Saturday, October 31, 2020

Stream last night was - heff, I don't even know anymore. They're amazing. They just... take it all and run with it and I'm laughing, incredulous, helpless, because they stun me again and again.

I have confidence in my knowledge of my craft, but those guys and guyettes make me feel as if I'm a decent teacher, and that the fact I genuinely care about their progress is actually valuable. They are... a cause. And I really lack the words to describe how meaningful that is.


On a completely different note, my gods, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D season 7 is hilarious. I had to re-watch season 6 because I forgot all of it, and it was very good and essentially a romance story and trademark excellent Whedon multi-layered everything, and then there's 7, being absolutely piss-your-pants-off, while still being heartbreaking, fast-beat, witty, scary, campy, clever and thought-provoking. Nope, still not Firefly or Dollhouse, but really very, very good.  

...Wait, how'd it become seven in the morning?


Friday, October 30, 2020

Shower at 5 AM, should have been in bed hours ago but ended up binging TV of all things. And the morning crept up on me... and it was a nice night.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Drunk! In a pleasant way. Only two glasses of wine.

Slept like a log from eleven until three, woke up to find I fell asleep so fast I left the light on, enjoyed some time with Robin Hobb, realized I was hungry, had all the lettuce ever (I love lettuce), then decided the best and nicest way to fall stupid asleep would be to get drunk on that half a bottle left in the fridge. This feels nice. Also not having anything to do today feels nice. I hope I can read more Hobb, I'm curious to know how things go for those characters... 

I'd better go to bed.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

No piano

Tutorial's up and running, when the heff did my first tutorial go over 4.5K views, Lotro borked on the Fellowship weekly play today but it was lovely to spend time with them, I did some healthy cooking (because it's tasty, not because it's healthy) and while on Sunday I was as low as I only got thrice in my life, today I'm better because: 1.Ghoula   2.Professional help  3.My stream gang is incredible.

Working on fixing oneself drains energy but there's no better rewards than it offers, no better investment. And I don't know what magic they did, but it's nice to be eager about doing things, like that medieval kitchen, and I should really open commissions to some income after the tutorial week's break. 

But now I'm going to have that glass of wine, and to sleep, and it will be wonderful.



Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Sleepy gratitude for...

  1. Having slept so well
  2. Ray being Ray
  3. The silly, wonderful pink, gold-embroidered satin bedsheets he sent me and are on their way
  4. UPS (it's so nice not to have to worry about it getting lostin the post)
  5. Feifei sweetly, and unsolicited, suggesting people engage with my tutorial
  6. Feifei sending me that sweet note out of the blue
  7. All those people in my community, heavens
  8. Coaching-taught, organically engrained acceptance (when people regard others with depression as 'not being normal') it stung a bit but I mostly felt his love and care for me through it, and realized how different our circles are 
  9. Ģhoula
  10. The fact that there is something I can do, which helps! When there's an unbearable emotional overload
  11. Having discovered the main cause of my deepest emotional stress
  12. Peas and zucchini
  13. Feeling satisfied with having upheld my word by completing that tutorial
  14. Mascara making me feel well maintained
  15. The webcam forcing me to shower before every stream (depressed or not, it turns out that the disgust at the thought of looking unkemped in visual public is stronger)
  16. Being and feeling clean all the time!
  17. The cellist neighbour rehearsing beautiful music
  18. Knowing I can go back to sleep now

Tutorial Maker's log, day #07, after another break: It's finished!

21:30
Need to remake all the annotations, the colours are inconsistent.

01:28
Ending titles? Ending titles!

03:21
It's rendering the credits. Lots of interruptions, all nice, but I really want to finish this already; I keep feeling that the amount of stuff this teaches students isn't on par with the amount of time I put into it, nor is the quality of the finish. Perhaps it's time I asked Andrew Price.

Coaching the Elfgineer (כפרעליו) was as lovely as ever today, and was followed by the new, weird, organic tradition of chopping vegetables and cooking them with anything I want to eat, and thanks again to Ghoula for having made this look like zero effort. And it turns out that frozen peas thawed in some hot water taste fresh and wonderful, and that lightly fried zucchini, still crunchy, is equally nice, and I can't believe I'm enjoying all this when not 24 hours ago I was as close to calling everything off as I've only been thrice in my life. It's surreal. 

It's Ghoula, and professional help, and my coaching, and my community. That's what's keeping me here.

Not the prospect of a future. Not my family. Just Ghoula's intelligence, modern science and chemicals, the joy of coaching and the wonder of teaching - teaching Blender, and to these wonderous people. 

Oh hey, the ending titles finished rendering. <whooshes back to editing again>

04:20
Music.

04:33
Theoretically this is the final render, but statistically there's going to be things to fix in it; I miiiight only be rendering it so I can do the QA watch in double speed. How it got to be 22 minutes long is beyond me, but I'm going to try and make the next one more concise, even if I might not manage to make it shorter. 

04:45
It's 27% in, and in the meantime I started the next tutorial. I'm eager to improve the time investment / final product ratio. 

05:28
Rendering this took and hour and I now realize I messed up the music with overlapping already existing music effects. Yes. Yes. I am a pillar of patience. I am as calm as a Pandaren river. This is not bothering me at all. 

05:52
It's good to QA. The visual quality was very low, and I'm trying a different format now. Noob life! But I believe this is the final render, so I might be able to post the finished tutorial tomorrow.

The problem with making tutorials, I find, isn't the knowledge; it's how to explain it clearly and with minimum complications. Or words. Or time. One of the things that takes me the longest is cropping away overly long spaces between words and sentences - though I think I came up with a better way now; it's probably all due to that traumatic tutorial I watched desperately four years ago, which was so... slow... and... hesitant... and... um... full... or... erh... um... actually... no... wait for me to... click... there... and navigate through... four sub menus... um... erh... no, up here... actually... down there... as... you... watch... for thirty... seconds... of zero... information... on... screen...

Nope, nope, nope. Not ever making a tutorial which is 80% wasted user time. There are many of those, with a revolting user experience, and they always make me feel as if the person making them has gross disrespect for the users; as if they're made so the teacher can feel they did it, rather than actually getting the knowledge across.

So, not unlike a terrible book publishing with shameful translation, pathetic editing and embarrassing graphics that only cares about making money and gives zero fudges ruining the author's everything and forcing a reader to translate sentences back to English in their heads to understand the original meaning and oh, I think I segued into the Boat Of Never Start because it's infuriating and depressing, but at least there's amazing people like GetTheeHence in it with me. And he won the Israel Prize, so I guess someone appreciates loving attention to Hebrew after all.

06:09 
Oh hey, it finished rendering already? What the heff?!

06:20
Mental note, at least until I de-noob; never render vid on wmv. Also, it's uploading to Youtube now! Seven days of work done, yay!

In the meantime I went to rehearse modeling fingernails, which isn't a problem, but explaining it simply will take some time to figure out. And I should really plan this upcoming tutorial in advance, perhaps I'll simply go and do that until Youtube's done.

07:24
Aaaaand it's up! And how the heff does it have fifteen views before I even announced it? Oh, this feels nice! I feel accomplished.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Confessions on camera

My community, and Ghoula, I'm not even sure in which order anymore, are tonight's lux mundi. And while I'm not sure any piano would have been involved, they're the reason tonight it's a definitive 'no' and not a 'maybe'.

No piano. It's so weird how ten hours ago it felt like the only solution, and now the thought of not having it has a bit of relief to it. 

Anyway, it feels better and it's thanks to them, the community, the incredible gang; and to Ghoula. And tomorrow there's grown up things to be done about this, but right now it's time to snuggle on the pillows with Hobbs. I'm glad I'll get to finish that book.




Sunday, October 25, 2020

Lemminging reasons

Those get-socially-rewarded-for-humiliating-someone-with-lies screenshots depress me to the point of thinking there's nothing in humanity worth living for. I can't fathom such a wildly heartless state of mind.




Saturday, October 24, 2020

Tutorial Maker's log, day #06, after a break

Why did I even need a break from making this tutorial? Oh, right, hardware. Installing hardware and then the Fix It fairy spreading like leprosy. Anyway, back to it.

