Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Peek-a-Boo and Picnik Fun

Peek a Boo! Ranger sees you! 

I have been having a blast going back through all my old photos and playing with them in Picnik.

What is Picnik?  It is a online photo editing tool, and I love it.  I don't know about you...but I do not speak fluent PhotoShop.  Even after taking a class I found myself huddled in the corner, shaking, overwhelmed with feelings of fear, anxiety and inadequacy.  It was ugly.

I am normally very good with all software.  I can wiz around Excel, make scenarios, macros, lookup functions, pivot tables, and audit formulas - but I can't figure out how to flatten an image without Photoshop for Dummies.

I could learn it if I owned the software & time to practice...but right now I dont have several hundred dollars laying around that I want to spend on Photoshop.  So I found the next best thing.

Picnik.  Photo editing made easy for morons like me.

Next month I am planning on buying Adobe Elements and learn that.  For now I am enjoying Picnik.  It is cheap, SUPER easy and fun!    Everything you can UNDO!  Woohoo!

I like that I can take a decent shot like this...(straight out of the camera) that is just lacking ooomph. 

And make it look like this through a series of easy to manipulate functions and adding a texture. 

Edit: Adjust Exposure, raise color saturation a bit, bring up the temperature. 
Create tab:  apply ortonish action fade to 60% 
Touch-up tab: apply slight eye bright to eyes - fade 70%
Drag a texture up from my PhotoBucket, adjust to 'hardlight' and fade 50%
Apply border under create tab.
Apply signature in text

Doing that in Photoshop would have left me sniffling under my desk.  All you fantastic Photoshop people out there have talent and skills I only dream about.   For me, there is Picnik. 

Here are a couple more before and after shots.


Not so blah.
Okay so I may have over processed this one a smidge.
But I like it - it looks like something out of a fairy tale fantasy. 

In this one I thought Bonnie was too dark and just...well...meh

So I cropped it, then started playing with the functions.  Doesn't look much like the shot above anymore eh?  

It is so much fun!  

Here are a couple without so many extreme actions applied.  Just crop, color boost, sharpness mask and something else I cant remember. 



Pretty cool huh?  

One thing...don't over process eye ball peepers with Eye Bright.  Like I have a bad habit of doing.

Before I got my new monitor the colors were muted and I thought I was making Ranger's eyes look bright and happy.  In actuality he looked like someone popped his normal eyes out of his head and inserted a shiny set of marbles.

I tried to fix his eyes then and added a bokeh texture and tint in the back ground. least the Bokeh distracts you from the wacko eyes. 

Give it a shot.  You have to pay for the premium functions, but it is only $24 something a year.  For me, this is working till I can get Elements and learn it.

I have been having a blast experimenting with textures.  You can find free textures on Flickr.  Just search Textures - and then respect the requests of people who are providing them for download.  

Brynn Before (I miss this little Monkey so much)

Brynn after, with heavy texture and a bunch of functions layered one on top of another.  I just started trying stuff until I found things I liked.  The fun part is you can undo anything you try!


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ramblings of a Disturbed Dog Person

I am struggling to find things to write about.   I think I am depressed.

Let me rephrase that.  I know I am depressed.  Being unemployed for over a year has been dragging me down a smidgen.  Although the thought of going back to work is intimidating.   I like it at home.  I like being with my dogs.  I am not looking forward to going back into corporate America and plowing a plot in Cube Farm USA.  Yet I do my required duty.  I apply for jobs daily, file my unemployment and interviews, no phone calls.  Nada.  It is depressing to be in a field that is 'in decline'. 

Then again...not leaving the house for days on end, realizing I forgot to take a shower for two days in a row is depressing too.   I am not sure I will know how to even talk to people without using "Good Boy" "Excellent!"  or "Good Job" in a sentence.  Do I even want to?

I have accepted wearing clothing covered with dog hair, and shoes stained with sheep poop.  Will my future employer understand? 

