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Sparr Risher
Maker geek with too many hobbies.
Maker geek with too many hobbies.

Sparr Risher's posts

Goodbye, Firefly

After waking up to some general announcement emails today, I decided that it's time to unsubscribe and unfollow various sources of information about Firefly. I won't be attending again in the near future, possibly ever, and being reminded of that loss has become more depressing than useful.

I never thought that Firefly was a popularity contest, but it seems that I was wrong. It was made clear to me last year that if more than one person is upset about where I'm camping or even just sitting, and they complain loudly enough, the board will force me to move, under threat of ejection from the event. I've been told that simply talking, in any place where someone who doesn't like what I'm saying might overhear me, is unacceptable behavior. I don't think there is anywhere I can exist at the event that there won't be at least intermittently two people upset with my presence, so any time / effort / money I spend on attending is now under the specter of risk of losing out on most of the best parts of the experience I would hope to have. I'm not going to spend a thousand dollars and take a week off work just to camp alone and watch my friends revel from afar.

I am disappointed in the people who lied to our camp, and me directly, about how such situations would be handled between us, about their support for plans and policies that they did not actually support, and in describing my own actions and behavior. If they had simply honestly told me they wanted me gone, rather than subjecting us to a year of discussion and meetings and policymaking just to discard it all, it would have been a much cleaner break. I am disappointed in the Firefly board for succumbing to the battle of who can cope least. It is poor leadership to choose the path of least resistance to mollify whoever complains loudest. I am disappointed in my friends who decided that keeping silent and avoiding the drama was worth more to them than my continued presence. Fortunately this has helped me reprioritize and filter people I thought were my friends.

This is more painful to write than the end of any other relationship has been for me.

I bought an old box truck with lift gate and a small flatbed trailer from Mountain View School District. Today I make the trek to work with a battery and jumper cables, planning to get the truck at lunch. I also hope the trailer fits in the back of the truck. Wish me luck!

I have a bunch of photos that I took while walking around a place. I want to upload them to a web service and link them together with clickable hotspots. This tool exists for 3d/panoramic real estate listings, but I want something simpler and lower tech than that. Is there something like this? It might be used for point-and-click adventure games, or for real estate 5 years ago, or for something else.

I am stunned to discover that there's no scripting interface for Inkscape's functionality. Inkscape can call an external python "extension", which is really a standalone script that manipulates an SVG file, but there's no way for that extension to use any of the functionality that exists in Inkscape (like all the stuff in the Object and Path menus, including path boolean operations). The closest thing is to have your script launch a whole new Inkscape process for each operation you want it to perform, from a limited subset of operations.

This compounds my despair at the lack of comprehensive SVG manipulation libraries in any programming language. I've reduced my test problem to "load an svg file, find the first path element, split it at the middle into two shorter paths, save the svg file". This seems like a ridiculously trivial operation, right? The closest solution I've found is in perl where I can start with SVG, SVG::Parser, SVG::Transform, Image::SVG::Path, and a few other modules, then write a few hundred lines of glue, then only be able to run my test problem on most SVG files.

I've been spoiled by GIMP's scripting interface. If I want to tackle this problem in a GUI, it's looking like I might actually have to switch from Inkscape to Adobe Illustrator, which I am strongly avoiding.

Maybe I need to write Yet Another Amateur SVG Library, alongside the dozens of existing libraries written by other people in a similar situation who weren't really up to the task of writing The One Comprehensive SVG Library.

Memories and 11-year-old Sparr

Found while organizing old documents, a folder labeled "Memories". Some of the contents:

The tickets from my first trip by plane.

Various holiday cards from friends and family.

The unopened invitations to my sister's college graduation and two old friends' wedding.

The letter sent to me by my mother just after she won custody of myself and my sister, before we moved to live with her.

The letter sent to me by my father just after we moved to live with my mother.

A couple of school assignments to transcribe a poem from a book and add color/art, probably including the first and last time I ever tried to draw a bird.

A long letter from my aunt when I was 15, about my impending early graduation.

A few pages from a journal I was required to keep as part of a class when I was 11 years old, with writing prompts, as follows:

12-6-93 (prompt: Free)
I like living in Archbold. I am Happy. I'm glad we moved. I hope to stay here. I like my new teachers. They are nice. I've made a few friends.

12-15-93 (prompt: The year 1993)
I've gone to 3 shools.
I had a nice year.
My mom got custody of me.
I got my first B.
I shot a rifle for the first time.
I cut a hole in my leg.
I had crutches.
I started a collection.
I got shot with a bottle rocket.
I learned a lot.

1-3-94 (prompt: Free)
I was surprised this Christmas, my grandfather gave me a coputer, but I wasn't expecting to get one 'til about February. I was glad that I got to go visit my grandparents. When my sister gave me a new kind of building set I almost kissed her, (YUK!!).

1-12-94 (prompt: Death)
Death is a bad thing. I was sad when my great-grandmother died. I miss her. I don't like it when people I know well die. I hope I don't die for a long time. Death frightens me.

1-31-94 (prompt: Jump)
I had fun jumping rope on Friday. I was proud that I could still stretch my feet to my head. I liked being able to exercise in school with my friends.

2-2-94 (prompt: Free)
I hate sitting by these girls. I sat here to see someone's surprise that the table was taken. I'm satisfied. I hate having to write these... stupid paragraphs!!

2-7-94 (prompt: Weekend)
I didn't do much over the weekend, but what I did do was fun. I'm glad that I got some new computer programs. These paragraphs bore me. It has taken me 8 minutes to write this.

