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Posts published in “Real Life”

It’s what happens when we’re not working or playing or thinking or doing. That thing we do that doesn’t fit into all the other categories.

Sometimes we call it living.

Transitional Updates

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mocha from alexander's

Out with October, in with November, and with it, a bunch of updates. Dragon*Con came and went and was a success. Our Kickstarter for Beyond Boots 'n' Bars was funded; thanks to everyone who participated! But most importantly, the move from California to the East Coast is mostly done.

That last I blame for my lack of posting (and drawing - sheesh, I am ~80+ drawings behind) but, ultimately, that was the most important thing that I and my wife needed to be working on for quite a while. Now, she's got a functioning art studio again, and my library is ... getting there.

But, now it's time to get back to it. I'll be doing Nanowrimo again - JEREMIAH WILLSTONE AND THE FLYING GARDENS OF VENUS, something-like-book 2.75 on my original outline. Since Nano has been so great to me, I'm sponsoring it this year, which in turn, means you can find FROST MOON there!

Welp, back to it. Onward, fellow adventurers!

-the Centaur

A Long Day

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a long day

a long day. but a good one. more tomorrow.

-the centaur

Site and Life Maintenance

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taurgarita

It's not that I've not been drawing every day. But my marriage is more important than drawing every day, and my job is more important than my posting every day, and just from the perspective of posting, while we're on that subject, site maintenance is more important than all of that, since I couldn't post.

However, taking a shotgun to all of my plugins (except the Classic Editor, which WordPress Gutenberg can pry out of my COLD DEAD HANDS) and running all available updates got the site back to life. Still not sure what precisely went wrong here, as the failure wasn't correlated with any detectable change.

SO anyway, drawing hasn't stopped, but posting of them will resume when I get the huge box of stereo wires detangled so the site is smooth again. Pictured: me, having a drink with my wife, spending a wonderful afternoon and evening together, most of which did NOT involve any form of drawing.

-the Centaur

UPDATE: The problem was the Jetpack plugin, and it persists even if the plugin is reinstalled from scratch. This has some precedent, as I see other users with the same problem, though I haven't dug deeply enough to understand what is going on in my case.

Congratulations Richard Branson (and/or Jeff Bezos)

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branson in spaaace Congratulations, Sir Richard Branson, on your successful space flight! (Yes, yes, I *know* it's technically just upper atmosphere, I *know* there's no path to orbit (yet) but can we give the man some credit for an awesome achievement?) And I look forward to Jeff Bezos making a similar flight later this month. Now, I stand by my earlier statement: the way you guys are doing this, a race, is going to get someone killed, perhaps one of you guys. A rocketship is not a racecar, and moves into realms of physics where we do not have good human intuition. Please, all y'all, take it easy, and get it right. That being said, congratulations on being the first human being to put themselves into space as part of a rocket program that they themselves set in motion. That's an amazing achievement, no-one can ever take that away from you, and maybe that's why you look so damn happy. Enjoy it! -the Centaur P.S. And day 198, though I'll do an analysis of the drawing at a later time.

RIP Jeff Bezos (and/or Richard Branson)

