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A Note on Copyrights

I have some beliefs and philosophies that may seem contradictory. I have a day job as a programmer, and my current primary hobby is the creative work you see here on this blog. My main source of current and future income is the sale of copyright-protected works.

At the same time, I read the news. I read how the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and other copyright law firms and lobbying groups are behaving. I see them filing (and winning) lawsuits against everyday normal people for hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars. These are judgments that destroy lives – no normal person can ever pay these down. And these are punishments for simply sharing a few dozen music tracks. There is no victim. There is no provable damage. Yet juries and judges hand out these verdicts anyway.

These are just the lawsuits that make it to court. First, the copyright lawyers send out extortion letters to anyone they think might maybe have infringed on their copyrights. These usually take the form of “pay us $3000 or we’ll take you to court.” Other media is not immune. Many authors and publishers take a similar stance. Photographers get pretty bad as well.

I have no desire to take part in this carnival. Many, many creators have shown that a living can be earned without going to these absurd extremes. To that end, I have decided that I shall contribute to the other side of the coin. You’ll see at the bottom of the site I have added a license:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

From now on, and retroactive to cover all previous entries, everything I post on this site is Creative Commons BY-NC-SA licensed. This means that you can do anything you like with my work, including republishing, provided that you 1) inform your audience that I am the creator, 2) use it only for non-commercial purposes, and 3) pass along any changes you may make, in the same spirit that I have made my own work available.

I have no publicly-available creative work outside of what I have posted here, but I hope to have some in the coming months. My plan for the moment is to license them the same as I have this blog.

For more information, please visit Creative Commons, or read any book by Cory Doctorow. All of his work is available for free on his website under a CC license, and each one has an explanation of the license and his justifications in the front. He also sells his books, and makes a living despite giving them away for free at the same time. I recommend Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom and Little Brother as my favorites.

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Short Fiction

He hadn’t really considered what would happen next. It all went so quickly; the fork in the road, the split-second decision, the immediate doubt. Where did this lead; where would it take him? Well, now he knew.

He took a moment to consider his life up to this point. His carefree childhood, his stressful schooldays, his life dedicated to his job. That last explained his three failed marriages and resultant three estranged offspring. At least they had not repeated his mistakes (yet).

This brought his thoughts up to the past week. The week he broke down and couldn’t handle it any more. He left his office for lunch and didn’t go back. He remembered sitting in the little sandwich shop for hours, silent, pondering. He went through more than one pot of coffee after the waitress figured out he wasn’t leaving anytime soon.

Finally he stirred and took in his surroundings. He started chatting with the waitress, discovering her interests, actually learning about another person for the first time in years. He asked when her shift ended, and they ended up spending the next three days holed up in a hotel room, ordering room service, and talking endlessly whenever they were not otherwise occupied.

After they came up for air, they made plans to meet up come the weekend. In the meantime, he hadn’t been back to his office once. He spent an afternoon at an art gallery. He bought an ice cream for everyone in a park – adults too! He took a drive in the country, looking forward to his weekend encounter —

Which made his choice of which fork to take all the more sad, and the unexpectedly sharp bend in the road all the more poignant, and the distant ground rushing at him all the more heartrending.

He closed his eyes and thought of her…

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Photo Dump

I really wish spring would arrive…

Merry Christmas!

Fun with exposure times and a record player. This is our little table-top Christmas tree.

Hi, Chang!

Uh, hi, Molly…

We bolted Lauren’s camera to the table, then the table to the ceiling along with all the other furniture…

Fun with focus.

More exposure time experimentation. I like how my living room looks all impressionist now.

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I Never Saw Another Butterfly

Holocaust Museum Houston is collecting handmade butterflies for an exhibit to remember the 1,500,000 children who perished in the Holocaust. Their goal is to have one butterfly for each and every child who died. Please take some time and make one for them. They will accept any medium (barring food and glitter). I am sending in the watercolor pictured above.

When last I saw a butterfly
(I see it now in my mind’s eye),
It was against a backdrop of
     our very own ghetto.

I had no inkling then of how
Life would turn out for me, but now
I yearn to see that butterfly, I
     long to see it so.

That butterfly did bring me hope;
It helped me, early on, to cope;
But now I fear that never more
     shall I the outside know.

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JetPens Haul!

