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Throw your head at the ground and miss

centaur 1
"I know Taido..." " me." (To the tune of Neo vs. Morpheus).

Seriously, I learned to front handspring today. A quick step forward throwing yourself down on your hands, and your body flips over you and just pops back up to a standing position, and, to my great surprise, I can actually do this. Repeatably.

I honestly didn't think it was possible for me getting a such a late start in karate at the ripe old age of 30. I mean, yes, I took karate in my early teens, and yes, I took it for about a year in college, but as far as I'm concerned I really *seriously* got started around 30. Despite that, after all this time I assumed that the young turks doing front flips and backflips and front and back handsprings were just able to do so because they were 15 years younger than me (I am now 35).

But apparently after five years of practice, you learn something.

While I'd been doing a great deal of component practice (handstands, cartwheels, a variety of tumbles, back arches, back wall hand walks, and assisted back flip practice) the first time I ever tried to put a back handspring together was tonight --- and thanks to great teachers and great encouragement from my classmates, it just frickin worked.

Don't try this at home, fanu, but it's just throwing your head at the ground and missing. No, more seriously --- lean forward on to your hands and flip forward over them, using your hands to hold yourself up while you pitch forward onto your butt. Sound easy? Ok, speed that up with a few running steps until you're comfortable flipping forward over your hands and onto your butt. Got that? Now watch the ground while you throw your body over ... your back will naturally arch while you fall on your butt. Ok, now kick your feet up like you're doing a cartwheel ... and surprise yourself when you pop back up onto your feet. Even more seriously don't try this at home --- get yourself a karate or gymnastics teacher and a big mat to practice on --- but once you get the hang of it it's amazing. By the end of the evening, I didn't even need a running start anymore --- I could practically do it in place.

I even found out, but did not get to try, *why* we're doing this insane stuff --- one of the black belts showed us how a front handspring could turn into a superfast (and devastating) ax kick.

So the moral of the story is, if you believe that you can't do something ... OR believe that something's too crazy to do ... OR don't put in the effort to learn all the pieces, you'll see people doing things that *look* amazing which you will *assume* are impossible ... but the reality is that if you assume it IS possible for you, take it on faith that it's worth doing, and put in the effort to build up all the pieces ... why, then anything's possible for you.

Next I plan to work on my hover.

Oh, and I just discovered RSS…

centaur 0
... so sue me. Or just subscribe to the Library of Dresan
RSS Feed.
Actually technically it's an Atom feed, but, hey, they're all the same to SharpReader.

Ok, so now I have to upgrade my Python webcomic script to produce an XML site feed, which I suppose means I have to add XML support to Sangreal for when I switch the script over to Sangreal. Rassen frassen ... yes, I *do* plan to join the 21st century, give me a break...

girls, books and stuffed animals

centaur 0
A new webcomic has popped up, filled with girls, books, and... uh... stuffed animals. Sort of. Anyway, in a show of solidarity with our fellow webcomic artists, check out girls with slingshots, which just started.

In similar powergrrrl vein, I recommend The Devil's Panties ("It's not satanic porn, honest!") and Namir Deiter. And always, I recommend Kevin and Kell, an excellent anthropomorphic strip about differences and the joys they cause.

Run for President, Get Arrested

centaur 1
Apparently there are some hazards associated with not being
in the #1 or #2 party slot. Libertarian Presidential candidate
Michael Badnarik was arrested trying to serve the Commission
on Presidential Debates with papers accusing them of illegally
excluding him from the debate:

Badnarik/Campagna '04 for President

"The first report from St. Louis is in - and presidential candidates Michael Badnarik (Libertarian) and David Cobb (Green Party) were just arrested. Badnarik was carrying an Order to Show Cause, which he intended to serve the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). Earlier today, Libertarians attempted to serve these same papers at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the CPD - but were stopped from approaching the CPD office by security guards."

Mmm, mmm, mmm. Never let it be said that the process isn't
slanted to the top two parties, by the top two parties.

Dreams too big for the sky

centaur 1
f@nu fiku is here.

