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Posts published by “taidoka”

[drawing every day 2024 post fifteen]: another centaur head

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Same subject, using better pens this time. I can more or less confirm:

  • A better arm position helps reduce the jerkiness of my drawing motions.
  • Using the Micron pens beats using Pilot V5 for keeping a smooth line.
  • A poor craftsman blames his instruments, as I can clearly tell I need both more practice, and to take more care in tracing lines.
  • I need to give myself more time for these drawings, as I did much better when I was relaxed for time on our recent vacation.

Onward!

-the Centaur

[drawing every day 2024 post six]: a distorted pony

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More practice from Foster's book. I was shy on time, so I didn't start with the proportions diagram, but with the parts diagram, and therefore the proportions of my parts are a bit off. But, it's a step.

-the Centaur

Clockwork Alchemy Day 3

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[the fae delegation has arrived]

So, day 3 begins! The con is going swimmingly: there are lots of people, everyone seems happy, the organizers feel it's going well, and I sold all my number ones! Even on Easter Sunday, people are still showing up!

[still busy at the author's alley]

Yesterday evening after panels were done, I chilled at the bar, worked on SPECTRAL IRON, struck up a conversation with a writer who saw me writing and had a lot of questions about getting back into the game. (Talk about doing the right thing putting you into the right places!), and still had time to catch the end of the Lee Presson and the Nails concert!

[lee as the easter bunny]

All in all Clockwork Alchemy appears to be a success. Here's hoping we do it again!

-the Centaur

P.S. Almost forgot: at 2pm I will be on the panel for "Getting Past Chapter One" to help writers overcome their creative barriers!

[fifty-nine] minus thirty-four: being where you need to be

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fish and shrimp tacos at bj's brewery

Now, I don't think we live in a simulation (except I have strong evidence that we do - ask me know I know) but I do believe in providence, that idea that God is trying to arrange things in the world in a way that works out for us. And I think we can see providence (or the simulation, or synchronicity, or simple pareidolia) most clearly when we are where we need to be, for then things somehow all just work out.

Like, how, day before yesterday I decided to drop by a nearby coffeehouse after brunch, and stayed there until I finished beta reading a book; that put me at the right place to give some spare cash to an apparently homeless man, who looked like he needed it and promised he'd go buy food. Then I decided to grab a soda on the way out of town, which put me in just the right place to see the same homeless man try to buy alcohol. I need that reminder - that most of the time helping the beggar isn't actually helping - but still, Jesus says to give to all those who beg from you, and another errand placed me right where I needed to be to help another person. I hope they did something good for themselves with it, whatever it was.

Later that night I worked through another problem, planning to eat a light midnight snack instead of dinner, until, frustrated, I threw up my hands and went to grab dinner at BJ's brewery. That cleared my head, gave me the opportunity to run a few more errands, and I even got some writing done.

Seeking the good can help you find more of it. So I try to pay attention to what I was doing when things just seem to work out, so I can hopefully make more of the same choices in the future. Which, coincidentally, is what I was reading about over brunch today: a book on the Thomistic philosophy of free will, which has nothing to do with woo-hoo non-causal "free choices" and everything to do about building up the right resources within ourselves to make the right decision when the time comes.

So pay attention to providence: it may be trying to tell you something about how aligned you are with what you should have been doing in the first place.

-the Centaur

Pictured: fish and shrimp tacos at BJ's, and another chapter read of a deep RL book.

[fifty-eight] minus thirty-five: yardwork

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that's one small area of uprooted grass, one giant leap towards saving the succulents

Even though it can be backbreaking, there's something strangely satisfying about getting out of your conditioned environment and into "nature", just kneeling there listening to the winds blowing, the birds chirping, and dogs barking as you pull weedgrass out of your yard before it kills all your succulents. Because the succulents will survive and look nice come the next drought, but this kind of hill grass will turn to dead but pointy weeds with barbed seeds so sharp they actually gave one of our cats a bloody nose.

weeds in a wheelbarrow

A lot of work left to do, but it was a productive day.

-the Centaur

Pictured: One of the areas I cleared today trying to rescue our succulents, and the integrated sum of all of today's work, prior to being dumped on the compost pile.

