29 July 2013
Not exactly a pleasant experience, but a good learning one. I lucked out and ended up rolling some fairly strong stats. Combat was only problematic when it came to fighting more than one opponent, but once you get a rhythm going becomes fairly intuitive. I may be completely misreading something, but it’s silly that your initial stat values aren’t supposed to increase even if you have items that add to them (isn’t that the whole point of items and weapons, or leveling in general?). I died twice not from failing in combat, but from trying to take on any main characters, including the main villain (or one of them, anyway). Moreover, the book seemed to keep sending me back on the task of finding the thieves’ guild, which was how I died the first time. It was like that Bill Cosby routine about the Lone Ranger, “Tonto! Don’t go to town! They’re gonna beat ya up again!" I would make the choice not to go, get jumped by something else, then practically get flatout told, “Look, just go to the Thieves’ Guild!" I mean, I think I know what I’m supposed to do in order to not die by poisoned crossbow bolt, but I really didn’t feel like going back down that same windy, linear path to basically get into a situation where I’d have to break character and let the book lead me by the nose through its one (UND PRECISELY VUN) correct path. I had this same problem with a D&D-themed interactive DVD, where it mentioned all the possible outcomes, only to reveal all but one as instant death and add insult to injury by all the character-building moments coming by way of making the totally out-of-character choice. You literally learn more about you when you’re not yourself. I want to say that’s some deep, philosophical thought experiment, but it simply reeks of bad (though more likely lazy) game design. In Fighting Fantasy’s case, I guess thinking in terms of alignments is simply too inflexible for its linear narrative… which doesn’t sound nearly as deep as the DVD’s issue.
I guess the lesson to take from this is that books and discs make crappy DMs. Also, if you’re designing anything interactive that asks role-playing of its player, have more than one good ending. Otherwise, you may as well save time by having the player guess what number between one and ten you’re thinking of. If they win, they get to jam the dice up your nose and headbutt you to see if they’ll go flying out your ears. If you want that to happen, test your luck. If you know better and don’t want to sniff dice, add 2 skill points and take five to come up with some better options for the player.
Goodnight, and good lu—er… Turn to 400.
27 July 2013
Seems like every time I come across someone possessing the most mind-boggling levels of incompetence, lethargy, and childish stubbornness, I end up making something related to card games.
That's not actually true, I had this in mind and made long before I essentially drove someone to bawlete (you know what? I'm teaching that word to my auto-correct) their account by having the sheer gall and nerve to suggest that they do their own work and stop making excuses why they won't. I know, I'm such a complete and utter bastard of a troll. How dare I bully people into not leeching off others and standing on their own two feet for a change. Who do I think I am to write someone off as untalented because they say so themselves as an excuse as to why they post other people's work to their gallery?
She'd been here for a year or so, posting over 250 uploads of advertising images from Korean fashion magazines, all with the same sentence in the description: (la imagen no me pertenece, créditos a su respectivo creador)
See, merely saying, "not mine, someone else's," which is what that sentence translates to in simplest terms only goes to show what a stupid moron the speaker is, refuting ownership and then wildly suggesting that it may well belong to someone else, so she tries to sound smart by using a term like "respective owner." See, it has the word "respect" in it and has more than two syllables, which makes it dignified and sophisticated in the eyes of a stupid moron who doesn't know how words work outside of mimicry. What followed my calling her out on this was what you may well expect, everything from insisting they don't know any better to sharing for the benefit of the original to not being especially talented themselves to everyone else appears to them to be doing this as well all came out of the same rambling, incoherent pie hole as if she couldn't even decide how best to quantify her own parasitic laziness.
Anyone who uses the excuse, "Well, lots of other people do this." when it comes to the wholesale copying of other people's work is absolutely worthless in every sense of the word. No, really, I mean that. It is such a pregnant declaration, putting the speaker's outlook into such crystal clear perspective that I don't even hear those words anymore. Instead, I hear, "I want attention, but I don't want to earn it."
