Yeah, right, buddy. You just want my dinner, after not eating yours.
Lots of news, much of it good - particularly, a new way to structure projects with a literature review, book document and manuscript doc. But workmen arrive in the AM, so you just get a picture of a cat.
So, in case you don't own this cat, the little brow-furrowed face Loki is currently making is his "I really want your food but you're not letting me eat it, so I'm going to sit just at arms length and fume" face. He thinks if he waits long enough, he'll be able to sneak in and try some. My long arm thinks otherwise.
Anyhoo, while I said I wanted to put blogging at the first of the day to make sure it got done, it turns out that I was way more interested in making sure that I didn't fall grievously behind on my Camp Nano project, Dakota Frost #7, SPIRAL NEEDLE, nor miss any of my other responsibilities.
I'm mostly caught up now, so I'm trying to put blogging back on the queue. Interestingly enough, after my rant about blocks, the WordPress folks have reached out to talk to me about blocks. Talk about customer service! So I'm also blogging trying to replicate the bugs I observed the other day that set me off.
So far, I cannot replicate the cut-and-paste error, where trying to select all the text only copied part of it - it is entirely possible that the system had just gotten into a cruftly state, which can happen to any program of sufficient complexity.
I can, however, replicate the cut-and-paste problem I had, where trying to re-order sentences introduced new paragraph breaks in a way that's not standard for Word, Google Docs, or TextEdit. This is probably most directly attributable to the text being in blocks, but it might be fixable.
I also reproduced the "Where's Waldo" interface issue where I could not easily inject new blocks - though now I see that can be fixed with a carriage return followed by a slash, which is documented in the interface, it is also possible that at the time something was just wrong with my editor.
I also debugged the problem I had with the interface. In TextEdit, Word and Google Docs, the first line of your document is the first line of your document. In WordPress, it is invisibly a title, as opposed to the Classic Editor which distinguishes this with a different text entry box. This is also probably fixable.
But there are other strange errors. Like, the sidebar that let you change the properties of the post are normally present when I blog, but had disappeared when I started this post. Weirdly, not even the button to show them was present - I had to toggle several other buttons and then it appeared, just where I remembered it. Not sure what's going on there. Since I restarted my computer recently and re-logged into WordPress, perhaps this is a "sticky" setting that went away when I cycled my browser. Still investigating.
Pictured: Loki, trying to help me study generative AI.
Last week, frankly speaking, I was feeling kind of low. I had launched a major paper to arXiv (an event which I tweeted et al, but somehow haven't blogged yet) and had a big opportunity to get caught up on stuff. But I couldn't seem to get rolling, not even on my Camp Nano project, Dakota Frost #7, SPIRAL NEEDLE.
I met with my buddy Jim Davies and came up with the idea of restructuring my day, which worked well and I blogged about last week. But when Monday rolled around, and a lot of stuff wasn't done, I decided that I needed to throw away that script and make sure that the important "hanging tasks" got done.
And I did. Maybe not a third of the ones I wanted to get done, but I chewed through a lot of them. And I realized that, after spending a year and a quarter on that big arXiv paper and the Embodied AI Workshop, that I probably needed more recharge time than I had given myself.
But I had felt I didn't have time, as I had to roll into Camp Nano on July 1st and there were other tasks, like managing the repair of our air conditioning system and disbursing awards to the winners of Embodied AI Workshop challenges, that also couldn't wait. Things often just start when they are scheduled to start.
But whether I had that time to take off, I needed that time, as you can maybe see above. The first week of Camp Nano, I was running below full power. After a week's worth of the motor sputtering on 50%, giving me a forced recharge, you can see my writing rate start to climb up again, as it should be.
But the lesson isn't just that it's important to be kind to yourself - the modern phrase is "self-care" - because, as I said, things often start when they wanna start. And this includes planned things, like Camp Nano, and unplanned things, like lightning taking out your A/C. And even emergencies, like a sick cat.
So, I had put blogging aside a bit until Camp Nano was rolling again and my business were taken care of, and was getting ahead on both this morning, just prior to going to lunch with my 90-year-old uncle, when our cat Loki started yowling, puking, and trying to go to the bathroom without success.
The little guy has a history of urinary tract infections, which can kill a cat in hours and almost killed him three times, and had gotten the zoomies after trying to use the litterbox last night. His condition didn't seem bad then, but it was markedly worse today, and reluctantly I called Uncle Paul to cancel, then called the vet.
It often seems that I'm called to do the most just when I've "run out of spoons" dealing with some other problem, but, somehow, God provides enough spoons in the clinch when I need them. Less than an hour after canceling with Uncle Paul, I was pulling into the vet's office, who worked us in to their lunch hour.
Blessedly, the surgery Loki had after his previous urinary tract blockages prevented any buildup this time; in fact, the doctor suspected this was possibly a simpler case of a gastrointestinal infection - kitty food poisoning - and gave him antibiotics / anti-inflammatories to help Loki's system calm down.
Within hours of getting home, he was eating and drinking again, and soon returning to his alternately lovable/needy, grumpy/jerky self. And I got yet another lesson that the resources you need to solve your problems are often there, even if you don't always feel like they are.
Be good to yourself. But put first things first when you have to, and often, it will all work out.
Pictured: Loki, after recovery (but looking like he looked when he was sick), Camp Nano progress, Loki at the vet, and Loki definitely in recovery mode with his medicine in him. And may I complain again about the Gutenberg editor making simple operations like selecting text an exercise in frustration?
Just Loki, on the back patio, looking at a leaf ... with a little added magic (full size).
Producing this relatively simple image actually involved a fair number of Photoshop tools, several of which are new "generative AI" tools, but many others of which are just plain old machine vision magic:
Layers (stacked images) used extensively to save original or alternate versions of things.
Perspective Warp (a pretty impressive tool in its own right) to distort the image into a rectilinear shape.
Content Aware Fill (a new Photoshop generative AI tool) to extend the warped stone tile to fill the frame.
The Clone Stamp tool to complete the grout lines which were only partially filled in by Content Aware Fill.
Quick Selection tool to isolate Loki and the leaf into their own layers for later.
Selection > Modify > Expand and Selection > Modify > Feather to get the fine hairs on Loki's boundary.
Generative Fill (another generative AI tool) to eliminate many of the leaves.
More Clone Stamp to eliminate more leaves and minor imperfections.
Layer duplication to create an original and to-be-colored tile backdrop.
Swatches, the Rectangular Marquee tool, the Polygonal Lasso, and the Fill tool to create the colored tile.
Color Burn layer blend mode (with 57% opacity) to create the primary Mondrian effect.
Another layer duplication to create a new version of the colored tile to enhance the grout.
Filter Gallery > Colored Pencil which fortuitously greyed out the colored tile and colorized the grout.
Magic Wand tool set to Contiguous and 0% Tolerance to cut out the greyed tiles from the grout layer.
Darker Color layer blend mode to enhance the grout.
Drop Shadow on the leaf to make it stand out.
Duplicating Loki into a layer with Darken to make him stand out against the colored grout.
Adding Inner Glow modified to Darken as well (with a Choke of 14 and Size of 87) to eliminate some of the white halo around Loki.
Adding a second Loki layer, Normal blend with 50% opacity, to get his sheen.
I like how it came out, especially given how it started:
I looked at that and thought, "You know, that's almost a Mondrian backdrop" and I was right!
Brands of cat food, that is. As I recall, the farther it is to the right, the more likely it is that Loki will eat it. The farther it is to the left, the more likely it is that Loki would rather go outside than even smell it.