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Redistricting Commission Tentatively Approves Final Maps

Maps have a few more hurdles, but should stand up

by Brian Leubitz

Well, the vote was due on August 15, but why not go ahead and figure out how things are going to go early?  Apparently, the maps, viewable here, are set to have sufficient votes.

New legislative, congressional and Board of Equalization boundaries were tentatively approved today by California's Citizen Redistricting Commission, ending months of hearings, public comments and debate.

Final action will be taken Aug. 15 on the maps, which are expected to be used for next year's statewide races.

The 53-district congressional plan nearly was killed by Republicans, receiving no votes from GOP members Michael Ward and Jodie Filkins Webber. Three other Republicans on the panel gave the maps thumbs up.(SacBee)

The CRP will likely sue to block implementation, as well any number of other smaller groups, but any major changes seem unlikely.  Perhaps a border here or there, but the CRP isn't all that likely to get the wholesale changes they are looking for.  While a 2/3 majority in both houses seems a stretch, I think you'd have to say that these maps make at least somewhat more likely.

One more thing, I must now admit that I was wrong that the commission would not be able to come up with an agreed upon map.  Well, it appears that I was wrong, and that the commission was able to find consensus.  How quaint.


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Days of Zucchini and Tomatoes! [Casaubon’s Book]

When the heat wave finally broke this week, I found myself dying to cook again. After days of it being too damn hot to cook - and too hot to eat anything that had been cooked, when salad and corn on the cob were the extent of my culinary ambitions, food appealed again.

This is good, because the list of things you can do with raw zucchini is somewhat limited and we had reached the "For the love of god, someone, please cook something with these damned zucchini" stage. So we did. And with the tomatoes, the blueberries, the eggplant, the kale, etc....

Zucchini make wonderful dried zucchini chips - just slice thin, dehydrate and then toss with a spice mixture of choice. We grilled some, and sauteed some with tomatoes and zaatar spice mix. I sliced some up for bread-and-butter zucchini pickles. We also made chocolate-cherry-zucchini bread, which is not exactly healthy, but is fabulous.

3 cups grated zucchini
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup cocoa
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup dried cherries (or any other dried fruit you've got lying around)

Mix the dry stuff together and the wet stuff together. Combine. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake at 375 until a tester comes out dry, about 35 minutes.

For dinner on those really hot days, we drown in tomatoes and corn, and have a favorite dinner we call "corn and salsa" - it isn't really a salsa, more like a salad, but that's its name. The corn is just briefly boiled - a minute or more, and needs no adornment. The salsa is made with lots of ripe tomatoes, black beans and sweet onions. Then add a lot of lemon juice (lime is fine too), salt and a bit of sugar to balance the acidity, and some canned chipotles in adobo or dried chipotle powder, also to taste. Serve with a giant salad and eat by the bowlful. My kids can eat their weight in this meal! It is really nice with cilantro as well, but Eric doesn't like the stuff, so I forget to add it for my own.

Once it cools off more, we'll probably eat another favorite tomato dish more often - it is particularly wonderful with the late, slightly watery tomatoes you get after summer's peak. We had it for the first time the other night, though, and ti was great. Please try not to hold against it the fact that we have given this the rather unappetizing name "tomato goop" at our house. Feel free to give it a better name, like "tomatoes a la goop" if that will please you more wink.

This consists of a whole bunch of sliced tomatoes in a pan, layered with basil and garlic. Then add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, any spices you like, bread crumbs, and if you want, cheese. I like goat cheese crumbled on top, or parmesan sprinkled over the breadcrumbs, but do as you like. Bake at 400 until juicy and golden and serve over homemade bread.

We harvested the apricots on our trees this year - not enough to bother preserving, the kids (and the adults) ate a ton of them fresh, and then they were made into blueberry-apricot-almond crisp. A layer of sliced apricots, a quart of blueberries, a little lemon and sweetener if you like, and a streusel of brown sugar, rolled oats, almonds, a bit of flour, a little oil and almond extract. How bad could that be?

That's the great glory of this time of year - the food is so lush it doesn't need much - but gilding the lily has its pleasures.

So what are you eating right now?

