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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in ungulata's LiveJournal:

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    Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
    11:50 pm
    Artist Training Ground IV, Day Fifteen

    I found a use for Inkscape! Many of my drawings lean heavily to the right, and this one was the worst. With all the stuff in it, I couldn't see how I was going to fix that while painting over it. With Inkscape I corrected the lean! Now I can have all 14 of my ATG prompts as double challenges -- sketch and color. ^_^ I made my canvas a bit larger to make chasing fine details easier (like cutie marks). Will six and a half hours be enough to paint this? ...Nope. Make that over nine hours. Well, I've succeeded in making this NATG particularly brutal. I'm stiff, sore and half blind from staring intently at my computer screen for hours on end. It's been way too much fun! Thanks Phoe, thanks EqD! Bring on the next NATG!

    At #679 in the gallery for that day's ATG. That's it, the end of the line.

    X-posted from: Frith@dreamwidth

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    Monday, December 15th, 2014
    11:35 pm
    Artist Training Ground IV, Day Fourteen

    Trixie did not know that "triumphant" could be a thing. Trixie can fix this. *ulp* Just give Trixie a minute.

    Fourteen! Trixie turned out nice. Can't say the same about the triumphant. I didn't have any reference apart from a G1 toy. I tried adding tusks but that really wasn't working. After I'd submitted it I noticed something very wrong with Trixie. She looked like she had three front legs. So did my source material. 9_9 Fortunately my picture was still open in MyPaint and I could easily erase the spare leg and try and insert a hind leg in the right spot. Oh crumb. I forgot to give the far legs a darker tint. I'm _not_ fixing that...

    At #645 in the gallery for that day's ATG and submitted well after the deadline. One more to go!

    X-posted from: Frith@dreamwidth

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    Sunday, December 14th, 2014
    11:50 pm
    Artist Training Ground IV, Day Thirteen

    Day Thirteen. These NATG events stimulate the creativity of not just those submitting works to the prompt. I see an uptick in the creativity in the EqD Drawfriends as well. I'm also detecting an increasingly Yule flavor to this event as the days tick by. Family, eh? Scootaloo is a family of one. Here she is making a face for her portrait as she sits on the steps of her residence. I don't think I sat her on that step properly, she looks like she's floating above it.

    Everything I draw is leaning to the right. It's especially bad in yesterday's Zecora & Twilight drawing.

    At #293 in the gallery for that day's ATG and submitted just after the deadline. I think I may I think I might get to sleep more than four hours tonight!

    X-posted from: Frith@dreamwidth

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    Saturday, December 13th, 2014
    11:51 pm
    Artist Training Ground IV, Day Twelve

    Day Twelve and I'm determined to bring back some quality. Not sure I succeeded. I used a whole page in my sketch book this time. This time we were asked to "Draw a pony by the hearth/Draw a pony enjoying cocoa". Tracking down ref material took well over an hour, getting the fireplace, its size relative to ponies, the crouched position, the cushion(s), the cups, tray, rug, expressions. I was putting the pieces together and drawing for five hours. No coloring this time, with so much detail I wouldn't have finished before seven or eight hours past deadline, assuming I could stay awake. After taking the photo and cranking up the contrast I saw that I should have shown the far ends of the cushion behind Zecora and behind Twilight as well. It's fixed now in my sketchbook.

    At #353 in the gallery for that day's ATG and submitted somewhere past two AM. I'm detecting a pattern in the prompts. Since Day Eight and a few times in Days One through Seven, the themes have been clearly Yule, one way or another. That's why snow, cocoa, wrapping and winter activities have been so frequent. Sticking to a theme hobbles the variation in the prompts. Here is what I submitted as a way to freshen up the NATG and get artists to look beyond smiling/blushing/crying faces and pin-up art:

