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The standard version and the bonus round, which is what you get when I disappear the base colors layer.

To be honest, I like the bonus version better. C'est la vie.


Don't Get Et colored
by *Bluesrat on deviantART


Don't Get Et bonus round
by *Bluesrat on deviantART
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I HATES THEM. On my way to work this morning I had to dodge a barrage of nasty little buggers dangling from trees and trying to swing into my face. BLARGH. There are very few things in this world that I truly loathe, especially among things that're counted among the living (even though window wasps must die due to a critical incompatibility of lifestyles), but if all the gypsy moths would just up and die, I would not be displeased.

In other news, gosh & golly I'm stupid today! It's not unusual for me to forget to do things...but today I'm forgetting that I did do things. I ran around in panicked circles because I needed my insurance card for my car inspection! Only to discover I'd sensibly put it in the glove box a few weeks ago. Then when I got to work, I realized I was out of tea, so I quickly called my roommate to ask her to bring it in to work with her. But she couldn't find it, so I gave my bag another check and discovered I'd brought it after all. Knowing me far too well, she just sighed at me.

*sigh* And apparently my car will cost me a further $460 of repairs needed for my inspection to be approved. I'm going to try not to think about how much money I've put into my car this year so far.

To aid me in that, I give you...art!

Kedrihm'Val--the last of my steampunk Star Wars: my character, the primitive Force Adept. He gets to be the stereotypical mystical savage that the civilized types have stuffed into appropriate clothing. :) What? There's always one in the stories!

Honestly, I'm so glad I did the steampunk Star Wars stuff. It was a lot of fun--highly amusing to those of us who actually play in that game--and I got a big kick out of how well the characters conform to the archetypes we're familiar with from Victorian literature. Well, neo-Victorian, really. But still, it was a good time.

Dr. Tillingtast bust--I've done a lot of stark lineart lately of the sort meant for coloring, so I felt the urge to do something a bit more pencilicious. A portrait of a fictional character, Dr. Tillingtast the evil Son of Ether.

Costuming practice--I see some artists who have an absolutely amazing facility with outfits for their characters. Comparatively, mine tend to come off as pretty bland. Well, if I want to get better, the only thing to do is practice practice practice! Also, I'm kind of pleased with her face as I have a habit of making my characters rather boringly Caucasian and that's definitely a rut I want to get out of. Why bury myself in a narrow range of facial features and skin tones when there are so many more possibilities out there?
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Ether: the fabric softener of the universe? I love it when Mad gets into our Science. :D

From National Geographic:

Dark Matter's Rival: Ether Theory Challenges "Invisible Mass"
Elizabeth Svoboda
for National Geographic News
September 8, 2006

Late last month scientists working at NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory announced that they had found proof of dark matter, the theoretical substance believed to make up more than a quarter of the universe.

But Glenn Starkman, a cosmologist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, is hitting back with a blast from the past. He argues that dark matter might not exist and that the long-discredited substance known as ether is actually what influences gravity in the cosmos.

Dark matter is the prevailing scientific explanation for a puzzling phenomenon: Galaxies behave as if they contain much more mass than is visible to astronomers (see a computer simulation of dark matter). According to theory, dark matter is the invisible mass that accounts for this behavior, and the undetectable substance makes up five times more of the universe than the matter we can see.

Starkman's controversial counterproposal is that the presence of ether in the universe better explains the galaxies' behavior. His theories were recently reported in the August 26 issue of New Scientist magazine. "Galaxies spin faster than they should, given the amount of matter we see in them. The possibility we've gone with for a long time is that there's some unaccounted-for mass generating that extra gravity," Starkman said. "But the other possibility is that the amount of mass we see generates more gravity than we thought. That's where ether comes in."

Ether Wind

The term "ether" is derived from Aether, the ancient Greek god of the upper sky and the personification of space and heaven.

