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  Hand fitness secrets, ducks & ice creamNov 30, 2018 11:54 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Is drawing A* every day making my hand buff? : o
My new gloves came today! They're easily the closest-fitting gloves I've ever had—I stand 6'2" but my glove size is S, according to the measurement I took when following the manufacturer's sizing chart—but the one on my left—drawing—hand is slightly tighter across the knuckles than the other one (and I think the right hand is the one I measured). Finger length seems to be the same.
Hm! Good thing they came, too; the daytime temps just got about 10 degrees colder since yesterday, and are looking to stay that way for at least a week; went for a long walk in 34F wet snowy conditions this morning with the old gloves—the new gloves didn't arrive until the afternoon—and it was good fun except that I had to run my fingers under warm water for a few minutes when I got back before they stopped hurting. : P I don't know what the 3M "Thinsulate" in those bulky old gloves is supposed to be doing once the temperature gets below the mid-40s, but "not much" seems to be the answer. : PP
Now that the weather is nice and cold, though, I can walk along the town's river path without becoming bug food. : ) The cold hasn't scared off a duck couple who were still out there paddling around, though.
Come to think of it, the ducks at the city's biggest park were still braving their half-frozen pond a week or two back when we were having some really cold overnight temperatures. A couple people started tossing bird food out onto the ice, and the ducks were slipping and sliding all over each other in their eagerness to get it. And this week, with the sheep at the farm next door having retreated under cover from cold rain, the ducks expanded their activities to the farm's pond—and to pecking noisily around the part of the yard where the sheep had grazed.
High times here in duck-berg!
(Also I discovered that the summer construction along the far end of main street that runs next to the river has yielded a spot for a Baskin Robbins to move their however many flavors into town. They're not moved in yet; given that there are three superior, down-home scoop options in town—two within a few blocks of that location—I wonder how well they'll do. Oh well they have big signs, name recognition, and a spot right between the Subway and the local teriyaki shop, both of which are popular with the college kids—who *are* closer to that end of the street. Plus they have a parking lot. I guess they'll manage. ; P)
((Full disclosure: I worked at a BR for several years during high school. Winters were kind of nice because it was totally dead. ^_^ Hm and I'm not sure about my hand, but scooping ice cream definitely made my left wrist bigger! : o))
  Old science, new pseudo science?Nov 29, 2018 9:44 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Ooh I guess I sat on this for a while but anyway back in January the BBC ran an article about scientists in China creating the first cloned monkeys. They were using the same technique used to clone Dolly the sheep 20 years ago, which is very inefficient and has a rather high mortality rate, so this isn't a technical breakthrough, but I guess more of just an example of how people will continue to press closer and closer to cloning, well, ourselves.
Hm and come to think of it, there's a Chinese scientist who's been making headlines in the past week or so after claiming he'd successfully created genetically modified twin human babies—supposedly he edited them to make them immune to what could have been an inherited disease, or something; I stopped reading there because it was making me feel uncomfortable : P, although I did see later headlines about some kind of controversy (not surprising) and other scientists or something saying they had serious reasons to doubt his claim in the first place.
Well that's all kind of messy and I'd rather not think about it anymore; mad science is easier to take in fiction. : o
(Ah okay well if you really want to know more about the gene edited human baby claims and controversy, here's one place to start.)
  It's so bright 0_0Nov 28, 2018 10:23 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Bah running late again, hopefully tomorrow won't be another day where I have to spend time researching winter gear. (Numb fingertips and sun-dazzled eyes, I will fix you! : P)
  Just goin' space punk or Fremen or somethingNov 27, 2018 7:21 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Here's a sketch I got to send to a reader for supporting the comic through my Patreon campaign : ) :
You can help me make this comic with just $1 a month through Patreon. : D At higher levels I can even send you monthly rewards—a shiny new pencil sketch like that one arrives in your mailbox each month when you contribute at the $10 level, for instance.
Thanks to everyone who's helping me out, it makes a huge difference! = D
  InSight lands on MarsNov 26, 2018 8:57 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:NASA successfully landed its InSight rover on Mars today, which has become kind of a routine thing for NASA, but it's more impressive when you look at the map of Mars probe landings and attempted landings in that BBC article, and see that no other space agency has had a fully successful landing on Mars, whereas NASA has now had 7.
