Inktober Days 5-11

Happy Inktober!

Here are my drawings for the week. Day 5, chicken, I started on my iPad in AutoDesk Graphic, and finished later in Adobe illustrator. The vector tools in Graphic made importing the started work a lot easier than the Adobe vector tool for iPad. The tools can be a little cumbersome, and don’t feel natively designed for a tablet, but if I want to use work from the iPad later, Graphic is better than its Adobe equivalent. This is mostly because I love Bezier curves. All the other drawings were done in Adobe Sketch.

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And for Day 10: flow, I decided to learn one of Adobe’s animation programs, Adobe Animate. I’m still a bit clunky with it, but not bad for a first stab! I made my own Gif!

zoiderg

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Inktober Days 1-4

Four days into Inktober! It’s been a great way to motivate myself to try drawing apps on my iPad. I normally work entirely on my laptop, but there are a lot of times when I don’t want to be around town with it.

So far: I’m really disappointed how Adobe’s vector-based iPad program, Adobe Illustrator Draw, has no pen tool function. This means that, although I form every object with a stroke of the pencil, I have very unwieldy blob brush paths when I import into Illustrator. My workflow on the laptop is all path based, not blob brush. Adobe’s pixel based program (Sketch) is more fun, and it’s where I’ve done all four drawings so far. But I do prefer to work in vectors.

I just downloaded Autodesk’s Graphic for iPad. It can do Bezier Curves (which I adore) and can export as a fully organized document to Illustrator. It’s not as effortless as the Adobe programs.

For both Graphic and Adobe mobile apps–the online help resources are extremely annoying. Googling puzzles about the Adobe apps will turn up threads from 2015 which are now incorrect due to rapid changes in functionality. Googling about Graphic turns up the desktop program by the same name. Trying to draw a circle took 5 minutes because I could only find the desktop recommendation–hold shift.

Happy inking! I hope to explore Graphic more this weekend!

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Inktober 2018

It’s funny how loss lands in different ways even within the same lifetime. I bought my first DSLR camera less than a month after my brother’s death. Maybe I felt like I had to make records of the uncomfortably ephemeral. On the other hand, I didn’t feel like documentation after my father’s illness and death eight months ago, and I’ve only posted on this blog a couple of times since then. Stresses have strange ways of adding and multiplying, and, for a while, the stress of committing to posting (even for this humblest of blogs) was something I didn’t need. I might be ready to re-commit to this little journal of my wonders. We’ll see!

I’m back with Inktober 2018. Every day is a new prompt for a new drawing. My personal goals are to learn to use Adobe’s iPad apps better and to share some silly drawings of probably mostly cats with my friends. Happy drawing!

2018promptlist

Free Downloadable Science Brushes for Adobe Illustrator

I’ve used Adobe Illustrator for years, but I didn’t use brushes very much. This weekend I watch the Lynda.com course “Creating Custom Brushes”. My library gives me free access to Lynda.com through their website; yours might too so check it out.

In my zeal, I created a few science-themed custom pattern brushes. Two of them are created from real experimental data. You can see them drawn onto paths below. If you like them, you can download the .ai files through my Creative Cloud presence at the following link: https://adobe.ly/2GpnK9Y.

If you use the files, please satisfy my curiosity, and either comment here or mention my twitter handle @Vironevaeh. I hope they are as fun to use as they were to make!

What are the paths? (counting from the top)

  1. The top path is loosely based on the body-centered cubic crystal (BCC) structure. A real BCC crystal has atoms in the middle of every cube, rather than every other. It also extends in all three dimensions. Iron and chromium form BCC crystals.
  2. This path is real experimental data from coupled Colpitts oscillators. A Colpitts oscillator is a simple electronic oscillator made from resistors, inductors, capacitors, and a transistor. Without coupling, the oscillations are simpler; the interactions cause them to make this interesting pattern.
  3. This path is the “skeletal formula” for a random organic molecule. Next time I will make some polymers, but this one was for play.
  4. A cubic molecule.
  5. More real experimental data, this time from an electrochemical experiment. This is the current produced from the dissolution of nickel oxide in acid. Here, six oscillators are locked in a pattern. (Note that this path has a lot of anchors so it’s a little slow. Maybe this one was more for my fun.)

BlahaScienceBrushes

Utopias in America

Does dystopia seem more tangible than utopia? Media such as Handmaid’s Tale, Hunger Games and Mad Max depict fractured futures. Science and economics speak of the effects of climate change, the next big flu pandemic, wealth inequality, and dark campaign money.

Utopianism seems gullible and naive, while dystopianism seems world-weary and chic. But it wasn’t always this way. 19th century America was littered with utopian societies. There were the Shakers, the Rappites, the Owenites, the Associationists, the Oneidans (yes, the silverware folks), The Amanans (yes, the refrigerator folks), and others. Look it up; there were probably utopian communities in your area too. In St. Louis, the Icarians briefly settled near present-day Dogtown. A German utopian group called the Giessen Emigration Society settled near Washington, Missouri. In New Mexico, we have Blackdom, a settlement for black families; there’s also the Faithists who founded the Shalam community. Most of these communities lasted only briefly, but vestiges of many remain; Washington, Missouri remains heavily German today although the surrounding area is not.

