Drool on the Frog

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

So long and thanks for all the fish.

To all you who are still getting me through your blog Reader or RS feed...

It's time to clean up your feeds!

I haven't posted here since February of 2009. I doubt you've been waiting, hope upon hope, that I would return to write movies or my latest art project. It is more likely that you forgot this link is still in your reader.

In either case, I can settle things now. Drool on the Frog is not going away but changing. It will become a part of MyGeek's software business as a technical blog. If there are any links or articles here that you want to copy, you have until February 28 when I will archive all the current content.

I don't know how often the technical blog will be posted to; it's a work in progress.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Decay & Divine: Old Books

In response to Sandi's post on SoulperSuit, "What is the oldest book you own? Does it show signs of Decay?"

For our first anniversary we stayed at a bed and breakfast in historic Jefferson, Texas. Beginning in the mid-1800's Jefferson became a major riverport town providing passage for goods to the southwest. Today Jefferson looks like it's stopped in time and is the epitome of a quaint southern town.

After touring its historic locations one day we finally ended up in one of the many antique stores. In the back, we found a musty cove of old books. We both are suckers for books, especially old ones. We got lost digging through all the fascinating titles and didn't realize the owners were waiting to close the store.

Below are some scans from the books we bought that day. I especially love old illustrations and any handwriting the owners saw fit to add. It enhances the history of the book.

Our oldest find is "Tit for Tat: A Reply to Dred" (fourth edition) by A LADY OF NEW ORLEANS published by Garrett, Dick, and Fitzgerald in 1856 or 1857.

Click on any picture to get a larger version.
The cover has an embossed pattern. It's in better shape than some of the other books we bought. 5" x 7.5"

The publisher GARRETT, DICK AND FITZGERALD only existed for two years: 1856-1857.

The only publication date is for the original edition. The copy we bought is the fourth edition.

The story is in response to the fervor that "Uncle Tom's Cabin" had in England. The author, an American living in London, noted the piety of the British supporting the book. What this author observed was Britain's own ignored class, the chimney-sweeps. Her novel is the British counterpart to "Uncle Tom's Cabin" regarding the "chummies". You can find the scan of entire first edition book on Google Books.

Love the calligraphy on the inside cover.

"Down the Line with John Henry" by Hugh McHugh, 1901, G.W. Dillingham Co., with illustrations. 4" x 6.75"

...guy-ropes and go up in the air just because his Baby is by his side.

In the back of the book, a review by the Los Angeles Express:
"As in the former volume, the present collection of stories is concerned with adventures of a man about town. It abounds in the weirdest and newest slang, recherché expressions and tart Americanisms. There is much clever satire on the manners and habits of Americans. The 'down-to-date' man who is fond of slang will find in the volume a new supply for his vocabulary."

"The Ideal Orator: A Modern Book of Elocution Readings, Recitations, Dialogues, and Plays", by Richard Linthicum, 1904, W.R. Vansant, with photos, 7" x 9.5"

These photos are fantastically melodramatic. Imagine having this as a textbook.

When flipping through this book, we noticed that you would be reading page 31, turn the page and then be on page 38. This happens continuously throughout the book. It's not until we get to the page pictured above that we figure this is a salesman's edition of a larger work. This copy contains around 100-150 pages. The complete work contains over 450 pages.

Immediately following this ad are several ledger pages. According to the "AGREEMENT" in the ad, "We, the subscribers whose names are entered in the following pages, agree to accept the number of copies of the above named book set opposite our signatures, and pay the price indicated on delivery of the same by the agent."

I have no idea why Mr. J.M. Carter would have presented a salesman's copy of an incomplete book to a child. She probably loved the pictures.

Eunice, who lived in Bethany, LA, wrote her name on several of the blank pages of the book. One the ruled pages in the back, it looks like she recorded the members of her family.

The second edition Webster's Dictionary did not come from the Jefferson trip but MyGeek's brother. We don't know how he came about it. It does not qualify as the oldest book but it might win for the biggest. 9"x12" and a little over 5" thick.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Rare Apprenticeship Opportunity

Don't wait to check this out. The deadline is December 14.

The opportunity is a six month apprenticeship taught by Seth Godin at his New York office. For Free. As he describes it,
If you're stuck in a dead end job in publishing, or if you made a not-so-great choice in getting your career started, or if you thought Wall Street would be a different place, or if you just got laid off, or if you're not crazy about fretting away the next six months waiting to get fired and you're not quite ready to start your own gig... this might be the turbolift you were hoping for. Yes, it's free.

It's a chance to get off that track and onto a new track, faster and cheaper than most of the alternatives. And it might even be fun.

The details are explained here briefly and succinctly.

If you are not familiar with Seth Godin, check out his blog. I've been getting a lot of great food for thought in regards to marketing, whether it's myself, my non-profits, SoulPerSuit and Computer Training Bridge, or MyGeek's online apps site. He's an insightful and interesting writer.