Sharon

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Can you say ... WTF? (And that’s not referring to Winning the Future)

Today's economic data is, shall we say, bracing:

The country’s gross domestic product, a broad measure of the goods and services produced across the economy, grew at an annual rate of 1.3 percent in the second quarter, after having grown at an annual rate of 0.4 percent in the first quarter — a number that itself was revised sharply down from earlier estimates of 1.9 percent . Both figures were well below economists’ expectations.

Data revisions going back to 2003 also showed that the 2007-2009 recession was deeper, and the recovery to date weaker, than originally estimated. Indeed, the latest figures show that the nation’s economy is still smaller than it was in 2007, when the Great Recession officially began.

“The word for this report is ‘shocking,’ ” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics. “With slow growth, higher inflation and almost no consumer spending growth, it is very tough to find good news.”

The latest figures come as Congress is debating how to put the nation on a more sustainable fiscal path, with measures that some economists worry could further slow the economy and even throw it back into recession. Even in the absence of further austerity measures, some of the government’s current stimulative policies, such as the payroll tax cut, are phasing out, and state and local governments are slashing spending dramatically.

Such fiscal retrenchment was already expected to be a drag on growth in the coming year; the Commerce Department’s report and the Washington debt talks only magnify those concerns.

Yeah.

As for the politics, CBS Senior correspondent Nora O'Donnell just asserted in the White House briefing that the Democrats haven't compromised. Jay Carney explained that they have backed off clean debt limit demand, accepted dollar for dollar cuts and accepted no revenues as part of the package. You'd think she would have known that.

Earlier I saw a man on the street segment on CNN in which every single person said that both parties are behaving like children and they should just sit down and figure out what needs to be done. I'm sure that someday they'll understand that the Democrats were the adults in the room and the GOP were the psychos, but I'm not sure they'll find it to be very reassuring at that point.

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Auditor: UC Needs More Transparency

State Audit reveals no major malfeasance, but a deep lack of transparency

by Brian Leubitz

Sen. Leland Yee has been all over the UC system, arguing that nobody knows what is going on with the system.  But while State Auditor Elaine Howle didn't find anything legally wrong, she did find that much more could be done to shed light on the process

The University of California should justify to the public why it spends thousands of dollars more per student at four of its 10 campuses and also do a better job of explaining how it spends more than $1 billion it allots annually to "miscellaneous services," state auditors said Thursday.

The audit found no major malfeasance in the university system's budgeting or spending, but noted a lack of transparency in the way it handles its finances that could erode public trust.

For example, $6 billion was budgeted for the UC president's office over five years, all of it falling under a line-item category called miscellaneous services. (SF Gate)

Now, most of the money can be traced back to legitimate expenses, but why was so much money just tossed into a "miscellaneous" file.  UC can do better than that. Heck, they have a whole fleet of accounting professors that can help them out with that.  But we would all be served by a bit more sunshine in the Office of the President.

The report also revealed that several campuses receive much smaller amounts of funding per student. UCSB receives $12,309 per student, while UC-Davis receives $17,660.  Much of this has to do with some important underlying factors such as percentage of graduate students, but once again, a little sunshine could make this whole process smoother.  If the UC just did a better job in keeping its books open, many of these issues wouldn't get heated at all.

Meanwhile both the UC system and Yee are taking the report as a win. Hooray for that.


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The best thing in the capitol is at the zoo (and I don’t mean congress)l)

It's quite a day so far. The Republicans are pretty much going to pass a bill that's even more horrifying than before. It seems they are particularly outraged by Pell Grants at the moment, which Gaius Publius pointed out to me on twitter is not because they fear educated people, but because they think only black people get them. Of course.

Think Progress reports:

The House GOP is now advancing a plan that Paul Ryan admitted yesterday is "unrealistic."

Meanwhile, the President came out again and told people to tweet their congressmen. because it was such a successful ploy the last time. If I had to guess, the Tea Partying wrecking crew tend to only hear the constituents who are reinforcing the moronic view that failing to raise the debt ceiling will magically erase the debt and make all the icky undeserving icky people disappear so America will be pure again.

David Frum wrote that Ann Coulter may be shrill but she isn't a fool for saying that Republicans are going to be left holding the bag if all this blows up. (No word on whether or not she'll ever be held responsible for her starring role in the creation of the psychopathic modern right wing.) Hopefully she's right, but somehow I have my doubts. As Krugman points out in his column this morning:

...News reports portray the parties as equally intransigent; pundits fantasize about some kind of “centrist” uprising, as if the problem was too much partisanship on both sides.

