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  Hayao Miyazaki, Nausicaš, and a pencilJul 31, 2013 12:04 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:I learned today that Hayao Miyazaki drew his Nausicaš manga series in pencil, rather than ink. So huzzah for him and pencil! I still need to find more pencil artists to follow, but when I try looking I mostly just find that elaborately rendered photo-realistic stuff, which isn't really what I'm after.
 
I've been too fussy with my own pencil lately, and have been fighting with myself over...oh everything I suppose. Earlier today I spent a good bit of time reprocessing all the regular-sized versions of the pages since I started working with woodcase pencils (since page 37 of this episode) so that they'd come out a bit smoother, because with these pencils the grain of the paper tends to show more, and it was a little too grainy, I think.
 
But besides that I've still been letting myself get worried about stuff, like how I'm shading or whether it's dark enough or today, I just realized, I got hung up on putting some black areas in, thinking I'd use that as a guideline and sort of scale the rest of the shading down from there, but eh in the end I don't think that was quite the right approach for this page, and anyway it's hard to be flexible after laying down a really thick black area of graphite. Black first did help when I did those three or four dark gradient pages late last week, but the graininess really comes out with that approach, and that was kind of bugging me all weekend, and then some more after yesterday's pages. So I think...next I will save black for last, and we'll see how that goes. See I really liked some of the pages I did with the mechanical pencil, before page 37, where the lightness of that line forced me to get kinda creative with line patterns and some abstraction; with the improved shading power of the wooden pencils I've been getting too literal in terms of trying to render things, forgetting to let expression and design work for me. Ugh. So I want to try to get back to that, only taking advantage of the more full-fledged capabilities of the wooden pencils. (Although rather ironically, the harder smaller points of mechanical pencils do make for less grainy lines--so I was trying test sketches where I would use the wooden pencil for the dark main lines, then thick arrays of mechanical pencil lines for shading, but mechanical leads don't come in the darker, softer grades, so they come out too light and look weird, bah.)
 
Anyway here are some earlier stages of fussing on today's page--see I kind of got trapped in Junior's profile, and couldn't decide on the degree of shading for the Captain's head, as I was worrying about striking some sort of balance against the black background:
 
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It's all very silly.
 
Also that helicopter has been doing laps over my apartment from late afternoon until like midnight the past three nights, and that's getting a little old. : P
 
 
 
 
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  Hey I saw Pacific RimJul 30, 2013 1:16 AM PDT | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:I saw Pacific Rim over the weekend (I don't go to many movies in the theater--in fact this is the only one in recent memory aside from the latest Star Trek), and here was how I summarized my feelings about it for a friend:
 
I liked it! As a summer blockbuster type thing, I mean--the story arc is entirely standard as far as these things go, the characters more or less cartoonish, and it wouldn't do to think about details of the plot very closely. But the casting is good, and giant robo/monster action plentiful and reasonably entertaining, and it doesn't take itself too seriously--I even rather liked how one goofy scientist character was channeling Rick Moranis' character from "Ghostbusters."

I also liked Ron Perlman being all over the top in it (as a black market giant alien organ harvester) as he is in so many of Guillermo del Toro's films. And Idris Elba was really good in a more serious role. Good, somewhat silly, well-executed action movie fun, kinda like the first Starship Troopers was. So yeah! The friend who took me to Pacific Rim is also jonesing to see the upcoming Elysium, so maybe I'll have something to say about that movie three or four weeks from now. Sure do seem to be a lot of sci-fi movies coming out lately.
 
 
 
 
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  Uploading a memory -- with fiber optics!Jul 27, 2013 1:47 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:The BBC had a very A* science article today: Scientists can implant false memories into mice talks about an experiment where scientists activated specific brain cells in mice via light pulses over brain-implanted fiber optics to trigger a memory of a painful environment. The article goes on to talk about how memory works: memories are encoded in combinations of brain cells, and changes to these cells and thus the memories recorded in them can change--and indeed are changing all the time.
 
