Monthly Archives: March 2010

Pencil Animation Test

I made this looped animation using Pencil (it’s 1.5 meg so give it a sec to load), a piece of free software for doing 2D animation, optimized for “flip book” onion-skin style stuff, in this case drawn with my Wacom tablet. This is the first project I’ve done in Pencil, so it was a learning exercise, and is one of the first things I’ve drawn on the tablet, so I’m still not entirely comfortable with the tools, but I had a lot ton of fun doing it and am looking forward to doing a bigger project.

PS. If the embedded animation doesn’t work for you, here’s a direct link.

Ok Go…ldberg

There have been some amazing Rube Goldberg machine videos posted lately but this one, wow, has got to be the most incredible one I’ve ever seen. Check out the new video from OK Go!

PS. Speaking of running around studios, this is fun too.

Verbal Diarrhea… Textual I mean…

I still read Boingboing more than I should, even though they kicked me off for not being sensitive enough to the cultural beauty of Muslims forcing women to wear the veil, and find myself getting annoyed primarily at Xeni’s posts… There’s a sort of politically correct faux racial sensitivity that I personally feel is deeply racist in the same way as the Victorian obsession with the “noble savage” was. I’m also annoyed by her increasingly desperate sounding need to be “cool”, something that really comes out when she’s posting about hip hop or any other thing that puts her into the same character as some annoying record geek that brags about how much they love something before everyone else does, then once everyone catches on, they hate it, and then once it’s “ironic” to like it again, they do that. This is annoying enough when it’s genuine, but it’s doubly so when it’s all an act because you think it’ll make other people who wish they were cool think that you’re above them (when in actuality, you’re exactly the same).

But something that really bothers me is false mourning. When rapper Guru had a heart attack, Xeni wrote what “terrible terrible news” it was and, oh, so so sad. I made this bitter and admittedly mean post which will certainly not make it through moderation…

Is this a friend of yours Xeni? Because you’re increasingly looking like an old lady desperately trying to appear hip. Emphasis on “desperately”. It’s very unflattering, especially as it gets more and more obvious and hamfisted.

I don’t know what’s worse, your post, or the mindless drivel of “oh so sad” me-too comments that always flock around tragedy, as everyone does their best to pull it into their own lives and personalize it, as if hearing about the unfortunate circumstances of some famous person somehow makes you more famous yourself. At best it simply cheapens the tragedy.

I’m honestly trying to be helpful in telling you — you, Xeni, and “you-all” above — to stop before you embarrass yourself even more than you already have. The fall from grace is quite sad in a way. Well, go ahead and disemvowel or terminate the post entirely, since that’s the way of BB.

I know, needlessly mean, and they were well within their rights to censor it.

It’s been my observation that whenever someone dies, even “regular” people, that all of a sudden a pile of people who barely cared about them and barely knew them in life all come out of the woodwork and want to be at the funeral, or post on their blogs about how sad they are. It’s sickening, really sickening. You know, I don’t care who is sad when I die — I care who is happy when I’m alive. I don’t need people to eulogize me, or if they’re on Metafilter, post a “.” for me. I need people to be my friends. This is far more important than them thinking that they are cooler for knowing someone who died (to say nothing of how upsetting all the false mourning is to those dear friends who actually are really broken up — as Saira and I and a few others discovered after the twins drowned). Anyway, people trying to pull other people’s sadness into their own life, to shallowly someone make someone else’s loss their gain, is what’s really terrible.

Other complaints follow.

I was sitting here getting pissed off about something I read online, and Caitlin came in and told me that someone was blocking the car that I had rented for the weekend to go visit out-of-town friends (the truck isn’t really a highway distance vehicle, and the Saab has only two seats) and had stuck a passive-aggressive note telling me to move — or else they’d be calling a tow truck. I wrote my own note in return, which I think read,

This is my spot. I pay extra rent to be able to park here, and in fact, I have the only legal parking spots on this side of the building. So please don’t threaten to have me towed out of the legal spot that I am paying for, that you want to park in illegally!

