Sunday, December 25, 2011

A merry Christmas in spite of all


Every year, come December, I do the same thing: I greet or say goodbye to people with a cheerful "Merry Christmas." And every year I find the same sad reality: less and less people correspond. (Two people total gave any sort of answer this year.)

The thing is, they don't say anything at all! They either completely ignore what I said, or are so taken aback by the the unexpected greeting, they can't even utter a grunt in response. Clearly, no one else has wished them any form of happy holidays before me, seeming to support what Bill Watterson wrote 20 or so years ago:
"This season gets less and less merry each year."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Filmed in front of a live audience


You probably noticed my new avatar, which I made yesterday. If you saw it used in one of my comments on someone else's old post, you'll be wondering how I managed to use it before creating it. But the interesting thing about this avatar is not that I've been wanting to make it since July, it's that I created it while Livestreaming.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Resorting to image macros

I've always thought image macros were a rather cheap way to convey an idea. After all, you're taking something someone else has made, and merely changing the caption to fit your own devices. Wouldn't it be so much better if people could make their own things from scratch?

However, as a Computer Scientist, I've been taught that things need to be as efficient as possible, and anything unnecessary that gets in the way of that has to go. As a researcher, I've learned that strong emotions are, to put it bluntly, something that literally gets in your blood and has to be used up before you can continue whatever it was you were doing before you felt that way. As someone who writes on the internet, I know that people need to hear from you, and that these are the things they want to hear about. And finally, as an artist, I'm supposed to know that the best way to channel these emotions, is by creating something out of them them.

So yesterday, when I became so-furious-with-myself-I-just-could-have-killed-something at discovering what was wrong with the program I was writing, I made this:


Annoyed kitty image macro copyrighted by thekraidster567 [it is?]
Text by me

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Delicious spam

Image: Sp'am, served with corn kernels and chilli peppers on a bed of autumn leaves.
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 generic license by Neil Motteram. November 2, 2005; San Francisco, California.

Yesterday I deleted my first Spam comment. When I enabled the possibility to comment anonymously, I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later, but I never thought I'd have to face it this soon.

Monday, November 7, 2011

What's this? An actual blog post?


Image: Frank the mouse, in winter clothes (color), watches in surprise as a younger mouse (pencil) trundles a hoop made from the outer part of a 1-euro coin past the curb where he's sitting.
Preliminary image. Will be finished later
Of course, I've never actually
taken apart a coin, so I don't know if
this is even possible…
Nor do I encourage you to try


For weeks, I haven’t been able to focus on my studies. The fact is, I keep worrying about money. Maybe It’s the fact that my scholarship wasn’t paid for two months. Maybe it’s the fact that three-quarters of the people I went to high school with have graduated from college and I haven’t. Maybe I’ve been reading too much on how people in their thirties and forties who don't have money get money. Maybe I've simply grown too old for the "college" life. Whichever it is, somehow, I can barely complete a simple math problem before my thoughts turn, in some form or another, to money.

The frustrating part is that I already know what I’m going to do for money once I graduate, and I know exactly how I’m going to do it, yet the questions keep coming back, haunting me like some undead monster. I crunch away at them, desperately fixing the numbers which are still vague to me, in hopes that the thoughts will finally go away and leave me alone!

But no luck

Monday, October 17, 2011

Small update: new avatar

Image: Frank, the mouse, shrugs, looking slightly to the right of the camera while holding his torch in his left hand.

Considering I'm in the middle of the "what's been keeping me busy" series, which is basically a long drawn-out apology for not having posted all summer, I thought it would be best to not create another cause to appologise for. Unfortunately, I don't have anything finished I can post yet. I was aiming for a Columbus Day special, but I didn't make it in time.

I did, however, add a new avatar to my collection recently, by making the second panel of Last year's Halloween story into one (shown on the left). I think it's pretty self explanatory: too many times, I've wanted to say something with a shrugging expression; now I can.

I doubt I'll be able to finish anything until the Christmas break, but I do hope I can, at least put one more of the "what's been keeping me busy" series.

As for what I've been doing after the summer break, hey, I have classes!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fridge Logic


Originally drawn for
I hate long weekends
There are some things that just leave you thinking. Take my Independence day post for example. Very nice, very poetic, but a couple of days after posting it, I started wondering if the clothes I had chosen had other implications.

These kinds of considerations have long been known in the movie industry, and in 1958, they were given the name "icebox logic" by Alfred Hitchcock. In his own words, it's a scene [that] hits you after you've gone home and start pulling cold chicken out of the icebox. Of course, few people today call it "the icebox", so modern terminology refers to it as "fridge logic".

