Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Audio Games for the Blind

Brandon's been working hard on creating video games, sometimes with excellent support from me, and sometimes with zero patience from the old ball and chain.

This weekend was a no patience kind of time. I've been working to death on my first ever summary judgment motion, which I finally turned in on Friday. It was 33 pages long (written  entirely by me, with some snippets from cases and laws thrown in), accompanied by two affidavits, six affidavit exhibits, 55 pictures and 2 hours of video footage that all had to be analyzed, collated, numbered, duplicated, proofread, and finally shipped off by yours truly. So I wanted a weekend to party down with my Bran muffin, play video games, eat a ton of pizza, and go to sample day with my buddy.

Brandon wrenched this all away from me by making plans (well in advance and which I was well aware of) to participate in a group "game jam" this weekend with his Cleveland video game designer group.

My big accomplishment this weekend was thus making a super snug nap cave.

I may not have been the first one in the family with this idea. Oddly enough, the Diet Dr. Pepper has no effect on Greta's ability to sleep 20-22 hours a day.
Unfortunately, the pads are too small to stretch your legs out all the way and you wake up feeling totally horrible, but something about it also induces huge, happy naps that last for hours. 

Anyway, so Brandon came home every once in a while and I'd try to entrap him into staying. He did go to lunch with me on Saturday, but for the rest of the time, kept his eye on the prize, much to my horror.

It occurs to me that it might be nice for Brandon to have a patient, loving and unconditionally supportive wife. Maybe if the IVF kills me, he'll be luckier the next time around.

So...the theme for the games that all these groups were getting together to work on was the sound of a beating heart. Creep.y.

My one supportive act this weekend was to suggest a theme based on Edgar Allan Poe's The Telltale Heart aka a poem that has permanently made me uncomfortable with the sound of a beating heart--even if it's my own.

My suggestion was to have it be something along the lines of whack a mole, but with the murderer having all these hearts pop up from underground and he has to kill them before they make him go crazy. (It's not my fault that everything I imagine is horrible.)

Brandon actually liked my idea, and took it one step further to create a game that was designed specifically for the visually impaired. He commissioned one of the team artists to create floating "insanity" pictures that had nothing to do with the game, so a non-visually impaired player wouldn't be totally unstimulated, but then the artist flaked so when you play it, you see a pulsating red and black screen and nothing more. He made the sound so it interacts with a stereo speaker system (it works with headphones and to some degree with computer speakers as long as they have a stereo type output.) You hear the heartbeat and touch (or click) the part of the screen that it's coming from. You can play it here.

I have it on good authority that if you play it and give it a good rating, you will get a cookie from Brandon.

I'm so proud of Brandon for his hard work and for always working to learn new code languages and for putting in hours and hours working toward his goals.

Hey--retroactive support is better than none :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Winter Wreath

One of my fun projects this year is going to be finding discount  and clearance flowers and ribbons and creating a monthly wreath out of the fake evergreen wreath Brando bought me for Christmas.

This is my first one!!!

 I'm trying to use my Canon Elph more but I'm not very good at deciding flash or not flash so here's one of each!

Brandon liked it a lot. He said he would pay $100 for it. (He shortly thereafter clarified that if he were selling it he would charge $100 for it and expect someone else to gladly pay it.) 

Anyway, Happy January!! 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Rad Christmas Gifts and a New Resolution!!

This Christmas, I made some new friends!
I just got released from primary, (I wish I felt more ambivalent about this, but I'm really just glad--it's a really hard job!) and I wanted to do something awesome for Christmas! Unfortunately, I got a little overwhelmed so I didn't get them done in time for Christmas. I did, however, manage to get them done for our last class last week. 

2 weeks ago, I had my class members (all 6 years old) draw self-portraits. Then I made clay ornaments out of their self-portraits! 

It was hard work, but a lot of fun. I hope they don't look crappy. The very hardest part were their hands. Almost all of the kids drew themselves with arms flung wide and fingers spread apart. I didn't want to sacrifice structural integrity (every doll has a metal wire skeleton for support) and put on tiny fingers that would just snap off. I finally ended up making balls on the ends of their arms, smashing them and cutting them apart into fingers. (I still think the dolls without fingers look a lot better.)