Fascinating stuff! We'll be up to Selenis' level of encoding lifetimes of memories in no time. : D
 
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I think maybe I actually went a bit too dark on today's page. : o Oh well, good practice for outer space scenes or something, right? Gotta build up my shading muscles--I mean, literally. Kinda sore right now. : p I started doing fill-in on this one with the wider Monolith Woodless Pencil, but I was finding that with a thicker tip it's actually a lot harder to get enough point-pressure down to make a fully black mark; in other words, the same force applied to the area of the smaller tip leaves a darker mark, kind of a pounds per square millimeter thing, you know. So I ended up doing almost all the shading just with my normal Tombow Mono pencil. And maybe I'll just stick with that, if my arm holds out.
 
I don't really like drawing dead people. Creepy! Eeg. And I didn't consciously try to draw his legs looking so unnaturally...distant from his torso, but I guess it definitely heightens the wrongness of his situation. Alas, poor Kilbain! And he'll be here all weekend. : o
 
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Oh! If you have Netflix streaming and you haven't watched Chinatown yet, you may want to catch it before it leaves the service August 1st. Love the atmosphere in that one, and of course the performances by Nicholson, Dunaway, and Huston (who, of course, directed a few well-known classic noir films in his earlier days, such as The Maltese Falcon and Key Largo).
 
 
 
 
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  Cretacolor fillerJul 26, 2013 2:35 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:I thought I'd get my schedule back on track by doing just one page today, but of course now I'm going overboard on this whole filling-things-in business. I did speed things up a little by using one of the Cretacolor Monolith Woodless Pencils I got a while back for most of the filling--the 4B grade of that makes marks pretty darn similar to the Tombow Mono 4B pencils I use for drawing, but since it's a solid stick as wide as a regular pencil, the drawing tip can get pretty wide; this one isn't worn down enough to be huge yet, but it's getting there.
 
I also stopped by the local tiny art supply store on my way to the supermarket and found they have a surprisingly large stock of black pencil-like things--and the nice thing about pencils is that they don't get very expensive, even in small sorta overpriced local stores; and heck they even had those big thick Lyra Graphite Crayon things for half price for some reason, although not in 4B...but the 2B and 6B are virtually indistinguishable anyway, so that probably doesn't matter.
 
I'll have a photo write-up of the various marks these various things I picked up made soon, I hope--but it's looking like the thing I'll be using for filling in large areas will either be Cretacolor Monoliths (7 mm wide), or their slightly thinner 5.6 mm leads, which I won't have until some time next week. The Monoliths flake slightly as their point gets ground down, which is a little messy, so if the 5.6 mm's are cleaner I might be tempted to go with those instead.
 
 
 
 
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  I gotta get me some supermassive pencilsJul 25, 2013 2:10 AM PDT | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:The values in 107 were a bit off, but I think the gray shading in 108 finally worked out all right. The only drawback is that all that filling in with the pencil kind of kills my arm. : P So I'm gonna try some bigger drawing implements for filling large areas, as a stroke/arm-saving measure: 5.6 mm leads and even these huge (13 mm) graphite crayons. Should be fun to try out! Those probably won't come for a week or so though so hopefully my forearm will hold up for another week of small-pencil shading. : P
 
 
 
 
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  In which I open a graphite mineJul 24, 2013 1:57 AM PDT | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:We're getting into the dark part of the episode and it's forcing me to figure out how to dig in with the pencil lead. The pitch black around Selenis on page 105 took at least three layers of graphite but got a decent result in the end, I think. Good thing I ordered three boxes of these pencils!
 
 
 
 
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  I will ink this big thing some dayJul 23, 2013 12:39 AM PDT | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:I started on a new large-format ink piece destined for auction over the weekend, but only got the pencil work done:
 
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I'd thought of doing a sort of minimalist thing with like a dark eye and dark spread hand on mostly white background, but apparently I can't resist detail and it turned into this. Will Selenis ever wield some sort of electrically charged gauntlet in the comic itself? Seems unlikely! Although I guess you never know.
 