    i: Draw a pony portrait / draw a pony standing / relaxing
    ii: Draw a pony rubbing her nose / ponies rubbing noses / a pony rubbing hooves together
    iii: Draw a pony laughing / beaming / snickering.
    iv: Draw a pony eating / grazing / drinking
    v: Draw a pony balanced / leaping / hopping / bouncing
    vi: Draw a pony who is embarrassed / contrite / shy
    vii: Draw a pony yawning / sleepy / squinting / sleeping
    viii: Draw a pony singing / howling / growling / weeping
    ix: Draw a non-pony mythical creature from the show (griffin, dragon, manticore, tazzlewurm...)
    x: Draw a pony that is fuzzy / shaved / metal plated / scaled / mirror finish
    xi: Draw a pony dancing / doing aerobatics / gymnastics / yoga / martial arts
    xii: Draw a pony that is fat / tall / skinny / short / wrinkled
    xiii: Draw a pony drawing / painting / sculpting / gardening
    xiv: Draw in MLP:FIM style an animal not seen in the show (antelope, lizard, lemur, muntjac, octopus, dragonfly...)
    xv: Draw a pony tripping / falling / crashing / charging
    xvi: Draw a pony that is trapped / caged / stuck / pulling hard
    xvii: Draw a pony from above / from below / in pushed perspective
    xviii: Draw a pony swimming / splashing / in a downpour
    xix: Draw a pony clothed in a dress / boots / scarf / saddle / armor
    xx: Draw a pony at a picnic / tea party / concert / reading a book
    xxi: Draw a pony as stained glass / abstract / cubist / pointillist / surreal / stacked rocks / a sculpture
    xxii: Draw a pony as a zebra / donkey / mule / Saddle Arabian / mythic unicorn / real horse
    xxiii: Draw a pony with steaming breath / gleaming eyes / glowing / walking through fire
    xxiv: Draw a pony harvesting hay / carrots / flowers / honey / grain /selling produce
    xxv: Draw a pony playing / rolling / hoof wrestling / racing
    xxvi: Draw a pony as a bird / fish / bat / insect / colourful rock
    xxvii: Draw a pony moving fast: motion blur / stretched / multiple limbs / tornado / tablecloth trick
    xxviii: Draw a pony shedding / moulting exoskeleton / transforming / going bald
    xxix: Draw a pony with the prize / at the top / relaxing at home / celebrating / triumphant
    xxx: Draw any previous theme/Draw every previous theme

    After I sent that in to EqD I thought of some more:

    Draw ponies hugging
    Draw a pony parody of a famous painting
    Draw a pony with a maniacal grin, laughing maniacally.
    Draw Rainbow Falls / Twilight's Castle / Canterlot / Golden Oaks Library / Everfree Ruins / a house in Ponyville / Cloudsdale / a field MLP:FIM style
    Draw a pony version of the iPod meme/ Obama Hope poster meme/
    Draw a fat pony, a cat pony, a bat pony, a brat pony, a rat pony, a yacht pony

    Well, new challenge: try and subvert the prompts. Fight the power! 8^D The retail industry is already drowning me in 'holiday cheer', I don't need it in my NATG. >8^}

    X-posted from: Frith@dreamwidth

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    Friday, December 12th, 2014
    11:55 pm
    Artist Training Ground IV, Day Eleven

    Day Eleven and today is a good day to stay home and draw, the roads are slick with thick snow and cars are taking turns exploring the ditch and snowbanks. For the prompt, I took two meanings for "thin Ice" and combined them. I'm too sleepy to explain. I think my quality is going down.

    At #350 in the gallery for that day's ATG and submitted at two AM. Earlier than yesterday by two hours, but I'm much sleepier.

    X-posted from: Frith@dreamwidth

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    Thursday, December 11th, 2014
    11:19 pm
    Artist Training Ground IV, Day Ten

    Day Ten and I gotta remember that try as I might, each assignment takes me ten hours or so, although this one was more like eight hours. Starting late means no. Sleep. 'Till SubmitLand! It also means I forget how to right-click and shtuff, laik spelign. Taboagan. Tobagon. Toboggon. Horsefeathers! Sled. x_x

    In this picture, Hoity Toity is rating the quality of the Art Deco architecture. Or, as it were, he is Deco rating. *sunglasses* Oh yeah!