I prefer dogs

I much prefer having them pester me than a boss.

You know when you are watching a movie, and the character is making a royal arse out of himself?  So badly it is making you uncomfortable?  You just want to grab him by the shoulders and say "GET A GRIP DUDE!" or just shut off the TV?  Yep, I feel like that when I look in the mirror.

I am going to do that in this post.  

Remember my grand plans to lose weight last year... Well, I made it 5 months, lost about 30 lbs and promptly gained it all back.  Plus an additional 11 pounds that showed up out of freaking NO WHERE!

Why is chocolate so cruel?  I love it so much, and it is so vindictive.

The ultimate toxic relationship.

Pre-Menopausal Woman + Chocolate = Woman who has a stomach bigger than South America.

I am seriously thinking about starting smoking again just to lose the large tractor tire that has settled in around my middle...uh, butt, thighs, arms.  Ha! Who are we fooling?  Thighs?  They aren't thighs anymore -  they are inflated tree trunks. 

I miss Brynn and Beth.

I want them home.  I know where they are, they are in good hands, but I still feel like I am missing something.  That niggling feeling in the back of my mind that something is out of sorts.  It is the hole that has been left by their absence.    I know, I are saying "Get a grip Dude".

I want a job where I can take pictures of dogs all day long.  Dogs and maybe the occasional person.  I like dog people, they are cool.  You always have something to talk to 'dog people' about.  Not like 'accounting' people.  I worked with 'accounting' people and *shudder* 'engineering' people for many years,  doG forbid...I WAS one of those people!   It  left indelible scars on my fragile psyche.

(No offense intended to accounting and engineering people reading my blog, if you are reading the ramblings of this blathering idiot - then you are my kind of peep. *insert sappy smile here*).

Did I ever share with you the story of my last boss?  I obviously don't work for that company anymore - and have no plans to ever return into that field - so I have no fear of sharing this story with you.  

Our team's beloved boss retired. Instead of hiring a well educated, funny, classy woman like her ... they hired an idiot.  Not just any kind of idiot, mind you, she was a supreme idiot.  The things that came out of her mouth on a regular basis left me unable to speak.  I always believed that it took monumental effort to be that stupid.  She proved me wrong. 

After working with our team for a couple of weeks she found out I worked in Border Collie Rescue.  In an effort to 'bond', she called me into her office and shared her personal Border Collie Rescue Story.   She told me all about the dog she adopted from PNW BC Rescue the year before.  On and on she talked about this wonderful dog.  Her daughters adored him, she adored him.  They loved him to pieces.  They were so happy together. 

The following week, things changed.  She called me into her office again.  Now she wanted me to take that same 'wonderful' dog off her hands, since it was too busy for her daughters.   Apparently her daughter was locking the dog in her bedroom all day long (and night) the poor dog had taken to relieving himself on her bed.  ('DOH)

So here I am, with a new boss and she is asking me to take her dog.  She was upset with me because I wouldn't go to her house that evening and pick him up.  I held my tongue and told her she needed to call the foster home she adopted the dog from and make arrangements to return him.  I then contacted the foster home she adopted the dog from and started the ball rolling, because I did not trust her to follow through. 

Eventually, things worked out for the dog, and he ended up in a much better home than she could provide.  I worked daily on 'forgiving' her. 

I really really really tried.  Believe me I did. 

Fast forward 4 months.

I am toiling away in my cube when Boss from H*ll (BFH) comes plops down and begins a conversation that went like this:

BFH"Oh I am sooo excited!  We are getting a new puppy!"

Stunned Carolynn:  "Really?  I thought you were too busy for a dog?"

BFH: "The girls have really grown up and they want to get a new puppy, we are getting a Vizsla!"

Freaked out Carolynn:  "A Vizsla PUPPY?  Are you out of your mind?  You thought a mature border collie was too much work? Vizsla's need as much attention and exercise as a border collie."

