Monday, March 5, 2012

Coloring Time 2

 Monday, around 70-75 first-grade students became the first people to try out the new coloring pages I've been creating.  Some rather... interesting alternate color schemes for the observatory emerged.

Tuesday and Thursday, another 120 or so first, second and third-grade students will get their hands on the coloring pages.  I look forward to seeing what they do.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Coloring Time

As a child, I did my fair share of coloring, first with crayons and later with colored pencils and ink markers.  Unlike at least one friend (shout-out to Eva of Dawn and Dark Ivory fame), I didn't grow up to be an artist, so I haven't done that sort of thing in quite some time.

Instead, I wound up with careers in other fields, and in one of them, I've lately gotten to the point where I occasionally get to visit schools and talk to kids about what I do, how it relates to things they're studying, and all that.  And so, I've developed an interest once again in coloring pages - but this time, from the side of creating them!

Conveniently, I take a lot of photos of things that make interesting subjects for coloring pages.  Inconveniently, I don't have a light table and parchment paper, which I'd instinctively want to use to trace the outlines of things in a photo to create a coloring page.  I do, however, have Photoshop.  But knowing how to use Photoshop to process photos is one thing, and knowing how to use it to create a coloring page from a photo is quite another thing altogether.

I was well aware of the various filters available in Photoshop for this sort of thing.  I could "Find Edges."  Or, I could create "Glowing Edges."  Or I could "Trace Contours," or "Emboss."  So many choices!  A tutorial video online suggested instead creating a greyscale image, duplicating the layer, setting the top layer to "color dodge," doing a gaussian blur, and adjusting the blur ratio.  I tried it, but found it to be a rather complicated manual way of arriving, more or less, at "Find Edges."

Then I ran across a page suggesting the "Photocopy" filter, with its sliders for "Darkness" and "Detail."  Aha!  Photocopiers, I could handle.  (Fax machines, less so.)  I gave this a shot, then went in with a white "pen" to tidy up the image, followed by a black "pen" to strengthen some of the lines - steps which have to be done after using this filter - and in an acceptably short amount of time, actually had something I can give schoolchildren to color.  Hooray!  Here's a scaled-down version of the first coloring page I've ever created.

The Subaru Telescope and its adaptive-optics laser.

I intend for this to be just the first of several, perhaps even "many," such pages, now that I've found a practical and reasonably quick way of creating them.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Aloha, cousin?

With apologies to Stitch, of course...

If you're on, and have enough of a family tree entered, sooner or later someone in your family tree is going to turn out to be in other people's family trees as well.  This tends to start happening a few generations back, and occur more and more as you go further back.  Geni calls the interconnected tree-of-trees the "World Family Tree."

For example, actress Liv Tyler and I are both about 10 generations descended from Joseph Morse (1671-1745), which makes us 9th cousins.  One has to go back a couple generations earlier than Joseph, though, to find the ancestor we have in common with noted 19th-century "coder" Samuel Finley Breese Morse - he's descended from one of Joseph's cousins.

There are plenty of other more distant relations to be found out there.  Like many people, I'm distantly related to plenty of recent US presidents, and to various and sundry European royals in the old days.  None of this gets me anything, of course.

Anyway, I'm curious.  I already know who my cousins are, and at least most of my cousins once removed, cousins twice removed, and second cousins.  I'm sure they're far outnumbered by my third cousins, fourth cousins, and so on.

So here's my question: will anyone read this who turns out to be more distant than a second cousin, but less distant than Liv Tyler?  A third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth cousin?

Here's my Geni profile - well, there's a lot more to it than that, but it's not all visible to the public.

If you're on Geni and are a pro or plus member, I believe it will tell you whether it thinks we're related.  If you're a basic member, it won't tell you, but it will tell me (as a Pro member) if you give me the URL for your Geni profile so I can search.  Of course, it'll be more likely to work if you've entered a bunch of your ancestry!

Oh, and sorry, the "World Family Tree" is not the same concept as Yggdrasil the "World Tree," for those who might be wondering.

Why I'm leaving Twitter.

I've stuck it out and continued participating on Twitter while Elon Musk has run it into the ground, made it progressively more inhospit...