    My penciled lineart settled in at #409 and the coloured one at #411 in the gallery for that day's ATG and submitted two hours apart. The submitter stays open real late. Will I be the last one in the gallery this time? (Again, nope.)


    Edit: Oh ho! My lineart doesn't count as a separate work, I see. It's been removed and my finished picture is at position #410. That probably is the case for the other days where I submitted 'work in progress' sketches to the galleries, as well.

    X-posted from: Frith@dreamwidth

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    Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
    11:47 pm
    Artist Training Ground IV, Day Nine

    Day nine and the theme is snow and fun. Yesterday I'd posted a photo on my blog of two Prz. horses rolling a box in the snow. Idea! So now it's the CMC playing equine version of kick the can. This is best played on packed snow as the object is to knock the sugar cubes out of the can. And eat them. Hay! These are horses, and this is a horse game!

    My penciled lineart settled in at #420 and the coloured one at #441 in the gallery for that day's ATG and submitted five hours apart. This time I found the submitter still open over six hours past the deadline! I think my coloured version will remain the last one on the gallery this time. (Nope) 8^D Finding ref images and piecing this together is a real chore. Without ref images all I can draw are four legged eyeless lumps. Scootaloo modeled for all three poses. More images were used to get the coats and expressions and Winter Wrap Up gave me the snow field.


    X-posted from: Frith@dreamwidth

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    Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
    11:54 pm
    Artist Training Ground IV, Day Eight

    The prompt was "Draw a pony caroling/Draw a pony spreading cheer". I decided to draw Queen Chrysalis as Princess Cadence, singing. It was long and hard. Maintaining a death grip on a Wacom pen for like four hours makes for stiff fingers don't you know.

    My penciled lineart settled in at #454 and the coloured one at #470 in the gallery for that day's ATG. I found the submitter still open four hours past the deadline, so I submitted the coloured version. What is it with me that I've landed on 454 three times in eight days?


    X-posted from: Frith@dreamwidth

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    10:01 am
    Ten Years Ago Today

    Happy anniversary to me, my LiveJournal blog is ten years old! I like this kind of anniversary -- nobody besides me will notice the date (mostly by accident and I had to leave a reminder in a WordPad doc I use as a to-do list and draft pad) and only I will care that it's been this long. No stress! So surprise! I've been at this for ten years already.

    LiveJournal blog? Whatever for? Why start such a thing? Well, I had Great Expectations. I figured that via LiveJournal I could tailor-make a kind of interactive forum of interesting people. I was looking for Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron fans (they of RWTW moved to DeviantArt instead, the foals!), zookeepers (ZooChat, once upon a time, was a lot of fun; I found like three zookeepers on LJ, only one remains -- say hello Ur-Pan!) and artists (where are they now? -- gone to elsewhere, almost every one; when will they ever learn? when will they ever learn). Along the way I picked up collectors of all things interesting (hail to the King of the Mustelidae!), collections of people interesting (communities) and RSS feeds.

    Now I've expanded into my country home, DreamWidth. It's so much nicer here. DreamWidth is an ethical blogging platform, a lot like Livejournal used to be, but updated. It's also quiet here, like the country. So if DreamWidth is the quiet countryside, LiveJournal is akin to what I imagine Detroit is like. Still more populated than DreamWidth, but somewhat gutted and decayed. So I commute to and from LiveJournal, crossposting and commenting. Even with two feet planted in two different platforms and feeding two fan communities, it is less of a time sink than it was ten years ago. The slack is picked up by the hive of activity that is Equestria Daily.

