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Posts tagged as “We Call It Living”

[twenty twenty-four post one six three]: paranoia will ensure ya

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Okay, I was flying Tuesday, so I'm just going to pretend this was an abbreviated post, something something busy busy something something flying to Vancouver something something robot consulting.

At least I didn't try to fly on an expired passport ... this time. Strange how paranoid a mistake can make you! Like how I missed a flight - two days in a row - trying to leave London, ~30 years ago, the first time due to my mistake, the second due to a train stoppage, so I now try to go to airports ~2 hours early ... and missing my flight to Comic-Con due to traffic made me paranoid enough to leave ~3 hours early in LA's rush hour traffic so I'd have time to make it through any unexpected snafus with my international flight.

But that paranoia got me there safely and on time ... this time.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Me, at some event in 2015 ... wait, I owned this scarf in 2015???

[twenty twenty-four post one six two]: behindiness

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Super far behind, because we're in "the stretch" leading up to Embodied AI Five - which also happens to be the week of a site visit at one of my consulting clients. So, this past Monday, I met with them online, took care of some Neurodiversiverse stuff, met friends for dinner, then started packing to fly.

And, while I did draw, I forgot to blog. Mucha-girl disapproves.

Still, blogging every day, even if I have to backfill.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Detail of Alphonse Mucha's poster for Princess Hyacinth, incorporating, when you look more closely, a disturbingly strong right arm on the princess there - in my mind, probably symbolizing both her father, the blacksmith, and probably echoing Mucha's pro-Slavic symbolic interest in the goddess Slavia.

[twenty twenty-four day one five six]: ugh and not so ugh

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So the broken door lock was indeed not a problem either power tool girl or I could have easily handled - it took the locksmith almost forty five minutes to lever, chisel and snip the latch assembly out of the door, using quite a bit of specialized equipment -air pumps and such - to try to create space before finally giving up and applying judicious elbow grease, a wrench and a hammer. When he finally got it out, pieces abruptly tumbled out in a tiny little rain of already-broken parts from deep within the latch assembly.

But the repair itself was cheap, and the same guy offered a great rate to re-key our other locks as well. So we now have easy access to my office again, and a plan for fixing some of the dead old locks around this rambling home. One ugh problem may just have made another ugh problem go away - which suggests that when you're facing a lot of problems, you should just dig in and try to fix them, one by one, until hopefully all those problems go away, leaving you with new problems for a new day.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Downtown Greenville's Falls Park, which is a beautiful place for a walk. Since, in the intervening hour since my last post, I haven't fixed the backend of the blog. Another ugh ...

Blogging every day: Today's exercise was thirty push ups, and probably a walk later, maybe or maybe not at Falls Park. Yesterday's exercise, which I didn't blog, was sixty pushups and an excursion in the attic. Yesterday's read was Neal Asher's PRADOR MOON, which I quite liked; today will be packing for the Nebulas. Yesterday's editing was Dakota Frost #4, SPECTRAL IRON; probably also that today. Drawing is up to one five five, so I need to work in a drawing today, ideally two so I don't have to worry about it while traveling.

[twenty twenty-four day one five five]: late post for you

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Snow in South Carolina

Last night was date night, but we also had to climb up into the attic to see what's up with this "leaky" roof. But it's bone dry up there, despite the recent rains, and even though it looks like there might be some damage, it doesn't seem like it can be causing what we're seeing with the drywall damage in the ceiling.

SO: The good news is, we likely don't need to get the whole roof replaced.

BUT: The bad news is, we don't know what's going on, and now need to seek new causes.

It's really easy to catastrophize: we were worried that we'd find a nest of mold up there and need to replace the whole roof. That isn't the problem, so that bullet is dodged. But now we've got a deeper mystery: we have what looks like water damage in an area that is - apparently - dry, with no explanation. And that's the thing about science: one thing can look like another, and causes can be hidden - so you need to take out the time to collect the observations and do the experiments and carefully check your work.

Especially if it can cost you a whole roof.

-the Centaur

Pictured: One from the archives - snow, likely from two years ago, as that frost killed most of that vine.

Con Carolinas, the Nebulas, and the Embodied AI Workshop!

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The Centaur and His Books

Hey folks! I am appearing at several conventions in the next few weeks, so I'm creating a "sticky post" to let y'all know about my schedule - in case the problems I'm having with my blog software get worse, at least this will be up here to let y'all know I'll be talking about AI, robots and writing in the next few weeks!

First up is Con Carolinas, the Carolinas' longest running science fiction convention, where I will be on four panels and an author signing, talking about book openings, artificial intelligence, neurodivergence, and what's possible and what's not in science and science fiction!

Friday, May 31st:

Saturday, June 1:

Sunday, June 2:

Next up is the Nebula Conference, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's conference, where again I'll be talking about artificial intelligence and signing books!

