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Well, shiznit.

Well, shiznit. published on No Comments on Well, shiznit.

The idea that I originally thought I would use for the Jupiter Challenge — that of the girl finding her origins in the mirror world — dates from 1997, when I was 19. Thus it’s three years too recent for consideration, as story ideas used in the challenge must have been generated at age 16 or before.

In other news, I have unearthed my trove of story outlines and discovered some alternative ideas that I did indeed think up before 16.

There’s the one where the girl writes a creation myth and makes a world, which she then enters, where she is worshipped as a god. She has to defeat her personified fear of death, which is causing people to sicken and die.

There’s the one where the boy has a magic ring inhabited by the soul of his dead aunt. He  and she join forces to defeat someone who yanks them from Earth into a magical world because she wants the ring.

There’s the one about the princess who’s white as snow, red and blood and black as ebony, but never at the same time, more like a series of three different appearances and corresponding personalities, and her search through a bunch of fairy tale tropes to find a cure for her condition.

There’s also a bunch of deliberately pointless quest narratives in which the sought-for object is never fully elucidated or centralized as much as the relationships between the people on the quest.


The Jupiter Challenge — in which the past returns with a Dramatic Flourish

The Jupiter Challenge — in which the past returns with a Dramatic Flourish published on No Comments on The Jupiter Challenge — in which the past returns with a Dramatic Flourish

The Jupiter Challenge, which Andrea reTumbled, thus catching my attention, has been bonking around in my head for the past few days. It’s a writing challenge, a la NaNoWriMo, in which “anyone old enough to be embarrassed by middle school” takes a sci fi/fantasy story idea from before they were 16 and writes 10K words, while “throw[ing] the rules out the window” and “go[ing] wild.”

As a person who has kept reams of stories, fragments, outlines and character sketches from my early days, I find this challenge irresistible. Indeed, it’s a bit overwhelming. I have so many possibilities to choose from.

First of all, do I go with an idea that I never pursued, or do I revisit old work? If revisiting, where do I go? To the girl who time-traveled back to Mount Independence during the Revolutionary War? To the trio of questers with extremely embarrassing names who were pulled together and dropped on another planet for an ill-defined quest that was pretty much incidental? To my sister’s and my long-running paracosm centered around the charismatic, magically enhanced twins who steamrolled everyone with their frenetic adventures and increasingly self-referential mockery?

If going with an idea that I never pursued, which of the many forks in the road should I take? The one where the girl’s imaginary world comes real and she goes into it to defeat the evil, only to find out the the evil is her? The one leading to a quest story that arose because I drew a map of the United Provinces of Ileon first, then grafted a story onto the cool land later? The destination where there’s a modern tomboy who knows she’s fated to eventually be stuck back in 1265, marrying a noble boy who thinks she’s a witch?

In fact, I’m leaning toward the one about the girl who discovers that she’s actually from the mirror world that’s been making more and more frequent incursions into her life…assuming I can find that outline.


Working definition of “genderqueer”

Working definition of “genderqueer” published on 1 Comment on Working definition of “genderqueer”

Genderqueer, along with the somewhat newer and less politicized term nonbinary, are umbrella terms intended to encompass individuals who feel that terms like man and woman or male and female are insufficient to describe the way they feel about their gender and/or the way they outwardly present it.”

I can dig it. On that note, there ought to be a term equivalent to “nonbinary” that defines the state by what it is, rather than what it’s not. Right now, “nonbinary” is like the non-dairy creamer of gender identities. How ’bout “multifarious” or “polymorphous?”

And here I shall stay for the foreseeable future.

And here I shall stay for the foreseeable future. published on 1 Comment on And here I shall stay for the foreseeable future.

I began this blog on LiveJournal about a decade ago [!], but switched to the DreamWidth platform in 2012 because I was enraged at LJ’s user-hostile developments. I spent some time at DW, but its clunky method of inserting photos into posts really put me off. I really sought an intuitive GUI like that of Blogspot, which hosts VTDL’s blog, but I wanted the control that comes from having a blog on one’s own server.