This one is slightly bigger than the last one, 24"x18"--which is the largest this paper I like comes in, and is about the biggest thing that can fit on my tiny drawing table, anyway. The hand is just about the exact same size as my real hand on the paper, although I drew it before checking that; I'd considered just tracing around my hand on the page or something (and even just inking my palm and slapping that down on the paper : D), but my fingers aren't quite slender and ladylike enough anyway, heartbreaking as that is. Q_Q Also did you know that the male index finger is shorter than the female index finger? True story!
 
I got stuff to do with people this coming weekend, so I probably won't be able to get to the inking phase for a couple weeks, dang.
 
 
 
 
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  A* page 2000! ...and fifteenJul 20, 2013 12:11 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Yesterday we hit page 100 of this episode, but there was a bigger milestone I'd meant to keep an eye on but then kinda didn't realize how quick it came up: last Monday's page 87 of this episode
 
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was the 2000th A* page! Woo! *\o/* Thanks for reading, everyone (especially if you've got through that many pages!!)! : D
 
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Almost as if to mark the occasion, Sgr A*, the 4-million-solar-mass supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, made the news this week! Observations since 2011 made by the ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile show that a large gas cloud, named "G2"--"three times larger than Pluto's orbit but with a total mass just three times that of the Earth" according to the BBC--has been pulled into a long ribbon by Sgr A*, with the front of the cloud already having made its closest approach to the hole, whose gravity has slingshotted it around at 10 million km/h, or 1% light speed. The ESO has more info, and extrapolated visualizations, here (note that the nice firey charts showing the cloud as a whip shape are simulations). G2 came within 25 billion km of the supermassive black hole, or "just over 3000 times the radius of the event horizon (or ~260 AU, 36 light hours)," according to Wikipedia, which adds that "this passage of G2 in 2013 will offer astronomers the chance to learn a lot more about how material accretes onto supermassive black holes. A suite of astronomical facilities are planning to observe this closest approach, with observations confirmed with Chandra, XMM, EVLA, INTEGRAL, Swift, Fermi and requested at VLT and Keck."
 
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I aim to start a new, large-scale ink painting this weekend, which I'll put right up for auction on eBay, starting at the bargain bidding price of $0.99. If I manage to finish it this weekend I will no doubt be pestering you with photos and so forth this coming week. I dunno what it'll be of yet but probably A*-ish!
 
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Oh yeah and the background in today's page was done with the side of the pencil lead, a technique Andrew Loomis mentions a lot in his classic guide for illustrators, (warning: artistic nudity) Figure Drawing for All It's Worth, which an A* reader got for me off my Amazon wish list (currently empty, thanks :DD) some time back and which I've finally been reading through in full detail. Even my clumsy application made a pretty nifty effect, I think! Thanks, Mr. Loomis, and again, readers!
 
 
 
 
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  Soluble scribblesJul 19, 2013 12:23 AM PDT | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:A reader sent me a link to a neat YouTube video of a Japanese comic artist drawing a dramatic martial-arts-type dude in a poster format, using what certainly looks like water-soluble pencil (after the initial regular pencil sketch, then more polished pencils over that with a light table); water soluble pencil is kinda like regular pencil except that if you get it wet it turns into a wash, sort of like ink or black watercolor, although it's hard to get it really dark.
 
The plus is that it's erasable, to an extent--at least, in that video, it looks like it erases beautifully, but I'm doing something wrong I think because I can't get mine to erase well (as I would have remembered if I'd checked my blog entry from about three months ago when I first tried this after another reader suggested them : D). I suspect that I'm just not putting it on heavily enough, because in the darkest part of the wash I made in this little test
 
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it did erase maybe halfway. It doesn't go all the way white, though, which is frustrating to me. Hm and I suppose that might explain why the artist in the video touches up the snowflakes or whatever they are with a white pen. Anyway the guy in the video is really good with it, and I'm not, and therein lies the meat of the problem, I would guess. ; ) (After watching it again I also see that he used a pad to pull up the pencil marks after wetting them; I didn't do that, and you can see that traces of my original marks remain under the washes.)
 
