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Bring me the head of a pink, candy-stuffed horseHere’s a reason to be glad to be back at the office: A couple of the project managers were leaving, and we had a little going-away festival, complete with a piñata strung up from a ceiling fixture. Below you can see one of the departing managers having at it with an aluminum pole. Originally she was blindfolded, but those pictures didn’t come out so well.

Photo cut to preempt whining )

Yes, she was swinging that thing blind, surrounded by monitors and co-workers. We were all gathered around with that feeling of mixed dread and anticipation — Hope she doesn’t whack a monitor with that, but wouldn’t it be kinda cool?

Some stuff

Aug. 1st, 2006 11:00 pm
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So today I spent five hours arguing with a recalcitrant command line. It was worth it to be able to spend the rest of the day sitting back and watching my computer do my job for me. It’ll be even more worth it in a few weeks when the rest of the work for this client comes through, and it’s four times as many SKUs as this batch. Tomorrow I get to spend more time arguing with the command line to get it to do different stuff. (Today: Compositing four different PNGs together, each with a different alpha channel. Tomorrow: Cropping and resizing; much easier.)

And I got a postcard from [livejournal.com profile] cthulhia in Dubrovnik! Yay!

Only one comic due out tomorrow that I’m interested in, but it’s the best one — the new Finder collection, “Five Crazy Women”! Doubly exciting because I haven’t been following Finder on the web, so most of the material will be new to me.

And I’m not going to link to the Hello Kitty Darth Vader picture, because somebody hasn’t to.
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woman at StarbucksI’m in the middle of a big, important project at work, the sort of thing where I’ve been cleared to work overtime. Looks so far like that won’t be necessary. See, my Big Trick at work, the one thing I can do better than anybody else, is what we call “draping” — using this obscure program that straddles the gap between 2D and 3D and lets us map patterns onto flat photos so as to make them follow the apparent curved surfaces. There are a couple of other guys who can use the software, but I’ve logged at least one order of magnitude more time than they have, so I’m just vastly more experienced with it. The current project involves a shitload of draping.

Fortunately, at some point we ponied up a few grand for the SDK version of the software, which lets us automate it. So one of the programmers got this running, and the upshot is that while somebody still needs to do the skillful end of the job, the mindless repetitive part can now be handled by a computer, the way things oughta be. What I feared would be a day or two of tedious donkey work turned into a couple of hours of me typing two commands and then doing other things for five minutes while they executed.

Inspired by this, I’ve finally installed cygwin, and on Monday I’ll give GTK+ and the GIMP a try, and I’ll see if I can’t automate the rest of the donkey work.

Anyway, turns out there’s no Games Club tonight, so I walked down to Union Square, parked my butt in Starbucks for a while, read some more of my current read (Karel Čapek’s The Absolute at Large, because Nick Tosches’s King of the Jews had become unbearably tedious), did a bit of sketching, fed my notebook fetish (and my fantasies of getting shit done) by picking up a Miquelrius gridded notebook at Barnes & Noble, then hit Virgin and picked up four CDs for $10 a pop.

More art below the cut )

Day 14610

Feb. 14th, 2006 10:56 pm
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You’d think that turning forty would feel significant somehow. But no, just another day. I’m not even celebrating till the weekend.

The big project from hell at work seems to be done with, so no more long hours for a while. And my back is feeling pretty decent. Now that I have time I should take a sick day and see a doctor. (Where the hell did that work-over-health ethic come from?) First I have to figure out what the new insurance company expects of me.

And trying to keep my drawing skills from totally atrophying:

couple Melorn sketches
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The long work hours continue. I’ll be working Saturday again this weekend.

Yesterday’s comics haul included Mother, Come Home by Paul Hornschemeier, collected in paperback at last, and the first volume of Amy Kim Ganter’s Sorcerers and Secretaries. Neither of which I’ve read yet, so I can’t tell you what I think of ’em.

And while at Jim Hanley’s Universe I ran into [livejournal.com profile] tinpan! That place is great for running into people; I’ve also seen [livejournal.com profile] goraina there. So Tinpan and I were chatting about comics and I wanted to recommend Joel Priddy’s Pulpatoon Pilgrimage, but there were no copies left. (Looks like Amazon has a few.) Here, make do with Priddy’s drawing blog, Beeswax. Make sure to go back to the beginning for nautical reference sketches and scans of his latest work in progress.

