Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Sandwich

Image: Mr. Bean sits at a table laden with two plates –each with a sandwich and some carrots–, a Christmas cracker, and a Christmas candle. Mr. Bean is looking away from the camera towards Irma, who holds a rather large Christmas present for him.
I have just discovered that the Christmas Sandwich (which I proposed here) does, in fact, exist! It was created for Mr. Bean (who else?) for the episode that aired on December 29, 1992. If you want to see the circumstances that led to the institution of the Christmas Sandwich, click the image on the right; it will lead you to a YouTube video.

Larger format

I've just edited the template a little because my last post has a couple panoramic images (images much wider than they are tall) that just don't look right in the tiny space provided by default.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Story: Part 3 (take 2)

Let's try this again. It literally took me all day to draw the last panel (because, well, I'm with my family and you know what day it's today) but it's all good because I got it done before midnight

...right?


The rat, now dressed with a shorter floppy hat and an open shirt with short, jagged sleeves, helps Frank-the-mouse climb onto a rock. Frank now wears a smaller version of the coat, hat, and pants lined with fluff from before, which fit him perfectly. The rock is about twice Frank's size, but only reaches the rat's waist. The rock is in front of a tree with strange markings by a knothole. "Why did he bring me here?" thinks Frank, as he pushes himself up using a strange outcroping that rises vertically out of the rock. "I can’t argue that I’m lucky he had clothes in my size," he continues, watching the rat walk a shortways away; "but still, he could’ve at least *told* me--"  The rock actually has two vertical outcroppings which, when seen from the right angle, resemble large armrests. The rat reaches a female rat in a dress, holding her young daughter's hand. The daughter is in a similar dress. Both stand behind a small barrier composed of two twigs (waist-high for the adult rats) with a small string spanning between them. The rat in the jagged shirt bends down, and proceeds to remove the string.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Modularity

Unless you're also a computer science major, you're probably still puzzled at what I meant when I said
Forget modularity
Forget reusability
Forget modifiability
To keep it simple, these are the three things any well-written computer program's code must be:
  • Modular means that it is separated into the different parts of the program, each doing only what they're supposed to do.
  • Reusable means the code is general enough to be used later in a different program
  • Modifiable means that the code is structured and commented in such a way that it's clear what each individual part does, thus allowing a hypothetical future coder to change it.
In the context of computer-drawn art, modularity means that the character can, for example, be separated into his individual body parts (I can, for example, select just the head and rotate it alone) and from the background. Reusability means that his expressions aren't too specific to the situation that I can't put the same image in a different setting without it being an appropriate response. Modifiability means that if an expressin appropriate to the situation needed doesn't exist, I can take an existing one and change, say, the mouth.

Of course, none of this is possible when the art is a scanned pencil drawing, unless you're penciling on acetate cells.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas story: Part 1


The mouse ploughs through the piling snow thinking, "Great. So it’s snowing. Could this be any worse?"

Of Cookiez and Internetz

Image: Frank the mouse rolls an oatmeal cookie slightly larger than himself.

Predicting what's going to happen next is a natural part of reading literature. It's a sort of self-test that you understand what's going on, and have taken up the author's hints. It's also generally way too fun to speculate the wildest outcome possible, and see it unfold.

On the internet, this can take on the form of betting.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Now I know how webcomic artists feel

As someone who reads webcomics, sometimes depending on them to relieve stress, when a webcomic didn't update when it was "supposed to" (say, Monday at Midnight) I always took the point of view of the reader: indignant because the promised witty neural stimulation was not up.

But today I find myself on the other side. I was trying to have the next part of my Christmas story up by midnight, but yesterday afternoon I stupidly thought I could check "just one" TV Tropes page.

That was the time I needed to make today's episode. And what have I got to show for it? Just one lousy panel!

Pencil image: my mouse avatar braces himself, sulking slightly, as snowflakes blow past him. His toes are hidden under the snow.

