I’m sitting on the couch drinking an oatmeal stout with my brain turned almost completely off. The last week has been a blur, with family in town, a freelance gig, several appointments, and a large event happening at work all at once.
Family was the high point; my sister drove down from NY for Second Christmas and we all enjoyed opening presents in January (especially Finn, who had the lion’s share.). Renie had to bomb in and out due to work, and so only got to spend Saturday with us before heading home on Sunday. We did have a great afternoon, ate a delicious dinner, watched the playoffs, and went to bed early. Thus ends my season of holiday eating; I’m throttling way back on desserts and heavy foods because I feel like it’s gaining on me.
The kittens are settling in well with everyone; Bellatrix (hereafter known as Trixie) is chill by day but a raving terror at night. Nox will let me pick him up and lay in my arms like a drugged-out hippie for as long as I want to scratch his head. The two of them wrestle and fight and chase each other around the house, then pass out cold for hours at a time. As much as I hate cleaning a litterbox, it’s great to have the sound of paws on the floor again.
I took on a freelance gig last Wednesday, figuring I could knock it out in a couple of days, but was only able to really get to it over the weekend. The sketch went together quickly but the client asked to change the view after I’d gone to final art, so I had to redo the whole thing Monday night. It was a pretty simple job but it could finance the purchase of something I’ve been thinking about for a while–an iPad Pro. This would allow for the use of a pen and real-time drawing on the screen for illustration, something I’ve been waiting on for 10 years. One of my self-improvement goals for the year is to commit to drawing again, and find a workflow to make illustration fast and easy from sketch to screen. I think this might be the answer, and my ultimate goal would be to make it another source of income by the end of the year.
We held one of our major events at work Wednesday morning, which was the culmination of two weeks’ work for my team and about a months’ writing time for the larger group. My designers are aces and knocked together a great deck, and the system we put into place for production a few years ago helped streamline the process. Meanwhile, during production last week, I accidentally spilled coffee into my laptop, thus frying it, and had to scramble for a replacement. The IT guys gave me a castoff machine that wasn’t booting, and after some work I got it up and running, set up my workspace, and scraped the stickers off the case. It’s two years older than the dead unit but it’s the same form factor and has more memory. With a larger hard drive it should be usable, and I’m not going to complain one bit.
Using my personal laptop in the interim, it became clear how painfully slow a seven year old machine is. I can still make good use of it–so I purchased a SSD to speed up the disk. At some point this year I’m going to have to bite the bullet and buy a new machine; the question is whether I go all-in on a Thunderbolt-only MacBook Pro or get one of the last multi-port models available.
I’m proud to say the video I shot, illustrated, and produced for the New Climate Economy is live (as is NCE’s new report, the Sustainable Infrastructure Imperative). This is the one they flew me to London for, where I set up an interview studio both in our hotel and at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. In the time between shooting the video and the release of the report, we reshot WRI’s president here in DC to sub in some changes in the original text, reordered the 4 elements at the end, and added new illustration to reflect changes in the language. It was a huge undertaking but so much fun to produce, and I’m thrilled with the results.
The dumpster in our driveway is gone. We filled it with all of the concrete from the front walkway, all of the remaining hedges, bags of yard debris from the woodpile and behind the garage, the doctor’s desk from the attic, the old porch railings, and all sorts of other crap I can’t remember. We filled it to the edge. I hunted high and low to find more stuff to get rid of, and I’m sure I’ll trip over something in a week’s time that I should have chucked in there. The process of cleansing is a liberating feeling. Now I turn my attention to the piles of stuff I have on my desk, around my office, and on the shelves. It’s time for a cleansing of gear as well.
Now, to the next project: Our landscaper recommended we take the silver maple in the backyard down, as the trunk is being eaten by bugs, before we get started in the front yard. And then he pointed to the maple on the west side property line, which is actually in worse shape than the silver maple. The logic here is that if we spend a summer and a bag of cash fixing the front yard, we won’t be able to get a crane truck out back to deal with the trees after that’s done. The good news is that they can do them both at the same time, our neighbor is willing to let us use his driveway for access, and he’s willing to split the cost. They’re going to take the roots down as far as they will go, and I’ll have them leave the wood for me to split and stack. And all of that sun will help the oak tree next to it spread and grow taller.
So, the trees will come down and our parade party will be curtailed to the bare minimum (and the front yard) this year. Which isn’t so bad, really.
I switched back to the old headline font on the site here, because the other one just didn’t look good. This one (Museo Slab) isn’t my first choice but it’s not as heavy and blocky as Chunk, its replacement.
That’s Jane Goodall introducing AFR100, the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative, which is working to restore 100 million hectares of degraded and deforested landscapes by 2030. That logo is something I put together in the leadup to COP21 last month. I came up with the solution during the initial kickoff meeting, and fooled with it for a couple of weeks until I had the right balance of positive and negative spaces.
I love how excited Finn gets for Halloween every year, and I hope she continues to enjoy it for as long as possible. We’ve got a nice tradition of joining some friends in Arbutus, who feed us and take us with them through their quiet little neighborhood, and we look forward to sharing it with them every year. This year Arbutus wasn’t as into the spirit as they have been in years past, but we still enjoyed ourselves, and the girls had a great time together. Finn was on her best behavior, and her careful “Thank-Yous” and “Happy Halloweens” were rewarded by several people, which made her dad super proud.
After a couple of weeks and several Craigslist repostings, the Xerox Phaser we had sitting in the home office has left the building. Ever since I got the new job, and sold the huge HP to my last employers, this one wasn’t getting any usage at all, so I cleaned it up, took some photos, and put it on the market. A nice man came on Sunday with a friend and a truck, looked at some test prints, and carted it away. This is good, because our trusty B/W printer died a few weeks ago without warning. The Wirecutter says Samsung makes a good B/W printer that will do duplex for about $100 with a per print cost of around $.02. So I’ll wait to get paid tomorrow and order that sucker right up.
Now that the sewer line has been fixed, we have no more gray water in the basement, which is a nice change. The gray water left a lot of yuck behind, though, so I picked up some bleach cleaner, a pole-mount scrub brush, and some mop heads, and got to work disinfecting the basement floor. When I was done with that, I started re-organizing stuff to go back on the shelves and off the floor, cleaned off the workbench, and made the space usable again. At some point this winter I’m going to upgrade the lighting to overhead fluorescents that come on with the switch, because there are whole sections that have no lighting at all.
What didn’t get done: Any work on the walkway, as Sunday started rainy and only cleared up after noon. There was no brewing, because I ran out of time. And the yard is still a mess; I’ll have to call my bro to come and rake some leaves.