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Posts tagged as “We Call It Living”

Instead of a $1000 Monitor, Try a $12 Cable

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three monitors

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

My Review of the Studio Decor 24×36 Picture Frame

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frame, broken

I do not like this picture frame. While the wood border is beautiful and it handsomely frames posters, the attachment is an awkwardly placed pair of hooks, roughly 1/3 of the way down the frame and an inch inside the outer edges, making it almost impossible to hang levelly, or evenly, or at the right height.

In fact, I'd say that the placement is so awkward it actively thwarts "measure twice, cut once" in that on at least three or four different occasions (with two different poster frames, apparently not having learned my lesson trying to level the first one) I have measured the hook placement twice, or more than twice - most recently, using two different rulers, including a t-square - and after double and triple checking it, finding that the hooks are too far apart, or once moved closer, are not quite level, or, once leveled, are a whole inch to the right from where they should be, despite the fact that you measured the center and the hooks both against the sides of the wall upon which it was going, so, what the hell, Danielewski?

poster, damaged

Also, this frame does not well protect posters when thrown across the room. But it does make a very satisfying crashing sound, and the remains of the frame are well suited for pulling a 2001: A Space Odyssey monkey-smashing-the-bones-with-a-club re-enactment.

Sigh. "I don't have an anger management problem, just an anger problem." Sigh. And it's not like it was a great poster, but, hell, it's impossible to replace. And I checked.

Time to find a new frame - with a proper wire or central attachment, either of which enables you to add a single central hook, and to slightly adjust the angle and centering of the picture.

"We call it living."

-the Centaur

 

VAC-CI-NATE! (and Drawing Every Day #103, and Camp Nano …)

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vac-ci-nate

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.

centaur, vaccine 1

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:

dalek toy

~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

Day 100

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dakota rough sketch

Quick Sharpie sketch of Dakota Frost, based on the model from the BLOOD ROCK / LIQUID FIRE covers. I tried to do this upside down at first, to "see" it better, and OH BOY it did not turn out well - the landscape was all off. So this is an even quicker sketch, because I need to get to bed early.

dakota skull small

Also, Camp Nano only got ~150 added words, but again, I need sleep. Rough draftiness:

“Your voice,” the priest said, taking another step back. “If not a vampire, surely … surely not a werewolf … but your voice … why do I know your voice?”

I spun, rolling my neck, unfurling more vines into a soft green halo that lit my face.

“Do you know me now?” I asked.

“Oh … God,” the priest said. “You were on the news, the mother of that weretiger—”

“That I am, and if she is here,” I said, “you should point the way … then run.”

“She … here?” The priest blinked, then his eyes flicked at the coffin. “But it’s not—”

My heart fell. The prisoner in the coffin was not Cinnamon—but as the priest’ eyes went wide in terror, I realized that in his shock he’d given away there was a prisoner in that coffin. I drew a breath, my face flushing, feeling my blood pounding in my ears.

Hopefully I'll pick up speed now that I'm out of the Lenten "Jesus and Godel" series. I wrote 45,000 words of nonfiction in Lent, which is nowhere near the needed Nano rate, but I think is probably the fastest rate and largest single body of nonfiction writing I've done since perhaps my thesis.

But what I really did today was move boxes into the room that's going to become my wife's art studio.

Drawing, writing, moving every day.

-the Centaur

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.
 

What is Lent?

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Lent

Twenty-Twenty, man! A year that sucked, followed by a year that sounds like "Twenty-Twenty Won" (and don't get me started on the third act of the trilogy, "Twenty-Twenty Too" ... not even the Sharknado team could have come up with the plots of the Twenty-Twenty franchise).

As we're recovering from last year - recovering from January of THIS year - the normal rhythms of life have been quietly reasserting themselves. Elections are followed by inaugurations. Winter weather will soon be followed by spring plantings. And Ash Wednesday will soon be followed by Easter.

"Two thousand twenty-one" in our calendar marks two millennia, give or take, since the birth of Jesus, the founder of Christianity, the world's largest religion. Today, "Ash Wednesday" in the Christian calendar marks the beginning of Lent, the solemn observance of Jesus's Crucifixion.

You can follow the links to find out what Lent and Ash Wednesday and Christianity and the Crucifixion mean to other people. But what I want to tell you about what they mean to me. Lent has always been a time for me to reconnect with my own faith, and each year I do that a slightly different way.

Lent celebrates Jesus's Resurrection, when He turned death into new life - and turned failure as a regional preacher into success at creating a world-spanning church. Prior to His death, Jesus went into the wilderness and was tempted for 40 days, which Christians emulate by giving things up for Lent.

Well, the pandemic has knocked a loop for most of the things that I normally give up for Lent: giving up meat (I'm mostly eating vegan), giving up alcohol (I try to avoid drinking at home), giving up soda (long story). While I've been blessed to not be starving this pandemic, it's still been a time of deprivation.

