Below are the 25 most recent journal entries.
Bones, bones, phantom limbs, and MUMMIES.
One of the great things about living in San Diego has been being so close to Balboa Park—it not only has tons of great running trails and the World Famous San Diego Zoo, but it’s host to several fascinating museums.
In fact, the ongoing joke since I’ve moved here was that it took me nearly a year to make it to the zoo; every time I would pedal through the park intending to visit the zoo, I’d stop to check out one of the museums “just for a second.” Four hours and a museum membership later, I’d leave the museum as it was closing, far too late to make it to the zoo.
The Museum of Man—yes, the one with the big tower, at the end of the bridge over the 163, yes that one—not only has interesting current exhibits, but they accompany those exhibits with associated lecture series that are free to museum members. Having been a huuuuge X-Files nerd, it should surprise no one to hear the first exhibit that lured me through the museum’s heavy doors: Strange Bones: Curiosities of the Human Skeleton, on display through January of next year.
Tori Randall, PhD, curator of the Strange Bones exhibit, lectured on television crime shows, and their accuracy in depicting forensic anthropology:( Phantom Limbs!Collapse )
On Friday of last week, the museum opened a new exhibit on the art and science of mummification.
It’s really only as big as shown in the picture above. Just a single loop. But it’s densely packed—they’ve definitely made the most of the exhibit space. I did my best to sketchnote it, amidst the loud crowds:
The following day, the museum held a lecture with three of the scientists from whose work the exhibit had been created.
Afterward, Dr. Ron Beckett gave the group a guided tour of the exhibit, adding backstories to several of the artifacts, and generally being so full of enthusiasm for mummy studies that it was terrifically contagious.
Modern Day Mummy (no hyphen, oops) runs through March. It’s definitely worth going to see well before then.
More sketching from Flickr.
Finally took some time to draw this morning. (Work has been busy.) There are a few other things in my sketchbook since the last post, but not enough.
Archeologists will probably be able to piece together my life by finding all of my unfinished to-do lists.
At the beginning of this month, I was fortunate enough to make the line-up of the second local Ignite San Diego—um, yes, I moved—to talk for five too-short minutes about ...waffles. Not just any waffles, mind you, but Liège sugar waffles! I'd tell you right now why you should care about these amazing confections, but I talk about just that in the presentation. Without further adieu,
Official videos are on their way sometime soonish (hopefully) but for now, you can check out this bootleg video:
( Annotated special edition of the script, plus behind-the-scenes stuff...Collapse )
Where can I find these waffles?
If you're the instant gratification sort, you're probably looking for a place to buy these waffles. Now that I have more than 15 seconds to explain, here's the details on Wafflequest San Diego:
( But what if I don"t live in San Diego?Collapse )
If none of these places can keep up with your craving, then try mixing up the waffles from Ruth van Waerebeek's kitchen: download this one-page PDF of the recipe and let me know how it turns out for you!
(Many thanks to Mrs. Ruth for giving her blessing to share the recipe here and in the talk!)
( Pearl sugar!Collapse )
Do you want some Belgian pearl sugar? I ordered far too much online, and have two boxes to give away. Holler in the comments and I'll mail it to you (while supplies last).
Maybe if I tell myself to do it, I will.
About time for some sketches, no? Yes.
Most of the drawing that I've done in the past couple months is at Draw Nights. A few friends and I (the same crowd as the 24-hour-comics event earlier) get together, talk comics and pop culture, and ...well, draw.
As a warmup (or sometimes as the only drawing), I try to pick an image from Flickr on my phone and spend 10-20 minutes drawing it in ink—no pencils. I'm slowly getting better at the crosshatching, although sometimes I still go a little too overboard.
More images in the set over on Flickr.
Coverin' up misdrawn lines with blue can make them seem intentional.
Hunting down the vinegar of why.
