There's a picture of me on the internet! (But, like, someplace significant.)

Near the end of this semester I, along with the editor-in-chief of the paper, put a story about plane crashes under the header of "Plane Crash Corner," a reference to the recurring segment on the podcast Hello Internet. Faith then took a photo of us with the paper and emailed it to Brady Haran, who is responsible for Plane Crash Corner on the podcast. This morning, Brady got our permission to post the photo on his website. We're both very excited.

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There's a picture of me on the internet! (But, like, someplace significant.): http://www.txwatson.com/blog/theres-a-picture-of-me-on-the-internet-but-like-someplace-significant

I had homebrewed mead tonight

Or, I think it was homebrewed. My friend who gave it to me said his friend made it, but I wouldn't be surprised to discover that that friend owned a brewery. mead pic

 

It was kind of minty? I'm not sure if that's the right word. Jon told me what the herbs were that his friend used, but I can't remember what they were.[1. I would be an awesome drinking blogger.] And it was drier than the mead I had tried before. But still, it was good. If mead counts as a form of wine (I've heard mixed accounts on this) then this one still ranks among the best wines I've had. (Because wine is terrible.)

Solarpunk -- implementation

Solarpunk neighborhood This illustration represents a profound act of procrastination, having taken up nearly all of my Saturday evening, when I had a substantial pile of work I definitely ought to have been doing instead. (Including, but not limited to, actually getting some work done on the short story set in the city this illustration depicts.)

I'm working on building some solarpunk into the present-day-ish setting I'm already using. It's an urban fantasy setting, and the majority of my worldbuilding has gone into a place called Victory City (V.C.) -- a city with a history that sets it up to be profoundly hostile to the needs of citizens who don't fit its founder's idea of 'useful.'

I'm excited about bringing solarpunk into this setting, not because it fits neatly, but exactly because it's such a radical separation from the nature of the setting. I think solarpunk is going to fit well in V.C., or at least the small bastion of a solarpunk community partially pictured above, because for the people who'd be investing in this kind of movement, the city very badly needs it.

I keep talking about accessibility as a solarpunk value. In Victory City, all the buildings constructed before 1960 are raised off the ground by a full story. If you can't use stairs, you can't use most of the city. So in the solarpunk village, they've bricked- or walled-in all the first floors, maintained the elevators they have and put in new ones where they can, and built a second floor to the outside of the neighborhood, too -- so everybody can get to all the buildings, even the ones that are completely blocked off in isolation.

Speaking of access, though, there's another aspect of that here: restricting access. The people in this community (for which I should really come up with a name) have erected false building sections to wall off the alleyways and streets that used to lead into their area. They can be opened up, but are not freely traversable. The point of that is so the marginalized citizens of [the village] aren't limited and threatened by the free movement of oppressors through their space, the way they are everywhere else in V.C.

I had the thought while I was working on this picture, too, that they might be deliberately creating inconsistent design themes, using technology and plant growth in conventionally ugly ways, to keep the property values down -- so their community building doesn't trigger gentrification and end up pushing them all farther out than they were before. I don't actually know much about the mechanics of gentrification, though, so I don't know if that would work or how.

(I know there ought to be a railing on the walkway in front of the second floor, but I worked so hard on the picture I was scared I was going to ruin it drawing in rails and bars across the middle. For the same reason, it's also not painted, despite that being the original plan.)

Cross-stitch map tests

Since my last cross-stitch update, I've been working entirely without a guide. I bought a big piece of fabric and started trying to freehand map elements.  And, yeah, a lot of the blogging I've missed lately is because I whittled away my free hours every day last week watching Supernatural and working on cross-stitch maps. iconsThe first thing I did was try and create some icons for later use in larger maps.  I worked top-down on this section.  Not super happy with how the forest came out -- it isn't terrible, but I think I could do better.  I'm thrilled with the mountains, though.  They look really cool.

The compass rose came out quite well, but the letters don't match very well, and the N looks terrible.  Font consistency is something I'm going to have to figure out.

terrain testsNext, I did some terrain samples.  I think the best one by far is the desert, but it was also the most work.  These terrain types don't all necessarily match very well -- the swamp and water are very icon-style, but the desert is much more realistic looking.