But maybe it's just as well that it doesn't erase enough for my liking anyway because I feel like I've still got a lot of exploring to do with just the use of line. For instance, in page 101 today, like in 98 yesterday, I was faced with the problem of how to render a big linear expanse of wall; the arrays of parallel perspective lines I finally settled on for 98 worked okay, but I wasn't confident I could get the 270-degree, rib-divided surfaces of 101's corridor view done with that scheme in a way that would be orderly enough to hold together; the half attempts I made quickly fell apart. I tried a few other types of line arrays but they collapsed as well.
 
Finally in some desperation I called upon the power of...scribble. Not totally mindless scribble, mind you, but rather just letting my hand and eye throw in lines where they felt like they were needed, without trying to follow an overall pattern. I didn't think this would work, but...actually it kind of did. Huh! Perhaps I'd been encouraged by the way I sort of scribbled in the nose and especially the mouth of the previous page, 100, and those seemed to read all right as part of an actual face--better than the careful individual drawings of facial organs I'd been trying up to that point.
 
Ever since the first, accidental page of this episode, I've been telling myself that with pencil I can really cut loose and let it get wild, since the eraser can always salvage things if necessary, but somehow I haven't really managed to let myself go with it as I'd imagined I would. Maybe I've been trying to be too neat. Or maybe I didn't trust myself with it, being new to this pencil-only approach. Or maybe I just hadn't gotten desperate enough yet. Or maybe it was just something in the air today! But hopefully this is something I can put to good use again.
 
 
 
 
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  How to bling out your astronomy articleJul 17, 2013 11:32 PM PDT | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:This new article says that "a decade ago," European scientists suggested that a heavy element like gold, which can't be formed by fusion in a star, as lighter elements can be, could result instead from a collision between neutron stars (neutron stars are the cores of supernovae that weren't *quite* massive enough to form black holes); and just now, some astronomers have reported that an odd, days-long afterglow from a gamma-ray burst 3.9 billion light years away, picked up by NASA's Swift telescope, "suggested that heavy elements, including but not limited to gold, could have been produced by the incredibly rare, cosmic crash of the two dead stars."
 
Which is pretty neat, I suppose. I guess I always thought gold and the like just came from your average everyday supernova explosion, but apparently it is supposed to be more complicated than that! ... Hm well Wikipedia's article on supernova nucleosynthesis says that a "slow neutron capture process" called the "S-process," "primarily in low-mass stars that evolve more slowly" can fuse particles into elements up to the weight of bismuth, which would I guess include gold (bismuth is element 83, and gold is only 79), and that "production of elements from iron [element 26] to uranium [element 92] occurs within seconds in a supernova explosion." It doesn't name gold specifically, but that *does* sound pretty inclusive. So I dunno, maybe the mention of "gold" in that new article was just a way to attract attention to this new observation of what could have been a neutron star collision. : p
 
 
 
 
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  Sun hits my fridge--and other space factsJul 16, 2013 9:47 PM PDT | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:Photoshoppin' a photo of my fridge I took yesterday morning as the sunlight first came in over the neighboring apartment building and through the blinds:
 
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At first I had thought I'd leave it black and white, after segmenting it into tonal planes with multiple "Threshold" layers
 
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but then I tried layering in just the color (not the saturation or value) of the original photo
 
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and that gave it a pretty neat look, I thought.
 
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There were a couple interesting news nuggets from space today:
 
- Nasa's Hubble telescope discovers new Neptune moon: I was just talking about Miranda and the 26 other known moons of Uranus a couple weeks ago, and what do you know but US astronomer Mark Showalter has just identified a teeny-tiny, yet unnamed new moon orbiting Neptune: it's just 20 km (12 miles) across, and was found as a moving "white speck" in over 150 photos Hubble took between 2004 and 2009. So now Neptune, which is about 50% farther away from the Sun than Uranus, and a bit more massive, is up to 14 known moons.
 
