite a bit of work, but the end result is slightly warm and quite beautiful.  It would be similar to holding a newborn baby if you happened to be printing a plastic toy baby.

The huge epiphany came when Dave, owner of hack manhattan (only hackerspace in NYC that welcomed me in, let me use their gear for free), asked me how much I was paying to print stuff at shapeways.
Dave was a quiet british guy and very nice, but he almost spit his sandwich into the window when I told him typical prices for materials.  Then he told me how much printing my 3 small items cost.  It wasn't more than a dollar.

Granted he had to calibrate all surfaces to be level and fix some wiring the previous user had left, but when everything was right, the process and price were undeniably impressive.

Even with those low prototype prices, the cost of plastic spool can be reduced even more once a decent way to turn plastic pellets (or recyclable plastic shards) into a spool of plastic.

It's also good to know that some plastic is biodegradable, carbon-neutral, and based from fermented corn starch.

I'm not going to rely solely on this machine to make product, but I will use it to divert more time into packaging and figuring out how to making things people want.  This may even be a starting point for new exploration others have already shown is very beautiful.

I haven't purchased it yet, but I'm lining up my resources to place an order for the Ultimaker before the year ends.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Think Geek's Cyber Therapy & Christmas Card Hoarding

Check this out.  If you are openly geeky, fresh out of the basement geek, or still video gaming geek then you will appreciate's clearance section on this fine Cyber Monday.

Since I started my self blinding technique of playing every video game I saw till the wee hours of the night I've been a geek.  Although seeing the Starwars Disc trilogy on Laser Disc definitely pushed me to geek out pretty early in life.

I am not a huge consumer, but the Monday's after a Thanksgiving holiday are hard.  My wife was just saying how we could use the next week off.  Seeing thinkgeeks humorous products and reading every last description is nothing short of therapy for the Monday blues.  It's enough to lift my spirits and remind me I need to get to those Merry Christmas + Happy New Year cards I've started.

This whole business of writing up winter holiday cards and sending them has never been my cup of tea.  Normally we'll receive 20 or so from our good friends and family and we've never gotten to the point were we are sending anything back!  Seem rude?  Probably.  I've finally mustered up the creative stamina to put together a bunch of Christmas cards using some 140lb Arches water color paper with winsor & newton watercolors.  I'll be making paintings all sorts of sizes with this, but I see the thank you cards as a warm up to the pieces I will sell.

I painted a bonsai Juniper tree for my good friends from Oregon, and some pine branches for others.  Eventually when I'm done I'll proceed to actually write something inside these cards to warm cheer up those who read them and don't throw them out or loose them.

Writing something meaningful is a strange difficult process.  My card receiving list started with people who have invited me to their house or who've I've invited over.  Then I thought about those who I've done church related activities with.  And the list grew when I added those who have done hobby related stuff with me or given me really good advice related to crafts.  I've also added cards for my kids teachers and those faithful few who have sent me cards year after year knowing they may not get a response.

All of this thinking through the year and taking time to thank those who've been a part of my life, makes me realize one thing.  Where did these thinking resources come from?  After all I can't even remember the last time I sent out Holiday cards.  The answer is simple.  It's from my kids.  They have been potty trained and each year they are becoming more and more independant curious little kids.  They are helping out more and the invisible weight of responsibility my wife and I feel gets lighter and lighter.  The phase of our lives where we were to exhausted to handle glassware is slowly passing... ever so slowly.

There are still messes to clean up, but they are more infrequent.  The long cries are slowly changing over to polite requests and through all of this, the dark corridors of my mind --so often ignored-- are beginning to get air.  Starting with being a little more thankful of those who selflessly give me their time and looking at what has been going on outside the home around our family.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Glittery Octopus

I reconnected with my wife's uncle over a vacation in August by the beach and he filled me in on what he had been doing for the past 30 years. I'd seen evidence of his work around the house with a huge reel shiny silver wrapping paper and reels of silver paper with hearts cut out, but he told me much more and I was impressed with how detail oriented he needs to be. After all was said and done, I shot him an email weeks later and asked for some samples of glitter from his company. He sent them and I set them aside for several weeks.

The past few days, I've been very absent minded and day dreamy, which is a sign I'm fighting a cold. This illness has slowed me down enough to review items I had laying around... 3d printed items to be specific that were closed up or sitting on a shelf. This Octopus was supposed to be the 2nd of whimsical animal hybrids. There was supposed to be another piece added, but the design never quite worked out. But it sat there for months and finally I had an idea! Why not paint the octopus and toss glitter on it?!? Clearly the cold was progressing to my brain!

I continued with the idea. Figuring the glitter across the 8 tentacles and the bulb shaped head would present plenty of surfaces for glitter to cling to and ricochet light. I was spot on.

