March to Nowhere

Well, there goes March.  Didn’t really accomplish anything worth writing about…which is worth writing about, I guess.

See you next month.


Canned Goods

Wow, there goes February.  I don’t have anything to say, really, since most of the projects I’m working on…aren’t being worked on, much.

How about a picture, then?

See you next month.

Stupid Flash Tricks, Part 3

Well, I finished up another Flash project–basically conceived and finished in ten days time.  Considering the last one took weeks, I’d say that’s some kind of progress.  Unlike the last two, everything (except for the audio) in this one was created entirely in Flash itself, with no PhotoShop imports.  Flash is still very primitive as a paint program, but I am slowly figuring out how to do things in Flash…something I never thought I’d say.  It’s nice to feel that I can do good work quickly–a nice feeling of accomplishment.

Here are some stills:

And the entire thing can be found here.

See you later, and thanks for stopping by.

Stupid Flash Tricks, Part 2

Hello!  I hope everyone had a good Christmas and is looking forward to the new year.

I believe the first entry in this “Stupid Flash Tricks” series was over a dozen years ago  (I’m not going to look it up).  Since that time, Adobe’s Flash animation package has gone from ubiquitous hero of the internet to abandoned pariah, with some browsers (Google Chrome) saying they will no longer support it.

Naturally, this is the time I choose to decide I need to attempt to learn it again.  Much like PhotoShop, once you gain a slight understanding of how Flash works, you can appreciate the difficult curve you just rounded.  Unlike PhotoShop, though, Flash remains obstinate in its refusal to cooperate.   An errant mouse-click can undo all manner of carefully arranged work.  Things seem designed specifically to be time-consuming and confusing, precision is an absolute must, and in two key areas of film–sound and editing–it remains bafflingly primitive and difficult.

Sound–better have the sound just the way you like it before you import it into a project, because there’s no way to edit that sound in Flash itself.  Yes, you can’t even change the volume if it’s too loud.*

Editing–movies are made by shooting one scene, then another, and so on until you have the footage you want.  You then edit these scenes together to tell the story.  Within Flash, the only way to combine two different scenes (i.e., two separate animated scenes) is to sweep your mouse across all the frames in your second scene, copy them, open the first scene, and paste them into the frames after the first scene ends.*

Anyway, despite that, here‘s my latest Flash project, that I’ve been working on for ages.


It’s called “Look at me,” from the only line of dialogue in the whole thing.  Enjoy!  And as always, thanks for visiting.  Happy New Year!

*As indicated, I’m still strictly a novice in Flash, so there may be ways to do these things within Flash itself.  However, I did search for those ways diligently, and found nothing.   Third-party solutions are no way to go through life, son, but they do allow one to work.

Leela (approximate Summer of 2000 – November 13, 2016)

Leela the cat has been with me since she was a small kitten.  I adopted her on November 14, 2000.  Last night, one day short of her 16th anniversary, she passed away in her sleep.

This was not unexpected.  For the last few days, she hadn’t been eating, she stopped using the litter-box, and she didn’t have any energy.  I had planned to take her to the vet on Monday…so that she could be euthanized.  I’m glad, in a way, that her last moments came quietly, and not while stuffed into a cage and on her way to the vet.  I knew that I had to do it, but I wasn’t going to enjoy it, and it would haunt me forever.  It’s better this way.

Was she a good cat?  That’s a contradiction in terms, isn’t it?  It’s also hard to define.  She wasn’t destructive, I’ll give her that.  But while she was affectionate on occasion, it was always on her terms.  In her last years, she would go and hide somewhere if I got up from a chair or walked toward her.  (For the record, she was never abused, not once.)  On balance I guess I would say she was a fine cat.  I’ve known better and I’ve known worse, and I like to think I gave her a good life for sixteen years.

Below is the last photograph I ever took of her, on the night of the 12th.

She will be missed.

Creature Sighting

I’ve always been fond of animals, particularly cats and dogs, and when I see one, I always try to make friends.  I typically try to make eye contact, and if the animal responds, I offer my hand as a petting device.  Usually, with dogs this works fine; most dogs are naturally friendly and gregarious.  They are the only animals I know who have thousands of best friends–and every single one of those friends is at the top of the list, too!  No one is in second place.

Cats are a different matter.  Cats are rather paranoid by nature, so making friends is a bit more difficult.  Instead of simply offering a hand to pet, you have to offer something more.  Like treats.

A couple of weeks ago, this cat started showing up.

Difficult to get close to.  Like most strays, she’d run off when I got too near.  Having a soft heart (and a soft head), I had some old cat treats on hand, so why not.

Well, apparently she appreciated those, because I could get closer and closer.  She still looks a bit suspicious, though.  (Treat visible in the lower left.)

After that, she decided that treats were more important than maintaining the stray lifestyle, so she now asks for them frequently (she is very vocal, though her voice isn’t harsh like a Siamese).  Here she is, in the daylight hours, asking for more treats.

Here she is simply posing (after asking for treats).  (As you can see, she is very beautiful.)

She basically makes two noises:  a regular meow (“Give me treats”) and a long, drawn-out meow (“Don’t touch me”) that can last for several seconds.  She still makes both of those sounds, but over the course of a week or so, she has allowed herself to be petted, which means the long, drawn-out one is less frequent.  This also means I can get even closer shots.

