Wednesday, August 28, 2019

LTCH Crafts: looks fishy to me!

I am currently an activity aide at a Long Term Care Home (the 'LTCH' in the labels or tags for this post). I want to do creative work with my residents but many suffer forms of dementia and other challenges. I do not want to put sharp or heavy tools in their hands; not merely because they might use them on each other but, well, I have a big scar on the back of my own hand and my residents often have shakes or palsies of their own.

Another consideration here is my own limited ability - remember that scar on my hand? I can cut wood but not always in a straight line. 

So I thought for a long time on how wood working projects we could do. At my mother's home, I saw a big carved fish - very simply done, mostly a slab of 10" by 2" that, well, looks better than the ones below but clearly similar.

I was able to find some soft wood, cut out some big chunks and do most of the rest with a knife.

There was a discussion online about asking people to draw a bike from memory. Many people had trouble with the shapes and how they connected. Because I love cycling, I got all but the fine details right - and as not before about my ability, those fine details would be sloppy anyway. In this case, I think I conflated many different fish and how their lower fins fit and worked.
This one from   Government Fisheries, has four forward fins, almost like four arms on terrestrial verts.
Image result for largemouth bass
Some of my fish has two forward and two hind fins while others, to look less like legs, had two forward and one hind fin.

I am not too concerned as I wanted these shapes to be quickly made. This wasn't supposed to be my project but one for the residents that I assisted with.

Here is how the project progressed:

I work in a locked home area with the most confused residents. Most were happy to chat while I, a volunteer and one resident did the sanding. The sanding took an hour or a little more and we were all amazed at how soft the fish felt after the sanding. We could have left the project there and simply used the fish for tactile purposes!

Instead we painted a few of them. I am not much of a painter but a coworker is both a skilled painter and an excellent instructor in the painting process. Where I  painted the yellow fish carefully doing both colours at one sitting, she would have done the whole fish one colour, let it dry and then done the second, darker colour. Sounds simple but I didn't think to do it the first time.

These fish were simple and fun but took more time on my part in the basic shaping than I wanted. I need to get faster, get more of a production line approach going, or I will be wasting my time in prep.
Future plans:



Dec: Or ask residents - offer a choice of what they want to make.


Thursday, June 13, 2019

creativiti and greed

I can only call the scheme proposed by Quora to financially reward people for asking questions a remarkable way to study greed and creativity.
In the Quora Partner program, members make a little money based on how many people respond to their questions. More info here.
This should be a great way for creative people to make money simply by asking questions and learning stuff. And maybe this is happening.

Let's look at a question I like. What is the opposite word of cooking? I like it. Cooking is not only heating food so 'freezing' isn't the opposite. Fine. I answered the question: follow the link if you like. The thing is, the questioner also asked 148 other questions, all starting with, "What is the opposite word of ...?"
Here is a person who asked 21 questions about synonyms. Another person I cannot now find (perhaps s/he was banned or blocked) asked more than a thousand 'synonym' questions.

So there is a chance to make money pretty easily. All you have to do is ask questions. Ready? Go!

Huh, turns out thinking of good questions isn't easy. As Quora knows, it is also hard to police the questions they get. I have tried to ask useful, valuable (financially for me!) questions. I have asked a total of five, I think. And I have made $5.11! But that is American so that's something.

I love answering questions. How hard can it be to ask them? Turns out, pretty hard. But I want that money!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

A limit to my creativiti

At work in May I set as a craft, fan-making for June 11. Then I let it go, secure that the internet would teach me how to teach my residents how to make one.
And there were some good ideas but they required too much specific craft stuff or were too childish (Note: my 'resident's are residents of a Long Term Care Home, largely older than I am). I took some ideas and put them together into a pretty good practical creation, I think.

I had planned to use tongue depressors but it turned out at work we only had popsicle sticks, far too small to be useful. I did find a set of painter's plaques, maybe 14 cm by 24 cm, I guess. Wait, in cutting them to useful sizes, I know the short side was 16 cm. Anyway, I measured out 1.5 cm sections and cut them in a guillotine. This worked well. Then I took them plus some nuts and bolts I had bought to the maintenance room. 
There I amazed myself. I have used tools before but this time I picked up all the tools I needed, organized them and used them exactly as planned! Usually, I am trying to make a slot screwdriver work in a philips head. I drilled the plaques four at a time, then threaded the bolt through. I tightened the nut as far as I could then cut the excess with a hacksaw. Then, I smashed the cut end with a hammer, spreading the cut threads and making sure the nut could not come off. Genius, I say!

I found paper of close to the right size and meet my residents so we could make fans. Here is one.

You can see how the paper overlaps which is not ideal, but you can also see the fingers or plaque pieces of the fan.

So far, pretty good stuff. I planned ahead and thought about how things would fit together and I am mostly proud.

