After nine months of issue blogging (posting issues of Prints), I’ve decided it’s time to return to stream blogging.
A quick retrospective: publishing issues was fine (the structure helped, for example), but for a personal blog I’m now less convinced that it’s the right fit. Looking forward to posting more freely and frequently.
Process notes: I mocked it up in Figma and exported a PNG, imported that into Procreate and painted it, upscaled it, made a heightfield image from that, used Blender with the heightfield as a displacement map, and then in Affinity Photo composited it with the original painting and added textures.
I’m intrigued by the idea of using Blender to add 3D texture and (hopefully) make things look a little more like a real painting. A couple years ago I first experimented with this on my Within the Walls of Your Own Homes piece.
In rereading that post just now, apparently back then it took two hours to render the image in Blender. Whew. No wonder I didn’t continue down that path. If I remember correctly, I was compositing a bunch of different textures together directly in Blender before doing the displacement. This time round, making the heightfield beforehand using Procreate and Affinity Photo seems to have paid off: render time is a mere one to two minutes.
The material nodes in Blender are pretty simple — image texture for the color, image texture with the heightfield through a multiply node to the displacement input on the final shader node.
(Also, to be clear, I haven’t done a deep dive into whether this is the actual reason the render times are so much faster.)
Movemap, a map of the U.S. to help people decide which county to move to, based on selectable factors.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb on Dominion, the new book by Tom Holland. (No, not that Tom Holland.) Appears to be a somewhat unedited draft, and there are parts I don’t agree with, but I found it interesting. I liked Holland’s Rubicon. Looking forward to Dominion.
As anticipated in issue 2.4, Kobo announced the Clara 2E, with a Carta 1200 screen. I haven’t been reading as much on my Kobo lately, though, so I don’t know if I’ll get one.
Recent nonfiction reads
In the Land of Invented Languages, by Akira Okrent. Enjoyed this. Conlangs don’t actually interest me all that much — there are so many natural languages to learn instead — but they’re still fun to read about. The bit about thesaurus organization was fascinating. Quite interesting throughout.
The Infiltrator, by Robert Mazur. Whew. This was perhaps a bit more intense than I wanted, though thankfully not really violent at all. So, so glad that I did not a choose a career path that led to going undercover for anything.
Recent fiction reads
Foundryside, by Robert Jackson Bennett. While there were some earthy bits I could have done without, in general I liked this. The magic system reminded me of writing software, which I liked, and things definitely got interesting at the end.
The Castle of Otranto, by Horace Walpole. A bit silly, and sadly not scary at all. (Which apparently is what I wanted from it.)
Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen. Delightfully funny at first — loved the satire — but then there wasn’t nearly as much humor in the second half. Or if there was, I missed it. I did, however, come across the word rhodomontade for the first time.
New story: Unlocked. About fifteen pages long, fantasy.
James Brown’s Lego brick computer. Delightful. This reminded me of my master’s thesis, where I built lots of little widgets out of Raspberry Pi Zeros. One was a screen widget similar to this — though nowhere near as cool.
KiCad, an open source tool for schematic design and PCB layout. Every few months I get the itch to make something physical and electronic — design the PCB, get it printed on demand, 3D print some housing, the works. Haven’t yet figured out what I want to build, though.
Flux. Figma for circuit design and simulation, basically. Very cool.
Physically Based, a database of real-world values for rendering physically based materials. Part of me is adamant that the colors are less useful because real-world materials vary so much, but it’s still a nice project.
Oven, Jarred Sumner’s new company for developing Bun. I tried Bun with my family sheets project but it didn’t work with the yaml library at the time. Need to try it again sometime. (The built-in TypeScript and NPM install speed are very intriguing.)
A good month for reading — pretty sure I’ll hit 5,000 pages by the end, at the rate I’m going. (Not that quantity matters more than quality, to be clear.)
Recent nonfiction reads
Clementine, by Sofia Purnell. A biography of Clementine Churchill, Winston’s wife. This was a somewhat draining book — sad family life perpetuated across three generations (so much bad parenting and dysfunctional marriage and adultery!), not to mention the weight of two world wars — but I’m glad I read it. Before this, for example, I don’t think I’d read much WWII history from the British perspective. Eye-opening. Also, I came across “rumbustious” for the first time ever. What a lovely word.
Here Is Real Magic, by Nate Staniforth. Quite liked this. I didn’t expect half the book to be a bit of an India travelogue, but it turned out to be a nice surprise. (India and Brazil have been in my mind a lot lately as places I’d like to travel to someday.)
Recent fiction reads
The Hands of the Emperor, by Victoria Goddard. I initially heard about this via Alexandra Rowland’s post and figured I’d give it a try. Ended up loving it, enough so that I immediately bought all of Goddard’s other books. It’s cozy fantasy — more calm, less action — and I initially thought it was going to be too relaxed for me, but the stellar character work sucked me in before long. There’s also enough magic to make it interesting to me (I struggle with completely mundane fiction), though the magic is not at all the point of the book. Reading about Cliopher kept reminding me (in some ways) of my time as ward executive secretary and ward clerk over the years. Fond memories. Looking forward to reading the rest of the books (of which there are many, and they’re multiplying quickly!).
A Practical Guide to Conquering the World, by K. J. Parker. Final installment in the Siege trilogy. This one didn’t click as much for me as the others did, sadly. Not entirely sure why, but I suspect I had trouble suspending disbelief with the central conceit. (Which confuses me a little, because it’s basically the same conceit as in the first two books.) The archery nerdery was fun, though.