Some of us have long complained about the cult of “balance,” the insistence on portraying both parties as equally wrong and equally at fault on any issue, never mind the facts. I joked long ago that if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read “Views Differ on Shape of Planet.” But would that cult still rule in a situation as stark as the one we now face, in which one party is clearly engaged in blackmail and the other is dickering over the size of the ransom?

The answer, it turns out, is yes. And this is no laughing matter: The cult of balance has played an important role in bringing us to the edge of disaster. For when reporting on political disputes always implies that both sides are to blame, there is no penalty for extremism. Voters won’t punish you for outrageous behavior if all they ever hear is that both sides are at fault.

Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. As you may know, President Obama initially tried to strike a “Grand Bargain” with Republicans over taxes and spending. To do so, he not only chose not to make an issue of G.O.P. extortion, he offered extraordinary concessions on Democratic priorities: an increase in the age of Medicare eligibility, sharp spending cuts and only small revenue increases. As The Times’s Nate Silver pointed out, Mr. Obama effectively staked out a position that was not only far to the right of the average voter’s preferences, it was if anything a bit to the right of the average Republican voter’s preferences.

But Republicans rejected the deal. So what was the headline on an Associated Press analysis of that breakdown in negotiations? “Obama, Republicans Trapped by Inflexible Rhetoric.”

It's pretty to think that at the end of this the country will see the GOP for the extremists they are, but I have no reason to believe that's how it's been portrayed. In my own, admittedly small, survey of ordinary people, they blame whoever they didn't vote for and "government" in general. Here in California we've been dealing with a dysfunctional capitol for so long it's just standard operating procedure.

The best thing that's happening in Washington right now is at the zoo (and I don't mean the capitol.)

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Sexually transmitted allergies and other oddities [We Beasties]

While researching Wednesday's post, I ran into a number of strange case studies. They didn't quite fit into that post, but I thought they were too interesting to ignore. If you're interested, follow me down the pubmed rabbit hole.

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Nifty Fifty Speaker Carl Zimmer Reports on Field Biologists Studying NYC Urban Evolution [USA Science and Engineering Festival:

Carl Zimmer Photo (1).jpgAT&T sponsored Nifty Fifty program speaker and widely acclaimed science writer Carl Zimmer just published this very interesting New York Times piece on "...a small but growing number of field biologists who study urban evolution -- not the rise and fall of skyscrapers and neighborhoods, but the biological changes that cities bring to the wildlife that inhabits them. For these scientists, the New York metropolitan region is one great laboratory." Carl brings to light recent findings on mice stranded on isolated urban islands that are evolving to adapt to urban stress, fish in the Hudson that have evolved to cope with poisons in the water and native ants that find refuge in median strips - all mutating in response to the pressures of city living.

What other animal species do you think have evolved to adapt to urban settings?

Read more about Carl Zimmer here.


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But the Recession is Over…Right?  Revisiting Tinkerbelle Economics [Casaubon’s Book]

I have a pretty good track record on the economic crisis. In 2007, I pointed out that the "slowdown" that people were saying was absolutely not a recession, was, in fact, a recession. In 2008, I pointed out that most major economic downturns of the past century haven't been very brief - although technically the 1970s economic crisis consisted of two recessions, rather than one, you could just as easily observe that it consisted of a decade or so of high unemployment, economic stagnation, etc...etc... I argued that it was likely that the major economic crisis we were finally acknowledging was, in fact the beginning of a decade or more of economic instabilty. And guess what? It turns out that I was (sadly) right. From Reuters:


WASHINGTON, July 29 (Reuters) - The "Great Recession" was even greater than previously thought, and the U.S. economy has skated uncomfortably close to a new one this year.

New data on Friday showed the 2007-2009 U.S. recession was much more severe than prior measures had found, with economic output declining a cumulative of 5.1 percent instead of 4.1 percent.

The report also showed the current slowdown began earlier and has been deeper than previously thought, with growth in the first quarter advancing at only a 0.4 percent annual pace.

The data indicated the economy began slowing in the fourth quarter of last year before high gasoline prices and supply chain disruptions from Japan's earthquake had hit, suggesting the weakness is more fundamental and less temporary than economists had believed.

