Celebrations are Less than Twenty Days Away!

Weblog is up to date, and all the plugins seem to be working correctly and upgraded. Checked. (on with the post) With May2019 long gone behind us now, and we are roaring into the summer season, so many events are taking place around the Skeena Valley, it is getting hard to keep track of them. Summer is upon in a few days, also marking my second anniversary moving back to the Skeena Valley. Wow, two years already, as time flies by. The Summer Solstice is less than twenty days way(June 21). As we are now in the month of June. The days are so long here (it does not get dark until 11PM. And heat, we are getting days at over 30C., super warm. Climate Change is real folks, this is not North Coast weather when was growing up here as a kid.

So yesterday, June 1st, me a SUz., took a small hike along the River, to seck it out, and for some much needed exercise. We came upon some Rock Art, or words made of ricks. “YES” was one of them. I thought this was cute. And there are others to see, and the spring floods is making the river water high, but not flooding. Which is the new signs of the times, with the hot weather. water levels are staying low.

If I remember the original words were “BACON LOVE”, and just took a photo of the heart, because they made it with only the red rocks found here.

Some more rock river art.

This strange creature. More or less man made, not a natural fluke, or is it?

Next.

A face, with buck teeth, and a red nose. Winking at you.

Seeing the high water or spring run-off which is typical this time of year for the Skeena River.

Our first Spring hike Along the sand bard North of the Skeena Bridge

Just letting everyone know that I am still dealing with some bugs on the blog. I’m not sure what is going on, but I will never use MS products again, as I believe that is the root of my issues. Importing photos is still a challenge. So I’m going to give it a shot today, and see how this will work out. Not sure where the bottle neck is occurring. But I got it to work yesterday. Need more time with it. So here it goes….

Yeah, it worked! The above shot was from me and Suzette did our first hike of spring, Along the Skeena River, just on the North side of the Bridge on the sand bar. There are no alcoholic beverages at this bar I’m afraid. Only sand, at least 2 hectares of it. Ice still floats on the river at the ice break-up still had not finished. But the day was awesome. About 12C, and clear skies. A wonderful spring day indeed. We saw a couple of people out fishing with small rods, did not see them catch anything. but they seemed like they were having fun.

To our amazement, we found the Spiral Rock sculpture that some made from last year. It is still in its same condition from when we first seen it last year at that spot. I thought last year’s flood wiped it out, but the the water never made it over that part of the sand bar. surprise.

 Suzette says we walked 5100 steps on our hike. When I looked at Google Maps, I think we might have walked over 5 KM, sill  quite a  hike so soon after , so we got our exercise after six months during winter. My legs are still feeling it. OH yeah, finding a place to walk over the little creek without getting wet stumped us for a while. We laughed when we saw bear foot prints in the sand, as someone took off their boots and waked through the creek. Cold, is all I can say, and the value of water proof shoes is worth it weight in gold in these parts. still cool out. Seeing the bear foot prints was funny to see. It is still cool out, and there is ice and snow on grown in some places.

 

The clouds seemed to be moving away, out from our area, up the valley. so the day was getting more sunnyer (if that is a word). It was good to get out in the fresh air.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

As usual, I created another Valentine’s Day graphic for the yearly event, and this year I went with the Steam Punk theme. I put in the standard heart shape, with a bunch of 3D gears and “doo-dads” into the art work, to make it look as cool as I could, using the 3D software. I think it turned out awesome, but that is just me. See for yourself.

So, happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

New Video Card–A Blending We Will Go!

So, on today’s program, it is Blender Time. So let me back up a we bit, say a month ago. Back then, I installed my newer video card because my older video card was not to speed with the latest release of Blender, loving called software “Blender 2.8 Beta.” As work and time sped on, my time to play with the program and fully test it out on my video card, passed by. It was not until today that I dedicated time for myself to play on the PC, taking the graphic software to it limits on my poor old computer. In general, I am really happy with it. I just love the GUI layout.

I was really surprised with all the changes, as I felt my way around, I quickly picked up on new GUI. At first, Shock and Awe, hit me as I looked at the new layout, thinking, “I have to relearn everything….” This was not case. In fact, I can say, these changes are really quite natural, and mesh with my regular user experience and feel of my Operating System. I am very happy that Blender went to the Left Mouse Click. But yes, I did get a little frustrated having to look for stuff, all over again.

The new look, I feel, speeds up my work flow. Everything can be accessed from the main window–I like that. The new widgets, with names and Icons, also are a huge improvement. And to think, this is the Beta for 2.8. So, every week I download the latest build, and I see the improvements. It is awesome to see the progress.

