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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Why Can't the English [Speakers] Learn to Speak? (or Where Have You Gone, Henry Higgins?)


I recall being in grammar class in elementary school and our teacher was teaching us past tense and past participles. I recall seeing a chart in our grammar book that showed which words went with "should have" or "could have" (like "should have come" or "could have gone") as opposed to words used without "have" -- like I came, I saw, I conquered (ok, "conquered" could go both ways....)

I remember thinking that everyone knows that, this grammar stuff is easy. And, to be honest, for me it was. I didn't realize until way later that the reason it was easy was because my family spoke in a grammatical fashion. My mom (and several of my aunts/great-aunts who were teachers) would correct me if I misspoke and used inappropriate verbiage.

 I guess with that background it's no wonder certain grammar errors annoy me. Here is a list of just a few:
  • I'm going to lay down [my answer to that "what are you going to lay down?"]
  • Yous guys [unlike Hebrew, English doesn't have a plural for "you" except in the south]
  • Between you and I [Between you and me]
  • Joe came over to help Nancy and I [would you say "Joe came over to help I"? Why does the me change to I when Nancy is added to the mix?]
  • Dangling participles of any sort [particularly those where the meaning is ambiguous]
  • Alls I want to do is... [Alls is not a word -- All's -- as in All's Well that Ends Well -- is a contraction meaning "All is"]
  • I should have came; I should have went [I should have come; I should have gone respecively]
(For those of you who didn't grow up with the grammar/usage police at your door, Lay means put -- you can put your body down, but you can't just put down -- you have to put something down -- Lie  means recline. What makes it confusing is that Lay is the past tense of Lie, so today I lie down, yesterday I lay (not laid) down, in the past, I have lain down. As for dangling participles, my favorite is courtesy of Charlie Weaver in his book Letters from Mamma -- his Mamma wrote (I'm quoting from memory, so forgive me if I'm off a bit), "I met an Eskimo with one tooth named Nanook. I don't know what his other tooth's name was.")

I also hate it when people use the word "misnomer" when they really mean to say "misconception". I'm also a bit picky about pronunciation. Library and February both have an "r" after the "b" and I want to hear people pronounce those "r" sounds. 

I realize it's often too much to ask of people at a murder scene, for example, to say "I saw the body lying there" instead of "I saw the body laying there" (I keep thinking of necrophilia when I hear the latter, but I digress...). But is it too much to ask for people reading previously written text (news commetators, commercial actors, etc.) to use proper grammar? 

How Steve Jobs and his Apple Empire Influenced me


Apple Computer's Influence on a Budding College Artist

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When Steve Jobs passed away, even though I had known he was ill and I had never met him, I still felt as though I were losing a family member. Apple II series and Macintosh computers have been part of my life for somewhere around 30 years. I initially learned to program on an Apple computer (using Apple Basic). My first system was a Macintosh and, though I mostly use a PC now, I still consider myself a Mac partisan. I have also spent many a happy hour listening to music on my iPod shuffle. Thank you, Steve Jobs, for plugging me in and inspiring me to express myself in my artwork.

After hopping from college to college, major to major, and vocation to vocation, I found some direction thanks to Apple and Macintosh.

Enter Apple

type=textI had tried math, then I tried languages. I tried fashion and jewelry design and television/radio. But none of them actually took. (Ok, so I'm still working on the jewelry designs, but you'll see more of that later, and I'm also re-inspired to work on my fashion designs and I added graphic design, but I digress). So after working my way through a bachelor's degree in TV/Radio and taking a year of MBA classes (another thing that didn't take), I decided to try computer graphics.

My brother was a programmer at the time and worked at home on occasion on an Apple II system (II+ initially). So, when he had one of the Apple computers at home, my brother taught me some commands, and, voila, I was on my way. I created an animated rainbow which went into other routines. I wanted to take some computer art classes, so I took my disk (the old 5 1/4" floppy disks that were really floppy) and showed this piece to the professor of the class I wanted to take and he loved it so much, he asked me to sign up for his class (If I recall, what he actually said was, "you have to sign up for my class."). During the course of, well, the course, the instructor loved everything I created and even asked me if he could use my final project in the next semester's syllabus. (It was a real kick to see the next semester's students working on MYproject.)

