In progress: starfish mirror

This is the starfish mirror frame that I’ve been working on for about six months now. That’s both because it’s pretty large (2.5 ft x 2.5 ft) and because I could only find a couple of hours a week to spend on it, when the kids were in bed and the chores were done and I still had some energy left. I’m really excited to have it completed over the next couple of weeks now that an office job no longer takes up eight hours of my day. This thing is going to be tremendous.

Large square mirror frame with a mosaic of starfishes in red and purple

The starfish mirror frame in progress

The main idea behind this design is that of contrasting the organic starfish shapes with the geometrically regular rippling waves of the background. I wanted each starfish shape to be unique and as realistic-looking as possible. The shapes were all drawn from photos, and it took a few tries to figure out a tiling pattern that would accurately represent the pentaradial surface patterns of starfish while requiring minimal tile cutting – i.e. one that would be based on whole or half-tiles only and not, for example, on triangles or very narrow wedges.

I also enjoy exploring the interplay of varying tile textures and the different effects they have on the overall appearance of the mosaic as the viewing angle or the light changes – hence the alternating iridescent and plain white curves of the background. Mmmmm – curves. I love tiling curves. Expressing  a smooth sinuous shape with small square straight-edged tiles is kind of like integration, and a brush with infinity.

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Fragments of Toronto: East Danforth

Yesterday I took a long walk around an unfamiliar part of the city just because I could.

back yard of an arty house

The most interesting back yard I stumbled onto on this trip

Even though I’ve walked extensively around the west and central parts of Toronto over the years, east of Jarvis or so is mostly a blank spot on my mental map. So I went east.

My favorite streets to explore are the residential ones – I love looking at different houses and imagining how people live in them and contemplating with horror or delight the remodeling choices they’ve made. So even though I walked a few short stretches on Danforth Ave, I mostly strayed a few blocks south or north of it in my westward trip from Woodbine to Broadview.

On Danforth itself, what I noticed were a couple of pubs which probably would’ve been favorite hangouts if we lived in the area, a restaurant called Cafe Frappe which I really wanted to go into, and a bookstore called Circus, which I would have gone into except it was too early in the morning and it was still closed. Also some neat old buildings with friezes and fancy plasterwork, a really grand Romanesque church and a parkette with a bust of Alexander the Great by which a group of old Greek men were hanging out, just like in the clichés.

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How to set up a website, with thanks to the geeks who make it so easy

As a technophile who’s never had to put together a website before, when I set out to make this one in a week, I had a vague idea about some of the concepts involved and a strong sense of it being Not That Hard.

In such a situation, it helps to have an expert source to go to for advice and recommendation, so as to avoid a lot of research and second-guessing. My top trusted source for matters technical, creative and especially techno-creative is Boing Boing – a legendary site edited by makers, geeks, internet privacy activists, and all-around knowledgeable people.

The first step was to register a domain. I remembered that BB had some suggestions for domain registrars in a recent article, so I looked that up and went with Hover.

Having registered and feeling pretty pleased with myself for getting this far, it took me another day to wonder about the server on which the content of my website was going to live. Next step was to find hosting.

Looking around Hover’s site to confirm that they don’t provide hosting as well (some domain registrars do), I also completely missed their suggested hosts page.  Good thing that I did, because the host I ended up going with – found again through Boing Boing – was not on that list, and is one I’m now totally in love with.

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What I’m looking forward to

Here are some of things I’m looking forward to doing just as soon as my last day at the office ends:

in the sunshine

  • Getting started on all the creative projects I’ve not had time to work on – new mosaics, digital illustration, putting my portfolio together for architecture school.
  • Biking my kids to daycare every morning – pulling their trailer behind me up that one ridiculously steep hill that just can’t be avoided on the way from our house to anywhere.
  • Finally figuring out all the manual settings on my camera.
  • Not taking the same route to the same place every day; exploring the city instead – visiting historical neighbourhoods and art fairs, parks and outdoor markets – there are so many corners of Toronto I haven’t walked around yet.

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What I’m leaving behind

When thiat the offices week ends, so will my employment at the bank where I’ve been working for nearly six years. The decision to leave this job was both scary and exhilirating when I finally made it a couple of weeks ago after months of deliberation. Now that I’ve turned in my resignation, the fear has become irrelevant while the excitement continues to grow.

Some of the things I’m leaving behind are things that many people are looking for – job security, good income, great managers and coworkers. (Also a lucky streak of getting the most fantastically secluded window seats whenever there was a rearrangement.) I appreciated these things and considered myself privileged for having them. I thought it was probably impertinent, having what I had, to want something completely different.

The most enjoyable moments I had at work were hours-long stretches of coding in SAS, headphones on, figuring out simple solutions to complex problems, elegant ways of dealing with ungainly data, optimal arrangments of messy extracts into smoothly flowing processes. I liked knowing that even though the end results of whatever I was working on would not be beautiful – some report showing that everyone is underperforming on their targets, some analysis results briefly glanced at by an executive – the way of getting there would be.

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