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.
Posts published in “The Currents”
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: Now that's art. As for me, I'm still drawing every day. -the Centaur
Mostly vaccine recovered, but didn't sleep well. Pretty tired, crashing out early. Drawing every day. -the Centaur
Also Drawing Every Day #132, but you probably guessed that. Go, immune system, go! Back to bed. -the Centaur
So, I have this particular type of multi-monitor setup I prefer - with a laptop screen abutting two other monitors, one horizontal, one vertical - but I couldn't quite do that here on my personal setup, at least not at first, because I didn't want to buy any more monitors after buying that Wacom behemoth, and eventually, the perfectly good ones from the old house will get shipped. But I had a couple of spare old monitors from previous computers, long since retired - so old that only the DVI ports work, though one of them has an HDMI port I don't think I got to work. After lots of flickering, the oldest one of them finally gave up the ghost, but the other was able to slot into the same place. (It's on the left, above, with Roger Moore's mug from my Drawing Every Day session on it.) While can't rotate vertically like the other, it worked, at least, and I could use it. Then it started flickering too. Now, three or four things could be happening here. First, it could be a flaky old monitor screen, natch. Second, it could be a problem with the monitor's plug, since jiggling the software cable often fixed it; on the same grounds, I ruled out a device driver issue. Third, since it happened to two monitors attached to the same laptop with the same cable into the same port, it could be the laptop itself giving up the ghost. So, after putting up with this for weeks, if not months, I finally started to look into new monitors. Apparently, the monitor I want costs roughly a thousand dollars with shipping, but I know I want that monitor because I have one in California waiting to be shipped here. Then I thought back to my diagnosis. Two monitors, plugged into the same laptop on the same port ... with the same cable. Now, for various reasons, I can't swap the ports around much (the Wacom is SUPER finicky about what it wants it's 15,000 cables to attach to, and if you LOOK at it funny the stylus stops working) and I couldn't try a different cable because, THANK YOU, Apple and the rest of the computer industry, for changing the ports on all your laptops so my box of cables from previous setups is now virtually USELESS. But I could order a $12 dollar USB-C to DVI cable off Amazon. It arrived today. I plugged it in an hour or so ago. The ten-year-old monitor? Working just fine. Moral of the story: make sure to vary all of your variables when you are debugging, or you'll possibly trick yourself into the moral equivalent of spending a lot of unnecessary cash. -the Centaur
So! I got my first shot today, and other than a little arm soreness, a headache which may or may not be related, and some tiredness which may just be because it's 3:21am, I have not yet had any ill effects. I was totally lied to by my album covers though, and have not been able to hack into Bill Gates' secret global network through the tiny implanted computer chip in the vaccine, maybe because neither exists. Ouch. First picture failed for some reason, so we get this charming shot of the needle coming OUT rather than going in. But it didn't really hurt at all, maybe because I was fiddling with my camera. Our Dalek friend below is proud that he was able to contribute his catchphrase to our cause: ~500 words on Camp Nano, still behind, but I am too wiped to write more. Drawing, writing, being a good citizen every day. -the Centaur
So it's that time of year once again: I've won Nanowrimo, again, by writing 50,000 words in the month of November; by my records, this is 28 straight wins (counting Camp Nano in April and July in the mix) for a total of ... holy cow ... 1.5 million words in successful Nano challenges. Welp, I'm calling it: Nano is the most successful technique I've ever used to to boost my writing output --- more than morning pages, more than writing workshops, more than the Artist's Way --- with the possible exception of Write to the End, with which Nano is intimately intertwined (for me). Now I hear my editor calling: How about boosting that editing output, Francis? I hear you. Writing I don't seem to have much trouble with, but between robots and the zombie apocalypse I've found it hard to get the necessary brain juice to edit the 7, no 8 manuscripts I have in the queue. Come to think of it, why couldn't we have had the zombie apocalypse while I was writing about a zombie apocalypse? Covid would have been really thematically appropriate when I was working on BOT NET (Facebook zombies) or SPIRITUAL GOLD (actual zombie zombies). But that was not to be. I don't know about you, but I find the whole zombie apocalypse thing wearing, not to mention the whole election thing. Add to that serious realignments at work, which meant basically reinventing everything I'd been doing to come back to the same place, and 2020 has been a full on freight train of suck. Not that everything's been bad. I finished the bulk of a novel, JEREMIAH WILLSTONE AND THE MACHINERY OF THE APOCALYPSE, back in April, and I'm halfway through Dakota Frost #7, SPIRAL NEEDLE. We finished our patio here ... ... and started a grand new vegan cooking adventure together ... And we even found and bought a new house, a very nice new place (it has turkeys) ... ... with a great space for my library and my wife's art studio, which we're in the middle of a slow motion move to while we renovate the old pad. These have been bright lights in an otherwise bad year. By you know how it's been: so stressful that - well, you've seen how much I've been blogging. I feel like this should be the best time ever in my life, yet 2020 has left me feeling a lot like this: But, we have traditions which can help us through, like Thanksgiving ... oh, dangit Covid! So, ANYWAY, other traditions that do not involve Covid or Zoom, Nano traditions: the stats, and the excerpt. What did this month look like, Nano-wise? This wasn't the hardest Nano I've handled ... I think the worst was being over 21,000 words behind in 2016 for PHANTOM SILVER, though briefly LIQUID FIRE in 2009 got almost that bad. Nor was it record-breakingly productive, like the astounding 25,000 words ahead finish on BOT NET 2017. This was a middle-of-the-road Nano, helped by really pouring on 12,000 words last weekend: That was on purpose, so I could coast into Thanksgiving having finished, and spend a very nice dinner with my wife. (We had vegan muffulletas with authentic olive salad filling shipped direct from Central Grocery in New Orleans, which I highly, highly, highly recommend). That left November's work on SPIRAL NEEDLE comfortably in the middle of my previous efforts:a And so, now, an excerpt ...