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Indentured Servitude

(Or “What’s been keeping me busy, part 2”)

A brown, bipedal, digitigrade house mouse stops in mid-step and looks in dismay at his right foot, which has a red thread tied around it. He is wearing a red sweater that reads "Librarian"

You may have noticed that, recurrently, the little box in the sidebar titled “My current situation,” not only displays the courses I’m taking, but also a cryptic “indentured to the library.” Today, I want to explain to you what on Earth that means.

When I originally started working for the library, I was given a contract that basically said “I agree to everything I have been told verbally.” I was told that I had to do 6 hours a week (for a dollar each) and that, if I didn’t do all of them, I could always do them next term. I was told that I would be paid per hour worked, and that, for the university’s accounting department, I would count as a TA.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: The Paper Wings podcast

Paper Wings Podcast: the show for Visual Storytellers

Sometime in March, I was pointed to the Paper Wings Podcast. Hosted by Lora Innes and Chris Oatley, The podcast brands itself as “the show for visual storytellers” to “help [them] find the time and energy… to finish their personal project”. However, I didn’t think this was my kind of thing because, at the time, they were focusing on what people should do if they wanted to become full-time illustrators for a major corporation.

In June, I was pointed to it again, so I skeptically returned to the site. This time, their focus was on how to make time when you fell you had none. “This is exactly what I need!” I thought, so I downloaded the podcast. Ironically, I didn’t have time to listen to it until about three weeks later. See, I don’t have a portable mp3 player of any sort (that includes my cell phone, which won’t even let me download new ringtones to complement its default three horrible buzzings) so the only way I would be able to listen to it would be when I had my laptop out. Unfortunately, whenever I have my laptop out I’m writing in it, and I honestly can’t write and listen at the same time.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Community Service

(Or “What’s been keeping me busy, part 1”)

Image: A young man rests his head on his hand. His hand forms a fist and his head pushes down on it, in obvious boredom. The man is lazily punching the “up” key on the number pad of an old-style computer.

Like many American (and, indeed Pan-American) colleges, mine requires me to do some community service in order to graduate. Apparently this is an alien concept to Europeans so I’ll try to explain it briefly: Basically, I’m required to do work for free “for the benefit of the community”, in hopes that this will motivate me to do stuff for the places where I’ll live “for the benefit of the community”.

Now, before you rain suggestions on me like firefighters or soup kitchens, part of the catch is that the community service can’t be just any old volunteer work; it has to be a “service” registered with the university. There’s a bulletin board with all the options, as well as a web page, and I spent two weeks reading through them all. Turns out, 80% of the options require you to own a car (which, just like 60% of the student population, I don’t).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In Memoriam

To the brave souls who gave their life to save so many others, that fateful Monday, 10 years ago.
Image: Frank the mouse stands in revered silence looking downcast. He is wearing a firefighting jacket and holds a yellow firefighter's helmet.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Graduation Countdown

Image: Frank (the human) sits in a plastic chair wearing a tie and a graduation toga, feels the top of his head and looks to his right, startled. In the background –tiptoeing away– is Sis, also wearing a graduation toga and a medal in the shape of a concave eight-point-star. She has just slipped off Frank’s mortarboard hat and is sticking her tongue out at him.

I had it all figured out. I only had Statistics, my thesis, and community service (required by a local law – or was it an ordinance?) and then I could graduate. I would do statistics during the summer of 2010, community service during the summer of 2011, and my thesis throughout the 2011 calendar year. There was plenty of leeway if anything went wrong. The plan was flawless!

…or so I thought.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lost Etymology

On my twitter account, today's quote of the day reads as follows:
"Truth can be decieving" --John Loeffler
Meaning, "this doesn't necessarily imply what you think it does." Except that that can't possibly be the source.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I Hate Long Weekends!

Image: Frank the mouse cries out in frustration, his hands atop his head as if to pull his nonexisting long hair; his arms bending his whiskers.
Originally done out of
Stresssss!
Most people love long weekends; I don't. Long weekends for me are an opportunity; an opportunity I can never use.

It's always the same. I see the long weekend coming up on the calendar, and I start thinking of what I could do with that extra day (or days). Usually I settle on one thing; something that I know I can do in much less than a day, and then start doing it from Friday afteroon.

Except that it never gets done.

Monday, July 4, 2011

God Bless America

source

I'm pretty sure I can't be much more explicit than this. Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

Associated avatars

Frank, the mouse, stands solemnly at attention in early twentieth century clothes, singing into an old-style microphone. Frank turns to his left to raise a point, his arm passing behind the microphone, and his tail being dragged on the ground. Frank collapses in laughter, grabbing the microphone for support.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Father's Day Special

Huh, I was so sure I had set this up to be posted automatically on Sunday. C'est la vie.