03:32
Things were lagging badly, I suspect because the software had to read a hundred different file segments. Rendered it all, now going to have a double-speed quality assurance watch and if everything's okay I'll put the annotations back on it. I hope this works.

03:48
What's 'visual consistency', Precious? Don't think I ever heard of that.

07:13
Nope.

It's odd to miss someone in a sweet way. I think I forgot that feeling, too.

Tonight I missed Moose. And Lit and Holly. And Srulu. It's kind of nice.

I didn't get much work done; I hope to, tomorrow. And it's so jice ti have those books Anna gave me as reading material; I love going to bed knowing there's an interesting book waiting for me. And it's great to finally get acquainted with Hobb, after all these years.

Bed ans liveships and sweet longing; it's a nice combination to cuddle with.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Fellowship; tutorial; action; hope

The Fellowship, now with horses!

That gratitude thing yesterday worked wonders; and the Fellowship was - well, they were... too sweet for me to be able to express without ending up - erh - it was too kind and too intimate. Small, caring and perfect.

And I felt happy and relaxed when I went to bed, which lasted through to the following day, which I spent combating the curtain. Some people might think this idiotic, but as someone who has had a phobia from duvet cases since she was five, I feel that home textiles are decidedly hostile and also overrated. When I woke up I absolutely didn't want to deal with ironing the curtain, so I ironed the curtain, an event so ready to burst with wasted hilarity potential I'm almost sorry I didn't end up burning my face. Or the house.
The curtain didn't end up crease-free, but by that point I'd spent an hour improvising (there's no ironing board at the house; I used a spread duvet on the kitchen side instead, and it was just as friendly as it sounds, and involved onions) and decided the universe is welcome to burn but I'm not touching that curtain again today. That was a very satisfying decision, followed by the usual tending to the fleshbag, aka coffee-food-hygiene, at the end of which I realized I might as well complete one more chore and finished my gross cannibal troll picture. 

I'm joking - making that picture was a delight, on account of the client being someone I like, and the topic being darker than the usual pretty elf lady looking sorrowful; and doing all of the above was a joy, because kicking yourself in the backside into doing what you need to ultimately feels great. Except the fleshbag; I'd give that one up any time.

...Which I might actually do. Not the giving it up - that is, this isn't a Lemming mood; nor have I found a way to download my consciousness into something with less maintenance or, for that matter, rump circumference; but I thought - seeing as my overweight literally rendered me a cripple, and seeing as I dieted for 31 years straight and, despite successes (hello, three years of being healthy-weighted but constantly hungry and irritable), I always end up being fatter, I feel that nobody can say I didn't try; and my caveat with bariatric surgeries was that it makes your life uncomfortable later and might kill you, but my life is so cripplingly uncomfortable now, and I really don't mind dying - not in the 'oh, I want to die' aspect of it, it's just that I'm equally happy to go on living or to stop it, almost always have been - then, well. I'm considering going for it. Time to use that medical insurance I've been paying all those years.

...So then the client was happy and I felt okay with returning to that tutorial, which I'm stuck with because I'm exploding with stuff to complete it but that doesn't fit in with this one, meaning I'm going to spend next week making the next tutorial, and if I don't find a way to make them more efficiently I'll end up hating making them, which I don't want to; so I need to come up with a different system for making them, which scares me so much I leapt at the chance to do some Lotro with the Bearette.


I played Lotro with Meegy, Feifei, Lucky, the Fellowship, and now Bearette and I have a solo (well, duo) campaign in there; because she's all childlike wonder, and I'm eager to see her exploding with joy at all the beauty, and the Fellowship is progressing too slowly for my tastes. So there we are, doing the Shire, and indeed she stops to look at flowers and contemplate what they're called, and I'm bombarding her, in-character, with Tolkien lore, and if this plan of mine works then by the end of this run Bearette (who never read any Tolkien, nor watched the movies) is going to be a true Tolkien fan, and a seasoned voice-tabletop roleplayer, because I'm slowly introducing her to that. And playing with her is very bit as lovely as I thought it would be; I just wish I could do the same with Moose.

And when we stopped I finally went back to the tutorial with a clear, fresh mind; I made a list of what needs to be done, and a list for what fits in the next tutorial, prepared some slides, spend two hours on making a cover image with the model, then realized keeping all those files in all those random folders made me uneasy so now I'm rendering the tutorial as is just so I can delete them. 

It feels good; it feels like being back on track, and progressing in a more orderly, less random, manner.

The character I used to demonstrate all those techniques on isn't one of mine - that'd make me uncomfortable - it's a random Zandalari troll, because even though I only ever play Alliance, I love the aesthetics and culture of the Zandalari, with all their pseudo-Inca charm; but the more time I spend on this model, shaping the body, fitting clothes and now even making a full picture with him, I'm getting sorry he's not someone's character; it's a bit of a waste. 

For the time being, and since I was using the Nathanos coat to demonstrate stuff, I ended up thinking he's got to be Sakumje Ghosttusk, Voodoo Detective, and I'm sticking with that one until someone claims him. And it felt nice to revisit the detective cliches - it's been too long sine Lazarus Lynch, Death Knight Detective - although I can't believe I forgot the fedora.

I'm rambling because I'm waiting for the render to finish; and because, while knackered, I'm feeling energetic and optimistic. It's all of it at once: The Fellowship's sweetness, Bearette in the Shire, completing the commission, being more methodical with the tutorial, the new hardware, the rampant problem solving irl this past week, the finally orderly cables, the cutlery drawer which looks nice for the first time in two years, and even contemplating the bariatric procedure; it all feels like being alive, rather than stagnant. A prospect of a future with a clean house and a body I can operate; of emerging rather than dwelling. 

It's a weird sensation. Is this hope? I think I forgot what enjoying the notion of a future felt like.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Gratitude!

The best part of the day was playing Lotro with the Fellowship; It was like recharging my batteries. Aside from that, the past two days have been a string of tiny frustrations - you know when nothing works? You burn the garlic, the coffee ends up too watery, Blender tries to kill you, the curtain you try to hang needs ironing, is too short, and the pole you improvised is insufficient and you realize you're going to have to use a drill, and on that concrete beam, too - I hate drilling, on account of always botching it on the typical Israeli walls, which are 70 year old crumbling blocks, or an improvised mess of sand and rolled-up newspapers (I wish I was joking) - and then the new webcam is as unforgiving as reality, and your attempts at makeup end up with make up on your eyeball, and you decide to give up and go do something relaxing and quiet like study something new, at which point the internet breaks and you realize that migrating to live in solitude atop a ten inch wide rock pillar in the desert is the only logical solution.

...But then there was some Fellowship time, and it was lovely. And one of them does the voices for all the male npcs, whereas I do the voices for the females; but whereas I just read them, he actually does acting - and he's good, very versatile, and does an absolutely. Kickass. Gandalf. And we four-man an instance for six and it's hard, hence satisfying, just like instances used to be in Warcraft - one needs to be creative, and use their brains, and improvise, and it's great. And afterwards it's just Bearette and me, crafting and chatting and it's relaxing and lovely. 


And having done that, I went back to the commission - which crushed on me today at noon, did I mention the 'nothing works' factor? Well, I went back to it and I think I finished it, which would be lovely, if the rendering didn't end up problematic and me with zero mood for problem solving. 

And I really want to get that commission done, because it's a mental block between me and tackling that tutorial again - but come to think of it, it's five in the morning and I'm not likely to get to the tutorial anyway; perhaps I should leave it for tonight, all of it, call it and start fresh tomorrow. 


"Not taking things for granted is like a prayer," is something that helps approach religious people. And I'm anything but, but I think I'd like to be 'religious' in a way; offer gratitude on a daily basis, not to the Great Beancan In The Sky but to... at... I don't know. Just to do it religiously, aka as a daily ritual, to keep my mind constantly reminded of all the stuff I am lucky for, and am grateful for. Like...