  • Thursday, June 6th: 2:30pm: Anthony Francis Meet-and-Greet Table E Pasadena
  • Saturday, June 8th: 10:30am: Why AI Needs Humans Pasadena

There will also be office hours but I think you have to sign up in advance for those, and we have a scheduling snafu regarding those anyway.

Finally is the Embodied AI Workshop on June 18th, hosted at CVPR, the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Conference, where I am the lead organizer, though you'll probably only hear me yapping for any extended length of time if you show up in the first ten minutes - I give the intro talk at 8:50am.

Hope to see y'all there!


[drawing every day 2024 post one four five]: no rendering for you

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No rendering for you - I got the line drawing finished just before my late-night walk with my wife, and was about 50-50 on whether I would shade this when I got back - but it was raining, and we did a short walk, and, to our surprise, after our short little walk, the fridge in the kitchen was leaking.

So! Instead of rendering this, I helped my wife move all our food out of the dying fridge and into alternate refrigeration - fortunately we had enough room to save everything except for some freezer-burned home-made ice cream that really wasn't ever good enough to eat anyway.

Drawing every day; adulting as best as we can.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Another study from Goldman.

[twenty twenty-four day one four five]: so convenient

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It's good to be home, but Loki sure doesn't make it convenient. Cat, I have work to do.

Still, I guess you're going to do you.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Loki, in my lap as I type this (likely because, right now, I'm not letting him sit on my recently-filled-in whiteboard desk) and Loki, eating with his feet in his food bowl, because ... ?????

[twenty twenty-four day one four two]: he’s a little guy

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I'd gotten out of the habit of doing these quasi-comic style art pieces based on photographs, but I've taken a few really good candidate pictures with the right layout for it, so I hope to get back into doing that. This is a picture of one of Sandi's art pieces she completed this weekend at Silicon Valley Open Studios, and it will now be on display at Kaleid Gallery in San Jose. Neat fact: this little guy is actually a cabinet!

Still, he's a little guy.

-the Centaur

Pictured: One of Sandi's sculpture cabinets, to be on display at the Kaleid Gallery.

[twenty twenty-four day one four oh]: this chair is mine now

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Brief placeholder I'm scheduling for tomorrow, in case we get caught up with Silicon Valley Open Studios stuff. But what it strikes me is how animals behave differently when we're not around. Case in point, Loki is pictured here, sitting in my rocking chair - which he rarely does if I'm present, either sitting on my lap, or sitting on the table. But never in the other rocking chair. I wonder why that is.

Or maybe it's Heisenberg's Cat Principle: if you observe a cat, you have disturbed it.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Loki, on MY rocking chair, disputing that "MY" part.

Silicon Valley Open Studios is Here!

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Cue "It's Happening" meme: Silicon Valley Open Studios is this weekend, May 18th and 19th, where my wife Sandi Billingsley will be showing off both her paintings and mixed media including furniture!

Our friend Diane, a glass artist, dropped in to help us manage the day, bringing snacks and champagne!

Sandi has a lot of artwork and furniture on display today, including some very nice large-format art. Above you can see "Kirsten Piig" and "Jim Dairy" from Sandi's "Animals are People Too" series, and one of the geode tables (along with Diane on the left, Sandi on the right, and my toe at the bottom); on the other side is "Missy Elephant" and several of Sandi's other pieces with custom art boards made to look like stone:

Another room has more pieces and some works in progress:

Below you can see "Collie Parton", "Yeti White" and another striking geode table:

This is an open studio, so several of Sandi's in-process pieces are prominently on display, like this bar and chairs set (and also the finished art "Moo Paul" and "Mllama"):

In the back room, this enormous piece is going to be a conch-shaped day bed:

It is so big that Sandi's actually going to partially take it apart and make the top into a removable cabinet:

Not because it can't fit through the door or anything. Not at all. Sandi also let me have a space to display my books, since we needed to find a place to put that bookcase (which I designed and built, I'm proud to say). The giant egg creature is actually one of Sandi's furniture pieces - a hat cabinet!

At the back there is the final geode table, which I think I showed yesterday ... oh, no I didn't, here you go:

We will be here working on art today and tomorrow from 11-5, so please come on by!

-the Centaur

[twenty twenty-four day one two eight]: i don’t believe in gravity, part ii

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Yeah, he's up there. Not sure how, but he is. Hope he's not stuck. Ah, just went out to check, and he's gone, so I assume he moved on. Come to think of it, I wonder if he's the same as this guy:

This little guy got in and disappeared into the fireplace - I assumed he fell from the chimney, but he's thin enough maybe to have wormed in a windowframe perhaps? Not sure, the other guy looks thicker about the middle, but it may be the case that he ate something.

