Non Sequitur: Calligraphy & Letter Art Day-to-Day 2007 Calendar

Calligraphy CalendarAccord Publishing has 211 “Day-to-Day” desk calendars for 2007 and 2008 listed on their website. If you’ve got a desk calendar filled with insults, misunderstood song lyrics, redneck jokes, Jeopardy questions or cross stitch patterns, there’s a good chance it was published by Accord Publishing or its parent company, Andrews McMeel Universal.The 12-month, 365-day year is © Andrews McMeel Universal.

Last week I bought the Calligraphy & Letter Art™ Accord Art 2007 Day-to-Day Calendar from Half Price Books. The box “[i]ncludes a FREE Elegant Writer® lettering marker! by Speedball®”The Speedball Art Company, makers of the Elegant Writer® should not be confused with the comic book character, Speedball, who is ™ and © 2007 Marvel Characters, Inc. The former is well-known art supply company, while the latter was involved in an incident that triggered Civil War, a massive crossover event that has rocked the very foundation of the Marvel Universe., so I thought I was all set for 365 days of beautiful calligraphy.

Since I’m a few weeks behind, I’ve been doing a couple of pages every night before leaving work. Each weekend introduces a new “alphabet” that is used for the following week. The first week is Chancery Italic, the second is Elder English.

Last night I caught up to week three and was introduced to the Shindig alphabet. Unfortunately, Shindig is not designed to be written with the Elegant Writer® lettering marker! by Speedball®. The recommended tools are a “[f]ine-tipped black magic marker and multi-colored magic markers or colored pencils (not included).” I don’t keep colored pencils in my desk at work (not since we discontinued Craft Hour two years ago), but a black .7mm Bic Z4 rollerball pen seemed to be a decent replacement for a fine-tipped black magic marker. No problem.

Flipping ahead to week four (which began on the weekend of 20 January), I see that the recommended tool for the Tuscany alphabet is a “[s]mall paintbrush with ink or watercolor (not included).” Seriously. A paintbrush.

On week five (which started last weekend), the alphabet is Baltissimo, and we’re back to the fine-tipped magic marker (not included). In week six (Twinkle), it’s the paintbrush again (a size “000” sable brush is recommended). Finally, in week seven (beginning on 10 February) the Elegant Writer® lettering marker! by Speedball® becomes useful again, when the Chancery Italian alphabet makes its triumphant return.

To be followed in week eight by the Savage alphabet and the damned sable brush again. Crap.

The FREE Elegant Writer® lettering marker! by Speedball® is used for four out of the first 12 weeks. Sixty-six point six percent of first twelve weeks should be completed with a writing implement other than the one included in the box. A box on which, I should point out, the additional implement requirements recommendations are not listed.

On the other hand, I can download a FREE Chancery Italic Practice Template from the Accord Publishing website. I don’t see anywhere I can download a FREE size “000” sable brush and watercolor paints, though. Not even from Speedball®.

Techstuff: Laura’s New Laptop

I have to admit to being a little out of touch with current CPU technology. Once upon a time, it was easy to get a rough gauge of CPU performance based on the processor’s speed. My desktop has a 1.7 GHz Intel Pentium IV, while Laura’s desktop is running a 1.1 GHz Pentium III. I watched as available processor speeds passed the 2 GHz, then the 3 GHz mark.

Last year, Intel and AMD both introduced dual-core processors, gave their products names like “Core Duo T2050” and “Turion 64 X2 TL-50”, and tucked the processor speeds away in small print. I really didn’t pay attention, because I had no need to. Apart not being able to run a growing number of new games (probably a good thing), my computer was just fine; ditto for Laura’s.

That changed a couple of weeks ago when Laura announced that she would like to purchase a laptop. I’ve been wanting to get her one for a couple of years, but until Kyle came along she wasn’t feeling a need for mobile computing. With a curious, active one-year-old boy not content to sit quietly in his mother’s office while she checked her e-mail, designed a birthday party invitation, or scoured eBay for … stuff, Laura realized that it would be nice to have a laptop she could take into the living room while Kyle busied himself with toys and chasing cats.

So last Saturday we went laptop shopping at Micro Center in Mayfield Heights. A lifetime ago (or so it seems), I worked at this very store, and several of the good folks I worked with are still there. I tend to shop around a bit when I want stuff like software and recordable media, but when I want hardware I always head to Micro Center. The fact that they sent me an e-mail coupon for $150 off all notebooks in the store Friday night didn’t hurt, either.

I’d done a little poking around in the store throughout the month (purchasing a new wireless mouse, a Linksys wireless router, and a copy of Norton Internet Security 2007), so I was pretty familiar with the laptops in our price range. I had narrowed it down to three models, and the extra $150 off pretty much cemented the deal. Laura is now the owner of an Acer Aspire 5102WLMi, and I would be remiss if I didn’t provide system specs:

  • AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-50 CPU (1.6 GHz)
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 120 GB, 4200 RPM hard drive.
  • 15.4″ WXGA TFT display
  • ATI Mobility Xpress 1100 graphics adapter
  • DVD+/-R drive.
  • Integrated 802.11b/g wireless network adapter
  • Windows XP Media Center (with a free upgrade to Windows Vista, if memory serves)

I know the Turion 64 X2 processor running at 1.6 GHz is faster than my 1.7 GHz Pentium IV, but I have no idea how much faster. Apart from initial system setup, installing OpenOffice.org, Firefox, Thunderbird, iTunes and Quicktime and watching the HD Ghost Rider trailer, I really haven’t played with it much. From what I can tell, it’s a very nice machine and will serve Laura’s needs quite well.

I can’t help but wonder how Star Wars: Empire at War would run on it, though.

Podcasts: Planet Retcon and 7th Son

The Round Table’s hiatus will soon come to an end, so I thought I’d celebrate by pimping a couple of other podcasts I’ve been involved with during the break.

First, Chris Miller and I did a promo for J.C. Hutchins’ 7th Son trilogy. The first book in the trilogy, Descent, was fantastic, and J.C. has been consistently rocking his listeners’ socks off with Book Two, Deceit. Since 7th Son feels like an action-thriller movie, Chris and I decided to give it the movie trailer treatment. A word of warning: our promo trailer contains some mild language.

Second is the always awesome Planet Retcon Radio. I did a couple of guest bits for “StarGate Cafe” in season one, and Wesley Clifford asked me to be the regular announcer for the new show that premiered in season two, “The Log of the Crimson Lein”.

And that’s it. We should be recording a new episode of The Round Table in a week or two, so there’s more podcast-y goodness on the way!