BFH: "We have researched the breed and are ready for the commitment. Our new puppy will arrive tomorrow!"

Pisssed off Carolynn: "Arrive?  Where are you getting him?  Did you check out the breeder? I would be happy to try and find you a Vizsla rescue from a local source, then you can meet him before you adopt him. "

BFH: "No, thanks anyway, too late!  We ordered him from Next Day Pets online.  He is coming from a reputable breeder in Missouri.  We have emailed extensively about their breeding and how they raise their puppies.  They were born in the kitchen with the family right there".  

Furious Carolynn: "A reputable breeder does not sell their puppies on the internet.  They also do not ship them sight unseen to people via email.  Please  check them out a little better, you are likely supporting a puppy mill."

Stupid Fffing BFH: "I have checked them out - they are a very good breeder, they have been prompt and professional in all the emails.   Besides I already sent my money.  We pick the puppy up tomorrow at the airport."

She knew I was passionate about rescue, she asked me about it everyday.  She returned her rescue border collie right after she was hired.  She didn't see a problem with it.  She ordered a puppy from online FROM A PUPPY MILL.  I really wanted to bash her over the head with a filing cabinet.

Over the next 6 months I was regaled with tales of the Vizsla puppy her girls were neglecting, while single Mom worked 14 hour days. I kept my mouth shut.

I left that company knowing without a doubt I never wanted to work for someone like that again.  I like dog people.  Smart dog people who don't order their dogs from Next Day Ffffing Pets.

If you can point me toward a job where I can use my camera, write, design, work with dogs & dog people, (maybe some cat, bird, cow, horse or sheep people too) I would be eternally grateful.

But please no BFH's with Vizsla puppies.  Thanks!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ranger the Pothead

We have always had questions about Ranger

Questions about his direction in life

His questionable choices

His struggles

Now we understand why we have had these concerns.  Like most loving 'parents' our instincts were correct.  

Ranger has a drug problem.

Saturday we took the dogs up to the Carbon River Ranger Station & Trail located just below the Carbon Glacier near Mount Rainier.  

Right before the park entrance we stopped to let the dogs run on the river off leash.  When we were parking we saw several teenagers leaving a camp spot next to the river.  They had left a bunch of stuff behind.   Food, bags, garbage and this...

Dozens of bizarre 'rock sculptures'.  Which oddly enough were rather cool to look at.  But my surly inner child couldn't resist knocking each and every one of them over...then giggling like a maniac.  I digress...

Ranger being the inquisitive dog that he is stuffed his nose in everything.  Obviously looking for yummy treats.  John pulled his nose out of the camp fire, a bag and other hidey holes of goo.

We crossed the river and enjoyed our time, relaxing and photographing the dogs.

Ranger & Bonnie were in top portrait form.

But Bonnie wouldn't get more than about 10 feet away from Ranger, and she was being strangely nice to him.

Then Ranger started doing funny things.   Beyond the typical silly Ranger things.

Like dropping the ball and then falling off the edge of a bank.

Ranger hopped up on this log, then stayed there an inordinate amount of time...just taking in the scenery.

 This is why I love to photograph him...but this was just plain freaky

He stood happily on this log for 10 minutes.

 After the log, he became oddly attached to a section of moss, little motivated him to move. 

Then the goofy head tilt started.  He would stare into nothing.

Duuuuude....look at that. 

Bonnie said "Something stinks in Ranger Land,  he is acting wackier than usual". 

Happy dog, went to loopy dog in a matter of one hour. 

When Ranger began to drool, had difficulty walking, his head was tilting oddly and began falling over in earnest we immediately left for the vet where he began to vomit, lost control of his bladder and his heart rate dropped, he was quickly admitted for treatment of unknown toxicity.   He was hooked up to an IV, given charcoal and supported overnight.

The first question our vet asked us "Do you have teenagers at home?"