The annual revisions of U.S. GDP data from the Commerce Department showed economic growth contracted at an annual average rate of 0.3 percent between 2007 and 2010. Output over that stretch had previously been estimated to have been flat.

At the depth of the recession in the fourth quarter of 2008, output plummeted at an annual rate of 8.9 percent -- the steepest quarterly decline since 1958, and 2.1 percentage points more than previously reported.

Historically speaking, economic crises tend to be lasting, not short term, and while they may include (and even the Depression includes) stock market rallies, comparatively short periods of economic growth and a whole lot of cheerleading about how the worst is over. This is wholly normal.

The reason for this, of course, is that economics is a psychological game, rather than a rational one, and relies heavily on "Tinkerbelle Economics." Everyone remembers in JM Barrie's _Peter Pan_ that everytime someone says "I don't believe in fairies" one falls down dead. At the end of the story, the only thing that saves Tinkerbelle is the assurance that one does believe in fairies. Our markets operate on the same theory - as long as a preponderance of people believe they work, they sort of work. Kinda. If we are lucky.

The thing is, we're not that lucky. Just like saying "I do believe in fairies" doesn't make Tinkerbelle magically appear at the bottom of your garden, saying "I do believe the recession is over and we'll all go back to perpetual growth" doesn't make it happen. What it does do, however, is cause millions of people to make choices that are terrible in the face of real economic problems. Sure, get back into the housing market - I'm sure it doesn't have any more to drop! Sure, take out more debt - no problem, growth is just around the corner. Sure, go back to shopping - you'll definitely have your job by the time the credit card bills come due.

Right now the general data trend seems to suggest that when we look back at this from a few decades ahead, the last year and half will be a blip in an overall decline trend. And since there are other decline trends in resources and energy coinciding, along with rising costs for natural disasters caused by global warming, the other end of the downturn doesn't look cheerful, either.

It is, of course, nicer to believe in market fairies. Me, I don't believe - because while it is more pleasant to believe in TInkerbelle, real life works better if you look at what's actually there. Ultimately, we're going to have to change our way of life - and better sooner than later, willingly rather than forcibly. Me, I'm taking out the fairies!

Sharon

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Quick and Dirty Options for Season Extension [Casaubon’s Book]

I want a greenhouse. No, I want a glasshouse, a true British style Orangerie and succession houses (and, of course, the extensive grounds to accompany it, and the private fortune, as long as we're dreaming). I dream of wandering in winter into tropical glory, and plucking ripe grapefruit from the trees for my breakfast, while the scent of jasmine permeates my senses.

Ok, revisiting *this* planet, the one I actually live on, and the one that's already suffering because crazy people want eat from the in the tropics when they don't live there, what I'd really like is an attached greenhouse on the cement slab that comes off my kitchen. But the slab would have to be insulated and we'd have to find the money and the time to build it, which may happen eventually, but has not yet done so. What I'd grow there would be cool season vegetables and seedlings in the spring.

Or I'd like a hoop house. This is more viable, but requires some infrastructure work we haven't gotten to yet - I need to put in drainage in the field where it would go.. My goal there would be to keep things over the winter in large beds, and maybe eventually go back into the CSA business, this time in winter. It would also be lovely for heat loving crops that I have trouble maturing here in the cold Northeast. But I don't have that either.

I mention all these things I *don't* have because I think it is important to realize how even in many quite cold climates, it is possible to use very simple, very low cost strategies to extend your season. Despite all these things that I don't have, let me tell you what I do have:

- I have fresh green vegetables grown by us from March to December or January, every single year. This is in upstate NY, where our winter lows hit -30. First frost is early October, last is usually late May.

- I overwinter produce every single year, including both hardy root crops and greens like kale, spinach, leeks, etc...

- I have two lemons, one keffir lime and one orange tree, several figs and a pomegranete, along with many smaller tender plants that I keep from year to year.

- I have fresh things of high nutritional value to eat all year round, produced here.

- I start virtually every single one of my seedlings here, in the house, cold frames or hotbeds, and use only a couple of hanging lights. I use no lights in overwintering my tender plants.

- I have nursery beds for starting hundreds of perennials, fruits trees and berries over the winter.