    By the way, here's a great deal: go here to buy 48 MLP:FIM comics, DRM free, a value of $195 for $15, money raised goes to the Humble Bundle charity. You have 28 hours left to do so. These are electronic format comics, so no delivery time or postage fees. You can pay what you want, but to get all 48 comics you need to pay at least $15. You can buy them as a gift (chose the "gift code" option). Several of these comics are very funny and have 'Easter eggs' galore. $15, DRM free, for charity, only 28 hours left. Go! Do it now!


    So what is happening on this momentous day? My car is at the body shop getting paint applied to scratches and flakes before rust eats through it. The appointment is today but since there is snow in the forecast I took it there yesterday while the roads were still dry, thus avoiding the gamble that I'd have to cycle back in snow and slush. But that forecast has ballooned to 10 to 15 cm of snow for today with more to come. Going to get the car could be a pain. I don't want to hail a cab. (Aha! It started snowing three hours early!)


    X-posted from: Frith@dreamwidth

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    Monday, December 8th, 2014
    11:57 pm
    Artist Training Ground IV, Day Seven

    Since I was still catching up on my sleep deficit from the weekend I was slow starting today. I would have liked to figure out how to draw Twilight on her back (she sleeps that way) catching some sun in the meadow. I imagine she'd spread her wings to soak up more sun... Anyway, too hard, I went for something easy. Reference is from Green Isn't Your Color. I lucked out with my sketch, the circle I started with was just the right size for her head, and I managed to place her muzzle and ear in pretty much the right place early on. So it only took five and a half hours. Lightning speed!

    My penciled lineart settled in at #823 in the gallery for that day's ATG. About twice as many entries in today's gallery! I bet it's because the raffle is for 4DE plushes. 8^D

    The prompt was: Draw a pony taking a break/Draw a pony settling down. Quite a few people thought of KitKat candy bars.

    X-posted from: Frith@dreamwidth

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    Sunday, December 7th, 2014
    11:35 pm
    Artist Training Ground IV, Day Six

    For the prompt, we were asked to "Draw A Pony Legend/ A Pony Larger Than Life". I opted legend. I considered Nightmare Moon, as played by Luna in Luna Eclipsed, but I opted instead for a pony that's a legend in his own mind, Prince Blueblood. Easier to draw, a head only portrait is all that is required. I want to get some sleep.

    One great thing about this event is that nearly every day, in my quest for reference images, I'm rewatching an episode of MLP:FIM. This time it was The Best Night Ever. I'd forgotten just how great that episode was. ^_^

    My penciled lineart settled in at #450 in the gallery for that day's ATG. (#454 exactly two days in a row and this time #450. What did I win?)

    X-posted from: Frith@dreamwidth

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    11:39 am
    Artist Training Ground IV, Day Five

    Not one pony but five this time. And I had to go out for dinner, that took three hours off my schedule. The prompt called for "Draw a pony wrapping up Autumn/Draw a pony falling". I went for the mane characters falling up (as they were in a scene in Wonderbolt Academy). I'm sure there were a lot of people making the same choice. One thing I changed was the anatomy. In this episode the mane six have pudgy elliptical nigh foal bodies, quite a bit different from excited Fluttershy in Sonic Rainboom where she has huge thighs and a straight body. I tried to fix that. And threw in some navels.

    Fixed many things while painting that I forgotten (feathers in wing, lines in hair, tongue and gullet...) but the eyes on both Fluttershy and Applejack are too close together. Although it does make them look even more scared. Was up until 4 am painting, couldn't stay awake. Slept until 7:30 am, back at it until 10:30. Tried to suggest upward motion in the background, gave up.

    Details like eye colour, lines in hair, cutie marks referenced from various other episodes. The finished product looks good, but not because I'm good but because I hacked away at it for about 13 grueling hours.

    My penciled lineart settled in at #454 in the gallery for that day's ATG. (#454 exactly two days in a row! It's a hella co-inkydink.)


