stuff that’s happened since the last time I posted

Long time no blog, I know.  Could trot out the reasons; offline for a while, working my tail off for a while, getting a pal married for a while (whoo, it was a good time!), depressed for a while.  Feeling like nothing was happening that I was interested in writing about, much less that anyone would be interested in reading, a long while.

But hey, life goes on, the head comes up, and things start looking OK again.  So what’s happened since last we met on the Interwebs?

The brown dog Chester turned 13.  He is slowing down, but otherwise doing well.  We had him at the vet today and he will be getting more arthritis meds, which should make him happier and more comfortable.  Good boy, Chet!

I’ve been indulging my coelacanth obsession: designed and printed a new T-shirt, silk screened a coelacanth print, and made a coelacanth mini.  Also painted a huge coelacanth banner on a bedsheet which was very effective at the Motor City Con.  I feel like an arteest, oh yes I do.

After months of seeing absolutely no cars of any interest at all, I’ve collected tons of new and interesting sightings:

The new Dodge Challenger, a black one.  Taller and chunkier than expected, but very cool (in a musclecar kind of way) and very fast.  Looks less like the original in person.

A white Bentley Flying Spur with a white mesh grille.

A Ford GT, my first one ever.  Red with a white stripe.

An absolutely pristine first generation Datsun 240 Z, maroon over black vinyl.  Lovely car.

A 1990s Lotus Esprit, fly yellow.  Booming GT car on I-94 early on a Friday morning. Nice!

Smart cars, Smart cars, Smart cars.  Fourtwos all over the place, including several running at speed in heavy traffic on the freeway.  They look terribly, terribly funny mixed in with the rest of the fleet.  What goofy little cars, but they always make me smile.  Silver frames with red panels and black frames with silver panels are both frequently seen, but the overwhelming popular favorite color scheme seems to be a black frame and yellow panels.

And I learned that “patrijpoort” is the Dutch word for both a skylight and a porthole.

What a world.  More to come.

Sharkipede

 

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Published in: on May 23, 2008 at 7:41 am  Comments (1)  
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Month’s end roundup, January 2008

It’s the last day of January already, and since one of the things I wanted to do with this new blog was sum up each month as it passes, it’s time to try it for the first time.  A month strikes me as the logical place to pause for an evaluation; not a short enough time that the thought is always breathing down one’s neck, but not long enough to forget all  about it and take one’s eye off the ball.

If one may be permitted to mix a metaphor.

This January has been a long month, and while I feel like I have been treading water, I’ve actually accomplished quite a lot.  I had my eyes examined, ordered new frames, had both pairs of my glasses made, and went through a particularly unpleasant Eyeball Twisting Week as my astigmatism was rather forcibly corrected by my own eye muscles.  It began a week ago yesterday and seems to be pretty much over.  My eyes haven’t watered at all today, and I’ve stopped having to blink to bring things into focus.  Very disconcerting, that.

I picked a new blogging site, and started this nifty new blog.  And, to my delight, a lot of you followed me here and have even posted comments.  Thank you muchly.

I’ve made surprising advances in my on-and-off interest in computers.  Most of this can be attributed to my growing affection for my new ASUS Eee PC,  which was a Christmas gift from Mr. Shark.  I’m using it a lot for writing and editing, and it has inspired in me a vague desire to learn something about Linux.   How weird is that?  I’ve acquired a couple of books and a disk with a core install of Fedora and some basic apps, and Mr. Shark says he will build me a Linux box to mess around with out of spare parts (apparently it doesn’t have to be particularly state of the art) as soon as he has finished building his own new PC.  In the interests of furthering my education he let me install the OS on his new system (under careful supervision, of course) and it was actually pretty cool.  More to come on this, I think.

But the Eee is proving practical right now, since I’m getting a lot of extra writing done in my spare time.  One of the projects that have moved to the new platform is writing “Hopelessly Lost, But Making Good Time”, my monthly column for Sequential Tart.  I’ve started a new series about superhero characters in comics, and the next few installments are already outlined.  Part one is finished and should be out on February first, at www.sequentialtart.com

I finished the script for my next minicomic, very moody and experimental, discovered the seed for an upcoming issue of Kekionga, and finished both covers for  Kekionga #2.  Random pages are partially pencilled, and the whole issue is thumbnailed.  This is where the month kind of fell down–I was hoping to be a little further along with that comic at this point, but part of that can be blamed on the damned Eyeball Twisting. 

Otherwise, it was a cold, snowy January.  I walked when I could, and will always remember Toby showing me the hawk.  Chester is doing well, in spite of the cold, which is hard on an old dog.  I worked well enough, making real progress every day, if not always on the “right” projects. 

My goal for next month is to work substantially, every day, on finished pages for Kekionga #2, and to get ready for SPACE,  my first con of the year, at the end of the month.  If I do anything new for the show, it will be produced in my spare time and will not interfere with the first goal. I hope.

And February is the month of the Auto Show, which means NSC will be returning, at long last, to its roots as an occasional car blog.  