My apartment
My amazing dad
The friendship with said dad
Said dad's incredible generosity
My students
The fact I'm teaching
Having the finances for necessities
Having wonderful friends like Ghoula, Lucky, Ray, Tzemer, and I think the Bearette as well
My new hardware
How neat and pretty all that hardware and my desk currently are
Morning coffee
Enjoying cooking (?!????)
My pretty bedroom
My health
My medicine ( <3 )
The fact I can almost always sleep however much I need with little to no bad consequence
The new books from Anna, just when I really wanted a good book
Fabric perfume! 
Having a cintiq
Being cool with GetTheeHence again
Being a member of only nice communities
Eevee!
Feifei's pretty eyes
The sweet words from Gril and Kaw tonight, and that group hug
The insane wonderful people who made me open a merch store
And for that matter, the insane wonderful person who made me stream
Jake
The Elfgineer
Having coaching clients
Having Rachel as my mentor
...How much better making this list made me feel.

Which is exactly the point of existing in a constant (well, humanly constant) experience of gratitude; how lucky and more relaxed it makes you feel. Even, and especially, if it's gratitude for things we tend to take for granted but which would make us downright miserable were they taken from us. Yes, even my fabric perfume or the morning coffee. 

This feels good. I used to do it a lot; I think it's time to get back in the habit. So I'll go and feel all grateful to my nice crisp white bedsheets; goodnight. 





Monday, October 19, 2020

עלילותי עם כבלים

 החונכת אמרה שמצלמת רשת מעאפנה עושה רושם לא טוב על לקוחות, והעיניים והצוואר אמרו שהמסך הישן שלי בקרוב יעלה לי ביוקר, אז תייקתי הכל תחת הוצאה חיונית ורכשתי מצלמה, מסך גדול יותר, וגם מקלדת שלא נשמעת כמו מפתח שוודי מתגלגל במדרון סלעי, ומשטח לעכבר שאיננו חפירה ארכיאולוגית מרתקת אל הפאונה של פרק היד שלי.

המחשב לא זיהה את המסך, ומכאן החלה מסכת מרתקת במהלכה סיננתי בארס פעמים הרבה "אני פאקינג נאוורעל, פיצחתי את בלנדר לבד, הכנתי פרופים ללארפים מאז גיל ארבע עשרה ויצאתי עם יודעי מחשב כל חיי, ואני אפצלץ אותך." זה דרש גישה לתחת של המחשב, שתקוע מאחורי מבוך כבלים מאיים ומאובק, שבתורו תלוי כמו רשת עכביש איומה מעל רצפת טנפים; והמבוך הזה עיצבן אותי כל פעם שראיתי אותו - ורואים אותו מכל הסלון - רק שלא היה לי חשק לזחול מתחת לשולחן ולהתחיל להנדס דברים. 

עניין הזחילה בעייתי כי אני אישה גדולה עם ברכיים וגב דפוקים נורא. להתכופף זה בעייתי, לקום מישיבה על הרצפה זה מאד קשה. אבל אני פאקינג נאוורעל, נכון? הרמתי את המחשב על השולחן כדי שיהיה נוח לעבוד, ניתקתי את כל הכבלים, ורק אז הבנתי שאין מצב שאנקה, אארגן ואחבר את הכל מחדש בזמן לאימון עם האלפג'ניר (כפרעליו) עוד חצי שעה.

אבל האלפג'ניר הוא אחלה בחור, ולא הייתה לו בעיה שנעשה אימון טלפוני, בלי זום או מצלמה. עשינו, סגרנו, ורק אז קלטתי את כל מה שהאצבעות שלי עשו תוך כדי שיחה איתו, בלי לשים לב.

ככה זה נראה בהתחלה:

מייאש.

פתחתי את תיבת הלחם שניסרתי לפני כמה שנים כדי להצניע בה את כל השטעקערים, אירגנתי את הכבלים שלא יחפפו והפרדתי אותם בשיפצור אזיקונים. גם תייגתי, כדי שיהיה קל בעתיד.

תייגתי גם בצד השני. זה היה החלק הקל.

מסתבר שתוך שיחה עירנית עם האלפג'ניר גם פיניתי את הכל מהשולחן, לקחתי אותו, הפכתי אותו על הספה, קדחתי ארבעה חורים עם מקדח ידני והברגתי אל תחתית השולחן את סלסלת הכבלים הכעורה של איקאה. כנראה שגם חפרתי את הסלסלה דנן מתוך הארון בחדר השינה, שם הוצפנה לפני חמש שנים, אבל תהרגו אותי אם אני זוכרת שעשיתי את זה.

בשלב הזה הסתיים האימון, ומצאתי את עצמי מול המראה המאיים הבא.

לסדר ולנקות זה קל. לקטלג ולארגן סיסטם ברור עם חוקיות הגיונית, זה קשה. זה גם קצת מופרע אצלי, ברמה שאני לא מצליחה להחליט באיזה ספל להגיש תה למתאמן שלי כדי להתאים באופן מושלם למזג האוויר ולתה המוגש, ואני נלחצת רצח כשאני צריכה לארגן את ה-hot keys שלי על הבארים בכל משחק שהוא, אז דמיינו איך זה בשבילי לנסות להשליט סדר מנטאלי בברדאק הכבלים הזה.הרי אי אפשר סתם לדחוף את הכבלים לסל; צריך להשחיל אותם שלא ירקדו, אבל לא הדוק מכדי שניתן יהיה להזיז דברים; צריך להקפיד שלא יסתבכו ושתהיה חוקיות ברורה של אילו כבלים מקובעים באיזה צד של הסל ולמה; צריך שכל עודפי הכבלים ישבו שם בנוחות בלי קפלים חדים שפוגמים בהם, ושהאורכים בחוץ יהיו פחות או יותר אחידים באורכם; בקיצור, האימה! אבל בסוף הצלחתי.

עכשיו חיברתי הכל, איתרתי את הסיבה שהמסך לא התניע (מי הייתה אהבלה ותקעה אותו בשקע אייצ'דיאמאיי שלא על הכרטיס הגרפי?), גיליתי שהסינטיק לא מגיב, חפרתי עד שאיתרתי את הבעיה, גנחתי כזקנה מוכת שיגרון כשהורדתי את המחשב למקום, התגלגלתי על הרצפה כהיפופוטם מוחף כדי לברר למה הרמקולים לא עבדו, שמתי את המסך החדש ירום הודו על השולחן, הבנתי שהוא נמוך מדי, הגבהתי אותו על תיבת הלחם ואז הבנתי שהוא מתנדנד כקן העורב בסופה כי תיבת הלחם צרה מדי, וגם רוקדת. הוספתי עוד תיבת לחם (when in doubt!), החלטתי שיציבות תושג אם תהיה תמיכה בין התיבות לקיר, נברתי בבית אחרי משהו לאלתר תמיכה, החרמתי את אריזת הקלקר של המסך וניסרתי אותה לגודל הנכון, מילאתי את כל הכיור פתיתי קלקר מעשה פודג'ר, הבנתי שפתיתי קלקר יהיו גורלי לנצח אם אשתמש בתמוכת הקלקר שהכנתי, ועל כן אין מנוס מאיטום הקלקר עם מצית, כי מזמן לא היה ריח של ארדיאנדי בבית.


בסוף עשיתי את זה עם נר כי חבל על הגז ועל האצבע שלי. זה דווקא עבד יופי, ומאחר שהצלחתי להיות סבלנית גם לא היה ריח של פלסטיק שרוף.

לא בא כבושם הזה אל עיני!

והנה חתן השמחה, ובא לציון גואל. ותשוש נאוורעל, ותיצק יין אלי קובעת ותרם רגליה עדויות הוורידים ותנשום אנחה-של-סיפוק לאמור "עכשיו המגירות."






Tutorial maker's log, day #05

I. Slept. One. Hour. And I'm throttling on because of that blessed, wonderful urge to complete (was it Clive Lewis who used to stop working mid-chapter at night so he'd get up in the morning with a strong urge to rush back to work?). I'm editing, the tutorial is useless for anyone who's not a complete Blender newb, which is a good thing as advanced Blenderers should be able to find solutions on their own or they had a bad teacher.

