Monthly Archives: November 2011

Working on the deadly sins

What I mean is that today I am rather proud of myself!

This evening I went on a seven kilometer hike. I know that walking a bit over four miles might not sound like much, and to most people it isn’t much, but for me it was really hard. When I see people out and about walking, walking up stairs especially, sometimes I forget that this is something that everyone can do and for a moment I am absolutely amazed at what I’m seeing around me. I might as well be surrounded by people levitating. But today I felt like I was levitating. Admittedly when I stopped at the bookstore that was at my halfway point I just about threw up in the store which would have taken a bit of my glow away, but I survived. And yes, it was painful beyond painful, but hey, these days, what isn’t? Point is that I made it and I feel pretty good about it. Tomorrow I’ll be cursing my decision I’m sure, but not yet, and it makes me feel good that I still will have the strength to have some fun with Caitlin and Nefarious at the end of the month in Cozumel.

Update/The Next Morning: Ooooooohhhhhhh…… what was I thinking……?

Oh, and you know how I was almost caught in the middle of a three car collision a few nights ago when some asshole came flying through the red light? Well today when I was crossing that exact same intersection the same craziness almost happened again! As I step into the intersection, a truck comes flying through the red light right in front of me. The only difference was that he honked his horn the whole time. As if that makes it OK, or safer. No accident today, but it could have very easily gone the other way. It does emphasize though that you have to be vigilant. As safe as you may be yourself, you always have to worry about the fools that are not.

As other Torontonians know — and perhaps more thanks to the death junkie media obsessing over it — a pregnant woman with a young child at home was killed down the street from me was killed by a truck. On my walk today, right after almost being hit by a reckless driver for the second time in a week, I passed by the memorial. Every time I’ve been past during the day there have been media there and sometimes large crowds of mourners, but this evening other than a soul biker it was deserted.

If I understand correctly what happened, a big truck (perhaps from the chocolate factory around the corner) was turning left, and the bike, also turning left pulled up to the turning truck and sat in his right side blind spot). The truck, not knowing she was there, turned the corner, and of course ran her over. Extremely unfortunate and sadly easy to see coming in hindsight. On one hand, she should have known better, but on the other hand, she was in a dedicated bike lane so it’s completely understandable how the mistake could be made. Needlessly sad. Just unfortunate all around, and it emphasizes what I said earlier that it’s extremely important to always be vigilant and assume that the vehicles around you are going to break the rules and make mistakes. I am an admittedly fast and aggressive driver, but I am also extremely experienced, capable, and safe. But I don’t kid myself — I can only control my end of the equation, and no matter how competent I am, if the people around me are bad drivers — and boy oh boy are there a lot of bad drivers — then there is nothing I can do to make them behave safely. So I do my best to be pathologically paranoid about what’s going on around me.

On to more pleasant things.

Today I finished off some of the key chains and other little lost wax projects I’ve been “doodling” while watching TV. They’re just quick sculptures that I made out of soft wax and scrap crystals (which I got from hitting larger geode-type arrays with a hammer — amethyst and citrine if I remember right), cast in pewter of course. So let me share a whack of pictures with you (and as I claim every time, “the pictures don’t do them justice”… they’re quite cute):

The amulet on the right above is a fluorite crystal by the way. In the pictures below, those are the front and back of the same piece — the only one that doesn’t have a stone embedded by the way. All of them are currently mounted on key chain rings but they could be necklaces as well, although most of them would then be upside down, if that matters… and you’ve probably realized by now that for most of the pictures I actually photographed them hanging upside down and then flipped the picture in editing.

Starting with the image below right these are my shells inspired by the fiddler crabs that Caitlin found in the Cayman Islands recently… I think I might do a whole series of them. The second one is my favorite and I’d like to do more like it.

Those are mostly gifts for friends but I may toss a few of them in the shop so if you want to call dibs on one drop me a line or post here. I have some other silly little things on the go that I’ll post over the next while also. Other than that I headed downtown today to have Shane trace the tattoos on my leg because as soon as when we get back from Mexico I’ve got a tattoo appointment to get the background filled in.

And now I’m going to go read American Vampire for a while and go to bed with my fingers crossed that I can walk tomorrow. The odds are not in my favor.

A couple new designs

I made a tiny little itsy-bitsy squirrel elf that’s about half an inch tall as a necklace or charm just for fun. It’s cast in metal and is very cute. This one I made a mold for but in the next couple of days I’ll post some pictures of similar pieces that I’m doing in lost-wax so they’re one offs, made as presents for friends most likely. But I think I’ll toss a couple of these in the Etsy stores in a few days as a cheapo. My crummy picture doesn’t do justice how cute this is.

I made a new design of skull ring as well and cast a couple test pieces today. I also got a new patina agent so the blackening that on the rings is a little different, almost like blueing on a gun barrel I think. I’m actually doing something pretty neat with this ring though. My plan now is to create a second stage that is the musculature and some of the skin, which I’ll cast as a top layer in translucent silicone. So kind of a two-layer ring. I’m not sure if it will work, but if it does, it should be quite unique.

