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Spring time is exercisey time. April 25, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in bicycle, cycling, fitness, health, why.
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Okay, so I might blog here about more than just craftiness and crafty things.  I think I really should call this "a beginner's blog" 'cause I hope the odd person stumbles across this who is just starting out into different things and finds this useful – you are not alone in finding your hobbies through your quarter-life crisis!

Last year I started into yoga a little bit, just in the privacy of my own home.  Something a little more into cardio and less into flexibility I would be fine with doing in front of other people but as my flexibility is now laughable (wasn't always, I was a dancer!) I feel more comfortable with Rodney Yee talking to me and only me in my Power Yoga videos.  I also have found the website ExRx.net very helpful for strength/weight training.  As for cardio, I always played sports and loved it – mostly soccer, but I dabbled in basketball, volleyball, and rugby as well.  Once I graduated from high school though and my schedule became so irregular I found it difficult to make the same committments and slacked off big time.  Eventually I realized – as my fat pants became my regular pants – that it was time to get back into that, time to stop feeling like such a lazy sod.  Only way to stop feeling that way was to stop being one.  So I took up running, but I don't really like running.  I don't stick with it for long when I start – but something I want to get back into and am just now, right now, starting to get back into is cycling.

Not used in ten years, I have a mountain bike from Canadian Tire – a purple SuperCycle "Breeze" which I remember riding with my best friend to the only store nearby at the time, the local Wal-Mart.  I am on the lookout for a new bike, but they're too rich for my yet-to-be-employed blood so I tuned 'er up to take her out in the mean time.  Also have been buying the bike accessories in the mean time.

Cycling Gear, guess I'll do that run down like a knitting pattern or my photo gear.

. Blackburn TPS-2 floor pump
. Filzer dB4LW wireless cycling computer
. Zefal 'Ping' bell
. MEC microwedgie seat bag
. Tools
… 6" wrench
… 4" vice grip
… bicycle wrench
… Louis Garneau compact tool
. Raleigh bicycle helmet

 What about a lock, you're wondering!  Yeah, I haven't picked one up yet – going to pick up one when I purchase a bike.  Maybe sooner depending on how long I wait to get a new bike.  So I'm looking to get a hybrid bicycle 'cause for now I've got a mountain bike which isn't really the right bike for the kind of riding I want to do.

Today I tuned up the old bike, which sat lonely and deflated in my basement, with the help of this tutorial.  It's very satisfying, just like all this craftiness, to work on something like that yourself.  By and large not much needed to be done – the most work came in making sure the wheels & brakes were alright, the wheels were just about perfect and I replaced the well worn-out brake pads with new ones and now I feel confident that my bike will actually stop when I want it to.  I attached my bell so I can ride legally, and unfortunately the little pouch I have is not going to fit under the kind of seat I have.  I then set up my wireless bike computer, which I tested out and it works like a charm.  Awesome.

I'm totally stoked to start riding – this is part good fitness, health & wellness, and part energy conservation for local travel.  I won't lie, this is also motivated by the desire to shed a few pounds – the warmer weather is coming and I would like to lose my winter-warming fat.

So here we go.. !  For now, on the sporty front, time to go watch the Ottawa vs Tampa Bay game.  Playoff game 3, baby, oh yeah! 


More with the GIMP. April 10, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in photography, tutorial.

My previous post on The GIMP dealt mostly with the 'selective colorization' technique. I've also been working on the Gaussian Blur Overlay tutorial. I tried a landscape that wasn't so great for the shot – in fact it's the very same landscape I used for the other tutorial. For my second attempt, I went with a picture I took in February of some lovely orchids I was sent. Here again is a before and after shot. Or rather, after and before.


GIMP Tutorials April 9, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in Links, photography, tutorial.
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About a year ago I abandoned (well, mostly abandoned) my desktop computer – quite the ghetto box running Win98 – for a totally hot, totally enjoyable iBook. At the time I needed to find some image software that was – free – and so I went with The GIMP, The GNU Image Manipulation Program. I would highly recommend this to anyone – in fact, anything I’ve come across with the GNU philosophy has been impressive and it’s just a neat idea. Open source, yes please. And this is from someone who is far from a developer of any kind whatsoever, just someone who uses computers and likes free stuff.

Anyway – so iPhoto is pretty great, for someone like me who was way late into digital and someone who generally doesn’t do much manipulation of any kind. I have been (mostly) satisfied with it. iPhoto Buddy has really upped the satisfaction as my library grew too big and I started using multiple cameras. I have an EX-Z30 Library & a 350D Library, for instance. iPhoto has its limitations, though, it really is for the most minor of touch-ups and if you take good photos that should be fine for the most part. However, some digital darkroom techniques are just too cool to be so in the dark about them. It’s not the same as spending time in the dark & stinking of chemicals, but I am enjoying this on another level.

Anyway – I have had The GIMP for quite some time and I understand that it’s a powerful program – I understand this because I don’t know how to use most of it. But, I figured it was time to learn. And what better place to start than The GIMP’s own TUTORIALS.

I began with the Tutorial on Selective Colorization – that is, taking an image and having most of it be black & white with only a few small things (or one small thing) in colour. Y’know, like greeting cards with two little kids in black & white holding a bright red rose or something. Like that.

I found the tutorial very easy to follow, so if you’re just starting into this sort of thing I would recommend diving right in with it. You just follow their easy steps to create your image and it can be such a dramatic effect that it is terribly satisfying and will give you the confidence to try more techniques and eventually play around with this one to see what you can do. Here’s what I came up with, the second image I tried though I think it’s much cooler than the first.

I used the tutorial on a picture I took in Toronto of a street car crossing Spadina somewhere..

I’m a fan of the technique and will surely be looking for places to use it!