Wednesday, 24 May 2017

From Diamonds to Real Stuff

Today I woke up on the down side of the mood curve. I lay in bed with my eyes closed and thought - I shouldn't remain in bed and read, even though it feels like there's little out there to get out of bed for; I should get up and force myself out.

(There's nothing wrong with my life. There's nothing wrong with me, or mine, or my health; I don't know why I was feeling down).

But then daddy called. "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" was on the radio, he said, "and I thought of you. And thank you for all the effort you put into my birthday, it was wonderful; I have the card you attached to your present right here on the table and it makes me smile."

And just like that, the day became awesome.


I hopped out of bed and went to work on my Blender commissions and was so engaged I forgot to eat all day; Then I finally did the thorough checking of those classes Noogie linked me to and spent a gross amount of money on purchasing twenty (twenty!) classes; then I skipped going to jam with the gang because I was too deep in work and enjoying it and there will be another jam next week, which is closer to my birthday and I thought I'd come over with a cake and not tell them, but it will be my secret birthday party doing what I love best, singing with Zivsky and the gang and the guitar; and then - well. Then I got an offer to make graphics for someone. For real money. Not another Warcraft player, but an actual grown up who saw my little amateur Blender things and thought to hire me for this project.

Me. For someone real. My tiny fun (and also fan) art caught someone's eye. I can't believe it.

So... it was a very good day. 
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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Artifact research: The Bayonet


Daddy's birthday was two days ago, but we'll be celebrating at the weekend. Finding perfect presents is always hard, and rarely conforms to the calendar - so usually we settle for 'I'll get you something perfect when I find it', but this year I really wanted to make a fuss over his birthday; perhaps to express the love, perhaps because I really yearn to see him happy.

Background: A couple of months ago I randomly entered one of them 60s type shops for cleaning agents, where you feel as if you'll be shot upon entry, and all the walls are covered with bottles and dust, and the owner guy knows more about chlorine than he does about humans. But I gasped and pointed at something on the wall, and he said 'yeah, I collect them', and we had a lovely talk about knives and world wars weapons, because my daddy collects those too.

Long story short: I went back to that shop today and asked the guy if he'll sell me that bayonet, right there at the bottom, under the three swords and the four antique pistols.

Now, the guy - Dimitri - in in his early fifties, and he collects those with true passion shared by none in his family, and alien though the Russian mentality is to me, we bridged it by being excited about the same thing. So I explained: Dad, birthday, I'll understand if you're not selling, but if you'd be willing to consider, I'd love to pay you what you think is fair.

I came back home all giddy, because I think dad would love this a lot; then there was the research to do.

So Dimitri told me that it's a WWI bayonet, which was a good start. Luckily, it had quite a lot of detail on it to help me proceed.


"F.G.G.Y." was the best lead, and it turns out to be the manufacturer: A Hungarian company located in Budapest, which at the time made bayonets for the Royal Hungarian Army. Those bayonets were typically attached to Steyr Mannilcher rifles, commonly used by the Austro-Hungarian army during WWI.

Some googling gave me a variety of bayonets used in that era, and I compared hilts, scabbards, emblems, sheath-shapes and even rivets to finally find what the bayonet I have is. The emblem on the other side of the hilt's base required a magnifying glass, and turned out to be a one-headed eagle. The one head is a dating jackpot; it means this bayonet was made between 1918-1934, because after that - at 1934-1938 - the emblem used had two heads. Bingo.

The number on the clasp is what I couldn't nail - it's 1568.X., and as far as I got it, it represents who this was made for; but I don't know which one this represents. What I do know, by checking the  rivets on the cross-guard, is that this bayonet was re-purposed for use in WWII (how cool is that?) - because the larger rivets were only used years after WWI, when the guard was starting to fall off due to the original riveting being too small to withstand time.

But I do know that it wasn't used in the 60s - because the bayonets that the Bulgarian army re-purposed were marked with an electro-pencil serial number on the cross-guard, which this one wasn't - which makes it less common.

So now I have a bit of history to go with the gift, and I think I can only top it off by asking Dimitri where he got it and try to track it back. Still, fun! I did proper artifact research!

Monday, 8 May 2017

Good deeds go punished, and a bit of Blender

Yesterday I tried to call someone who suffers physical pain like I used to, wishing to tell them I learnt of a way that could ease that. Seeing as said way involves weight loss as a nice, effortless side effect, the person accused me with 'how dare you think I'm not happy with the way I look' and - amazingly enough - that I was trying to sell something. Faith in the human race: plummeting. Astonishment at how an act of pure caring and kindness could be shot down with accusations before I manage to speak two sentences: sky-high.

Since when did offering possible solutions become something which is not good? Something that means you deserve to be called horrible names? I swear there's no more, no subtext; I called, I said 'hey, this helped me, I'd like to tell -' and was shot down with yelling and aggression befitting a - I don't even know what. It didn't feel very sane.

And as usual there's nothing I can do about it, because people who scream at you 'you are a Nazi' when you say 'hello' aren't people I understand, or changing whose minds is cost effective - it's like trying to pour constant care and walk on eggshells and be soft and understanding and containing - and it's a black hole. It never ends. What can you do against someone who decides what you did and meant, before you even got to speak? And then acts on it, aggressively and unfairly and very hurtfully? Imagine you said 'good morning!' to someone, and their reaction was 'how DARE you insult my career?! You selfish, blind, opportunist pig!'. That's pretty much what happened to me yesterday.