Powers of Creation has finally come to rest at the [“What’s a oddpla?” :p ] server, where most of my other Web sites live. Here I don’t pay extra for searchability, as I did with DW, and I can easily upload pictures to my entries.

I imported my journal from its mirror location on LJ, so my tags were all off. Thus all the months of painstaking tag curation that I did after transferring the journal to DW — all that has disappeared.Ugh!

I finally just deleted all ~600 tags from the import and decided to start afresh. I have decided to tag only sets of related entries not easily discovered by strategic use of search terms. That should greatly reduce the number of tags I have to populate.

Now that I think about it, I should probably bring the tacky trove, my Web site of 3d freebies, back to the server too…

Rement Pose Skeletons go pink and cutesy!

Rement Pose Skeletons go pink and cutesy! published on No Comments on Rement Pose Skeletons go pink and cutesy!

Pizako posted some shots on Tumblr of a Rement Pose Skeleton all gussied up and enjoying some Rement dessert delicacies. Very very cute. Too bad Beth and Death will never tend toward that aesthetic. I think it might be easier to find furniture and clothes for…

Cat turning into lines on window sits

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Babycat enjoys absorbing sunshine on the cat platform in front of the dolls & trains room window, which we call “the window sits.” She, of course, also enjoys napping there. I love how, when cats go to sleep, I can just see the lines for their eyes and mouths, which is why we call sleeping cats “turning into lines.” Here is Babycat turning into lines on the window sits this afternoon.

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Timonium and Submit encounter bunnies!

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I saw some chocolate rabbits in Costco today, packaged in their own little wooden hutch with fenced-in sides, surrounded by felt grass, ladybugs and butterflies on the outside. It’s a surprisingly well-made piece, with a magnetic closure on top, a hinge on the lid, then three sides + top covered in wire mesh. Besides the felt decorations around the outside of the box, there’s also some shredded green paper in the box pretending to be grass.

Because I like Belgian chocolate and cool packaging, I purchased a box. Then some of my dolls found it…

Continue reading Timonium and Submit encounter bunnies!

Vermont Rails Train Show, St. Albans, VT, 03/14/2015

Vermont Rails Train Show, St. Albans, VT, 03/14/2015 published on 2 Comments on Vermont Rails Train Show, St. Albans, VT, 03/14/2015

Last weekend Janna and I headed to the new location of the Vermont Rails Train Show: the Collins Perley Athletic Center in St. Albans, VT. Held on the skating rink of the facility, the train show benefits from its new location, which boasts some natural light, a smoother surface to walk on, wider aisles between tables and, very importantly, a shorter distance between accessible parking and the front door. [Now if only the front door had accessible buttons to open it.]

To my disappointment, I did not meet Barb Pitfido, the goddess of Lego layouts. We did, however, see the greatest development ever in the history of toy trains: a scratch-built working locomotive and rolling stock in 1:6 scale! Yes! Trains in the right size for my dolls!

Continue reading Vermont Rails Train Show, St. Albans, VT, 03/14/2015

I now have all the Girls.

I now have all the Girls. published on 1 Comment on I now have all the Girls.

As I’ve mentioned periodically throughout my life in digital art, I really like the digital model known as The Girl. She first began like as an original creation by Kim Goossens. After issuing her once as a standalone figure, Daz rolled her into their base female model and, in her next iteration, made her a morph of Victoria 4. This iteration, the Girl 4, changed shape from the original, but retained the original’s signature proportions and style.

There was no Girl released as a morph of Daz’ next base model, Genesis 1, also known as generation 5, so there was never a Girl 5. With the release of the “generation 6” Genesis 2 Female base, the Girl reappeared, after skipping a generation, as Girl 6.