To be fair, let's be honest and ask, "What motivates us to do anything?" There's nothing inherently wrong in copying a formula (keyword: formula, as in the basic blueprints for something); mimicry is our oldest survival instinct, it's how we learn and adapt. We see a piece of art we like or we see people doing something that looks fun, there's nothing wrong with, well, wanting in on that. Copying is the gateway to finding our own potential, I wholeheartedly believe that. However, along with "formula" we have to take on board the other keywords, like "gateway" and "potential" when discussing emulation. It's simple evolution, really. Creatures that reproduce asexually have the same set of genes passed down from generation to generation. There may be the odd mutation, some typo in the genetic code, but it's rarely beneficial or even remotely with the fundamental flaw of asexual reproduction: the complete inability to adapt. Other creatures that reproduce sexually, on the other hand, mix and match genes, taking a little from column A and maybe a little more from column B and seeing what fits together and what doesn't. These are mutations, too, but since there's more code to work with, the typos are drowned out by the benefits of differing sets of successive genes that can adapt to change.
This is how art works, you take a premise and run with it. You take inspiration from others, not the fruits of their labor.
Some of you may be laughing or at least feeling very smug right now, given that here I am going on about originality when in fact this handmade hanafuda card is practically a reproduction of the "Full Moon and Red Sky" card from the Susuki suite, representing the month of August and one of the more valuable cards in a typical deck. It's all right here if you wish to see for yourself: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanafuda . I'd heard of hanafuda cards before, but all I'd been told is that they're Japanese playing cards. It's like how people say Shogi is Japanese chess, which, while certainly apt, doesn't give you nearly as much insight into how the game is played as you may guess. More recently, I saw a video from YouTuber and avid Nintendo collector Lithium017 showing off a special set of Hanafuda cards Nintendo distributed to members of their points club. In that set, the "full moon" is a giant Boo-diddly (which is awesome). Going back to the original designs (which date back to at least 1800, putting them well out of copyright in case anyone feeling humorously smug didn't know), I really love this kind of artwork. I love its purity, its simplicity, its stark color palette, the contrast, and the way it all overcomes its own minimalist sensibility entirely on its own terms. Between this and the sumi-e inkwash paintings, every time I make a silhouette piece or a "red and black on white" piece, that's what I'm going for. That's what I'm trying to capture. This was a learning exercise, a test in patience and perception. So, yeah, I copied a design, but I did it to learn, and there's far more in my gallery that's unlike it than like it. It was also a way for me to finally use a piece of illustration board I had lying around that I was hesitating on using thanks to a nick in one of its corners from where my corner punch failed to bite through.
In case you're wondering, no, I'm not going to make a full set of hanafuda cards the way I made this one. Even with it being well within my 50-piece limit (typical decks have 48 cards), that would take forever, illustration board is rather pricey, and I've got another card game-themed set on my to-do list I can take up if I feel like it. I do find it interesting to have the white be what draws your eye instead of the red (like in my BaRoW pieces), especially when it's framed by black, so while I won't make any more hanafuda cards, I will take some of its themes and ideas into other works.
Initially, there was green for the grass, and I tried a texturing technique involving marking up my fingertips and rolling them gently along the bottom to create leafy-looking streaks. It really didn’t turn out that well. These do look best when it’s only the red and black against stark white. There is a smaller trading-card sized version of this that does have green grass, and it looks okay there.
26 July 2013
Well, the operation last night was ultimately a success. Pressure was relieved in the cranium, so there’s no further damage as far as anyone can tell. My aunt is now heavily sedated and on a ventilator. The doctors won’t lower her sedative levels until at least Monday, when they’ll check her responsiveness and go from there. It’s all very “wait-and-see" while she’s hooked up and under sedation. 2-3 days of what almost amounts to a coma is quite a time, but at least it’s time spent recovering, which is what’s important. Not the best situation, but far from the worst.
Might try and paint something tonight if I feel up to it later. When I talked to her last Wednesday (before her Friday embolization), she mentioned really liking my black and red ink works, especially the one of the snowy forest with the mysterious blood spatter (she said she found it strangely comforting, even peaceful, which we had a good laugh about). She even bought prints of two of my earlier works a few years ago, which I was really flattered by. That style happens to be my sort of “comfort zone" when it comes to my art, and I had an idea for something while I was at work. Even though she can’t see it right now, I’ll post it on her Facebook timeline when it’s done.
25 July 2013
The surgery itself went surprisingly well, despite being a nearly all-day affair. She was largely unresponsive the next few days, though seemed to be doing a little better. In fact, today (Thursday), she was speaking in full sentences and could hold a little conversation.
