I’ve never made proper resolutions. I’ve never understood why January first is any different than, say, July 14th or March 27th as far as “I’m going to do starting on ” statements. If you have a goal, do it. The dates relative to the year’s beginning or end aren’t really important.

With that said, some observations of the past few years:

My love of photography peaked in 2009, I can’t really deny it. There’s 65.2 GB of photos from that year alone and 5 GB from 2011 and 2012 combined. This past Christmas marks the first time I’ve gone on any sort of roadtrip and left it at home. It’s just fading out of my life and that’s not good or bad or happy or sad, it’s just something that happens. I’ve always wanted to get into video but frankly, it’s a mess. Every time I shoot something there’s some issue with codecs or encoding or RAM or rendering and it’s tiresome. I spent countless hours last year trying to get film that I’d already shot into something usable and in the end never released it because the image quality took such a hit working around the technical limitations. Art – at least in that context – shouldn’t be frustrating. I shouldn’t spend more time fighting with the canvas than painting.

Blender experiments will continue, but I’ve reached my classic impasse where my ambitions outweigh my patience. I simply don’t care enough about a scene to spend the time setting it all up, even if my skills are entirely adequate to do so. There’s a certain excitement when you first start that says “This’ll be so cool when I’m done!” and I’ve lost it. I just don’t care enough about what I make. It’s message-less and bland.

So. This upcoming year. Next week:

I want to finish a comic. I’ve written a handful of scripts and some of them might even have legs enough to go somewhere, but I always make the first page and stop. Again with the patience thing: my ambition quickly outruns my ability to make them and I get frustrated. On every front, in every medium, I’d like to learn past this limitation and start truly shipping work.

On a personal note, I’d like to take up running and biking again. I did both a lot as a kid and just sort of lost them. Last summer I logged a lot of hours on the longboard, which is awesome, but something a bit more cardio might be nice too. Spend more warm, sunset evenings reading in the park. Maybe it’s just the winter blues right now, but I really should have done even more of that than I already did. Similarly; more hiking and camping. More log splitting and fire making.

I’d like to try paragliding in spring.

Why I Argue

The odds are good that if you’ve ever spoken at length with me, you’ve encountered debate on some level from me. Know that while the medium is socially unusual, it’s actually me caring about you. Here’s the breakdown, as best as I understand myself right now:

My mind in it’s analytically monstrous state is at best a prodding machine, I find a topic or an issue or a conversation and dissect it at great, great lengths from every angle. Sometimes this is over time, and we call this “obsession” – which I revel in – and sometimes it’s instantaneous within the conversation, a talent which is used for humor; most comedy is about absurd connections between things. I am a dot connector. I am a spectrum analyzer.

We have in our everyday encounters these topics, these issues, that exist at their most basic on a spectrum. Most issues have more dimensions than a simple position on a line, more positions than simply shades of grey. Some people think only in black and white and these are usually insufferable people to talk to, best left ignored. Some people recognize the gradient but fail to see it’s connections to all of the other gradients and these are at least somewhat interesting, and usually at least willing to look at the bigger pictures and connections. The people I truly love to talk to recognize the abstractness of the ideas and are willing to dive into them fully. The people I truly love to talk to are the ones who are not only willing to debate from positions on said spectrums but willing to debate from any position, fluidly. My ideal conversations are ones in which we have no fixed sides but instead dance around to figure out the terrain via prodding at each other’s relative positions as we move over them.

The medium of debate is how I understand where something exists and, more importantly, where it does not. Occasionally words and ideas are shots in the dark that produce an echo – a sign of some wall or structure. We can continue firing in a variety of ways in order to map the surface of the object, the issue at hand. The end result of this, although it looks like arguing, is people coming to a conclusion of not who is “right” and “wrong” but what the issue at hand actually is. I don’t actually care if I’m right or wrong, and I don’t ever intend to imply the other person is right or wrong, my intentions (and hopefully those of who I’m talking to) are to simply understand.

If I don’t care about you personally, or about the terrain from which you preach (a word which here means I assume you are inflexible to your position (and might lightly poke to find out)) then I won’t engage you. There’s very little to learn about a subject if the sonar pings from the same direction every time. A flat view reveals so little of what could be a rich topic, I’ll simply find someone else to explore it with.