At first, the petting she allowed was pretty much “Don’t touch!  …say…this isn’t half bad…*er!* I mean, don’t touch!

Then, it was more like “Sure, sure, whatever, pet me, but don’t forget those treats!  Okay, two pettings is enough!  Okay, maybe one more.”

Now?  She allows herself to be…wait for it…picked up and stroked, and she purrs a mighty purr then.  Doesn’t struggle to be let down, either.  As noted, this is after only a couple of weeks…   Now, a feral cat would still run for the bushes no matter the quality of treats, and a stray would probably take a couple of months to get to this stage.  So I figure she has to’ve been someone’s pet at some point.

…and, given the way she’s played me for a sucker, she may still be.  “Oh, hello, ‘owner.’  Where’ve I been?  Oh, nowhere.  Say, can you let me out for a bit?  Private business, don’t you know.”

By the way, I’ve started giving her regular (dry) cat food, so it’s not just treats.  It’s still treats on occasion, but I figure, she should eat something a bit more substantive.  Just like she does at the other five or six houses she (probably) visits.

Oh–and the cat I currently live with, Leela (previously seen many times on this site), doesn’t seem to be aware of the outside visitor.  At least, as far as I can tell….

Now, Leela is sixteen years old, and getting on a bit, and may not really care about what she perceives outside, as long as the inside has food and a litter box and sleeping places.  Maybe.  One thing I know about cats is that there’s a lot I don’t know about cats.

Anyway, see you next month!  And thanks for stopping by.

Superpowers: Telepathy

Telepathy (the ability to read the minds of other beings) is an interesting thing to contemplate.  There are a number of websites out there with “Top ten superpowers it would be terrible to have!” articles, and telepathy is always on there.  The reason why telepathy would be a bad thing to have, typically goes like this:

“Telepathy would be a terrible super-power.  It would be like being stuck in a room with a thousand radios, all set to full volume, all set to a different station, and being unable to turn any of them off.  A constant barrage of thoughts from everyone would drive a telepath insane, and unable to function at all.”

If you consider that telepathy is analogous to hearing, then that scenario is likely correct.   People assume that telepathy is similar to hearing because when we form thoughts, we form them in sentences as they would be “heard” by ourselves (to refine them) or by others (when we state them).  So naturally, mind-reading would be picking up on those audio sentences formed in our brains.

But what if it isn’t like hearing?

Of the five accepted human senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste), these can be divided into two categories: directed, and undirected.  Directed senses are things like sight, taste and touch.  In the case of these three, we can stop perceiving certain things without blocking the sense entirely.  We can choose to look away, not touch a thing with our tongue, or not touch a thing period.   If something is painful to look at, we can turn our head and look at something else.  If something tastes terrible, we can stop eating it.

(Touch is a bit more problematic, because we have to be grounded on the earth.  If we’re walking on something uncomfortable, we have to find something more comfortable to walk on, and that might involve walking further on the uncomfortable bit.  We can’t simply stop being on the one, and go to the other.)

Undirected senses are hearing and smelling.  In the case of these, if something is offensive to the sense in question, you can shut off perception to that sense (blocking one’s ears, holding one’s nose).   But that means blocking everything relating to that sense.  You put your hands over your ears, and yes, you no longer hear the unpleasant sound.  But you no longer hear anything else, either.  You do not have the choice of, “I will listen to this sound, and not listen to this sound.”  Your choice is to deal with the sound, or close off all sounds.  With sight, if you see something you would rather not, you can look away, turn away to something nicer.   You can say, “I will not look at this.  I will look at this other thing instead.”  Your sense of sight is still working.  Your sense of hearing is not.

So, back to telepathy.  What if it’s not like hearing, but more like sight?  What if a telepath, in the middle of a crowd, is not confronted with a room full of radios, but rather a room with a magazine rack.  Instead of a chaotic din of noise, he has a choice of reading material.  He can select a magazine, open it, read it, put it back, and select another.

The problem is this:  unlike people who have walked on the Moon, or climbed Mount Everest, or done any number of extraordinary things, being a telepath is outside the experience of every human being on the planet.  So far as we know, there are no telepaths.  No one has stepped forward to say, “You’re all goofy.  Telepathy is nothing like you imagine.  Read my book!”  Because walking on the Moon or climbing Mount Everest can be conveyed to us as human beings doing human things, only to an extraordinary degree.  We know what climbing is like.  We can imagine low gravity.  Those are not outside our ability to experience, or imagine.

You can’t say that about telepathy.  Telepathy is probably a unique experience, one impossible to convey to the non-telepathic.   It would be like someone blind from birth trying to describe the concept of “color.”  He might be able to convey certain things based on other senses – “red is probably like the smell of apple pie” – but the actual details are going to remain outside of his grasp.

The ultimate point of this, is this:  evolution doesn’t throw things out without a purpose, and without a point.  There aren’t any crabs with three claws, because that doesn’t help that crab survive.  Similarly, there aren’t any sponges or lichens capable of picking up short-wave radio transmissions because, again, such perceptions would serve no purpose and would simply pile on perceptions that these creatures could not use in their day-to-day quest to survive and reproduce.  (So that survival is passed to the next generation.)

“Usefulness” seems to be what evolution works toward.  An ability which did not give an advantage, but was instead a hindrance, would be corrected in the next generation.  If there were usefulness, though–

By the way, if any of you out there are telepaths, let me know.  I’ll be happy to edit this entry for you.