About a month ago, I was at the Microsoft MIX conference in Las Vegas, at the attendee party, in a very very loud club—that sounded like a laundromat where all of the commercial-grade washers had been filled with gravel and then put on the INTENSE WASH cycle. I had arrived late and was looking for people that I knew, and after wandering from one end of the club to the other and back, through all of the side rooms (which weren't any less loud, sadly), I happened to find some of my friends, and they happened to be at the bar, next to a gentleman named John Resig.
John is one of my geek heroes—he's the creator of jQuery and the processing.js port—and as fanboy as it was, I had to thank him for making awesome things...and pass on a story, which I figured he'd appreciate. It's a story about why. And to tell the story again PROPERLY, I need to clear my throat.
Back in August, John had written a post about why.
No, not why he (a Mozilla employee!) would be attending a Microsoft conference seven months in the future, but post about why. You know why, don't you? why the lucky stiff?
If you don't know of him, why is a who. He was a psuedonymous personality who evangelized the Ruby programming language by (among many other things) writing a completely unorthodox, cult-favorite textbook called
Why's (Poignant) Guide To Ruby. It shared his passion for the beauty of the Ruby language through long and seemingly nonsensical stories, comics, analogies, a homemade indie-rock soundtrack, and an eclectic cast of characters, including two cartoon foxes, Tall Fox and Short Fox.
Yes, those cartoon foxes. You know the ones. (You don't?)
It's perfectly okay if you haven't heard about the foxes, either. Don't worry. They're helping me tell this story.
About seven months ago, after years of being at the forefront of the Ruby community and the teaching-kids-how-to-code movement, why—and let's call him _why from here out, just for clarity's sake—_why pulled a Keyser Söze and just up and disappeared from the internet. *poof* His sites were all offline, and it appeared that he'd either been aggressively hacked, or had burned down everything he'd done on the internet.
I learned of _why's sudden disappearance from John's blog, where he'd eloquently eulogized _why. And from there, I spent an entire weekend afternoon reading through the discussion of what might have happened to _why, who _why might have been, and where people had been able to keep backups of _why's works alive on the internet.
Now, here's where the fun part begins. In rereading the (Poignant) Guide, I discovered the following passage in a sidebar of Chapter 2:
Anyone who’s written a book can tell you how easily an author is distracted by visions of grandeur. In my experience, I stop twice for each paragraph, and four times for each panel of a comic, just to envision the wealth and prosperity that this book will procure for my lifestyle. I fear that the writing of this book will halt altogether to make way for the armada of SUVs and luxury towne cars that are blazing away in my head.
Waaaaaait a tick! I know an Italian restaurant named Granado's:
...ooops! That's a restaurant called Granato's. But he did misspell “restaraunt,” too....
—and I was paying my bill. Happened to notice (under glass) a bottle of balsamic vinegar going for $150. Fairly small. I could conceal it in my palm. Aged twenty-two years.
Now, the Granato's that I know has a glass case near the place where you pay the bill, and I'm pretty sure that it has balsamic vinegar in there.
It couldn't be THIS Granato's, could it? Well,... _why apparently used to live in Salt Lake City—he was ostensibly at the University of Utah, so it was completely within the realm of possibility.
The next weekend, I went down to Granato's, walked in the front door
...facing the deli counter, (oh the suspense is killing me)...
...and turned around one-eighty-degrees toward the glass cases under the register by the door, to see, sure enough...
tiny bottles of aged balsamic vinegar!
(I guess no one told them that _why is gone.)
Now, while I could always head back and double-check, I didn't happen to note exactly how expensive these bottles are. Granato's could have sold the pricey vinegar of which _why spoke. Or perhaps the balsamic vinegar in the wooden case could be the very same, now aged another nine years, and even more expensive. Who knows? I prefer to leave this last ambiguity in the realm of tall tales.
Either way, hopefully, this little bit of geek tourism provides another little bit of closure for the millions of _why fans who were wondering where, just where, they could find _why's pricey vinegar. And with a disappearance as abrupt as _why's, everyone appreciates a little closure.