    X-posted from: Frith@dreamwidth

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    Saturday, December 6th, 2014
    10:58 am
    Harmony Holiday Today: Element of Magic/Friendship!

    December 6th is a Harmony holiday, as it has been so every two months since April 2011. No cake sneak peak this time, I've been quite busy with keeping up with the Newbie Artist Training Ground IV (always a trainee, never a pro) and since I've taken the winter off, I can't trot off to work like I please. Asking for permission to enter the grounds of a place where I've been working for 24 years is a put-off. Weird policy is unfriendly and demonstrates a lack of respect. So I'm not up to making multiple trips out to ferry cake/swag and ask to get in to serve it . But I've organized a mob-a-restaurant event for tonight, so I guess that'll do!

    Twilight's Element lacks a good macro image. Hmmm.

    Well, be friendly! Share cake if you have some!

    P.S.: In the end I took a big bag of MLP:FIM swag to the restaurant to give away. We were about forty who showed up for supper and I succeeded in giving it all away (except for two "blind bags", but they were mostly there as extras). The swag was a Monopoly game, a Chutes and Ladders game, a Funrise plush (Applejack with hat, medium size), a light-up watch, a digital watch, a light-up Princess Twilight figure, a light-up battery powered fan and complete set of the 2014 McDonald's Happy Meal ponies. Harmony Day -- achieved!

    X-posted from: Frith@dreamwidth

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    Friday, December 5th, 2014
    11:48 pm
    Artist Training Ground IV, Day Four

    Oh, I said, this will be a cinch! I know just what to draw and where to get the reference images, I said. I'll get this one done fast, I said. Hah. *sweats* Today's prompt was "Draw a pony stepping up/Draw a pony looking down". So, here we have RD looking down while looking down. Look down at the screen and we have looking down inception! Spin that top now. Yo, real arteestes, check it out -- no tears! You can has the blues without tears, for reals! (/sermon)

    My lines are so wobbly.

    Ref images from Winter Wrap Up (sad Twilight building a bird's nest, ear down), Sonic Rainboom (cloudscape in Cloudsdale) and Mysterious Mare Do Well (sad Dash on a cloud). My output settled in at #454 in the gallery for today's ATG.

    Sleeeep! now.

    X-posted from: Frith@dreamwidth

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    Thursday, December 4th, 2014
    11:49 pm
    Artist Training Ground IV, Day Three

    Day three! I almost beat the deadline! Oh so close. So, those ponies don't bundle up all that much in the show so far, just boots, saddle and scarf... and most often, nothing but the fur on their backs. Twilight's scarf (Winter Wrap Up) is some nice, and I threw in Zecora's cloak (Bridle Gossip) for extra warmth, but in a colour that looks nice on Twilight (dress in A Canterlot Wedding). It's night, so the colours are muted and I made an anemic attempt at lighting from below. And what's fun to do when it's cold? Make big steamy puffs of breath. 8^D

    It took a few hours less since there wasn't a detailed background to paint and Twilight was mainly a head half covered in a cloak. I drew her head in detail before covering half of it with the hood. I still fussed over it for hours and I kept going back to fix things I missed... the shape of her muzzle, the details in her iris, lining up her hood with her mane, a missing stripe on her scarf... I didn't like how Pinkie turned out yesterday so I ground out this one very carefully. A millimeter this way or that and you have a different pony... or a bear/dog/thing.

    The flash on my camera has gone snafu. Each time I tried over the last three days I could select "forced flash", the camera underexposes in anticipation, but the flash didn't fire. I'm not getting as white and high contrast an image of my sketches as I would with the flash. I've taken close to 20,000 pictures with this camera, maybe I'll have to get a new one soon.

    My output landed at #559 in the gallery for today's ATG.

