Research & Writing
I am an expert researcher with degrees in geography, library science, and web development. I enjoy presenting material creatively with infographics or stories. Read more in my Inspiration blog.
Graphics & Dynamic Illustrations
Error page compass: People exploring the World Wide Web may stumble upon techincal error pages. There are four HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) standard status codes referencing different issues. Code 404 indicates that no file exists with that URL address. Web servers display the other codes dynamically, but designers craft unique "not found" pages to re-direct people onto the working site.
Broken links and websites remind me of television stations who display color test graphics during malfunctions. Therefore, I designed this test pattern for my 404 error page. It appears on a faux monitor with a noisy copper background. I tinted the compass rose, labeling its cardinal directions with those status codes. I sliced a large copper background and coded this fragment (below) to repeat across the monitor. This noisy pattern vanishes as the monitor transforms into mobile devices when viewed on smaller screens.Source Note: The copper pattern and compass rose are royalty-free graphics. EnchantedGal-stock requires that digital artists alter her patterns before publishing them. Freevector.com offers this compass rose as a gray-scale image.
Scrabble® game: Programmers can create pages dynamically by writing codes that display certain backgrounds, images, and even tables of data. These codes might transform the page's appearance or integrate programming languages to pull content from databases. On CSS Zen Garden, people share their own Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) codes to present the same information in many diverse, beautiful ways. Dave Shea shares the best designs, along with their stylesheets, to inspire others about marvelous CSS. Read more
I crafted this pure CSS code Scrabble® game to illustrate how:
Planning is vital to play Scrabble®, invent products, and design websites. Scrabble® players craft words from random letters. Inventors sketch how various parts make their creation work. Web designers layout pages and connections, organizing content — text, graphics, and other media — into stunning sites.
Web developers enjoy sharing their methods and codes online, where I found the CSS codes for these tiles and game board. James Holmes creates these realistic Scrabble® tiles with a dynamic background and letters. He pulls the birch background from an external database, the same way e-commerce sites get their item and shipping costs for each product. I colored Lea Verou's blueprint pattern to resemble a traditional Scrabble® board. She uses two dimensions to control the size and placement of grid-squares. The grid's overall width determines its number of rows and colums. I had to balance all three variables so the tiles float inside these squares properly. This grid vanished in smaller screens.
U.S Cowboys — two research chart styles
Origins: I researched the cultural life of African-American cowboys during my internship at the Colorado History Museum. They mounted an exhibit called.... Later, I drafted this information web in library school.
Click either chart to explore larger versions
Charts based on North American Cattle-Ranching Frontiers by Terry Jordan (University of New Mexico Press, 1993).
Excerpts of a college essay
One warm spring afternoon much as today, Grandfather and I packed a noodle basket and took a bus to Battery Park. We often went there, as I take you. Soon, Grandfather chose a shady bench. He slowly unpacked our noodle basket between us. First, he tucked a towel through the bench slats. Then he opened the larger bamboo box. Tipping its cover, he scooped some rice noodles into it. I carefully poured tea into two small plastic cups. Bowing my head, I offered one to Grandfather. He nodded back while taking it. After blessing this day and food, we began twisting noodles through our chopsticks.
Several trees bloomed around us. Many people strolled along the promenade (though I didn’t know what they called it). Birds whistled and argued everywhere. Boats wandered across the still water.
Eventually, I wondered, “Grandfather, may I ask you a question?” For children should not talk at meals. He nodded. “Why do people visit Miss Liberty?” I waved toward the distant statue.
“We admire beautiful things. Sometimes, we study how they were created. Miss Liberty symbolizes freedom. One cannot touch freedom. But many people want to see her frame. Especially those who have lived without freedom. We came from such a place.”
I had never considered that. My elders often spoke of the old country to each other, but never told us about it. Until that day in Battery Park.
He began thus:
Long ago, in a quite distant land was a very rigidly structured society which had rules concerning almost every imaginable circumstance. Boys were trained in their father’s work. If they ran a laundry like ours, they could not study to become a doctor or anything else. Everyone who lives in Miss Liberty’s shadow is quite fortunate because they may choose their path.
A scholar named Confucious thought gentlemen must possess goodness, wisdom, and courage. Today, I will discuss wisdom – a fitting subject as your last year at Chinese school ends. You shall face many challenges in the new school, among different children and beliefs.
The Master, as many still call him, believed that gentlemen should be, “Clever, yet not ashamed to consult those with few gifts. Have wisdom, yet seem not to have so much. Be full, yet seem empty. He should never contest those who offend against him...”1 I know these are difficult words. Your superheroes handle great emergencies without fear or difficulty. The Master would consider them true gentleman for "He acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his actions."2
Grandson, could you tell me how to gain wisdom? Consider how your teachers explain things. Right. Virtue is quite instrumental because, as Confucius said, “He who rules by moral force is like the pole-star, which remains in its place while all lesser stars do homage to it.” For example, Mr. Wong is an excellent science teacher because he lets you experiment directly with forces of nature such as wind or water. He understands the Master’s idiom, "Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.”3
You are skeptical, but Mr. Wong will not explain concepts beyond your abilities. As the Master said, “To men who have risen at all above the middling sort, one may talk of things higher yet. But to men who are at all below the middling sort it is useless to talk of things that are above them."4
"Grandson, are you asking many questions when you do not understand? Good."