Other than that I spent the morning at the hospital getting depressed about another day of being told that I’m out of options, but after that I headed down to Lacy’s and picked up a range of gemstones so I have a broad range of colours, including a couple of pink gems in a heart cut that I’ll maybe make Nefarious something cute out of for a Christmas gift…

Now THAT’S a Shiny Nibbler!

I’m just quickly posting this here to show someone the current finish on this size ten Nibbler ring. If you’re not that person, you can ignore this. Unfortunately I had to remove the Nibbler and Zoidberg-inspired Futurama rings from my Etsy store because FOX IP freaked out and filed a — in my opinion rather petty — DMCA violation. So I can’t sell them there any more. In general, I understand their desire to protect their trademark, but I think they’re making a big mistake by hunting down fan art like this which clearly doesn’t hurt any of their commercial interests, and it could be argued actually support and enhance those interests. Oh well.

Along those lines… For someone else… I’m trying to figure out the best way to colour the Zoidberg-inspired ring. Cough. I mean. Cthulhu-inspired. Yes, that’s it. Anyway, the copper finish is my favorite. I’ve been trying to get a good orange enamel, but if I put it on thick, it looks lumpy and/or cheap. If I put it on thin, it looks, well, thin. I think the only way to do it is by applying a couple coats, then buffing it half off — that’s where it’s at in the photo — and then repeating the process I’m guessing three times. It would take a day, and I still don’t think it would look that great. To be honest, the best way to do this ring if the person wants a true orange would be to cast it in plastic… Hmmmmmmmm…. That has me thinking… I could cast it in glow in the dark orange plastic which would be pretty sweet. But for now I consider the orange a failure.

My First Android App, “Fancy Clock”

I’ve been meaning for a while to check out App Inventor (a Google Labs project that is now being open sourced since Google is — sadly — phasing out that department). It’s a RAD tool that lets you quickly and graphically create apps for Android phones and tablets. In theory there is “no” text programming required — you just “draw” a flowchart and your interfaces. Anyway, to see what I thought I quickly hacked together a “fancy clock” after GIS’ing myself a clock face and some hands. I figured an analogue clock would be a good Hello World alternative since it is very simple but still touches on a broad range of tasks — logic, flow control, procedures, sprites and graphic manipulation, interface design, and system interaction.

On the “pro” side I was very happy with how easy it was to do this. Getting the first version running took literally minutes. After that it was just tweaking and messing around to try different things. It has a ton of potential. On the “con” side there is still a lot missing functionality, although I am certain that will come with time. My larger concern is that in their urge to dumb-down and make this accessible it seems like complex flow control could get extremely awkward to assemble. I’m not sure if that is unavoidable. I will definitely keep my eye on this tool and if I find the time I might write something a bit more ambitious (and useful). I want to say one other thing but I’m putting it in a new paragraph so it’s not missed by skimmers.

This seems like an excellent tool for teaching bright children* how to program.

And below is a video my dumb little clock in action. It’s exactly what it looks like. The only thing it does is tell the time, and if you tap it, the hands toggle their glow on and off (just because I wanted to write something… anything…) and the ‘X’ button in the top left quits. Oooh, exciting. I don’t know why anyone would want to, but you can download it here. Just uncompress the APK file and copy it onto any Android device. I’ve only tested it on my tablet because that’s all I have.

* Or dumb adults.

Saved by the… cane!

I just got home a little while ago because I was out of town today bringing the Saab to a friend’s house for indoor winter storage. After a nice drive out to the country followed by a relaxing GO train ride back to town reading a sad graphic novel about canine cosmonaut Laika, I was walking home from the subway. At Bloor and Dundas when the light changed to “walk” I began crossing and a moment later, literally two feet in front of me, an SUV comes flying through the red light. Barely after entering the intersection it struck the front of the car that was driving past me on my left with a loud bang. The collision was close enough that if I’d reached out my arm I could have touched the point of impact from where I stood. A second later there was an even bigger bang when the SUV, continuing perpendicular across the flow of traffic, struck a second car in the other direction’s lane of traffic, hitting the car square in the driver’s side door. Then both the SUV and this second car smashed into the corner across from me, with the car also striking the telephone pole. The SUV driver stumbled out but I’m not sure how badly hurt the driver of the other car was — possibly quite badly.

If I was not walking slowly, walking with a cane, I might have been a few feet further into the crossing by the time the careless driver did his dirty work and almost certainly would have been struck at the SUV’s highest speed of the accident, crushing me between it and the first car it hit. Then maybe the fat lady who started crying with her mouth agape while watching it might have had something more obvious to power her sobs. Maybe I can add this to my short list of good things this disease has done for me along with my handicapped parking permit. But seriously universe, don’t you think I have enough brushes with death? At least life is interesting.