If I care about learning your position and want to understand it, I will try to find out what exactly it is. The best way I’ve found to do that is to disagree with it. But know that it’s a devil’s advocate thing; I don’t have to personally believe anything I say, I simply use thoughts and ideas to understand where you lay. It’s a game of Battleship where I can learn about the issues at hand and also about you personally, since most people won’t stray far from their actual, honest personal belief.

As a side note, this is why I write: to prod at myself. There are many examples in this blog where I start of with one thesis and close with the opposite. I’ve changed my mind halfway through laying out the evidence and since I don’t go back or edit, it stays that way. The famous aphorism: “Write to know thyself”

TL;DR I debate to prod at a topic in order to understand it. If I question you, it means I hold you in high enough regard to help me learn.

Goods and Services

I was reading the other morning about the rise in my generation with renting houses / apartments and having no desire to own them. I fall under this demographic, and I tweeted that the reason I’d buy my own anything is so I can design / customize it to my liking.

My car, whatever I end up getting in spring, will be ridiculous. I want to vinyl wrap it and buy ridiculously bright coloured rims. I want it to be silly and unique and fun. I want to smile to myself whenever I walk up to it. That ability is one of the few advantages to buying your own car. I’m not sure what the numbers are for Uber and the Car2Go system, but I’m willing to bet owning a car is more expensive. That ability is a luxery that I’m willing to pay for. That and Car2Go doesn’t yet include my work or grocery store’s areas in it’s zone which means I couldn’t use it anyway. But I would, if I could. I think it’s brilliant, as do everyone that I’ve talked to about it.

We are a generation, as it’s been pointed out, that doesn’t really value owning things for the sake of owning them. I own a car so that I can be assured that there will be one waiting for me when I wake up in the morning, but with the abundance of C2G cars you’ve solved the same problem. Now, I happen to live right at the fringe of the okay zone, so they’re less common on my street vs. say, downtown core (where the whole walk up and go thing really is that easy) so I’d probably have to walk a few blocks in search of one in the morning. Not really ideal in the dark Canadian winters, stressing about finding one before work and freezing to death. So, it’s practical for me to own a car but I don’t see the ownership as a pride thing in itself.

Okay, so we have a problem and a solution for transportation. In fact, adding taxis and buses and trains, it’s pretty well covered. What about living.

I rent and love it. I honestly don’t understand why you’d buy a house other than equity, which is a fancy word for not being able to move ever. I don’t mow the lawn or shovel my walks or worry about re-shingling my roof when it hails. I don’t worry about property taxes or a half of the kinds of bills home owners would. I’m not sure what the mortgage comparison would be, but I can’t imagine I’m paying more in rent than they are in paying down and I can trade up or down with relative ease as personal finances demand. It’s simply flexible. So it’s funny for my friends and I – a collection of mostly designers, science nerds and architects – when we read articles like this one, we see it as “Uh, yeah. Obviously.” Our generation simply doesn’t see the big deal in it. These are the ideas we see in the movies made in the 80’s, before we were born. Even then, those ideas were being recycled and upscaled from the older mid century “American Dream” mentality. That was 30-60 years ago, we just can’t relate anymore.

If predictions can be made, and this is mixed with personal hopes and dreams, I would say that we’ll see a rise in prefabricated and highly customizable houses that are more efficient in both space and energy and are subsidized somehow. We don’t want to own them. Our lives are messy and varied. We can be living in a bachelor pad and then move up when married and maybe kids and maybe back down when they move out and all of this can take place in a transforming, flexible environment. Gone should be the days of paying a large chunk of your life’s wages into a mortgage for a house that, by the time you pay it off, is too large for you after your kids leave. Divorce rate is hovering around 50%; I don’t condone it, but that’s a lot of shuffle for families and the architecture as it stands simply isn’t suited for it.

TL;DR all of the problems that we’ve solved around us: transportation to food to housing is moving from being a static good to a flexible service and we’re the generation pushing it how we want.

Unrelated: Happy 12/12/12, which is 12/12/12 for you Americans with the silly backwards date system.

Normal Mapping in Blender Cycles

It’s probably old hat to a lot of you out there, but I just discovered this and there wasn’t any high ranking Google help directly pointing to it, so:

Which takes normal maps (the rainbow coloured kind) and turns them into something useful in Blender’s Cycles renderer.


In case that ultra difficult node setup is getting you down, here’s the .blend file to play with. You’ll have to link up your own normal texture(s) and my “UV map” is literally just the default U press. Whatever. I just found this in Google images quickly, but you likely have your own.

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