Some utopian colonies, like Blackdom, were more pragmatic than religious or dogmatic; Blackdom was founded to leave behind the KKK and Jim Crow. Millenarians, like the Shakers, believed that the Second Coming was imminent; they had to prepare for a thousand years of heaven on Earth, as predicted in the book of Revelations in the Bible. This thinking was influential in the Second Great Awakening. Others, like Robert Owen’s Owenites, were secular and believed that the industrial revolution could be harnessed to improve life if people pooled their efforts.

So why were there so many utopias founded in the United States in the 19th century? Europeans interpreted the Biblical arc of history as traveling from east to west; they saw history as starting in the Middle East, advancing in Europe, and ending in the Americas. The American revolution still seemed truly revolutionary, but also to some, incomplete. There was a lot of cheap land available for purchase. The industrial revolution destabilized long-standing traditions. The woman who brought Shakerdom to the United States, Ann Lee, grew up in the industrial miseries of Manchester, England–the city where Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels also developed their social theories.

These intellectual ties to 20th century communism probably explain why we’ve forgotten these kooky and imaginative social experiments. Marx and Engels used the term “communism” because “socialism” was so tied to Robert Owen in the public imagination. The utopias of the 19th century inspired later communist theory, but they differ immensely from later authoritarian regimes. They were voluntary social experiments. The Shakers were led by a woman and preached celibacy and gender equality. Many advocated gender equality, universal education, sexual liberty (or at least relaxation), and later, abolitionism.

The utopian thinking of the 19th century, though largely forgotten, was influential. Robert Owen spoke to congress twice and President John Q. Adams displayed a diagram of Owen’s utopian “parallelogram” in the White House. Many of the famous transcendentalists of New England, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, participated in the Utopian colony of Brook Farm. The famous editor, Horace Greeley, advocated Associationism. Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, was brought up in the vegetarian Fruitlands Utopian Colony. (Not strictly relevant but hilarious: In the book Paradise Now, the author describes a few Fruitlands residents; “the community included… a man who refused to eat tubers because any vegetable that grows downward displays questionable ambitions;” another man “advocated spiritually cleansing obscenity. ‘Good morning, damn you,’ was his preferred salutation.”)

I think today’s dystopianism and 19th century utopianism are two sides of the American coin–we think expansively. Things are either the worst or we’re going to create heaven on earth in western Indiana. Both utopianism and dystopianism emerge from the observation of fault in today’s society. Both today’s dystopianism and 19th century Millenarianism utopianism are obsessed with the end of the world. Current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has raised eyebrows with his talk of the rapture. Either way, we like to think that, when it all goes down, we’ll be at the center of it.

Some good resources on American Utopianism

Apple Watch: Water Polo and Swimming

I am a verified stat head. I keep a spreadsheet of my swimming yardage. I love to swim on intervals and work against the clock. I always missed that feedback playing water polo.

I recently got an Apple Watch. I intended it mostly for swimming, but I wore it for a few water polo scrimmages, out of curiosity. I’d never had any statistical insight into those workouts.

Below are examples of heart rates for a swim set and a water polo scrimmage.

The swim set is so orderly. The first plateau is my 500 yard warm-up. I go really hard to see how I’m feeling that day. Then a gap, then kicking. Then I take a break before the main swimming set. While I’m swimming, the trace is pretty constant (sometimes even more than this one), and when I take breaks, the trace drops. The fluctuations at the end are 6 x 50s, alternating between sprint and recovery.

The water polo trace is so noisy. They all look this way. You can see my warm-up and some inactivity before the play starts, but after that it gets fuzzy. The whole last 3/4 looks like the sprint/recovery set from swimming. The average BPM are nearly the same.

I love water polo and swimming, but these traces lent insight into why some people like one and not the other. I hadn’t realized just how different they were as workouts.

Soviet Anti-Alcohol Propaganda

After visiting the Museum of Communism in Prague, I have been fascinated with propaganda posters. They share attractive design and typographical movements from their brethren in advertising, but they are grounded in darkness. Advertisements appeal to desire, ambition, family, and goodness (to a laughable extent, seriously is there anything more candy-coated than a McDonald’s or a Coca Cola ad?) ; propaganda posters appeal to fear, resentment, social-approbation, and shame. Advertisements recede into history, but they retain their emotional glow—we still enjoy old neon hotel signs and Coca Cola ads on the side of brick buildings. Propaganda maintains its darker emotions too—some of the kinder ones, like Rosie the Riveter, have crossed into pop culture, but war bonds posters from WWI and racist posters from WWII have understandably vanished.

Propaganda posters from other cultures fascinate me because they contain grim honesty. What people were meant to fear and how that fear was instilled is telling. It seems to me that propaganda varies between nations more than advertising because differences are often the source of fear.

The publishing company FUEL has a series of interesting books about Russian and Soviet culture. Their book Alcohol collects dozens of Soviet anti-drinking posters. Some of their are stylish. Some are tacky. They depict every manner of disordered drinking–children drinking, drinking during pregnancy, factory workers drinking, drivers drinking, people drinking poisonous moonshine. These are distressing ideas; they must have occurred often enough to cause anxiety.

I’ve mentioned this book to several people, and they are always surprised to hear that Russia ever suggested drinking less. They find drinking and Russia to be synonymous. Most of these posters are from the 1980s, as part of an initiative under Gorbachev. If American perception is any measure, the propaganda seems to have been ineffective.

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