It was as though the octopus magnetized microscopic stars onto it's body and every way it turned little white shimmers appeared. Mind you, before this glitter was one aggravation I did my best to avoid. My kids lovely crafts would often leave glitter trails in my car and on my clothing and I'd show up at work looking like I just had a all night craft party. This glitter was by far much different and worked exactly as I intended. To continue with this and fit in with the season I picked up some eye hole screws from a local hardware store and took a ribbon used to bundle my daughters clothing. Before I knew it it was done and I just needed to get pictures taken + think about packaging.

I am truly bummed out with how little conservation land is available to Massachusetts residents, but I do have one spot in my town. I went to the closest conservation land I knew and was reminded of it's size by the many houses I could see beyond the trees. I decided to stay away from the typical path I've taken and went south through the woods. Several trees had bowed to Hurricane sandy and stayed there. I kept seeing these trees and nearby there were several branches I picked up and reused for when I would need to show the ornament hanging.

These are the other product pictures.

And here's where you can pick up the glittery Octopus ornament.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I was this close to voting for Rosanne Barr. After all, she did show me the proper way to raise a family with attitide. I thought about voting for Dr. Jill Stein, because I have a secret crush on her. Don't worry, I already told my wife and she knew I would like her hoary hair. I knew who I would vote for before any debates or ads, because I checked This morning I woke to see facebook telling me several of my friends had birthday's on this election day. My wife told me to get out and vote while she got the kids ready for daycare. I would pick them up tonight so she could vote. Our polls are set in the middle of a cozy senior center facility where several of the seniors I've seen here and there man the sign ups, check-outs and process the ballots. I walked in saw the candidates and almost checked the first candidate on the list! Silly me! I scanned all candidate names for all offices before placing my vote. Funny to see that legalizing marijuana has returned in Massachusetts. It's probably been returning for every year I have voted. I slipped my completed ballot into the machine that seemed rather effective and archaic and the lady spun a handle allowing the machine to digested my votes. I don't know what will come of this election, but I do enjoy having an easy way to vote in person.

Take Control

René Jules Lalique

I'm reading a few books on jewelry from the 1900-1950 to see what path's jewelry designers took and find some new inspiration. In Masterpieces of French jewelry, the name Lalique pops up over and over again. I read up on his history and he really crosses the line between nature and abstract forms. Sometimes his pieces are creepy, but other times they teleport you to a parallel dimension.
Links: Masterpieces of French jewelry

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cowboys and Indians

Watched some of the video without sound.  It looks like a good video.  Somewhere in the comments was this statement..

The other day I saw an “Indigenous American” fellow dressed up like a white man; wearing a collared shirt and slacks, he was clearly being racist and I am highly offended.
I laughed when I thought about this.  I've seen all sorts of people wear baggy pants, button up shirts, hats backwards, doo rags, suits, dresses, pants.  It all becomes irrelevant after a while.  The racial associations blur and anyone can wear anything without feeling like a piece of clothing belongs to a certain type of people.

It seems like these artist were going for a specific feel in their video and I think they achieved it.  It was supposed to be a more primal western and I think it worked.  What they probably didn't anticipate is viewers negative racial associations with their look, which forced them to take down the video.

We are on the heels of Halloween so this could be seen as Halloween costumes, but it was taken to be much more.

No Doubt - Looking Hot (Official video) from Flochjan on Vimeo.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Recipe: Sweet Potato Crisp

- 4 cups of sweet potatoes
- 2 cups of all purpose flour
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup of melted butter
- 2 tsp of salt
- 4 tsp of cinnamon
- 2 cups of chopped pecans
- 2 cups of fluff or marshmellows
- Lemon juice

1) Peel then boil, bake, or pressure cook the sweet potatoes until they are soft. Roast pecans in as much butter as necessary or around 1/4 cup. Mix pecans and sweet potatoes together.

2) Preheat an oven to 350°F.

3) Mix the flour, brown sugar, butter, salt, and cinnamon in a separate bowl.

4) Bake half of the mix from step 3 for 10 minutes on a greased cookie sheet.

5) Add these to the sweet potatoes from step 1 and mix to a smooth paste:
2 Tbs of butter,
2 tsp of brown sugar,
1/2 tsp of salt
optional (lemon juice, milk or heavy cream to taste)

6) In a bake-safe bowl with 3-4 inch walls and a diameter of 7 inches make a 2 inch layer of sweet potato mix from step 5. Cover the sweet potato mix with a 1 inch layer of cooked crisp from step 4. Add a 1 inch layer of fluff or marshmellow on the crisp.

7) Repeat the layers of step 6 until the last layer of crisp is an inch from the top of the bowl.

8) Bake the sweet potato crisp for 15 minutes or until the top is a golden brown.