Hey, Tinpan, remember what I said about Dave Sim and Robert Crumb’s brother? Turns out I made an LJ mention of it on the same day that I wrote about Pulpatoon Pilgrimage, almost four years ago!
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Sorry for the update slacking, but work’s been a bitch. A scheduling mishap left us with a deadline too close to actually do the work necessary, so I’ve been working late days and even went in on Saturday. Since we’ve actually been having ridiculously nice weather for January (sunny, 50-60°F) while I’ve been stuck in the office, I’ve been feeling like the girl in Ray Bradbury’s “All Summer in a Day”.

And on top of that I’ve had a cold.

And then, on top of that, I couldn’t get to sleep last night. At all. No idea why. But the weird part: I’m not tired. I’ve been totally awake and alert all day. Even now, almost 10 PM, I’m not sleepy, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep tonight either. Also, I’m less hungry than usual. Maybe some subtle radiation exposure has turned me super-human. I scratched my finger on a package of razors this morning, so I’m not invulnerable. It’d suck if I had one of those typical comics origin stories where I wander into the middle of a bank robbery and have to stop the criminals with my powers, and I’d have to be like “Halt, or I’ll follow you home and keep you up all night by yodeling!”
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One annoyance on the elliptical cross-trainer was that my underwear kept sliding down my butt. It wasn’t till later in the day that I noticed the brand name — John Henry. It’s a good thing I’m not superstitious; that’s an ill-omened name to be wearing while pitting one’s endurance against a machine. And he died with a hammer in his pants, Lord Lord!

These past few days at work I’ve been doing similar. The particular part of the project I’m working on now is something I was convinced was impossible as late as last Thursday (having spent most of that day and the day before trying various approaches and failing). Finally on Friday I came up with a new approach, and slowly but surely, the difficult designs are yielding to a combination of intelligence and effort. I’d forgotten how good that feels.
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The office is in crunch mode. They’ve offered us time-and-a-half for staying late, so that’s what I’ve been doing. I got to use a new piece of software today, a sort of specialized CAD program for simulating texture mapping on a 2D image.

Also been looking at the Sony Clié TJ37. Anyone got any experience using a Clié with a Mac? I’ve already got Palm Desktop; will it just sync right up?

Picked up the latest Promethea, and man, that title’s just getting better as it comes to the end of its run. I also picked up the first issue of Street Angel, but haven’t read it yet.

This was at the Forbidden Planet, where I failed to find the fourth Kane volume. I found the third at Jim Hanley’s the other day — Histories, which shows us the early life (and near death) of Oliver Darke, the mob boss who’s Kane’s arch-nemesis. Not much comedy in this volume, but oh, the bits we learn about the backstory!

Something I got last week but forgot to write about: Tiny Giants, a collection of short pieces by Nate Powell. I can’t say I liked the writing; Powell’s sure in love with the sound of his own voice, and tends towards pseudo-poetic sentences that don’t say as much as they seem to. But damn, the sumbitch can draw. Lots of fine hatched linework and well-placed solid blacks.
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Now that I’ve got some money coming in, I can afford to buy more than the trickle of comics I’ve been allowing myself. Work is right near Midtown Comics, where I was within $6 of earning $20 of store credit, so I picked up volumes 2 and 3 of Uzumaki, the trippy Japanese horror comic about a town haunted by spirals. Good, creepy stuff, and the story ends in three volumes, so you don’t have to go buying dozens of books to follow it.

On Tuesday I visited the Compleat Strategist to see if anything interesting and new was out (yeah, some, but nothing I felt like buying), and then stopped off at Jim Henley’s Universe and got issue #6 of Raina Telgemeier’s minicomic Take Out, and issue #2 of Comic Art magazine (with the Jack Cole girlie pictures).

I’d been sure there was a bunch more stuff I wanted to get, but at Cosmic today the only thing I saw that interested me was Absent Friends by Paul Grist and Phil Elliott. Haven’t read it yet. I looked around for the second Courtney Crumrin book (which I’d thought was out by now), but didn’t see it; likewise for a couple of manga volumes I’d been thinking of getting.