The first time I sat down at a Macintosh computer was at the home of a friend. I sat down and could immediately draw something. When my sister bought a Mac, I often had an opportunity to sit down and learn the computer. And then, I got a job working on a Mac. So when I went looking for my own computer I only looked at Mac computers. And, when I actually bought my own Mac (with a laser printer) I was thrilled. (I recall, somewhere around that time, when I was looking at systems, a friend of mine was also looking to get a computer. After looking at systems, she went PC and asked me, about my then new Mac, "Does it have windows?" I answered her: "Mac doesn't need 'Windows' -- 'Windows' is a PC simulation of the Mac system." I don't think she got it.)

Though I currently work on a PC, I'm still a Mac partisan. I miss my Mac (which, after 15 or 16 year went belly up last year, though I have most of my artwork on an external drive).

Thank you, Steve Jobs, for the computers of my life (not to mention my purple iPod shuffle)

How Did Steve Jobs change YOUR Life?

Computers, iPods, iPads, What is Your favorite Apple product?

Tell us in the comment section....

Compugraph Designs Jewelry Designs

I have been creating and designing jewelry for a long time. Most of my designs were originally created on Mac using Power Point. Click on the picture of the necklace to see more of Compugraph Designs' jewelry.

Compugraph Designs Arts Now Site

Arts Now is another "Print on Demand" site. They have a nice collection of clocks and watches, including the one pictured here (with my popular math symbols design on it). Click on the picture to see the entire site.

The Princess Who Wanted to be Beautiful

One of my first short stories, "The Princess Who Wanted to be Beautiful" started out as a bedtime story for the children of a close friend. I had been worrying about the "Disney Syndrome" whereby all the heroes are beautiful and all the ugly people are villains. This is a story about a princess who has heard that all princesses are beautiful and doesn't think she is beautiful. She decides to go to a wizard and ask him to make her beautiful but along the way she makes some friends and learns a lesson about herself.

Ghosts of Halloween Past


My Halloween Memories

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Everyone has some holiday memories from their past. These are some of mine.

Disclaimer: Halloween is not a Jewish holiday, but as American Jews we are exposed to many customs and celebrations that are shared in the United States. Because Halloween is not one of our holidays, our memories of Halloween are often more passive than active.

Halloween memories from my past

My first memory of Halloween was when I was about 4 or 5. My Mom dressed me up as a cat (a wild cat) with drawn on whiskers. We then would go to the door when the "Trick or Treaters" came and I interacted with them (most of the "Trick or Treaters" were older than I at this point). (My Mom said she did this because the year before I was scared of the costumed children and she wanted to show me that these were just other children under masks and with costumes.)

When we moved East from the Mid-West,  into a four family house, our neighbors invited us to go "Trick or Treating" with them (my brother and I had never been "Trick or Treating") and we went out and came home with a lot of candy.

When moved to our own home, it became a bit of a ritual for us over the years to wait together and answer the door and give out candy to "Trick or Treaters".

But probably my strongest memory of Halloween was one year when Halloween was on Saturday or Shabbat (the Sabbath) for us. At the time, we were living in a 4 family house and our apartment had 3 doors, one in the kitchen, one in the dining/living room and one into my bedroom. We were going to be moving that night and into the next day and, because of that (and that I would be spending the night, while my parents were "directing traffic", with my best friend) I was trying to take a Shabbat nap that day (something I rarely did when I was that age). But the "Trick or Treaters" didn't know that the door on my room was part of an apartment they had already visited, so they kept knocking on my door (and waking me up).

For the most part, my memories of Halloween are good. In the past few years since we moved to our current residence, while we don't get many "Trick or Treaters", one of our neighbors puts out a lot of Halloween decorations. One of my favorites is a snake (since I love snakes) but he also has a lot of sound affects that I enjoy.

I'd love to hear other people's memories. Add yours in the comments section.

Should Pot Be Legal?


Let Them Smoke Pot!

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While I have never smoked pot myself, and I wouldn't smoke it even if it were legal, I don't see any reason why smoking pot shouldn't be legal. Whatever we feel about it, cigarette smoking is legal as is drinking alcohol. For better or worse, I don't think pot is any more dangerous than either smoking or drinking. So why not legalize it?