This recipe is great hot or cold the next morning.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tricks & Treats

After work yesterday I set out to go trick or treating with my family, a neighbor, and her adopted daughter.
We stayed within a couple blocks of our house and accosted those we saw.  Porch-lights are the universal symbol for candy inventory levels.  Those wise enough to install a dimmer, help us parents steer towards the larger candy stockpiles.

My son is a modern hero who has super hero suits for The Flash, Iron Man, Spiderman, and Captain America.  Times are tough so he takes on the other powers for extra work.  My daughter, my precious, dressed as Elmo and could've easily plundered all candy bowls with her super powerful cuteness.

After all was said and done.  After the strange monster babies in white cradles where behind us and the suited gorillas slipped off with their inflatable banana's, we returned home.  Our neighbors daughter and my son ran to the backyard and said something was very beautiful.  I was pretty sure the kids toys were in the shed and the dark hid our mediocre yard.  Then I looked up.  It was a clear view of the moon and  moonlight soaked clouds.  The sight was so simple and natural reminding me not all passing through the night
is scary.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Hoarest of Hairs

I'm currently playing 4 words with friends games and was recently forced to place the word hoar down.  I looked this up and it means a white-ish grey.  Like Gandalf the grey or white.

I've always said I'd rather go gray than go bald and going white would be entirely delightful.  What would it take to go white?

Moses met with God.  Gandalf the Grey had to fight a huge demon monster.  Heck even Obama hair is going light after being a President.

There is a pattern here.  It is the epic quest or unique experience granting the adventurer white frosty hair.

It is Halloween today and it is also my birthday.  It is a sad trend to see so many friends (and myself included) celebrate birthdays less and less as we get older.  Is life so bad we sweep years under a rug like some hidden habit?

Not only do we celebrate our kids birthdays, we sing + rejoice with them.  We invite their friends, and rumble with cheers when they blow out their candles in a single breath.  Breathing has never been so admired.  I would hate to tell my kids when they grow up, birthdays are only for children.  That life means less the more years you have.  This is absolutely false, but the busyness of schedules and lack of forethought make it seem to be true.

Well then.  I will use my imaginary powers to light 33 candles on a cake shaped like Mount Everest where we all stand at the base.  Up near the summit is a cloak of clouds.  Just past that I've sent up the candles with shirpas, and we all have to get to the top and use what breath we have left to blow out those candles.  May we make it to the top, rejoice, and savor our breaths along with the view.

My wish to you... to us, is that we find many epic journeys to grey our hairs (or keep them as is if that's what you prefer) and fill our hearts with stories to be told around the fire or at the K-cup machine.  I hope we are full of happiness and find crafts and trades to fill our time and tickle our minds.  May those who we are connected to get to see us at our best in simple and profound ways.

Happy Birthday to you.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Vector Illustrations

Loving all over inkscape lately.  Can't keep my hands off the stuff.

Here are some of my creations from that lovely software.

These are currently available via Society6.

Time off due to Hurricane Sandy

Besides hearing the howling wind and watching the trees bend, shake, and yield their branches there was no other evidence the edges of the hurricane came through our neighborhood.

For the most part I was with my kids.  The day job was closed and my kids daycare was closed as well.  My wife put in a few hours at work and I got the whole day to be with my kids.

I watched them hide from ghosts, play hide & seek, and eventually they came downstairs to chill with me by the fire.  I lit the fire twice and we set up a "tent city" around the fire and relaxed.

They have a new favorite activity involving jumping as high as possible and landing with all their weight on me -- whether I'm paying attention or not.  I was glad to be their landing pad, but the past couple days I've been more sore than usual.

I noticed, when my son and I stepped out for a quick chiropractor visit, my social interactions were very fluid.  I was thinking more about people than the things I need to take care of.  What was the catalyst?  What caused the balances to shift out versus in?  It had to be the day with my kids with their in-the-moment attitude and cheerful demeanor.  I'm truly thankful for my time with them.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Full of Pop

I'm a recovering hipster and still try my best to avoid main stream media news at all costs.

But the gangham style hype really caught my attention.  More to my resistance for things that are wildly successful.  So it has 500 million views.  Big whoop!  The truth is I need to just admit that I along with the other 500 million viewers have something in common.  We all like silly content.  Some enjoy dancing, but
seeing this guy Psy start a dance craze in the way he did is really entertaining.

Just to keep things in perspective other videos over or close to the 500 million mark are...

I've made this little Hamgang to commemorate Psy's success in pop history.  I am new to the pop art genre and normally would be running from it like a tough mudder athlete, but now-a-days I desperately seek comic relief.

It is the release from the drama and pressures of a dad with 2 kids and a full time job.  It helps me realize life is fleeting and obsession over the more grim aspects of life is fatal.  Having a sense of humor reminds me there is a path through a day where I can smile more and have meaningful conversations with people I see, versus hmmm say the robot greeting and dialog I've perfected "Hi. How are you doing? Good."