*
TM's log, 02:55
Less time to write when the post production edit. There's still a ton of work to do and approximately 20 minutes of material that needs to go in another tutorial because it's so thematically different. There's still a George in the bathroom, I have a new keyboard and typing it after a year of that drunken steam hammer I had for the past couple of years feels like caressing a velvet tiger with an antimatter engine. I also spent a fascinating half hour under the table connecting hardware to my creaking machine and realized mum would have disowned me for what that corner looks like; and I'm coaching tomorrow so I'd better get back to editing, only I'm getting tired, and the more tired I am the more urge I have to throw stupid derpy stuff into the tutorial and oh, I think I've been watching too much Overly Sarcastic Productions for my own brain lately.

Editing! Yes! 

*
03:40
I'm fairly sure I heard another George in the kitchen. And I'm nearly done but I'm too tired to produce anything reasonable. It's time for Hobbs and sweet sleep.



Sunday, October 18, 2020

Tutorial maker's log, day #04

If there's something that could set my ass on fire and send me working on this tutorial, it's how wonderful those people - Chat? My students? - have been yesterday; and while I slept embarrassingly much again, I'm all energy and eager to advance on the tutorial so I can give them something back.

I realized the stuff I recorded when I was tired sounds like it, so I'll need to record it again; but while with the first tutorial I manually transcribed the whole thing to re-record it, this time I realized there's stuff that can do that for me so looked up some online speech to text. Hopefully that will make things easier.

The good thing is that making the whole thing from scratch shaved 15 minutes off it so now I can put more useful stuff in. So without further ado, here's coming with...

TM's log, 01:00
Some recorded segments were trash (no, Nathanos. It's not personal, Nathanos), so I got to skip right to segment #13, where my speech sounds so drowsy it makes even the more exciting material as exciting as an accountant's books review. My recordings only go up to 16, but after that I need to add some stuff I forgot, then decide what new stuff thematically fits the tutorial; if it's not too long by that point.

*
01:25
Whoah, the re-recording of the narration does wonders! Speech to text works relatively well, and transcribing and re-recording this segment took only 15 minutes. Not bad, and a bump up with the quality.

*
03:06
Transcribe - re-record - edit feels like a more comfortable method, and gives better results. It only took an hour and a half because my keyboard quit and I had to do some fiddling to get it to work, but it's not optimal; and it's filthy, and noisy, and belonged to my ex and I only use it because my own one perished last year. So I ordered a new one, and a couple of other much needed things, and it took an hour and a half. The upside is that it will be delivered in the morning, and who doesn't like tossing away an old, faulty keyboard that reminds them of a lost loved one in favour of a fresh new one?

(the issue with this divorce is that it was one sided. He's not my mean, evil ex whom I could hate; He's a man I was smitten with up until that day we parted with a kiss and he left, and while from a two year distance I admit there's some qualities I'm relieved not to have to cope with, I still think he's one of the most incredible people on the planet. It's hard to get used to living without him).

...So I'm getting a new keyboard.

*
03:40
Segment #14 is rendering, and I left speech to text on and got a page full of sentences like 'the bunny accident reaps the shoulder cars in cold' and something about different songs. Imagine if that was secretly meaningful! Perhaps I should ditch all this and seek a career in the speech to text divination area. 

*
04:04
Nothing is impossible to something embarrassing, and and since I woke with a loss I'm going to save this punishment, well I'm going to save the bone code which will allow me to send the body to the arms. I can always select all those phone hits, I say this is a place for Moto E4 but if you have a possey Maiden you really like it's also handy to save.

Speech to text is an excellent mad-chatter generator. Must remember for the next time I roleplay an incoherent cultist.

Also segment #15 is done.

*
04:59
That was a lunch break - cooking, eating, cleaning, and even washing the kitchen floor because it was gross, but since Ghouls should be here at noon I have someone to make it neat for. Coaching says this someone should be me and that we should care for ourselves the way we would a loved one, and I agree, but I still don't. And now the floor is drying, and I have to start recording new material as I finished editing what I had and the tutorial is only 18 minutes long. Pfff, tons of time to fill still.

* 07:26
'Stay up' my big fuzzy bear backside. Recorded some more, it's all a bit garbled, probably time to stop. I'll sleep a few hours and see if I can progress more when I'm up.

George is still in the bathroom. At least he stopped twitching.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Go to sleep at dawn. Wake up at midday. Manage to stay up for an hour and realize you're still knackered. Is this merely getting old, or Covid leftovers? Time will tell. I'm off to bed.

Sunshine grateful

It's been two days of 'oh, everything's fine!' while pretending I don't feel like crying, and that I'm not afraid it's the big D coming back; and I wasn't in the mood to stream but a commitment is etc, so I put on the alarm and... 

...And they made me so happy. There were so many people I like very much, and some which I downright love, and those whose presence made my heart flutter, and I ended up shrieking with joy every time one logged in. Charlie and Riv, Shanshan and Mamma-bear Mamma and Mister Bear, Rhajii-of-old and SunshineSian (!), The Anna of the sea and the Anna of the hunt, Kit and Holly who weirdly feel like a family to me now, Kaw, Remi and Fred - sweet, stalwart, generous Fred - then incredible Ray and always hilarious Feifei, and the cherry on top that kicked my self control out the window, being Moose, who's been away for a while and I missed him so much and he showed up. And there's more which I'm probably forgetting, and they all made me feel - well, they made me feel. And it was nicer than I can put to words. 

And the crazy people initiated, pressured and eventually got me to open a merch store, and they actually bought stuff in it and I don't even - I'm just a person teaching Blender, and suddenly there's going to be people around walking with Tshirts with my name and logo on them - the logo that Kit designed for me as a surprise gift - I can't believe I have a logo of my own Blender school, or life school, and the people are now going #Mifflife and #MiffCon and I'm laughing like an idiot because it's their faith that drives things, and with the amount of faith they have this might actually happen. 

So I'm very cheerful, and content, and stupidly happy, and weirdly tired so I'm going to bed; but more than anything, tonight, I think I'm grateful. It's amazing what a group of individuals can do when they bond like that. These guys; they're magic.

Friday, October 16, 2020

There's a George. It's been there all night, on its back, but its still twitching.

Tutorial maker's log, day #03

TM's log, 22:07
Somewhere during sleeping hours I realized the entire tutorial is crap; it's very slow and overly thorough and requires half an hour of the viewer's time to teach three very simple things. So I started from scratch.

*
12:18
I can copy weights with no problem any other time, but when I record I seem to bump into all the issues ever, even when there's no Nathanos involved. I bet he cast a curse on me for calling him a lame villain, underendowed pathetic petty bootlicker that he is. 

*
01:27
All's recorded again, much faster and simpler, plus more much-needed material. Not done with recording (shuddup, Nathanos) but I'm going to edit what I have so far just to keep the flow of it in check. Let's see how long this takes.

*
02:26
I have 1.5 segments edited out of 16. Think positive. Think positive! Think "I'm not going to post a tutorial which is an hour of 85% wasting the viewer time. I care about quality!" Yes. Yes. Hold unto that.

*
03:05
If I get this urge to procrastinate by speedwatching Love, Rosie one more time I'll start to seriously doubt my own sanity. It's not even a good movie. And I already speedwatched it yesterday. Again. What's wrong with you, brain?

*
03:23
Finished editing segment #02!

*
03:46
Segment #03 was all bin material, aka no editing required, and I just finished editing segment #04! Twelve more to go.

*
04:01
Segment #05 was short!

*
04:21
Segment#06 was short too! 

*
05:14 Food break with Mary Poppins Returns, which is all the saccharin one can imagine, but Emily Blunt is fantastically elegant and captures, even ups, the original Poppins' air. She reminds me of Countess Belvane; not me of course - that name's my avatar because it was unique on ICQ in 1998, not because I share much with the character - but the original - if the original was more focused on doing good. The new movie constantly questions what's her magic really all about - if it's imagination or angelic magic powers, but I feel that dwelling on that is procrastinating and I should really get back to editing. 
But oh! I had dinner and it made me wonder why on earth have I been eating junk for so long when vegetables and freshly cooked food are infinitely nicer, and answering that falls under 'stop procrastinating already', so I shall.

