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Week 274/5 Red Dead

Missed a week due to being on a plane to Long Beach for a wedding. The way I’ve been managing to do week notes again is by literally putting a 15 minute placeholder in my calendar so nothing gets scheduled over it, in a time I’m usually free, which obviously fails when I’m not.

In the last couple weeks we had our big company sponsored event – JAMstack_conf. I am generally kind of exhausted and bored by a lot of events these days (that’s a me problem rather than a problem with events), but I found this one very invigorating and not just because we were hosting. There’s something really fresh, and yet old-skool, going on with the JAMstack – people making sites that are best for the platform and that work really well on the open web – feels like the same wave that’s causing everyone to start publishing back to their own sites and blogs again. I love it.

I’ve also done two of my civic duties as an American this week – I voted in the midterms and I did jury duty! Sadly, I didn’t actually get called in for a court case. Maybe next time.

Mostly, though, I have been playing Red Dead Redemption 2. 36% complete.

Week 272

I got a new phone, which is literally the most exciting thing that happened this week, so take of that what you will. It’s a Pixel 3, so of course, the main thing is having to retrain my thumb to do whichever arbitrary change their UI designers have made to task switching. This time, it’s removing the whole button. Joy. Also, turns out some folks don’t know that you can control a lot of things about Chrome by using chrome://flags – like, for example, getting rid of the bloody news feed and recent bookmarks. I do like the wireless charging, though, this feels closer to the future I was promised.

I picked up a book a couple of weeks ago about felting (it’s in Japanese, I can’t read it). I’m not intending to get into felting – I simply bought it because the photos were so cute – but then I accidentally bought some felting wool. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

It’s all bird felting projects, too.
Very cheap daiso felting wool
Giving this week’s some halloween vibes

Week 271

Yesterday, I went to a conference for the first time in ages (HeavyBit’s DevGuild) and it was actually professionally useful to the problems I’m facing at work. I’m not sure why this is so shocking to me, but maybe for the first time I’m actually in the right place. We announced our series B funding on Tuesday, so lots of congratulations all around.

Bee hoop

I had another crafternoon with Monica, and made a small bee embroidery hoop that I’m quite pleased with. Starting to get the hang of satin stitch.

My Anki Vector robot arrived and it’s honestly adorable (I was a KS backer, so I had a pre-order). I’m looking forward to the updates they plan for it – especially hooking it up to Alexa or Google home so he can be come the cutest robot butler.

Also, from a kickstarter this week is a little QSun UV tracking device. It’s rubbish. I mean, yes, it tells me how much UV there is via some lights, but it feels physically awful (maybe for some technical reason I don’t understand, it’s surface is made of a material that feels like black grit that flakes off) and the app doesn’t seem to be able to remember my location or who I am. I can’t even be bothered to write about it for my under-loved IoT blog. C’est la vie.

 

QSun texture. Also, I cut my thumb.

And of course, some flowers.

More autumn ikebana

Week 270

This week started off with Alex’s birthday. We went to Alameda for a daft brunch and a walk around a piece of shoreline we have newly discovered called crab cove.

I saw zero crabs.

We did pick up a bunch of comics and graphic novels, the most interesting of which I read this week called “Wytches“, which has a beautiful art work style. It’s very ink heavy and dark, and uses layers of watercolour over the top to add extra grit and texture.

Wytches page

For ikebana this week, I made this moribana freestyle arrangement.

Ikebana Moribana

Week 269

A slow week in terms of things to show for it, but felt busy regardless.

Things I made

Embroidery. I don’t recall ever having done any before (maybe cross-stitch?) but I had bought this little jellyfish kit a while back and had some friends over on Saturday afternoon for a bit of a crafternoon, so I made it up. It’s a really relaxing thing to do. I drew up my own pattern yesterday to start another.

Jellyfish embroidery

Ikebana follows the seasons – the plants you work with change over time, reflecting the year. Autumn definitely arrived this week with a green to orange two material shoka.

2 material autumnal shoka

Things I saw

There’s a podcast I listen to that was recommended to me by Jake earlier this year called All Killa No Filla. It’s by two women who chat about serial killers, but actually mostly just talk nonsense to each other about their lives. I love it. Not least because I miss the pub-like banter of British people, so it’s very homey for me. On Wednesday, Alex and I went to see them record live at Cobb’s Comedy Club, and it was rad.

Things I’ve been doing

Mostly meetings. It’s the end of a quarter and we’re embarking on the OKR process for the first time at this company.

Week 268

Instagram story of bird rescue

I love my neighbour birds, but sometimes they’re a challenge. The scrub jay couple that live in a big tree near us wake us up every morning at the bedroom window, waiting for peanuts. Sometimes, they literally sit on the windowsill and just yell.