Society 6 has the tee, iPhone case, and print with this design over here.

Drink List from Cafe Meme

Let's pretend there's a cafe called Cafe Meme.  Whether you say meme like a dream or meme like baby doesn't matter.  At this cafe, all the drinks have names that play on popular internet meme's.  I know, you are  probably saying.  Ruben, you are freakin' insane.  I totally am.  But if this cafe did exist, this is what I think their drink list would look like.  You probably can tell I'm a former Starbucks barista.

There are some here I wouldn't have recognized, but I provided links for you to catch up.  If you get every single reference woop dee do to you.

Meme Links:

Double Rainbow -
Rick Roll -
Garden of your mind -

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Parent Teacher night

2012 © Ruben Brito
Last night I attended my first parent teacher night.  My wife has been to the others, but she wanted a break.  My son is 4 and my daughter is 2 so I did my best to make it to both teachers before the night was over.  They starting off by huddling the parents in the padded floor gym room and showed us a video of our kids during music, play, and craft activities.  There was a glimpse into how they learned to write a few letters.
My daughter was edited out of the video, but still managed to be in most of the video.

Afterwards, I met with my daughter's teacher with a group of other parents.  A lot of whom I've never seen before.  Apparently my daughter is famous among her peers and even greets her friends by caressing their cheeks in the morning.

My son, who hasn't fallen far from the tree, has two sides.  When an environment is new, he is quiet and retreats  inwards with the solace of his imagination.  When he is accustomed to his surroundings, a vibrant and enthusiastic side fuels him.  His teacher recommended I place my hand on his shoulder to get his attention when in imagination land.  She showed me exactly what to do, and her magical touch made me attentive.  I tried the same approach on my son, but nothing happened.

There was a strong feeling of hope after being exposed to the other worlds happening besides my own and outside my wife's work relationships.  These kids are alive, creative, and hopeful.  They are unafraid of failure.  They simply are persistently in the present moment and value it.  It is the state adults strive to regain on life's unmapped road.  It is optimism on steroids.  It is something I hope to relearn again.

Monday, October 22, 2012

More on self actualization

Love the summary from

Abraham Maslow's 8 Ways to Self-Actualize

  1. Experience things fully, vividly, selflessly. Throw yourself into the experiencing of something: concentrate on it fully, let it totally absorb you
  2. Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defense) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth): Make the growth choice a dozen times a day.
  3. Let the self emerge. Try to shut out the external clues as to what you should think, feel, say, and so on, and let your experience enable you to say what you truly feel.
  4. When in doubt, be honest. If you look into yourself and are honest, you will also take responsibility. Taking responsibility is self-actualizing.
  5. Listen to your own tastes. Be prepared to be unpopular.
  6. Use your intelligence, work to do well the things you want to do, no matter how insignificant they seem to be.
  7. Make peak experiencing more likely: get rid of illusions and false notions. Learn what you are good at and what your potentialities are not.
  8. Find out who you are, what you are, what you like and don't like, what is good and what is bad for you, where you are going, what your mission is. Opening yourself up to yourself in this way means identifying defenses - and then finding the courage to give them up.


My wife and I finished watching the 2nd episode of Alphas and our discussion about the show moved over to the kitchen.  This season is less about concept and character introduction and more about skill mastery.  Taking an ability and seeing what can be done with little effort.  The show explores the life saving and destructive sides of possessing a talent.

A few months ago, my wife wasn't emotionally stable.  She felt as though between work, kids, and house responsibilities she was spent.  We talked around April or June and tried to come up with a way to help her get more in touch with activities where her strengths stood out.  The last few months she was able to make certain changes and now she feels like there's a huge boulder off her shoulders.

Her process reminded me of Maslov's hierarchy of needs.  The top of the pyramid being self-actualization and the bottom being the basic securities like food and shelter.  Along the way up the pyramid are building blocks to create the foundation for a highly productive and satisfied individual.

I don't necessarily believe the pyramid explains all that a person needs to feel satisfied, but the concept of someone using themselves in a unique way really appeals to me.  I feel like the search for creating something unique or one-of-a-kind (OOAK) will happen when I know what my strengths are and I'm kicking butts and doors on the way to being more myself and making things true to my passions.

The concept sounds and feels good, but it as elusive as the beloved unicorn, and for parents already locked into full time jobs, getting to the self-actualized state requires prudent plans and environments allowing a person to stand out from others.

Friday, October 19, 2012

#3: Words With Snow Women

I knew nothing about CNN's Candy Crowley until I saw part of the 2nd presidential debate.  I think she's pretty brave for fact checking on the fly in front of all who watched or tweeted.  Kudos to you!  I liked her so much I made her a character!  I have about 2 seasons outlined and I was looking for a strong female character with a take-charge attitude.  Your audition at the debate was excellent!

