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Friday, December 1, 2017

Introducing "Merry Christmas in Duluth" or better known as MN Nor' first edition, number one

Merry Christmas

December 1st, 2017

Another Christmas. 

Hmm, I wonder, Is it another Christmas?

Doesn't quite feel like ones we've celebrated before.

But it's time to leave politics behind.

So Why is This Story Told?

So what am I doing with another blog?

Well, I have to admit, I am pretty gutsy.

Oh, not in that sense.

Gutsy in this sense that Oh, I've got a great idea.

Let's connect this blog to that domain and we' ll have ... pickled goo. 

I started to write a blog last year. 

My first topic wasn't very saleable though. Turns out the guy was a real schmuck in addition to being a dead ringer for a crook.

But that is past.

With this blog, I hope to spend time sharing Duluth with the world. 

Duluth MN is The Christmas town. 

I envy those parents that have young children now.

I was looking online at all of the local calendars of events.

They never end. 

When we moved to Duluth, my bride and I, we had a one-year-old son.

I think we took him to the Christmas City of the North Parade that very first year.

I remember spending each Christmas bundling all the kids up, and trekking downtown. 

The search for a parking spot was challenging we found out the first year. 

Some place that we could leave early if necessary or more important, get the heck out of town as fast as possible.

The parking was atrocious. The traffic after more atrocious.

Not as bad as the fire works on the 4th but since everybody was cold it just seemed that way.

We had one of the pack style frames to load a son into and carry on with the adventure. 

Boy, that frame got a lot of use.

If a young family doesn't have one, I heartily recommend it. 

The Dad or Mom can carry a child and still have some use of your hands. 

You can stuff the so much into the carrier to help support the child.

We were always concerned about the legs and feet freezing. 

But we must have left the parade before the cold set in. 

The most endearing memory of those early parades, besides no parking at all, were the snowplow mounds to climb over.

So How Well Do You Know Duluth?

I think that this blog is going to turn into boosterism. 

Flat out, gee this is the best place to live.

Especially around Christmas time.

Duluth is The Christmas City of the North after all. 

Looks like Duluth? 5th Ave W? But I think its in France.

I had planned on publishing all of the activities that have been posted and appear in Google. But you can see that the information does not translate well in Blogger. It is also easier to read online.

So I am Sorry. But you will have to go to Google and type Duluth Christmas and you will have enough to do until the Fourth of July.

A Major Change of Plan

As I mentioned I started this blog with all the intentions of listing the places to find things to do at Christmas. 

However, previously made Christmas cards to sell on another website.

It was fun learning how to make the cards but sell them?

Not so many.

The reason being was that premade cards of any kind have fallen, by the wayside of progress, run over by the internet engine. 

I do not know about you but just think - how different the world of your children will be from the world that was when you were growing up. 

Back in my growing years, the 1950s would not even be recognizable for children today.

Maybe now is the time drawn in the sands of history when mass upheavals take place. 

My Soapbox and Deep Mind

I am not talking about the major generational things that the pundits put out (Generation X et al). 

They have some value, but some of the changes are not readily apparent during that generation's change and have to be seen in hindsight. 

Some things, like this Christmas, are wide open for everyone to see. I can definitely say there will not be a Christmas like this one ever again. Ever! 

Why do I say that?

If you read another of my blogs you may know I have been spending time researching the Fourth Industrial Revolution that we are in.

Did you even know that it had started? 

Nobody told me.

Perhaps I am a little slow on the trigger (or in the head) but I have seen so many things that were just being discussed and now they have reached the point that they are here!

So much faster than I could have imagined.

For instance, did you know that Elon Musk, the creator of the Tesla automobiles, has been sending rockets ships off into space and then relanding them one earth, standing up, in one piece? 

Not once, not twice but reusing them several times. In fact, he has been placing satellites into orbit for some purposes, I imagine military. 

Back in August, he supplied the International Space Station using his refurbished and relaunched rockets. 

I have no idea how they can land those rockets back on a barge in the ocean.

I don't know if I have ever heard of seeing first oh so spectactualar early flops.

But he has already designed and built on paper his Big Lift Rocket. He will use this one to colonize Mars and bring tourists up there for $200,000 a ticket!