(And so on)

I stuck it on his windshield, stomped back into the living room, but the stomping helped me let off some steam I guess and I thought better of my actions and walked back outside. I don’t want to be that person. You know, I hate angry old ladies, that when I’m driving and I’m turning across the intersection they’re walking through, they give me the most horrible bitter angry expression, throwing me the maloik, as if I’m somehow plotting to smash into them. Assuming that the world is a terrible place, and responding to it with hatred of your own. Compounding the problem. And I said to myself, I don’t want to be that person.

So I went outside, took the note off and crumpled it up and stuffed it in my pocket as I knocked on the guy’s door. He opened it, looking exhausted, with hair even messier than my own. I told him that I was in my own spot, and apologized for not letting him know, and explained the parking deal here. He’s subletting — illegally as well — and his landlord had misled him about parking, so I told him that normally I wouldn’t need the spot and he was perfectly welcome to use it most of the time. We commiserated a bit about exhaustion and the joy of finding a parking spot in front of your door at the end of a long day — or week in this case — and I’m happy to say that rather than there being two people harboring negativity for each other, I got to know my neighbor a bit better and what could have been a loss all around helped foster friendship and community. So I hope it will be a lesson that I’ve learned that I can apply elsewhere, because boy oh boy am I ever pissed off at all the fools around me.

I realized that I have not posted here in a long time, and as I find myself more and more exhausted by day to day things, I’m afraid that this is low on my priorities. So I haven’t mentioned that when I was driving back from the airport from picking Nefarious up after her last visit to her mother, that the rearview mirror on my Saab fell off while turning on the on-ramp at 100kph. Oops. The good thing is that makes this already skinny car even skinnier which turns it almost into a motorcycle in terms of slipping through gaps in traffic, and traffic in my neighborhood can be very frustrating both because of bad drivers and because of volume. It was made worse by the recent one day long snowstorm. In the short drive back from morning school drop-off, I saw three car accidents. It seems like in bad weather, people are either pathetically dangerously “cautious”, driving slowly and slipping and sliding out of control because they had no idea how to drive in slippery conditions, or the drivers are so angered by the first group, that they drive like maniacs, recklessly fast, both in vehicles capable of the weather and more disturbingly, many that are not. Anyway, being around stupid people who do stupid things is incredibly frustrating.

Speaking of frustrating, the Delorean that I was going to buy, which was described as “fantastic condition” and “mechanically sound” was complete junk and basically an eBay scam — which given the too-good-to-be-true price is no surprise. Once I got the car up on a hoist and had a proper look — meaning that I wasted a pile of money on tow-trucks and so on — I saw what a mess it was. Here’s an impartial list of the problems that I saw (and I’m sure there are more): drivers side washer broken, power windows don’t work (and they need to be in Ontario so you can hand signal), rear window defrost broken, right side rear turn signal broken, driver’s door latch broken, right rear swing arm broken, motor mounts broken, rear diffuser missing, front left brake hose damaged, brake master cylinder leaking, steering rack leaking (with some scary play as well on the one side), excessive play in tie rod ends, excessive play in lower ball joints (this you warned me about though), handbrake pads missing, front hood latch broken, steering column held together by pieces of wood (!!!!) and in general under the front dash was a wreck, washer bottle cap broken, wiper blades worn out, alternator belt rubbing on rad hose, A/C belt rubbing on water pump pulley, throttle cable frayed (and seems to have incomplete motion as well, so there is incomplete throttle response), rear boot not locking (hatch misaligned), CV boots need replacement (one is broken completely, the rest are worn to the point of breaking), coolant hoses should probably be replaced (and are currently loose and rubbing on exhaust), rear rotors are rusted out, transmission is leaking, A/C doesn’t work, radio doesn’t work, seems to have some sort of homemade muffler rather than the original, steering leaking, charging light is going on intermittently so there may be an underlying electrical problem there, needs air intake duct, antenna is loose, roof panel is loose, minor damage and dings to body, engine is more anemic than usual and may have additional problems, rear Y of chassis has a bunch of rattling washers hanging off of it on the right side, and the door panels are coming apart and interior missing pieces and in rough shape.