The new rendering Engine: EEVEE is awesome! However, it has some more work needed before I can say it is perfect. I had to get a new video card becuase Eevee would not work, and even with this card, Eevee clunks and sputters when memory is nearing full. But the real time viewing is nothing short of awesome. You need a fairly good video card that can handle the extra horse power, say at least 2GB of video RAM. And the Grease Pencil would not work as well, as it needed the new video card too. Once the card was installed, the magic happened.

The above render I used Cycles, as Eevee still lacked some of issues of not capturing some mesh areas, and left blacked out areas in the background. Even using the Cycles Engine, the improvements are impressive. Less time rendering was the first thing I noticed. The number of crashes has been greatly reduced too. But the way Cycles is catching light reflections with the surrounding materials, is hugely improving. The above render took only a few seconds to render out, at 150 samples, and the result looks great.

Upgrading Down Hill

Yes, it is that time, time to do some house cleaning on the old PC, get rid of the ever growing directory of “spent off files” and drivers, and start with something that resembles shinny and new. Yeah, well… Somehow, the best laid out plans can go into the black hole pit of doom, leaving a quick regress to the back-up “save my butt” revert button. It worked, and yes, I did have to use the old backup tool: to save my butt.

First, let me stress the importance of creating back-ups of all your data. Especially when you are one hundred per cent sure that the upgrade will according to plan. Never skip this step–or you will be sorry one day.  I was thankful I did not skip it–really.

My main goal was to upgrade openGL on my graphics card so that I could maximize my 3D software. All was going well until it was apparent that my card was at almost dinosaur status, and I will need to buy a newer version before to long. As I going through the upgrade process, I notice my graphics resolution get bigger and bigger. I run Linux, so the results are far different than other operating systems, but when you see this, it usually means that you have graphics card problems, and best to run away, far away–to the hills. I went ahead and put my faith into the programmers that I would come out victorious! I am such a fool…

I installed and upgraded to the newest Kernel, 4.54… something, and things got worse. Reboot after reboot, going into recovery mode, my plummet into the pit of doom crossed the event horizon. Sadly, my fall now meant that must wipe out the drive, and start from scratch: a clean install. Something I should have done in the first place, with hind sight being twenty-twenty.

Fortunately in Linux, installations times are short–ridiculously short when comparing it to those other guys. Moving up to the last-greatest Linux Mint 19, proved futile. The hardware was buggy, and I zeroed it down to the graphics card. So back to Mint 18.3, and setting everything back to what I had prior to upgrading.

For an investment of nearly five hours, there were no fruit to bare on this tree, just me licking my wounds, still seeing the image of my monitor burnt into the backs of my eyes when I close them. I see now that I will have to buy another monster graphic card to keep my artistic juices flowing at peak capacity. Time to shell out a bunch of clams for the privilege of using the latest greatest software for 2018/19.

Smile

It is Friday, and on top of that, a long weekend ahead. The day is going smooth, with no real issues, and the people around me have been awesome. The office phone only rang twice today, and no messages were left when I started the day. Outside, it is weirdly warm for November, here in the Skeena Valley, a whopping 10C on the building thermometer. It is overcast, but the sunlight pokes through often.

Tonight, the plan is to spend the evening with Suzette, have dinner at her place, see a movie, and get lots of hugs from her two cats, Neesa and Oreo. Also, we make do a walk through the Mall and check out some other stores in town before they close up for the day before dinner. The sleepy little town of Terrace, is pretty much asleep after 9:00pm on Fridays.

I did more back-ups on my 4TB hard drive that I was having trouble with last year. For some reason, I managed to get it to format. I run Linux on all my machines, so usually I have more luck with getting hardware to work, than I do with those other “U Pay For it” operating systems. However, this time I tried formatting with FSNT, and the drive took. I was formatting with EXT4, witch is  Linux format, and I could not get the drive to work. Oh, by the way, to transfer 4TB of back-ups, is a 18hour operation.

Well, the day is moving into evening, and it is time to get ready for Suzette. I bid you all good evening!

Doing Some 3D Work at Home

It has been a while, leaving my rendering and animation hobby sit on the shelf for nearly a couple of months now. I was not too busy for it, but I did have other “likes” I wanted to pursue first before I jumped back into doing 3D art work. So, being I was talking a one week holiday, this week, from my “real job,” I made it a week of rendering on my 3D software. And rendering I did.

