Author Archives: Peter

Crows, Zoey Ashe, and other Novels

I’ve been making friends with the crows at work. This week, one of them did the clicky rattle call at me. I think it might be a friendly sound? I think most of their communication is body language, but it’s cool when they vocalize at me.

I just finished the second in Jason “David Wong” Pargin’s Zoey Ashe series. I put off reading it because of the title, Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick. It’s embarrassing to even talk about the book thanks to the title. I’m just going to call it Zoey Ashe 2. I aksi made a video review about it. It’s my second Sci-Fi and Mixology video.

Something in Zoey Ashe 2 stood out to me: Zoey is serious about the responsibility that comes with wealth. She inherited a huge fortune in Book 1. At one point in Book 2, Zoey gets her people to fix a squeak in her air conditioning system. It costs twenty-six thousand dollars. She freaks out. She knows that, before she was rich, that much money would have changed her life. And she just spent it to fix a squeak. And the money didn’t come from reputable businesses, either. Twenty six thousand dollars represents a few percent profit on a lot of human misery. She is struggling to come up with something to do about it.

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Video, Photos, Links, Reading

Video and Photography:

I posted a new video last Monday about Air batteries. I had planned on exploring them more but left my lab in Idaho before I could get into it. It’s an interesting concept, even though it’s clearly very hard to make it work well. I’m very grateful to Dipak Koirala (co-author on several papers) who previewed it and caught a few mistakes.

This week I put one up about silicone earbuds. I’m starting to get back into the swing of it. I put it in my Beeminder, so I’m committed.

I’ve been taking more photos lately. The top photo was a strange thing. I was working in the lab when I looked out the window and saw this guy floating by in his balloon. It was a totally random rainy Thursday. Maybe he was trying out an unconventional commute.

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Cephalopod Week and a wonderful artwork

A few years ago, I wanted to make this artwork for #CephalopodWeek on twitter. Since I’m not an artist, I went to a freelancer website. Thanks to Charlie Lee, I got exactly what I wanted. Two cuttlefish cuddling. The little cuttlebones even make a heart shape. D’aww.

I regret how I went about commissioning this. I started a “contest” to see if I could get an artist to render the idea in my head. I will never do that again. It feels really exploitative to get people to put in their free work in the hopes of a payout. It’s basically spec work. Gross. I ran the whole thing poorly, and I apologize to the folks who entered. I closed it early and paid about 5 people who delivered. Without question, Charlie Lee did a perfect job. Next time, I’ll find an artist directly. But despite feeling bad about the process, I was very happy with the art.

P.S.: It all started with my wife. We had a conversation about cephalopods when I found out it was cephalopod week. I told her my favorite cephalopods were cuttlefish, and she said something like “They sound adorable!” and I realized that she heard “cuddlefish.” And so the comic was born.

Modernity and youtube production values

We sometimes think (in our age of progress) that if we look back, we must see very primitive creatures. 

But even if we go back ten thousand years, we don’t find primitive humans. We find modern humans.  Genetically, we have not changed very much in 10,000 years. What has changed? We have learned a huge amount of chemistry, biology, etc. Of course we didn’t know which bits were useful. It took a hundred years to figure out. That’s how science works. 

The discoveries of past centuries created some rapid changes. Example of progress: within a few hundred years we went from knowing what gunpowder was, to seizing guano Islands, to synthesizing ammonium nitrate to nuclear weapons. 

Ancient impulses with modern weapons are weird. I have this picture in my head of an angry person saying “I’m going to get that guy. I’m going to go lay claim to a guano Island, refine potassium nitrate, make black powder, and use an explosion to propel a small metal ball through his body.” Then the pre-modern human says “I’d just hit him with this rock. Simpler.”

Anyway.

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A silly pun about lichen

The strange taste of memories; lichen comics; Week 13 of 2021

Funny stuff:

A strange thing happened. I ate a Walmart fudge brownie, then some peanuts and drank some coffee. It tasted exactly like a memory of waiting for a table at Smitty’s with my grandparents. The yellow wavy glass, the vinyl bench, the smell of my grandmother’s perfume, the sound of silverware, the juice glasses with the distinctive bulgy profile… it all came back. It was clear in my mind to a crazy degree. It only worked once, though. No matter how many brownies I ate.

Unrelated: I’ve been doing some macro photography. I saw this weird moss and lichen on the top of a post. The vibrant red color is very interesting. I would love to know what the pigment is. The red nodules were about 2 mm in diameter. What a fun lens. It made me think of an old comic, A Softer World. So, I tried to make some things inspired by their style.

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