Of all the characters Daz regularly releases, I prefer the Girl most of all. Sure, I can morph G2F into pretty much any humanoid shape I want, but, when focusing on default appearance, I will choose the Girl any day. Since Victoria 4, Daz’ basic female models have had increasingly generic shapes that are supposed to conform to the modern U.S. bourgeois societal ideal of slender, curvy, gravity-defying, neotenic and cute feminine attractiveness. Borrrring. Though the Girl has changed over her iterations, she started off as Kim Goossens’ particular artistic version, and she has maintained much of that engaging aesthetic. She has a specific personality from the get-go, which makes working with her more fun.

I suppose I should define this enjoyable personality, huh? I think it’s mostly defined by expressiveness. She’s a toon character, so her large head, exaggerated eyes and big mouth highlight her facial expressions. Same with her large hands. The exaggerated shape of her body shows twists, turns and shifts of weight more obviously than a realistically shaped figure. She fits in well with my overall aesthetic of beauty as an exaggerated, stylized, flamboyant gender presentation.

I should put all three Girls in the same render and evaluate the figure’s changes over time. That would be cool.

“A path out of autism,” or, Parents who can’t stand it when their autistic kids don’t make eye contact

“A path out of autism,” or, Parents who can’t stand it when their autistic kids don’t make eye contact published on No Comments on “A path out of autism,” or, Parents who can’t stand it when their autistic kids don’t make eye contact

This article “Can an app for Google Glass offer a path out of autism?” really infuriates me. The Beta Boston post describes apps for the head-mounted eyeglass computer Google Glass. In development by Cambridge, MA startup Brain Power, apps aim to encourage autistic kids to maintain eye contact when people are talking to them. One app rewards eye contact with images of popular cartoon characters, while another highlights an interlocutor’s eyes, since kids with autism may tend to focus on someone’s mouth instead.

I support the ultimate goal here, that is, teaching commonly accepted social skills to people who might not have them [if the people want them] so that they can connect with conventionally socialized people. I’m all for increased communication, especially between people with disabilities and people without — mostly so that the people with disabilities have a chance to tell ableist dipsticks to take their assumptions and shove off. :p

While I advocate for the goal, I decry the means to the end. This article makes clear that no people with autism were involved in the development of Brain Power apps. Founder Ned Sahin has no personal experience with autism, even though he was keynote speaker at this month’s Autism Investment Conference. Creators of the apps didn’t even talk to kids with autism directly when they brainstormed. Do kids with autism who don’t make eye contact think that their lack of eye contact is a problem? Do they want to develop methods for maintaining eye contact? Do they think that cartoon characters and highlighted mouths might help them? Who knows?

Brain Power apparently didn’t think that the firsthand input from app users was important. Instead they asked parents what the parents wanted for their children. In other words, Brain Power’s apps result from asking a bunch of people who are not kids and not necessarily autistic what software they, the non-autistic adults, would like so that the autistic kids in their lives could better conform to their expectations of properly socialized human beings. Or, to put it more bluntly, Brain Power violates the dictum strongly associated with the U.S. disability rights movement: “Nothing about us without us.” With arrogant condescension, Brain Power’s non-autistic developers assumed that they knew what autistic kids needed and thus received praise from an ableist public that denies consideration of the voices of people with disabilities.

By the way, anyone who tries to rebut me by pointing out that some kid who tried out the Brain Power apps said, “I think I am breaking out of an autism prison!” will be summarily ignored. I am not arguing against Brain Power apps’ potential ability to benefit people. Rather I am arguing against the viewpoint that spawned these apps: i.e., a world view in which kids with autism are problematic individuals with limited understanding who can only be made to sustain eye contact through rewards such as pictures of cartoon animals. Why are autistic kids who don’t make eye contact considered a problem? Why aren’t non-autistic parents who are so hung up on eye contact as a marker of interaction that they can’t accommodate other ways of being considered a problem? Why aren’t ableist startups who want to use technology to train kids out of their disabilities so that they parents can be happier considered a problem?