Let me know if you decide to apply.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Shopping Online Part 1

My sister asked me this week where MyGeek and I shop online. She was so thrilled with the information I thought I'd post it for everyone here.

We've done a lot of shopping on-line for years and we've had pretty good luck. This is because we either buy from reliable stores (referrals) or we buy from brand name stores. And that's it. You can always find a better price but you don't always know what you're getting. If you get a bad product, this is where the ease of online shopping ends. There's no store front, and as we recently learned, sometimes a customer service number is just connected to a dead-end answering machine.

Since CyberMonday has already passed and this post topic came to me late, this week I’ll post my general rules of thumb for shopping online. Next week I’ll give a very brief list of our most trusted online stores, and, finally, discuss why you would even want to shop online.

Here are my general rules of thumb:
  1. Buy brands that you've heard of. This is especially true for high dollar items and/or electronics. Even if you buy from warehouse sites like Woot.com, try to stick with brands you know. This way you at least know you're getting a reliable product. If the product turns out to be a dud and the company you bought it from is also, the brand name company might be easier to work with and more likely to want to keep it's good reputation by making you a happy customer.

  2. Avoid buying refurbished products. You will see this mostly with electronics, especially on sites that don't specialize but carry everything from cameras to bean bag chairs. Be sure to read the product description. There may be a tag that says "Condition" and will list whether it's “New” or “Refurbished”. The problem with these sites is that you don't know who refurbished the item and it's not likely there's any technical support if the product doesn't work. Usually these companies only have sales reps. I don't recommend buying refurbished electronics unless you're buying them directly from the manufacturer. For example, Apple. I bought my MacBook Pro refurbed but I bought it directly from Apple. It came with the same warranty as a new MacBook Pro and Apple has good customer service.

  3. Buy from reputable on-line stores or from brand name stores. Find out where your friends, family, and co-workers buy online. If you have a local store that you like, look them up online. More than likely, they have an online store. The same is true for your trusted mail order companies. For example, if you have a brand of clothes you love like Land's End, buy online. They have great customer service.

  4. Buy if you know they have a storefront somewhere. A storefront means they have a physical location you can either visit or call if you have problems with their product or online ordering. More than likely, if they have a store front they also have well established customer service for their online store as well, but at least you have a backup plan and a little confidence that they exist somewhere besides their mother's basement. An online store does not have to have a storefront to be considered reliable. There are plenty of reputable online stores, like Buy.com, that started out online and have stayed there.

  5. Buy on sites with secure shopping. If you follow the general rules I have outlined here, you're going to end up on a site with secure shopping. But, if you're not sure, check the bottom right hand corner of your window when you go to checkout. There should be a little padlock image there. If the padlock is in the locked position, the site is secure. If it is unlocked, the site is not secure. This icon only appears once you get to the checkout process.
Can’t wait until next week for my online shopping list? I have one word for you.

MoPo: Kyle Webster

This week I want to introduce you to local artist and illustrator, Kyle Webster.

I remember meeting Kyle when he worked for Shapiro Walker. The company I worked for at the time was looking for a design firm to revamp our company web site. I recognized his work from city event banners hanging downtown. Kyle talked to me about digital art and you could tell he just loved to draw. He was even thoughtful enough to connect me with a life drawing group that was meeting in a sister city.

Since then, Kyle has made the full transition from working for someone to being a successful freelance artist. His work has appeared in Paste, The Stranger, and The New Yorker and, most recently, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Wall Street Journal. Congratulations, Kyle.

The distinctive feature of Kyle's work is line. While I admire and marvel at work that is about color because it's not what I do well, I love line because I connect with it. And what he does with line - wonderful.

His web site features blog postings about his work as well as his portfolio. In addition, as if he weren't busy enough, check out The Daily Figure blog and his first issue of the Light Children comic book.

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MoPo: Brian Dettmer

Brian Dettmer takes altering books to, well, an art form by actually carving into the books to reveal the art inside. It's really amazing and you just have to see it.

Per his wiki, Dettmer takes media whose content has ceased to be relevant and looks at turning it into new, relevant content.

This is such a beautiful idea because I love books. Although I do a lot of reading on-line, I can't ever imagine living somewhere without a library or physical books. Although MyGeek thinks altering a book is sacrilege, this technique of Dettmer's puts books in the category of beauty that I see them.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

MoPo: Jen Stark

I love paper. A disturbing thrill comes over me whenever I enter an office supply store. Even as a kid I remember flipping through those marvelously blank pads of paper, any kind, and not understanding the uncontrollable desire to buy them all. I have the hardest time throwing away even the smallest scrap. Maybe this is why I'm drawn to the scuptures of American artist Jen Stark. She works with paper. Stacks and stacks of colored paper.

Her inspiration comes from scientific subjects (fractals, worm holes, anatomy) and her tool of choice? An x-acto knife. How wonderful. I love my x-acto knife. The sculptures are beautiful and scientific looking at the same time even though she does it all from sketches and by hand.

Stark was also featured in Wired magazine.

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