Constructing a cohesive mini dialog using the words with friends took a bit.  I was happy to have figured it out, but I wondered if I could use the word "lets" without the apostrophe.

Thank goodness for the internet!  This webpage said it was O.K. as long as I don't use a plural pronoun (us, for example).

Lets have a good Friday, ok?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ups and Downs: Episode 1, Avalanche

Thank goodness winter is not more than 1 season!  I went for a walk today in the most wonderful part of the town I work called Westford.  The pleasant part is there are almost no homes in site.  It is mostly trees and fields and I can see myself snow shoeing all up in there.  This wooded place where I started attempting to meditate.  I say attempt, because I initially read a 20 minute meditation session would really help clear my mind, dig for new ideas, and other good things.  

My first meditation was a huge fail and I cut the session down to 5 minute meditations with a 30 second break.  My attention span is that bad.

While I sat there in my car just listening to the sound of my breath, floods of ideas came, and I was able to make it through my mini meditations!  The idea of making a comic popped in my head and I thought... well what the heck!  The temp drops will have me at a computer more often and I've just figured out how to use the vector drawing program called Inkscape, so this should be a fun trip.   

Custom Order: Heart & Wings Pendant in Stainless Steel

My friend and uber supportive customer, Yolanda had placed a request for a pendant with hearts and wings.  I sent around 5 designs to her and she settled on this one.

The material used here is stainless steel and the design was whisked off to, printed, and mailed to me.

Nothing like a little flying heart to brighten someone's day!  Now I need to get cracking on a flying unicorn pendant!

Friday, October 12, 2012

An outsiders view on divorce

As a young child as a 4 or 5 year old, my first memory of marriage wasn't my parents.  It was a quaint wedding ceremony where a couple Dominicans in a Methodist church came together and were married in Lawrence, MA.  This memory is growing faint, but is still there.  From that snapshot in my life, I was inspired to get married as well and find someone worth marrying.  The memory was so powerful it guided my interactions with girls I liked up until I was married.  The outside ceremony was internalized and I wanted to be that close to someone.

I haven't seen the couple since they were married, but the same feelings come up when I attend a friend's weddings as they set sail into unknown waters.  People bound to each other as they change in a changing world.

There is a much darker memory I have of my parents divorce and the court room hearing that would decide which parent got custody.  I assumed kids who experienced their parents split up could at least do so in privacy of their home.  Yes the married couple grew apart, lets quietly move on.  The court room, unlike tv court rooms, had no background music.  There was silence and the rattling fans of ancient air conditioners.    Our family and the entire court room standing around the end of a failed marital charter.

Stacked above my parents divorce is another memory of my wife's parents split.  I was old enough to be able to speak with her mom before the divorce finalized, but again, I showed up long after she had made her decision.  In my head, I wanted to honor the initial memory I had as a child: two people get together and promise to take care of each other for their mortal lives.

My friend recently told me of his wife moving away and this immediately toppled me into wondering why so many marriages end in divorce?  Is divorce a problem in America?  A quick web + book search reveals that people in their early twenties for both genders are more likely to get divorced.  Couples with kids are slightly less likely to get divorced.

The fear I have is that this divorce monster will clearly break into my house, find my typing away at my computer, and pull me into itself so I will be among the divorcees.

But the truth is a divorce is the end of the relationship.  It's two shipmates parting ways at the nearest sight of land.  The sideways tree after unskilled pruning.  Divorce isn't the problem.  It is everything that leads up to someone calling it quits on someone else.  The concept that a divorce can actually separate two people is somewhat false.  I hear it from divorcees of long marriages when they talk about their X wife.  They say X so often it's as though they are still living together.  Can a divorce truly separate you from the closest person in your life?  The person who has brought you to where you are now due to sheer proximity?

I have seen it in my own life.  I cook and clean differently now that I've lived with my wife.  I think about finances differently.  I think about changing sheets and pillow cases (thinking is clearly not enough).  All this because I've seen my wife over 11 years consistently approach life's details in a meaningful way.  For some things, I would just start copying her... say if she made bread a certain way.  Over time her way of life starting changing my own.  Soon I would go from being inspired by her lifestyle and I would take it in and give it my own twist.

This assimilation (couldn't think of a better word) is something too deep to be removed.  Even Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind hinted at this.  Why is it then that people who become one in every way possible want to go back to being two?

