Sunday, October 21, 2007

Celebrity Spotting

John Lithgow(sp?) at Pier 1

Monday, October 15, 2007

Another Week Another T-shirt Contest

Griled Cheese T-shirts
In case you missed it, I won last week's Swaggy Challenge. The topic was "grilled cheese" and this was the winning entry. I think it took me about three hours to make. It's not without flaws. The lamp has no switch, though I guess that could be on its unseen base. The light cone ends abruptly at a curve near the bottom of the dark frame. It's a bit subtle, I suppose, so I guess nobody took significant notice of it. The cheese is floating in mid-air, or at least the light isn't hitting whatever it's sitting on. I could pass that off as a minimalist design choice made for the purpose of minimizing distracting elements, but to be honest it's mostly because I just plain forgot to put a circle of light under the cheese. I thought of it after submitting the design, but either in hindsight or in a fit of self-justification, I convinced myself the existing design was the better direction. Good enough, I guess.

At first when I saw the topic of the contest, I hadn't a clue what kind of design I could come up with for "grilled cheese", but soon my twisted little mind hit on another meaning of "grilled." The wheels started turning as I played out the surreal scene in my head. When I imagined the cheese ratting out one of his cheese buddies, I knew what I wanted to do, but I wasn't sure I could do it. I initially pictured a full interrogation room scene, with table, light, crappy walls with barred windows in the background, or maybe a big presumably two-way mirror. I didn't think I could pull it off, but I thought maybe if I took a photo of a block of cheese on a table, lit by a desk lamp, with my finger pointing threateningly at it, I could at least fake a blurred background. The props never came together, so just to see what my limits were I started doing a rough drawing on the computer.

As it came together I soon realized that a simple cheese & lamp scene would be able to convey the whole idea. Throwing the frame and black background behind it let the lamp show up on white shirts and dark, while placing the cheese in a really dark scary place, but partitioned off from our amusing view of it from the outside. (How's that for analyzing art?)

Anyway, the entrants were revealed and I figured on maybe making the top three, perhaps with a tight race for second. The voting went on, seemingly forever. And finally the results were announced. It was a tight race all right, but I had just nudged into first. Wow.

So that brings us to the current contest. Again I will not be revealing my design here until the voting is done, but I can tell you the topic: Bionic Turkey. I think some heavier hitters among the designers selling at Cafepress are taking interest this time around, so my chances might not be so good, particularly since I did another last-day entry but this time not one I could minimalize so well. It was actually my second favorite idea. I'll tell you about my first choice later and about why I didn't go with it. Meanwhile, take a click over to the Swaggy Challenge website and rate the designs.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

IVF - Take 2

My wife called in today to alert the doctor of her period, and we have our schedule set for this our second cycle of IVF.

This time around the meds have been tweaked a bit to hopefully tighten the time spread of the developing follicles. In the first cycle the development of the follicles were spread out a bit and several eggs fractured during the retrieval. On the theory that those were the older follicles which fractured because they were overripe, we're pushing for a tighter spread to hopefully come out with more eggs to fertilize. If that doesn't pan out, we'll likely still do as well as the first time which was well above average for our age. (The doctor says that's because my wife is PCI-ish and as a result responds a bit better to the stimulation.)

We're also in a better position in regards to implantation and after. It turns out my wife's blood sugar was not nearly as controlled as we had thought. After posting some pretty good A1C numbers in past testing she got a bit lax about testing herself. It was something like double what it should be. She's now on slow-acting overnight insulin to get her morning number down, and we are both exercising and eating better. The control is very good now, and we are confident it will remain so. High blood sugar can interfere with implantation or cause a higher incidence of miscarriage, so this is an important factor. As those of you who have read my precious entries know, our first cycle ended apparently with what is known as a chemical pregnancy. We got one hint of a positive urine test, then nothing. False positives are practically unheard of, so we're pretty sure at least one of the three embryos we put back in started to implant then failed. With the blood sugar in control we've removed at least that one big obstacle to a successful implantation this time around.

In our first cycle we had five embryos of varying quality, the two least of which were not put back and subsequently survived longer than expected. We have discussed it and even though there is a risk of multiples we have decided that if the number and quality of embryos were the same this time we would want to put them all back. If the quality is higher, though, we may limit the number accordingly.

We had been talking about having my younger sister in law carry for us, but my wife really wants to try this time on our own. Also my SIL is having some tight finances at the moment, and taking the necessary time off might be a bit of a stretch for her. We'll see how things go if we need to do a third cycle. I don't think we could afford any more tries beyond a third, though, so if we do a third I'm inclined to push for at least a tandem transfer to her and my wife if possible to maximize our chances for that final shot. But like I said, we're optimistic about this cycle.

So that's how things stand. The retrieval is estimated to be around Nov. 20th. Hopefully the cooler weather will help a bit with the sperm quality. If all goes well we should be having a baby next summer.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

I've Entered A T-Shirt Design Contest

A fellow designer at Cafepress issued a quick-design challenge this weekend, challenging all comers to come up with and submit a themed design by Sunday night midnight, US central time. (The site says CST, but I think they meant CDT.) Winner gets bragging rights and, if desired, a link to their shop on the challenge host's web site.

The theme is: Grilled Cheese

Yeah, that's right. We had to come up with a design with the theme of grilled cheese. I came up with one, with what I think is a strong concept, but I'm up against some seasoned veterans and I only started on mine mid-day today.

I can't show you the design since the voting is, I think, open to anyone and that would be cheating.

Anyway, here's the design challenge web site if you want to take a look. I haven't seen the other entrants yet. The site is supposed to automatically switch over to displaying the entrants and accepting votes after the deadline, and voting should go on through Friday. This is the first such contest the host has put on, so there could very well be a technical glitch here or there. He seems to be quick about fixing what has come up so far, though. So take a look, and rate the designs. And maybe if the host issues another challenge you can step up and enter too.