Okay, the panel isn't, in itself, lousy, but the fact that I only have one, is. Maybe I should've entitled this post "The episode isn't ready, but we're getting there," but it's a little to late for that.

I guess this is the part where I apologize for not having it ready and ask you for patience, but I tried to stay awake to finish it, it's 2 AM, and I'm really not in the mood for that sort of thing right now. Sorry, but there won't be a "sorry".

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What happened to Part 2?

I originally said I'd post the Halloween story in three parts. However, due to time constrains, I jumped from part 1 directly to part 3. What happened to part 2? To put it simply, I designed it to only garner suspense, and I thought that, after keeping you waiting for a month and a half, suspense was unnecessary.

Below is the script of what would have become part 2, had I been able to do it on time

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas story: part 0


(Each of the following images can be seen thrice the size shown here by clicking on them)
My mouse avatar runs on all fours. A fireball rages behind him.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Screw the colors, I have hurry

Pencil drawing: My mouse avatar coughs under heavy smoke. He tries to waft it away usuccessfully.

(The title is a reference to YuGiOh, The Abriged Series: "Screw the rules, I have money" ...not that I've watched it...)

Forget shading,
Forget lighting,
Forget coloring,
Forget inking.

Forget reusability,
Forget modularity,
Forget modifiability.

I promised you people I'd finish the Halloween story so that we could get to the Christmas story, so let's get this show on the road, even if it's only in pencil. There are only 9 more days until Christmas and I–
"9 more shopping days until Christmas"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Apreciation never comes too late

Image: My mouse avatar, still in his Thanksgiving clothes, gleefully squeezes the barrel of his blunderbuss.

It really is things like these that make it all worthwhile:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

How did you do that?

Frank-the-mouse, still in his Thanksgiving clothes, points and laughs, "Ha! Frank: 1, Heckler: 0!"
If you read through the old comments on the sites I comment on, you'll notice some of my avatars have changed. Now I don't mean the typical "blanket" change (where all the avatars have adapted to something different) I mean that only some have changed. Every odd "normal expression" avatar has now been replaced by the image on the left, and only in the places where it's apropriate. The obvious quesiton is how I did it.

Character page

Image: My mouse avatar and Jane lean off each other smugly in the foreground, with their arms crossed. They are standing on some sort of table. In the background, my human self is carrying a box past Sis. "A little help?" he tells her. "I don't care *what* you say, I'm *not* saying anything helpful!" she cries back, disaprovingly. "You never do," interjects the heckler. "Hey!" cries out Sis. "Who's side are you on?"

I've made a Character page detailing, well, the characters that appear on this blog. I tired to explain them in the best detail I could, but I realized that there's not really that much more to certain characters. What was really hard was compiling the list of all their appearances (which meant creating a new label for each of them and applying it to the appropriate posts). If I've left any posts unlabelled (or do so in the future) please let me know.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Maybe I am not celebrating Thanksgiving this year, but that doesn't stop me from making something special for you to commemorate the occasion.

image: My mouse avatar stands with a pilgrim hat and coat, holding a trumpet-barrelled gun on the ground. He is glancing to the side where Jane stands in a Native-Amerian dress with her arms crossed scornfully, calling out, "I can't believe you made me wear this dress again!"

This is the first time I have a drawing ready on a date before it's actually supposed to go up. I guess we can call that a milestone!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Crossroad

I find myself today at a crossroad. On one side stands writing a thesis, on the other stands doing an internship. The university's rulebook states that I must do one of the two to graduate. And as I try to decide I think I'm stuck in some sort of infinite loop.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Expunge your vocabulary

(Sorry, no art today. Just introspeciton.)


When I was younger, I was constantly trying to learn bigger and bigger words. I figured the more words I knew, the better, and it was often the case that I'd learn a word, and realize something I had said incorrectly at some point in the past, had been incorrect simply because what I was trying to say was something I didn't know the word for yet. I used these aforementioned "big words" copiously, to the extent of being indiscriminate (kind of like I'm doing in this sentence). I figured if I had learned them, being just a kid, the reader had to have learned them too, especially if they were older, right?