Christmas this year brought a bit of cash, and I spent nearly all of it at JetPens, my new favorite place. I’m going to list it all out, because it was just that cool. Makes me really wish they had an affiliate program…

First, the pens and ink. From left to right, we have:

1. Pilot Petit1 Mini Fountain Pen (Black)
This pen writes like a dream, despite the tiny size. Puts out a bit more ink than I’d like, but it’s so smooth and looks great.
2. Pilot Plumix Fountain Pen w/ Italic Nib (Blue)
I love the italic nib on this, and the blue ink is gorgeous, though I can’t wait to fill it up with some Noodler’s Black when it’s out and see how that looks.
3. Pilot Penmanship Fountain Pen w/ Extra Fine Nib (Black)
This writes really well, but I very much don’t like the ink. The line ends up looking like ballpoint ink.
4. Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush Pen (Gray)
Haven’t used this much yet, but I do like the gray ink. Nice contrast from my normal black.
5. Platinum Japanese Art Pocket Brush Pen (Black)
This pen is excellent. I like the feel and line better than my Sakura Pigma brush pen, though the Platinum has a much thicker tip.
6. J. Herbin Straight Body Striped Glass Dip Pen
I couldn’t resist this one. It looks awesome, and when I read that it can hold a solid paragraph’s worth of ink between dipping, I was sold. It does take a bit thicker ink than I have, though my india ink seems OK (better than the Noodler’s, at least). On the other hand, the ink I bought (see below) is too thick, so I need to find a happy medium.
7. Marvy Le Pen (Black, got this at Michaels)
Lauren bought me this for Christmas, and I am amazed by it. I don’t tend to like fineliners, but this one is great. Easy to write with and easy to carry (oh so slender). It’s competing with that Petit1 to be my main pocket-pen note-taker. Nice black ink, too.

The ink is Kuretake Manga Black Ink. This is too thick for traditional fountain and dip pens, so I’ll have to pick up some proper manga dip pens. In the meantime, it works fine with my cheap Hobby Lobby dip brushes, and the results are great. I will try to use it to sketch my next watercolor and see how that turns out (it is waterproof and alcohol-proof).

The two larger Pilot fountain pens have screw-on caps instead of pop-on. It’s a bit odd, but they definitely seem more secure. A good thing, since the Plumix does seem to leak a bit of ink when closed.

Next, we have the other bit I have really been looking forward to. The Sakura Koi Watercolor Field Box Set and Moleskine Watercolor Pocket Notebook. I can’t wait to try the colors out on the Moleskine! I have used them in my other watercolor pad, and they worked great. Really screwed up a bit on one part (my fault, not Sakura’s), so you don’t get to see it unless I can fix it. I’ll do my best to post another one soon, though!

The waterbrush is a very nice upgrade from a crappy brush and a jar of water.

Have any new pens you love? Any other cool art supplies you’ve picked up recently?

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The Chase

In the distance flees my quarry
While I ponder upon my story.
This chase of mine is slowed by nary
A stop upon my mind’s vast prairie.

I time my hunt with proper cadence,
Watching for my foe’s appearance.
If I should hope to bring him to,
I must be sharp, my vice subdued.

As I follow, search my soul.
I continue on patrol,
Taking help from any quarter.
Advancing still, my chase grows shorter.

I crest the hill and in the distance
See my failure of persistence;
Far off, my adversary fades,
As I collapse, weak and dismayed.

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First Watercolor Sketch

Today I did my first sketch with watercolors. I worked from a photo of DC’s Chinatown that I took a couple months ago. First I sketched it out with my brush pen, then I filled in details with my fountain pen loaded with Noodler’s black ink (for future reference: bad plan. Noodler’s wasn’t waterproof, so I got some smudging. Not terrible, though). After that I colored it using some of Lauren‘s watercolor pencils (I don’t have any proper watercolors yet) and a couple of cheap brushes. I like how it turned out, though I don’t like how the ribs of the paper are still showing – I think they picked up a lot of the color from the pencils, and the brushes weren’t able to get all of it out into the wash. Or maybe I just wasn’t patient enough with it. I’ll know better once I have real watercolors and some different paper to try it on.

In any case, here it is!

This was a lot of fun, and I like how much more character the coloring can give to a sketch. I think it’s time to spring for the Sakura Koi field set, now!

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New Camera!

If you read my wife’s blog, you know that this year we decided to give ourselves new cameras for Christmas! She chose the great Nikon D90, but I went a little more portable and picked the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1. It’s not a proper DSLR, but it’s very near (interchangeable lens system, DSLR-quality sensor, etc) while being much smaller and lighter.

In any case, here are the best of my first couple of days’ worth of shooting with it! I’m in love already – can’t wait to take it outside for some real action.

The first shot I took with the camera. I love that bokeh! (yay new word)

She liked this one enough to use it on Facebook for her profile :-D

Ready for a romantic candle-lit dinner?

Noodler’s is so photogenic!

This was accidental, but I love how the autofocus chose Lauren’s camera on the table to focus on.

I really do love this lens cap. And I really do need to get outside with this camera – we have shot every possible scene there is in this house!

Thanks to Andrew Kim for turning me on to the GF1. I love it!

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Sketch Dump

Here are some sketches from the last few weeks, as I figure out what I’m doing. So far, all my sketches have been of a subject; one of these days we’ll see if I can draw something original. Won’t that be exciting!

Don’t forget to click for bigger versions!

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