The scientific concept of ether—a background medium that pervades the universe—has been around for hundreds of years. Scientists once believed that ether was the substance that allows light to move through the universe, just as sound needs air or water to propagate. Earth's motion through the ether, some physicists thought, would create a type of wind that bends light waves the same way that wind in the atmosphere bends sound waves.

But the theory was largely abandoned after an 1887 experiment by physicists Albert Michelson and Edward Morley. Dubbed "the most famous failed experiment," the test was meant to gather data on the effects of this so-called ether wind. But the experiment showed that light propagation was not affected, suggesting ether wind did not exist.

Later, Einstein based his theory of special relativity on the idea that light can move through an ether-free vacuum.

Starkman's conception of ether, however, is very different from the outmoded 19th-century one—he thinks that ether affects the pull of gravity, not the movement of light waves. "With traditional gravitational models, you have a rubber sheet that curves wherever there's a large mass on it," he said. In Starkman's theory of how ether works, "when ether is around, the rubber sheet gets softer. So when you put a large mass on the sheet, the effect of the mass goes out further."

Starkman's initial calculations show that ether's localized effects on gravity would account for the high velocities of galactic stars. The next phase in his research will be to perform more detailed calculations to make sure his ether theory matches up with empirical evidence, such as the motion of planets within the solar system. "It's important to do these experiments, because either we'll be able to rule dark matter out or we'll increase our confidence in it. At this point I don't think we can rule out either of the two [competing] theories," he said.

Challenging Einstein

Several high-profile theoretical physicists have lined up to support Starkman's theory, including Jacob Bekenstein, theoretical physics professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, and Andreas Albrecht, cosmologist and physics professor at the University of California, Davis.

Still, Starkman acknowledges that his theory is in its infancy and may not stand up to rigorous testing. "We're offering an alternative to the dark matter theory—we're not saying it's wrong. If I had to bet today on which of these theories was correct, I might bet on dark matter."

Meanwhile, many other experts are sitting on the fence. Michael Turner, an astrophysicist at the University of Chicago in Illinois, is intrigued by Starkman's theory, but he hesitates to accept it wholesale due to its troubling implications. For example, the presence of ether would create holes in Einstein's theories of relativity, the widely accepted explanations for how light moves and gravity works (read an excerpt and see images from "Einstein and Beyond" in National Geographic magazine). "It's early to tell whether this [ether] theory will really pass through the gate," Turner said. "When you change the theory of gravity, you could cause lots of problems elsewhere. It's an interesting Plan B, but we already have a pretty good Plan A."
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Courtesy of the Onion: "Department of Evil: All of you must die."

In other news, got my new Wacom tablet! It is pure love. And I totally wussed out on Linux. Perhaps another time. Probably in a year or so, when the next upgrade for functional software requires me to install Vista.

Also, drew this for [livejournal.com profile] sandchigger Friday afternoon. I needed something to ease the narcoleptic pain of work.



Cheers!
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Was a great weekend!

I spent Saturday with my dad, who I think I might've mentioned finally realized that he lives right by the river. A river with fish in it.

Guess who likes to fish? We do! We do!

I'm very excited. This might seem strange, to be excited about something that is, frankly, frequently so boring, but the thing is that fishing is how I've traditionally spent quality time with the men in my life. I fished with Grandpa all the time, I fish with friends. I haven't fished with Dad since I was about knee-high to a grasshopper (some might say I still am; to such individuals, I say "Nyah!"). So to me, this is significant.

Also, Dad is a spectacular cook, and the Susquehanna's got some damn good eating-fish. I will clean and cook what I kill, and it shall be tasty!

I already have one, but he got me another pole--lovely thing, open reel, nice and flexible, just the right size for me. He helped me restring my current rod, which definitely needed it. He taught me how to use a lathe, since he has one in his basement. Dad's a shop fanatic; love to tinker, especially when it comes to making things multipurpose. And then we hung out and jawed about computer software. Speaking of which, I have a couple of recommendations for you lot:

PDF xChange--the first downloadable on the page--is a PDF viewer a la Adobe Reader. What it is, however, is smaller and far more polite than Adobe. Remove that bloated, invasive monstrosity from your hard drive and use this instead. It's something like 7 MB, and delightfully fast. Reminiscent of Acrobat Reader back in the old days.