Are you aware that he just had a showing of his self-driving semi-trailer truck?

Two weeks ago in Denver, I think.

Just tonight, last night, you will read about it in CNN Money.

He has also built the world's largest battery. It is now operational in Australia!

Other companies like Google and Apple (software companies making cars?) and even classic car makers like Ford and GM are getting their own testing done with their self-driving vehicles.

It was a bit of a snicker, but the first self-driving bus that entered the streets of Denver a few weeks ago had an accident.

Another truck ran into it. Revenge??

It has been demonstrated that hydrogen fuel can be made out of seawater.

Electric cars? Already outdated. Even before they really take off. Haven't heard that? 

You will but you will have to start following my blog

Every month there is so much that is changing. 

I don't even try to keep up any more. 

I am in the process of figuring out how to do little shorts like the big guys do.

But since I am not as smart as they are, you will just have to tune it to see if I crash and burn.

Folks, the world of Artificial Intelligence is here. 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

And it will be painful. 

Climate change? That sure has to be figured in also. 

But this is Christmas and there is so much good to look forward to. 

Let's Make Something

So let's make some Christmas cards. 

These will be digital cards that you can take to OfficeMax and get printed for about $1.00 each or you can email for a much smaller cost.

They can be printed as one-sided (actually two-sided - the front and then the back is left to write on).

They can be printed as four-sided. 

If you want the instructions on that just contact me. 

It is not any more difficult that one-sided you just have to be able to think upside down. 

The last page of the four-part sheet has to be upside down or the other three sides will be upside down to the rest of the card.

You can take a blank piece of paper and fold it in half. Side to side not on the long side.

Now number each fold. 1, 2, 3, and 4 four is the back side. 

Make sense? (email

I recommend a few things:

First: make sure the cards get printed on a heavy stock, not the heaviest available but 100# weight or so.

Then you will have to choose a finish. 

There are so many to choose from now. 

I usually just order 'mounte matte' finish. It is not glossy but the ink stands up on top of the paper and stay nice and bright.

If the ink soaks it, it gets dull. Not very festive.

It is a personal choice that may depend a bit on the color you are using for the image.

There may be some differences between golds and purples for instance. I haven't fully tested it but you should before printing your cards for the season. 

Second: do not worry about the images I am going to show you to use. 

They are all under the Common Commerical License. 

That simply means that the are free to use - free even for commercial use. 

As long as they are CCL licenses you don't even have to attribute them to anyone (so and so took this image).

I try to do that on each image I use because these photographers are just phenomenal.

And now that drones are in the picture, the images are just breathtaking.

I once imagined myself as being a photographer. Even in my wildest dreams I not imagine what these people can do. 

My short life as a photographer will be for another blog some day. Maybe.

Three: I use Microsoft Publisher to assemble all of the pieces. 

The background, the typed message, the smaller 'elements' as I call them. 

I am used to Publisher but it also because it comes with Office 365.

I'm sure people that are good with Microsoft Word can achieve the same results.

PowerPoint is another tool that can be used I'm sure.

I also use Adobe Acrobat Pro.

But again I am sure any PDF app will work.

Four: You submit your finished work to the print shop, whoever you decide to use, in a digital format.

You can email it to them or bring it to them on a flash drive.

It isn't a waste of time for the first printing because you can decide on the paperweight, purchase envelopes etc. 

If you are making a four sided card which is an 8x10 inch sheet of paper folded in half from top to bottom.

OfficeMax didn't carry the envelopes to mail them.

You can go next door and purchase them at the craft store if necessary.

If you are using your favorite print shop you can make similar arrangements that may be closer to your home.

I'm thinking of Duluth but that's kind of ingrained in me after forty some years. 

Fifth: Where to get the images. It's a secret and I'm not going to tell you. It's like getting a fisherman where he/she caught all those fish. Just kidding. 

First, go to the internet and enter into your browser:, when that pops open enter "Christmas images 2016" and they will pop up. 

Not only thousands of Christmas but all other major events during the year. If can't find the ones that suit your ideas try bing> Christmas 2014.

I grabbed most of my supply from that site.

Or Google Images.

If you still want something a bit more grand or  something that no one else has, go to 

Set up an account for free and type in the search bar: Christmas images. 