- Suit water leak halts ISS spacewalk: Water--possibly the astronaut's standard sipping water--leaked inside the helmet of Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano during his and Italy's second-ever spacewalk; he was able to drink some off the inside of his face plate, but zero-g globs of it got into his eyes, prompting Mission Control to cut the spacewalk short. Just shows the kind of little thing that can go wrong in a big (but fortunately not TOO big, in this case) way in space.
 
 
 
 
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  Nothin' a block of PVC can't fixJul 15, 2013 11:28 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Well, abiding by my resolution not to stay up too late working on a second page, I'm making myself put the pencil down for the evening. Here's what I've got so far for page 96; the final version will probably look vastly different, because chances are I'll get up tomorrow, look at this, wonder what the heck I was thinking, and "fix it" mobster style with the eraser until it's back to a nice blank sheet:
 
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  Get that thing on Mount RushmoreJul 13, 2013 12:23 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:This is how big the captain's chin almost came out in this page before it started bugging me and I went back and chipped away at it a bit:
 
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: o
 
... But it still came out pretty big I guess.
 
 
 
 
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  Hot coronal secret and ion clocksJul 12, 2013 12:32 AM PDT | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:It was another day where I came across a couple interesting BBC articles:
 
- Speedy tsunami seen on Sun's surface: (Say that five times fast :p) The part of this article that interested me was actually the note that readings by the Japanese satellite Hinode of the energy of magnetic waves coming up through the Sun's "polar coronal hole" show that they carry enough energy to account for the high temperature of the Sun's corona, explaining how the Sun's surface can remain a relatively cool 6,000 degrees C while the corona above it, where the magnetic field lines converge, is in excess of a million degrees C (the core itself is thought to be some 15 million degrees C).
 
- Optical lattice atomic clock could 'redefine the second': We've been using "atomic clocks" counting the oscillations of microwaved caesium atoms to achieve very accurate measurements of time--these "caesium fountain"-based atomic clocks are accurate to one second over 100 million years--but a new type of atomic clock using lasers to excite strontium atoms promises to be three times as accurate, thanks to the higher frequency of lasers versus microwaves. Even more interestingly, a final note mentions an experimental clock called an "ion clock," accurate to one second "every few billion years," but still too unstable for use as it relies on measurements of a single ion.
 
 
 
 
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  In which I do not purchase 100 boxesJul 10, 2013 11:41 PM PDT | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:Two pages, phew. Didn't think I was gonna make it for a while there, but I guess aside from this unexciting blog entry it was a productive day, 'cause I got the ink piece I just auctioned shipped off, learned some stuff about eBay and the post office (which still scares me a little), and found a good price on shipping boxes for more big ink pieces although I sure wish I could find someone with 24"x18"x2" corrugated mailers that didn't insist I order at least 100, because those would probably be handier but man I can't spend that much on potential boxes. : P So yep that was it, bed time now!
 
 
 
 
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  A* art from my art shows now for sale onlineJul 09, 2013 11:21 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:The auction for my big A* ink piece ended up pretty good, I'll definitely have to do some more big ink stuff. Thanks to everyone who bid on this one! Might get started on another something a few weekends from now, we'll see.
 
In the meanwhile, don't forget that there are hundreds of other pieces of A* art you can buy straight up directly through the site--just look for the "original art" link below or beside them. In fact there are a bunch more suddenly because, since my last art show finished up recently, and we don't have any more scheduled for the near future, I've taken the pieces we've been showing around town off "hold" on the site, so they can now be purchased through the site just like everything else. They're all $50 a piece; most of them are ink or ink wash A* pages, the ones I thought came out the best, generally, except that the first is a larger, vertical ink wash piece. Here they are with the silly names they got when stuck up for show in local venues:
 
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  Last day for my first A* art auction!Jul 08, 2013 9:59 PM PDT | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:It's the last day to get in on my first A* auction! Yes the biggest ink piece I've ever done has 21 and a half hours of bidding left as I write this--it ends at um about 6:48 PM PDT tomorrow (Wednesday)--that's Pacific time, so it'll end earlier if you're in most any other time zone. So until then you can catch the auction here on eBay, and one more time here is a photo of the piece, which is 22" x 16", over three times the size of a regular A* page:
 