Cheetah is a bit of disc-burning sweetness. If you're familiar with Nero Burning Rom, it works a great deal like that--except that Cheetah is about 7 MB, doesn't get in its own way when burning, and costs $75 less.

On Sunday, I got to see my best friend, her mom, and her little boy. He's a sweet little baby. I like children, but I sometimes find them intimidating. What if I drop them? What if I upset them? What if they barf on me? Jonathan, however, takes much of the work out of it. Here, Friends, have a picture. )

In the last few days, I've also gotten several pictures done. I laid off the art for a couple of months, there. I suppose I needed to recharge or something, because I didn't feel like drawing anything. But now, aside from the kung-fu Eshu, which I exhibited in a previous post, we've got:

Sonya Berzin, Shadow Lord -- first time I've ever drawn a werewolf all wolfed-out. I'm pretty happy with it for a first try, but it doesn't seem very ferocious.

Sonya, sort of colored -- I envisioned her as a glaring-eyed, black-furred monster. That bit was easy, but then I had to do *something* with her human form because it looked pretty stupid just sitting there as lineart with the rest of the picture all dark and brooding. I got lazy, sue me. :) But I do like how the spirit-bird came out.

Dr. Ambrose Quintrell, Son of Eather -- I wanted to draw this guy because about half the time he looks like a dapper, well-mannered professor, and the other half he's a wild-eyed loon dressed like Indiana Jones if he'd been to visit the Matrix recently. I don't feel I gave him enough weird gear. Perhaps next time...

Doc the Warforged -- And that which I am, perhaps, most proud of: my first art commission! Just recently, I've begun feeling confident enough to start taking a couple of offers. I don't know Eberron, but I'm told Warforged are a sort of sentient golem. The pictures I've seen of them don't look much like this, but the commissioner wanted a fresh, uninfluenced take. I suppose that taken objectively, he's not all that impressive (he will be getting some color later on), but I'm getting paid for it!

Speaking of which: Glacialis, I have not forgotten. I've been working on designs and poses!
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Begging your pardons, my dears.  If you come to my blog and notice that it's funny-looking, it's because I'm trying to build a template I actually like.

The knee is well.  These physical therapy exercises kick butt.  I've noticed that my posture is improved and my legs feel springier and lighter when I walk.

Also, art: She's a hsien. I'm planning to color her at some point.
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The link: Forum-based NWoD game

The specs:

"Hello!

As you, hopefully, could guess from the topic, I am looking for one particular character to add to a forum based game.

The character:
- 18 years of age
- Female
- 1st year college student
- Heavily in the Goth thing
- Has a PC boyfriend
- Mortal

The position suits anyone wanting to play and willing to read background material, no experience in nWoD required.

I could also use someone who could advice me on the Goth scene. I have very little clue how things really are as I would not fit in in person."

Halla's a great GM and a delightful person. She is kind and thoughtful, always willing to listen or answer questions. She's quiet, which throws some people off, but she is truly very easy to talk to. And, of course, she tells a mean story!

Anyone on my f-list who's interested is welcome to speak up. You don't need to fit the same stats as the character; that's why it's roleplaying!

Rose, you were the first person who came to my mind, but I'm not sure whether you're still interested in online RP. This might be different from the ones you've participated in, however, if you've done the more informal LJ RPGs and suchlike. It's more like...well, a real roleplaying game. :)
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I'm considering leading a movement to change the designation of Pluto from 'dwarf planet' to 'circumferentially challenged.' My laziness and need to get useful things accomplished is getting in the way of this, but I'm virtually certain that we could actually get that designation changed due to political correctness if we put our minds to it. That's both amusing and pathetic.