I am no psychologist here so bear with me.  The dissolving of a marriage is partly due to ignorance and partly due to truth.  Even after all the oneness is going on, between the unplanned make out sessions, unity candle, bedroom, and beyond, the persons in the marriage are continually changing.  Lifestyles, work, habits, beliefs, are in flux.  To be on top of all this, people need to always be on the same page.  They need to take time out of their day and be comfortable with rambling.  Sharing dreams and fears without being concerned they will be judged or squashed.  This sharing and being on the same honest page over time would most likely prevent all divorces.

The flip side of this is ignorance of who you are.  I feel like my life would be different if I realized my passions earlier in life.  But realizing them at all is a start and playing with the passion and creating things transforms me.  If spouses are ignoring truly important areas in each others lives begging to be discovered they will inevitably grow apart.  I remember my father discouraged my mom from taking classes in college.  He discouraged her, yet she reopened this "door" wide open and has taught thousands of kids about handling bully's and is on the way to completing her PhD.   If someone would torture themselves through the expenses of college & years of trying to find a good adviser just for a degree, why should a person's ignorance stand in their way?

If a person loves the risk of gambling, take away the gambling and talk about risk.  May be there is some other way that desire for risk can be satiated, but ignoring a blind pursuit of risk will only lead to peril.

Since ignorance is turning away from the truth, truth is the main issue.  Truth in a relationship will save the ship.  Truth will help avoid thinking you are about to land in North America when you really are in the middle of the Caribbean.  Giving a place for truth in daily conversation and through the unwinding the walking stress ball of a person you are married to might just save your spouse from becoming someone you can't bear to live with.

Divorce: Causes and Consequences

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Happy Birthday October Babies!

Today is my little sister's birthday.  Happy Birthday, Priscilla!  This month holds the birthdays
of several friends.  Some of who I haven't seen for years, but somehow
their birth date has stuck to me.  Others I've seen recently and will see again soon.
My birthday is on Halloween.

I can see how a birthday can be sensitive for some and a celebration for others.
You may have been a bit more solitary at this stage in your life and your birth date
just reminds you of aging and things slowing down.  You may have found new friends or
still be connected to old ones.  Your birthday will be celebrated with friends at a
house or restaurant.  May be life is just to busy to get those you love together,
so you'll celebrate it with a nap.

In any case, you, and your life, with all the ups and downs - sidesteps and strides,
when it is summed together it is filled with value.  If you don't agree, take
a moment and remember the things that warm you up on this cold windy day.  Then remember
those who you have made smile.  Who you have inspired or shared travels with.

I'm not sure if it's age, but I often make the mistake of staring and pondering over
things that really bother me.  They are outside me, but over time they get under my skin
and I fight this process.  After the struggle, if that irritant presses on, I close my eyes and
eventually grow numb to those "negative forces" and unfortunately I grow
numb to other areas in my life whether they are good or bad.

At this stage I am left with a choice.  Either I continue getting bitter at the things I don't like
& can't change immediately, or I suck it up and use this day to try and change one thing.
To take a step forward or prepare myself to be inspired for the next project or expedition.

Birthday's are a celebration of life, but they are also a reminder that we were placed on this
earth to sidestep bitterness and make a difference.  To change how people see the world.
It's when I am distant from this purpose that I get bitter and when I pull away.
But something always catches my eye and warms a place deep inside to remind
me there is still life and purpose within me.   And this is true for everyone.  Even you.
To all my fellow October babies and to all babies around the world, gifted and grown or little and lovely...

Happy Birthday. : )

Nostalgia Attack: Bob Ross

Have you ever made a decision and a few years later realize your mistake?  My wife and I finally closed an evil and torturous chapter of our lives.  The previous owners of our house painted most rooms pistachio green.   Actually I take that back.  It was closer to monster green... an unnatural eyesore.  Then we had kids and had to live with the green on these walls, less time, and shortened energy levels - is this really paint or are the walls rotting before our eyes?!?

Eventually, one we painted over the green paint, one wall at a time.  We were learned about  paint finishes.. egg shell versus satin versus semi gloss.  And I found out that I suck at even brush painting.  My wife was much more gifted at painting consistently with a brush and I was given the roller for the quick jobs.

Last night as my wife, covered over my horrible brush work I could hear a familiar sound... pat pat pat pat.  It was my wife tapping paint from her brush to the wall.  This was such a pleasing sound, but I knew I had heard it before.

Enter Bob Ross.  The virtuoso of wet on wet oil painting.  It was his brush strokes I remembered.  His hypnotic voice that would send me into a trance as a kid (and my parents rejoiced!). And his breath-taking happy worlds he would make over and over again until I wanted nothing more then to leave this world and be painted onto his canvas.

Thanks Mr. Ross.  You, your smile, your paintings, and perfectly formed afro will always be a source of wonder and inspiration.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Just ordered this origami book after watching this video.