I didn't realize that I wasn't right until I changed schools.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Okay, what's with the new avatars?

If you've come here from the sites I comment on, you may have noticed the one or two new avatars I'm using. The short explanation is that I've noticed the need to be more expressive when commenting, and that I need a break after doing all those projects before working on the ones due next week.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I didn't make it

Firstly, I want to appologize to the people who expected I would have my avatar's Halloween story done by today. Or by Thursday, when I promised it for. The thing is, something happened. Something bad, yet it turned out monumentally well. And by getting involved in it, two days passed without my noticing, and my duedates caught up with me. (No, it's not love; I'll tell you what it was later.)

I will finish the halloween story, mainly because it feeds into what I'm planning to do for Christmas, but first I've got three projects to hand in this week: one on Tuesday, one on Wednesday, and one on Thursday. And Monday, it seems, I'll need to dedicate to closing off that thing I got involved in.

So maybe the real question is, why am I investing time into telling you all?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Do I really need Thanksgiving anymore?

Thanksgiving is like the perfect holiday: it creates a weekend that’s not too short, not too long; it always lands when people have cash on hand, it’s there right when you need it – when the fourth quarter of the year is getting hectic–, and you get to eat all you want. What more could you ask from a holiday? Well, there’s the fact that you can’t always enjoy it, like when you have a test on the following Monday.

For the past few years I have been “celebrating” Thanksgiving on a date that’s intentionally off. The fact is, I don’t consider a day off to be a day off anymore if I have to use it to study for a test or get work done: it becomes a regular weekday where that day’s class happens to have been cancelled. The last two years I’ve been celebrating Thanksgiving a couple of weeks early: right when I finish my first round of tests, and before the second round can begin. Last year I went so far as to actually stuff a chicken, serve it to my family, and read out a lengthy grace. (The previous years I simply slept in late and watched TV for a couple of days, rather than worry about the tests that were about to come as I usually do.)

But last week changes things.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

¡Felicidades, Chile!

My mouse avatar lifts a mining helmet in celebration

For the past 70 days, 33 men, not all of them miners, have been trapped, 700 meters underground, in a collapsed mine in Chile. They managed to get organized, and survive, and are currently being rescued in what the Chilean president is rightfully calling a feat of engineering. Many happy returns, Chile (literally), from my humble little burrow digger, to yours.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Happy Columbus day


On this day, 518 years ago, an Italian entrepreneur captained a crew of Spaniards on a voyage never performed before. Although he became rich for discovering "new lands", he would die, 14 years later, convinced that he had merely found new islands to dot (what is now known as) Indonesia.

Like all vessels at the time, his ships were filled with all kinds of vermin. I can't help but wonder, if Columbus thought he had reached the East Indies, where did these mice think they had arrived?



Spanish mouse: Excuse me, which road leads me to Rome? 
Native mouse: What?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

John Lennon Google Doodle

Okay, so I was wrong when I said I wouldn't be able to post in a week, but today's Google Doodle is definitely worth breaking the silence. Click below to watch it


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Well... I thought it was funny...

I probably won't be able to post again until next week or the week after, so in the meantime, I thought you guys could have a laugh with this drawing I was referred to through the Internet:

Funny Pun Photos - I Defy You To Say You Wouldn't Watch This

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Autum begins beautifully

"For the first time in almost 20 years, northern autumn is beginning on the night of a full moon. The coincidence sets the stage for a 'Super Harvest Moon' and a must-see sky show to mark the change of seasons."