    X-posted from: Frith@dreamwidth

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    Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014
    11:59 pm
    Artist Training Ground IV, Day Two

    I tried to start earlier but I was very sleepy from going to bed late yesterday. So here I am, late again. Perhaps tomorrow. I considered drawing Twilight moving out of the charred remains of the TreeLibrary, with a sapling oak growing fast in the middle of it, but that was just too tough. I went for prancing Pinkie instead. Source material: Pinkie in Smile Smile Smile, another image with her eyes open, and the fields from Lesson Zero. I spent an hour just drawing her and now that she painted, I can clearly see that her body is too square. All that painting in MyPaint took about 6 hours. That's much too long. I used a "grass brush", not sure that was such a great idea. My effort is #635 in this gallery here.

    X-posted from: Frith@dreamwidth

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    Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
    11:50 pm
    Artist Training Grounds IV, Day One
    My effort, #661, uploaded to join those in this gallery here.

    It's the warm up round! I went for the 'pony standing still' option. If I wasn't so slow I would also have done another drawing, but one in full glorious colour will have to do. ^_^ For Mare Do Well, my references were Mare Do Well on a rooftop, Pinkie Pie as Mare Do Well looking down from a lofty perch, and Rainbow Dash on the house you see here, in The Ticket Master. It's a nice house. The episode, The Mysterious Mare Do Well was one of the worst episodes so far in MLP:FIM, but she had a snazzy outfit.

    It's cold. I'm going to bed.

    X-posted from: Frith@dreamwidth

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    Monday, December 1st, 2014
    9:57 pm
    Get Ready for ATG IV

    Artist Training Ground IV is about to start! The first prompt will be Draw a pony keeping still/Draw a pony posing and the submission form for Day One will be located here, and will be open at 9 pm PST (midnight EST, 5 AM UTC). The gallery should be here once people start submitting their assignments. The guidelines and procedure are pretty much this: Save your work as a jpeg (.jpg) in an online gallery (like DeviantArt, Flickr, Imgur, Photobucket, LiveJournal's gallery, or pretty much any image host online). PNG's don't work too well in the EqD submitter, especially line drawings on white, so be safe, go with jpegs. Resize the picture so that it's not more than 2,000 pixels wide (or high), bigger than that and it don't work neither. Open your picture in your gallery (example: DeviantArt), right-click on it, select 'view image' and you will get a page that has your image in it and nothing else. The Url in the address bar will end in .jpg -- copy the whole url! And paste that address into the picture field in the poniloader submitter. The rest is just gravy: there's a field for pasting the url for your website and another for the url for your gallery. There's also a text box for writing whatever... like "Hi Mom!" or "I drew this har har har" or your deconstructive post-modern analysis of pony angst through art... Just click the button at the bottom already, the one that probably says finished or submit or done... You can do this for three separate drawings per day.

    Is it midnight yet? Horse feathers. Two more hours.

    Update: As is oft the case, there is some confusion as to what time it is in EqD land. 9_6 Phoe will be using Mountain Time, not Pacific, so move everything one hour earlier: The 9 pm MST deadline works out to 11 pm EST, 4 am London, 5 am Berlin, noon the next day in Perth and 3 in the afternoon the next day in Sydneigh.

    Here's the Day One of ATG IV announcement on EqD. There are prizes. Today's prize is courtesy of Toywiz -- it's three MLP themed board games, Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders and Life. Winners are drawn at random from those who participate in this ATG.

    C'mon artists, let's see you draw some ponies! (There must be at least one artist left on Livejournal/Dreamwidth.)

    P.S.: Look at that drawing. It was for ATG II, the task was "Draw a pony charging". I drew four. Each pony has a slightly different stride. Each is holding her ears in a different position. Each face has something different in the expressions, how the mouth is shaped, the frowns, the eyes. Four unicorns, all hell bent for leather, all set to kick your ass. You scared? You'd better be.

    X-posted from: Frith@dreamwidth

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    Sunday, November 30th, 2014
    6:48 pm
    The Future Ideal

    In an interview this week on Q, Author William Gibson (Neuromancer, The Peripheral) made a great point. In the 20th century, the 21st century was like the future ideal, where those fantastic future inventions and a life of ease become reality. Now we're in the 21st century and no one is mentioning the 22nd century at all. It's more like how bad it's going to be by 2050.