(Har har har. Sorry, Foxes, not that kind of closure.)
So, let's sum up:
I think it's safe to say that
and those expectations were met! In fact, it could be said that this was
What? You're not a fan of puns?
Let's hope not.
So that's the story—more or less, sans visual aids and horrible puns—that I shouted toward John Resig and others, in a noisy bar, late at night, in Las Vegas. I asked John if anyone had figured out yet just what had happened to _why, ...and it sounds like _why had just decided he was done. According to John, all of _why's sites and accounts had disappeared except an official lulu.com account, and a few days later when there were a surge of (Poignant) purchases, that account winked out as well.
Mr. _why, thanks for making lots of great things, like the (Poignant) Guide which is indeed, at times, very moving, Hackety Hack (my favorite), and many other wonderful books and inventions. The internet treasures your creative generosity, and you'll be missed.
Ignite Salt Lake Rap Battle
In the rare case that you haven't seen this yet, I had a nerdcore rap battle against
a couple weeks ago as a part of the March 4th Ignite Salt Lake.
Here's the video that his friend Sawyer recorded:
I've posted the slides on Flickr if you want a closer look.
This Ignite was pretty dang awesome, all told. Kudos to Jesse, Andrew, Ghennipher, and the crew for lining up a great evening. So many good presentations, from battleships to DUDE, roller derby to radio tomography, hand-painted slides (!!), diatribes about tribes, ...it's worth checking out the videos online.
Another thing crossed off the list!
Making a superhero mask (the easy way)
New comic! Today, we're making a mask—depending on how you prefer it, it's a superhero mask, or a Zorro mask (if, given the holiday, you're up to romantic plots or lovelorn swashbuckling),
or any kind of inventive mask you make it into.
...and you're done! Try it on and see how it fits.
(You can also download the whole thing as a one-page PDF, for printing on cardstock and cutting out.)
The mask template should look something like this when you cut it out:
You should be able to find the felt and foam at a local craft supply store, or order it online.
End result: one very nifty hand-made mask, and the unquellable feeling of being six years old again and running around in the backyard with a bathtowel as a cape.
(This is from a bit of birthday craftiness for my brother several months ago.)
David Mack at the Salt Lake Main Library
Last Saturday (a week ago), painter and comics creator David Mack visited the city's main library.
Mack was in town to talk about his recently-released book collecting the comic series Kabuki: Alchemy--of which he'd loaned a large collection of original art to the library's upstairs gallery for an exhibit for the past month (sorry, locals: the exhibit ended yesterday)--and to do a signing at the Library Square Night Flight comics.
He spoke enthusiastically for almost an hour about his creative process, about the perils of doing collage work, and on what led him to become an artist. I sat in the wings of the auditorium, with fellow Draw-Night-er Geoff, and took notes in a sketchbook.
(...notes inspired, admittedly, by Dave Gray's fun style of sketching speaker notes.)
Before the end of the hour, Mimi stepped up to the podium to encourage Mr. Mack to draw a few things for the crowd, and he whipped out some amazing, quick sketches with a brushpen.
As noted above, he used a Pentel Pocket Brush in the style of a Japanese calligraphy brush, dipping it in a small inkpot, and holding it straight up and down, orthogonal to the page, moving his whole arm in fluid movements. It was captivating to watch faces take form from the large swaths and splotches of black that he laid down on the paper.
I had work to catch up on, so I didn't stick around for the gallery tour or the signing later, but I'm glad I went. Mack's presentation was far more about wholistic storytelling process rather than just the exploration of painting+art+collage process that I was expecting, which was insightful and refreshing.
Edited to add: Looks like there's rather-exhaustive photobloggery of the talk and gallery tour over at
...including YouTube videos of the drawing demonstrations.
Bookbinding (and illustrating)
Last year, for my brother's birthday, I conspired with mineral_town to illustrate, typeset, and bookbind Nato's NaNoWriMo novel His Majesty, The Accident.