Should Pot Be Legal?

Weigh in on your thoughts.....

With NJ Legalizing Medical Marijuana and Washington legalizing recreational marijuana, I thought this would be a good time to get people's opinion of this change in the law. What do you think?

Should Medicinal Marijuana be Legal?

Should Recreational Marijuana be Legal?

"Let Them Smoke Pot" Merchandise from Compugraph Designs on Zazzle

The legalization of Pot in Washington got me thinking. If Marie Antoinette were still alive today, what do you think she would say? I thought she'd say, "Let them smoke pot!"



My Elementary Schooldays

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When my family moved to our current community (before my sister and the younger of my two brothers were born), my brother and I started going to the local Yeshiva (Jewish religious school) day school. When we got to the community, it was January and I started in first grade and my brother started in kindergarten. Every day we had two small and one large recess (there were two lunch periods -- one for kids 1st-4th grades and one for kids 5th-8th grades and we each had recess when the other group had lunch). When I was younger, I played jump rope. (When my brother was in Kindergarten, he only had a half-day of school)

Punchball in a nutshell

Punchball is a game similar to baseball, only there are no bats, no pitchers and the ball is pink and rubber. In my school, we had a fenced in field with a wire fence on two sides, a wood fence bordering the neighbor's backyard, and the school building with a black painted metal staircase leading to the side door into the building's main floor. Our bases were as follows: the fence along the street was home, one support leg of the staircase was first base, the jungle gym in the center near the neighbor's fence was second base, a spot along the side stone fence under the wire fence equidistant from home with first base was third base. To the right of the jungle gym was a slide that stood at the entrance to "the alley", an extension of the playground that was where we would aim, since balls going down "the alley" would go downhill and be hard to get home before the hitter scored.

Ground rules were: fly balls caught from the air or if they bounced of the school building or the third base fence (both of which were foul balls) were out. Three fouls were out (since strikes were basically non-existent since the hitter held the ball in his/her weaker hand and punch it with our stronger hand's fist. A ball hit over any fence was out (even the neighbor's fence, which was fair, since we had to climb the fence into the neighbor's backyard to retrieve the balls).

When I was in 5th grade, I was a fair to middling player, not bad, but not great. The summer I was officially going into 6th grade (I say it that way since I never did go to 6th grade, early in the school year -- I was sick the first week of school -- the school told my mother they'd like to skip me to 7th grade, but I digress) we spent the summer at the beach and I attended a day camp/summer school program. One of the things we did in this program was play punchball. During this summer, I was playing punchball with other girls, most of whom had never played punchball before, so I was one of the better players. Because of the confidence I had from this and because my skills gave team captains confidence enough in me to allow me to play most of the time, I developed into a really good player (when I would come up, the other team would play far back, and assumed I would hit a home run -- no fence, legging it out after hitting it far -- and most of the time I did).

When I was in 8th grade (and my brother was in 6th grade), I was in one of the first trades in my school's history when I was traded for one of my brother's classmates to my brother's class. He and I made a great double play combo (I played first base and he played on the jungle gym).

I miss punchball, but I have some great memories of recesses playing punchball with the boys (Oh, did I forget to mention that I was the only girl who played regularly and was taken at all seriously as a player).

Compugraph Designs' Spoonflower Shop

Spoonflower is a site for buying custom designed fabrics. The design pictured here is a volleyball design.

Growing Up ADHD


Life With the Ups and Downs of ADHD

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Attention Deficit Disorder is what they call it. I really don't quite understand why. We ADDers don't have a deficit of attention -- we pay attention to everything! And Disorder????? It's just another way of looking at the world.

Some people look at the world straight on. I keep turning things every which way until I see a solution.

My Life with ADHD

I was in fourth grade (about 9 years old) when I first got sent to the principal's office. It wasn't the last time. Throughout my last four years of elementary school and my four years of High School, I spent a lot of time in the principal's office. It wasn't because I wasn't intelligent. It wasn't because I didn't like learning. It was mostly because I couldn't sit still, I couldn't stop moving, and asked too many (and sometimes the wrong) questions.

I never knew why I was so different, why I ended up driving teachers nuts and everyone else could sit when they needed to.

