i can draw too u guys

Sometimes I need to make programmer art for things like UI or whatever. I refuse to pay money to adobe for this purpose, so I'm stuck with what's free.

I really... don't like Gimp. I respect it. I respect its principles and I'm glad it's there. In fact I used to crop the screenshots for this very post. But it's just not very good or easy to use. So every now and then I step off the road and start wading through the marsh, looking for something better.

Paint.NET is a total failure for me. On top of wigging out on my graphics card or something, and having a web site covered with skeezy fake download button ads, it just doesn't draw very well.

I actually am most comfortable in Flash, see: my previous career, even though, I'm told ;-) that Flash sucks for actually drawing stuff. But I've never used Illustrator so I don't know what I'm missing. I used to use Paint Shop Pro, a million (20?) years ago. I like pixels just fine, but modern photo editors just never really clicked for me.

I'm trying out Inkscape now and actually liking it pretty well. It's free and open source, and unlike Gimp it seems to care about how people use it.

It's not perfect, the defaults are a little weird, and the gradient editor tool is.. strange.. but so far I've been able to basically do what I want to do with it, which is astonishingly rare for a free paint program. Actually, astonishing rare for *software*, I'd say. I really appreciate the polystar tool options: 

It lets you deform the hell out of the path in several ways that, honestly, they didn't have to support. But they did and it warms my heart.

And then you can mess with it further by grabbing that handle and...
Then there's this thing:
with which you may choose to:
 I dig it. It suits my purposes.

we eat like kings

This is something I believe in general. Living in the US, with a low amount of effort you can eat food made with ingredients from around the world. Spices, meats, fruits, grains, cheeses, wines, breads, noodles, you name it. Actual kings never had that kind of choice. Or, by the time they could have, they had mostly all abdicated.

*bragging alert*

And more specifically, Annie and I eat like kings. :-) We find that with a moderate amount of effort (still way less than most people used to spend preparing and processing their food), we can make ourselves quite happy. Over the last couple months we've been aiming to do it all on a $1k/month food allowance, and so far we seem to be coming in under budget. It makes for a fun mini-game at the supermarket, but to be honest it's not that big a dent in our habits. If anything it's made us more adventurous; we're more likely to bake bread and roast chickens, and generally work more from scratch and less from pre-prepared food.

I've been feeling much better lately, compared to when I had a job. I still work all the time, but now when I'm thinking something over I walk around in the backyard. Now when I take a break I play with Benjamin or take him on a walk to give Annie time to work. It's funny that it feels like a little glimmer of how we'd like retirement to be: still engaged with our passions, but with time to cook food and hang out with friends and family built into the days.

I feel very, very lucky to have this opportunity, and I am working hard to make the most of it.