This drawing scribble (the very first one I did testing the functionality of my new Wacom Bamboo tablet), is what I looked like when I saw the car in person.

canvas attempt

Of course I am not surprised that this scumbag has relisted the car and has not included any of the problems that I pointed out to him (which I am quite certain he was aware of). I just can’t imagine doing something like this to another person. It’s just awful. I know it happens all the time, but why do people willfully do crappy things to others, crappy things that they don’t need to — I mean, he’s asking half what a Delorean normally sells for, so if he listed the problems, someone would buy it and fix it and be happy. But instead, he’s tricking someone into buying a basket case that they will not be prepared for. Shitty, really shitty. I just don’t understand people.

Speaking of cars, I finally got pulled over by the police in the Saab yesterday, which I had been expecting both because of the missing mirror, and because I don’t have front plates on it — I just don’t have the mounting bracket. The plate is what he noticed. I didn’t end up getting a ticket for it, but instead got a long conversation about different legal questions I was interested in, such as how much discretion there is in car seat laws and the like. Another good example of a situation that could have been a real downer but turned out being friendly because of going into it with the right attitude (both him and I).

The video project that Nefarious and I are doing, recording a video record of me reading all 870 pages of Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, is going great. I got a gorillapod, that tripod with flexible legs so you can both stand it up and grip on pipes and so on, and it’s been working really well. The tape is a ton of fun, and I’ve already gotten real pleasure from watching it myself, as has Nefarious, laughing at her pranks and misbehavior and jokes. If it’s such a joy now, I know that she’ll love it when she’s older, and I really do hope that one day she has children that can see it — especially because she occasionally looks at the camera and say, “Now children, I am your mother Ari, and this is your granddad,” followed by some kooky message — how surreal it will be for those kids to have this archive. And I think it’s a wonderful thing that many will enjoy because of the ubiquity of inexpensive recording technology. That said, with the ephemeral nature of digital media, I wonder whether all of these pictures and videos will, for many children, simply be lost. I suppose that’s an argument for Flickr and otherwise uploading your memories into “the cloud”… And on that note, if anyone has intelligent ideas on how to guarantee that media recorded now will still be watchable in the future, I’m all long floppy ears… It’s actually quite a tricky question.

I’ve been editing/transcribing all the old BMEradio interviews, and just loving it. I have such fond memories of the people who took the time to talk to me, and really appreciate the gift that Fakir, and Dr. Stubbs, and all my other “elders” (some of them younger than me) gave me in helping me understand the world with theiir wisdom. And I think there was something special about the audio interviews that isn’t in the written ones as well. I hope that BME, with it’s upcoming “world tour” project, gets back into that. I feel less and less need to do “BME stuff” these days, but I do think it would be a lot of fun to do a podcast of sorts. Anyway, I’ve blabbered on way, way too much this morning and even though I have a lot more to say — seriously a lot —

For example, I was looking at a great set of drawings of different moon bases, and one of the pictures showed an inexplicably green moon, with astronauts lazing about in their space suits on the “lawn”. It got me thinking about the camera that was sent up to the moon before the astronauts got there in person. When they finally did, a year and a half later (or whatever), they opened up the camera and found that it was full of life. Not moon life, but bacteria that had come from the earth and had flourished on the moon. Holy moly. In addition, I was reading about lichen — which is pretty neat stuff, a very beautiful two-part organism that lives in the artic (and everywhere else) — growing on the outside of the space station, totally in space. Wow part two! So I was wondering why we don’t plant gardens on the moon? I would love to see that, and I really wish we would. I’m totally into the Gaia-slash-panspermia notion (and have written about it here in the past, saying that humans are not Gaia’s brain, but are gaia’s reproductive organ) that says that one of our goals should be to spread life throughout the universe, starting with our solar system. It’s an awe inspiring idea to me, even something as simple as a forest of lichen taking over the moon.

— you see, I could go on and on. But I want to get to playing with this Pencil animation software that I just downloaded to use with the Wacom Bamboo, so if that goes well, I’ll post something more amusing in the next few days I hope. I’m not going to bother proof reading any of this so I apologize for what a nightmare of spelling and grammar errors it surely is.