Saturday, 29 April 2017

Jake! Breakthrough!

A year ago, when I started meddling with Blender, I realized I'm very limited with what models I can import from Warcraft, and how; Some solutions I found on my own, but the vast majority of it has been slowly made possible thanks to Jake. Amazing, what being guildies together at 2006 merited.

(Well, it merited me a husband. I should know better than to be surprised).

Jake is a myriad of good things, and through this year he managed to slowly crack almost everything I threw at him. At first it was 'I need to be able to export buildings' and then 'oh, and textures, separately!' and then 'perhaps a search by category function?' and 'how can I find the exact name of a specific item in a specific location?' then various UI pointers, a shared discussion document, ideas bounced, and somehow, while I'm no developer, I'm very personally involved with this software, that grew almost entirely according to my needs as an artist.

Yesterday Jake made a huge breakthrough, with something I've been asking for since October 2016 (and pestering him about for the entire time, and pushing and suggesting and connecting him with people and what not) - and he did it! This could make a huge difference in my comfort and workflow, but I also think it would make Jake the darling of the 3D wow artist community. And I think I know how he feels, because he does this for the challenge, just like I do Blender; and it feels so nice to be a part of this tiny unit joined in this tiny goal, and somehow contributing to something that will last longer than any painting - a very helpful software.

It feels great.

Friday, 28 April 2017

This diet is -fun-

Yeah, you read right. It's fun to be on this diet. the first 3-4 weeks are hard, but after that it's almost magic happening, and an immense feeling of power.

A week ago I got a craving for salad, because in all the million diets I had in the past, I was limited with the oil ("no more than one teaspoon!"). So you can feel that having 1.5 spoons of olive oil on your salad feels like a big relief, right? Also, after so many years of dieting I hate vegetables, but now that no diet forced me to eat them, I craved their freshness. So a couple of tomatoes, one red pepper, some parsley, some onion, and fresh mozzarella cheese. Lemon, olive oil, salt, yay.

But I couldn't finish what was on the plate. So next time I made it, I reduced the amounts of everything. And... still couldn't empty my plate.

So here's what it takes to make me feel full, now:

1 small tomato
half a red pepper
a small wedge of onion
1.5 lumps of fresh mozzarella

That's it. Me, who used to be able to eat three courses of a meal, I get full by that. Or two eggs. Sure, I can throw bacon in with the eggs, or some cheese, for flavour - but basically, my stomach's capacity is... two eggs. And then I remain happy and full for four hours. No wonder the weight is dropping.

It's a slow way to lose weight, because I don't at all bother with sports, and sometimes I mix food groups, which, while allowed, does slow the process; but it's effortless.

The catch is - no sugar and gluten, in any amounts, ever. At all. But after the first two weeks (which are downright withdrawal), you do a variety of mental exercise - some to kick down the dopamine (to the point your brain no longer releases dopamine when you see or think or smell pizza, or ice cream, or fresh bread, or cake) - and without dopamine, you don't feel the craving; and without craving, you don't need will power to resist it. There's no 'resisting' in this diet.

The second - and far more important part - is to end up viewing food as fuel, not as a pain/boredom/frustration killer. Real hunger is felt in the stomach. Sugar-or-gluten induced hunger is felt in the chest, and emotional hunger is felt in the throat. When I feel hunger, I stop to feel my stomach. Is it full? If so, my hunger is of the other kinds, and it's not food I want. If it's emotional hunger, I need to stop and think what feeling it is I'm looking to kill with food: Is it boredom? Anger? Sadness? Frustration? There's a lot of things that can be done to deal with any of those, but simply searching and identifying helps. If it's not real hunger, ten minutes of doing something else will make it go away. I usually clean, or go to Blender. My brother could be building aeroplane models. Whatever makes you focus on something else for ten minutes. Then... it leaves.

Sugar-or-gluten induced hunger is far worse, because it's chemical - and addictive, and it's a downright drug. This is why we don't touch it at all. The other week I ordered a burger from a restaurant I trust, and for hours after eating it I was crazy with hunger and didn't know why. I tried all my bypass routines, yet felt I needed something. I tried a drink, tried smoking, waited two hours, nothing helped; my stomach was full, but I needed to eat. Eventually I did eat, and then again, and my stomach was hurting and I was way beyond my capacity, it wasn't fun at all, but the hunger was sated; then I realized - there must have been sugar in the burger's sauce or something. I haven't felt that need to eat even past fullness since July, but there it was: chemical, uncontrollable, a drug.