Today is the equinox (get the rake ready) but it is also the night of a truly beautiful full moon. If you can, try to get outside and see it, for not only is this a rare occurance, it also is a great night to spy Jupiter in the sky.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Those naughty not-ty prefixes


Don't you hate it when there's a word that seems to start with a negation prefix, but doesn't? It leads to all sorts of confusions! Take the following, for example:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Scheduling muddle

I apparently made a mistake with the posting dates for the posts that would be automatically published. What follows is what I actually wanted to publish on September 11:

My absence


My sudden post last Saturday after several weeks of silence may have left many of you wondering where I was. I hope this little comic strip can serve as an explanation

Monday, August 23, 2010.
Me: (carrying a cardboard box) Hey sis, can I have the computer?
Sis: (from the computer) No. Thursday, August 26.
Me: (now carrying a rake) Please?
Sis: (still at the computer) No.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The "when" of "now"

Now then, there is one thing that bugs me now about the word "now". "Now" is a word that's supposed to mean "the present." It is what is occuring, what is just about to happen, or what has occurred immediately previously. It basically means "the time remaining to / elapsed since this event can be rounded to zero."

But there's the other usage of the word "now".You saw how I used it in the first sentence of this post, didn't you? There was no time implied there. Now was just there as a filler; an emphasizer; a muletilla, if you will. People have been using "now" to mean anything but "now" for years. (I want to say "centuries", but I don't know which word preceeded it in this usage.)

And before you say "what is our language coming to?" or "bah, it's English, get used to it;" let me tell you that it gets worse in Spanish. Way worse...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Making my avatar: The hard part

I guess I might as well finish this... the "how I made my avatar" sequence, I mean. I feel kind of bad for leaving everybody hanging last time –a month and a half ago. The thing is, not only was I overloaded with coursework, I also thought I had passed the interesting part: what's coming isn't exactly "hard" because there's a lot of things to do, nor because there are a lot of decisions, but because the outcome isn't nearly as interesting as doing the actual face; what I still haven't told you about is actually kind of boring. It's the body and the arms.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sigh, mothers...

One thing I can say for sure already is that when this week is over I won't have watched that much involuntary TV, but still won't have gotten much actually done. Why? Well, the title says it all.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Summer vacation: 29.4% over

So, it's over. I miraculously passed all my courses, and am officially on summer vacation now. It's a wierd feeling; I've been taking summer courses ever since I started college. I'm finally free to do whatever I want.

Looking at the days gone by, I can't help but wonder, what have I accomplished? What have I been doing since the start of my "vacation"? I know I haven't been blogging, and that I've watched way more TV than I ever have (mostly because the computer is too close to the TV for me to be able to ignore it when anyone else turns it on) but have I just been lazing about?

Happily, the answer is no.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Again on the library

Ha! I bet you didn't expect me to blog about the library this far into the summer did you? Well, the truth is, what I'm going to tell you actually happened before I created the blog. When I did create it, there were a couple of things I just had to say first. By the time those were out, I had all but forgotten about this little event.

I started working in the library because it just peeves me to see books that are left lying; books that fall behind the shelf and nobody picks them up; and books that are so obviously out of their section, it's hard to believe it was done by accident. In short, "Hey there, library folks, I'm perfectly happy to reshelve books. Pay me to be happy, will ya?"

Except that, as I have explained, reshelving books is the last priority for the library. I really don't mind having to tend to the course reserve, dish out study cubicles, or look after the computer terminals. What really gets on my nerves is things that don't seem like library work at all.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dan Browned


I know this is not what I usually post about, but last Sunday I finally watched The Da Vinci Code. Yes, I had read the reviews beforehand; so yes, I knew it was basically a big load of bullshit. But you know what? Halfway through the movie you can’t help but believe it. The moment doesn’t last (a good thing, considering I was watching it on a Sunday and hadn't gone to church yet) but it’s there. Maybe it’s part of the suspension of disbelief process; maybe it’s that the movie is so complex and compelling, you have to believe it to understand it to the end. But you know what? The movie warns you.