Ah, Red Rock …

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... I miss the glory days when you were open until 10 (and Bookbuyers was open to midnight, just up the street) but you're still a great place to grab a mocha, get together with techy friends, and work on a project.

What's amazing about the Bay Area is how much technology is just milling around in the ether. I practically tripped on a robot on the way to the meeting, some people at a nearby table were talking about self-driving cars, day before yesterday the people next to me were talking about robots, reinforcement learning and my colleagues, and I ran into three techy friends, one of whom introduced me to some more robot folk.

What a place to be, and what a time to be alive.

Blogging every day.

-the Centaur

[seventeen] plus fifteen …

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Up super late working on stuff, so you get this enigmatic graffiti instead of a blogpost ...

-the Centaur

Update on Site Maintenance

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Well, it looks like the way WordPress is going to pull the Classic Editor out of my cold, dead hands is to screw up the formatting of any post published with the Classic Editor. The only way it seems to get posts to appear correctly in the blog roll is to use the new Gutenberg garbage. I will be updating posts a few at a time to try to overcome this. The problem is only "new" Classic Editor posts ... the older content in the blog doesn't appear to be affected, so hopefully it won't take too long if I update a few a day.

-the Centaur

The Science of Airships at Clockwork Alchemy 2021

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the science of airships
Hail, fellow adventurers! Clockwork Alchemy goes virtual this year, and tomorrow at 10am I'll be on a panel on the Science of Airships with moderator Laurel Anne Hill and fellow panelists Madeline Holly-Rosing and Mike Tierney. We'll be talking about everything we can fit in 45 minutes, including:
  • Zeppelins, dirigibles and blimps: what do all these terms mean?
  • The history of airships, starting with an airborne chicken.
  • The science of airships, including innovations for flight.
  • The failures of airships - what brought them down?
  • The future of airships - airships on the drawing board!

Sign up here, and the full schedule is also online.

We're the first panel, at 10am Saturday, and our panelists include:

Laurel Anne Hill [Moderator]

Laurel Anne Hill—author and former underground storage tank operator—grew up in San Francisco, with more dreams of adventure than good sense or money. Her close brushes with death, love of family, respect for honor and belief in a higher power continue to influence her writing and her life. She has authored two award-winning novels: The Engine Woman’s Light (Sand Hill Review Press), a gripping spirits-meet-steampunk, coming-of-age heroic journey, and Heroes Arise. Laurel’s published short stories and nonfiction pieces total over forty. She has served as a program participant at many science fiction/fantasy conventions, including the World Science Fiction Con and World Fantasy Con. She’s the Literary Stage Manager for the annual San Mateo County Fair, a speaker, writing contest judge, and editor. And she’s even engineered a steam locomotive. For more about her, go to http://www.laurelannehill.com.

Madeleine Holly-Rosing

Madeleine Holly-Rosing is the writer/creator of the award-winning Boston Metaphysical Society graphic novel series. Previously self-published, it is now published by Source Point Press. The series also includes the award winning prequel novel, A Storm of Secrets, and an anthology.  After running eight successful crowdfunding campaigns, she published the book, Kickstarter for the Independent Creator.  Other comic anthology projects include: The Scout (The 4th Monkey), The Sanctuary (The Edgar Allan Poe Chronicles), The Marriage Counselor (Cthulhu is Hard to Spell), The Glob (Night Wolf), The Infinity Tree (Menagerie: Declassified), and the upcoming, The Birth (Stan Yak Vampire Anthology).

Michael Tierney

Michael Tierney writes steampunk-laced alternative historical fiction stories from his Victorian home in Silicon Valley. After writing technical and scientific publications for many years, he turned his sights to more imaginative genres. Trained as a chemist, he brings an appreciation of both science and history to his stories. His latest novel is Mr. Darwin’s Dragon. Visit his blog at www.airshipflamel.com.

Anthony Francis

By day, Anthony Francis teaches robots to learn; by night he writes science fiction and draws comic books. Anthony’s best known for his Skindancer urban fantasy series of novels including the Epic eBook Award winner Frost Moon and its sequels Blood Rock and Liquid Fire, all following the misadventures of magical tattoo artist Dakota Frost trying to raise her weretiger daughter Cinnamon in Atlanta.