And there's a part of me that's infuriated with this. How dare they, the governments and the food industry, put this poison in our food? It's addictive, and serves zero nutritional purpose, and damages us by making us eat far more than we need. It's a bloody poison, but they put it in everything. Sausages, yogurt, mayonnaise, all sauces, milk, canned tomatos, everything. Check the ingredients on food you buy for a week, you'll be horrified. And each bit of this stuff makes you hungry, and addicted, and less healthy.

Without this - and with slowly dissolving the emotional eating - the weight just... falls off. Slowly, true; but without having to hold back, without craving, without feeling deprived, without exercise. The body finds its balance, you end up eating just as much as you need, and the access weight melts away. I lost about 17 kgs; I still have 30 to lose; but it's effortless, and it will happen. And I eat so little now, and I'm never ever left hungry or craving.


Friday, 7 April 2017

Phlegm Bin

It's true love when he makes you a phlegm-bin so you can stop laze at your computer and not run off to the bathroom every time you cough.


I went back to watching Black Sails because even though the guild is great, I need a break from the constant scene managing; then Sails gave me Roy Stevenson, whom I have loved since Rome, so I'm happy.


I tried six or seven new books and every single one was a disaster. Some I finished, some I dropped at page seven when I realized it's pretty much Twilight only with Victorian archaeology (Amazon, dude, I asked for Lovecraftian. Why you give me gay romance? It wouldn't be bad if it wasn't so horribly written). Irritated and despaired, I went book to have a fourth time read of the Cormoran Strike books, which are fantastic even in the fourth read, but it really makes me wonder if I'm only supposed to read Rowling every time I'm not in the mood for Tim Powers, and where the hell have all the good authors gone to.


Spontaneous! Walk! Outside! With Notch and Dottore and dog. Was so lovely. She plays the piano now. He jogs. The dog dogs. They're such lovely company. Should do more often.


And it's Passover soon, complete with a huge dinner, pagan shit and family quarrels. I wonder if it would be okay this year. But hey, there's a baby, and he looks just like what my brother did 52 years ago in the photos. Wish mom could see. Still happy I don't have any, but really happy bro does.


Noogie calls once a week 'cause she's taking the same class I did in July, and enjoying it far more than I did, and expresses it with happy squeaks and breathy excitement and brilliant insights like only she can. More Noogie in life is good. Should... do... more... often.


But having a person who makes you a surprise phlegm-bin is the best.

Monday, 3 April 2017

It's been a while, hasn't it? I had a chain of inspiration combined with bad luck. We finished a roleplaying campaign in Warcraft, which sent me on a spree of making pictures, related atmospheric paperwork and attempts to keep the guild busy while we wait for the next campaign to start; at the same time, I got splitting headaches that sent me to the hospital, which in turn pumped me full of antibiotics, then I went to an optician who made glasses for me so the headaches vanished (thanks, hospital), then I caught a cold, finished it, and one day later caught a different kind of cold. It's really been adventurous, and I can only thank the universe that I have no job or by now I'd be fired for taking so many sick days.

Speaking of jobs, it looks like I expanded from making 3D wow commissions to teaching Blender - I've done it several times before because it turns out I really like teaching, and I know how hard it is to excavate all the relevant knowledge for wow pictures from all them horribly unprofessional tutorials online. I didn't charge for it until now, but my first paying client, not two days after I taught them, plagiarized my commission price page down to the letter, opened commissions and advertised those to the same clientele I serve, with exactly the same product I offer. That was a bit of a blow to the wind in my sails, and while I don't know why I feel betrayed, I still do. So I turned down the next three people who asked for lessons and for now I'm back to Blendering on my own.

There was also some guild drama - which ups our drama count to three, which isn't bad, spread over 15 months - there was this member who was as lively and as charming and emotional as only unstable people can be, and I ignored all the warning bells because they were really nice. Then one day someone does something they misinterpret, and wham, there's a crazy retaliation Milady-Berserko style, complete with ragequitting, emo-blackmail, inflating everything beyond proportion, and mainly an amazing ability to totally refuse to hear any explanation whatsoever. Imagine you tell someone 'good morning' and they go berserk on your arse. With a shotgun.

I felt bad about it for two days, then I realized that if the person entirely refuses to listen, no matter how much you beg them, I'm really better off without them. Not to mention, shutting me out without allowing me to talk is an act of violence, and I don't want to have anything to do with people who do that. Long story short: player quit the guild, I feel sorry for them, I'm certainly hurt I was never allowed to explain, but I'm quite happy not to have to interact with that, and even happier at the ability to let go. If it's hopeless, there's zero point trying to fix it. If only the 20 years old me could act on this... But I'm glad I finally internalized it.

