Book-Centered Gifts For My Niece — Package #7(ish)

My niece is a voracious reader who dreams of leaving that whole public library baloney behind in favor of her own personal library. Can you blame her?

I had that same dream when I was her age, but have had thirty years to make good on it. I’ve amassed quite a collection, most of which (I donated many boxes of books to a local library a while back) is now quietly collecting dust on the bookshelves, side tables, and/or any available flat surfaces of my home — up to and including the floor. And, though the threat of our home collapsing under the weight of said books concerns me deeply, I continue to purchase more. It’s like a sickness. A sickness that makes you feel good and learn things and exercise your brain and whatever. Disgusting.

Anywho, I got to thinking: This little girl wants books and I appear to possess more books than generally considered healthy for an individual person (if I were a library it would make more sense — you might even be disappointed with the selection — but fuck the library). And, I definitely want to cut back on the amount of just plain “stuff” I own. Perhaps I could send some of these books her way to get her personal library started!

So, each weekend for the last six or so weeks (I haven’t kept track), I’ve sent my niece back in Texas a little package containing an age-appropriate (she’s ten) book from my collection and a little note wishing her well, etc.

At least, that’s how it started.

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Follow Me To Certain Doom

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I have a new personal project. It’s been a rough sort of year so far, and I’m looking for ways to make my daily life more fun, more interesting, more ridiculous.

So, I started a new blog/game called Follow Me To Certain Doom – workplace challenges to make your day more interesting.

Each week, I’ll post a new challenge for you to undertake at work. I’ll provide rules and scoring criteria. I’ll even provide a spreadsheet you can use to calculate your scores.

I just posted the second challenge last night and, so far, the response has been awesome. Complete strangers have been sending me images of their challenge results for me to post to the FMTCD Instagram. EXCITEMENT!

Please check it out. If you like it, join the FMTCD Challenge Alert mailing list.

Hooray, Technology! Focus 2 and FX Photo Studio Pro Desktop Apps


My home does not provide ideal lighting conditions for shooting self-portraits. This is only compounded by the fact that I am shooting at different times of day, whenever I have a free moment, usually in some state of rushed and unprepared. The resulting raw images are therefore, unsurprisingly, deeply in need of some sprucing up.

While I can stumble my way through some Photoshop, Instagram has spoiled me. I much prefer the ease and simplicity of Instagram’s Tools – with their cute little icons and their uncomplicated little sliders and their real-time preview. At last, Technology is making life easier and not an even more baffling ordeal!

Unfortunately, Instagram’s Tools are exclusive to their mobile app, and, for the purposes of my picture project, I need tools I can use on my computer. For the first few weeks, I did what I could with Photoshop. It wasn’t great and I wasn’t pleased. Then, after a spirited round of googling and downloading and googling some more, I discovered two little apps that were just what I needed: Focus 2 and FX Photo Studio.

Focus 2 covers the Instagram Tools I use most frequently: Adjust, Vignette, Tilt Shift, and Sharpen. FX Photo Studio offers a slew of filters (far more than those offered by Instagram), as well as the equivalent adjustments for Instagram’s Brightness, Contrast, Warmth, Saturation, Highlights, and Shadows Tools. Because both apps are developed by Macphun, working with images across the two is pretty much seamless. Another point for you, Technology!

Anywho, to illustrate just how easy this shit is and how much better my whole experience has been for it, I thought I’d do a little walkthrough/tutorial of my photo-editing process. 

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Mariebee’s Awesome Xmas Playlist

Only a couple of days left to enjoy the tunes, but I thought I’d share my awesome xmas playlist with you. Mostly secular, older, jazzy/swing stuff but there are a couple more contemporary songs. Well, I guess the most recent addition is Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You, but, damnit, people just aren’t making good new xmas music.

Oh, wait… I guess there are a couple of South Park songs on here…

Please to enjoy.

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