This was my masterpiece. The girl who drew this obviously has a more abstract sense. To me the picture looks almost melancholy, but years of art history and art appreciation have obviously impaired my ability to see that sometimes a stick figure is just a stick figure. A lonely figure with bowed head muses in unhappy solitude while the color and life of the rest of the world pass her by. 

This is the only one I drew with a background, since  the self-portrait itself didn't have a ton of detail. My favorite part: I made little clay versions of the butterfly shapes that are on the drawing. My least favorite part: the butterflies are almost completely covered by the girl. 

I was worried about having the names on here, but that's the only detail I'll provide. This is the first one I made. I love her hair. I think this clay doll looks more like the actual kid than any of the others. (I do want to note that the actual girl has genuine facial features, rather than a smilie face). 

One of two boys in the class--and the first doll with the fingers that I talked about before. Sorry it's sideways--I can't figure out how to rotate it!! With all the ornaments, I tried to make the features look just like they were drawn, so the smile is a little cockeyed on my clay version, too!

*sigh* another sideways picture. This girl put so much detail into her drawing, and I wanted her ornament to reflect that, too. I tried to make clay freckles, but it didn't work! They looked horrific and I couldn't make them big enough to look intentional but small enough to be distinguishable as freckles and not weird face holes or something. I meant to draw the freckles on with a pen later...but then I forgot :(
Also, she's the only one with eyes with pupils, so I layered the clay in smaller and smaller circles on top of each other.

For this girl, the hair was an issue. She drew it as brown, but in real life, it is pretty blonde. I wanted to be as true to the drawing as possible, but as someone who is mortally offended whenever anyone insinuates at all that my hair isn't blonde, I couldn't resist mixing in just a little bit of blonde.
I think her fingers turned out the best, but by the time I got it to her, one of them had already fallen off!!

This one was the first one I started on, but the last one I finished. I didn't have a drawing of the girl and so I had to figure out how to make it look like a drawing she might have drawn of herself. The scariest part of this was that I originally didn't intend to make these ornaments, but just regular figurines. So after I made the doll, I decided to shove in the ornament hook. Fortunately, the doll survived this invasive procedure. I love the way that the clay hair has worked out this time--I love the feathered look on this doll. I also tried to do eyelashes. It was sooo hard, and once again, ended up getting covered up anyway!

I didn't have a drawing for the other boy, so I ended up doing the same thing. I thought he looked like the boy from the Phantom Tollbooth, but then I looked at the cover again and I don't think that anymore. He still looks familiar, though!

This is my other project--for my Visiting Teachees. It's a travel kit! Brandon's Grandma had one of these in her car. I memorized it and then made it at home!!  You take an oven mitt, sew on a button to make it a little pouch, and then sew in a whole bunch of little snack bags filled with travel stuff. For my VTs I included stain wipes, breath mints, chapstick, disposable latex gloves, tooth flossers, and a couple extra bags just in case. I also had ibuprophen and lotion but they didn't quite fit. 
Also, there's a tension problem in my sewing machine, that I am apparently unable to resolve. The stitches look okay from the inside, but are loopy on the bottom. That indicates a problem in the lower threading, but I have been unable to solve it yet.

Oh, yeah, there were also bandaids! Once I got all the stuff together, it was surprisingly easy to put together. Again, this is the packet I made for myself and I was out of all the other stuff so the lotion and Ibuprophen fit!! Guess what? I've already saved Brandon's life with this kit!! (or given him an ibuprophen for his headache). 

In this shot, you can see how good the stitches looked from the inside. What happened on the outside?!!
Just a sample of some of the excellent and helpful goodies in my little pack!

Anyway, these gifts were fun and all of them were delivered at least a week after Christmas, which makes them extra special (or something like that). 

NOW, FOR THE RESOLUTION: IN 2013, BRANDON AND I WILL POST 50 EXAMPLES OF AWESOME, NON-FOOD PLACES TO VISIT IN NORTHEASTERN OHIO! (We realized that everywhere we went in Cleveland was a food place.)