*
05:49 
Done with #7 and #8! And while it's rendering, I realized I do actually share a lot with Countess Belvane - the diary-keeping, the obsession with colour-coded inks, rulers, elegant design and the colour gold, and the indulging in petty human feelings which on her seem elegant and for us mere humans feel like something we should be ashamed of. I've got a lot to say about the toxic legacy many religions left us - as if feeling hurt, anger, self-pity or proud is wrong; I don't think feelings can be wrong; it's only what we do with them. And where we do it; in my opinion, whining in my diary where people have to come especially to check the mundane musings of a boringly human person (who are you, weird people?) is okay, whereas doing it on social networks, where it's not only public but designed for mass consumption, I find tasteless. Oh hey, the segment finished rendering...

*
06:13
Segment #09 was short too, and I suspect I'm now getting into the fun with Nathanos territory, aka three very long segments I can trash because I'll probably make a full tutorial on that alone at some point. Which leaves me to contemplate what else fits thematically in the current tutorial; material isn't a problem because I have enough for ten more tutorials - it's just a matter of grouping them by intuitive subjects and... editing... 

*
06:45
Yup, it's the Nathanos territory. I had to find a suitable sound and remind myself I can't let blender succeed in killing me after all these years.

*
07:13
That's segment #10 rendering, and the end of the useable recorded material I have. I'm eager to go on recording, but I have a stream in twelve hours and a tendency to sleep twice as much as I used to before my brief romance with Covid; I should probably go to bed.





Thursday, October 15, 2020

You are nothing

She hates people so senselessly and furiously because she hates herself; and I don't think she's intelligent enough to get that.

Tutorial maker's log, day #02

TM's log, 18:30
One day of recording, two days of editing, and I only have 17 minutes done, with a lot of re-recording voice because diction, or unclear wording, or trying to explain a concept in a simple manner and ending up making it more confusing than a camp full of bowels trying to become a sweater. 

*

23:20:
Finished editing the essentials, contemplating editing in the things that didn't work because that's good stuff to learn from. Also came up with another idea that will make the tutorial infinitely better and will probably take at least one more day; good thing everyone's in game customizing their characters or I'd feel bad for not making commissions.

*

01:06:
Do I have to have the Fun With Nathanos Blightcaller section in there?

...Yes. Yes, I do.

*

01:50:
I'm halfway through the Nathanos part!

*

02:21:
Yes! Finished preliminary editing of all the recorded material, including the Nathanos fun! Off to, erh, pre-post production. Yes, it's a term now.

*

04:28:
Pre-post production is done! Tomorrow there's music, annotations and credits to add, and extensive grumping at the fact that, again, I didn't manage to put even half the things I wanted into the tutorial. If I'm not burnt out, I might go straight to recording the next one. 

But right now it's rendering the twenty-something minutes of the current version, and I'll go to bed in hope I get up full of energy and manage a decent amount of this tomorrow.




People watching that tutorial might assume I like Nathanos Blightcaller. I loathe Nathanos Blightcaller, because the character had a great story and wonderful potential and was made into this twopenny moustache-twirling idiot. Lazy writing and wasted potential always hit my nerves.

I never got as infuriated with Warcraft as some others do, but I'm sad to feel 'meh' about the game that shaped my last fifteen years.

To counter that, the other night Lucky and I were in Lord of the Rings Online, and after ten quests of pointless long riding everywhere the game trolled us. It was awesome, and it's not the first - nor the third - time where Lotro plays the player, literally leading us to think something while deceiving us to build up a shocking reveal. And the story is good, and the water is still the most beautiful I've ever seen in any game and I screenshotted it to try and replicate that shader.

But until then - and until that thing's done rendering - here's how I greet Lucky every time he logs in.





Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Tutorial #03 in the making

Oddly enough, despite or perhaps due to dedicated avoiding of thinking about yesterday's date, it ended up nicely productive. Some coaching of the Elfgineer, כפרעליו, and then evening arrived; I'm on a break from picture commissions for two days, so I did a lot of studying and experimenting, and then finally got to making that tutorial.

I've started recording it once before but got stuck. I thought it was because I was struggling of finding the clearest, simplest way I could come up with to explain some concepts, but in retrospect it was worry that I'm not good enough. But that's silly; my students requested that tutorial, literally commissioned it by donating money so I can dedicate the time to make it without a financial backlash. And then one pointed out that my other tutorial got four thousand views in three months, so it must be good enough for enough people, and my worries are human, but unfounded.

[and then two days passed]


Covid leftovers mean I can easily sleep twenty four hours, which I just did; got up right for patch day on Warcraft, logged in to make half my characters African-looking as god intended, and got back to editing that tutorial. The fact that a 12 minute recording ends up being 2.5 minutes of edited material is normal, but I have a strong urge to extensively grump about it. And I know those tutorials are the best thing I can do for my students; I just wish I could be more efficient with it. Aaaaaand I'm procrastinating again. No use dithering, etc.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Yul

She would have been fourty three, yesterday; if that cancer hadn't taken her in December. We had that thing, since I mixed her date up when we were eleven, when I'd call her on October 10th instead of the 11th, to wish her a wrong happy birthday. And I kept mixing them, all our lives. Until now, when she's dead; now, somehow, I don't mix it up anymore.

And I thought I could go through it without thinking about it, without looking at the Wizards Welcome, Muggles Tolerated sign she'd brought me last time we met, or about any of the roadmarks: best friends until age 14 or so, then drifting, then very close through the military for a few years, then off, then she finally got into roleplaying - stupid, that; we were 'roleplaying' on the school bus as children every week, but we never called it that; the fact I got dice and Larry Elmore involved in it at age thirteen and she only got to it at twenty doesn't mean she hasn't been roleplaying all her life. Then we got married, she had kids, we got divorced, and... here I am, and there she isn't.

I managed not to dwell on it yesterday, but then I went to bed and dreamt about her all night. I asked her what was going on, I thought you were dead? And she said something like others used to say in my dreams, something like 'I was, but I got better' or 'I'm back for a visit' or something. We were in her house in that pretty town in the north of Israel, which in my dream became this idyllic place, beautiful, safe, all green fields and sunsets.

And she never made it past the meaning of life, which would have made her smile. It might even actually have.

Death is so weird.


Saturday, October 10, 2020

I'm ill again. What the fudge? I meet one person in eight weeks and I catch something, as if I was a whale-sized dainty porcelain Victorian lady?

I don't think it was Ghoula; she was here six days ago, and most illnesses incubate for less. That leaves the unlikely option of the vegetables or fruit being touched by someone ill, which says more than I'm comfortable admitting about my sloppy manner of washing them.

But I got through tonight's stream with paracetamol and the Power Of Bliss, aka as soon as I started teaching my body forgot it was unwell, and as soon as I stopped it hit me like a truck. Well, that's not accurate; I stopped the stream and went to have a seriously meaningful talk with a friend. The truck came later.

And streaming was was important for integrity reason; and I think I'm getting the guts to make that tutorial at last; and the gang - aka my students - are actually pressuring me to make a merch store and oh heavens and this makes me feel so incredulous and - like - really? Me? Merch? Aaaa! And it makes my heart flutter, that is to say there's this funny fluttery feeling in my chest, I suppose that's where the phrase originates - and I can't even. I can't believe these people - those students, I mean - they're like magic. 

What's also like magic is that someone who is a unique combination of unfortunate history and chemistry with rare openness, introspection and a will to own up not only to their mistakes but to their life. It's amazing to call someone when I'm furious and despaired and have their compassion, consideration and willingness to listen disarm me, and have me - both of us, in fact - emerge from the conversation strengthened, both as friends and as individuals. I don't know if this friendship will work - we might be incompatible - but even as such, this person astonishes me and has enriched my life a whole lot even in the short time I've known them. I really hope we end up staying friends.

But if this will work, there's a chance I will have given them a way to stop almost every panic attack at will. "That sounds like heaven," they said wistfully. But I think it can be done. I hope it can be done; and they allowed me to try. I don't think I had many better causes in my life.

