Unrelated to Adulting

Okay, now that I’ve got all that other shit out of my brain for the moment… now I can write about the other stuff from the past week or so. Let me start off by talking about a new toy that I couldn’t resist.ย ๐Ÿ˜Š It was only $80 shipped, which isn’t too bad… and considerably less than what the original (with disk drive) would have cost new. It’s called The C64 Mini, and while it’s not an official Commodore product, it’s essentially an entire C64 emulated on a teeny board, in a teeny replica of the original “breadbin” style Commodore 64.ย ๐Ÿ˜ƒ And before you ask, no… the keyboard doesn’t actually work… but you can plug a USB keyboard into it and use it as an actual computer – and the company intends to come out with a full-sized, completely working replica soon.ย ๐Ÿ˜

I’ve yet to even power the thing on, because I’m waiting for a spell when I’ll be able to do nothing but mess with the thing… which will include upgrading the firmware to allow me to load any program from a flash drive, and loading it up with all of my favorites from when I was a kid. It does have 64 licensed games built in, but most people are like me and get it so they’ll have the closest thing to an actual C64 – but with HDMI output – for the best looking Commodore 8-bit computer ever.ย ๐Ÿ˜Š

I suppose everyone has a “thing” from their generation that they loved when they were younger, and therefore want to have again once they’re old.ย ๐Ÿ˜ Classic video games and Commodore computing are definitely my thing, the same way that HAM radio is Dad’s thing… and like me, he’s still got a few toys as well that he plays with to this day.ย ๐Ÿค“ I’m even learning how to take a C64 disk image, open it on a Windows 10 laptop, add or remove C64 programs as I see fit, and then export the new C64 disk image for use on this thing.ย ๐Ÿ˜ฏ That’s how it is with me though… give me something I’m genuinely passionate about, and my brain will start absorbing everything that it needs to know about it.

Okay, gotta keep this entry short-ish.ย ๐Ÿคจ Maven is almost completely done with her home-grooming, which means my bathroom and living room carpet areย covered with poofed hair for now.ย ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ I’m lucky that she’s so cooperative though. In fact, for the most part she loves the process. Bri came for a visit right before Halloween, not only to hang out (she drew the face on the pumpkin and I carved it upย ๐ŸŽƒ๐Ÿ˜) but to also distract from her mom’s deteriorating health. She’s actually had a couple of good days, so it was nice to see her have a little more energy. However, my friend Greg, his mother passed away this past week.ย ๐Ÿ˜ข She was having a rough time, so it’s one of those deals where you’re almost relieved.

Cassi came down to spend the night on one of her days off. Her life is so hectic, between all of the hours that she’s been putting in lately and then having her, her mom, and her (very opinionated) 17 year-old sister all there at her house, making noise at each other.ย ๐Ÿ˜ So coming here, even if half of her time is spent sleeping… it really is like a teeny mental vacation for her.ย ๐Ÿ™‚ Plus she helped me out with some chores, including the whole de-flea-ing process with the sprays and the carpet powder, etc. (Plus the most important and helpful thing… getting Maven to swallow that damn Capstar flea killin’ pill.)

As we sat in the living room watching the new “Charmed” show, we also each had our notebooks and were fastidiously jotting down the things that we intend to work on in the next few days. It’s strange how just having her here “working” in the same way that I was, how it helps to settle my brain and let me get down to business without getting as easily distracted by Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.ย ๐Ÿ˜ต

So there ya go… just so you don’t think my entire existence is grumping and bitching.ย ๐Ÿ˜ There’s always some good sprinkled in there – and even when it isn’t “good” in general, I’m thankful that I have the right kind of friends to help me through those times, and vice versa.ย ๐Ÿ™‚ย Okay, carry on…

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Latest Animation Rendering

Well, here’s the finished product. I’m pleased with it… all of the added touches are there to be seen – it’s just a shame that animation is sort of an afterthought with this modeling program, so the camera movements are a bit jerky and unnatural looking. But for anyone who had visited this house prior to me moving in, I think you’ll agree that it’s pretty faithful to the original… particularly the living room. ๐Ÿ™‚

These are the things that I believe I’ve improved since I made the first animation:

  • Fixed paint colors, correcting walls and making the ceilings white
  • Adjusted color and texture of all the doors
  • Updated the textures of the floors for more natural hardwood look
  • Changed sizes (particularly in the bedroom) of furniture for more accurate scale
  • Added lamp, clock, and ceiling fan w/light in bedroom
  • Added lighting, shower curtain, curtain, and changed bathtub/fixtures in bathroom
  • Also added more accurate texture for vinyl flooring and shower tiles in the bathroom
  • Picture window changed to wood w/more accurate sheer curtains in living room
  • Changed lamp on round table and square coffee table changed to oval in living room
  • End table lamps changed / now functioning, cuckoo clock now present in living room
  • Console record player under big mirror changed, vase/flower and newspaper added

In each room I also tweaked all sorts of things when it comes to object shading, colors, levels of reflection (matte/glossy), and lighting levels (spot/ambient)ย in a way that I think makes the whole thing look slightly closer to realistic and accurate to the way things were here in the past. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things that I changed or adjusted, but yeah… there ya go. ๐Ÿ˜

Oh, and I know – both times that I’ve created one of these animations, it’s been done where the house is assumed to be lit by dawn / pre-dawn light. I do that because I prefer to see how the internal man-made illumination sources and shadows are handled by the program, although I suppose one day I could render it out in broad daylight with fake ceiling lights (just a source light w/no visible fixtures) being activated in every room. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ

How Could I Not?