Here's a new piece of art by Ursula Vernon, which I'm particularly taken with. Look at the little guy! His beady eyes, his shifty look. It's so cute.

Speaking of which, here's yet more art by me:

A traveller --character illustration for a friend's cleric.

Kasmira -- character illustration for a friend's Tzimisce. I posted this one before, actually, I think. I still intend to color her, but it's taking me a while to get around to that lately.

Paladin -- character illustration for my paladin (it's been more than 10 years since the last time I played a paladin). Okay, it's a bit funny-looking, but it'll look better once I've colored it. Eventually.

Young kuei-jin -- not a character illustration. I just felt like giving KoE some love.

In other news, I desperately need a new motherboard. Mine's not fried or anything, but it is ancient. I figure I've got about a year before I'm no longerable to lay hands on the kind of RAM it takes. So...any suggestions? I'm not interested in top-of-the-line stuff, just something sturdy, cost-effective, and reasonably contemporary, preferably under $100. Alternatively, you could give me some pointers on things to look for in a decent motherboard. I'm doing my own research (damn, but it's been a long time since I shopped for this stuff), but tips are always good.
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Do Dark Ages Tzimisce use Vicissitude? Because so far, I've got this, and I wonder if it needs altering...

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The effect/affect question.

Effect is a noun. "The effects of this are yet to be determined."
Affect, when used in the meaning that jives with 'effect,' is a verb. "The man was so affected by this that he had tears in his eyes."
Affect only becomes a noun when used in a TOTALLY different meaning--that is, demeanor or mien. "Her affect went from joy to fury in the blink of an eye."

"The man was so affected by this effect that his affect changed entirely."

Get it straight, people! (This public service announcement brought to you by numerous published texts that have embarrassed themselves.)

Origins was a blast! Some nifty seminars (I especially enjoyed the ones about superhero games), and some great games. I also learned how to fence. *cough cough* Okay, that's a bit grandiose. I learned the five basic parries and attacks, and the basic foot movements. But it was cool, just the same! I've been thinking for a while about joining the fencing club here...

The hotel room was beautiful. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza, and the staff were wonderful, the building was lovely, and everything went very smoothly. Well, other than problems with the elevators one evening. But I'm sure I needed to work off all that food anyway. :)

I got to meet [livejournal.com profile] jesshartley for the first time, and <"lj user="innocent_man"> again, both of whom are at least as awesome as you think they are. In fact, I got to meet them in a Promethean game run by Matt, woohoo! Gorgeous, gorgeous game. I owe them photos when I can finish that roll and get it developed.

I spent far too much money, picked up a number of books at terrific prices, and bought a beautiful gold Egyptian silk scarf, and was heartily entertained by a corset salesman who is certainly a pirate at heart (in the good way). I also got to see the 20 minute preview for the sequel to "The Gamers." God, it's going to be hilarious. Two hours long, undead turkeys, and more character death than you can shake a stick at. Monte Cook is in it, and so are the Wizards of the Coast headquarters.

Oh, oh! And speaking of movies, I got to see a big-screen showing of HP Lovecraft Historical Society's production of "Call of Cthulhu." It's done as an old-fashioned silent movie--crackling film and everything. It looked so good! The production values really were quality, and bits of it were (I'm betting quite intentionally) funny, such as the crotchety old white-maned archaeologist with the eyepatch. If you're interested, you can buy the movie on DVD for $20 from Cthulhu Lives!--the HPLHS website. Likewise can you acquire the hilarious and well-produced "Soggoth on the Roof" musical, written to the tunes of "Fiddler on the Roof." And I finally picked up a cooking apron--"Miskatonic University Culinary School." Har. Fear me.

I belatedly realized that the guy I sat around talking with all night long last year was none other than "Crazy Egor" himself. Okay, so it's not really incredible or anything, but it amused me. Crazy Egor has been a presence in RPGdom since the early days. It's the name of a dealership, actually--"Crazy Egor's Games Warehouse." The Crazy Egor guys have also supported and coordinate conventions and helped the industry along in many other ways. They're nice folks.