Work

Feb. 10th, 2004 09:42 pm
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Have I mentioned that I’m working? It’s freelance, but I’m told I’ve got at least a week of it, and the pay is decent. Editing photos; I’m turning into quite the Photoshop whiz.
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Friday:

I’ve got some freelance photo-editing work, starting Monday.

Dumped a big check in the bank. It won’t clear till Monday, leaving me with no money for the weekend. Killed four hours in Manhattan by reading In Green’s Jungles and sketching Starbucks customers.

Sketches )

At Games Club, played Overthrone. We figured it out despite the badly-written rules. An entertaining game with some cute mechanical bits, but with a large luck component.

Not one, but two games of Puerto Rico! And the second game was played with only four players, which was exotic for our crowd, where the game is popular enough that you can have two five-player games going at the same time.

I blew my last two dollars on a bagel with lox spread on the way home.

Saturday:

Gaming at [livejournal.com profile] drcpunk’s. She did a pretty good job of jumping between the multiple fight scenes. After, she, Beth, and [livejournal.com profile] mnemex treated me to sushi and sashimi as a week-early birthday present.

DrCpunk and Mnemex are also getting rid of a bunch of books, and I wound up coming home with a bag full of them, including Arkham Asylum, which I’ve never actually read. I think I was avoiding mainstream comics when it came out.
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The interview went pretty well, except for the bit where I was all ready to impress the guy by talking about how I used to trap colors by hand in Illustrator when he told me that they do digital printing, and thus don’t have to worry about trapping. (And I told him anyway, and he was still impressed.) He had a bunch more interviews that day, and I assume the rest of the week. Next week they’ll call back some folks for second interviews and some hands-on testing. There’s a risk they might want me for second shift, four-to-midnight, which would suit my typical sleep schedule better, but would kick the rusty bottom right out of the dingy dinghy of my social life.

And the place is really tough to get to. Getting there took almost an hour, and involved hiking about a mile over un-sidewalked streets, dodging cars, slogging through grassy shoulder and avoiding hazardous material runoff. Getting back was worse, because I tried to take a bus which turns out not to run this time of year, and wound up having to walk all the way around Liberty State Park, about three miles. There’s one more possible route I’ll try if I get called back, but it’s still about a mile walk. I may have to pass this one up.
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One thing Jersey City’s teaching me is how good the transit was in NYC. Not just the transit itself, but the support services. Specifically: the maps.

There doesn’t seem to be a bus map for Jersey City. Each borough in NYC has a map showing all of the bus routes, overlaid on a street map of the borough, so you can find your start and finish points and then see what routes go by and where the intersection are. No such thing here. We’ve just got route maps for each route, so you’ve got to already know what route goes where, and gods forbid you need to transfer, ’cause then your decision tree starts branching out into mystery space.

It looks like there’s one bus route that goes past where tomorrow’s interview is, and it doesn’t intersect with any other bus route. It looks like there are two routes that go near me. Do either of them go within a few blocks of that first bus? I don’t know, and there’s no easy way to find out. NJ Transit’s website is supposed to be able to advise me, but when I use that form, it claims there are no routes near my origin.

As far as I can tell, from consulting an actual map of Hudson County and guesstimating where the light rail stops are (’cause they’re not marked, though the PATH stations are), it looks like my options are (1) walk three-quarters of a mile or so east to the light rail, take a two-and-a-half mile train trip to a spot three-quarters of a mile or so northwest of my destination, and then walk from there, or (2) just walk two miles south. In the snow, all uphill both ways, no doubt.
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First day at work wasn’t bad, but it’s also the last day, for a while at least. The new client still hasn’t signed, so they don’t know whether they’ll actually be giving me work. They just brought me in for today to introduce me around and see if I could handle actual jobs. I got a day’s work out of it (for which I won’t be able to submit an invoice till the 16th), but I still don’t know if there’s any more to come.

And on top of that, I brought my graphics tablet in (I don’t know how they get anything done with just mice), and forgot it. Aargh! I’ll stop in and pick it up tomorrow, but till then I’m reduced to using a touchpad.

Sketchbook dump )

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