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  It shall be moon, or star, or what I listJul 05, 2013 11:47 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Well since I lay off the caffeine three days ago I think the pages have been a little less jittery looking. : )
 
Say, if you have somehow managed to miss all my plugging of it so far, I am auctioning off a big new ink piece on eBay--the biggest ink thing I've ever done, in fact! Here it is in miniature:
 
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Let's see...sorting through my huge news item backlog, weeding out things I don't understand anymore, we come to...Miranda! I think I was trying to find an example of an astronomical body of a certain size, back when I was coming up with the planetoid Selenis and the Major landed on in the previous episode (trying to figure surface gravity and how big it would have to be for someone to be able to walk semi-normally, how far up they could be when they jumped, etc), and I came across the name "Miranda," which was supposedly a moon. That can't be a moon, I thought, it isn't named after a Roman god or what have you! Is it?
 
Well, as it turns out, Miranda is a moon--of Uranus!
 
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image by NASA (source)
 
Miranda is an icy little thing about 470 km across. Its surface, as you can see above in that composite of photos taken by Voyager 2 as it passed by in 1986--the only source of our close-up views of Miranda so far--is a crazy patchwork of smooth and scarred areas. There are two leading theories for how this occurred: Miranda may have had a complicated past with other moons of Uranus, and the gravity of these and Uranus itself could have served as tidal forces that pulled the watery moon into a bulged shape, causing friction and interior heating, leading to volcanism and big moon quakes and so on; the other theory goes that something pretty big smacked into Miranda at some point in the past.
 
That may not be too far out when you consider that we now know of twenty seven moons orbiting Uranus! Miranda is the smallest and innermost of the five "major" moons; inside Miranda's orbit are many smaller moons, as well as numerous dust rings that may have resulted from collisions--the inner area is complicated and apparently unstable; Wikipedia says, of some of the inner moons, "Desdemona may collide with either Cressida or Juliet within the next 100 million years."
 
Here's a diagram showing the relative sizes and positions of six of the moons--from left to right we have Puck, one of the larger of the inner moons, then the five major moons: Miranda, Ariel, Umbriel, Titania and Oberon; Titania, the largest, and the eighth-largest moon in our solar system, is still "about 20 times less massive than Earth's Moon":
 
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image by Vzb83 (source)
 
Have you noticed a pattern in the names of these moons yet? They're characters from Shakespeare! John Herschel, son of William Herschel, discoverer of Uranus, started naming them that way (and a few after characters from a poem by Alexander Pope) in 1852, a few years after the first of the moons were discovered, and I say, good on him! Those are some good moon names. Miranda is one of nine from the most used play, Shakespeare's Tempest.
 
Here's a diagram showing just how busy Uranus' inner moon area is--and this is only the stuff we know of so far:
 
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image by NASA (source)
 
Most of the known inner moons were discovered by the Voyager 2 fly-by, showing up in photos like this:
 
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image by NASA (source)
 
Some of the inner moons, and most of the small outer moons, have been discovered more recently as tiny little blobs seen through powerful telescopes, like Mab, the outermost inner moon, spotted here by Hubble in 2003:
 
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image by NASA (source)
 
So anyhow the lesson is that if you ever run across a moon with a Shakespearean name, it's probably from Uranus. Fact.
 
 
 
 
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  Lightweight erasers: Hi-Polymer, White PearlJul 04, 2013 8:46 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Just time to get this posted before I gotta go catch the fireworks show, I think. : )
 
I had to pick up some things from the local everything store today, and took the opportunity to grab a couple erasers from their Low Quality Art Supplies aisle. I got a 3-pack of Pentel's "Hi-Polymer Erasers," and a Paper Mate (actually Newell Rubbermaid, Sanford brand, as discussed in my recent Tale of the Pink Pearl, and confirmed on the back of the package) "White Pearl":
 
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The Hi-Polymer is about the same size as the also-common Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser seen in part one of my Supermassive Eraser Round-up, and the White Pearl is just a smidge shorter than the old Pink Pearl.
 
