Wednesday, March 30, 2011

HTML to Kindle: An Aggravation Odyssey

Today I spent several hours making a nifty HTML file of some recipes that I'd scanned out of an old cookbook and converted to text, and then had a hell of a time trying to get the email-to-Kindle service to accept my file. Allegedly, HTML files are JUST FINE, but it seemed like every time I sent it, I got an error message in return. I don't know how much of my aggravation was due to the fact that I had omitted a critical HTML tag and therefore my file would not convert no matter how many settings I twiddled, but I suspect probably most of it. Yes, that's right; it was probably user error.

Still, I'm going to note down the steps I took to get my scanned recipes into a format that looks, if I say so myself, rather nice on my Kindle, and even has a table of contents. Mainly, this is in case *I* forget how to do it later, but hopefully it's useful to someone else, too. I used so many random web pages to compile these instructions that it's not even funny, but Kindle Formatting was one of the most helpful.

First, though, a note on why I didn't just send the PDF straight to my Kindle. Well, I did. BUT the PDF viewer did all kinds of annoying things like auto-rotating and generally making it hard to read. So I tried cutting and pasting the OCR text from my PDF into a Word doc, and then converting that back to PDF, and putting it on the Kindle. It was...better, but I wasn't able to browse to locations, and the spacing was all messed up. So here's what I did that DID work, from beginning to end, in ten not-so-easy steps:

Monday, March 21, 2011

Embarrassing Things I Wrote in the Past

Yeah, I wrote a lot of things in the past that I find embarrassing now. It's just the way things work. But today's is quite special--after Tanita posted her college-era letter to her future self over on Finding Wonderland, I remembered an essay (yes, ESSAY) that I wrote, completely of my own volition, at age 13 (it's dated June 20, 1990), differentiating the types of people who annoyed me. Evidently the old joke is true: there are two types of people, those who divide people into types and those who don't. Ha ha. Clearly my 13-year-old self was obsessed with dividing people into types. Or I was really mad at someone. Anyway, here it is for your reading amusement. Let me just note, for the record, three things: 1) I was REALLY CRANKY when I was 13, and 2) I'm glad I never have to be 13 again, and 3) I am really not this person anymore. Um, I don't think. Then again, I did draw all those Common Species of the Literary World Cartoons...

INSIGHTS - DIFFERENCES (by Sarah, June 20, 1990)

There are many different types of people in the world. Those, like me, who choose to have friends may have certain standards that these friends must live up to, certain characteristics of their personalities. 

One main thing about people is that they may change. As friends mature, their personalities and viewpoints can drastically be altered. It is then when one sees more readily certain types of people.

One of the most common types is the fakers. People who pretend to be someone they aren't. There are some identifying attributes to these people's outside personalities. For one, you often see them "kissing up" to people in prominent places. Don't get this confused with the harmless type of kissing up, as with being truly kind to people, or being indifferent to people one doesn't like. [Editor's Note: I was obviously unclear on the concept of kissing up...]

--NOTE: I am not classifying people in a false way because, from experience, I tell you this is true-- [I find this side note HYSTERICAL.]

Monday, March 07, 2011

The Want-Tos and the Have-Tos

I had a great conversation this morning with a friend of mine, Brenda, who is in her 70s (I think; she's very energetic, so I'm not entirely sure) and recently had a hip replacement. We hadn't spoken in some time, but over the course of getting caught up, she told me that she's always found it difficult to get around to doing the things she really wants to do because she's so focused on getting done all the things that "have to" get done. She said that she feels like she has to tackle the "have to dos" before she can allow herself time for the things she wants to do.

I realized that I'm much the same way. I set all kinds of priorities, many of them arbitrary, and most of them woefully inattentive to what I would actually like to be doing. Ultimately, it seems to lead to stress about what I have to do, but what's worse, I get stressed out about what I *want* to do, too, so that even those things seem like a chore. Or they seem like an unattainable reward--unattainable because I feel like I'll never tackle the "have to dos" to my satisfaction.

I haven't figured out a solution to this yet. I suspect the answer lies in simply taking time for the things I want to do, and not worrying about it. Letting it go. This sounds so simple yet it's so difficult. Both parts of it are difficult. I even tend to feel I must prioritize my "want to dos"--I want to make new artwork, so that should take priority over playing a video game, practicing the piano, or (here's a brand-new one) knitting a hat with ear flaps, all of which I also want to do. (Here's one hat I'd love...probably too difficult for my rudimentary skills, especially if I want to make it big enough for me...)

And where does exercise fit? Is it a want-to or a have-to? If it's a have-to, is it more important or less important than, say, working on writing, or attending to my freelance work?

Questions like these rapidly cause me to spiral into completely unproductive paralysis, so clearly my current method of addressing the issue is inadequate.

At least I did manage, a couple of weeks ago, to take time to sit in on Rob's class and do some figure drawing. The first two images (sets of 3 drawings apiece) were done using only my thumb dipped in Speedball ink. The third image was done using a Tombow pen, plus a brush and water. Currently the Tombow pen is my nemesis; this was the only acceptable drawing I did that day with the pen.

I'm hoping I can use one of these sketches, or another sketch, for a new set of artworks that I'm rather excited about. They'll incorporate block printing, found text, and other mixed media alterations. Finding the time...that's the problem.