Here I’ve been, telling my friends “Nah, I’m not going out for Black Friday. I can’t even think of anything I need, and especially if I have to be out among the sea of people.”ย and I thought I was telling them the truth. ๐Ÿ˜ Actually, most of those two sentences are still true… because no wayย would I consider going out to fight with the thousands of other assholes at the crack of dawn come this Friday – but it turns out that I did need something, and I didn’t even realize it until a just few minutes ago. (Deja vu… heh)

I’ll go ahead and describe the item, then I’ll get to the “deal” part of it. I already have a Playstation 4, and about a year ago Sony came out with a virtual reality headset for it which has been selling for $299. Also known as way too friggin’ much. Well, now that they’re preparing to come out with an updated version of the headset soon, prices in some places are dropping to $199 for the current model. Still expensive, but much more reasonable.

For me, any VR gaming that I end up doing will just be a bonus. Because, to be honest, I couldn’t tell you the last time I’ve played a game on that system. ๐Ÿ˜• Things over the past couple of years have warped my brain, taking away the desire to do many of the things I used to find fun… but anyway…

I had actually given the PSVR system a brief look when it originally came out, but mainlyย  because of the photo and video applications. I have a 3D television, but I’ll now be able to watch 3D movies or videos on the headset. Same thing with 360ยฐ virtual realityย videos. ๐Ÿ˜Ž Does anything start to sound familiar? ๐Ÿค” At this price point, this thing sounds perfect for me since I’ve got a cheap 3D video recorder and a camera that can shoot 360ยฐย photos and videos. Honestly, the thing is made for me to own.

But it wasn’t even floating around in my brain as recently as 15 minutes ago, that is, until I saw a post from Cheap Ass Gamer that showed the system available at Kohl’s for $199 – plus for every $50 that you spent, you’d earn $15 in Kohl’s Cash which can be used for in-store purchases later. So I hit the site, put the PSVR in my cart, added a $1.00 foaming face mask (to push the total to just over $200) and boom… $60 in Kohl’s Cash, effectively making the final price only $140. ๐Ÿค“ Giddyup.

This should really encourage my shooting in those alternative mediums.

Written Word

Let me start by saying that yeah, I’m pretty messed up right now. ๐Ÿ˜ž My methods of dealing with my depression and anxiety might not be the greatest, but I’m doing what I can – and so far I’m hangin’ in there. Also, there was a point in time not too awful long ago that I wasn’t like this at all. ๐Ÿ˜ณ Having said that, logic might say that since there was a time when I wasn’t this way in the past – there’s a pretty good chance that there will come a time in the future when I’m no longer like this. ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿคž I just wanted to put that out here for folks that don’t really know me, and who might be assuming that I’ve just been a mess since birth or something. ๐Ÿ˜ Not so.

Today was actually decent, helped in great part by the 15 hours of sleep that I got last night. ๐Ÿ˜ง My body finally won, fighting against my brain – which for some reason thinks that it doesn’t require any sleep at all to function. ๐Ÿ˜ตย So catching up on sleep was step one, beautiful weather was step two, and then adding some frivolous stops while I was out doing my required errands was the third step that made “facing the humans” more tolerable today than I expected. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Ollie’s has now been in our town long enough that I could actually take a leisurely look around the place without a thousand people and their carts getting in my way. Lots of stuff for home improvement… painting stuff, carpeting stuff… a thought which has been bouncing around in the back of my mind since I moved in here. ๐Ÿค” Decent prices there, which makes the idea of perhaps doing something in that arena less painful.

When I walked down the “office stuff” aisle though… there was a section with a bunch of little hard-cover spiral-bound notebooks that immediately shouted out to me. It’s probably been a couple of years since I’ve kept a proper journal, something which has been proven to help with my sanity, so I grabbed two of them – being optimistic that I could force myself back into the habit, just as I’ve done with this blog.

But I bought the stuff that I needed to buy, and then I picked up a few extra things like those notebooks just to add some “not meh” stuff to all my bags. And yeah, this probably sounds like the most non-interesting shopping trip / day in the world to most folks, but for me to just have a day that didn’t feel heavy… to me it was worth making an entry here. ๐Ÿ˜

We’ve now reached the point where I’m hesitating to wrap it up here, because I’m looking over at a week-and-a-half’s worth of mail that is sitting on my couch that I absolutely have to get to tonight… and I just have a feeling that there’s gonna be one or two things in there that will try to remove my internal smile and kill my mood. ๐Ÿคจ Oh, and regarding (perhaps)ย resuming my journal writing… if that ends up happening, at least y’all won’t have to put up with seemingly-pointless entries like this anymore, since they’ll be going in the book instead of up here. It was just a thought, for better or worse.