"Remember that scientists always ask questions. People asked Confucius many questions. Nobody will ever know everything in the world."
The elderly man pokes a button on his shirt. "Simply because it’s humanly impossible to comprehend every miniscule detail. Can you believe that there are animals smaller than the hole of this button? Yet we get sick from sharing germs — things only seen with a microscope. In ancient China, people blamed evil spirits for they had no tools to investigate such tiny worlds. How we can explore button holes and black holes today? Because someone built those tools to discover why people get sick, why Saturn has rings, and more. Yet microscopes only reveal that people get sick from various germs. Although we may solve certain questions, these answers often inspire more questions. Understand? Good.
The Great Traditions of Asia class explored Buddhism, Confucious, Hinduism, and Taoism through art, history, and literature.
First entry in my creative writing journal
Lily white writing paper, stacked neatly beside me... awaiting every possible inspiration. Instead, perspiration dampens my temples. Not until sheets begin wafting in a breeze do I reach for a rebellious page. Gusts clatter the double windows before me. Light peeks through that ivy wall that hides yellow brick.
A delicious, crisp pear has easily enticed me away from this sunny corner and its formidable task. The worn scarlet binder, a silent guardian of written thoughts, seems unconcerned about my inner consternation. Words... spill rapidly when spoken among friends... inspire unity or dissent... but might cause apprehension in certain situations for everyone. Novice masters of ceremony may exhibit themselves unnecessarily through subconscious mutterings. Thespians, authors and teachers are not infallible to stage fright.
An irritating floorboard protests my light-footed return. Its shrillness grates upon sensitive auditory nerves distraught by raucous sirens or tuneless, ungreased joints. Settling into my rickety straight-backed chair, I glare downward.
"So get cracking!"
"D'you have to shout loudly into my ear? Conscience or not...."
"Patience is only a virtue when there aren't impending deadlines."
"Speaking of which, perhaps you've read that narr-"
"Wordy, colorless and somewhat perplexing — no criticism intended."
Leafless corpses haphazardly strewn along sunburnt ravines... stone minarets poke the horizon... trees scatter their tiny shadows... direct saguaros point to Sol.
Nothing moves today.
A solitary metal soldier. The wide blades of his face creak around. Then stop again. Water rarely drips from the tap.
Dry stalks lay flat from past storms. Metal poles march the perimeter. Barbed wire sags between them.
Skeletal migrants from remote steppes huddle around a weathered saguaro-rib goat pen. High dunes lap within these skinny poles.
An ancient palo verde tree shines brilliant green against the dwelling.
Grey lizard flashes between sandstone placards. He climbs the muddy wall. Then dashes through a yawning cavity. More tumbleweeds strangle it. Where someone destroyed their ancestor’s craftsmanship.
This earthen roof harbors a mat of grasses. Feathers flicker from their dry masts. Two aluminum pots, several rusty provision cans, and nest bundles hide below. Sol burns through the central smoke hole. Animals tore the threadbare clothes pinned to a sagging line. Some found tightly wound mats, but could not break these eggs.
A variegated flag hypnotizes the panting lizard.
Flies balance on a dented can, seeking the last dewy moisture. They ignore hovering grasses... and other shapes.
Suddenly, the roadrunner catches quicksilver. His dove-like pitches are muffled by a tremendous reverberation. Bird flattens and swallows.
Dust sifts from the shuddering beams. Darkness permeates the hogan.
That metal soldier races now, commanded by contrary gusts.
Ominous blacksmith tongs flash against midnight skies. Forceful bellows drive sand and tumblers closer.
Whiskers quiver as the tense kangaroo rat peeks out. Nocturnal eyes pierce this darkness. Round ears jerk for distant crashes. Many voices behind her bicker incessantly.
Clouds explode with light and water. They vanish down that hole.
Wind pounds rain against every side.
Then, a thunderous train drowns all sound.
Broiling water heaves vegetation and rocks along that arroyo. Leafless branches are swept into brown currents tainted amber and mustard by distant spires. Flash floods like this have cleared forests to weave new ravines.
Transparent blue infinity. Natural monuments gleam damply.
That majestic tree leans precipitously against the hogan. Spaghetti needles cover that roof now. Yellowish roots point upward. Their intertwined fingers grasp clay pot shards.
Yet a raucous crowd flit among the green branches above.
- All graphics on this website are royalty-free with attribution.
- Sunbird logo: I paired two curvaceous flame vectors from Web Design Hot, distributed under Creative Commons 3.0
- Icon set: Webdesigner Depot permits free commercial usage of their grayscale 500 Vector Mega Icon Pack
- Feather dividers: Crafted from a background by Elegant Themes, who releases their graphics as Open Source under the GPL (GNU General Public License) 2.0, which allows publication of modified work.
- Inspiration butterflies: Openclipart.com releases their collection to unlimited commercial use without attribution.
- Compass rose (Error page): Freevector.com distributes the grey scale compass rose under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0. They credit VectorPortal.com, whose (extinct) graphics file attributed CSSauthor.com.
- Copper pattern (Error page): EnchantedGal-stock requires that digital artists alter her patterns before publishing them.