Unfortunately, during a walk, her entire right side went numb, the result of a stroke. During a CT scan following the surgery, a blood clot was discovered in her interior carotid artery, which was a major area of concern. However, it was found that the surrounding tissues were still receiving blood normally, and there was no real harm being done, though doctors wanted to keep an eye on it and try to see if they could use anti-coagulants to break it up. The stroke has now been attributed to a clot in the external carotid artery.
I'm glossing over a lot of the subtleties in terms of medical conditions and appropriate jargon, so bear with me if I sound like I'm skipping pages or generalizing or over-simplifying. In fact, I think I may have the carotids reversed. I'm getting told this through my Dad, who is there with her. He was actually supposed to leave today, as her condition seemed to be improving, but now he's cancelled his flight. He's a physical therapist, but while he gets this stuff, it's all a great big mystery to me. Again, I'm probably leaving out some important details, so I apologize if I sound like I don't know what I'm on about.
In a situation like this, one of the most pressing symptoms is a swelling of the brain tissue, which requires a section of the skull to be removed in order to relieve pressure. The other issue is immediate brain damage as a result of the stroke. Fortunately, a follow-up CT Scan showed minimal damage, mostly to the frontal lobe and the speech center. As for the swelling, the operation involved is delicate enough without it coming on the heels of another surgery. As such, the staff is waiting until around midnight tonight to see if her condition gets any better. If not, midnight is the soonest advisable time to take action.
I'm putting all this out there, mostly to help me collect my thoughts so I can keep up when my Dad gives me updates, but also to let everyone know what's going on. I know I'm not much of a social butterfly as is, but if I seem a little preoccupied or distracted, this is why. I love my aunt very much and I can't imagine what she's going through.
Good night, and good luck.
23 July 2013
Remember in Office Space how Milton was laid off years prior to the events of the film, but no one bothered to tell him, yet he still received a paycheck through a software glitch? That's more or less what happened to me. Speaking of paychecks, I got a very pleasant surprise out of all this. As I mentioned, I was in the middle of a transaction on eBay. I put in an offer on a lot of paperback books, not expecting for the offer to be accepted (at least not within a few minutes), and got locked into paying what I owed. Obviously, I was more than willing to pay for the books, that wasn't the problem. I had enough to pay for the books. Again, not the problem. The problem was that the mechanism by which I would have paid for the books had a wrench in the works. I attempted a transfer from my bank to my PayPal account, only for it to basically sit in limbo for way longer than these things should take. In fact, at the time of this writing, it's still processing.
Here's the pleasant surprise: I looked at my PayPal account and saw a positive balance. My bank transfer was still in limbo, but I had a balance that was not there before, for exactly what I owed the bookseller. At first, I thought, "Great, now it's lying about my balance." Then, when I checked my e-mail (where I've been talking with the support staff), I learned that the guy who was handling my case issued me a courtesy credit. Essentially, it was to make up for all the fees I'd been paying by only being able to use my debit card to transfer money, but it just happened to be enough to cover my literary IOU.
As of now, I can access my PayPal account, update information, and many other things I couldn't do before. On top of that, I had an eBay purchase completely covered by a tech support guy, and I appreciate that wholeheartedly. I appreciate it because he didn't have to do that. I've worked customer service jobs and I know for a fact no one likes issuing credits. Companies rake their employees over the coals for issuing credits to customers, however small and justified they may be. No one wants to open that can of worms. No one wants to give that potential mile-betraying inch.
This was not a small favor. It was a small amount, but it was not a small favor.
So, not only props to PayPal support, but specifically their Twitter support. As I said, the phone support was a complete dead end. Twitter got me results.
21 July 2013
I've been having trouble with PayPal for some time now. In short, I cannot see my account. I get an error message every time I log in, no matter what way I log in, that my action cannot be completed. It's not a password error, and it's not any sort of lockout from entering the wrong password too many times.
19 July 2013
16 July 2013
14 July 2013
13 July 2013
09 July 2013
08 July 2013
07 July 2013
After the "happy accident" with the torn tag, I set to work right away on a true and proper fourth entry in this enigmatically growing series. I really like how the perforated edges of these notebook pages look. I also wanted to use a bigger piece and have as little script as possible, almost pure data. The grid of small brown squares is an inkling of sorts into the stylistic direction I want to take future entries in this series, however far ahead that may end up being.