Although Pentel sells all kinds of erasers under the "Hi-Polymer" label in Japan, some of which are quite good (see the Eraser Round-up), this big, cheap plain white block is the only one I've seen in the States, and my hopes were not high for it. They were even lower for the White Pearl, given that the Pink Pearl has always been a pretty weak eraser. They grew even lower once I noticed what looked like oil stains on the cardboard packaging behind the eraser:
 
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Ew. Also notice in that first photo how the right edge of the White Pearl is not very smooth. Anyway the usual simple test of erasing a swatch of 4B Tombow Mono pencil off a piece of smooth Canson Foundation Bristol would tell us how they actually perform, going up against the champ from my eraser round-ups, the Japanese import Kokuyo Campus 2B Student Eraser:
 
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The Hi-Polymer, a fairly hard eraser, was reasonably un-smeary, but not really in the same league as the Campus 2B in terms of cleaning power, and unlike the better erasers, doesn't collect its shreds into a nice tidy roll as you erase. The White Pearl erased very poorly indeed, and left loads of tiny, sticky shreds that were hard to remove from the paper.
 
And there you have it!
 
 
 
 
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  Engineers dream of electric miceJul 03, 2013 10:51 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Jeesh I thought I was gonna get another page done today but today was also an attempt to go without caffeine and...man you know it actually feels like bed time now. : o So I think I'll knock off. Tomorrow is the 4th of July holiday here in the States, and I'll be catching the local fireworks show, but I think I'll get an A* page done, too.
 
Last night, after finishing the second of yesterday's pages, and not being all that thrilled with my drawing job on them, it occurred to me that they looked rushed--only they hadn't been, time-wise. But I think I felt rushed doing them because I was hepped on caffeine to stay awake. In fact that's kind of become habitual and I think that's not so great. Fortunately since I'm working in pencil now and it *is* faster than the ink work I was doing before, I don't have to stay up late each day just to get a single page done, for the most part; but it had still been an all-or-nothing proposal I would make to myself for the day's second page--like, it would be kind of late, but not too late, and I'd think, okay, I can get a second page in. And then I'd stay up too late, maybe, if I ran into some difficulty drawing it, or spent too long writing some nutty blog entry afterwards, or whatever. And this would go on and on and I feel like I haven't been caught up on sleep for months, bleh. So I had already resolved, last night, that instead of doing that, I'll just work until it's a reasonable time for bed, and if the second page isn't done, well, I can just finish it up the next day. What a crazy notion.
 
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I was poking around BBC News today and noticed a couple interesting articles:
 
- Unmanned Russian rocket crashes in Kazakhstan: fairly spectacular footage of this rocket breaking up shortly after takeoff and falling back to Earth in a huge explosion. : o
- Computer mouse inventor Doug Engelbart dies at 88: American engineer Doug Engelbart worked on a lot of other remarkable things besides the mouse (there are some cool mouse videos in the article, including the first demo he gave back in the '60's), like ARPANet, "the government research network that led to the internet," and email, and in his earlier years he had worked at NACA: "National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics," formed in 1915 "as an emergency measure during World War I to promote industry/academic/government coordination on war-related projects," and running until 1958, when it was transformed, by order of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, into NASA.
 
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If you haven't checked it out yet, you may be interested in catching the auction of my large A* ink painting, Wheel, on eBay; it looks like this, only bigger:
 
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Five and a half days left to get a bid in. : )
 
 
 
 
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  The Tale of the Five Fabers & the Pink PearlJul 03, 2013 2:12 AM PDT | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:What follows was originally to be a footnote to part one of my Supermassive Eraser Round-Up; I was curious about the "Eberhard Faber" branding on the old Pink Pearl eraser I used as a scale reference in that article's lead photo, and decided to try look up the history of the Pink Pearl--but all I could find was a mass of fragmentary, contradictory articles, and the more I looked into it, the more complicated the mess became. The main trouble may be the fact that the "Faber" name was used by at least five separate companies in the past fifty years, and even normally reliable sources have gotten them mixed up with each other. Untangling the story of the Pink Pearl, which went through a number of these Fabers, took some doing, and my resulting consolidated story is no doubt rife with huge mistakes...but here's my delayed footnote of the Faber story, as best I could piece it together from the Internet:
 
