Some Crazy Hours On the Job

Yes, time; it is not on my side. Work has been consuming more and more of it. Tonight, I started from 5:00pm, and did not leave until 5:00am, racking up a total of three hours over time, making my day at work a twelve hour shift when you add in the meal breaks. This is the main reason for not blogging this last week. I am throwing in this quick blog-post just to keep you all updated.

Today, as it is nearly 7:00am, is my Wednesday, or Hump Day, and is also pay and bills day, as my hard earned money comes in, and goes out in one continuous sweep.  So, I am waiting for the Bank to open so I can cash my cheque, then I will sleep. Fortunately, tonight is a 9:00pm start for me, so I get an extra four hours sleep, or “me” time, (that extra time got sucked up in the overtime I just did) but nonetheless the later start time is welcomed.

Working the weekends is a lot different than working the regular day shift becuase I spend more time cleaning up, sorting and correcting, than the actual regular work of sorting, packing and scanning merchandise. Meanwhile, I have home chores to do too, and it is tough when you are sleeping during the day to get stuff done around the house. Funny thing I noticed, it is always raining when I start my weekend…, been like this for the last month now.

Space Scene Graphic

Last week I was trying out some new ideas for making a space scene in Blender, and I wanted to make some planets, in particular, the planet Saturn with a spaceship. Once I got something that I liked that resembled the planet, I then wanted to add some asteroids and a starry background to my scene, but then I got sidetracked making asteroids. I was playing around with the Displacement Modifier in Blender 2.74, then using a default textures with it to add the bumps to a sphere mesh, and that was when I just got overly creative. These renders took very little time to crate in Blender, and I have to admit, they look awesome.

Space Scene - Spril 08 2015 - Blender 2-74 Weblog Image

This was as far as I got with my space scene. I wanted to add more realistic asteroids, but that was when I created this spiky icy looking object that looks like an explosion frozen in time. When I stumbled upon this idea of using a displacement Modifier to create weird looking objects like this one, well, things just out of hand, and there went a whole afternoon!

DIsplacement Mod with Texture Blender 2-74 April 10 2015 Weblog Image

Yes, these little creations were a real big time-vampire!

Noise Texture Mods Beldner April 10 2015 Weblog image

So maybe later one when I start my weekend, I will do some work on my space scene. I will try and create some more realistic asteroids and see where that takes me.

Outdoor Spring Photo Session

I had a chance to walk outside when it was daylight (I am a night-shift worker) and it was sunny, so I took with me my camera while on a short hike. I missed some of the early spring flowers that started growing over a month ago, but I did see some wild flowers here and there. Also the trees are in full spring bloom as well here in the Lower mainland of British Columbia. So without further ado…

Spring April 07 2015 Weblog Image 05

Spring April 07 2015 Weblog Image 04

The top two images are some wild flowers growing here on the farm where I am living. The next image is sort of the my back yard. Yes, it needs a mow desperately, but when I get time.

Spring April 07 2015 Weblog Image 03

The next two images from the tree right next to my living room window. From my living room window on the North side, my view is nothing but these pink blossoms. Not sure what type of three this is, but the flowers only last about week before its leaves come in.

Spring April 07 2015 Weblog Image 02

Spring April 07 2015 Weblog Image 01

So that is it for today. I have to sleep, even thought this is a weekend day for me, I split my weekend up this week, but I am working tomorrow night, so I have to maintain my sleep cycle or I will pay for it. But it was nice to get into the Sun today. I almost forgotten how nice the Sun feels on my skin in the spring.

Going Deeper into 3D Graphic Art

I finally decided that it was time to start learning the process of layering objects with image textures in Blender. The idea is to use an image that is real life, say a photograph of a tiled wall, then project that onto a object-plain’s surface in a scene to mimic what that wall would look like in a three dimensional computer generated image. You can go one step further by adding bumps, reflective surfaces, and physical typology that matches the image to create a three dimensional version of it with Blender. The result is a wall in the 3D scene that would look like the wall from the photograph taken in real life, even though you only started off with a two dimensional image.

Working With BumpMaps in Blender 2-74 April 4 2015 Weblog Image

At first I could not make it work. In fact, several months ago, I gave up on it thinking that maybe Blander was not working properly with Linux, or there was still bugs in it that still have not been worked out with Ubuntu. Well, none of this was true. It worked, and very well I must add, I just needed to really sit down and go through the process one step at a time. There is lots of tutorials, both texts and video, but none seemed to fit the pieces together for me–I was always missing something.