Too late, I realized the thickening arms of the octopus mist echoed the ghostly glow of the streetlights. “Teleporter! We’ve got to find a weakness!” I cried, flicking and snapping my wrist to loose a crossbow bolt, a feather from my origami peacock—an analysis spell. The feather flitted out, replicating itself in the flood of magic, its unfolding structure revealing an intricate, oh so intricate pattern embedded in the misty galaxy. Unfortunately, Nyissa, far older and faster than me, had fired her own analysis glyph. Our spells collided in a flash of sparks and feathers. “Damnit,” I cried, flinching. “Only one of us needed to do that—” “Sorry, was reacting to your idea, not your action,” Nyissa said. “I—” A long black shaft lanced out—and with a terrific report, blasted Nyissa in the face. Nyissa flew back. Her mask shattered. It would have been so romantic to scream her name and lunge my hand toward her—but both of us had been in fights so many times before, and I instinctively swung the Waystaff up, its spine catching bayonet and flipping the long gun upwards. The hooked beak hissed, striped cloak flapping, and I saw the thing whole. Towering. Raptor-beaked. Cloaked in tattered striped cloth, draped over a flaring dark greatcoat. Black leather straps bound a tortuously lean torso seemingly rippled with twitching muscle. But the clawed arms fighting mine held what looked like a musket, the striped cloak looked like the ruins of a flag, and atop the thing’s plague doctor mask was a tricorn hat. “What are you?” I yelled, shoving against the musket with the Waystaff. The thing screamed at me, foul smoke erupting from its beak, and I flinched and gagged. It wailed at me with its musket, alternately clubbing aside the Waystaff and jabbing at me with the bayonet, as sparking smoke roiled into what I assumed was the musket’s flintlock—it was preparing to fire! I leapt backward, spinning through a knight’s move version of the Dance of Five and Two, hastily pulling together a spell: “Spirit of flame, act as my shield!” The plague knight screeched and dropped a grimy black ball into its musket—just as my Dragon tattoo uncoiled from my skin and looped around me in a helix of Technicolor scales and feathers. The plague knight fired with a clap of thunder—met by a gout of flame.Wow! Excitement! Adventure! Tattoo magic versus magical monsters! And while we didn't get to see that much of the costumes in this excerpt, we've got cute vampires wearing sexy clothes fighting alongside our heroine in her long black vest / trenchcoat. What's not to like? That is all for now. Until next time, please enjoy this picture of a cat. -the Centaur
So you may have noticed the blog theme and settings changing recently; that's because I'm trying to get some kind of slider or visual image above the fold. I love the look of the blog with the big banner image, but I'm concerned that people just won't scroll down to see what's in the blog if there's nothing on the first page which says what I do. So I'll be experimenting. Stay tuned! -the Centaur Pictured: Yeah, this isn't the only renovation going on.
I prefer pictures of food to pictures of myself, but, since my phone stopped charging and started shocking people (along with emitting a lovely BURNING smell) you get old stock footage or Photo Booth for the time being. And now, the currents:
- Currently Reading: Merida, Chasing Magic (because I want to understand children's books better, and I like the drawing of Merida's awesome red hair which is an inspiration for my drawings of Serendipity) and The Cognitive Neurosciences, Fifth Edition (because I am working on a project on the engineering applications of consciousness research, and research on the neural correlates of consciousness has exploded in the last twenty years).
- Currently Rereading: The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings (because Lent), Planning Algorithms by Lavalle and Reinforcement Learning by Sutton and Barto (because my robot navigation research is heating up and I want to understand the connections of reinforcement learning and classical planning, both of which have related but different ideas of value iteration; also because I'm planning on coding a small toy DQN to help me better understand the larger machinery I use at work).
- Currently Dreading: Finishing my taxes, and finishing my edits on Shattered Sky by David Colby. Both so late! Sorry.
- Currently Missing: My wife, on a business trip; my cats, at home waiting for me to finish up lunch, shift gears, and go home to go through The Tax Pile.