There are three points in the movie, where the characters tell you that this whole thing is a fake. Three fleeting passes that are what allowed Dan Brown to, after the fact, go through all his interviews saying, “Of course it’s all true! Ninety-nine percent of it is true! Completely and entirely true! … I can’t believe you fell for it.”

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's a miracle

So, I've passed all my courses. "What? That's the title 'miracle'? I thought you said you were a 'mostly-all-A' student; what's the big deal?" It seems pretty tame, I know, compared to the Resurrection of Lazarus or turning water into wine. All the same, I'm convinced God had a hand in this.

I try to keep the fact that I'm a very devoted Christian separate from my life online. I really do. Sometimes, it's hard; the words just escape me. People really don't like it when you randomly quote an appropriate passage from the bible or point something out as evidence of the existence of God. They pigeonhole you and put any possible resentment they have on any possible "bad" action the Church, as an institution, has done at any possible point in time during the past 2,000 years.

But still, given the situation I was in, I just had to write about it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

if(summer_vacation == false){...

The term is over. I should be on summer vacation. But noooo. I'm stuck here doing a project due (of all the impossibles) Sunday! (Yes I know half of you are going "Bah, I've had to hand in projects on Sundays before; I've had to hand in projects on Christmas day! What's the big deal then?"
and the other half is going "What? Sunday? How can that even be possible? Is he going to be in his office on Sunday? I don't think so! There must be some law against it!" Look, I have no clue.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

What a game!

I watched the World Cup Final yesterday, not that my avatar would know. ("What do you mean 'not that my avatar would know'? Is that all the explanation we're going to get?" Yes. Go see the birthday sequence if you want to know where this came from. And before you point it out, yes, I know there's no #99 in Football/Soccer.)

I really, really, really wanted to write about it in the "heat" of the match, but someone said "Ha, ha! Nobody in Spain is going to go to work tomorrow after this!"
"ZOMG! Tomorrow is a Monday?!?"

It was such a great game, the ball going everywhere without a chance to blink, I totally forgot about everything else. And I mean everything else. I forgot not only what day it was, but that it was the final, that I hadn't been rooting for these teams, I even forgot the half-eaten Frito in my hand!

Spain definitely deserved to win. But then again, so did Netherlands.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fourth of July special


Take a moment to listen to The Star Spangled Banner. Seriously, do it. It is possibly the most American thing there is (after the Pledge of Allegiance... and Apple Pie... and Baseball... you get the idea)
The song was written during the War of 1812, and didn’t become the National Anthem until 1931.

For the Fourth of July (possibly the most American holiday… after Thanksgiving... ok, I’ll stop) I wanted to do something with the song in my avatar, for all those sites I comment on. So I decided to dress him as a US soldier during the War of 1812.

Life Sucks

I had something brilliant planned for Father's Day. A wonderful series of posts which were to take advantage of the fact that I comment on about half a dozen sites with an avatar, which I was going to change for the occasion. I hoped to have it up long enough for people to notice, ask themselves "what's up with this?" and click it, linking them to the blog. And the explanation would be here! Right after a short post which I hoped would tell enough about me to get them to keep reading my blog.

But my teachers didn't agree with my plans, and let's just say, I'm lucky to be alive... literally.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Getting organized

If you've been here before, you'll probably notice that today I've added a couple pages at the top (About the Author and Topics). These are just to tell the readers what the blog is about, again hoping to make it more inviting to new readers. My idea wasn't to sumarize what this blog has been or will be, but to allow easier navigation for the people who visit this blog (and, trust me, in the future navigation could get really complicated since you can't really nest one label inside another, and I plan to do something of the sort for some Big Things yet to come.)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Special occasions on (the) line

Avatar story: Next ⇨ | Latest ↠

It’s important to have traditions. Very important. (I’ll explain later why I say this so categorically, just bear with me for now.) This year I started a tradition, and it was also a pretty strong force in convincing me to create this blog. No, it’s not in my first post, so don’t look for it. This tradition was to change my avatar at certain special times of year to tell a small story.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Obligatory World Cup post

As you very likely are aware, the South Africa World Cup started today, completely changing everyone's attitude and priorities. TVs were placed all over the campus, in every student lounge, making it more of a "lounging about" room and less of a "actually getting work done" room.