...And then Lucky poked me for some Lord of the Rings Online and we got back to Mirkwood and hated Thranduil's stupid spider quest structure and finished that instance with the annoying bear and grumped about the intolerable forest that gets you lost as all hell and finished that zone and were sent back to Dale of the Bells so we can grump at the quest structure there. Did I mention I love that game? I really do. But I was ready to start a grunty spiel.

At which point Lucky strategically sent me a picture of him and his sister when they were toddlers, him looking like a six years old librarian and holding the kitten which later became the mythological cat, and his sister looking like the mischievous apple that she always is in those childhood photos, and I got so taken by how much he looks like their dad and she looks like their mum that I forgot to whine about Thranduil's stupid, anti climactic spider, and then the truck did its thing and I'd better have some more paracetamol and go to bed and pretend really hard that I'm not ill, and if I do that enough it might work and I'll wake up well in the morning. 

And summing up the day, I got wheee in the stream and then wheee in that talk with the friend and then wheeeeeee! in that LotRO with Lucky so it was certainly a fun, satisfying day and I'm going to bed with a smile on my face.


Thursday, October 8, 2020

Best. Sleep. Ever!

Having the memory of a goldfish means I can't remember when I ever slept as wonderfully, peacefully well as I did last night, which only makes it better. I slept so deeply! I didn't wake up once, and I had long, nice dreams where I spent time with people I love and haven't gotten to see in a while. I got up happily groggy and so perfectly well rested it was fantastic.

Stuck with the current commission (how this happens even on a picture I'm thrilled about is beyond me) I ended up cleaning my commission folders, uploading all the forgotten stuff to my neglected portfolio (I've been forgetting to update it since I started teaching), going through all 600 pictures in the 'featured' folder and kicking more than half to only have the best ones there, and eventually even - gasp - changing the sheets. You do that in Israel at five in the morning and you end up sweaty, so then I had a shower - two days in a row? Has the world gone sane? and am now sitting here, happy and literally chilling in the air condition, waiting for my hair to dry and procrastinating on tackling the issues blocking me with that picture. 

...Yeah, I should go and do that. I want to go and do that. Yes.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

תלונות זה אצל פופטיץ

למה, בשם התחת האינסופי, החבררה עם הילדים בחוץ צועקים בקולי קולות על הילדים שלהם כל הזמן? ומה הפלא שהילדים צורחים בתגובה? והאף זה בכלל מעניין את ההורים שכל השכונה משתתפת בתהליך ההורות הפגום שלהם? חלילה. דיזנטריה, מארה וטוקבקיסטים. 


אני סתם נרגנת כי אני עייפה, ואין לי זכות להתלונן כי קמתי בעשר וחצי בלילה. חשבתי שאקפץ לי לבלנדר ותהיה עבודה נוחה, אבל כל מה שיכול היה לעצבן אכן עצבן. ניסיתי לאפות טקסטורות ובלנדר צחק עלי; ניסיתי להטמיע מודלים ישנים בחדשים ובלנדר צחק עלי; ניסיתי לעשות באמפ מאפ הכי קל בעולם וזה לקח שלוש שעות של אקספרימנטים ולאג מהסוג שמייצר גלגולי עיניים. הכל עובד בסוף (חוץ מהאפייה, ינעל אפה), אבל זה סודינג לקח עשר שעות ואני מרגישה את המינוס נושך בערפי. 

ואני סתם מקטרת בשביל הקוסמטיקה. הילדים בחוץ הסתלקו, מצב הרוח שלי מצויין סוף סוף, ואני אשכרה נלהבת מהקומישן הנוכחי, שלא לדבר על שרה"טאונליין. והייתה פריצת הדרך ההיא עם הטכניקה בבלנדר, כך שלא נותר לי אלא להודות שאני מתלוננת כי אני עייפה, ואולי באמת כדאי לתפוס כמה שעות שינה לפני שאני מאמנת היום בערב. זה מתחיל להישמע כמו רעיון טוב. 

Mirkwood



Eryn Lasgalen: The Great Greenwood, it's called. Even as a child when I read The Hobbit it was frightening to me: the place where you get confused, lost, unnaturally drowsy; where the forest is so ancient it remembers things we never will and can get enraged and take it out on us; the trees are so thick there's never any sunlight, and there's always some Darkness influencing one part of it or another, vomiting giant spiders, poisons and shadows.

I'm used to Warcraft, where the immediate comparison is Duskwood; but like all of Warcraft, beyond the atmosphere given by music and palette, nothing else narrates the dread.

But Mirkwood... Mirkwood is scary.

Intentionally designed to confuse the player, it's full of random things - things one doesn't understand and gets increasingly nervous and somewhat frustrated about. There's places which turn very dark and the music suddenly thunders, ominous; you randomly get stunned - by nothing - or gain a Weakness debuff; when you get near the river all the colour drains from the screen, and if you accidentally set foot in it you faint. The same happens if you step on the corpse of a Corrupted Water mob.

And you get lost all the time. There's thick trees blocking your way to where you thought was perfectly reachable; there's sudden drops and patches of giant cobwebs and once in a while the roots attack you, or a tree comes to life to do the same. It's hard to navigate, and the quests take a long time. And everywhere, all the time, there's the random fainting and sudden thicker gloom.

I'm yet to find the MMO that comes up with such narrative tools. Warcraft copied it only once - when Teldrassil burns and you run around saving survivors, and your bar says 'saved 21 out of 914' and you only have three minutes, and when you're done, with fifty at most, you realize that you were never meant to succeed, that the urgency and desperation you, the player, feel, are the emotional experience designed by the storyteller - but Lotro does it all the time; Like a good tabletop GM, it doesn't manipulate the characters; it manipulates the player.

Lucky sounded as if he was getting frustrated, but assured me he wasn't. I exclaimed and oohed and aaahd several times and then deliberately held back, because the fact my excitement persists every minute for three hours gets irritating (Lucky had to tolerate me bursting with neverending excitement for years). We had to stop when he got tired, but I'm excited to find what's the mystery about - what's the source of the Darkness in this area of Mirkwood, what could be causing it even now, after Dol Goldur has been cleansed and Sauron defeated. Is there some relic of Mordor deep in the spring feeding the river? Is one of the Nazgul somehow alive? No, it can't be; their unlife was bound to the One Ring. I'm so curious! It's wonderful to feel excitement and curiosity at a game.


Ghouls did her usual magic and I'm better. Not perfectly okay, but much better and feeling as if I recovered from being ill or something. I also discovered that switching from a strength 6 coffee to a strength 12 coffee is not something one should do without thought, because I happily stayed up for 24 hours before realizing that was weird, and had to postpone a meeting on account of being too knackered at a time I expected to be after a good, healthy night's sleep. 

I'm taking it very easy on the commissions right now; I don't feel stuck anymore, but where I hoped for less technical time investment and more fun making the art, I somehow ended up with two commissions with too much tech again, which is my own fault because I could absolutely tell the clients no; but both are clients I'm really, really fond of, and the current one's character excites me so much I took the commission for almost half the price. But it's worth it; what I don't get paid with money I get paid with immense satisfaction and inspiration. 

On the family front, bro's family is still all Covid (hospitals, the works) and Daddy chose to do something that scares the living shizz out of me; years ago when I wanted to travel somewhere that scared him he screamed and yelled and threatened not to talk to me again, or cease his support; and I was already deep enough in Coaching to understand that's fear driving him half insane and didn't get upset. Now, when I feel the same because to me it looks like he's making a choice that seems near suicidal and utterly not needed, I almost wish I could scream and yell and threaten.

Instead, I confessed to him it made me feel literally sick with fear, and said that I very strongly request he doesn't do it. I'd say it's admirable self restraint and a very mature way of handling it, if I didn't suspect that the fact I can handle it so constructively means I'm not afraid enough. Perhaps it's for the best.

And since I didn't do any screaming etc, he's going with it, and if something happens... gods above, I just hope my judgement is wrong. I'd be very, very happy to be wrong.