More reading this time round, because yours truly finally picked up Covid nine days ago. (We weren’t sure it was Covid at first, though, because we tested negative early on. For a while it seemed like just an obnoxious cold after all, but then on Friday I started getting waves of metallic-tasting nausea and that was weird enough to get me to test again.) We’re doing fine — my wife and kids have all fully recovered, and I just have some lingering fatigue along with the occasional metallic taste.
I don’t know that I’ve ever mentioned this, by the way, but I try to be pretty non-spoilery in these reviews (if you can even call them that — they’re more microreactions, at least in my mind). Thus the typical dearth of detail about any given book.
Recent nonfiction reads
Attention Factory, by Matthew Brennan. I might not have been the audience for this one. Mild anthropological curiosity led me to it (I don’t use TikTok and what I’ve seen of it is so not me), but it turned out to not be all that interesting. The writing, too, was a bit too lackluster and dull for my taste. Given how little I care for social media and surveillance capitalism, I have no idea why I finished the book.
The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert. Loved this book. So good. The core message was of course more on the depressing side (what kind of starkly different world will our grandchildren inherit?), but pretty much every chapter was riveting to me. I seriously love reading about the history of science.
The Plantagenets, by Dan Jones. Also really good. I admittedly abandoned it for months because I was having trouble keeping track of all the names, but serializing my nonfiction reading (back down to one book at a time) worked, as did slowing down and subvocalizing. This book is quite readable and I very much enjoyed it. Though the endless wars did get a bit tiresome. (For me, peacetime is much more interesting to read about.) Anyway, looking forward to reading Jones’ book on the Tudors.
On Reading, by Nick Parker. Super short, and maybe not expanded as much from his blog post as I’d prefer, but overall I liked it. The paper museum idea is intriguing. And the typesetting of the interior made me happy.
The Case Against the Sexual Revolution, by Louise Perry. An uncomfortable book that describes some atrocious, awful, heartbreaking things. But an important book nonetheless, I think. I found it interesting to read a secular take on the subject — one that doesn’t fully line up with the law of chastity we have in the Church, but a little more aligned than the sexual revolution itself is (which is admittedly not hard to do). The last chapter is less dismal, but I’d still make sure to read something happy after this.
Recent fiction reads
Ninth House, by Leigh Bardugo. Dark and rough and creepy, with some super uncomfortable parts. But overall, ignoring those bits, I liked the book.
As you can see, it’s a little different from the initial design. This modern incarnation admittedly isn’t as pretty in some ways, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to lay out programmatically.
New things: It shows which child the line comes through, I added the lifespan right after each parent’s name, and I added indicators for the children showing how many kids they had (the dot) and how many marriages (the slash, though if they were married only once and had children, I left the marriage indicator off).
It also supports four generations, admittedly with less space and smaller type:
I tried it without the table borders, by the way. While it was more readable than I expected, it felt a little too loose and unmoored.
The input uses ArchieML and currently looks like this:
marriage: 30 Dec 1829 in Polanco
father: José Antonio Fuentevilla Fuentevilla // 1809-1878
mother: Manuela Gándara Cobo // 1811-1879
name: ? // 1830-1831
name: Josefa // 1832-1834
name: Francisca Maria // 1835-1843
name: Maria Remedios // 1838-1898
name: Maria Luisa // 1841-1916
name: Manuel // 1845-
name: < Maria Isabel // 1848-1928
name: Maria Dolores // 1853-1853
name: José Maria // 1858-1858
marriage: 29 Feb 1808 in Polanco
father: José Fuentevilla Piñera // 1779-1855
mother: Vicenta Manuela Fuentevilla Ruiz // 1787-1828
name: < José Antonio // 1809-1878
Right now the family numbering is table-based (column, row), but eventually I think I probably want to make it hierarchical (somehow) so it’s easier to know which cell to put things in.
Another new chart of sorts: timelines. I’ve been sorting through my Cuban lines and realized I needed some way to map out everybody so I could see the bigger picture.
The input is an ArchieML file that just lists events with dates and optional places:
title: Cuba timeline
event: Antonio Sánchez Rodríguez Díaz marries Ana Josefa Muñoz y Martínez Machado, possibly in El Calvario
event: Agustin Sánchez Muñoz marries Ana Josefa Montoro, who then dies before 7 Feb 1835
event: Rafaela Crispina Sánchez Muñoz born to Antonio Sánchez Rodríguez Díaz and Ana Josefa Muñoz y Martínez Machado
date: 1805 Oct 25
place: Matanzas City
event: Domingo Sánchez Muñoz born to Antonio Sánchez Rodríguez Díaz and Ana Josefa Muñoz y Martínez Machado
date: 1807 May 12
place: Matanzas City
event: Antonia Crispina Vargas Hernández is born to José Vargas and Gertrudis Hernández
place: Güira de Melena, Mayabeque
If the date is a range, it’s italicized to show that it’s broader than a specific date.
(I originally was just going to use Google Docs for this, by the way, and made an initial prototype there. Having to do all the formatting manually got old, though, so I scripted it. Now I can just focus on the content.)
Family sheets update
Still have a number of bugs to fix, but it’s getting close.
Tabular pedigrees update
Comparison to the six-generation chart:
The shaded cells, by the way, indicate that I haven’t yet verified those people. Basically a TODO comment for myself.
Can’t wait till Chrome supports border stroke widths smaller than 1pt.
Last and sort of least, I’m slowly putting together a page with quick links to the various Torre de’ Passeri civil registration scans on FamilySearch, to save myself some time. Planning to do this for the other localities I do research in as well.