We said "Uhhhh why?"

He said "Because Ranger's symptoms match marijuana toxicity perfectly".

John and I looked at each other and grimaced and told the vet about the campsite. 

We are still not 100% sure what he ingested, but the vet feels, given his symptoms it may have been marijuana or psychedelic mushrooms left behind by the campers.

Marijuana Toxicity in Dogs  - The usual pet toxicity case involves a dog that has inadvertently eaten a stash of marijuana. In the dog, clinical signs typically begin 30-90 minutes after the marijuana has been eaten.  Because THC is stored in the body’s fat deposits, the effects of marijuana ingestion can last for days.

Signs & Symptoms include: uncoordination and listlessness along with dilated pupils, slow heart rate and sometimes urinary incontinence.  Marijuana toxicity can look similar to intoxication with numerous other sedatives. It is very important for all the relevant information to be presented to the veterinarian if the pet is to be helped.  Veterinarians are not obligated to report to local police. If you know marijuana was involved in an intoxication it is important to make this information known. Obviously this goes for other recreational drugs as well.

Hallucinogenic syndrome -  Mushrooms that cause this syndrome are known as magic mushrooms, blue legs or liberty caps, and are considered illicit drugs in many places. "Street" mushrooms are generally edible mushrooms, like those found in supermarkets, laced with LSD or other illicit drugs. Whereas dogs ingest other poisonous mushrooms in woods or the back yard, they pull hallucinogenic mushrooms out of backpacks or other hiding places. Behavior changes include restlessness and hallucinations. Dogs who are hallucinating frequently snap at invisible flies, may be extremely depressed, stagger when walking and become comatose. Muscle tremors and seizures also occur. Dogs who ingest hallucinogenic mushrooms always require rapid decontamination and monitoring by a veterinarian.
I like for this blog to serve as a resource of helpful information.  I am growing weary of being the example of "what not to do".   My wallet is not happy either. 

Ranger is home, recovering, thankfully...and listening to an inordinate amount of Pink Floyd and staring at the wall.

"It's all worries man...I am just chillin'.  

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Remember Me?

Hi!  Its me, the CUTEST puppy!  

Remember my mom almost named me Myst.  But it didn't fit. 

You see, my mom says I am a real stinker.  I am only four months old and I am not afraid of NUTTIN!   Like my big brother Jess...I tell him what to do and where to go - all the time

My mom decided I needed a better name.  One that would fit my bossy attitude.  My name is....


It fits me, dontcha think? 

I love to play in the water and RUN!

My mommy loves me the most...'cuz when I am close to her, I snuggle....then she melts. 

Even when I am naughty, all I have to do is tell her I luvs her with my eyeball peepers and she kisses my face

Yep, my mommy luvs me the mostest.  Its not hard, I mean, look at the competition.  This is Blitz. 

Blitz is mommy's open dog. I think that means his head fell open and his brains done falled out! 

Yep...he is a goober, but he's not  dumb...he is just goofy and I love him too.

My mommy says a picture is worth a thousand words...see? 

This is my one of my big sisters, her name is Skye. 

She don't like me much because I peed on her bed last night. 


I have so much in life to look forward to...

I am so happy I have my new family.  Especially my mommy. 

I love her the mostest too. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ranger and the Tugzee

If I is good wills you gimme da toy?

I wills behave I swear

Stop laughing!  Give me da damn toy Camera Face or I will trip you and that camera will be stuck in yous nose FOREVAH! .

'Bout time you listened to me, now I will pretend this is your arm!

Grrrr, rip....Snap....there goes your arm!  

Call me Ranger TUDOR!  I wills behead you too!

Kill the ToY!

Call me Ranger DEMENTO!  WackNut-o-matic!

Oops, if I am not nice she may not feed me anymore. 

I am sowwy Camera Face, I love you.  Can I have the toy again, please?  I promise to neva pee on flower pot in da back yard again.