This week started with one landing for a peanut and the other being too hasty to go in for his (for some reason, they can’t both just sit nicely together), so a brief scuffle occurred resulting in one coming into the bedroom, flying into the glass door, twice, then hiding in my wardrobe. Chasing a bird around at 8am in my PJs is not usually how I like to start a new week.

The rest of this week has been fairly uneventful. Alex has been away on a work trip to Shanghai, so I’ve mostly been filling my time catching up on horror flicks. I watched a few oldies, but the most interesting recent one was Hereditary, which ended up not being exactly what I expected, but actually somehow better. It’s got some really inventive shots and a nice slow build and doesn’t rely on a lot of exposition. I’ll probably watch A Quiet Place tonight.

This week’s ikebana class consisted of a 3 material, 7 stem shoka and a more traditional moribana style freestyle arrangement. Teacher said I should be receiving two diplomas next month!

Moribana freestyle ikebana arrangement

Week 267

San Francisco on Wednesday night

I started my weeknotes when I moved to the USA, and I lost count somewhere along the way, but I think we’re at week 267.

XOXO
This week started with me at XOXO 2018. For various reasons, it wasn’t my favourite. It was roughly 4x larger attendee wise and I think that’s way beyond my human crowd size limit. Art + code were standout highlights, with basically everything in that track being fascinating (I would go to a conference that was just that sort of thing exclusively, tbh). The main stage conference track was a bit too one-note/preaching to the choir for me, but Open Mike Eagle was excellent, as was Hari Kondabolu. I really missed being in Portland, too. This year everything was under one, very large, roof, rather than scattered around an area of Portland. We could have been in any city.

Ikebana
I’m 10 months-ish into my ikebana practice at the JCCCNC. This week I made a 2 material, 3 piece shoka and a freestyle arrangement in class. Related, our class is supposed to be taking a study trip to the Ikenobo school in Kyoto in February so I’m working on my language lessons again, both for that and so I can understand more of the tut-tuts I receive in class.

Freestyle ikebana arrangement

Day job
Work is workin’. Lots to do, interns start next week!

Walked ~30.6 miles.

Birds

A couple of months ago I read Jenny Odell’s transcript of a keynote she gave at a conference. It’s a good talk and well worth a read/watch, but the part about her bird encounters caught my attention the most.

I ended up reading “The Genius of Birds“, which she mentions and that book referenced some sections of “Gifts of the Crow” which I read immediately after. The latter covers a lot of the same topics as the first, but focuses on Corvid research. Since reading them, I’d say I’ve become mildly obsessed with crows and their kin – I generally have nuts in my bag now just in case I meet a friendly one.

I highly recommend at least reading The Genius of Birds – it’s an easy-going read in a light-hearted tone and just generally full of fascinating little stories about bird research and their obvious intelligence and charm.

I just moved house, and it turns out that a member of the corvid family already frequents my yard – a pair of bright blue Scrub Jays. On just the first day of my hanging out with them, they already know what the deal is. So happy about my new neighbours!

Making a comic

I made a comic for my dad’s 60th birthday recently. It’s the first time I’ve made a comic and the first time I’ve ever really dealt with making something in print. It was a lot more work than I expected, so I’ve got a whole new appreciation for comic book artists, inkers, colourists and writers. I basically learned a bunch of stuff that in hindsight should have been really obvious.

I screwed up:

  • My margins. I just assumed that if I worked on Bristol board with an even margin on everything, I’d just be able to make it fit nicely when I scanned it and set the page. Of course, the physical paper size of Bristol board does not in fact match the aspect ratio of the classic printed comic book that I wanted to create. Thus, I have margins on the top and bottom of pages that are too large. Obviously.
  • Where to focus my energy. I thought the colouring was going to be the bit that took forever. That, and cleaning up the line work and all that fiddly stuff.  Turns out, Photoshop makes that stuff really fast if you just watch, like, 2 youtube videos and keep a simple palette (even then, I made some compositions overall too dark while others were too light). The bit that took me forever was figuring out what to actually put in the panels and then the physical act of hand drawing them. I should have applied what I’d learned from my actual career and lead with the user stories and got that bit down before worrying about the UI.
  • The subject and style. Rabbits are basically expressionless blobs. They are terrible visual subjects for storytelling. I’d have had an easier time if I’d gone more cartoony and/or more fantastical.
  • The story telling. I am not a writer. I do not know how to construct a story. I can barely string a blog post together. Comics are apparently 99% creative writing and creative writing is so, so hard.

I don’t know if I’ll ever make another one – maybe if someone gave me a story to draw? – but I’m glad to have tried it.