Right now most of the material on the site is preliminary
(and yes, I know there are broken links; they'll be fixed
after I finish giving a talk this week) but the storyline
for the first arc, Premonitions, begins on Monday.

(... and in case you're wondering why the story
story doesn't begin until next week... it's because I
wanted to get in the habit of forcing myself to finish
at least one page each week so I won't fall behind.
Currently I'm five weeks ahead. Let's see how long
that lasts.)


Fanu Fiku … aaalmost there …

centaur 0
The Wizard. The Warrior. The Seer. The Saint. The Scientist. The Mystic.
And the young girl who can take them...
...anywhere she can imagine.

Fanu Fiku

Weekly. Starting October 4.

The Gallery is OPEN!

centaur 0
A whole passel of my art can now be seen on the Gallery page.

Kudos to Gordon for pointing out IrfanView, which made building the gallery a breeze.

And in other news, Fanu Fiku: Premonitions starts online October 4th and will run weekly. As I get ahead/behind on Fanu Fiku, I may or may not try to get Death Wish finished in online comic form as well.

Hope yall enjoy!

Okay, OKAY, I *get* the *point*!

centaur 0
SO I'm sitting in a panel atAnime Weekend Atlanta 10 listening to the always delightful Piro talk about how drawing works for him, busy taking notes while sketching faces for practice in the margins.

Then the panel ends ... and a young lady sitting next to me asks me to do a sketch, because she liked what I was drawing so much. Then someone else commented on my t-shirt. And finally, out of the blue, while I was talking to a distributor of the fanfilm "Batman vs. Joker vs. Aliens vs. Predator vs. more Aliens vs. more Predators", he asked, "So, do you have a web site, and is any of your stuff on it?"

So, OKAY, I get the point! I'll put f@nu fiku and my other art online already. The gallery is half done, hopefully to be finished by Wednesday, and the front cover of Fanu Fiku will go up on Monday.

Stay tuned...

Ok, I forgive you…

centaur 1
... "Sky Captain" wasn't that bad.

I saw it again (all of it, this time) with my girlfriend, who wasn't too surprised I didn't like it ... she likes escapism, I want realism. But as time went on the sheer visual beauty of the movie, wooden acting, and tin dialogue faded in my mind, and I was struck by how many beautiful ideas there were in the movie. How many clever touches it had. How many little pieces just fit together. How well, despite its flaws, the overall story was told.

And then I ran across this little snippet on how they made it. and was struck by the love the director had for his subject: the skyhook on the Empire State Building that the Hindenberg III docks on was real ... the Hindenburg III was really on the drawing board ... and many of the other things in the movie were from Mr. Conran's childhood dreams. And so he buckled down, with a cheesy computer and no funds, and made his dream fucking happen. You go with your bad self.

So, I forgive you, Mr. Conran, for the flaws in your movie: you really did turn out an amazing piece of work, and I apologize for my snap judgement. But, please, given the amazing skill you show in every other area, please, please, please write and direct some small plays where you focus on dialogue and work with real actors BEFORE you've storyboarded out your next multimillion dollar movie.

I promise you, if you turn out several small shorts just for you and your friends in a context where it's safe for you to go out on a limb and try and fail, then your next movie will kick "Sky Captain's" butt.

Perhaps I was too hasty…

centaur 0
... for others who just saw "Drek Captain and the World of Stupidity" questioned whether I was seeing the same movie they were. I can't answer that; all I can say is that what I was watching was the moment visual style finally vanquished intellectual substance. Perhaps I was too hasty. Certainly the movie was visually imaginative.

But I guess after September 11 I want a little realism in my escapism: I think wonderful tales told of heroes who save the day for all the little people who can only sit back and do nothing end up with the little people who did nothing ending up dead.

Because there are no heroes.
If you want to save the world, stand up and do it yourself.

My First APL Program

centaur 0
As a side project right now I'm investigating computer languages --- not just experimenting with Perl vs. Python but trying to expose myself to different families of languages, such as functional, logic, imperative, object oriented, and obfuscated.