Also cool to talk to? Louis Zocchi. He runs GameScience, a dice-making company. What's notable about GameScience is that these are by far the best-made dice around. A long time ago, Mr. Zocchi began crunching numbers and playing engineer to come up with dice that were as perfectly balanced and truly random as he could manage. What's notable about Mr. Zocchi, and the point to my mentioning him, is that he's fun to talk to! He'll explain to anyone who asks what makes his dice special. He's so genuinely excited about it, even after all these years, that you can't help but be fascinated by talk of calculating angles, materials science and the best way to paint and polish dice. And along the way, he'll also show you magic tricks with a matchbox. He's just awesome.

I had a delicious meal at a Japanese steakhouse across the street from the Convention Center (appropriately named "The Japanese Steakhouse"). It's one of those where the table is built around the grill. The chef was very entertaining; he used his spatula to play hackeysack with a raw egg, and flipped shrimp tails into his coat pocket. Small parties get seated together at large tables, so I got to meet a fascinating older couple who'd been recently married (so cute!). They had great stories to tell; they've been all around the world. It's a pity, I think, that Americans are so privacy- and space-obsessed. In some other countries, strangers can be seated together at the same table, and it seems like a great way to meet a diverse array of people you might never think of hanging out with, otherwise.
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I finished this on Friday, but have been distracted and kept forgetting to post it.

Bloodsoaked art here.

Ironically, considering the title I've given this post (which was honestly not meant to be clever), this is all about despair. Not mine; I'm really doing fairly well, all things considered. And since I mention it, humongous hugs to all of you and a thousand thanks for your well-wishes.

The character in the picture, on the other hand, is kind of an angst-bomb. :) In fact, if I got it right (please, please, because I know some of you read Japanese and I may have just thoroughly embarrassed myself here), the kanji there should read "despair."

If I didn't get it right, I will love you forever if you provide me with the right symbols.
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WARNING: contents may be offensive to some readers, especially my European contingent, who may be quite close to the issue.

So, on DeviantArt, apparently there's been some stuff from people who believe the Holocaust didn't happen or something. A guy who goes by the handle "Jisuk" has created a petition to forbid such things on the site. I took a look at it, and then wrote this:

My 'Don't censor the Holocaust non-believers' letter. If that freaks you out, you're better off skipping the letter and reading my reasoning first. )
It shocked me that this was coming out even as I was writing it. And then I realized why: I'm so tired of people trying to censor things. As if it'll make any real difference. Just because they can't throw their hatred in your face, it fixes things? No. No, it doesn't. It just means that you aren't inconvenienced by hearing viewpoints that you don't like. Their hatred is still there, and they'll take it out on people just the same.

Refutation of the Holocaust is illegal in Austria, I know (and perhaps other countries; I'm not sure). And that's understandable; they're closer to it than we are. They've got the evidence sitting in their back yards, and there's a lot of very personal pain there. But...if there are people out there who really think this, that the Holocaust didn't happen or that black deserve to be treated as second-class citizens, or whatever other horrible hateful thing, how can we do anything about it if we don't engage their opinions? If we don't listen to what they have to say, however hurtful, and then answer them? Hell, it's not a fast process. As a culture, we're just finishing up with arguing about some things we've been debating since, oh, the 1950s. But what's the alternative? Commanding people to "think this way" and leave them to stew in silent resentment?

I've heard a lot of people say things like, "I was shocked to learn anyone denied it!" Well, they're out there. My roommate's boss thought the Holocaust must be a lie--not because she agreed with the Nazis, but just because it simply sounded so unreal to her. She didn't like to believe it. Friends and co-workers clued her in to a bunch of historical resources, and she has since changed her opinion. People like this can benefit from a free and open dialogue, and not just on this topic. We've got a lot of issues that could really use a good airing, so that people on all sides can pick up some education and come to a more informed decision. Maybe their opinions will change; maybe not. But it will help. But not if they're not allowed to talk about it.