I don't want to use Langs tree program, because I've been stumbling on interesting designs by hand.  There are certain folds that force the paper to respond in unpredictable ways.  Watching the paper as I fold guides me to new folds to exploit the paper's properties and responsiveness.  Certain folding techniques even work with the 140lb paper I purchased for watercolor painting.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Glitter and ornament experiments

My kind uncle-in-law has hooked me up with glitter samples from his company. I'll be testing out adding glitter to varnish & water color paints over the next month.

On the list of experiments is figuring out what ornament designs to sell. I threw a bunch on the table and my wife and son told me their favorites. i put their names down and will continue messing around. The last piece of origami from my hands was a set of boxes I made years ago. This is new territory for me and I love it!!

Fall Apparel 2012

This is my mom standing in my old backyard in New Hampshire.  She is modeling my new product line with block printed t-shirts.  She had just finished hosting a sleep over with all her grand-kids and kindly offered to help demonstrate how the tees look.

There are several memories I have of that backyard.  Mowing the lawn, birthday parties, talking to neighbors, speaking to my neighbors wife before she passed on, and watching the families around us change and enjoy life.

Backyards are my favorite type of yards due to the house blocking the sound and sights of passing cars.  Typically giving way to bird chirps and setting the stage for great conversation.

My mother has always been supportive and taken time out to see how I'm doing.  She is a psychologist and an excellent student on her way to completing a PhD so I'd think she'd have me figured out by now.

But this step into adding designs on apparel is new and I'm learning a lot from it.  This specific t-shirt is made from organic cotton and is printed with inks used for silk screening, but pressed with rubber blocks I carved.

The leaf pattern is from a birch leaf and have is segmented into intricate geometry to contrast against the smooth contour of the natural leaf edge.

The print below the leaf is a partial print of a block that says "OOAK" or crafter lingo for "One Of A Kind".  The bottom print is a cross between R and A which is my new logo with which I'll be branding all prints.

I'll be posting more items as the days progress and as I move forward plans to make ornaments for the winter holidays.

The shirt can be purchased on Etsy here.

 I've used the same technique with cotton tote bags and experimented with the autumn color fades too.  There's an energy I feel when I see these prints.  It's almost a primal vibe and feels like from people long ago were scrawling a history of their time.

The oak leaf tote to the left is available here.  The birch leaf tote is for sale here.

Listen to the latest tracks from Bright, the Morning for free!

Finished Season 1 of the Event

I just finished watching season one of The Event.  The premise of the movie is their are aliens that look exactly like people who want to leave Earth.  Throughout the show there's a lot of drama and very few displays of what makes the aliens so...alien.  In V, the extra-terrestrial beings have reptile bodies under human skin.  In X-files each episode reveals some conspiracy or alien related phenomena pushing the plot forward or into unknown territory.  This show seemed to talk a lot about these aliens being from another planet, but there was very little to show for it until the finale.

The political tiers of power and board rooms where people are sitting in a protected room calling the shots, slowed down the momentum of the show.

Shawn (guy on the top left of the image) is a young hacker who against all odds, seeking out his kidnapped girlfriend, and finding a billionaire who appears to be experimenting on the human population  outside the country.  He seems to be my favorite character, because he has very few resources and yet has to make the most of his online and offline skills.  Any character who has me saying "I would never do that!" over multiple episodes is the one who will have the most interest.  They are continually teasing out their own character in the face of danger and slowly show you why they are special.

After I made it through the season (The President's wife's closing remark is brilliant), I was disappointed to see NBC cancelled the show.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Thoughts on the movie Commune

I have been in a couple circles and got close enough to people to hear their desires.  Social circles are so much different than Facebook and change based on your current life stage.  One common thing I've heard is, "We should form a commune".  The amount of oneness present with people to desire just to live with them all the time still is mysterious to me, but I got to get a small glimpse of it by watching Commune.

This movie is set in California after a group of people had finished protesting in Washington DC before an election in the 70s.  They were fed up with the system and decided to start over.  The group eventually purchased the Black Bear Commune for around $20,000 and lived there.  The struggles and joys they experienced made me realize when a group splits off from another larger group, there is always a distance and struggles between ideals and reality.  Even after separating and starting a new community with good intentions, they ran into a few major problems due to how open the community was, and the natural shift of expectations when couples have children.

The good aspect to a commune is people have the open space to explore and figure out what they are good at and use this skill to serve the community.  In the best case, a person could be surrounded by several mentors and learn how to hone their craft, teach their skill, and balance their repertoire with skills taught by others.

The story of this commune shows the positives and negatives while doing an excellent job of presenting this
life approach as an alternative to being raised in the city or suburbs.

Visit Stonesartisianjewelry for great gifts for fall birthdays and winter holidays!

Dull Colors

I love being able to talk to my kids about complex things with such accessible benefits.  Let's take the leaves changing color for example.  I told them how maple trees will turn red and was able to walk up to a tree and hand them a leaf so they could examine the unique elements to this season.  I encouraged them to pick up any leaves they think look cool or beautiful.