So I completely recreated it from scratch, again, my Egg Head character, but this time making it as a female. So, her she is, Ms Egg Head.

Those first few steps were hard. 3D Blender is not an easy piece of software to learn on. Setting up the rigging for the mesh, I had to go right back to my help files to relearn the process, as I completely got stuck with the Inverse Kinematics settings on the armature. The other issue I had was setting up the mesh, so it matched the armature the way I wanted it to–that took a day to get it the way I wanted it to go. But, I was pretty happy with my results. The mesh, and rigging, took less that an day, and I was doing basic animating the next day. The stuff I am doing here is “kindergarten” stuff to what the software can do. You can do Motion Picture grade work with 3D Blender–it is everywhere.

Anyway, I am currently rendering out a small “Dance” video. We will see how well that goes. More to come.

I Solved My Sci-Fi 3D Art Issue – Happy Friday The Thirteenth!

First, Happy Friday…, the Thirteenth. I know, for those of you who are supper superstitious, I feel for you. I really do. But it is all psychological. Trust me. Now that we got that out of the way, I finally solved my 3D art issue with masking 3D objects onto a photograph, or movie clip. Actually, I am kind of embarrassed about it because I learned this a long time ago, but completely forgot. So I had to relearn how to use the compositor all over again. My argument, 3D Blender has a very steep learning curve, and you just do not pick it up in one day–it is that huge!

So, here is my image. Obviously it is a composite, or as they say in the U.S., a fake image. But I think if we had a large planet, with rings, very close to us, this is what it would look like. So I was going for as “real” as I thought it would be like, as possible.

My issue with 3D Blender was getting the 3D image, the planet, behind the mountain, which I shot in Rosswood, BC. I had the Mask working, but I could not figure out how to get it work properly. My solution was to use the Alpha on the background, or Alpha out the World View, making the background fully transparent. It worked, and it worked even better then I would have expected it would. I am happy with this.

Now I just need to work on better textures and colours for the planet, and get some better stock photos that I have on my hard drive. Hope you like the photo.

A Warm and Quiet Weekend

I finished up a bunch of clean-up and resets on my website, so much fun, spent nearly three hours doing that this morning. The last few days I have spent with my nose in over-drive as the lilac bushes spew their pollen in the air. After a short-week, the workload at my work had dropped again significantly, I am happy once again. The biggest change for this weekend has been the weather, the last couple of days have been overcast with a bit of drizzle, but I am not complaining–we needed it badly.

Outside it is raining in the form of a light misty drizzle. It feels nice, although it is cool out, a mere 12C, but still nice to be in. After such a great month of May, people here are saying that we started spring with a bang, and with the forest fire risk rising up to “High,” the last couple of days, it dropped down to “Medium” adding relief back to the land. Even the Skeena River never got that high, as far as the spring time floods goes; this year it only rose up a few metres, hardly measuring that much of a significant change overall. But around here, on the North Coast, weather can change from one extreme to another, so no one can honestly predict it with long term accuracy.

I was happy with the long weekend last week, but sadly I knew the shorter week meant cramming five days into four, and that is what happened. I got through it, and the week did fly by in terms of time, but my rest and relaxing levels were back into “normal,” throwing out all the gains from during the long weekend. Yes, what is “normal” anyway? 

Last night, me and Suz., saw the New Hans Solo film. It was great, but I was not too happy with the 3D, I felt it lacked. But the plot was good, and (as all Star Wars movies go) the eye candy was awesome. The local cinema, The Tillicum Twin Theatres, was almost over half full, being that the film had been out for three days already. It was so it nice see the turnout, I think going to cinemas is not going out of style any time soon.

Allergy season is upon me. With the flowering of the lilac bushes, spewing their pollen out into the air, my nose drips with rage, as I spend my time blowing it to keep the snot levels from plugging it up. With the running nose comes headaches and dizziness, making sleep time difficult, and daytime activities tiring. It is comforting to know this time is short, but I dread this time of year as the annual cycle renews itself. The lilac flowers look pretty, but it is a love-hate thing with me.

I have been neglecting my website. Normally I am on top of it, checking it daily, weekly, performing update, tweaking and configuring the software, but lately I have been focusing my life on other things. Today I decided that I needed to roll up my sleeves and dive in. Some software were already badly in need of attention. My spam filters were in need of updating, and spammers were already by-passing some of my earlier hacks, so this was high on my list. I only had a couple of plug-in that need the update treatment too, but those were minor. But the biggest fix came with my hosting provider which did a lot of changes to my overall website. Let just say, the upgrade are awesome. The great news, it is all up to date now–making my happy once again.

