Notes

A wild tit appears

Dear diary,

A great tit flew into our house today. It probably landed on the sill below our bedroom window and found itself on the wrong side of the glass when trying to leave. Maybe it followed a tasty insect inside, or maybe it was a juvenile, too young to have learned that houses are scary places.

In any case, it came crashing through the living room while I was playing with our 7-month old. I rushed to get the veranda door open, while it fluttered from a curtain to the sofa to a hanging lamp cord. Door finally open, it chose a potted cactus on top of a cabinet as the perfect spot for an emergency landing and a bit of a poo.

Great tit (Parus major) perched on a potted cactus indoors.

Silly bird.

I suspect tits are unfamiliar with cacti, but it showed a remarkable ability to avoid impaling itself, even in a panic. By now the bird was exhausted, so I gently lifted the cactus outside, took a quick bird portrait, and left it alone. It sat there for a while, petrified, but by the third time I peeked outside it was gone.

Closeup of great tit (Parus major) perched on a cactus branch.

One stressed out Parus.

Stay safe, little great tit.


Flower modeling

Trying to make some simple flowers in Cinema 4D, thought I’d try something new. I’m experimenting with a hand-drawn look.

Peeking at a reference image, I drew some flower parts in Procreate.

Hand drawn texture map, diagram layout of flower parts.

After turning the drawing into a texture map, I could make a simple 3D model and UV map everything into place.

Screenshot from 3D modeling software showing a wireframe model of a flower, next to the rendered image with hand drawn texture maps.

Success!

Animated GIF: spinning turntable animation of textured flower model.

Fourteen Foot Bank Lighthouse

Fourteen foot bank lighthouse, Delaware USA

Fourteen Foot Bank Lighthouse, Delaware (Photo by James Hatcher, CC BY-NC-ND)

Stumbled upon a picture of this wonderful building in an old book. It‘s called the Fourteen Foot Bank Lighthouse and sits in the Delaware Bay. Lighthouses are usually pretty fascinating, but there‘s something special about a house just sitting on a pillar out in the ocean.

Some interesting stories from the link above:

James C. Jones was appointed the first head keeper of the lighthouse and served in this capacity until his passing in 1895. In June 1911, Assistant Keeper Lewis F. Robinson committed suicide at Fourteen Foot Bank by drinking carbolic acid. His companion at the lighthouse heard Robinson cry for help after downing the liquid, but all he could do was watch Robinson die in agony, after expressing remorse for his act. The previous December, Keeper Robinson broke his ankle at the lighthouse and had to wait two weeks before being able to get off the station and receive medical attention. A newspaper article reporting his death conjectured that “the sufferings he endured while ill affected his mind and that led him to commit the rash deed.”

Fourteen Foot Bank was the first assignment in the lengthy career of Chester P. Joseph. During the winter of 1917-1918, Keeper Joseph was stranded at the station for three straight months, as heavy ice floes prevented any relief from reaching the lighthouse. Joseph and the other marooned keeper busied themselves with every conceivable task, but life soon became monotonous. The ice fields that occasionally banged against the foundation did provide some excitement, as they would cause any unsecured item on a table or countertop to slowly migrate to the edge and fall off. After the ordeal, Joseph confessed, “I don’t believe I ever was as tired looking at one person in my life.”

On November 15, 1931, a party of three female high school teachers and five young men from Millville, New Jersey became lost in their motorboat during a thick fog. After exhausting their supply of food and water and nearly their fuel, the group made it to Fourteen Foot Bank Lighthouse the following day by following the sound of its foghorn and was welcomed aboard by its keepers. An intensive search for the missing boat had been launched by the Coast Guard, but it wasn’t until a relief keeper was brought to the station on November 17, that news of the group’s whereabouts made it to shore. Later on the 17th, a Coast Guard vessel took the group off the lighthouse, and with their motorboat in tow, returned them to Millville.


Link dump special: Signs and storefronts reference

Hitting tumblr in search of storefront reference images. Here are a few good ones:

Also, Colossal has featured some great illustrators drawing Korean and Japanese storefronts:


GitHub Mania

Mentioned earlier that “I can track my mental health by looking at the frequency of GitHub commits”, here‘s how that looks:

Screenshot of GitHub activity

The first half of 2018 stands out because that‘s when I worked with my diploma project, but the other activity is more or less hypomanic fixating on this website.