Most recently, someone mentioned that array languages are the least
widely known family --- perhaps because the founding language in the group,
APL, was written with a nonstandard character set. Perhaps the most terse
of all programming languages, APL spawned a series of children, like J and K,
which, even though they can be written in a normal alphabet, retain APL's
essential terseness --- or, dare we say, obscurity?

I plan to learn J. However, before I did so, I committed myself to learning
at least a smidgen of the original APL, so I could see how the language was
originally intended to work and look.

Here's my first APL program, designed to produce a Vigenere tableau:

Note the code isn't in the standard ASCII character set, so I had
to represent it as an image file.

The heart of the code is the central box of the next image. This should read as:

disclose (( -1 rotate (indexList (shapeOf Y)))
(outerProduct rotate) (enclose Y))

and executes right to left:

To translate into pseudocode:

// Assign the alphabet to the variable Y
// Now perform the following:
((outerproduct rotate)
(rotate -1 (enumerate (length y)))
(box y)
// This is the moral equivalent of:
// (1). Treat array Y like a "scalar" variable
boxedY = box(y)
// (2) Find the length of Y - in this case,26
lengthOfY = length(y)
// (3) Get an array from 1 to the length of Y
// We will use this (1 2 ... 26) later to
// rotate the alphabet to the side
list1toY = enumerate(lengthOfY)
// (4) Rotate list by one so that the first
// row is a "no-op" rotation: (26 1 2 ... 25)
// (I should have just have subtracted one
// from each list to get (0 1 .. 25), but
// it's just my first APL program!)
rotateAmounts = rotate(-1, list1toY)
// (5) Create a "mapping rotate" function that takes
// a list of integers as its first argument and
// rotates each element of its second argument
// by the supplied integer.
// We had to "box" Y earlier because APL by
// default treat each of its elements as a one-element
// array.
mapRotate = outerproduct(rotate)
// Now create 26 copies of Y, each rotated by the amount
// specified in the rotateAmounts variable, and collect
// them all into a list. This is morally equivalent to:
// list(
// rotate(26, boxedY),
// rotate( 1, boxedY),
// ...
// rotate(25, boxedY)
// )
rotatedY = mapRotate(rotateAmounts, boxedY)
// Now "unbox" the rotated list, which takes the
// list of lists of rotated Ys and turns them into
// a matrix or grid rotation
return unbox(rotatedY)

The idea in my mind was to take an input array and print
a diagonalized rectangle with it. With the alphabet, this
becomes a Vigenere table --- once the "indecipherable cipher",
now a trivial matter for any modern computer.

With a different string, like "01" or "_[]" (reading the two
brackets as the APL Quad character), and a suitable change
in length of the output, it becomes instead a checkerboard:

Deciphering that is left as an exercise to you, dear fanu.

Cut me some SLAC!

centaur 0
I just had some pictures developed and found these gems from my November 2003 trip to the Stanford Linear Accelerator:

Some of the other pictures developed are so old that, well,
let's just say that half the couples in one Christmas shot are
either getting divorced or have been for some time now.

Oy, do I need a digital camera.

Resident Evil 2: Aqualitylapse

centaur 0
I and my old high school buddy William just came back from seeing "Resident Evil 2: Apocalypse".

And while there were many things I enjoyed about the movie, and even think it had the skeleton of an interesting plot, both William and I had the same reaction.

Simultaneously, we *tried* to excuse its suckitude by dissing it as a "B" movie, but immediately realized it was at best a "C" movie.

"Aliens vs. Predator", how we miss thee.


centaur 0
OK, now we've lit this candle. This isn't the permanent form of this weblog --- I've allocated the site and software for a full-blown wikiblog upcoming soon --- but at least now the blog and the hand-generated site are integrated, and I can post at the click of a button. Woo hoo!

And to tide you over, here's a pointer to where I get my physics news.


centaur 0
John Wiseman over at lemonodor noticed this amazing Periodic Table of Perl Operators put together by Mark Lentczner:

Pretty inspiring to a language designer, and a great example of information design for everyone else.