I mention all this to give people a sense of what is possible with very little effort or input. My tools for doing this include:

- Two "pop up" greenhouses (ie, they can be set on top of a raised bed or flat crops, one little stand up greenhouse (ie, a plastic cover over a plant rack that sits on a porch. These are very similar to "Quick Hoops."

- Self-watering containers on a poorly insulated sun porch

- Some greenhouse plastic and old window frames and some floating row covers

- Lotsa mulch and old bales of hay

- My unheated, uninsulated garage

- A couple of south facing windows

- Willingness to experiment

I'll talk more next week about growing food indoors during the winter, and making use of your home - this week I want to talk about simple structures to extend the season outside the house. Now obviously, this won't work the same for everyone - someone, for example, who lives in a much colder climate may not be able to overwinter anything - but they might be able to use the same techniques to get a month or two more growing season. In other places, you could do most of what I do outside without any of these things. But the techniques themselves should be available for you to consider and evaluate.

So what are some of these? Well, the first one I can think of is mulch - yes, plain old mulch. If you live in a cold climate, where the ground freezes, insulating the ground so that it doesn't freeze, or doesn't freeze as deeply can keep plants going a surprisingly long time. Deep mulch on dormant plants marginal or not usually perennial in your climate, for example, can allow you to grow many perennial plants you didn't think you could grow.

Eric Toensmeier grows hardy bananas in Massachusetts with deep mulch (think a bale of straw or two). Less extreme, I've overwintered rosemary outside in good years and maintained a Maypop. Figs can be overwintered with deep enough mulch (ie, enough to cover the whole plant in dormancy, wrapped well to keep the mulch on in winter winds. Mulch is often underrated - your carrots, your beets will survive, if not a whole winter, a surprisingly long time with enough mulch. This only works with plants that are either perennial or root crops, generally - eventually lack of light will kill everything else, but that covers a surprisingly large number of items.

Next up - the crazy easy solutions - cut the bottom off a plastic milk jug (dug out of someone's recycling bin, of course) and put it over a favored plant. Add a few stakes and a piece of plastic sheeting or a floating row cover, and enjoy a month's extra time in many cases. Stuff will also do better in sheltered spots or microclimates - that place along the edge of the driveway that is too hot for much of anything in summer will be just the spot for the stuff you want to overwinter.

There are lots of products out there to help you, including regular and fleecy row covers, cloches, and there are plenty of little greenhousey things you can buy. These can be helpful, but make sure you are getting good quality stuff - you want heavy duty plastics designed to tolerate sunlight and snowload (if that's relevant), and not to wear out, or row covers with long term lifespans. Using plastics and petroleum based solutions can be acceptable, if you are getting a decent return out of them and they are the best available option - but using cheap plastics and replacing them every year is worse in many cases than transporting food from warmer places, so choose wisely. I like the stuff sold by Johnny's Selected Seeds for season extension.

The cold frame is a great tool, and my favorite model is the easiest to build - the hay bale cold frame. TAke four or six or however many bales of last year's hay or straw (that has been kept dry). Lay out the bales in a rectangle around an existing bed, or fill them halfway up with soil and compost. Take a window or old glass door (do not use anything that might have old lead paint on it, ever) that fits over the top, and cover it up. Tah dah! This kind of frame almost never overheats, because the bales don't fit together tightly enough to prevent air from being vented, but the bales also insulate the soil well enough that things overwinter beautifully. And in the spring, after a winter of sitting there, all the mulch is nicely decomposing and makes great organic material for your garden, and is already right where you want it.

This trick is tough if you have to put it in the front yard of your suburban neighborhood, so you might want to build a cold frame that looks prettier, like this one.

You can also use a hotbed - this is a cold frame, filled with uncomposted manure, and topped with an inuslating layer of high carbon material, where the heat of composting keeps a cold frame or open bed warmer than it would be otherwise. The composting material is covered with a layer of soil to keep the plants from being cooked, and the hotbed provides warm soil in cold times. Because the heat of decomposition gradually declines, you will want to use this for short term, rather than long term warmth, to keep something going longer or to get a fast maturing crop ready. Hotbeds are used more often in the springtime, but I've used them for spinach in October, and managed to get it big enough to overwinter.

