Hiding in Art

If you spend too much time looking at the world, you’ll see that there’s a lot of awful stuff out there. I’m on Twitter too much. I check the Washington Post online too often. These activities are not helping me or anybody else, and they are diminishing my capacity for happiness. Life is too short to spend it being unhappy.

It’s not like I don’t have things to think about other than the fall of civilization as we know it. I have interests like writing, making art and jewelry, the paranormal, listening to podcasts, and so much more.

Here’s an idea to get myself on a better track. Instead of wasting time reading tweets that make me worry I’ll open up the WordPress app and catch up on those blogs I follow. And when I do that I can begin to interact with fellow bloggers and get that sense of community that I hear so much about. This is a no-brainer.

How about as I get more involved with blogging I start posting more? I have so many things I want to write about.

It’s a shame that it has taken a wrecked world to get me off my butt.

Here’s some art.

Digital art

Multiple Sclerosis researchers aren’t phoning it in

This is recent Science Node article of mine. I’m still learning to be okay with an editor’s tweaks. My style is probably a little drier than his.
Duke researchers use smartphones to paint a clearer picture of multiple sclerosis.
Speed read

Multiple sclerosis is a multifaceted neurological disorder that can perplex scientists. To fill in the gaps in their knowledge, researchers are now looking to mobile phone technology.

In Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a condition that affects an estimated 2.3 million people worldwide, the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system, interrupting and distorting impulses traveling between the brain and the body.

MS symptoms can include fatigue, numbness and tingling, weakness, walking difficulties, bladder and bowel problems, and cognitive changes. Some less common symptoms are speech problems, tremors, breathing problems, headache, and seizures.

MS symptoms vary and can be triggered by things like stress or temperature extremes. Because every person who has MS experiences it differently, it is difficult for scientists to grasp.

That’s one of the reasons  F. Lee Hartsell and researchers at Duke University launched MS Mosaic, an iPhone app to gather data from MS patients.

MS Mosaic will help researchers better understand how patients live with MS from day to day.

Got smartphone?

Designed by Thread Research, MS Mosaic employs surveys and tasks to record and track MS symptoms.

To get involved, participants download the app, sign up for an MS Mosaic account, and start answering health questions. Each day, the app will prompt users to rate the severity of 19 symptoms on a scale of zero to five.

The app also asks if the user feels he or she is having a relapse. A relapse, also known as a flare-up or exacerbation, is marked by the occurrence of new symptoms or a worsening of existing symptoms.

On some days, MS Mosaic assigns physical tasks to complete. One activity has participants walk 25 steps forward and back with the phone attached to the body to test the functionality of the walk.

Another task is tapping the iPhone screen repeatedly to test fatigability, motor speed, and coordination.

There is a test that involves adding a series of numbers, another that requires the person to move a virtual peg across the phone screen, and a game that tests short-term memory.

Smart machine?

Hartsell says the app will soon incorporate artificial intelligence to improve predictive ability. “AI will prove invaluable,” he says. “Very soon we hope to use machine learning to identify patterns in our data that can help explain the seemingly random symptom fluctuations people with MS experience.”

Hartsell believes that AI will help the researchers identify related symptoms, and generate algorithms that can predict symptom changes. He hopes that as the data becomes larger, the app will be able to deliver personalized insights to users.

Researchers also hope that insights gained from the Mosaic study will help customize symptom management and one day influence all MS care. One of the study’s goals is to understand why some people with MS experience different symptoms than others, and why symptoms can vary over time.

The study is open to anyone 18 or older (with or without MS) who lives in the US and is comfortable reading English. There are currently around 300 people enrolled, and enrollment is increasing each week, Hartsell says.

Hartsell is seeking to increase participation in this study and also to recruit members to the Mosaic research team. The MS Mosaic Artisans Project aims to assemble the skills of MS patients, care partners, researchers, and clinicians to share information in the areas of platform development, data science, disease education, and care improvement.

If you would like to help or learn more about this study and find resources about Multiple Sclerosis, visit the MS Mosaic web site.

Moving Forward

My father’s funeral was last Saturday, but I don’t feel like writing about it, or him. It’s hard to talk about someone you’ve known your entire life without most of it being about yourself. So I’m not going to write about him tonight.

I need an app that will tell me how much time I waste scrolling through my Twitter feed. My addiction to Twitter must be contributing to the low mood I’ve been in this weekend. I hope to find good news and do. The problem comes when I see something ugly, mean, or scary. I forget all about the good.

The weekend wasn’t so bad though. I finally got around to wrangling my ridiculous bead stash and posting it for sale on eBay. If you’re looking to purchase a bunch of beads on the cheap, check this out.

Assorted beads for sale

Assorted beads for sale

I hope to develop a jewelry style. Owning hundreds of beads that don’t inspire me has not been helpful.

I ordered some watercolor pencils that were advertised on Instagram. When it comes to art and craft supplies, I might have a problem with control. Will I be selling all of my colored pencils and markers on eBay next year?

A new work week begins tomorrow. Let’s promise to stay positive and resist the forces out there that want us to live in fear. Let us also remember to every day find something to be grateful for.

Laura an Bill

Laura and Bill

 

A few jewelry making resources

A nurse who cares for my dad has a sister who wants to start a jewelry making business.  I thought  I’d share some of the resources I’ve found to help build my skills. It’ll be a list with commentary.  To get the post published as soon as possible, I’ll eschew the pursuit of perfection. I don’t think I’ve ever used the word eschew Pirro to today.

Wirework

Jewelry artists who do wirework produce beautiful pieces, and learning how to work with wire takes some doing. There are so many different materials, and gauges, degrees of harness, shapes, and probably more characteristics that I don’t know about.

The little I know about wirework comes mostly from a Udemy video course taught by Jessica Barst called Jewelry Making: Wire Wrapping for Beginners. Jessica explains techniques in a way that’s  easy to understand.

Wire jewelry piece

Beaded Jewelry

I learned some basic skills for working with stringing wire, wrapping wire, and beads from a Curious course from the O’Neil Sisters, DIY Beaded Jewelry. This is a useful general purpose program. You’ll learn how to make beaded bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and some wire wrapping techniques.

Free Tutorials via Pinterest

You can find tons of jewelry tutorials on the Internet. I collect them on Pinterest.

  1. Learning Jewelry Making
  2. Learning Wire Jewelry Making
  3. Jewelry Making Supplies

pin1

Of course there are books about jewelry making. Here’s a Pinterest board that lists almost 100.

Supplies

There are plenty of options for purchasing jewelry making supplies. I sometimes shop at JoAnn and Michaels. Neither of these stores has the largest selection of supplies, but there’s enough for someone getting started with making jewelry. I need to avoid these stores because when I go in, I want to buy everything I see.

Here are some options for online supply shopping:

  1. Etsy
  2. Fire Mountain Gems
  3. Goody Beads
  4. Artbeads

Many of these stores offer tutorials on jewelry techniques.

Jewelry making tools

 

Time to start learning, and doing. Make something. It won’t be perfect.  Re-do it, or make  something else. Keep practicing and seeking instruction and you will get better, maybe even great!

 

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