Hypothesis is, the little guys are immature versions of this handsome fellow, a rat snake perhaps, who is also a climbing mofo ...


-the Centaur

[twenty twenty-four post one hundred and one]: failed to terminate program, force quit?

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So I saw two make turkeys posturing outside, and carefully stepped to the French doors to take a picture. But what I assume was the female they had been courting had been on the other side of those doors, and decided to book it. Yet, even though their audience was gone, the two males didn't stop posturing.

I feel this make some subtle point about continuing the fight after the prize is gone, but it eludes me.

-the Centaur

[twenty twenty-four post ninety-nine]: that’s not a moon, that’s a gas station

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Buc-ee's (hyphenated like Spider-Man) is the largest gas station I've ever seen, outside and in:

Which is apropos, I guess, because the largest gas-station in the world is a Buc-ee's. Actually, reading the article, it appears that several of the largest are all Buc-ee's.

When stopping, my buddy commented "it was a gas station as if done by Pixar." After seeing it, I said "It's like Pixar had done a theme park for their movie entitled 'Murica'."

His response? "They already did that movie. It's called WALL-E."

Truly this is a disturbing timeline.

-the Centaur

[drawing every day 2024 post ninety-one]: cinnamon, sketched

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Super quick sketch of Cinnamon, as I was in food coma after Easter dinner, then had to write a long review for a journal - which I was already a day late on.

And, counting "a day late" as "missed a thing", I once again "missed a thing" because I was in a meeting which we decided to let run long. Which made the next meeting run long, and we extended it even longer. And because there wasn't a specific thing on my calendar for Saturday evening - it was just on my list of things to do in my todos - I said, "eh, let's let this go long and get this done."

And then something else didn't get done.

I've learned to watch out for this zealously, because for me, at least, going long on a meeting is a dangerous prescription for screwing up your next task. If you think you can go a bit longer ... what are you missing?

-the Centaur

[twenty twenty-four day ninety]: how tribbles are made

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So! You take one of those double-row brushes (see detail below) ...

... and apply it to one of these fuzzy creatures in shedding season (see detail below) ...

... and, violin, you get a tribble:

As far as I can tell, these artisan, hand-crafted tribbles are, unlike Dr. McCoy's version, not born pregnant.

If only most problems we face in this world could be solved as easily as "stop feeding the invasive species without natural predators." And, in fact, like not feeding the trolls, many of them can.

However, cat fuzz is not one of those problems. For decades, I put up with my pets getting horrible tangles and mats during shedding season, great lumpy wads which had to be cut or picked off - almost like tribbles.

But, when my wife and I got those double-pronged brushes and began brushing the cat every day, the mats went away. Though we do have now a tribble proliferation problem, we don't have unhappy cats.

Solving some problems requires disengaging the behavior that creates it (like passing on chips, margaritas and dessert for your problem waistline); others require active maintenance to prevent them from happening (like brushing for the problem of keeping your teeth).

What problem are you facing that would go away if you stop feeding it - or start brushing it?

-the Centaur

[twenty twenty-four day eighty-nine]: thank you, loki …

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... your contributions to my productivity are invaluable.

I do not know how I could remember to get everything done without you.

-the Centaur

Pictured: my whiteboard desk, after Loki sat on it; and while I didn't catch him in the act this time, I have caught him doing it previously, and there we are.

[twenty twenty-four day eighty-seven]: mathemagical

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Apparently this wonderful phenomenon springs upon us, then is gone, almost entirely in the period when I am normally at GDC ... a transient frosting of beauty, dispersed by the wind almost as soon as it falls, like snow dissolved by rain ... but, for whatever reason, this year I got to see it. Cherry blossoms, I presume?

Even the cat stares in wonder.

-the Centaur

[twenty twenty-four day eighty-four]: coatastrophe

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SO! I have no topical image for you, nor a real blogpost either, because I had a "coatastrophe" today. Suffice it to say that I'll be packing the coat I was wearing for a thorough dry cleaning (or two) when I get home, and I will be wearing the new coat my wife and I found on a Macy's clearance rack. But that replacement coat adventure chewed up the time we had this afternoon, turning what was supposed to be a two hour amble into a compressed forty-five minute power walk to make our reservation at Green's restaurant for dinner.

Well worth it, for this great vegetarian restaurant now has many vegan items; but it's late and I'm tired, and I still have to post my drawing for the day before I collapse.

Blogging every dayyszzzzz....

-the Centaur

Pictured: Green's lovely dining room, from two angles.

[twenty twenty-four day eighty-three]: ghosts of san francisco

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I really like this shot, and reserve the right to re-use it for a longer post later, yneh. But it captures the mood at the near-end of my trip to the Game Developers Conference: San Francisco, both vibrant and alive, and somehow at the same time a vaporous ghost of its former self.

Here's hoping she comes back, we miss her.

-the Centaur