The vagueries of Photoshop

First, I’d like to wish a happy 89th birthday to my father (shown here with his calico kitty). I posted a notice on Facebook the other day about his birthday and he got all sorts of nice replies! Looks like he will outlive both of his brothers; however his sister, Alice, is 98 and going strong.

Opa and furry friend

Opa and furry friend

I continue as a full-time student; a strange universe to be at for my age but it’s been kind of fun. One of my challenging courses has been a web/computer course where I’m learning Photoshop and Dreamweaver. With the former, you manipulate photos and art. With the latter, you build web sites, among other things. And our final includes putting together a website! Aaeeiii…have never done such a thing but one must learn. Currently I am plodding through my Photoshop book, slowly learning the craft. So far, I’ve only had to call Adobe’s customer service *once*. It was a nice way to chat with a guy in New Delhi. Customer service these days is far different than 10 or so years ago when I was struggling to understand my Dell computer. These days, folks in Manila or Delhi have you “share” your screen with them and then they can magically solve your problems once they view the mess one has made. And then there’s Bridge, which is a program by which one gets photos out of your hard drive or iPhoto. It’s all quite confusing and I’m bumbling my way along. I’m spending this weekend studying Photoshop/Dreamweaver so I’m not so clueless in class. And I’m designing this new web site. More on that later.

The kind of harp I get to take lessons on.

The kind of harp I get to take lessons on.

Another thing I’ve done is return to my harp playing. After 10 years w/o lessons, I’m back learning again under the tutelage of a teacher who drives from Nashville to meet with me and other students. I get to play on large concert pedal harps; a true privilege, as I have always had to make do with my smaller Celtic harp. Naturally my hand positions and technique has gotten quite dusty over the past decade, so the teacher spends much of her time showing me how to position my arms and fingers right. Not so much other news. The weather has cooled down to the 70s, so it’s been really pleasant out. Perfect time of year to drag Veeka into accompanying me on outings and hikes, which she detests because she hates bugs. Hard to avoid those while hiking. One fun thing we’ve been doing in my entrepreneurship class is posting our thoughts about anything tech and entrepreneurial on a blog: http://jpreneur.wordpress.com. There you can read my thoughts on the lack of originality in Jackson, a history of the Washington Times’ nervy web site Times 24/7 (which was killed earlier this year) and a series of innovative hyper-local web sites that report on religion. We get credit for these reports, so up they go.

What befuddles me

What befuddles me

My final class is a mass comm research methods class where I’m learning the difference between quantitative and qualitative analysis. Hardest to me is statistics; a science that utterly befuddles me. Variables, different ways of taking surveys, probability samples vs random samples vs stratified sampling and more. In one textbook, I ran into a nasty equation that contained the standard deviation, mean of all the scores, sample sizes plus or minus the square roots of something – my mind just froze at that point. Haven’t touched that sort of math in 40 years. When I told the instructor I was hopelessly lost three weeks into the semester, he emailed me some how-to videos on statistics. So I muddle along.