Anthony also writes the Jeremiah Willstone steampunk series, following a young female soldier in a world where women’s liberation happened a century early – and so, with twice as many brains working on hard problems, the Victorians invented rayguns and time travel. In addition to her debut novel Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine, Jeremiah appears in a dozen other stories, including “Steampunk Fairy Chick” in the UnCONventional anthology.

Anthony is co-editor of the anthology Doorways to Extra Time and a co-founder of Thinking Ink Press, publisher of the steampunk anthologies Twelve Hours Later, Thirty Days Later, and Some Time Later. He’s the artist of the webcomic fanu fiku and he’s co-author of the 24 Hour Comic Day Survival Guide. He’s participated in National Novel Writing Month and its related challenges over 20 times, recently cracking one million words written in Nano.

Anthony lives in San Jose with his wife and cats, but his heart will always belong in Atlanta. To learn more about Dakota Frost, visit facebook.com/dakotafrost or dakotafrost.com; to learn more about Jeremiah Willstone, visit facebook.com/jeremiahwillstone; to learn more about Anthony and his appearances, visit his blog dresan.com.

You can also take a look at my previous presentations on the science of airships, which I've been doing on and off for about 10 years now, for more details ...

Hope to see you virtually there, or in the air!

-the Centaur

He thinks he invented Java because he was in the room when someone made coffee

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... came up as my wife and I were discussing the "creative hangers-on form" of Stigler's Law. The original Stigler's Law, discovered by Roger Merton and popularized by Stephen Stigler, is the idea that in science, no discovery is named after its original discoverer.

In creative circles, it comes up when someone who had little or nothing to do with a creative process takes credit for it. A few of my wife's friends were like this, dropping by to visit her while she was in the middle of a creative project, describing out loud what she was doing, then claiming, "I told her to do that."

In the words of Finn from The Rise of Skywalker: "You did not!"

In computing circles, the old joke referred to the Java programming language. I've heard several variants, but the distilled version is "He thinks he invented Java because he was in the room when someone made coffee."  Apparently this is a good description of how Java itself was named, down to at least one person  claiming they came up with the name Java and others disputing that, even suggesting that they opposed it, claiming instead that someone else in the room was responsible - while that person in turn rejected the idea, noting only that there was some coffee in the room from Peet's.

Regardless, I dispute Howard Aiken's saying "Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." Nah. Once you've forced an idea down someone's throat, they won't just swallow it, they'll claim it was in their stomach all along.

-the Centaur

Camp Nano April 2021, Day 3

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dakota skull small Day 3, just under 600 words, still behind. A lot of today was spent on planning the scene. Rough draftiness, with Dakota infiltrating a church using her magic tattoos:
My eyelids flickered as the orchid petals infiltrated the lock, a jumble of images and feelings flooding back to me as the interlocking parts of the stamen column felt the tumblers. It was hard to see and “see” at the same time, much less guide the— Click. I drew a careful breath, then turned my hand. The petals and sepals closed on the knob and turned it, softly, and I gingerly opened the doors. My vines and their floating leaves shifted as the heavy wood parted, but did not otherwise react: no security system had been triggered. The church was spacious, almost cavernous … but not wholly dark. An eerie blue glow filtered in from the twin rows of stained glass, but the white light glinting off the rows of pews came from a pool of spotlights, pinioning before the altar a gleaming silver coffin. “My friend,” came a quiet Asian voice. “You should not have come here.” Instantly I whirled 270, twisting mana up in my body, murmuring shield just as I came face to face with … a priest? A typical, nay, stereotypical long-cassocked priest, stepping from a confessional, bearing an ornate pectoral cross and carrying a gun … no … a water pistol? “Let this be a warning to you,” he said, and fired. “Begone!”
Writing every day. -the Centaur  

Day 088

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architect sketch Quick Sharpie sketch of the friend from high school mentioned in the last blogpost. Image and name withheld as he is apparently not a public figure, but nonetheless [your name "greenville"] found them anyway. The sketch is ... okay. A little cartoony - the real person's jaw is a bit rounder. Drawing every day. -the Centaur