So it will take me a couple of days to bob up to the surface again. At least I know said person is dead weight - aka the kind of person you can let go of, and I did. It is relieving; I just wish I could process all those feelings of hurt and unfairness and anger at them, but there's no point.

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But hey, on to nicer things. I've opened commissions for really cheap because I want an excuse to practice Blender, and this one commission - oh, boy. Did it challenge me or what. Test render incoming, 'cause it's not done yet.


To begin with, the description was... well, I don't know. They just say 'here's my char, they're standing in a cool place, looking cool, and their expression is cool'. I get that that's what people want, but it's very hard to make an interesting image with that; even an interesting portrait. So that was hard, but I think the camera angle and lighting might have made it less of an informative portrait and a tiny bit more closer to something with a story. A very tiny bit.

But I started working on this one at nine in the morning, and by four I was still on it - and you could think - dude, there's not even a background, the fuck took you so long - so what took me so long was the blood armour, because it's got bits in it which weren't easily accessible in Wow Model Viewer, and required some very serious digging; then what I found wasn't textured right, so I sifted through many textures to find the right one, then it was all the wrong colours and then Wow Model Viewer went bonkers on me and I had to reinstall and had an hour of 'oh shit I need to remake all my models'.

But.

It was an awesome challenge, and I got through it because I'm stubborn, and it's been a while since I felt proud and accomplished at having managed to beat all the bumpers limited technology put in my way. And I'm all puffy-chested and giving it the finger now, because screw you, bitch, I managed to make what I wanted even if I had to go thrice unorthodox and out of the box thinking for it.

Also, particle hair still annoying, but immeasurably better since I got the gist.

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Must learn to not bother with venomous people. Must learn not to be so naive. Must learn that sometimes kindness will get you shat in the face because people are dicks (hello, lesson-plagiarizing bitch). And must learn to find an outlet; this really isn't good for my complexion.

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But now - the air condition finally made the house less hot, and my brain is starting to function again; and it's time for dinner, and games, and friends, and relaxing; I feel better.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

It's such a lovely day!

After over a week of struggling to rearrange the sleep cycle so I'm actually awake when there's daylight - and doing that involves a lot of coffee, a touch of sleeping pills and mainly being very tired and grumpy - last night I ended up going to bed at 17:30 and sleeping pretty much like a log until 08:00 this morning. All I remember is a chain of very immersive dreams, although fuck if I can tell what they were.

And now I'm well rested, and all wakeful and relaxed, for the first time in a while. And it's great to be up when there's sunshine; and the house is nice and clean, and there's fresh flowers, and we did some cool trick over the holiday - we're only two people in the household, after all; it occurred to me that having more than one plate, one set of cutlery and one glass for each of us serves no purpose but delaying dishwashing. So we packed everything aside from that, and now the sink is nice and empty even when all our dishes are in it. This makes me very happy.

What also makes me happy is reading Pratchett, which I haven't done in years. It's not very immersive, or serious, but it's always witty and entertaining and fun to read; a safe bet.

I spent the day working on a commission for some pirate character, which is perfectly timed since I watched Black Sails and felt like playing with that beautiful ship insides lighting. It was a fun challenge, and I'll gush over it once it's done and I can post it here.

There was some bumping into cooking this week (I'm a terrible, terrible cook) and I ended up making millet and having roasted aubergines and not knowing how to combine them - and here's the best part: I remembered how Srulu made me like aubergines, in 2002 - so I called him for tips. The food came out nicely, but the best part is, of course, the ease of being able to just call him and discuss cooking; him, the guy after messing with I ended up bonkers for two years, worst time of my life, yada yada. So normal. So nice.

The food was lovely too, and it always feels nice to have a healthy meal. That is - I have very little 'unhealthy' since the awesome diet of awesome started, but anything with less fat and more vegetables is a win in my book.

And last - there's this student who kind of knifed me in the back, over which I agonized quite a lot - but I researched ways of putting people on ignore on various platforms, and now this person is as good as nonexistent and much easier to forget about. I still wish them horrible digestion problems, though.

And I have just enough commissions and inspiration to keep me busy with Blender - which means there's never a dull moment, I always have something fun to do, some challenge to tackle. So much so that I don't really play much, either Warcraft or Lotro - but, hopefully, those aren't going anywhere.

And now... to just wait for this render to finish.
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Monday, 1 May 2017

Spring!

Spring in Israel is painfully short, but it's by far my favourite season. It's as if the hunter-gatherer animal that humans were a couple of million years ago rears its head, going 'omg! omg! look! there's, like, flowers! and sunshine! and ooh, birds, look, look! and the air feels so nice on your skin! and oooooh, breeze! omg, omg! must skip and jump and breathe and smell and glee!'.

My mood automatically lifts in spring, and it's stretching out after the winter's hibernation. I want to open all the windows and go on a crazy spree of throwing away half the stuff in the house, and vacuum my skin or something, and wash everything with fresh clean water. Of course, opening the windows also means flies and cockroaches, and a mere glimpse at the amount of junk I've accumulated over the years is enough to dishearten me from started my dream spring cleaning, but the urge is certainly there.

And because I'm lucky, this spring (or right now at least) I'm also all creativity; and it feels great to sit here, in my spring-sun lit room, with fresh roses in the vase and sweet oranges winking at me from the kitchen, and do my Blendering and listen to music and feel happy and relaxed and alive; Now I just have to find the courage to storm the toss-junk-away project and make this spring into something more tangible than breath and words.
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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.
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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.

Magic.
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