All that aside, here's me procrastinating; half processing my thoughts as I do - this is what my diary's been for since I was a teen - and half avoiding getting back to that wonderful character in the commission, because I need a break from boring technical challenges and longing for fun technical challenges. But oh! Jenafur sent me a tutorial which I extrapolated on and came up with a non-simulation way of making spreading, animated smoke! That got me thoroughly excited, and now I just need to tweak the settings and polish it into doing what I want it to. See? That's the kind of challenge I enjoy. And I should probably stop writing and go back to Blender so I can enjoy it even more.


Saturday, October 3, 2020

Standing Stone wins my heart yet again, in a Lucky timing

"Jesus," said Lucky tonight. I couldn't tell what he meant, because his computer is faster than mine and I was still on the loading screen.

It's Lord of the Rings Online and we got a quest to go to not one hellhole central but two, and took a shortcut through Minas Tirith. The only version of Minas Tirith available at our stage of the Epic Quest is called 'Midsummer'. Whatever; we've seen Minas Tirith in three versions already - the 400 quest one before the battle in the Pelennor fields, the battle itself one - what a nightmare - and post battle. In two of them the city has all seven circles, aka it's the whole city - I think its size is, if we were to compare it to Warcraft, something like three zones - and it has taverns (multiple), theatres (at least three, one open under the sky), cisterns, Houses of Healing, museum, Halls of Lore and a plethora of heavens only knows how much more. 'Midsummer', it turns out, is Aragorn and Arwen's wedding. And Lucky said "Jesus" when his machine loaded Minas Tirith.


This is where Lotro always wins. The gates were knocked down during the Pelennor battle (by Grond, Hammer of the Deep, the orc forces' battering ram, named after some mythological hammer and inscribed with dark spells - says the book - and we actually got to see that ram and it is inscribed with evil runes on the wheels, my gods, Standing Stone, I want to have your babies) - but in this Midsummer version of Minas Tirith, where the gates had been there's this beautiful, if clearly temporary, wooden gate - and a thousand, a million wreaths of flowers in full bloom and Dol Amroth-turquoise gossamar ribbons. Everywhere. Seven circles. Three Warcraft zones. All the way up.


There are hundreds of people in the streets. In the lower circles - which are lower social standing, and practical commerce - there's people dancing and hopping and waving and singing. The higher you go, the more cultured and reserved, if still celebrating, the people are; they're also better dressed. 

I couldn't believe they did it. I couldn't believe my computer wasn't crashing with all those flowers-ribbons-people-minstrels, not a single column left undecorated, every corner lovingly detailed with long tables laden with food and drink. Riding through that splendour, I suddenly realized I knew the background music; it was the solemn Lothlorien music, only tweaked to be Major instead of Minor, with a hint of cheery violins instead of the yearnful cello. Then it was the same only with the Shire theme - Moria - Tom Bombadil - Rohan - a walk down memory lane, all of it tweaked into high-spirit, through music so familiar I can breathe it by now.

Then Lucky clicked a random tavern's door to zone into it and made some polite British sound, which in Israeli would mean 'I'm feeling windy' and in British would mean 'oh heavens this is unexpected, beautiful and fantastic'. 

Just a random tavern; one of many. It was packed with people, circles of dancers, some thirty of them huddled by a stage on which was a slew of minstrels, petals falling from the ceiling and flowers everywhere. Wreaths, ribbons, banners, flags, tables, the works.


Then I notice the plates are decorated with a tree and seven stars, the symbol of Gondor. As are the bottles; this must be a local harvest.


Later we also found temporary wooden buildings built in some corner of the third circle. I wondered what they were - there were crates of grain there, and what looked like kilns, and winches - and then we found a small vinyard around the corner and we realized it was a distillery; prepared especially for King Elessar's wedding. That company's attention to detail is nothing but pure love for their game.

After that tavern we checked every building we found - and indeed, they were all packed with celebrating people with all the above and petals strewn everywhere. By that point I realized Lucky was making tiny happy giggles; not at the game - Lucky is British, he doesn't do happy giggling at Lotro - but at my reaction. I also realized I was malfunctioning in the speech department, and that my mouth was dry because it was hanging open. This is not a figure of speech; it was dry, and between the endless details, the celebratory music and the flamboyant flowers everywhere, everywhere, I couldn't believe Standing Stone's insane investment in this. Even inside the taverns.

We went into the museum by the Halls of Lore. Yup, they were celebrating there, too.

This is the lower floor, usually hosting some ten scholars at the most; now it's full of people and the tables are laden with extremely detailed food to the point of bump maps on the pastries for heavens' sake. The top floors, where the exhibits are, only had polite people listening to minstrels, but still so many of them.

The Houses of Healing, where Faramir, Eowyn and Meri were treated after the battle, were also decorated and celebratory; and where before the lighting was colder and a little dreary, it was now glowing the warm golden glow which a seasoned Lotro player learns to associate with a Hope buff. And the tiny garden of herbs is now in full bloom:


By that point we'd been in Minas Tirith for over half an hour, climbing up circle by circle - the Houses of Healing are on the sixth one, the one before last - and I started feeling overloaded; overwhelmed with the beauty and how immersive it all is.

So we dropped into the Tower of Ecthelion to say hi to our old buddy King Elessar (or Estel, or Thorongil, Aragorn, Strider, Heir of Isildur, Elfstone, you name it, or actually don't because he has too many names as it is) and stopped it for now.

Well, almost; we ran to the end of the Pier - that battery protruding from the heart of Minas Tirith and the mountain all the way out, overlooking the whole city and the Pelennor fields; we looked at the banners in the wind, noted that they built a wooden stage in the front to host all the important guests, and that the guards were now in full black and silver Gondor regalia, winged helms and everything; and then, because we're shameless, we also took a screenshot with us in the pavilion where, within a few hours of gametime and likely ten quests of running around and talking to overly verbose people, Aragorn and Arwen will be wed.



The game launched in 2007. They updated the player characters' graphics a little a couple of years back, but that aside, the graphics is still the same style and level all throughout the game. The Shire was there at launch, calm, gorgeous, fetching, quaint and oh-so-hobbit-y, and it's still every bit as beautiful today.

The graphics is dated to all hell, especially on creatures and npcs; but the scenery, sky, water and architecture were, and remained, beautiful - probably my favourite in any game ever.

And the attention to every detail, and keeping it so entirely loyal to the spirit of all things Tolkien, the depth of understanding of the lore and the clever and loyal extrapolation of every line in the original Tolkien legendarium into a week's worth of quests - many of them compelling, emotionally immersive or clever and surprising - that's evidently, clearly, a labor of love.

I admired Turbine and now I admire Standing Stone for the stunning work they do with this game. I don't care the graphics is somewhat dated; they polished over a lot of the intolerable issues (pointless half-hours of manual riding, for example) and remain the most impressive storytelling I've seen in an MMO, and one that absolutely does Tolkien justice.

And as we stood there under one flower-laden arch between gossamar blue banners I had my character slap Lucky's character with a fish, then announce his existence with a trumpet, then faint at the sight of him; and as Lucky chuckled Britishly and fondly I told him:

"Happy birthday, my best friend."

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Could it really be that simple?

Could it be that a week, or ten days of a full on nosedive into Lemming Mood was because of that

A friend did something I disapprove of. Not to me; just a behaviour in general. I said nothing because it's polite, or something. And spent the week diving and getting more scared and unhappy each day and - and today I spoke with the friend and plainly said 'hey, I disagree with what you did' and they said 'I get it' and we just discussed it - not 'who's right' or anything, no conclusions were drawn; we just talked. With fondness and respect. And... and I think my bummer is... solved?

I'm still glad the cavalry - aka Ghouls - is coming tomorrow. Because I don't for the life of me understand why something like that would have me reacting so badly. And Ghouls, heavens bless her irritatingly high IQ (to go with that revoltingly perfect body, and did I mention the woman is nearly 45 and gave birth twice and has the body of a model and she's generous and kind hearted and caring and helpful to boot? I don't know what I did to get a friend like that) - Ghouls excels in taking those crumpled pages which are complex emotions and smoothing them into something you can actually read. 