I;m thinking about thos Notes

Still trying to figure out the ideal personal knowledge base, and trying to migrate years of bookmarks from pinboard.in over to this page in a way that makes sense. I already implemented bookmarks, but it’s different. Right now they are meant as hooks to hang quotes and notes on, while the pinboard links feel more throw-away; many are to handy resources or single images or whatever, pages that encourage neither quoting or noting.

I’m using link dumps as one way of porting them, even trying to sort some by theme. Was just trying to do one about color, but it turned out there wasn’t really enough links to make a whole thing out of it, so the philosophy of digital gardening kicked in: “this can be the starting point, to which I can add more color-related links later!”

But a note doesn’t seem like the right vehicle for that kind of thing; a note should be it’s own, self-contained item. Notes should be categorized, not house categories. So I started thinking: “Maybe I can add a document type for collecting items with a similar theme...”, but wait! I already have that: my catalog of tags.

I keep running into the same problem of balance: automated collections miss a certain personal touch, while curating collections gets too involved.

The beauty of Sanity.io is that almost everything is a document, and documents can contain whatever. So it finally dawned on me: my tags already have several fields for metadata, there’s nothing stopping me from expanding them with optional fields for curation of content.

TODO, then: Add optional rich content fields to tags for adding general descriptions and featuring items. Maybe some kind of page to cater for certain tag combos would be handy, too?





The Marcinelle school

This splendid cover by Maurice Tillieux caught my attention this morning. I admire that drawing style a lot, but had never really heard of Tillieux before, so I started wondering why the styles of so many Belgian cartoonists are so similar, did they all go to the same art school or something? (And do they offer classes? 🙏)

Some quick googling led me to The Marcinelle School (as in “school of thought”, not “a place to study”), named after the site of the Dupuis printing firm who published Le Journal de Spirou. The Comics Journal has written a great piece about The Belgians Who Changed Comics, including magazine rivalry and where this style comes from:

The team's cartooning technique – partly inherited but soon individualised – was an animated, breezy, ultra-modern one. Eventually, it became known as 'le style atome'. This moniker derived from the 1958 Brussels World's Fair, whose signature was a sculpture called 'the Atomium'. An outsized icon of Populuxe design, this seemed to match the sparky visual spirit of post-War Spirou. Certainly it paralleled the artists' angular shapes, their streamlined drawings and a use of bright, sharp colours. Graphically much brasher than Hergé's ligne claire, le style atome gave a nod to '50s and '60s US culture. It featured rounder speech bubbles instead of rectangles and privileged short, spunky dialogue over declamations.

[...]

Spirou's energetic art is now known as "the Marcinelle school" or "the school of Charleroi". Both terms refer to the site of the Dupuis' printing firm. But those artists who worked with Jijé had a different name for it. They called the work gros nez – or "big nose" – comedy.

The flipside of Marcinelle art was found in the pages of Tintin. A vehicle for Hergé's hero, this weekly was the laboratory of a rival "Brussels' school". Just as Marcinelle art reflected Jijé’s temperament, the Tintin employees operated in Hergé's shadow. Their highly polished work was required to resemble his and, in their atelier, an artist wore his suit and tie. He would labour to produce pristine pages, with refined lines underscored by un-shaded colour.

It also has this quote about Franquin’s amazing line style:

Inside the frames, everything is concrete, everything is charged with the energy of the line. The speech bubbles, the paper lying around on the floor, the exclamation points…nothing can be inanimate; everything has to come alive. Fantasio's anger is more than simply buggy eyes, dishevelled hair and a wide, gaping mouth. It's also puffs of cloud around him, lines that tremble like forceful cries and the tail of a speech balloon turned into a zigzag of lightning. There are so many graphic incarnations of the intangible, of invisible and interior moods… it makes metaphysical anguish absolutely palpable.

Check out the linework in these old, felt-cled postcards!


More cloud spotting

Such a dramatic sky today (March 6th, 2021), had to snap some pictures out of the car window.

Turbulent clouds over Modum, Norway

What causes those flowing, sharp edges? Is it some kind of lenticular variety? It's been pretty windy, I bet it has something to do with turbulence, at least.