2-9-94 (prompt: I feel)
I feel tired.
I feel excited about having my teeth pulled.
I feel scared.
I feel happy.
I feel rough.
I feel sweaty.
I feel wet.
I feel intelligent.
I feel sad.
I feel like not writing any more of these stupid sentences!

2-15-94 (prompt: Free)
I just had two teeth pulled. I can't eat hard or spicy foods. I don't like that. I am glad that I got a new video game for my computer. It is Dungeons and Dragons, Secret of the Silver Blades.

2-16-95 (prompt: School)
I don't like school a lot. I like math class and my math and english teachers. I don't like having to come to school. I would rather have a virtual reality (ATAR) teaching program for my computer. Most of my classes are smaller than normal. I like being able to use computers. I am not used to so many classes or periods.

2-18-94 (prompt: Mrs Frisby)
Mrs Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H. was a good book, just as The Secret of N.I.M.H. was a good movie. They were quite different. Mrs Frisby was Mrs Brisby in the movie. Jenner left in the book, but stayed with the group in the movie. The entrance to the rats dwelling was a tunnel in the book, but a water filled shaft in the movie.

2-22-94 (prompt: If I were President...)
I would lower taxes
kids would only have to complet the 8th grade.
I would be happy
my family would be rich
I would allocate more money to help homeless and disabled people
I would be exited

2-28-94 (prompt: RP)
I liked doing a research paper. I didn't have to do English. My parents helped me write it. It was a fun activity.

3-4-94 (prompt: Trust)
Trust is a very important thing. With-out trust, no one would let anyone else do anything. Trust is hard to earn, but easy to lose. It doesn't feel good to have someone not trust you, or not to be able to trust someone.

3-7-94 (prompt: Free)
I feel good. I am starting to get used to this school. Many strange things happen here. Abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz [ed: cursive]. I write 2 different ways. Abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz [ed: type]. I can write in 3 languages. My very few friends are nice. I like most of the kids in school, leave a few.

3-16-94 (prompt: Free)
I feel O.K. I got in trouble in Science and Health. I hope Easter gets here soon. My family might be moving this summer.

3-21-94 (prompt: Easter)
I like Easter. I tis fun to paint eggs. I like to hunt for eggs. My sister isn't as annoying as usual on Easter. I usually get a big basket of candy. My mom makes us look for our Easter Baskets.

3-28-94 (prompt: Free)
I am about to have a test that I didn't know about. I hope I pss. It shouldd be fun. Easter is only 6 days away. I am going to go see my grandparents.

4-5-94 (prompt: Parents)
My parents are nice, but strict. I like them. I have 4, Mom: Judy, Dad: Bill, Stepmom: Marie, Stepdad: Brian. [ed: change from ink to pencil here] Oops. I don't spend as much time with my parents as I would like to, but I spend enough. My mom and Dad were diorced a couple of years ago, they both remarried.

4-8-94 (prompt: Free)
Joe is bugging me more than ever. Ralph beat me up again. John is hitting me more often. I don't like being beatup.

4-11-94 (prompt: Bill)
I... am smart
like lacrosse
eat pizza
am an IBM whiz
like food
do NOT like my sister

4-15-94 (prompt: Free)
I have a ub-teacher. I came 2nd place in the spelling contest.

4-18-94 (prompt: Attendance)
Attendance is important. It tells who is where and who is not. It is used a lot.

4-26-94 (prompt: I need __ to be successful)
good self esteem
to be trustworthy
an education
self control
to be friendly
to be able to make educated decisions
to think positive
to be prompt
to accomplish goals

5-2-94 (prompt: Weekend)
I went to camp. It was my first year at camp. I had fun. I met new people. I made a few friends.

5-5-94 (prompt: Free)
I'm going to the OutBack. It will be my first time. I am excited.

5-9-94 (prompt: Mom)
Mom is good,
She is sweet.
Especially when,
She gives me treats.
Mom is good,
She is nice.
She can give,
My life some spice.
Mom is good,
She loves me so.
Even when I,
Break the window.

5-17-94 (prompt: Free)
I'm tired. I will be getting a new game soon so I am happy.

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Discarded Art

Prior to a few years ago, it never occurred to me that every artistic medium has as many unfinished / unpublished / unfamous works as are commonly associated with writing and painting.

A partner was involved in amateur screenswriting. Until she mentioned it, I had no idea how many people are out there writing the scripts for movies that never get performed, let alone filmed and published and distributed. She was part of a club where people met to discuss each others' work, almost none of which was ever published.

As I get deeper into board game design, I'm getting a sense of just how many designs never make it past an idea, or a few playtests of a paper sleeved copy. I'm in a community now where people are putting hundreds of hours into game designs, including high quality artwork, that only ever exist as a PDF somewhere.

My exposure to makerspaces and burner culture has enlightened me about how many LED installations and steel sculptures and such get made, maybe shown zero or one times, then put on a shelf or scrapped or thrown away. This one hit me hardest, and is why I so rarely engage in the pursuit.

I'd love to hear about others' encounters with this phenomenon.

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I've seen this done with trying to get balls into a goal on a basketball court. PB&J is a great way to get kids into the programming mindset.

Manteca Unified School District actually agreed to refund my payments for the auctioned vehicles they listed as "running when removed from service" when they actually meant "after removing from service we decommissioned them by cutting or removing many wires and hoses, including spark plug wires". I expected more of a battle, but received the refund today.

The more I read about Mutual Benefit Corporations, the more answers I get to my last 20 years of questions about how individuals can get the benefits of a corporation without engaging in commercial/business endeavors. I wish I'd known about this when I was 20.
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