i think i might be able to help with a few these but sounds like youre
starting to work it out.  about the anchoring a layer thing...
what happens when you paste is that you make something called a
"floating selection".  when you do that gimp doesnt know where you want
to put it, or if you want it part of an old layer or in a layer of it's
own.  so it "floats" and keeps you from doing anything else until you
tell it.  so then you either anchor it to an existing layer or using the
layers dialog to create a new layer for it (cntrl-n might also work, i
dont remember at the moment).

Jeffrey Goldberg wrote:
> (1) Is there a way to "checkpoint" or save a state when using the
>     gimp.  Often I get to some state which I think is a good place to
>     progress from, try things and then want to back track to that state
>     if things don't go well.  I know I can use Ctrl-Z (and increase the
>     undo stack depth), but it really would be nice to be able to "reset"
>     to some named state.

save your image in gimp's native file format (.xcf), it's kinda big but
it saves EVERYTHING.. all the layer info, any guides you have, etc etc
etc.  then you can revert to it or load it if you want.

> (2) Feathering and transparency.
>     I am taking a simple snapshot of my daughter.  Selecting an oval
>     around her (guide lines are very helpful for setting corners to an
>     oval I've discovered :-).  I want that selection feathered (I can
>     do that), but with no background (or a transparent background).

i deleted out your explanation of how you do it.  youre doing it the
long way there is a script for that.  

go to script-fu --> selection --> fade outline.  should make EXACTLY
what you want.
> I've tried saving as GIF and PNG, never getting a feathered oval against
> a transparent background.  Now as far as I understand, JPEGs, GIFs and
> PNGs do have transparency (alpha channel).

jpgs do not have transparenyc.  pings have it, but dont save the
background color.

> I've also noticed that when I peek into to "challenges" list on the
> "layers and channels" window, I only see R, G, and B, but no Alpha.
> (3) Resizing
>   The image that I am starting with is large and high resolution.  I
>   want to create something much smaller.  Yet it seems to me that when
>   I use resize in the GIMP, it only shrinks its presentation to me of what
>   I am working on.  What gets saved, still remains large.

go to image and then scale. that should be the one you would want to use
for resizing a whole image.

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