Woah, the Sun popped through the clouds, this could be another great day. And I got a free car wash too from Mother Nature! Praise Nature! It looks so clean and sparkly in the gleam of the sunlight.

The photo is my growing rock and crystal garden on top of my PC. I bought another quarts crystal yesterday at the Gypsy Lady, in Thornhill, BC, just down the road from me. Among the quarts crystals, I have a chunk (95g) of Galena (Lead Sulphide), and a few pieces of Bornite (Copper sulphide, or Peacock Ore) mixed in too. I went “black and white” for that artistic licence with the image.

Not Enough Tom

It is beginning to cloud over, with a sprinkle or two, here in the Skeena Valley, this after an awesome two weeks of sun fill days that could cause a suntan if you are not careful. It is hard to believe it is still May here on the North Coast. Awwwww, climate change, marvellous. But that is not what I am going to blog about today. No, this is my monthly round up what is going on in my little corner of the neighbourhood. This month, I call it, “Not Enough Tom” to go around. Between the needy around my place, and all four levels of Government, my hard earned money is being targeted like Mexico paying for the “Trump Wall” along the Southern U.S. border, I keep saying “No,” but the “please” keeps sounding in my ears, louder, and louder, and louder. In our free and democratic country, the need for Taxes grows ever stronger, where “asking” turns into “taking,” and like the Internet scammer, the sound has become more demanding than ever before. The root cause in my mind is, the needy get less back from the Government, so both Government and the needy turn to the Middle-class for more. I ask, “What part of NO don’t you understand?”

In my everyday routine, the to and from work part, I get asked at least once for “something” by my neighbours, in my neighbourhood. It may vary, from hard cold currency, to material items like tobacco or access to the Internet, but in all cases, the asker is someone who is either self medicating or mismanages their income in varying degrees. Whenever I enter my car, or leave it, that is usually where someone will ambush me, and the asking starts. I am an easy target here in the Thornhill Ghetto: I drive my own car, and it is shiny and black, and I have a job–a regular job–yup, paint a “bull’s eye” on me. Even the Government is asking for more, but I have been able to hold them off for now through tax loopholes and investment incentives through reputable programs, but that is still money I can not spend for myself right now. So here is the list: from “least,” to “most often.”

ONE: The Internet scammers are working harder than ever. In the last month (April 15 to May 15, 2018) My phone has logged up an impressive twenty-six callers that use “spoof” I.D. on the call displays. Yes, I screens my calls, and if it is “friend or foe,” it either goes to voice mail, or I answer it back–but “picking up” is almost a no-no.

TWO: The Taxi service out here in the Skeena Valley is very expensive. Unless you are disabled, either through health issues, or through intoxication, walking is the only true and tried method of getting around without a working and licensed vehicle, on a pauper’s income. Most do not like walking, especially if you live way out in the “sticks,” and you want to bring back that “twenty-four Pack” from the Beer Store, to your home. If you do not have money for a Taxi, then you target your buddies who own a vehicle. I get asked at least four times per week for rides. There are only three of us who have our own vehicles here in the Ghetto. I give no rides, becuase once you open that gate, then the flood begins. We have transit, yes, real actual buses that for a small fee, and it gets you back and forth from town–and it works becuase I know from first hand experience. Forget the Taxi Service and take Transit!

THREE: Being asked for money is the most often need I get asked for by my neighbours of all. Usually, it begins with, “I need food,” while they puff on their cigarettes, to “I need money for Cigarettes.” Sadly this is a reflection on the State of Canada’s economic well being, and those who made poor lifestyle choices. We are heading down the path of great economic disparity between the rich and poor. Lines are drawn between the old and the young, the Educated and labourers, all while those who are property rich cling to prosperity, and the “property poor” pay more and more to live in shacks. We have to learn to live without, and adapt to this economic change. We have choices, and drugs and alcohol are easy once to make, you just need the willingness to do it. But most of all, food should be made the first choice over Cable TV, and so on. To date, being asked to give money is by far the most often request I get here in the Ghetto.

In closing, I like say this: there is just not enough Tom. Yes, I save, but it comes with great sacrifice, but I do it. I plan, and it comes battling forces who try to disrupt my goals to their means, but I still plan anyway. For those who do not save up for their future, or plan for it and set goals, then these upcoming days are going to be your hardest ever. The poor need to ask the Government for more, not from me, becuase Government is taking so much as it is, and they make the rules. So, there is not enough of me to go around.