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* Note that this is a very old Pink Pearl; current Pearls bear the Paper Mate logo. The art supply world is somewhat incestuous, you see, and in fact the Pearl, the Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser that was next to it in the previous article, and the various Faber-Castell items (markers, pencils) I've mentioned in the past are all related: Kasper Faber started his enterprise in Bavaria in 1761; his great-great-great-granddaughter married into the Counts of Castell in 1900, creating the Faber-Castell dynasty; meanwhile, great-grandson John Eberhard Faber, managing the company's New York office, founded his own pencil-making operation on the side, where the United Nations building is now, in 1861 (brother Lothar was managing the main Faber business, and another brother, Johann, set up his own pencil operation in Brazil in 1876--it would merge back into Faber-Castell in the 1930s).
 
The German branch, A.W. Faber-Castell, split with Eberhard Faber's company in in 1903. During WWI, A.W. Faber-Castell, being a German company and thus a wartime enemy, lost trademark rights to the Faber-Castell brand in the US; their US branch continued independently under the name Faber-Castell Corporation; A.W. Faber-Castell bought a 25% share in Faber-Castell Corporation after WWII.
 
In 1978, things in Europe took a new twist: "When European rights to the Eberhard Faber name came up for sale in 1978, Faber-Castell was too weak from the collapse of slide rules to pay. Staedtler snapped it up and started making Eberhard Faber products near Nuremberg, in competition with Faber-Castell." A.W. Faber-Castell would buy the European rights to the Eberhard Faber name back in 2010.
 
Meanwhile back in the States, though, still-independent Faber-Castel Co. took over Eberhard Faber Inc. in 1987. In 1994, A.W. Faber-Castell re-acquired trademark rights to the Faber-Castell name in the United States, in exchange selling their share in Faber-Castell Co., which was purchased in its entirety by Newell, who--rather ironically, considering the European situation--changed the brand back to Eberhard Faber.
 
Newell merged with Rubbermaid in 1999; in 2000, Newell Rubbermaid acquired Gillette's stationary products division, including the Paper Mate brand, under which the once Eberhard Faber Pink Pearl is now branded. Whew!
 
I think my "Eberhard Faber" Pink Pearl (John Eberhard Faber came up with that name himself) probably dates from the 1994-to-2000-ish period when Newell had the rights, before they aquired Paper Mate, which means I probably got it during my junior/senior years in college, '94-'96; the only other alternative would be the pre-1987 independent Eberhard Faber period, but that would mean I had this one as far back as grade school, which...probably isn't the case. : P It's kind of tough to find Pink Pearls with this particular configuration of print stamped on them. You might even find one with "Sanford" instead of "Eberhard Faber" or "Paper Mate"; Sanford was an independent writing product company before they were acquired by Newell in 1992.
 
 
 
 
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  Sweating while drawing is overrated : PJul 02, 2013 3:29 AM PDT | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:Oh man whose idea was it to do two pages a day, anyway? Well the restarted auction of my big A* ink painting is going better than ever on eBay, so that's really encouraging. Today was the last day of the last local art show I'll have here in Seattle for a while, and it was a pretty decent one, too--sold a couple original A* pages :)--but I suppose it'll be nice to have a bit of a break from the back-to-back art shows we'd been doing, and if I can keep doing some bigger pieces to auction off every month or so, that could be fun. It's nice to work big! A nutty idea of painting like a life-size Selenis popped into my head today for some reason (it was *super* hot here in Seattle, guhhh), but eh hm I suppose that isn't quite feasible yet, for instance it would be messy and my landlord probably wouldn't appreciate ink on their walls and carpet. Hmph. Also how to ship it... Hm well we'll see how these big-ish but not life-sized ones go, maybe eventually I'll figure out how to work my way up. ;")
 
 
 
 
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