As an adult, I've been in and out of schools (something like 7 different colleges, somewhere between 10 and 15 different majors, ranging from math to languages, from art to computers, ending up with a BA in TV/Radio and a certificate in Graphic Art, another is running your own business and another in Technical Writing), had zillions of different jobs (in several different fields) and got to know the cockroaches in the Unemployment Office on a first name basis. Still, I never could figure out why other people "made it work" (sorry, Tim Gunn) when I couldn't.

A number of years ago, a friend of mine had me read a letter in one of those advice columns. It was written by a parent who had a child diagnosed with ADD and wanted to know if adults could have it, too. The advice columnist (I think it was one of the famous twin sisters) said that adult could, indeed, have ADD and gave a little mini-quiz of symptoms. I "passed" the mini-quiz with flying colors.

It took me a few more years to get diagnosed. I had ended up in the hospital one day, getting stitches taken out of my head (I had fallen down the stairs and needed to get stitches in my head) and I took the book "Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perspective" by Thom Hartmann. I read it and found it very informative and enjoyable.

This led to me joining an on-line e-mail group (ADDult for Adults with ADD) and they encouraged me to get diagnosed. I found out from a friend in town that the local university had a Doctoral program and that students in that program needed to perform the diagnostic tests as part of their education. So, I got diagnosed.

I don't take drugs (I don't take them for anything, not even headaches). I like being able to just write when I have an idea, just take an idea and draw it, or stand up in front of a group and talk to them (I've spoken to groups about vegetarianism, for example). I like being ADHD. I wouldn't want to be normie for anything.

Are you or a loved one an ADDer? 

Tell us about it in the comments section

Compugraph Designs Printfection Store, More Creativity

In addition to our Cafe Press and Zazzle sites (see other modules), we also have a store on "Printfection" which includes cutting boards (good wedding or housewarming gifts), mugs and cups, tees, etc.

This frosted mug is only one of the many items at our store:

(Click on the picture to go directly to our shop site)

Compugraph Designs Arts Now Site

"Arts Now" is another "Print on Demand" site. They have a nice collection of clocks and watches, including the one pictured here (with the Jerusalem skyline on it). Click on the picture to see the entire site.

Compugraph Designs' Spoonflower Shop

Spoonflower is a site for buying custom designed fabrics. The design pictured here is a Pomegranate design.

Thom Hartmann Books about ADD on Amazon

Thom Hartmann, whose "Attention Deficit Disorder: A New Perspective" was the first book I read about ADHD, wrote many books about ADD and ADHD. While many other sources had more negative perspectives of ADD (as in "how to manage it"), Thom Harmann's books are more positive (as in "the world needs ADDers").

Here are some of them -- I've read 4 or 5 of his books and I've found them all helpful.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Being a new internet Small Business Owner


My Journey to Success

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I'm still on that journey and I'd like to chronicle my experiences so far. If you are a success, please leave me your advice. I'm all ears so to speak.

Update 6/4/2011: I found another site to sell my art work. I still haven't sold anything there (or at Printfection) but you can see some of my designs in an RSS feed at the bottom of this entry. I hope you like the changes.

Update 5/8/2012: I finally sold something on a site other than Cafe Press and Zazzle! I made two different sales for my "Baby Book of Opposites" one in English and one in Hebrew from Spoonflower!

Diving into the unknown

Into the scary world of internet marketing

If you are looking for advice in this lens, I don't think you're going to get much. This is just about my experiences as a budding internet entrepreneur.

Since I was a teenager, I've wanted to be a fashion designer. I used to supplement my babysitting money by knitting and crocheting doll clothes (which I designed myself) and I would sell them through a concession store in a nearby town.

When I was college age, I decided to pursue this interest. I started taking classes at a well respected fashion school. I tried to learn how to take my ideas and make them into clothes. Unfortunately, I couldn't get past either of the beginning level courses (flat pattern design, which I tried twice, and draping). So I tried jewelry designing.

What I thought was going to be a class on stringing beads turned out to be a class on how to make silver and gold jewelry. I did a number of designs using wax models (which I created) and sent them to the caster and then polished them up. I really enjoyed it and started selling some of my designs to co-workers of mine and my mother's. I did sell a number of pieces, but not enough to support myself.