Image: Frank, the mouse, hugs an adult mouse resembling him; both stand on their hind legs showing Frank is three-quarters of the other mouse's height.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Avatar Story: Winter's End (Part 1)


Seeing as it's already June, I really should shed those winter clothes, shouldn't I? But to do that, I need to finish telling the Winter story, so let's get this show on the road.

Avatar Story – Winter's End Part 1: Gift Horse

This was supposed to go up on the day of the Epiphany (January 6)

A snow-covered forest. The trees are young and skinny. At their base, something small and brown is moving, leaving a trail in the snow. Upon closer inspection, it’s obviously a mouse with long, ruffled fur, wearing a bulky jacket.



“Oof!” breathes Frank-the-mouse, as he limps through the snow on all fours – well, threes since he's having to keep his right leg out of the snow.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Stresssss!

Image: Frank the mouse cries out in frustration, his hands atop his head as if to pull his nonexisting long hair; his arms bending his whiskers.

I haven’t felt stress –at all– for a very,very long time.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Review: Chim Chum and the Portly Samurai

Now that I’ve told you How I started reading webcomics, I can start doing reviews of the webcomics I read. I’m going to start with Adrian Ropp’s hilarious comic:


Why?


Why, you ask? Oh, uh… no reason.

Monday, May 30, 2011

3 new avatars

Image: Frank-the-mouse, apparently at a loss for words, points to something to his left behind him, with his left hand, while starting to make a pleading gesture with his right hand.

Take a good look at this image. Okay, I know there's not much to look at, but try to guess what it reminds you of. I'll give you a hint: it's something on this blog.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Now a Deviant

Image: A cat is shown biting the bow of a string instrument, which he pushes away with his foot. Caption:
"Hey Diddle Diddle (because, let's face it, if a cat was given a fiddle, this is probably what he'd do with it)"
was the first (and up to now, only) thing I drew specifically with the purpose of uploading it to DeviantArt.

So, yeah, I've created a DeviantArt account. When I started this blog, I was focused on telling two stories: the avatar story and the (as of yet unbegun) Jane's story. Every drawing I made, was a means unto that end. I was trying to work professionally; keeping to the clean, computer-made look. Whenever I did draw something on paper, it was as reference for when I "inked" it later on the computer, as happened with Jane.

But Christmas changed that.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

After 22 years, I finally saw it

Image: Frank-the-mouse, having clambered on to a schoolhouse regulator clock, checks a golden pocket watch against it. Both read 5:50:42.

On Sunday, I finally saw Don Bluth's All Dogs Go To Heaven (henceforth ADG2H, because I'm in a bit of a rush). I had never seen it before: whenever it was in stores, I never had the money, and on TV they only ever showed All Dogs Go To Heaven 2*. Since I "got" the jokes in ADG2H 2, I had, until now, considered my knowledge of that part of pop culture complete. After all, you're supposed to know what the first movie is about to "get" the second one, right?

But recently, Rick Griffin started a story arc explicitly referencing ADG2H on his webcomic Housepets!. Of course, there were many things I didn't get.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

One year online


Image: A young, female mouse clutches a rag doll (of a mouse) while staring wide-eyed off to the side. Her claws are in no way visible, giving her hands and feet a human-like appearance, but her ear is curled in a very mouse-like way, resembling an unopened flower, cancelling out the effect.

So this is it. Today this blog is officially one year old. Time to see what I've accomplished. Time to see where I'm headed.

…Time to do an insufferably cute drawing … and explain it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

What I gave my mother for Mother's Day


Image: A small, tan-colored bunny whines at his mother –a large, gray rabbit– while pointing to three other bunnies: an ochre female with white paws who looks on curiously, a white male with large brown spots who trembles with anxiety, and a completely white male who is rolling his eyes.

So, yeah, I sketched this in pencil, colored it on the computer, printed it, and gave it to my mother. It was wonderful to hear her laughter echoing through the house!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Taming the tweeter

Image: Frank-the-mouse, rendered so that every hair of his fur is visible, feeds a handful of grains to a bird slightly larger than himself, whose plumage resembles that of the Twitter bird.

Some of you have noticed that I've created a Twitter account. It's really nothing too elaborate; I mainly made it to be able to reply to tweets (up to now, I've been following several accounts by searching for the username every odd day). I did set up two "services": a "quote of the day" and a "twitter feed"

Monday, May 2, 2011

Say "bye-bye" to the "topics" page

I've decided to take the topics listing off of the page listing at the top.

About "text-only version"s

Three white mice, of varying ages, all wearing dark glasses on their eyes and modern blind men's canes around their "wrists", run from a carving knife –almost twice their size– that has been impaled into the ground so recently, it is still wiggling from the impact. Two of the mice run on all fours, while the eldest is on its hind legs, turning back to face the knife.