We worked on the illustrations for over two months: reading through a more recent draft of the book that we'd convinced him to send; researching old John R. Neill -illustrated Oz books in the city library for that grand Art Nouveau style; choosing the images from the text that would be most fun to draw; collating them all into a big Google Spreadsheet; realizing that we only had time to illustrate a tiny fraction of what we wanted to; then collaborating long-distance in the evening to make chapter headers (and a few splash pages).
Getting the book typeset, printed, and bound, was a bit of an adventure. After a wayward attempt to teach myself LaTeX/ConTeXt in a weekend, I typeset the book in Apple's Pages word processing software (which wasn't half-bad, and was a little friendlier in typography respects than Word). The typeface we used was Andrew Leman's fantastic Shipley Rough font, which was based on a 1920s pamphlet for the SCIENCE LEAGUE OF AMERICA. Shipley, you had me at Science League.
(If it isn't horribly obvious, I eyeballed all of the typesetting; now, having read a half-dozen typography books in the intervening months, I can see I made lots of terrible type-n00b mistakes in the leading, tracking, and general justifying.)
One of the nice things about living in Utah is that quality paper is easy to find. Because of the popularity of scrapbooking here, I was able to hit up an xpedx during a workday and get a ream of "Classic Natural White" linen paper with a good, toothy texture.
Then the plan was to get it printed up at
There's one more complication, though, before printing.
If you'll notice, most hardback books are put together with the pages grouped together in what are called signatures.
If you're printing four pages of a book on a single sheet of paper (two on front; two on back; folded in the middle), then grouping sets of 2-4 sheets together to make signatures, ...you have to do a little bit of math to figure out which pages need to print where. Both Pages and Word output PDFs in standard page order, too, so you need to shuffle the pages. This page shuffling and layout is called "imposition."
Thankfully, there's software that does this for you. If you're using a Mac, I highly recommend Cheap Impostor, which does all of this math and page-shuffling for you, and makes the job MUCH easier ...easier than it should be, frankly.
(If you're using Windows, a quick internet search turns up this list of imposition software that may fit the bill.)
So now comes bookbinding. Bookbinding! I had bound a book once before, so I had some bookbinding glue on hand, had bought some (canvas) duck cloth at a fabric store, owned a giant piece of chipboard (for the cover), and knew ...vaguely what I was getting into. I had a mad idea to take advantage of the Utah Book Arts program, which I'd just heard about only days before; they were extremely friendly, but it was far too late-notice to even see their facilities.*
Instead, I followed the detailed instructions from Indiana University on making a case-bound book. And unlike the previous bookbinding experience (which was much more, um, adventurous, and involved learning to use a sewing machine), I decided to stick to the instructions, this time.
(Note: It definitely helps to punch holes in the signatures with a fat needle before you do the actual stitching.)
I'll gloss over the remaining details (Step 1: Start bookbinding. Step 2: ???????? Step 3: BOOOOK!), because the Indiana tutorial linked above has more than enough, and the rest was just stitching, slicing, gluing, and gluing some more.
All in all, it was a lot of fun! I recommend bookbinding whole-heartedly if you've never given it a try. And I'm certainly biased, but I think the illustrations came out crackerjack.
( A few more illustrations behind the cut.Collapse )
* I actually got to meet the lively Utah Book Arts crew finally (along with shiga!!) months later, thanks to jimmytrout, but that's a story for some other time.
This November, I foolishly volunteered to participate in NaNoDrawMo.
NaNoDrawMo was an unfortunately-named variation on NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month) that was kicked off by Steven Frank, one of the super-talented gents at (awesome-Mac-software-foundry and official Katamari t-shirt haus) Panic. (Incidentally, their company blog launched recently, and it is quite possibly the most beautiful thing I've ever seen produced using WordPress. But that's getting waaaay off-topic.)
The general idea was to draw 50 pictures* in 30 days (during the month of November), all having a similar theme or telling a single story.