I also learned to render (draw/paint) jewelry designs. I created quite a few designs with paints on a semi-slick gray paper that was available at art supply stores. But it took a long time. I had to do an initial shape in my sketch pad, trace it on tracing paper, pencil up the back for a makeshift carbon paper and retrace it onto the gray paper. If the design was a multiple of one shape, I had to repeat this process. Then I would use a special water color set to paint it to look like gold. This was a tedious process and only a small percentage of my ideas ended up on paper, particularly since it took me about 2 days to complete one design. (Years later, when I updated my first Mac computer to system 7.2 and could then use the Power Point that came with my Microsoft bundle, I developed a way to create the designs on Power Point. This took me a lot less time -- about a 1/2 hour per design -- so many more of my designs have actually been created on paper and some of them were even created in silver, brass or plastic)

I also started drawing clothing designs. Since I didn't know how to draw figures, I would trace figures from comic books and fashion ads without the clothing they were wearing and draw clothes on them. Over the years, I have collected quite a number of pages of designs. Some of them I even have up on my web site.

I took some time away from all this to get a college degree (BA in TV/Radio), get credits toward a second degree (in computer art), work as an office manager, a programmer, a tech writer and probably sixty or seventy other things.

Along the way, I got into graphic design (took an adult education course in it) and computer graphics. I began "doing" computer graphics on an Apple II series computer.

I did some graphic design work, mostly freelance. One of the places I did graphic design work was a tee shirt design company and I did a design of what I later called "Strong Jewish Women".

Fast forward several years. I got tee shirts printed with this original design (I still have quite a number of them left). I was trying to sell those when a friend of mine told me about cafe press. So I started designing things on cafe press (I still do). Then another friend told me about Etsy (to put up my hand done things). Another friend of mine told me about Zazzle.

So, now that I have so much of my artwork up on different products, I needed a way to "get the word out". For this I use Squidoo (which isn't quite as helpful as in the past, but I digress), Facebook and these blogs.

Off the net, I pass out business cards and do pre-holiday boutiques where I show off my growing inventory of products. I'm not selling tons this way, but it does seem to get better each time.

But I'm still, after over 8 years, in that limbo state. I'm still trying to get a foothold with my internet business. I hope it's just a matter of time, but sometimes I wonder.......

Compugraph Designs Printfection Store

Veggies on Parade Cutting BoardCompugraph Designs has a store on "Printfection" which includes cutting boards (good wedding or housewarming gifts), mugs and cups, tees, etc.

This cutting board is only one of the many items at our store:

Compugraph Designs Printfection site

(Click on the picture to go directly to this product's page)

Our Fascination with Ghosts


From Hamlet to Casper, Why are Ghosts so Fascinating?

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What is it about ghosts that scare us and entertain us so much? I can't answer that question (unless it's that we think of it as a way to keep our loved ones in our hearts) but I find it interesting that they show up in a variety of roles, scary and funny.

Ghostly Entertainment

Hamlet's father was a ghost. Topper's housemates were ghosts. Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit was a ghost of the protagonist's wife. (And, of course, many of us grew up with Caspar the Friendly Ghost).

Ghost Riders in the Sky

I grew up with TV. My first exposure to ghosts was cartoons of Casper the Friendly Ghost. I also was a huge fan of the TV show Topper. These ghosts were not scary.

I suppose that because I don't like scary movies, I have mostly only been exposed to ghosts as amusing, entertaining, lighthearted figures. The ghosts in Blithe Spirit, the Ghost and Mrs. Muir and Harry Potter are part of this pattern.

I also used to like a program called "My Partner the Ghost" that was a British import about a private detective who gets murdered and comes back as a ghost to help his partner find the man who murdered him. But he stays around to help his partner after that.

So as long as people continue to write about friendly, nice ghosts, I'll continue watching.

Compugraph Designs' Printfection site

We have a store on "Printfection" which includes cutting boards (good wedding or housewarming gifts), mugs and cups, tees, etc.

This cutting board is only one of several Halloween themed items at our store:

Compugraphd Printfection site

(Click on the picture to go directly to this product's page)

Ghost Themed Products from Compugraph Designs on Zazzle