The Rule of 5 and the mystery painting

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Sometime when I was back in college, I found a nifty painting of the number 5, surrounded by red and gold and strong diagonals that drew the eye. I didn’t know the name or artist, but put the picture in the scrapbook, as 5 is my favorite number.

Recently, I just started a job where the person I am working for has an ideal schedule of ≤5 hours of meetings a day. Assuming an eight-hour work day, ≤5 hours gives her time to  move between meeting locations, accomplish assignments from the meetings, reduce the amount of work she takes home, leave the office at a reasonable time, etc., etc. In other words, she stands a chance of having a work/life balance. She impressed upon me that this was not some pie-in-the sky goal, but a serious necessity for her overall happiness, health and efficacy. I decided that this guiding principle should be called the Rule of 5.

I thought I should hang in my office a reminder to adhere to the Rule of 5 in all my scheduling endeavors, so I immediately recalled the dramatic 5 painting from my scrapbook. Tragically, since my scrapbook had been lost, I couldn’t just pull the poster and bring to work. I had to find the mystery painting on the Internet.

I tried “no. five” as search terms on Google, since I remembered those words in the painting, but that mostly brought up Jackson Pollock’s work. Nope.

I then tried an image search for “no. five,” and the sixth result showed the painting I remembered. It’s called “The Figure 5 in Gold” by Charles Demuth, and it’s a portrait of his friend, William Carlos Williams, through a visual interpretation of Williams’ poem “The Great Figure.” Judith Dobrzynski writes a lucid overview of the painting’s context and significance in the Wall Street Journal.

Anyway, now I have a print-out of the painting on my bulletin board at work, for professional and aesthetic reasons.

Vermont Doll Lovers St. Patrick’s Day/Spring meetup: 03/15/2015

Vermont Doll Lovers St. Patrick’s Day/Spring meetup: 03/15/2015 published on No Comments on Vermont Doll Lovers St. Patrick’s Day/Spring meetup: 03/15/2015

Yesterday VTDL had another holiday meetup. I had very little time to prepare, much less purchase any St. Patty’s props, so I just brought Polly. Fortunately, she happened to be wearing a green shirt. Other attendees’ dolls compensated, however, for my lack of seasonal paraphernalia. Photos on the VTDL blog, as usual.

This is how Babycat sleeps in the winter.

This is how Babycat sleeps in the winter. published on No Comments on This is how Babycat sleeps in the winter.

That brown thing is our heater. She often stares in between the vents at the flame bar, which we call “gazing into Mr. Heater’s eyes.” She also may paw at the heater to try to reach the flame bar and, if her claws are overgrown, get stuck! When she’s tired out after a hard day of napping, she florbs like this and uses Mr. Heater as a pillow. She’s giving me the side eye because I have interrupted their passionate embrace with my nosy camera. Continue reading This is how Babycat sleeps in the winter.

Beth has clothes beyond a hospital gown!

Beth has clothes beyond a hospital gown! published on No Comments on Beth has clothes beyond a hospital gown!

I could buy clothes for Beth, Isabel’s doll and star of Isabel’s doll-based comic Beth and Death. However, I’d rather try making clothes from existing materials. After several failed attempts, I’ve come up with the following passable outfit. The skirt is a semicircle that I hemmed with fabric glue, then sewed up the back. I cut a hole in the center, then disassembled Beth and kind of reassembled her around the skirt. I made the halter top from some old bandage tape that Janna no longer needed.
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Thalia’s temporary pre-Raphaelite hair

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Some frizzy wig is standing in for Thalia’s wild mane of black mohair curls, interspersed with plastic snakes. I like the voluminous curls; they soften her square features a bit. I also like the hair pulled back because then I can see her pointy ears.

What I don’t like are those pointy tits. I’m not sure why so many sculptors insist on aggressively projecting nipples. I can’t wait to get her a shirt.

Just for the heck of it, she’s holding Beth, my smallest articulated doll.

Continue reading Thalia’s temporary pre-Raphaelite hair

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