There's also been a lot of fun (fnu!) with Jake, my wow-buff programmer friend who's been writing the software to extract wow models for me. The yet unnamed extractor is still in its infancy, but is already priceless for me - unpolished as it might be; and, no less important, it allows me to once in a while have a several hour long chat with Jake, both of us working on it and exchanging banter and opinions, and it feels so nice to have a project together with someone. It's as if... we're sitting together in his living room with laptops, only we're a continent apart. Not to mention, I'm still shocked, on occasion, that he's no longer 16. And at how marvelously he grew up.

I also did some real-life socializing - not only that farewell gathering (which was so lovely it makes my heart sing, although it was likely where I caught my first cold), but also going to watch Beauty and the Beast with Notch, and how awesome it is that I can still enjoy Disney at my age, and that it still makes me cry like an idiot.

And I just noticed I hadn't posted any Blender stuff since that clip at the end of January; I've made eleven pictures since then, but that really belongs in another post. And perhaps when I actually have brain cells instead of snot occupying my skull.


Thursday, 23 March 2017

Stuff I learnt about myself this past year

It's really weird to realize at the age of fourty that so much stuff I believed is no longer true.

For example, I found out I hate painting. I do it only because it's the only way to commemorate the images roleplaying and imagination make in my mind, so I've been doing it with dedication since I was six or so, but man, it's really hard work and I'm never good enough with it and it takes a million hours and once you got the sketch down it's nothing but stupid, technical monkey work. So you know what? Yes, I hate doing it! There. I said it.

Turns out that I did 'being sad' wrong all my life, because each time I cry (which I do a lot and without any shame or restraint, really) I feel frustrated rather than relieved. I just mess it up, like I do cooking, so much so that I failed to get the evolutionary point of it. But then Rachel and Noogie explained it to me. I should look at what makes me sad, really think about it and deal with it, even wallow; only then will crying be a relief. Because what I did all my life is cry my eyes out while refusing to actually look the pain in the eye. It's like... closing your eyes and punching really hard while yelling "I'm okay! I'm okay!" or something. So this year I had relieving crying for the first time ever, which was great.

And chatting with Mountain, I realized I've made the same mistake with anger all my life. I feel it, hugely, but I refuse to admit I'm allowed to feel that way, which brings only frustration, never relief. In fact, I think it kind of... multiplies it. Mountain advised to wallow in it as well, really face it, write them anger letters (which I loathe doing exactly because of that, because it's touching the raw pain) - actually let the anger in, and out; not try to push it away or ignore it. Just like sadness.

Fourty years of knowing I'm the queen of expressing emotions, that I'm all free and open with them, and I discover I do it wrong. I'd nab a medal for being able to screw up something like this, but that aside, I'm actually quite relieved. It feels like with these two emotions better handled, life can be far nicer. Even if I only got this halfway through it.

Farewell, Mountain

So I'm trying to find the guts to go out there and spend time with people. Groups, not one on one. And tonight a friend had a farewell gathering, and I went there, and it was... wonderful. Simply wonderful.

There was Tee (we met in 1999. Whenever we meet I say 'Tee, my love!' and he replies 'Bell, my fish' - I don't even remember when we started that); his brother Zee - also 1999 - with the guitar (we'll get to the guitar, it's a big thing); their dad, whom we all call Papa Sanfur ('Grampa smurf' in Arabic); Mountain (I think we met around 2009), ever calm and solid and gentle, with his flute; Tzur (2002), the strongest memory I possess of whom is him kindly reminding me not to fall asleep in the scorching sun at that mythological LARP theatre thing we did in the Akko festival, 60 LARPers living in a tent commune on a wall for four days of absolute bliss; my own gem of a husband (2006, Warcraft), O (2009) who said he'd kick me out of the house to socialize, kicking and screaming if he has to; Then the two who made my heart sing the most - Lector Knight, whom I met when he was 16 at 1994 and we were besties for a few years, and boy is it weird seeing him 38 years old (but when we hug the skin of his neck smells the same as ever) - and of course Shmoopie (1999), whom I wish I had another codename for because using this one is tugging at memories of the turbulent love we shared for a year or three, and we pretty much didn't speak since, but he sat there grinning and sprinkled anecdotes from our past as if to say 'there's parts of you only I know', and he laughed his loud, roaring laughter and it felt like sunshine.