The Tundra is just terrible.

map test 1The first map test!  I think I learned some important things from this one. Among them:  I need to be a lot more conscious of my color palette choices from the beginning -- the beach doesn't match the forest very well, nor does the water; the forest icon doesn't match the base terrain; I need to know exactly what my ranges are in the beginning so I don't do things like I did by the mountains, where the dry land behind them is greener than what's supposed to be more pleasant land to their west.

There are also serious problems with scale in this map.  The river, forest icon, and mountains imply a pretty distant zoom-out, but the width of the beach suggest a much closer perspective.

The swamp makes basically no sense, and the color variance in the landmass could pretty much have served the purpose that the icons cover, so I think iconography is going to have to be a bigger feature only in maps with a smaller color palette.

text testText test.  I need to be able to write in smaller text than is possible when using whole squares as pixels.  This size could still be difficult, but at least I could conceivably use it to label some places, sometimes.

map test 2This is my favorite one on this sample.  It looks like a pirate map!  I considered adding some red stitching for a dotted line and big red X.  All the iconography seems to really work here, and I'm quite happy with the way this kind of forest looks.  My first attempt at cross-stitching a map from a pre-existing image is probably going to be in this style or a similar one.

totalHere's the whole piece of fabric, which used to be twice as wide.  I cut it in half because I got a scroll frame that is too small for the whole thing, and I'm using the other piece right now to stitch a very big copy of my finishing stamp.

 

 

I have finished my first cross-stitch

 

 

I took a picture of my progress on my cross-stitch the night before last, with the intention of posting it yesterday.  I ultimately failed to do that, but the picture exists, and is here:

20140102_033220_1As you can see, I'd made a lot of progress since my phone sabotaged my efforts to update you all on the status of my cross-stitch.

I took this photo immediately after inserting the four French knots in the eyes of the green frog and the orange frog.  (After watching a video tutorial, the first two were very easy.  Then, after moving the hoop and trying again, they had become impossible.  It turns out, I had completely forgotten what to do, and had to watch the tutorial again.)

Unfortunately, because I failed to update, you all will have to miss out on the experience of suspense that you might otherwise have enjoyed, while you waited for me to finish, because I've already done that:

20140103_151559_1I'm really proud of myself, and impressed with the creators of the pattern, who made instructions for a very pretty piece of art.

I did the name myself, freehand, and intended to add "From pattern," or something like that, to make it clear that I wasn't trying to take credit for someone else's art, but that would have taken another hour or two and I wanted to move on.

I got supplies for my own cross-stitching now -- a huge piece of beige fabric, actually.  Using the needle from the frogs, and my partner is letting me borrow her string.  I'm working on iconography for maps.  It is, so far, a huge amount of fun.

 

 

I hate the Wordpress Android app

Last night, I was really impressed with the Wordpress App for Android, for the first time.  I was impressed because I noticed there was a quick photo feature -- and, whatever problems I've had with the app before, I figured it'd probably work great with its own native features. So I snapped a photo I wanted to show off.  This photo:

Now that I'm at a computer, I took the liberty of editing the photo a little -- just to make it less gray.  There was not good lighting in my room in the middle of the night yesterday.

What I got instead was a block of HTML text that uploaded right on schedule at 9 a.m. this morning.

When I noticed, at about 10:30, I opened up the post and attempted to fix it.  Everything looking normal after I re-inserted the photo, I uploaded the edited version of the post and checked it.

The block of HTML was back.  So I edited it again, just to indicate that it hadn't worked.  I also tried to strike through the original text, instead of just leaving it there plain.  That, also, appeared to go fine, until I looked at the uploaded post.

What should have looked like this:

Here is an example sentence

Looked like this:

STRIKEHere is an example sentence/STRIKE

(I didn't attempt to center the text in the post.  I imagine it would have been even worse.)

So, when I wanted to brag about my fun little frog cross-stitch, I got a frustrating morning of app errors and embarrassingly screwed up auto-posts to my tumblr.

I have now deleted the app, and will probably not re-install it, because when my posts fail it makes me want to cry.  (If it matters to anyone considering getting the app, or who might be experiencing similar difficulties, I have a Samsung Galaxy S4.)