I've recently gone through all my old posts making sure the ones that can't have the alt text put as mouse-over text (mainly because if you put your mouse over them, that would get in the way of reading the speech bubbles) have a link to let you see the alt text through Google's wonderful text-only caching. These are seen as a link to the "text-only version" at the top-right of the post.

But why? Why did you do that?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Well, I thought it was funny

Image: I cross my arms at the girl watching TV in the armchair, and say "I thought you said that show was crap"
"What can I say? It's Hippotising!" replies the girl-turned-hippo that is in the armchair.

No artist's notes for this one. It just came to me and I drew it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Web Standards

Image: Frank-the-mouse glues a poster to a wall using a long-handled paint roller. The poster is divided like a web page layout, each area of the layout contains a sample of the HTML code to generate it.
Two weeks ago, I got a commission to design a website.
What? you do that too?
Oh, hush up.

I learned to do web pages back in the year 2000, when everyone thought frames and Flash™ would rule the web. The only other widely-known method to structure a web page was putting all the text in a table, and using its columns to put your stuff where you wanted it to be.

In January 2009, in one of my courses, we were assigned to create a website as part of a project, and asked to make sure the website was compliant with the web standards. This was the first time I had ever heard there was such a thing!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Hamelin's motto

Image: a white circle with several spiraling lines leading up to two, intersected, blue bootlaces, surrounded by the words "Selbständige Stad das Hameln – Nunquam disputus rodentologist".
Caption:
Seal of Hamelin, depicting a grindstone.
Around the top, in German, is written
"Independent City of Hamelin."
Around the bottom, in Latin,
"Never dispute people who
study rodents."
I still remember when I discovered that Hamelin was real. I always thought the name had been invented for the Pied Piper fable, since it seemed like little more than random consonants.

Formally the große selbständige Stad das Hameln (or Greater Independent City of Hamelin) the town has actually founded way back in the 9th century! The tale of the Pied Piper arose as an explanation for why, in 1284, the town had no children.

The people of Hamelin have taken the story of the Pied Piper to heart, and it has permeated every aspect of the city. Indeed, the entire economy of the city is based around tourism of people who come to see the place where the legend was born. Attempts were made to industrialize the city in the 1940s and 50s, but they all failed. This is actually what has allowed the city to stay preserved in its 13th century state!

Perhaps the most visible influence is in the city's motto: Nunquam disputus rodentologist; commonly translated from Latin as "Don't argue with one who knows his rodents," showing that the people who wrote it didn't quite get the lesson from the Pied Piper's tale.

Though it's pretty handy for me, isn't it? After all, what I've done on this blog has made a rodentologist.

Frank-the-mouse clasps his hands together, and smiles, closing his eyes cutely.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ye Irish facepalm

Image: Frank the mouse holds his forehead in a facepalm, still wearing his green tailcoat and a capotain hat. His shamrock lies on the ground.

St. Patrick's Day ended, and I was unable to make the last image for my St. Patrick's avatar. My schedule, my sleep debt, my phone, and certain callers all got together and "decided" to make this impossible.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's day avatars


[Frank the mouse dips a black tailcoat into a flat-tipped thimble (to which a handle has been attached) filled with green liquid. Jane the vole looks on, apparently having just walked in.]
Jane: Uh… Frank, what are you doing?
Frank: Dyeing my Thanksgiving avatar green for  St. Patrick’s Day, what’s it look like?
Jane: You do know that  dye is permanent, right? 
[Frank freezes; his jaw drops; he suddenly realizes what that means. Jane looks on, her arms crossed.

Usually, this kind of joke would be explained by me saving over an old file, but that's not the case.

How I started reading webcomics


In About my display picture, I noted that I started reading webcomics in 2008. Those of you who read webcomics or know me from commenting on them are probably wondering how I could have lived before discovering them. Those of you who don't, are probably wondering how I got sucked into such a big and convoluted world.

To answer these questions we must go way, way back; back to when I was 10 years old.

Happy St. Patrick's day



Today, I'm commemorating St. Patrick's day with a strip from Tracy Butler's excellent comic Lackadaisy.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Modification to legal info

Image: Frank the mouse, clad in Twentieth-century formal wear, carrying a tan-colored briefcase.
Just a brief note to say I modified the Privacy Policy and other legal info page.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Condolences


I just found out about the disaster in Japan, and would like to express my condolences to those there, or who know people there.

I don't have anything prepared for this (how could anyone anticipate this?) I feel stupid now for having invested so much effort on dedicating the day to something that happened nearly a decade ago.