    Also, the nuclear holocaust fears of the late mid 20th century have been usurped by the climate change fears of the 21st. The big difference is that a disastrous nuclear exchange is ultimately in the hands of a few, it likely won't happen until someone panics, whereas climate change is in the hands of all of us and it's already well underway.

    The Q podcast with the interview with Gibson, here: (Edit: there's an embed, but it autoplays!! >8^[ Ditched it.) Download the entire one hour and eleven minute episode as a mp3 here. (Link probably expires in three months.)

    Excerpt of William Gibson's new novel The Peripheral available here.

    I'd called my garage this week and I'd made an appointment, hoping for Tuesday. At first my appointment was for Thursday, but fortunately there were two cancellations on Tuesday and I got in early. This was great as there was no snow Tuesday and I could use my bicycle to get back home. I had the oil changed, the winter tires put on, the passenger-side mirror replaced and the car sprayed with rust-proofing oil.

    I was going to download ArtRage today but the demo (version 4.5) is crippleware. Drawing space is limited to 1280 x 1024, it can only be exported as a .jpg and ArtRage slaps its watermark on top. I could live with the first two hobbles, but the watermark is just too much. Apparently, the last demo version that wasn't quite so crippled was version 2.5.2. I don't think I'm going to risk getting that off an un-vetted MediaShare file. I also get the inkling that ArtRage may be difficult to uninstall if you don't like it. I'll see if I can squeeze something decent out of MyPaint.


    X-posted from: Frith@dreamwidth

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    Monday, November 24th, 2014
    9:48 am
    Nebula by Gobelins
    Test: will this vimeo iFrame script run without JS?

    Answer: it does! (I'm surprised and puzzled.)

    So: This is a animated short film by the French company Gobelins about an encounter with an alien creature that resembles the Night Fury from How to Train Your Dragon. The artwork is very nice, the voice acting script (gasp, gasp, gasp and more gasp) lacks and the animation, while fluid, needs to be ignored while enjoying the set design.

    It was very warm today. Like 18°C t-shirt weather. The little bit of snow that had accumulated had melted away and the ground was soft again. I went gardening.

    I had ten bags of cedar mulch that I'd picked up at $2 each mid summer and a large strip along the front of the house on which to spread it. I'd dumped mulch there two years ago and suddenly my peonies and lily of the valley were doing much better. It also keeps down the weeds but doesn't exactly eliminate them. Well, it's November, the bulbs and tubers have died back, and I think it's the best time to dump mulch on top of them. It's also easier to spot the invasive grasses and tall weeds and pull them out. But not that easy. When I dug in with my pitchfork I kept digging up crocusses, grape hyacinth and lily of the valley. After an hour or so I just yanked out the most obvious intruders and dumped the mulch. It's black mulch this year, but I think it'll fade to grey eventually.

    I planted four more packs of narcissus and a miniature rose bush. I'd been given the rose along with two other plants a few years ago. They came equipped with scale insects and spider mites. I spent years killing off the parasites, the spider mites on the rose have been the toughest to eliminate and the plant has been barely hanging on. The best trick was to put the plant outside when it got cold, too cold for the bugs, but not freezing enough to kill the plant. but it's still not thriving, so I planted it, out in the lilac hedge I've started on my lawn. little rosebush, it's do or die now.

    The last two loafs from my bread machine were small. I tried reducing the amount of water and then the salt, but I think I know what the problem was: the water temperature. This time the water is luke warm. In three hours I'll see what that gets me. *Three hours later* Hmmm! Looks like that did the trick!


    It was raining hard some minutes ago. That has stopped but the sky is lighting up with flashes of lightning, which is unusual for November. The bread smells good. Time for toast.

    X-posted from: Frith@dreamwidth

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