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll stick around for the second month of version 2.0.

Sharkipede 

Published in: on February 1, 2008 at 4:07 am  Comments (1)  
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Hawks on walks

We seem to be having a predatory bird extravaganza here at NSC this week.  But while the owls in question were art owls, seen only on the comic page, today we had a close encounter with a real raptor.

I was on my way back from a walk with the dog Toby, only one block from home.  I was listening to my favorite Warren Zevon song (“Searching for a Heart”, Zevon fans) and thinking about page 2 of Kekionga #2, when Toby alerted to something across the street.  He didn’t go into a full point, which he does do sometimes, but he stiffened and indicated a direction with his nose and tail.

I’ve come to trust Toby’s instincts; he’s pointed deer and pheasant for me, and something I’m 90% sure was a wild turkey, as well as many other types of birds, as well as beetles, dragonflies and plastic bags. And he was right on target again this time.  Across the street, in the tree lawn, by the base of the phone pole was a Red Shouldered Hawk. 

I’m pretty sure of the identification, and I’m thrilled, because this makes 4 species of raptor that I’ve seen within a block of the house.   In the yard, I’ve seen the small grey backed Sharpshinned Hawk several times and Sam, our neighborhood Redtail.  (And if you’ve never seen a full sized Redtail perched your backyard gate you are missing a vaguely terrifying wildlife moment.)  And I’ve seen Kestrels around the neighborhood several times.

The new hawk, who was picking at a bit of trash, looked like this.

 http://asnailpace.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/red-shouldered-hawk-3.jpg

http://steelhead.aecom.yu.edu/Florida2005/images/Red-shouldered%20hawk.jpg

Bigger and browner than the Sharpie, without the grey back and the markings on the face, but smaller than a Redtail and lacking the distinctive tail markings.  The plain reddish brown head, and the barred tail …It was a Red Shouldered, all right.

We sat down to watch her (him).  The hawk was completely calm, not afraid of Toby at all, and Toby, in turn, was perfectly good; he didn’t make a sound, not the tiniest “boof”.  This went on for several minutes until a contractor’s work truck went by and the hawk flew up into a tree. 

We crossed the street then and stood under the tree to take a closer look.  We couldn’t find what the hawk had been eating; he (or she) must have finished it off.  Then the hawk watched us and we watched the hawk until everyone had enough.

Then, presumably, we both went home. 

Good boy, Toby, and thank you for finding me a hawk. 

Sharkipede 

Published in: on January 19, 2008 at 2:57 am  Comments (3)  
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snakes and bats. also, work.

One of the better things that have happened recently is the return of the Letterman and Craig Ferguson shows to late night TV.  Letterman’s World Wide Pants production company, which makes both shows, made a separate deal with the writer’s union, so I do not have to  feel like a scab for watching.

And on Craig, last Friday, was the actor Dominic Monaghan (Lost, Lord of the Rings).  Now, normally this would not be considered of general interest– celebrities go on late night talk shows, film at 11, blah blah blah.

But Mr. Monaghan brought in animals, and one of them was a lovely snake I’d never seen before– he said it was a rat snake called a Blue Beauty, and it came from Thailand, and it eats bats.

Seriously.  This snake climbs the rocks outside bat caves and nabs the flying mice as they enter or exit.  I’m assuming this is true– a little research seems to bear it out– and even if it wasn’t I would want it to be.  I want there to be snakes that eat bats.

Here are some images I found of Blue Beauty rat snakes.  Even if you don’t usually click on the links, I recommend you check these out.  The name is fully accurate– this long, lean, active serpent has gorgeous blue and grey patterns that change as they move down its body. It is one spectacular looking snake. 

http://www.bluegorgon.com/framedtail.png

http://www.bluegorgon.com/framedfullmatsu.png

http://art1.sheezyart.com/image/44/447860.jpg

 Also, the Australian carpet python– which is also quite a nice snake, but not as interesting.  But it eats bats, too!  Yay!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0b/Australian-Carpet-Python.jpg/555px-Australian-Carpet-Python.jpg

This got me thinking.  What eats bats?

Snakes, obviously. Birds of prey, especially owls.  Dogs, and presumably raccoons, cats and other hunters , will eat a bat that’s “down”, and will certainly try to catch a bat in flight.  (I’ve never seen a dog manage this feat, but I’ve seen Chester get a bird on the wing, so I suppose it’s possible.) 

But I was not expecting the answer “frogs”. http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/animals/features/281feature1.shtml

This is good.  I want frogs that eat bats.  I want bats that eat frogs. (Which also happens.)

For those who are not interested in nature, or late night TV, I offer an update on Kekionga #2.   The new title block may be fixed in stone– I’m still waffling.  The back cover is designed, though I still don’t have a front cover that works.  Everything is thumbnailed except the opening sequence, and I am thinking of going ahead with pencils, starting with about page 5.

I’ve never done this before, but this project is already such a mess as regards process, I wonder how else I can mess it up???

I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

Sharkipede

Published in: on January 8, 2008 at 11:41 pm  Comments (2)  
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