Poor naïve little me, having not gone to student lounges during the last World Cup, actually thought I could isolate myself from the games, and work on my projects. As the way the sentence is constructed may lead you to think, I was wrong.

I tried, I really did, to work on my projects, but there was no way to escape the "Ooooh!"s and "Goaaaaaal!"s  and especially the "Shit, man!"s. After all, I am human, and the temptation to find out how the match was going was way to great. In the end, I ended up watching both games in their entirety, and regretted it.

"Sure," you probably say; "now he regrets not working on the huge projects he's got due next week. He regretted it because he's gonna be stressed out all weekend! But when he was watching the opening match savor that for a moment: the... opening... match! he surely wasn't regretting it! He's just being a hypocrite!" Well, no. I regretted it because I found the matches shitty.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Linking to the future

Many of the posts I've made so far were planned for from the beginning of this blog; I simply didn't want them to appear yet, for fear that in some future week I may have nothing to post (last week was one such week, but since I had something pre-written, that's what went up, although it wasn't planned from the beginning). To make this more apparent and easier to navigate, I've gone through several of my old posts and added links to the posts that came after, expanding on them (my first post, for instance, says "more about this later"; which now links to the post that came after giving the "more about this").

I'll try to keep doing this with posts yet to come (linking them from an old post, I mean) to try to make the overall blog easier to read, more inviting to new readers, and to incite you to re-read though the old posts every once in a while

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mouse avatar: Ears, nose, and mouth

Last week I told you I was cheating when I showed you the ears, mouth, and nose before it was time. This week I’m going to show you why it wasn’t that much so.

When I started with the ears, I thought I could fake it by drawing a circle á là Mickey Mouse. This didn’t work out so well.

I therefore turned to tracing again. Because the image was so dark, there were two places that could be the top edge of the ear. I went with the one closest to the center under the justification that rounder is cuter. However, there was still something that bothered me about the result.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Fortibus Es

Last Saturday, May 22, I went to the library to meet with my partner so we could work on a project. As I've explained before, my college is quite removed from the city. It therefore has a whole fleet of buses used to take students between the city and campus. (Of course, you can always bring your car, but some 60% of the people who come to this college don't own one... long story.)

We had no problem getting to the library, it was getting back that was the problem. The library opens on Saturdays until midday; there's usually a bus at 12:30 for the people who need to come to it. But there we were at the bus stop, and 12:30 came and went. The logical question arose: where is our bus?

At that point, I told my partner the following:
Luc síbili si ergo, faustus üin don mon dei; pas fortibus es in aro.
This was obviously a reference to http://foribuses.com/. My partner didn't get it, even when I wrote it, so I had to explain: Luc síbili (Look, see Billy) si ergo (see her go) faustus üin (fast as wind) don mon dei (on Monday) pas fortibus es (past fourty busses) in aro (in a row).
My point? There may be no busses now, but on Monday there will be more than fourty!

When he got it, he said something along the lines of "that was so funny I forgot to laugh."

The bus finally arrived at 1:00; having been asked to wait for some course for non-students.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Crisis nominally over

Our granters (or whatever you call the people who give grants) have analyzed the situation, and audited every last penny my college has spent to make sure it was being spent correctly (it was). The granters, as a whole,  can grant more money, but due to the lengthy processes it must undergo, none of it would be available before October.

The funny thing is, apparently they had already provided the money for the rest of the year, but the board refused to spend it because it had been given on the condition that it wasn't to be spent until September; spending it before then would constitute embezzlement. It would also just postpone the crisis until later on in the year.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

How the library works

The reason the library was so keen to have me stay is because they are working with four TA's this term in total (the library needs about 20 to function correctly) of which one must guard the computer terminal at all times and one must guard the course reserve.
I put this in my first post as part of the list of things that motivated me to create this blog. It is admittedly confusing to someone who doesn't know our library, so I thought I'd explain this in more detail with today's post.