A guy by the name of Andrew Price, who is a self-proclaimed Blender Guru, posted a video tutorial called “Realistic Texturing” that worked perfectly for me. He cleared up the mud, though I did discovered that I had to do a little tweaking in the node editor to get my texturing to work as compared to his tutorial. In the end, I was very pleased!

I only had one dry run at this, so with a three day weekend with just one third gone already, I may try several more attempts at texturing before I move on to other projects. So far, I think the work-flow is basic. Now, it is taking bump-maps to the creative level, and make some art with it.

Tiles Render from Blender 2-74 with BumpMap and Texture Image Weblog Image

I added a second image, my attempt at getting better “bumps” on the surface of a plain, but I see that I still need a bit more work on this. Maybe I need to “tile” the texture images over a larger surface, adding more resolution to the finished image to get a more realistic look? Well, anyway, I am off to a good start.

A Key Holder’s Life

There is a very strong correlation between how many keys one has, and how complex one’s life is. In my experience, all throughout my adulthood, the level of a stress-free and meaningful lifestyle, can be measured by how many keys I am holding at any one time. I really noticed this when I was managing a warehouse during the weekends for a company back in my late twenties. I remember the day vividly, starting out on that job, experiencing “super stress” for the first time with all the responsibilities that came with the position.

KEYS - April 3 2015 - Blender Render - Weblog Image

Looking at my key-chain then, I counted fifty-four keys attached to it, all different sizes and shapes. All the keys were active; they opened doors and turned locks needed to start equipment; they locked-up, turned-on and shut-off various facets of the daily routines that came with that job. This also meant that I had to be available, everywhere, throughout the time I was on the clock. But it did not end there. The keys stayed with me, almost 24/7, so in the event of another manager calling in sick, or he or she lost their set, then I was obliged to step in. Of course, with such responsibly came higher pay, which was the motivating factor that compelled me to accept this position in the first place. It was the stress that was attached to those keys that eventually wore me down.

Later on in life, at another point, I started to develop an upward growing collection of keys that reached critical mass, and I found myself again mired with super stress. It was in the winter of 1995 when my home in Langley City was burgled, and several items of high value were stolen. So, then came my period of “high defence” spending, were every door, window and gate had a lock installed on it, and it did not end there; my security PVR had a lock on it too, along with all of my harddrives on my PC. That was when the keys on my key chain started to populate. I was so paranoid of being preyed upon by the local thieves that I found a good deal of my time was spent opening and closing everything with my keys. The ultimate stress reliever was moving to a more rural residence, and overnight my stress was greatly reduced, along with my 1kg of keys.

One day, I hope to reach a Zen like state where I only have one key to serve me my whole day. Perhaps even going to a keyless life style, where everyone around me can be trusted, and not a worry in the world would cause me to keep a key with me, let alone to lock something up. But, as an old friend once told me (who is a Lock’s Smith) “a lock and key only keeps honest people out.” But at least with the seven keys that I keep with me now, I can deal with the stress and responsibility that comes with them.

Not One Prank By Those Old Fools!

I really was not that shocked having gone through the day and not received one single prank, the spirit of April Fool’s Day was just not there. Compared to last year, bring pranked twice, this year’s April Fool’s Day was down right boring and disappointing. But I should say, I did see other’s pranked at my work, or at least I knew they were pranked, but the victims never knew they were.

I was on the lookout for those would be pranksters, waiting for their prey to pounce upon. That was probably the prank right there, the anticipation of being pranked, and then never getting it. But how could I tell. Maybe that is the essence of the prefect prank: never knowing you have been prank until the next day when all is revealed?

This happened with my friends at my work; not knowing that they were pranked. Sure, I could have told them, but why spoil the allure of the prefect set-up, the gag, then the punch-line as everyone discovers the dirty deed. They were part of an active prank, the type where at the spur of the moment the prankster manipulated a series of events to set-off the prank. These types of pranks are not as a funny as the passive prank, were someone has put a lot work in it, creating something so unusual, that most fall for it right a way, then are left laughing when the big reveal is presented. Most of the passive pranks are more or less harmless, but they can have long lasting effects for those who fall for them, hook, line and sinker. Embarrassment is usually the emotion that follows.

Oh well, perhaps next year. Maybe I will rig up something for next year? Heh, heh, better watch out!

Yes! Little Creepy Fury One-Eye Bug Creatures Art

With the pre-release of Blender 2.74rc4 (yes, number four) I was excited to try out some of the new hair particle system features that were added to 2.74. Normally I wait until the actual full release of blender before I go off exploring it, but when I saw some of the new cool features you can do with hair, well, I just had to have a copy! I was not disappointed.

