Changing of the Guard

I have a literary question particularly for those of you who have small children in this age of iPads, but first, I have an announcement to make.

The Technicolor Ram has turned in his resignation. No, no. Not me. The graphic that I’ve used on this site, my business card, vendor line sheets, newsletter, and just about everything else I’ve generated for several years now. This guy.

140302technicolorram

Truth be told, he’s not a bad guy. Frankly, he’s done his job admirably. And he’s definitely come a long way, baby.

Earliest version of the blog banner I could find
Earliest version of the blog banner I could find
And its matching blog button
And its matching blog button
A bit later. And yes, I do proudly admit both my enjoyment of the Star Trek franchise and a youthful dalliance with Microgramma. Don't act like you never.
A bit later. And yes, I do proudly admit both my enjoyment of the Star Trek franchise and a youthful dalliance with Microgramma. Don’t act like you never.
This second rendition of The Technicolor Ram was created from the same original photograph when the file for the earlier orange version when it mysteriously disappeared during a period in which my whereabouts can be verified. Really. Not entirely sure what was going on with the font on this one, but thankfully the top part was lost. Seriously, I think this format lasted a week or two.
This second rendition of The Technicolor Ram was created from the same original photograph when the file for the earlier orange version mysteriously disappeared during a period in which my whereabouts can absolutely be verified. Really. I’m not entirely sure what was going on with the font on this one, but thankfully the top part was lost. Seriously, I think this format lasted a week or two.
To be fair, this is also not my best work font-wise, but it beat the previous one...
To be fair, this is also not my best work font-wise, but it beat the previous one…
...so I built a button and ran with it.
…so I built a button and ran with it.
This may have been developed a little earlier, but my recollection is that this was created specifically for use as a real logo when I started my wholesale repping business.
This may have been developed a little earlier, but my recollection is that this was created specifically for use as a real logo when I started my wholesale repping business.
And upon this resurrection of the blog, I dropped in a black background.
And upon this resurrection of the blog, I dropped in a black background.

And yes, all I did was muck around with Photoshop filters over a photograph I pulled randomly off the Internet. I’d been using Photoshop for a while for basic cutting and slicing of web images as a web developer, but I hadn’t spent much time really working with it. So yeah, despite the sophomoric effort I was pretty proud of him. And yes, the file was Technicolor Ram.psd. I think of these things. Hey, knowing that the mechanical shark used in the filming of Jaws was dubbed Bruce won my Granny and me a mug from Tyler’s Restaurant when I was a kid (this was the even more homespun version of Jack’s when they pulled out of Georgia). It would have been in character for even an eight-year-old me to give it a name.

So now I’m learning several new things, and among them is Illustrator. I know. I’m coming late to the game. I’ve been a software junky since even before I learned to program, and since leaving college that passion for [what are now called] apps that really do their job well has only been refined by my understanding of what goes into building them. I collect apps like freakin’ Beanie Babies. And I have always LOVED (did you notice the capitalization? L-O-V-E-D) Photoshop. And because I was usually under a deadline and working under budgetary restraints you likely wouldn’t believe, I made do with what I had in terms of Adobe products.

But now there’s Creative Cloud. And no, I’m not being paid by Adobe or anything. I just hadn’t really realized that the entire Creative Suite… PLUS… was going to be available online as a subscription service that is infinitely more affordable for those on minimal budgets. I’d heard, but I hadn’t really digested how affordable the service would be compared to purchasing outright the software that even in its last most recent incarnation would have placed it well out of my budget. And because I already own a Creative Suite product, I get a rather significant discount on the subscription. I bought Photoshop CS5 when I started repping—again since I was most comfortable with it. But I’ve had various versions of Dreamweaver and Photoshop for years. I was also a Macromedia Dreamweaver user and an Allaire ColdFusion developer. I worked during college in an ad & graphics agency as a web developer and even went to several intensive courses on how to use PageMaker 6.5, the predecessor to InDesign. (By the way, does anyone else’s fingers want to make that iDesign? God, muscle memory’s an insightful bitch.) But I never really “got” Illustrator. Granted, I never tried at the agency because I was too busy with my own work, and every time I downloaded a trial and attempted to learn even the basics at home, it became evident very quickly that my resources were required elsewhere.

These days, though, I don’t have those kinds of distractions, and I’m quite delighted to announce that I’m a proud new subscriber (thanks to a dear friend’s generosity) to Adobe Creative Cloud. I’ve already downloaded the apps I know how to use, but I’ve also taken the time to download and install Illustrator. God bless YouTube. I’ve been able to immerse myself in tutorial videos enough that I don’t feel like a squishy-headed newbie. I’m obviously not a trained artist, but I feel like I could use the software if necessary and will improve rapidly. Realistically, I’m a geek with a new toy. If I can use it to drive a nail through wood, I’ll likely give it a shot.

So again true to character, I’m offering another sophomoric effort to replace The Technicolor Ram.

New Crowing Ram Logo - Main

New Crowing Ram Logo - Compact

I was going for something evocative but much simpler, easier to reproduce, more scalable, and more recognizable from a distance. What do you think? I’m genuinely curious to know. And any Illustrator masters are encouraged to provide pointers or resources. These are the first two versions I’ve built, but I think they’re certainly good enough for the banner on my blog if nothing else.

Now if only ColdFusion were part of Creative Cloud. Sadly, no. The standard edition runs about $1.5K. So for now, I’ll be sticking with PHP and MySQL… when I’m not relying on WordPress.


And now for the literary portion of our program. Oh, ye friends of the written word, I’m looking for a source. Or maybe a conversation. Or both.

In A Stranger in a Strange Land, Heinlein made a reference I didn’t recognize, but it sounded ominous. Here it is. “The truth was that he did not want to ask the Bear what had happened to Algy. The Bear might answer.” At that point in the book, there’d been no previous mention of The Bear or Algy, so I suspected an allusion. But I didn’t get it.

Through a handful of  Google searches, I was able to find the reference source in this humorous poem.

Algy met a bear.
The bear met Algy.
The bear was bulgy.
The bulge was Algy.

I found it in a few places online, but I haven’t seen a source. Is this of the Purple Cow variety of traditional children’s poems? I don’t recall having seen it elsewhere.

What hit me about the situation was that as an adult who has little contact with children, I haven’t seen this kind of poem in years. Is it just me? Is it just because I don’t have much contact with kids? I believe these were wonderful tools for learning the subtleties of our language, and certainly the physical books that I had growing up were sometimes the only things with which I had to entertain myself. I pored over books of rhymes and nonsense verse.

For those of you who don’t recall or weren’t exposed, The Purple Cow goes as follows.

I never saw a purple cow
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one!

It’s one of a hundred million billion gazillion of these things that were likely the bane of my mother’s existence for years. They might have been why she went back to work so early. Really. It could be a thing.

But they were as formative not only for my language skills but as references within the culture that I can’t imagine not having been exposed to them.

Can you?

Now, please assure me that there’s some method being employed to keep children engaged with the written word. I know friends who are writers—and readers for that matter—who will set my mind at ease quickly. Please, do.

Edited to include note: I found the source for The Purple Cow on Wikipedia: Gelett Burgess. Apparently, I wasn’t checking the bibliography very thoroughly in the third grade.

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