That got me thinking. I once heard someone suggest, "Give up Something Bad for Lent!" (as opposed to the normal giving up something good). Well, what about flipping it on its head entirely? What about, rather than giving up something bad for Lent, why not take on something good for Lent?

Normally I try not to talk about what I've given up for Lent - on the principle Jesus puts forth in Matthew 6:5 that praying for show is its own reward - that is, no reward at all. But again, flipping it on its head entirely, if I've taken on something good for Lent, why not take on something to share with everyone?

So, like my Drawing Every Day series, for the next forty days, I'm going to blog about what Lent means to me. And the key meaning of Lent, for me, is reconnection - dare I say, Resurrection? Christianity is supposed to be a "catholic" religion - catholic, meaning "universal," a religion for everyone.

The universality of Christianity means that it's for everyone. Everyone has free will. Everyone can screw up. Everyone can feel a loss of connection to God. And Jesus's role was to light the way - taking on our screwups in His death, and washing them away in His Resurrection.

SO, in the coming weeks, I hope to show you what I'm trying to connect back to every Lent. For some of you, this will be bread and butter; for others, this will be alien. Regardless, I hope I'm going to be able to leave you with an understanding of why every year I walk the path of Lent towards the Resurrection.

-the Centaur

Day 036

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Tiny Lion

As it says on the tin. Quick sketched with a dry erase marker on 9x12 paper, then rapidly colored / filtered / rendered in Photoshop. Subject: one of the plush lions from my vast collection of genre toys that I once had on my desk at work - with the excuse that these were my motivation to keep working. "This is why I'm doing this: to be able to afford to enjoy that." 

So far, the motivational experiment seems to be working.

Drawing every day.

-the Centaur

Day 024

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A New Car

NOW it's my car. A near-copy of my California 2010 Prius, minus 120K miles and plus a slightly darker interior trim, on the principle that it's a known quantity, and was darn cheap. The equivalent of a "quick sketch" but in Photoshop, just seeing what I could accomplish with the different brushes and tools.

Drawing every day.

-the Centaur

As for 2020 …

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My frozen fountain ...

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the year that hell froze over, yes? Well cue the cartoon helicopter noises and ...

Penguins in a helicopter!

SEE YA, 2020! Wouldn't want to be ya.

Ok, OK, it's penguins in a helicopter taking off. Perhaps you had to see the video. Regardless, I am ready to take off and get OUT of here.

Actually, since I couldn't go see a ball drop or have a cocktail at my favorite coffee house or even climb the hill with my wife so we could watch the fireworks, I plopped in the scene from Star Trek: The Motion Picture where the Enterprise goes to warp (FAIR USE! or buy it here, director's cut of course - ask me how I know) and the moment the Big E gave Einstein the finger, I held up my glass and said, "Fuck you, 2020!"

The Enterprise going to warp

So anyway, 2020. Wasn't so bad, by itself. I mean, yes, yes, for the world, but for me personally, 2019 had its own brass knuckles. I lost my mother in 2019 and worked my ass around over the margins of that, so I had kind of hoped 2020 would be an upswing. But, no, I got the zombie apocalypse and an even newer reorg to deal with, and by the end of it I'd lost my uncle Boo. So I'd love to say how horrible 2020 was, but for me personally, it felt like Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones - that is, a repeat, trying too hard, that went on too long. (And remember back when we thought 2016 was bad?)

comic con panel 2020

Still, it wasn't all bad. I got to participate in many conventions online, and to see friends from all over the world that I otherwise wouldn't get to see. And it's the year we saw some truly bizarre things occur in the world of media, such as this little oddity ...

A female Captain Kirk?

Actually, I might sign up to see a show about a gender-swapped Star Trek (oh wait that's Star Trek Discovery OH SNAP I went there), but that's neither here nor there. This was the year almost all responsible church services went online ...

mass online at st. stephens

... and the year when we DID have socially distanced outdoor services, a police chase started in the background behind the priest during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. And hey, remember when this graph looked so bad? We didn't know how good we had it!

early in the pandemic

It's the year I learned the pomelo looks like a Lovecraftian monster on the inside ...

Inside of a pomelo, or Azathoth. Not sure.

(You eat it, it doesn't eat you, I promise. Tastes like a sweeter version of a grapefruit.)

And last but not least, it's the year I got this place put together the way I wanted it ...

The Futon Room

... and maybe the way other people wanted it too ...

The Office Room

... only to have circumstances force me to take it apart again ...

Moving boxes

But, in all honesty, they were good circumstances, if a bit bittersweet. Hopefully the new place will start coming together soon ...

The New Office Reference Shelf

So it wasn't all bad. While I really do want to tell 2020 to bleep off because of work and the pandemic, here's hoping that which does not kill us makes us stronger.

Still, what can I say? Hurry up, Aslan, we need you on the East Coast. Bring my wife and cats with you when you come. The other boxes can wait until the next trip.

Aslan in a Harry Potter Sorting Hat

-the Centaur