March 18th, 2009

barometric waffle linguists (pic by me)

The not-quite-Friday Five

From eredien:

Comment to this post, and I will list five things I associate with you. They might make sense or they might be totally random. You're encouraged to post that list, with your commentary on each item, to your lj (or just add a reply back at me).

Extra Baxilian addition: If you have a mental association with me that nobody has mentioned yet, add it to your five-things request and I'll write some bonus commentary. (N.b.: I'm preemptively calling mulligan on "draconity" just because it's so blindingly obvious.)

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Hiking -- The vast majority of you have were already following my journal in summer 2006, when I plowed through nearly 1000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. So I have little to add. Except: In an odd bit of coincidence, I finally gave in earlier this month and posted one of my THGGTPCT episodes to YouTube, where it's just a click away instead of a two-minute weird-format movie download. Go see!

Hawks -- This also goes back to the PCT trip (aka "BaxWalk 2006"). My trail name was "Redtail," which ironically didn't actually refer to the bird. I once scripted (but never actually drew) a guest strip for Theri There that used this fact as the punchline: "So you changed your self-image from a flying creature to another flying creature for a 2600-mile walk?" "Yeah, well." I've still got that script, fallen off the stove*, and regret not illustrating it, though I doubt that's likely to ever change.

Running a Web Forum -- Once upon a time, I was the Herder of Cats and official administrator of "BaxTalk," a set of discussion forums at Tomorrowlands. There were many topics based loosely around my old journal, along with a draconity board, a TTU board, and plenty of marginalia. It was pretty famous for the quality of its users and discussions, and somehow cohered and stayed awesome despite having a userbase of half dragons and half random-people-that-knew-me-from-other-venues.

Entropy caught up to it, unavoidably, as its old PERL back-end bogged down, and then the phpBB resurrection died in the Great Server Crash of 2004. More broadly, it was a victim both of Web 2.0 and of my own reluctance to put in the administrative time it would have needed to continue. By then, I had already moved to Livejournal, and the comments section here scratched most of the itches that the old fora fulfilled for me.

The big question always was, and remains: What went right? How did it maintain its quality? To that, I can only say: A lot of luck, a little clarity on what the acceptable behavioral standards were, a little drama avoidance, and a LOT of "like attracts like." Awesomeness wants to self-propagate.

Evolving Spiritually -- If eredien wants to expand on this one, I'll yield the floor. I actually honestly don't see myself as having changed very dramatically in spiritual belief during my adult life. Maybe some of the things I see as subtle refinements -- tone shifts, as it were -- strike chords in others, or maybe I've just got a dragon-sized blind spot here.

Incidentally, dragonzuela cited my essay on quantum theism recently, which I penned over seven years ago. I still am proud to have written it and stand by its spiritual sentiments (if not its exact percentages).

Puns -- Okay, I admit it: I'm often accused of littering my posts with wordplay. Clearly the accusation is rearing its head again. It's time to put it down once and for all.

I thought of a dozen witty ways to respond to this. Two of them were unsuitable for publication in an all-ages venue. I examined the others to see if any met the standard of quality you have come to expect from my dragon drops.

...

... No pun in ten did.

(*runs away quickly*)

--
* Baxilian argot time! Fallen Off The Stove, adj.: An important project that has been back-burnered too far. It remains in your mindspace and resources for it are still at hand, but you don't want to do anything about it until all of the (more recent) front-burnered and back-burnered projects are resolved or set aside, so it lives on in a messy state of limbo.
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    Brian Eno, "Deep Blue Day," Trainspotting OST
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Product recommendation

Back in the ancient, crazy days of 2002, I bought a graphics tablet for a very reasonable price. It plugged into those newfangled USB port things, and only one of my computers had a USB card installed, but (even on a Mac) I ran it with almost no trouble. The included software worked well, the drivers caused no issues, the plugins for my graphics programs integrated excellently and took full advantage of the tablet's pressure sensitivity, and the hardware was sturdy. I doubt I used it enough to justify the purchase price, but it was an awesome toy and I'm glad I bought it.

Today I dragged the tablet down out of the attic. It has survived two moves and seven years of sloppy handling. It has outlived two computers and seven OS upgrades. I surfed to the manufacturer website, discovered the tablet is still actively supported, downloaded current drivers for OSX, rebooted, and it's performing like it came home from the store yesterday. There's even a handwriting recognition feature that I haven't yet played with.

Ironically, my computer is too old to use my 2002 tablet at full efficiency. My only installation issue is that The GIMP for Mac OS X doesn't have pressure sensitivity support, because the underlying X11 environment for OS 10.4.11 won't recognize the device as a tablet (which they fixed in OS 10.5). With a commercial drawing program, I'd be set.

So, I would like to wholeheartedly endorse Wacom for their breathtaking awesomeness. This sort of computer peripheral product longevity is unheard of, and if you have any use for a drawing tablet whatsoever, they deserve your business.