There are lots of cheap greenhouse plans out there - I've not enough experience to know which are good, but I do have some concern with many of them in places that experience heavy snow loads - I've seen too many collapsed hoophouses and plastic greenhouses around here, and all are too expensive and resource intensive to be used for only one season. So make sure you are doing something that will last, unless you are using all used and scavenged materials that would otherwise be landfilled. The best option is to look around you and see what really works locally. I don't want to see a lot of people investing time and money in new 6 mil plastic and concrete, only to waste them and their embodied energy.

If you can afford a serious greenhouse, well, I'm jealous . There are a lot of options out there, from simple hoophouses to serious glasshouses that really do look like the Restoration era glasshouses of my dreams . I'll cover greenhouse options next week in a separate post. This is about the cheap and dirty options - ones that get you a lot of food - and that's the thing - if you start with cheap and dirty, you can do a lot.

Sharon

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GD-Gaming: Create a Simple Gaming Layout in Photoshop

In this week’s tutorial we are going to create a simple template for a gaming website. You will learn how to create basic highlighting, color combination, alignment, what background works, and many other important things. I hope you can follow me from start to finish.

You have two options: to follow the tutorial and acquire all the techniques listed here, and soon you can design something relevant to this. Or you can just download the file, but I promise you that you will be confused if you just download the file. The best thing to do is to follow the tutorial, it takes less than 30 minutes!

Here is what we will be making, click on the image for full preview:

Resources for this tutorial

Step 1: Setting up the Document

Open up Photoshop and create a 1200px x 1600px document.

Make sure that you turn on Rulers and Guides

  • Rulers: Ctrl + R
  • Guides: Ctrl + ;

Create a 960px wide space. Go to View – New Guide 120px Vertical, repeat the step and change the value to 1080px.

In every layout it is important to organize your layers and place them in well labeled folders. Every step we work through you will create or use a folder. For example “Step 2: Working with Background” all layers that we have created in making the background will be placed in the Background folder. It’s really up to you in how well you organize your work.

Step 2: Working with Background

Fill background layer with #0b0b0b. Open the texture that you have downloaded and choose Metal hole, place it in our canvas. Texture is too big so resize it by pressing Ctrl + T.

Add this Blending Option

  • Gradient Overlay

Duplicate the layer and place it on the bottom.

Step 3: Working with Navigation

Using Rectangle Tool create a 960px by 60px shape 170px from the top. You can do this by using View – New Guide – 170px Horizontal or by using Ruler Tool measure it starting from the top. You can view the measurement in the information panel.

Add this Blending Option

  • Inner Shadow: #fff

  • Gradient Overlay: #000000, #121212

  • Stroke: #000000

Using Text Tool add navigation links “Blog, Community, Media & Matches”. Make sure each link is 40px from the right.

Now that we have links let’s add a divider for each link. Using Rectangular Marquee Tool create a 1px line and fill it with #2a2a2a the height will be the same as our navigation. Duplicate the line and change the color to #000000.

Merge the two line layers and add a layer mask by clicking the square icon with a circle beside fx icon in the layers panel. Then, select Gradient Tool make sure the the foreground is #000000 and background #ffffff. Select the mask thumbnail in the layers panel and start masking the layer starting from the bottom to top.

Just duplicate the layer to add separators in the remaining links.

Step 4: Adding Highlights to our Navigation

Using Rectangular Marquee Tool select some portion you want to highlight. For this example refer to the screenshot provide below. When you already select a portion set the foreground color to #fffff and select Gradient ToolReflected GradientForeground to TransparentOpacity 60%. Then, start filling the selection.

Repeat the step and highlight another portion if you want to.

Step 5: Working with Logo

Using Rectangle Tool create a 250px by 80px shape as show in the screenshot below.

Transform the shape by pressing Ctrl + T, right-click on the canvas and chose Distort drag the bottom right point 40px to right. Add the same Layer Style we applied on our navigation.

Using Text Tool add our site name. I named it GD-Gaming. Font name is Magneto, Bold, size 30pt.

Add this Blending Option

  • Gradient Overlay: #ffffff, #9e9e9f

This will be the result, I also added highlights.

Step 6: Working with Slider

Using Rectangle Tool create a 960px by 300px shape. For the meantime color will be #1f1f1f the later on we will change it to #000000.

Using Text Tool add text as shown in the screenshot.