The library has your typical Reference section, open-shelf section, and some computers with internet access (called the Computer Terminal Room for historical reasons). Like most college libraries, it also has a Course Reserve (which keeps copies of several books under closed-shelf space because the management considers these books shouldn't leave the library) a Hall of Thesis (where graduate and undergraduate theses are stored), and several Study Cubicles which can be lent to students in groups of four. (The list goes on, but I just need enough to get the explanation down.)

The library has a firmly established hierarchy with a director at the top, heads at each section, and employees under them. Also assigned to to the library, but out of the hierarchy due to being assigned by subcontractors, is security and maintenance personnel. (The subcontractor deals with the whole campus, but the few that are in the library are stationed permanently there.) At the very, very bottom are the TA's, short for Teaching Assistants. (Yes, we know there isn't exactly classes to be taught in a library, but the name is more of a payroll-enforced thing we have to deal with.) When I started working in the library in 2006, TA's were basically payed 47 US cents per hour (we're that low on the ladder).

The Windows to the Soul

Eyes are easy to draw. Take two teardrops and put one on top of the other. Pick a color for the circle where they intersect, and put a smaller black circle in the middle.

Position these correctly in the center of an egg-shape and voilà! Instant realistic human.

This is possible because human eyes are nearly symmetrical within themselves. You can use the same shape for both eyes and few people will notice. Not so with other animals.

This was a problem for me in making my avatar: the eyes I was using weren’t human. Animal eyes are more akin to two teardrops pointing away from eachother, than two copies of two intersected teardrops. So, I went back to my model and tried to trace his eyes.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wheels and Language

Spanish is a funny language. Although it, like English, has regional variations, the variations of Spanish are widely disconnected from one another; so much that its speakers are allowed to forget they exist. This leads to the arisal of many funny words whch don't propagate at once. A country may create a word when the country next door had a word that perfectly well described that phenomenom.

Where am I going with this? I recently learned a new word in Spanish. Don't ask me which region it's from, but it's enough to say I had no idea it existed, so it's probably new (in the way "cool" was new in 1975 and "groovy" was new in 1950). It came to me through a pun, possibly exploiting its novelty. It goes like this:
Alumbras más que un sol, lamparita!
Now, to translate this, I first need to tell you what it means. The literal translation is, "you light more than a sun, lamp." The "lamp" at the end makes no sense when written like this; but the "you light more than a sun" part sounds awfully romantic.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

In which I start telling how I drew my avatar

In About my display picture, I explained what motivated me to draw my current display picture. Having decided what I wanted to draw was only half the battle: I had absolutely no idea how to draw a mouse. Ideally, I'd have a live model, but I knew my mother wasn't going to buy me an escape-happy, wall-chewing rodent just because I wanted to draw it.

I therefore went with the next best thing: look for a photograph. Most people think the only way to use a photo for drawing is to trace it and reproduce every hair, every floating dust particle, every trick of the light exactly. This becomes noticable because, well, if your model were to move, you wouldn't be able to get all those details. What I had to do, then, was use the photos to find the proportions and basic shapes that, when our brains see them, make us think, "Aah! There's a mouse in the house!"

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mrs. R, why do you torture me like this?

The title may be a bit extreeme, but it is exactly how I felt today when I saw that, once again, the teacher was telling us to bring something to the following day's class with few hours left in the day.

Teachers like this abound. Before the internet, it was mainly in the shape of
"Bring it to my office by tomorrow at sunrise."
"But this class is last period! There's no time to do it!"
"I don't care. Just be in my office by sunrise."