And being depressed, even for a week (heavens, I hope it was only a week) brings up all those worries and thoughts: Covid loneliness or just loneliness. An odd craving for a child, a wild yearning for a family; feeling worthless. Near philosophical thoughts about the future: what's there to live for? Not in a bad, lemming way, just a wonder of - if there's nobody to share it with, to make it meaningful, is living for my own sake alone something worthwhile? Is 'I can make people's lives better by Coaching, and teaching', enough of a healthy reason to drive a life?

See, kids? That's depression for you. One week of it and your head can go slightly off; imagine two years of that, times ten every day, and you can truly appreciate the simple joy of having a normal life where your only problems are financial. And I do; believe me, I do.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

I don't want to point fingers, but -some- universe needs to be kicked in the fork

"The pathology report on my mass-o-brainmeats came back and it's not benign. I'd rather not get specific about the type of cancer involved and send folks down the Google rabbit hole, but it's definitely aggressive and we're starting to see oncologists to figure out a treatment plan. I'm looking at a long sequence of chemo/radiation and whatever else we can throw at this thing."

That's my childhood friend right there; the first I called 'brother', when we were six. Pillowfights, geek talks, old socks, comfort, always getting along as if no time passed at all. When he's in Israel for a week, it's my place where he and the missus come and sleep for three hours because they're too knackered with all the social obligations. 

I've known and admired his brain for years, but not in an the anatomy-x-ray kind of knowing, and certainly without a thought, ever, that he wasn't Peter Pan from that drawing in the book.

Sam, my brother, this sucks rats' arse.

Monday, September 28, 2020

A Lucky Break

Almost 24 hours in bed; call it 'hiding from the world' or call it 'taking a healthy break' - the two aren't mutually exclusive - and I feel better. There's so much mental clutter, and it feels good, and right, to break away from anything adding to it; and, somewhen this week, I'll dedicate time to actively processing it, likely via writing. 

Tomorrow is Yom Kippur, though. Reserved for family. And for reviewing some Coaching material so I can be my best for Tuesday's coachee.


At 17:00, when I realized I was going to remain in bed, I texted the famiglia to let them know I'm asleep, not dead, and that nobody has to panic. Daddy replied 'nobody's panicked' and bro just sent a gif of two cartoon characters screaming hysterically, which sent me laughing far more than it should have. We have our communication issues, bro and I, but I love him dearly.

Then I hid in bed with the Galbraith until thirst drove me out, at which point I saw Lucky texted me, so we had a bite-sized visit to Middle Earth. Lotro questing is a lot about dialogue and clicking things and emotes - aka not every quest is about smashing your combat keys - which didn't correlate much with my mood, as I cared less about plot tonight and more about soaking some Lucky time. But I got that, too, when I mispronounced a word and he curtly corrected me, which sent me laughing because he didn't prefix it with ten minutes of polite apologies, which speaks volumes about our friendship and how comfortable we are (I still remember his joy the first time I absentmindedly told him to fuck off). 


I doubled the dosage a few days ago and I think I'm really feeling the impact today; a lovely, thick, quiet blanket over what could be unpleasant, but is now far below and muffled. Still there; will still be there until I lance the boil and deal with it, whatever 'it' is; but I'm so happy (truly happy!), lucky and grateful that I have that option. I would kiss my anti-depressants if I could; what a dramatic, lovely change in life quality. And how lucky I am to have a biology so receptive to dosage change.

And now bedtime, and Galbraith, and more sleep. Good.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The Lonely Mountain


Today we saw the Lonely Mountain from afar for the first time.

I'm on a break from everything, and spend it either reading or, if Lucky is in the mood, in Lord of the Rings Online. And It's still the game the visual of which gets me more than any other one, even if all the npcs look embarrassingly dated. The scenery makes up for it tenfold. And the writing, and oh, I'm not getting into that, I won't stop gushing for a week.

They actually remembered to put bells in Dale. They ring.

I don't feel so good, and I'm very happy there's a good book, a good game and a good friend to keep me company right now.

We reached Esgaroth, by Lake City, where the sunrise is the pinkest pink in all of pinkland. I made myself a fiddle, then watched the sunrise, then logged off.



Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Beetle still lives!

It felt as if I accomplished nothing for three days, and I need to remind myself that's not true. Three days spent on experimenting in Blender are not a waste, they're educational - I gained knowledge and understanding, even if I failed to achieve my goal.

And toothbrushing times are spent studying Italian and French simultaneously (the more I do, the more I realize they're effectively the same language, and now I actually use Italian to figure out words in French), and bedtime reading is somehow four books at once, because I'm comparing the original Good Omens with the translation (that might explain why I'm so grumpy) while also reading the Galbraith and the first Harry Potter in Italian (and it's a page a day, but since I learnt how to say 'neck' from that I count it as success).

Plus I've called to offer help to family, coached the Elfgineer כפרעליו, sorted some misunderstanding with a friend, further planned that tutorial and helped some people with impromptu Blender issues. And saved a beetle. So not entirely wasted days; just frustrating. Mostly frustrating. But not wasted. That's good to remember. 

It's time, as Feifei would say, to cuddle the eels. I'll do just that.

The Beetle Lives!

When everyone gets on your nerves it's likely the problem is not them, it's you. And really, I haven't been this on edge in ages, and I'm surprised I didn't have a raw with anyone; But I'm indiscriminately irked at everything, from my own shameful government to the stupid thing in the White House to Blender to Ghouls's opinions about Covid. I resorted to telling her beforehand that I'm too grumpy to fit human company, and then we still spoke for an hour, gods bless my stunning fairy bestie. But I still want to smack her over her overly decorative head with a marshmallow frying pan for her opinions.

All this to say that even though it's been a frustrating few days of utter grump - and I suspect it's this time of the month, though I haven't had one that makes me irate for ages - despite all that, this evening was lovely. Lucky and I went back to Lord of the Rings Online, which is just as gorgeous and as slow-paced as Lotro has always been, but the writing seems to have improved greatly. 

A bit of explanation: I've played Lotro since its launch. It has a bash-your-head-in-the-wall gameplay and excellent storytelling, atmosphere and writing. The gameplay has improved over the years. The writing remained excellent until level 100 or so - when your character enters Mordor. That expansion, Mordor and Mirkwood, was just miserable. Boring as can be, with little to none of the beautiful Tolkien extrapolating in stories which characterized the game until that point.

So we got to level 115 and ditched the game for a couple of years. I got back to it recently because I want to share its gorgeousness with a couple of people I really like, then realized I missed Lucky so very much; so we went in tonight and - phew, the writing's much better, at least on the main questline. It's intriguing, multi-layered, slow-paced, interesting, revealing interesting stories and is told with good narrative tricks the likes of which I've only seen in Lotro. Plus, while he barely has any lines, Lotro's Gandalf is so much more book-Gandalf than movie-Gandalf - don't get me wrong, I love Sir Ian McCullen's Gandalf, but he's really a nice chuckling chappie, whereas book Gandalf is a badass scolding grump, and it's lovely to see that depicted, too. 

After a few hours of relaxed Lotro with Lucky I felt much better; I think that insisting on plunging into work when nothing was working for three days might have made things problematic. It's good to have had a reason to take a break and do something entirely unrelated.

Thus relaxed I watched a friend stream and his playlist was all awesome 80s and it got me so energetic - combine that with the much-needed Lotro-and-Lucky head-clearing - I ended up experimenting in Blender again, cracking the thing I was stuck on for three days (dang version update meant half my old experiment results are no longer valid) - and once that was done I had a shower while the test render was doing its thing. And to make things nicer, I found a large, sleepy beetle in the shower, which is an upside because it's not a George, and though it seemed quite unhappy and rather scared when I prodded it, it seemed happy enough once I gently collected it with some tissue paper and let it go outside. 

Shower was awesome. I'm still not over how awesome simply taking a shower when you want one is.

So: Some Lotro, some Lucky, some Jake rubberducking; some 80s, a shower and cracking a challenge in Blender. And a beetle saved.

(And one big-big worry; I almost wish I was a believer so I could pray to someone about this).