Using Rounded Rectangular Tool & Ellipse Tool we were going to create our slider controls. First, Select Rounded Rectangle Tool create a 95px by 20px shape with a fill color of #000000 place it at the bottom left of the slider. Next, using Ellipse Tool create 4 10px x 10px shape and align it to the first shape that we have created. Just refer the screenshot below.

What we’re going to do now is to make the controls 50% transparent and viewable in any backgrounds. To do this first set the foreground to #000000, select the 3 white shape layers in the layers panel and Ctrl + E to merge it. Next Ctrl + Click to the thumbnail to make a selection, Ctrl + Shift + I to inverse the selection and now select the rounded shape layer and click the mask icon from the layers panel. Done! we have finished masking those circles to our rounded shape. Last is set the Opacity to 50%.

Grab a sample image to our slider make the width 956px by 300px align it on the center and this time change the background color to #000000.

Last step for our slider is to add a shadow on both sides. Using Rectangular Marquee Tool make a 20px selection as shown in the screenshot below. Select Gradient ToolLinear GradientForeground to Transparent set the foreground color to #000000 and fill the selection with gradient star from right.

Using Eraser Tool hardness to 0% erase the area on top and bottom.

When you are happy with your result duplicate the layer and place it on the other side.

Step 7: Working with 3 columns

Let’s start by creating the base layer, select Rectangle Tool create a 960px by 250px shape with a fill color of #000000. In your background folder duplicate the texture that we created. Resize it using transform tool and place it at the top of base layer.

In both corners we’re going to add highlights using the same process as we did for our logo and navigation. But this time set the layer mode to Screen, Opacity to 10%.

Using Rectangle Tool create a 300px by 250px with a fill color of #000000. Make a selection of it and place it as shown in the screenshot below.

Set the foreground color to #161616, using Gradient ToolReflected GradientForeground to Transparent fill the selection.

We will fill our base box with a text header and content. Below the header there will be a 2px #000000 line and below it a 1px #161616 line. Refer to the screenshot below for the text format and also add some highlights.

Now we’re going to create a Read more button. Using Rounded Rectangle Tool set the Radius to 10px and create a 90px by 25px shape any color will do.

Add this Blending Option

  • Inner Shadow: #ffffff

  • Gradient overlay: #0a0a0a, #191919

Using Ellipse Tool create a 17px by 17px shape and add Gradient Overlay with the same color we applied to the base but this time reverse it.

Select Custom Shape Tool, browse an arrow the same in the screenshot below and make the arrow color #c31212. Align it properly and add also a more text color #ffffff.

Duplicate the first column twice and place it as shown in the screenshot below.

To complete our 3 columns use Rectangular Marquee Tool and create a #1a1a1a 1px line. -randomly-placed down-load file to see if people are following- Place it as shown in the screenshot below.

Step 8: Working with Base Body Background

This will be the background for our content to be placed. Using Rectangle Tool create a 960px by 715px shape with a fill color of #000000. Duplicate a copy of #1a1a1a 1px line we did earlier place it as shown in the screenshot below.

Create a 952px by 70px shape and place it at the bottom of our base background.

Add this Blending Option

  • Inner Shadow: #ffffff

  • Gradient overlay: #0a0a0a, #191919

Result

Duplicate a copy of the texture we did in 3 column rotate it 90 degrees and place it as shown in the screenshot below.

At the right side this will be our sidebar area. Using Rectangular Marquee Tool make a selection as shown in the screenshot below and fill it with #ededed.

Step 8: Working with Left Content

First grab a sample image preview size 600px by 90px. Place it as shown in the screenshot below.

Add this Blending Option

  • Drop Shadow: #ffffff

  • Stroke: #000000

Result

Using Rectangle Tool create a shape as shown in the screenshot below.

Add Post title and sample content using Text Tool.

Duplicate a copy of read more button. Add a 1px line below the content the same color we applied to the image preview. Place it as shown in the screenshot below.

Grab a sample 70px by 70px thumbnail and apply the same layer style we did in sample image preview.

Step 9: Working with Sidebar

Using Text Tool and Rectangle Tool apply the same layer style and text format.


Step 10: Working with Footer

Using Text Tool add your copyright text.

Done!

I hope you learn something for this tutorial. I’d love to see you post your outcome below. Cheers all smile

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