Incidentally, if you do run into some of the idiots who believe the Holocaust didn't happen, here's a very good resource: The Holocaust History Project. (For White Wolf geeks, I believe I recall reading that they collaborated on Charnel Houses of Europe. Speaking of which, here's the link to the PDF of the first four pages of that, including the first picture, which you should see if you haven't yet.)
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ursulav: The Gospel of Judas: she's as funny in her LJ as she is in her art.

Speaking of art:

deviantART: Kedhrim'Val--a Star Wars character of mine.

deviantART: Cannibal Fairy Princess--drawn by request from my sister, who is thoroughly enjoying her 'recovering invalid' status. ;) Don't worry, I'm not spoiling her too much. I harass her frequently, to help her build strength and muscle. Heh.

deviantART: 18th Century Gentleman--Marc, this one is for you. Is it anything like what you were looking for? I screwed up on the coat a bit, I'm afraid, but if this looks like your Count, then I'll see if I can fix that and add in his waistcoat. If you want his hair (a wig, since you seemed to want period) or facial features changed, I can do that too, without too much trouble.  If you like this, then I think I may indeed color it.

I gave up on whatever he's fingering. I tried a few different things, and it just wasn't coming to me. )
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We have just been given a new project at work.  Some of you may be familiar with Highlights, the old childrens' literary magazine.  I'm not sure whether it's in print anymore, but when it ran, it was an adorable and very interesting magazine that really helped to promote creativity and interest in reading and the arts among kids.  I was subscribed to it, as were many kids I knew.

Well, that magazine was published not 100 miles from where I now sit, and the Education Library here at Penn State is now negotiating for the archives from it.  As part of the grant proposal, my department has been given seven folders of submissions archives to scan in and prepare as a sample of work.

This is so awesome.  And it's adorable!  Pages of cute stories and art from children hopeful of seeing their work in print.  Granted, they're a little older than I am in real life, but at the time they were just kids.  Heh, who knows?  Maybe I'll come across something I submitted, myself.

PS: artwork. What do you think: would the robe and halo look better in a different color?
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Well, I feel much better. My little mini-vacation was far too short (I looked out the window at one point and said, "Awww, it's dark already?"), but did me good nonetheless.

I realized one of the things that has been stressing me out. My father is retiring this summer. I'm very happy for him; he's one of those guys who never runs out of things he wants to do, and he's quite well-off, so once he retires he'll have the chance to do them. However, yesterday it occurred to me that I won't be able to rely on him for financial help anymore. See, I get paid crap at this job. I've stayed here, hoping they'd get around to upgrading our positions the way they keep saying they will, but it's pretty obvious at this point that it's not going to happen. I can get by most of the time on what I make here, but it's not enough for me to save up for those little emergencies in life. The freelancing has really been helping lately, but I can't rely on it, either, so long as I'm working a 40 hr/week job. It's too erratic; I don't have the time to take on big projects that'll pay well with any regularity.

I sort of like this job, despite its aggravations (the co-workers rock), but that doesn't pay the heat in the winter. So it looks like I'm on the job market, as of today. In a way, it's kind of refreshing. I've never had to jobhunt while already holding a job, before. It's a relief to know that the bills will be paid until I can find something better. I can afford to be choosy and get something I want.

In other news, art.
Grigori is a friend's character from Iron Kingdoms.
Edited rescan of a previous picture. I said I thought it needed a background.
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Day sucked. Whine whine whine. Too much to do. Too much procrastination. Etc.
The ranting )

The art )
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Or, rather, I finally remembered I had this.

Unseelie Eshu. Sadly, I do not have the ability to post the colored version of this, which another artist finished for me. She made it look a hundred times better.
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When you see this on your flist, quote some Shakespeare.

Okay, I can't resist a meme that tells me to quote Shakespeare.

The quotes! )

Lit geek babble )

PS: Boggan art. In honor of Sandchigger, for winning a contest at Shadownessence.com.

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