Day 084

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hilbert sketch Semi-quick sketch of David Hilbert. Face is a bit squnched to one side, and I could have put in more work on the wrinkles. But frankly, the original picture is dark enough under that hat that it's hard to interpret, and it's late and I'm tired, so I just went with it instead. More tomorrow. hilbert picture

It’s been a long time since I’ve thrown a book …

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chuck that junk Yeah, so that happened on my attempt to get some rest on my Sabbath day. I'm not going to cite the book - I'm going to do the author the courtesy of re-reading the relevant passages to make sure I'm not misconstruing them, but I'm not going to wait to blog my reaction - but what caused me to throw this book, an analysis of the flaws of the scientific method, was this bit: Imagine an experiment with two possible outcomes: the new theory (cough EINSTEIN) and the old one (cough NEWTON). Three instruments are set up. Two report numbers consistent with the new theory; the third one, missing parts, possibly configured improperly and producing noisy data, matches the old. Wow! News flash: any responsible working scientist would say these results favored the new theory. In fact, if they were really experienced, they might have even thrown out the third instrument entirely - I've learned, based on red herrings from bad readings, that it's better not to look too closely at bad data. What did the author say, however? Words to the effect: "The scientists ignored the results from the third instrument which disproved their theory and supported the original, and instead, pushing their agenda, wrote a paper claiming that the results of the experiment supported their idea." Pushing an agenda? Wait, let me get this straight, Chester Chucklewhaite: we should throw out two results from well-functioning instruments that support theory A in favor of one result from an obviously messed-up instrument that support theory B - oh, hell, you're a relativity doubter, aren't you? Chuck-toss. I'll go back to this later, after I've read a few more sections of E. T. Jaynes's Probability Theory: The Logic of Science as an antidote. -the Centaur P. S. I am not saying relativity is right or wrong, friend. I'm saying the responsible interpretation of those experimental results as described would be precisely the interpretation those scientists put forward - though, in all fairness to the author of this book, the scientist involved appears to have been a super jerk.  

Day 076

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fuller sketch Quick sketch of Reginald Fuller, using pencil roughs (started upside down to get the proportions, then rotated back to normal to fix the details, which was harder than expected; the first upside down one turned out to be more useful for me to see the features and relationships, but I only got it right once I put it right side up). Then a quick render with Sakura Pigma and Micron pens and a Sharpie. Not ... altogether bad, though it could have used another pass. fuller picture He, also, looks so happy. Drawing every day. -the Centaur

Day 074

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Suuuper quick sketch of E. T. Jaynes with minimal roughs and one big honking Sharpie, rescued from a bad shading attempt by tracing over my own drawing, and them I'm like, hey, I can leave the tracing paper over the original attempt and that gives me my grey layer. Didn't quite get the head tilt: jaynes picture Drawing every day. -the Centaur

Day 072

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xiao at golden gate It's late and I'm tired and want to get to bed early, so here's a suuuper quick sketch of Xiao from f@nu fiku hanging out at a bridge of some kind. (She's up in the cables, goofing around over a vast drop, because she is insanely acrobatic and unafraid of heights, living as she does on a lighthouse cantilevered out over a sheer cliff face). Drawing (well, sketching) every day. -the Centaur

Day 071

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hofstadter sketch What started to a quick sketch ended up with me pulling out all the stops so I didn't have to stay up to 4:30 in the morning. Roughed with a 2B pencil on Strathmore 9x12 Toned Tan, then inked with Sakura Micron pens, with shading and white highlights with Winsor-Newton Hard, Medium and White Charcoal plus a little 2B and final outlining with a Sakura Pigma brush pen. I like doing renderings on toned paper as you can go up to white and down to dark, giving you more ways to push the drawing. The face still is too wide, and is missing something, compared to the source image (credited to Maurizio Codogno): [caption id="attachment_5096" align="alignnone" width="600"]hofstadter image Douglas Hofstadter in Bologna, Italy - 06 March 2002[/caption] Drawing every day. -the Centaur