As we walked to the daycare/school, my son picks up a leaf and says, "Here, Daddy".  He handed me a brown leaf and I reminded them these colors are only here for a little while.  Eventually they all turn brown.

Up until this moment, I had grown dull to the season.  Oh the leaves are changing color, big whoop!  But when my son handed me the leaf I understood it is important for me to learn or return to the sense of wonder my children display.  Even if things look the same on the surface.  Even if I've seen the same thing for 30+ years.

There are 100 of this etsy print available here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Thoughts after watching "I'm Still Here"

Originally, I watched the David Letterman clip with Juaquin Phoenix as an former actor trying to start a hip hop career. He acted so strange and disconnected and most people would agree. This performance made me curious to watch JP's and Casey Affleck's movie and I just finished it.

It is a star laden reality tv styled documentary tag along with an entitled actor trying to write a new chapter in his life by starting a career as a hip hop rapper. He tries to express himself in a new way outside of the career he's established. The story starts with him fully confident about his new pursuit and ends with him walking into deep waters. He has a small support network, but in the end they can't shield him from the reality of taking a risk. The ridicule, fear, and doubt he probably faced interally is mirrored by the system he wishes to leave. With JP grasped tightly the system says, "No JP. Don't try anything new. Do what works. Make people happy."

He makes a few attempts to explain he is serious about his new passion, but they only strap their foolishness and mockery tighter like a fake beard and repeat the system's message. He hits such lows that his pompous attitude diminishes to reveal an uncredited chorus silently repeating a refrain to do what has worked. Those in the acting career he has departed mock him and silently agree to take on the role of the villian in this story.

I probably sided too much with JP's character, but there is truth to the story. How often are people ridiculed when they attempt to take a risk and try something new? Often it turns out to be the opposite of a Disney movie with people rejecting change and the interal dialogues of the adventurer rising high.

JP, Casey, and company do so well they succeed at crystalizing the negative force opposesing a person following a new passion. They leave the viewer with JP walking through the uncharted waters of a still river. He is no doubt asking "Is this new thing I love worth fighting for?"

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


I wish I could take a picture of these Panda Bear sized pressure sitting on my shoulders now.  The craft fair is hours away and out of nowhere I feel fears breathing down my neck?  Will I do well?  What do I want to walk away with?

One fear I have is that no one will come.  I would have prepared all those materials stayed up till 2 AM several nights in a row for nothing.  Or is it really nothing?  This pressure has forced me to idea storm and creative in really short bursts of time.  It's made me give the "yeah" or "nay" to goods I've considered selling so I can focus on the next item to prepare.  When I make mistakes (water soluable ink on t-shirts = #facepalm) I feel like I will never forget that mistake.  It also make me curious as to what makes something so permanent that it stays on a t-shirt despite water and UV?  Is there a more sustainable way to make custom tees?  Probably.  This is what I have to explore in the coming months.

I've realized that t-shirts mean a lot to me.  They speak to how I love casual environment, and the flow of creativity and ideas.  The natural and humorous communication on people, us walking canvases.  We change so often that we don't even realize it.  Grabbing a tee or an outfit is a statement that we are in tune with ourselves for that moment.

This pressure has polarized the types of things I want to make and has given little sparkles of light in the distant places I have yet to explore.  I know that if I'm not exploring, I'm watching someone else explore, and this may be ok when I'm taking a breather, but at the end of the day, I want to tell my own story. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Craft Fair Tomorrow!

I've made invites on FB and Google+, but if you are in the Worcester, MA area tomorrow night, come out to Beatnik's Indie Craft sale!  I'll have a display rack with my latest goods.  I've included some of the items for you here....

Anything that doesn't sell will be blogged about in another post and listed for sale on etsy.

These are the results that came from a love for custom t-shirts.  I began using fiber markers and moved to block inks.  I didn't get to try out silk screening, but I expect to do so in the next few weeks + post those items on etsy.  I mentioned this to a fashion savvy friend of mine and she pointed out something I was struggling with.

I started by getting a bunch of men's tees this summer and I was overwhelmed with the type of t-shirts, blouses, etc.  available for women.  It was as though there was an entire universe of fashion to account for.   I may tackle a portion of that in the future, but my friend recommended I start with block prints on scarfs.  I could make infinity, or other non-knit scarf and apply as many prints as a customer desired.

Right now I have 1 product requested by a friend, but the other items were made mostly based on my own interest for Halloween.  The block print theme on the bags continued onto other fall colored women's tees (not shown yet).  I really love the ancient feel of the patters and reminds me of finding buried fossils or
stones printed with hieroglyphs.

I will post again on my experience at the craft fair!!