NASA's one failed landing on Mars was the 1999 Mars Polar Lander: during its landing sequence, an engineering flaw caused it to receive a successful landing signal when it was still 40 meters above the surface—so the probe duly shut off its engine, fell 40 meters, and was destroyed on impact with the Martian surface.
That's not too dissimilar to a much more recent crash on Mars—you may remember the European Schiaparelli probe crash in 2016, where a momentarily overloaded sensor during its descent over Mars caused the probe to calculate that it was at a negative altitude—so, 3.7 km up, it released its parachute, fired its braking thrusters for 3 seconds, and then dropped like a rock the rest of the way.
Having avoided prematurely congratulating itself over a successful landing, InSight will now go on to see what it can find out about the interior composition of Mars: seismometers will listen for earthquake vibrations, to deduce what sort of strata they're traveling through; a special drill will burrow 5m down to take the ground's temperature; radio antennae will measure the wobble of the planet on its axis, which could allow scientists to make some deductions about the size and state of the planet's core.
  Mwhaaa sleep GOODNov 21, 2018 8:27 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Thanks to everyone who sent me well-wishes yesterday! I think too many days in a row of not quite getting a full night's sleep caught up with me and my brain just shut down and gave me no option except to go to bed in the middle of the afternoon instead of working on the comic. x_x And I'm out Thursday and Friday for the big Thanksgiving holiday (during which I will also be endeavoring to sleep a lot!). But I got a page done today so that's something, anyway. : o
Thanks also to everyone who reads this little comic despite these various foibles. I couldn't make it without you! ^_^ And here's an ink sketch I got to send to a reader for their support through Patreon:
Thanks everyone for all your support! And Happy Holidays (if you're into it)! Back next week with more sleeping and maybe even some more comics, hopefully!
  Sleeping instead of working todayNov 20, 2018 4:40 PM PST | url
I'm not going to get a page done today; I guess I've just gone too many days without quite getting a full night's sleep: my body is telling me pretty firmly to go lie down in a dark room for a while, so that's what I'm going to go do. Back at the drawing board tomorrow, probably!
Update: Thanks to everyone who wished me well! Had a nice nap, got up and ate dinner, now feeling a good deal better—and back to bed for the night. ^_^
  Holey moley it's the HolidaysNov 19, 2018 10:12 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:The Holidays are officially nearly upon us! It'll accordingly be a short-ish week of A*—but who needs comics when we've got turkey and pumpkin pie? :d
  Why blog, it's the weekendNov 16, 2018 11:02 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Whew well a page got done one way or the other. Have a nice weekend, everyone! : D
  Doin' fine!Nov 15, 2018 9:09 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Hey let's do another funky old comic excerpt!
Captain Marvel knows the value of a critical self-appraisal!
From "The Marvel Stamps," written by Otto Binder, with pencils by C. C. Beck and inks by Pete Costanza, in Whiz Comics #67, September-October 1945.
  RC Cola vs sharksNov 14, 2018 9:11 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:I have a Gmail folder containing almost 1200 emails that I mailed to myself, each with a screenshot of a different kooky old comic page attached—from funny stuff I come across as I'm reading my way through old comics, either ones that have fallen into the public domain and are now free, or ones I've been reading through chronologically on Marvel Unlimited—or those from the various digital DC compilations of their old stuff I've been picking up when they go on sale dirt cheap.
I'm currently on Justice League of America comics from the early '60s, but such is my backlog that what we have here is an elaborate and just plain crazy full page RC Cola ad from 1945, from a public domain Whiz Comics issue somewhere between #61 and #67 (my notes failed me : P). Normally I would just isolate a single panel from a page, but *every* panel in this ad is nuts:
Advertising is a heck of a business. =o (The Wheaties ad I had screenshotted from right before this RC one was...not PC enough to show.)
As usual for ads—and even for comics from the period—the work is uncredited, but the art might be by the illustrator involved in the creation of the recurring "R.C. and Quickie" duo: Creig Flessel.