But then a resident asked how to add a string so she could hang the fan on her wall. I had given no thought to display at all. I hadn't thought about the fans as art. This was not tragic but it is pretty good example of my relative skill at figuring out the small picture but not the larger picture.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Atomic Rockets- an encyclopedia for science fiction writers

I recently learned of Atomic Rockets and it seems a great resource for planning space flight in stories in ways that make sense.

This site was mainly intended for science fiction authors who wanted a little scientific accuracy so they can write SF "the way God and Heinlein intended" (Arlan Andrews's Law). The technical term is Hard Science Fiction.
But anybody who is interested can play with the toys contained within, designing their own Planet Rangers Rocketships. It is assumed that the reader has enough knowledge to know the difference between a star and a planet, high school mathematics, and enough skill to use a pocket calculator. Computer spreadsheet and computer programming skills are a plus, spreadsheets in particular will make your life much easier.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Clouds in my sky

I look for creativity prompts everywhere and here might be the most traditional one there is, looking for shapes in the clouds.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Quora: favourite creativity texts

Brian Dean
Brian Dean, studied creativiti for 7 years and counting - some day I'll have it figured out
I have read creativity texts with the same question in mind. Thank you for asking this so I could gather my thoughts in answering it. I have moved to a different continent recently and lost some books so I really had to hunt for the names of a few. This might be the hardest I have worked to answer a Quora question! Only around 9 books in my list.
Find some relatively weird science fiction and fantasy books. I like Larry Niven - Wikipedia for this: his politics and descriptions of women might reasonably put some people off but his wild ideas about physics and big science open up literal new worlds. Again, the women in Ringworld are mostly there for sex but the Ringworld itself is an amazing invention. I would also add that his aliens are well thought out - again, better than some of the women.
More recently, Martha Wells’ Books of the Raksura Compendium describes a variety of fantasy creatures with remarkable vividness and careful thought. They are not human and only act mostly as humans would. The world they live in is also fantastical.
The Voynich manuscript has been solved, I think. It was a book written in code and found by chance that many have attempted to interpret or translate. Finally it has been and it is a description of various plants. Still, the images and mysterious text make me wonder what it might say. Ignore the real answer and skim through this book, making your own determinations of what it consists of! The Complete Manuscript 1 Page 57v:
Page 70v:
I found a book on symbolism in art. It was probably originally written in a foreign language and colourfully translated. There are dozens of such books but this one was great just for its example images. Those images fired up my imagination. I know so little about art that I hesitate to suggest one specific painter or artist. All university students looking to decorate their dorm rooms know or Dali and Escher but there might be others (joke. Of course there are). I just thought of one: Hieronymus Bosch. A book of his work or whatever genre or time period he was in would fire up your imagination as you look at the images and the explanations. Added before publishing: Found it!
From formal to not-that-formal research:
Csikszentmihalyi (spelling is only close) writes many respected books on the subject. His books on genius seem to be, “they have these qualities” rather than “Here is how to get these qualities” so it will inform you but not directly improve your creativity. Here is one: Creativity
I have read Thinkertoys and Cracking Creativity from "MICHAEL MICHALKO" (showing 1-8 of 8 books) and remember liking them.
de Bono’s Creativity Workout is a book I used a lot as a teacher to encourage creativity in my students. I really like this one but I am told that if you have already read de Bono, a lot of this book repeats previous work.
John Medina’s Brain Rules (Brain Rules: Brain development for parents, teachers and business leaders) offers a lot of well researched suggestions.
There are a lot of prompts for creative work out there in book form, from painting prompts to writing prompts and so on. These are often very artform dependent and so might not apply to people in other fields. As well, I have a book on woodcarving techniques and tools that helps me understand how to make things. I don’t always make the objects in the book but the suggestions allow me to make novel things. This means the book - basically recipes for making boxes and knick-knacks - inspires my creativity. Added before publishing: Found it!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Silvermint on Pantsers and Plotters

The two terms are Nanowrimo lingo. Silvermint in the process of discussing Game of Thrones, explains them well on Twitter:
It has to do with the behind-the-scenes process of plotters vs. pantsers. If you’re not familiar with the distinction, plotters create a fairly detailed outline before they commit a single word to the page. 
Pantsers discover the story as they write it, often treating the first draft like one big elaborate outline. Neither approach is ‘right’ - it’s just a way to characterize the writing process. But the two approaches do tend to have different advantages. 
Because they have the whole story in mind, it’s usually easier for plotters to deliver tighter stories and stick the landing when it comes to endings, but their characters can sometimes feel stiff, like they’re just plot devices.

Pantsers have an easier time writing realistic characters, because they generate the plot by asking themselves what this fully-realized person would do or think next in the dramatic situation the writer has dropped them in.

But because pantsers are making it up as they go along (hence the name: they’re flying by the seat of their pants), they’re prone to meandering plots and can struggle to bring everything together in a satisfying conclusion. 
That’s why a lot of writers plot their stories but pants their characters, and use the second draft to reconcile conflicts between the two.

Those are among the first seven tweets in a thread of thirty.