Turbulent clouds over Modum, Norway

Link dump #03


Link dump #02

Daft Punk’s Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger covered by Scary Pockets

Making comics is self-indulgent! When it’s good I feel like I’m playing with all my toys on one of those children’s rugs with the roads and buildings on them.


Mike Shea-Wright’s Cartoonist’s Diary

These diary comics by Mike Shea-Wright are perfect, I wish there were more. Great writing, style and format.

Liked this aside about working with pen and paper vs. digitally:

I don’t mind drawing with digital tools, but I have no idea how they work so there’s a distance between me and the drawing.

With ink pens there’s a direct connection to the page, and knowing how tools work makes drawing with them an intimate experience.

Initially thought: “but Mike, drawing on the iPad can be just as intimate”. Then I read it again and got the point⁠—it’s not about digital vs. ink, but about your relationship with your tools. For me, Procreate emulates pens and pencils better than anything else I’ve tried (and digital paint is so much more convenient than messy, real paint), which makes the intimacy carry over somewhat, I guess.

There can also be a lot of fun in trying new tools, or making the most of something you don’t know well (John Lennon: “I’m an artist, and if you give me a tuba, I’ll bring you something out of it.”), but it’s like the difference between meeting someone new and interesting, and having a conversation (or a row!) with an old friend.


Link dump #01


Fun facts about the European hornet

Had several visits from European hornets this summer. Since knowing stuff about scary things tend to make them less so, here are a few fun facts about Vespa crabro:

  • Largest wasp in Europe (length varies from 18mm to 35mm). Not as aggressive as our regular wasps (Norwegian wasps, German wasps, and yellowjackets), but the sting is said to be more painful. Cruising speed of 20–24 km/h (≈ 12–15 mph), faster when it’s hunting.
  • Was observed in Norway in 2007 for the first time since 1911, huzzah!
  • Europeans are the biggest threat to the European hornets, destroying their nests because they’re scary and chopping down their habitats for fun and profit. The hornets have enjoyed legal protection in Germany since 1987, where swatting (and killing) a European hornet can net you a fine of up to €50,000.
  • Laughs at spiders and their webs, even steals their prey (phenomenon known as kleptoparasitism).
  • The common hedgehog is immune to the poison and will gladly raid a hornet nest, though they’re usually built in places hedgehogs can’t reach.
  • Insect-eating birds leave the European hornets alone, except the European bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) who remove stingers and squeeze out the venom before they eat. Clever birds!
  • We don’t have bee-eaters in Norway.


Ant etymology rabbit hole

Was admiring the word myrmecology (the study of ants), and got curious about its similarity to the Swedish word for ant, myra, and the Norwegian variant maur.

Started wondering about the word ant, since it’s so different. As far as I can tell, it’s an orally eroded version of the synonym emmet from the Old English ǣmete, related to the German Ameise. Myrmecology, like most “studies of”, comes from Greek, in this case múrmēx (ant).

Looked up the etymology for maur as well: the Scandinavian names come from the Old Norse maurr, so it looks like the relation to myrmecology is either coincidental or goes back to Indo-European.

Trying to make sense of an online Indo-European dictionary, the closest I got was:

Root / lemma: mai-1

English meaning: to cut down, work with a sharp instrument

[...]

2. d-extension: got. maitan `hew, hit, cut, clip', [...] ahd. mīza `Milbe' (probably to gr. μίδας `Made'), perhaps also ags. ǣ-mette, engl. ant, emmet, ahd. ā-meiza `Ameise'

So... looks to me like there’s some kind of link between King Midas (μίδας) and the word ‘ant’, but damned if I can find the link to “myrmecology”.

As a consolation prize, I’ll settle for finding out there’s a Midas ant (Myrmecia midas) living in Australia.


Adventure game graphics

Loving these comparisons between EGA and VGA graphics in the early LucasArts adventure games. Great compilation job by Superrune! The LucasArts games are still some of my all-time favorites, a lot of nostalgia here.

Amazing how much they got out of the limited EGA palette, in a lot of cases the backgrounds look better than the VGA versions. Also interesting how the artists got infatuated with a new gradient tool in Deluxe Paint, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade looks awful in places.

See also Jimmy Maher's excellent write-ups on:

(I think it's about time I played Loom, still haven't)