  Raise emoticon/text ratioNov 13, 2018 9:53 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Trying to stay loose ^_^ \m/
  Salute to Stan LeeNov 12, 2018 9:49 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Stan Lee passed away today at the age of 95. Among his many accomplishments in the comics field, Lee scripted and edited nearly every Marvel comic of the early '60s, when the "Marvel Universe" of popular super heroes took flight.
With a love of hyperbole and alliterative nicknames, a Lee script can be kooky, but mostly just plain fun, with personality and pathos that made Marvel distinct from other superhero publishers of the time.
  Triangles in spaceNov 09, 2018 8:51 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:A* is brought to you thanks in large part to the readers who contribute through the A* Patreon campaign. : ) You can help me work on this comic by pitching in as little as $1 a month—it may not sound like much but it means a lot to me!
Contributing at even higher levels gets you special A* rewards sent from me to you each and every month; for instance, here's a sketch I mailed to a reader at the $10 level for a recent month's contribution:
Thanks everyone! I'm really happy to be able to keep making A*! = D
  I cleaned the bathroom!Nov 08, 2018 8:34 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:I was scrubbing away in one of my twice-weekly cleanings of the bathroom today, wishing I was already done with it and at my drawing table working on today's page instead, but then it occurred to me: working at home for myself on A* as I am, among other roles—writer, artist, marketer, tax "expert," webmaster, etc—I'm also the cleaning crew!
Back at my old office job for The Man, working late, I was used to having the company's hired, efficient cleaning team doing their best to clean around me as I hunched at my darkened desk (there wasn't much chat: the woman who generally handled my cubicle section soon got herself a headset for her phone, and chatted away freely with her friends on that—in a language she probably assumed anyone still at work in the office would not understand—in my case, this was absolutely the case—while cleaning ; ). They were good. : o And now, it's my job, too! I wouldn't have to clean my place nearly as much if I spent my days in someone else's building.
But I like working for myself! : ) So now I won't feel so bad about having to take time out to do some cleaning during the week. ^_^
  Art strategeryNov 07, 2018 10:01 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Busted out a new tiny brush today, to go along with my super-skinny, nearly bristle-less tiny brush—so now one can do medium to thin lines, and the other can do thinnish to super-thin lines. : D
Also wanted to try some big brush, line-less fills, with a little extra liquid in them so they could move and mix a bit. Pretty fun to play with the paint that way, has a bonus of being fairly fast compared to doing lots of lines around the edges, too!
  There aren't many democracies in A*Nov 06, 2018 8:30 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Have been super-distracted by democracy the past few days. It was super-important, but it will be a relief to have a couple more brain cells back on target toward A*, and comfortably fictional world problems. : o
Speaking of that, I read some local dystopian science fiction today! A friend of my father's, whom I met at his memorial service, lives in town here; we got together for lunch and he gave me a hard copy of a sci-fi anthology published by a writing club he's in at a local college—he has a story of his own in there. Pretty cool! (It also reminded me how nice it is to do comics, where I don't have to use words to describe everything, and somehow try to do it in a natural-seeming way. Uh there was a word for that but see now I've forgotten it. Man! That's the tough stuff.)
  Gradient, my gradientNov 05, 2018 9:23 PM PST | url
Added 1 new A* page:Have some time to experiment with painting approaches on this space flight. This one was tricky! I'll try something different tomorrow. ; )
  Hey pencils can do grayscale huhNov 02, 2018 8:18 PM PDT | url
Added 1 new A* page:Here's a sketch I got to send to a reader for supporting the comic through my Patreon campaign : D :
If you enjoy your daily A* and want to help me keep it going, Patreon is a really good way to do that. You can pitch in as little as $1 a month! Yep that makes a big difference to me. : D At higher levels you can even get me sending you A* rewards each month, like e-books and sketches—a pencil sketch like the one above shows up in your real world mailbox each month if you kick in $10 a month to help me keep this thing going. : )
  Bristle at the thoughtNov 02, 2018 1:31 AM PDT | url
Added 1 new A* page:My size zero brush with just a tiny bunch of bristles left lost another bristle as I used it for the skinny lines on this page. How many pages does it have left?? = o
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