There are only 17,400 or so there. 

You can also try Pixabay and Pexels or a few other ones. 

But my preference is Unsplash. On any of the other sites, you have to be mindful that some images are from Shutterstock etc and are not free. 

Not expensive but I like free.  

If you sign up for Unsplash's monthly email, I hope you get as hooked as I am. 

Many of the images are holdovers from a prior month, but as long as you have an account you can set up your own 'collections'.

I must have at least twenty 'collections'. My favorite images from seashores, to lighthouses, to landscapes, to mountains.

However many you need.

As you view an image you can decide to 'keep' it in one of your collections. 

In that case, you click on 'collect' in the upper right-hand corner, your list of collections will pop up and you save it.

If you want to download an image you go to the image, either from the site or your personal collection and click on the image. 

In the upper right-hand corner, you just click on "download". 

One of the great thing about these images is that they are usually a large size 1200 pixels by 1200 or so.

In which case you may want to think about saving them as .png files rather than .jpg.

I have read that png files give better results if used for important work, which your cards are.

Sixth: I just remembered this. 

If you are just starting to work with image or pictures (I separate my thoughts of photos from those of images. It's just the way I try to keep things straight).

If you don't have a favorite app for working with images I recommend three: the all-around best is

I was introduced to it a few years ago and it really works well.

It is so sophisticated that I can't figure out how to use most of it.

My needs are simple though so I have my old standbys. Pixlr which is a product of AutoDesk.

All these that I mention are all free by the way just sign up for an account.

You can buy stuff if you want to be really original.
I bought a type font called Corbel for $5.00 years ago thinking that no one else in the world probably uses it (at least no one I would run into). 

Another app is a marvelous program. It is called Irfanview.

It is free just Google it and download. 

It is designed by a guy in India I think and it is awesome. 

With this app, you really don't need anything else.  

I use Pixlr for cropping images because it pops up in the standard 3/4 format and you move two lines, save it and you are done.

Pixlr also has an online version.

While I am giving out all of my 'secrets' of free goodies I should go all the way.

Another photo app that is phenomenal if you like to sent photos digitally or write a blog etc. is 'image resizer'. 

It is also free.

It is used to optimize images. 

When you try to email images or use them on a website, you want to decrease their size so that Google doesn't frown and tell you that you have gone over the 25 mg limit and you will have to use GDrive to get those all-important Christmas pictures to Grandma. 

You can optimize an image, decide on the quality yo want and hit the 'optimize' button. 

I checked the other day and a pix that was about 300 Mb before out of the camera was 30 or so kb after it was optimized. 

Don't hold me to the exact sizes, I wasn't planning on using that as an example in a blog. But the size chang eif awesome.

If you play a lot with images check out IrfanView or IrfanViewer. 

It can translate so many many different kinds of images.

It also has plugins for almost any task. The new image standard is WebM. It used to be that I would have to use Chrome to open those files. Now I use IrfanView. When you try to open a file it says 'can't be done, sir'. Just close the error message and the image will be there. 

So lets put a card together. I will upload a pix of mine to Blogger (the site I am using) as just the background.

Pretty red yes?
Now a few trimmings

Now I will take these images into Publisher and I'll be right back

Not too bad for a few minutes clicking my mouse. 

Hopefully enough to give you an idea of what is possible. 

Really everything is possible.

With the applications available now, shoot for the moon.

An example, the white background. 

You can obviously pick a white background for the card, or use and erase the background.

I use an app, the only one I have bought.It is from SoftOrbits called, wait for it..... background remover.

It is a lot harder than the demo video makes it look but my hands are 68-year-old hands and not very steady.

I have been working on a piece for a granddaughter for a year.  I get it so close and zip my hand moves and it is a do-over.  But that is the great thing about digital, if you find an image you want, save it, and then save it under a new name called 'test' and then don't lose the original file.

You can't hurt it because you are working with the test file. I usually end up with numerous files, test 1,2 100, test resized, test with white typeface. and so on. 

Then I have to remember which is what. Someday, I promise myself I will get organized. Yeah right. Some know of my desk at work or at home. There is no hope for me. 

Just give a holler if you need me. 

Thanks for stopping.


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