That's eight people who make me feel loved, and appreciated, all gathered in one room. I haven't seen most of them for over a year, or over twelve; but I walk in and hug each in turn, and then the guitar is out and Zee and Lector are playing, and Shmoopie and Tee and I are singing, and it's all Beatles and Papa knows all the lyrics and joins in with his beautiful baritone, and I suddenly get it: that feeling of community, a real life, genuine thing, not online; friendships long and tested, surface adoration but ever the sense that this is real. And genuine. And safe. I am welcome here.

And I stopped being social at 2011. And I tried to get out - that LARP last November - and it didn't feel nice; but tonight did, and I want more of that. So I think I'll try.

And Mountain is leaving; We agreed it hardly matters, as we meet once every four months anyway - and he'll be visiting Israel just as often - but somehow, though it was his farewell party, I feel as if I was the one given a gift. And I'm grateful.


Sunday, 19 February 2017

Re-dressing the house, cintiq and more

Miracle trainer said to 'get out of the bummer zone' and I couldn't so I'm changing the house to make it give a different feel. The new furniture are here - two desks, drawers, a new sofa - and now I'm just waiting for the handyman to come and demolish the built-in plaster desk I had made eight years ago.

In the meantime, both husband's work station and mine are on the same small desk in the middle of the living room, the whole place so full of messy wires that it looks... well, pretty much like you'd imagine a gamer teen's room, sans action figures. It's nice to be able to see husband's face right across from me, or to find his foot in my lap, but the mess around the house distresses me and I can't do anything useful. I'm just waiting for the mess part to be over; hopefully, in two days. Demolishing and fixing the wall tomorrow, then a fresh coat of paint - then placing furniture in place, installing the cintiq with the ergo arm (which was badly installed twice already, dammit, and it's part of the reason I don't paint) - then screwing wheels to two bits of wood to make trollies for the computers, and then, hopefully, the living room will look much nicer and tidier.

My parents moved more than ten times before I was fifteen. I'm so used to packing and changing the place I live in; I've never been eight full years in the same place, until now. And on the one hand, I love it; the stability. On the other, I find that I hoard junk because there's no yearly packing-unpacking, that awesome part where you toss away all the stuff you don't really need; and I loath hoarding.

So this will be nice. Just... push through this mess-in-the-living-room part. I can't wait.

I also, I'm surprised to find out, eager to be able to paint again. Part of it was the bad feeling connected to acquiring the cintiq; the other part is just the discomfort involved with moving it around the desk, and hopefully now this will be solved. I haven't had much urge to paint this year, and I had Blender to keep me occupied and more, but now I have a couple of images from The Secret World I want to paint - if only to thank Lucky for walking hand in hand with me during a month of bummer - and I can't bring The Secret World models into Blender. I'm actually thinking some mixed medium technique could be great - using wow models in Blender for pose reference, for example - but that will have to wait until the cintiq is up again; right now it's lying face down in my bedroom, and I give it a baleful look every time I pass it.

I really hope the bummer is over. It will be spring soon, and there's so much fun coming - a tidy house and a guild expedition, sunshine and walks outside, roleplaying with cool new people.

The whole guild drama bummer lasted one week. Two people left, politely but with an aura of unpleasantness that brought both husband, Lucky and me down. But it took only a week to find more than enough people we're happy to try playing with; and frankly, the guild's build has been a thorn in my side for a while. They're all excellent roleplayers and cool people, but the characters were very passive, so passive that Lucky and I had to change our introvert, quiet, shy characters just to move the plot along; the guild being very small by choice made it so that no interesting character dynamic was generated, and even in times of great plot action, things felt a little stale. So bummer or not, this is a good thing; hurt ego and 'this is unfair' or not, it's better to be hoping that new people will bring better dynamics than to compromise for a guild you don't enjoy. And really, the people were all so nice; you can't kick them on account of not contributing what the guild needs. Now that they left, there's hope things will be nicer.

And I opened commissions again; after the animation bootcamp, doing a single image feels like vacation, even if it has particle hair and stuff. And I really kind of need to replenish my paypal, after those 200$ spent on rendering the clip.

I'm itching to make animation, but not something as long as the clip, and I can't come up with any good idea for a 10 second long animation. In the meantime, I got to itch the scratch a bit by teaching a friend to animate today, which was nice. I wish I could bring myself to taking erotic commissions - there would certainly be plenty of them, and they're quite short and much simpler to make - but I just can't. Even the sweet romance images of my own character cuddling with her guy made me cringe, and throwing actual genital anatomy there - criiiiiiiinge. No. I'll leave that to people who feel comfortable with it.

So much to look for! God damn it, come already, tomorrow! I want to do cool stuff!