* ...because NaNoWriMo shoots for an end-goal of 50,000 words; a picture is worth 1,000 words; ergo, 50 pictures.
Ironically, while I was drawing every day for work (user interfaces!) I wasn't drawing the things I'd planned to draw (cars!), and with work piling up, side projects fell by the wayside.
Here's what I did get done:
November 10. (11/10/9!)
So in the end, I took the Sandler Variation. (Which, now that I'm coining it, is akin to the Gaiman Variation in 24-hour comics.)
Maybe next year. Wait, better--maybe I'll make more time to draw before next November rolls around.
As the drawings above show (and Danny Gregory exhorts), it doesn't take very much time to fit drawing into your day, and I'd eventually like to learn how to draw cars. (Better.) Two problem areas that I identified that I need to work on: tires (tricky!) and undercarriages (never tried).
(I should definitely note: my brother is a three-time victor of NaNoWriMo. Go, Nato!! I haven't read this year's Raymond-Chandler-esque opus yet....)
Although this is mostly a sketchjournal, there's a rarely printed subtitle of Jason Learns How To Draw (and other adventurey things). This is one such adventure: running in cold cold cold weather.
The first trick to running in winter is to dress warmly, but not so warmly that you'll be suffocated by clothes, sweating so much that your wet garments draw in the chill. Layers are key.
You don't need fancy running togs, but if you're planning to do a lot of winter running, I highly recommend getting a three-piece outfit including a long sleeve top, spandex leggings, and a vest. (Trust me, the vest makes a big difference when it gets below freezing.)
Shirt, running shorts, socks. I recommend shorts and socks with cool-max. (Eddie Bauer makes some great, thick socks.)
Long-sleeve overshirt, leggings, mittens, knit cap.
TOTALLY USEFUL HACK #1: Use old cotton socks as mittens.
This was a tip I got recently from one of my ol' high-school teachers. I was skeptical, but it works! A sock keeps your hands warmer than the cotton gloves that have fingers, but breathes enough so that your hands don't get too sweaty.
Vest, MP3-player loaded with podcasts, ...and (of course) shoes, not pictured.
TOTALLY USEFUL HACK #2: Stop your headphones from squeaking under your knit cap.
My earbuds tend to rub against the inside of the knit cap (since it's over my ears), causing a constant squeak squeak squeak as I stride.
Easy solution: put duct-tape on the earbuds.
No more squeaking.
Brrrrrrrrrrr. Hoppin' from foot-to-foot here.
It got down to 9° F today. Stay warm, people.
What are your tricks for winter running?
More later, but 12 pages in 24 hours at the 24-hour-comic house party with Derek, Rachel, Alan, Geoff, Elias, and Ryan.
( read the rest of the story...Collapse )
Next time, whenever that may be: draw something funny instead.
( More background shtuff.Collapse )
Derek & Rachel, thanks for hosting. Alan, "Combination Pizza Hut And Taco Bell (Wallpaper Remix)" is over here.
Figure drawing at the U!
Went to a figure drawing session at the University on Saturday morning with jimmytrout, and saw a bunch of the other Draw Night folks there, too (Geoff, Ryan, and pirate_club).
( Images behind the cut...Collapse )
...which brings up a question of netiquette for the artists who are more livejournal-savvy: when posting sketches from nude figure drawing, do you mark it as "adult content"? I don't think I've ever seen someone do so, but I've always been logged in so it's probably never brought it up. Is labeling these tremendously sketchy scribbles "adult" overkill?
A sketch to kick off 2009:
( ...and three more from December behind the cut.Collapse )
Happy 2009*, folks. May this be a great year for you, wherever you are.
*I'm late even for the Chinese New Year.
INEXACT SCIENCE #1: Human Attraction.
A very very long time ago, I agreed to draw 20 comics about science. Then life got mildly extremely busy.
Here is the first one.
( Full, giant-hearted 180KB comic behind the cut.Collapse )
Further reading (and sources) can be found here.