Fury Thing 01 Weblog Image

Some of the particle system’s new features has a “spiral” in the Kink hair setting that cam mimic curly fur/hair, for example, a sheep’s fleece, or curly hair on a stuffed animal. Also, you can create wet looking fur, like what I did above using the new interface in the Partial System.

Fury Thing 02 Weblog Image

Fury Thing 03 Weblog Image

These images were created very fast. Actually, I was impressed with how easy the work flow with Blender has gotten now. Even the render time seems to have been speeded up; however, all of these images were rendered at 350 samples, and the more hair particles you use, the longer the render time. The last image (bottom) took the longest, nearly 30 minutes becuase of the heavy use of six different particle systems using their own separate mesh.

UPDATE: April 1st, 2015

The Blender Foundation finally released 2.74 as of today. The first thing I did when I got home was tried it out.

First Fury Thing With Blender 2-74 April 1 2015 Weblog Image

More or less the same parameters as the images above, all rendered at 350 samples in Blender Cycles. Hard to tell if there were any significant changes from the release candidates, but I did notice that when I set the hair particles to over 5000, Blender did not crash on my machine!

Meeting Half the Family After Twelve Years

It wasn’t the whole family, but myself and my two younger sisters managed to meet up in Burnaby, BC yesterday. A nice surprise, since both me and my other sister had not seen our baby sister in just over twelve years. Sadly, we could only meet for a few hours, but it was worth it, as spending any time with them is worth it becuase of the long distances we live apart from each other.

Metro Town Shopping Mall in Burnaby BC March 28 2015 Weblog Image

We decided to meet at the Metrotown Mall, or just right outside from it as our rendezvous. My baby sister came in from Prince Rupert, BC, and was staying in down town Vancouver becuase she was in town to watch a rock concert that was happening on Sunday (today). My other (second youngest) sister came in from Victoria, BC, especially for this meet up, and she brought her husband and youngest daughter over to the mainland as well, but staying a different hotel. But this qualified as a family reunion–a rare event in our books.

Metro Town - Sky Scraper in Burnaby BC March 28 2015 Weblog Image

The weather was typical for an early spring here in the Lower Mainland, lots of rain, overcast, and yet mild. The photos I posted in here spell out just how dark and damp the day was, but we had a great time at the restaurant we stayed at. Good food, a fake fire pit, and a nice big round table to accommodate all of us, made for a great time. I snapped a few gigabytes worth of photos, and then drove back home. Yes, it was a short get-together, but anything was better not meeting at all; and thanks to my sister Julia for being such a pain in the butt, dragging me out of bed to make sure I was part of the reunion.

Thanks guys, I had a wonderful time, and it was great to see you all again!

Letting the Lights Go Out: But Longer This Time

I sort of cheated for this year’s Earth Hour. I went a lot longer than an hour, or ninety minutes, going almost for four hours in total. The truth is, I fell asleep. I turned off all of my lights, and feel asleep. So I guess it was not in the true grandeur of Earth Hour participation, but in some sense it could technically count; after all the lights were out–and they stayed that way until I woke up.

Unlike last year when I had candles fluttering away, and I turned everything off trying to take in zero electricity, but this time it was more of a reduction in energy use, not the full out–could turkey–Earth Hour observation I wanted to go for. Last year, and the year before, I was fully awake, and conscious, of what I was doing, making an effort to make my mark on the power grid. I guess only time will tell once the electric companies tally up their results, will I know how well my neighbourhood stacked up against everyone else. The town across the river from me won with a huge reduction compared to us!

This year’s Earth Hour started at 8:30pm local time (March 29). I was well fast asleep before that, and did not wake up until 11:00pm. But I did have some appliances running during the period that I was asleep, which meant I was drawing on the electric power grid. So I was not 100 percent complainant.

Next year!

A Tribute to Spots

As promised to my niece, here is a tribute to her favourite animal on the farm, Spots the goat. So, Paulla, here is the last photo of him that I have (Spots in the one with his head hiding behind the gate post) as promised. This photo was taken last October just before he was moved over to the larger field across the road from me, and as far as I can tell, he is doing great. He is a lot bigger, as he can put his head over the fence without standing on it with his front legs, and he has a full set of horns too–a really big set. I still see him every now and then up along the fence, but I hardly ever get a chance to walk that far up the road from my place.

Spot and the Other Two Goats Weblog Image

As you can see in this photo, all the little goats now have horns. These were your favourites from your last visit here last summer, all grouped up so I could photograph them together.