Whatever Gets You Through It

I’m slowly succeeding at pulling myself out of my latest mood. It helps that I’ve got a scheduled appointment with the estate attorney, so that doesn’t have to be one of the bits of noise whirling about inside my head for now. ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ But now I’ve gotta get my head right for some fun coming up this week… something that was scheduled literally months ago, something that I know will be fun once I’m in the middle of it – but I’m gonna have that same issue that I always have, of being able to gear myself up for it in the preceding days. ๐Ÿ˜ณ

Dez was a planned participant when we originally made the plans, but with the way I’ve gone off the grid for the past month or longer, I was worried that when I reminded her about it (on super short notice) that she wouldn’t be able to arrange her schedule, or that she might just not even want to go anymore – but thankfully she was able to make the needed changes, while also letting me know that she’s missed me since I’ve engaged my cloaking device. ๐Ÿ˜ It’s nice to know that you are missed when you aren’t sure that you are missed.

So now I’m transitioning into “get ready” mode, which usually involves a certain amount of cleaning up around the house along with things actually related to whatever activity I’m going to be enjoying soon. ๐Ÿค“ I’ll definitely have to clean out my car tonight or tomorrow, and I’m thinking about getting a haircut. ๐Ÿค” Meh… if I can’t get motivated to go into town to do that, I’ve always got one of my dozens of ball caps to fall back on. We’ll see.

But the past couple of days have been spent quietly working with one of the nerd toys that I’ve previously mentioned. I’ve gone back to the 3D simulation of my grandparents’ house, and I’ve been doing tweaks to the model and to the program to give me much better results in the resulting rendered images. Many of the models allow manipulation of the individual components… like, for the cuckoo clock, I’m able to change the textures on nearly all of the faces, allowing me to use a dark wood texture for the clock body, gold metal for the pendulum, and you can also manipulate how shiny the finish is for all the parts, models, walls, floors, etc. ๐Ÿค“ (And that’s not even discussing the ray tracing, the number of bounces allowed for each ray of light, etc… heh… such awesome nerd brain food.)

I’m totally just doing this for my own benefit, to see what I can learn and what I can do, although I’m sure I’ll end up throwing some resulting pictures and/or videos up here in case the world wants to see what I’ve done. Some people might say this is a waste of my time, or that it would be better spent elsewhere, but right now it’s doing wonders to calm my brain and keep me in a good place.

Unfortunate Snooty Connotation

Remember that Doctor Who painting that I commissioned (heh… that word) from Scott Fate forever ago? ๐Ÿค” Heh… he’s finally done with it. ๐Ÿ˜ He said he sealed it yesterday, and that I should be able to pick it up tonight. He’s basically a ball of creativity, but also someone who always wants to challenge himself with new ways of expressing it… and what happened with this painting was that I caught him at the end of his “oil painting” phase, right before he discovered airbrushing and became passionate about it. And not cheezy carnival/mall t-shirt airbrushing. I’m talking car bodies, motorcycle tanks/helmets, uber-detailed model cars and trucks, actual monster trucks, etc.

(Not to mention every other self-taught passion that was also wanting to get out of him ๐Ÿ˜ music, tattooing, building a race-ready 4-banger from scratch, body painting, moving to another tattoo shop in Columbus, etc. d00d seriously impresses me with his drive and ability.)

So while he kept working on my project over the months, his focus was drawn to the new medium (among other things) and that’s why it took so long to finish. I’m thankful that he even wanted to bother finishing it in the first place, since oil painting is certainly challenging and time-consuming… and if you were to break down what I paid according to the hours he worked, he could have made a lot more money with that time – knocking out custom airbrushing or whatever. But yeah, I’m looking forward to picking it up soon.

Wanimation

Playing around with Google Earth again, the desktop application, trying to make a visually interesting animation using Atlantic City, NJ as my source material. This file is rendered at 720p, 60fps, using OpenGL rather than DirectX… I also used the experimental atmosphere projection, although I can’t remember how much interpolation or anti-aliasing I used. I was continually experimenting with settings and resolutions, because I’ve still been unable to get a 1080p/60fps render to complete without glitches.

I didn’t really do much. I just selected the camera angles, altitudes, shot composure… the software generates the flight path between each one. However, depending on how the user lines up each static shot, it will definitely have an affect on the transition between the prior one and the one that follows.

It looks pretty good on the laptop, but for some reason when I use the YouTube app on my XBOX One it looks so much better on the TV. But yeah, I was just feeling a bit nostalgic for the place again, which eventually prompted me to start dicking around to come up with the resulting animation.