The Greatest Meme.
Bold talk, calling it "the greatest meme," but who can argue with this for all the benevolent educational awesomeness it'll produce?
beatonna just finished drawing 20 comics about historical figures, and now the gauntlet has been thrown, and a whole slew of people are jumping on board to do the same, but for different subjects, from literature to sports to comics, and more. Against my better judgment: Count me in!
I'll take the first twenty comments about scientific principles and draw comics about them. Lasers! Botfly gestation! Hawking radiation! Quantum mechanics! Bring it ON.
(Science. Who can resist SCIENCE?)
The list is complete! Thank you all. Stay tuned for...
1. Human Attraction
2. The Fundamental Theorem of Combinatorial Enumeration
3. Cold Fusion
4. Delta-32 Mutation
5. Quantum Double-Slit Experiment
7. Ant Pheremones
8. Fitt's Law
9. Stem Cell Research
10. Strong vs. Weak Nuclear Bonds
11. The Periodic Table of the Elements
12. Bernoulli's Principle
13. The Coriolis Effect
15. Phylogenetic Systematics
16. Exothermic Chemical Reactions
17. Background Radiation of the Universe
19. Something To Do With Parasites
#5: Not a superpower.
(See the larger image...)
...and that's five! This was fun.
You probably already knew this fact, though.
(Reminder: Comment in the original post if you want a holiday gift of five questions yourself.)
#4: Plotting something!
(See the larger image...)
What would a plot of your fears look like?
#3: A misspelled crown. (Not Korean Won.)
Next answer is up at the old post.
(Click to see the larger version...)
Question #2 is answered, over on the other thread.
(See it at a readable size...)
Meeeeeeme? Meme. (FIVE QUESTIONS.)
No fancy exposition here, because it's late. Waaaaay back in early August(!), I volunteered to be asked five questions by shumashi in some LJ meme, with the intent of answering in comics form. This month, I picked up a homebrew cartridge and a truly amazing little drawing program for the Nintendo DS after reading about it on a blog somewhere. The nice thing is that there's an associated Java app (by Ben Jaques) that can re-render your paint strokes at larger resolutions, or let you playback the paintings in faster than real-time.
So, after much dalliance (I've been rather busy), I've started to draw the answers on the DS. It's a bit of a challenge, what with the newness of playing with color...with no layers and no undo...but I figure it's a fun experiment to learn the ropes and doodle in free time.
I'll put all of the answers in this post, with a new notice as each is finished, so if you check back, they'll all be in one place.
1. What's the best meal you've ever eaten?
I really hope this didn't come across as picking a fight with vegetarians.
( ..and the other four questions.Collapse )
Same rules apply. Want to play the game? Ask in the comments if you'd like me to come up with five questions for you, and I'll oblige.
As Jeff said, he, Robert, Nathan, and I did a short sketchcrawl yesterday afternoon around the Liberty Park area. It was a good time, especially towards the end.
( About three pages of warmup, and then the following page, which I really like.Collapse )
( ...and then there was Gilgal Park.Collapse )
I never would have guessed that such a place was within walking distance of Liberty Park. Wow.
Thanks again to jimmytrout for organizing this!
24-hour comic "A Fish Called W-." over on slcomix...
Hello, happy people!
Last week's 24-hour insaaaaaaanity is now posted at slcomix.
(Feel free to comment either here or there, if you're so inclined.)
24 HOURS WITH FOURTEEN ARTISTS. Insanity. Hilarity ensues?
This Saturday (and Sunday), starting at 10am MST, I'm doing a 24-hour-comics day, against my better judgment, at Night Flight Comics with the likes of jatg and jimmytrout, others from slcomix, and possibly some "professional" comickers, too. I don't know if I'll have internet down there, but feel free to post random ideas here, and I'll refer to the comments here (if I can) when the creativity well is running dry in the long, dark teatime of 2:30am.
Wish me luck. Or just cluck your tongue at me. It's all good.