Last term I also got a teacher like this, only worse.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The deal with the food

In my first post, I mentioned a problem with the food on campus. If any of you read it, you'd be right to be worried. If you aren't I perhaps didn't express correctly just what the situation was (and that's very likely: my original post was so short, it probably wasn't clear). In today's blog post, I'm going to explain it in more detail, and tell you how I'm going to deal with it.
My college is quite removed from the city; to put it simply, this causes it to have a sort of soup kitchen, a coffee house, and a Subway store as the only places to eat. Due to budgetary constraints, the kitchen will be closing soon; however, 42% of the students eat there, mainly because we (yes, myself included) can't afford the other two places. (Going to the city and back would take four hours, making it not be an option when you have to go to class in the afternoon.)
Looking back at it, the only thing that is clear is that I have three choices to eat; exactly three. Firstly, I'll tackle what I mean with budgetary constraints: basically, the college is out of funding. While tuition may cover the teachers' salaries, grants and donations pay for food, maintenance... heck, even the paper the exams are printed on! Donations have been falling and grants aren't rising nearly fast enough to cover the difference, and a lot of the money has already been spent. You see where I'm going with this?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

About my display picture

You've probably been wondering about my display picture, and why it's a drawing and not an actual photograph. What's that? You haven't? Well, tough luck, it's what I'm blogging about today anyway. It's part of my introduction to you of who I am and in what world I live in.

When I started posting on the Internet (see the "you may know me as" list in the "About me" gadget to the right) my camera was broken. Even though I did have some old photos lying around, I was forbidden by my mother from posting them online (and was still young enough to have no choice but to obey). So I did what I noticed most sensible people were doing at the time (remember that this was a time when webcams and scanners were luxuries). This meant Googling for your favorite TV show or similar, and using a character from it as your display picture (or, as it was called on the forums I was in, your avatar).

My avatar was usually a playable character from one of the Pokémon games. This seemed like a fine idea in the year 2000, but by 2003 Pokémon was already being called gay, geeky, and by other descriptors whose sole intent was denigrating it. By 2006, with no news of new games reaching me, Pokémon seemed dead and I felt a need to dissociate myself from it. I did still like it and I knew that changing my name could make it harder for the people I formerly posted with to find me, but I wanted to avoid being pigeonholed. My first feeble attempt was to try to find something neutral, yet identifying, in the concept art for the games, so I devised an avatar which contained only the eye of a character; a character which just so happened to look like me.

This worked for a while, with nobody judging me by, nor asking me about, the eye. However, in 2008 I was pointed to the wide world of webcomics, and couldn't resist the temptation to comment on one or two. I continued like this for about a year and a half, when I finally noticed that my avatar wasn't working properly due to a technical issue that wouldn't be fixed (I was known as "the guy with the black avatar" because of this).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It's high time I had a blog!

Several things have been have been happening in my life recently that have made me realize I need a presence on the web. Where to start? Let's try chronologically:
  • Last year, I did an internship. I realized how important it is to put your CV online; not just to put it in the way of employers seeking people, but also to expand on it beyond the limits of paper.
  • I've realized I've been getting out of touch with the people I know, so I need something to help me decide what to talk about with them.
  • I have put a bit of an extra effort into some of the programs I've made for my course projects; I want to show them off, but I don't have anywhere to do it (at least not anywhere that is mine).
  • In March, I was asked if I do art (and it so happens I do) and if I have it online (and it happens that I don't).
  • I've stated checking more blogs and such, and I think I need to be able to connect all my commenter personas to one place.
  • For the past couple of years I've been noticing some queer equalities between languages both between natural languages (say, English and French) and programming languages (say, C and Haskell) that are so queer I want to write about them, but I don't have anywhere to do it.
Yes, I know I'm using "recently" in a very relative sense, and yes I know I should get something better to cover these wishes. I could've kept those things bottled up inside of me until I amassed enough money to buy a domain, but during the last week, quite a few things happen that pushed me to finally create this blog.