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rip jeff bezos You know, Jeff Bezos isn’t likely to die when he flies July 20th. And Richard Branson isn’t likely to die when he takes off at 9am July 11th (tomorrow morning, as I write this). But the irresponsible race these fools have placed them in will eventually get somebody killed, as surely as Elon Musk’s attempt to build self-driving cars with cameras rather than lidar was doomed to (a) kill someone and (b) fail. It’s just, this time, I want to be caught on record saying I think this is hugely dangerous, rather than grumbling about it to my machine learning brethren. Whether or not a spacecraft is ready to launch is not a matter of will; it’s a matter of natural fact. This is actually the same as many other business ventures: whether we’re deciding to create a multibillion-dollar battery factory or simply open a Starbucks, our determination to make it succeed has far less to do with its success than the realities of the market—and its physical situation. Either the market is there to support it, and the machinery will work, or it won’t. But with normal business ventures, we’ve got a lot of intuition, and a lot of cushion. Even if you aren’t Elon Musk, you kind of instinctively know that you can’t build a battery factory before your engineering team has decided what kind of battery you need to build, and even if your factory goes bust, you can re-sell the land or the building. Even if you aren't Howard Schultz, you instinctively know it's smarter to build a Starbucks on a busy corner rather than the middle of nowhere, and even if your Starbucks goes under, it won't explode and take you out with it. But if your rocket explodes, you can't re-sell the broken parts, and it might very well take you out with it. Our intuitions do not serve us well when building rockets or airships, because they're not simple things operating in human-scaled regions of physics, and we don't have a lot of cushion with rockets or self-driving cars, because they're machinery that can kill you, even if you've convinced yourself otherwise. The reasons behind the likelihood of failure are manyfold here, and worth digging into in greater depth; but briefly, they include:
  • The Paradox of the Director's Foot, where a leader's authority over safety personnel - and their personal willingness to take on risk - ends up short-circuiting safety protocols and causing accidents. This actually happened to me personally when two directors in a row had a robot run over their foot at a demonstration, and my eagle-eyed manager recognized that both of them had stepped into the safety enclosure to question the demonstrating engineer, forcing the safety engineer to take over audience questions - and all three took their eyes off the robot. Shoe leather degradation then ensued, for both directors. (And for me too, as I recall).
  • The Inexpensive Magnesium Coffin, where a leader's aesthetic desire to have a feature - like Steve Job's desire for a magnesium case on the NeXT machines - led them to ignore feedback from engineers that the case would be much more expensive. Steve overrode his engineers ... and made the NeXT more expensive, just like they said it would, because wanting the case didn't make it cheaper. That extra cost led to the product's demise - that's why I call it a coffin. Elon Musk's insistence on using cameras rather than lidar on his self-driving cars is another Magnesium Coffin - an instance of ego and aesthetics overcoming engineering and common sense, which has already led to real deaths. I work in this precise area - teaching robots to navigate with lidar and vision - and vision-only navigation is just not going to work in the near term. (Deploy lidar and vision, and you can drop lidar within the decade with the ground-truth data you gather; try going vision alone, and you're adding another decade).
  • Egotistical Idiot's Relay Race (AKA Lord Thomson's Suicide by Airship). Finally, the biggest reason for failure is the egotistical idiot's relay race. I wanted to come up with some nice, catchy parable name to describe why the Challenger astronauts died, or why the USS Macon crashed, but the best example is a slightly older one, the R101 disaster, which is notable because the man who started the R101 airship program - Lord Thomson - also rushed the program so he could make a PR trip to India, with the consequence that the airship was certified for flight without completing its endurance and speed trials. As a result, on that trip to India - its first long distance flight - the R101 crashed, killing 48 of the 54 passengers - Lord Thomson included. Just to be crystal clear here, it's Richard Branson who moved up his schedule to beat Jeff Bezos' announced flight, so it's Sir Richard Branson who is most likely up for a Lord Thomson's Suicide Award.
I don't know if Richard Branson is going to die on his planned spaceflight tomorrow, and I don't know that Jeff Bezos is going to die on his planned flight on the 20th. I do know that both are in an Egotistical Idiot's Relay Race for even trying, and the fact that they're willing to go up themselves, rather than sending test pilots, safety engineers or paying customers, makes the problem worse, as they're vulnerable to the Paradox of the Director's Foot; and with all due respect to my entire dot-com tech-bro industry, I'd be willing to bet the way they're trying to go to space is an oversized Inexpensive Magnesium Coffin. -the Centaur P.S. On the other hand, when Space X opens for consumer flights, I'll happily step into one, as Musk and his team seem to be doing everything more or less right there, as opposed to Branson and Bezos. P.P.S. Pictured: Allegedly, Jeff Bezos, quick Sharpie sketch with a little Photoshop post-processing.

Days 181-185

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Just because I was on vacation doesn't mean I wasn't drawing ...desk toy sketches Above, a sketch of some desk toys ... below, I think it was a from-memory quick sketch of Indiana Jones, but I find that hard to believe. jones sketch Below, test sketch of Puck climbing a skywall from JW&TFGOV. puck climbing Test sketching the shape of a face ... face sketch And another quick sketch of Gabby. gabby Drawing, even a little, every day. -the Centaur P.S. Monterey is, as always, awesome.        

Day 180

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gabby quick sketch Quick Sharpie re-sketch of yesterday's drawing - no roughs,  from memory. I'm almost afraid to see how I did: gabby sketchy comparison Huh. The overall outline is better than I expected, but I squished his head and mixed up his arms. Interesting. Almost the opposite of Data as Mr. Light Bulb Head, we have Gabby the Pear-Headed Cat. Welp, here's to remembering that better next time. Drawing, even a little, every day. -the Centaur  

Day 179

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gabby sketch Pigma Micron sketch over non-repro blue roughs of Gabby the Cat. Let's see how I did: gabby curled As it turns out, I didn't pay too close attention to the landscape after the face, and so there's no way to make it line up perfectly no matter how you scale or rotate it: gabby comparison Ah well. Still, drawing every day. -the Centaur  

Day 134

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day 134 centaur Tired, could stay up later to finish a full drawing, but then, I've been having trouble getting to sleep once in bed when I do that, and I don't want to have another bout of awake-till-6am insomnia. Here's a quick sketch to tide you over - with a brush pen, since I seem to have exhausted all my Sharpies. What I did instead this evening was art related: I hung some of my wife's paintings in the new place: sandi paintings 4 sandi paintings 3 sandi paintings 2 sandi paintings 1 Now that's art. As for me, I'm still drawing every day. -the Centaur

Day 3, Vaccine 2, Drawing 133

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centaur tired Mostly vaccine recovered, but didn't sleep well. Pretty tired, crashing out early. Drawing every day. -the Centaur