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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn


cropIt's not just artists that like to be helpful!

Why yes, I am going to write about vacuum cleaners. It's my blog and I can write what I wanna. (Yeah, the wizard picked up the Scalzi top tier bundle, even though we already have most of the books, one we didn't was his collection Your Hate Mail will be Graded, aaaaaaaand evidently, though we both started our websites at roughly the same time, I didn't discover Whatever after a lot of these were written, even though it's been a favourite for years.

And wow, he's changed in interesting ways, mostly—I'd say—in the ‘yanno, life's too short to waste my time arguing with ijits’ kinda way. Though I would like to know whether he still feels Dubya is the top contender for worst 21st ca president, or whether that orange guy supercedes him. I mean, by Scalzi's lights, Dubya succeeded in overturning an election, whereas TFG only attempted it; otoh, Orange, with his vaccine denial, has gotta be responsible for more deaths, right? I'm really not jaqing off, I'd be honestly interested.)

Anyway. I tell people I'm a terrible housekeeper, and, compared to folks who keep their spaces tidy and clean (those are not actually interchangeable qualities: I do somewhat better at the former) I'm definitely in the bottom 50 percentile. But it's not that I actually loathe housework so much as I loathe noise and dirt and water getting where it shouldn't (which thankfully isn't as much of a disaster on the wood that makes up the bulk of our flooring as carpeting, but is still damaging and annoying.)

I managed to get us on a clean dishes program by dint of doing Flylady's ‘clean your sink’ thing. That was approachable! (To be fair, the wizard now does 99% of the kitchen cleanup.) Ditto folding laundry, by keeping my clothes down to the limit of how many hangers I have in my closet (more or less) is the one thing I really took from Marie Kondo, and a recent relapse of having the bed covered in so much (clean) laundry was a reminder how much I appreciate not having to cope with that: it's really a pest to change sheets when the bed is covered with crap. Don't do it!

So, I just need to need to come up with a strategy for cleaning our floors. Most people vacuum, and it's certainly fastest, but it makes so much noise. Nevertheless, there are any number of crooks and crannies that just don't respond well to brooms or dust mops, so, I need a vacuum. And oh hey, according to this vox article, reddit's /r/VacuumCleaners is the place to go.

Well! I wouldn't’ve guessed that. I'd heard so many horror stories about reddit that I've been afraid to go there. Plus, wasn't there some big dramatic fight between reddit and the content scrapers for AI, and all that info was gonna go away...? But really, I'm being silly: a couple of days ago, I shared some links from an artist who had resources for people who wanted to try printmaking. These folks actually encourage people to contact them with their specific circumstances, which I find amazing, but shouldn't, because though their interest is different, their goals are the same: for people, even (or especially) beginners to have a good experience out of the gate, instead of making a lot of frustrating (and/or expensive) mistakes from ignorance.

Therefore, I shouldn't be daunted, but just assume they will get the same happiness helping that we artists like to give introducing others.

It's still hard, though, when one's a beginner, to remember that, yes, people like helping.


While I'm working up to that, here's some spring bulbs of one of my favourites, siberian squill. (A gardening friend called it a weed because it propagates so readily. I have thousands of them, and I love them. I wish I could get some of my other bulbs to spread like this...)



cropYesterday, as a treat for doing all the items on my list of things to do, (something I accomplish on the order of 1–4x/yr, mebbe?) I settled in for a deliciously long plagiarism video by one of my favourite youtubers, HBomberguy. I watched the nearly 4 hour epic in one go, but it's helpfully marked in chapters, and has a quite natural division point at the half way mark. Or you can watch this 20 minute out-take to get the general flavour, if not the righteous fury Brewis brings to the table.

Two things really stood out to me, or mebbe three:

1. as an aside, HBomb told a story about riding with some much-bigger-names in the video-logger world than him in a uber, going to a conference about their profession. He made a clever, relevant joke, and $Bigger said casually, ‘I'll have that’ and tweeted the joke to her following as her own, without credit. Bomb was a bit steamed, but didn't feel getting into a war with her much bigger following was worth the pain.

It was just an aside, but as I lay in bed trying to sleep (cuz I didn't finish this vid till about an hour and a half past my bedtime, perhaps not the best of life choices, but hey), that's what stuck out. Somebody stole from him, and he had to sit there and take it. That's what insurance companies are for, not your friends and acquaintance!

2. The plagiarists are in it for the money; creating for the joy of it is alien to them. I myself ran into one of these people, and thought she was nuts to steal from beadmakers, because there are so many other, more efficient ways to make money. (I mean, she copied one of my beads so closely that when I saw it in a photograph in our guild literature, I thought at first it was mine. Then I watched her making this bead and laughed, cuz her method was so such more slower. It was a simple abstract of this type [and come to think, she could've learnt how to do it well, if she'd bothered to check out the accompanying how-to page—it describes exactly how I make these things...] And why yes, she also screwed people over in other ways, just like the triangle head person in Bomb's vid.)

This is why I wish the arts were part of our public school curriculum, because if everyone had to do some sort of arty-type thing like they did their math and grammar, they'd a) possibly discover the joy of being creative, and at the very least b) have a better understanding that however fulfilling it is, creating is still hard work. As it is now, creatives are not very highly respected in our culture; money is.

3. HBomb really doesn't like thieves, especially ones who erase the credit and history of the more deserving: his previous video also delved into this erasure. (It's the roblox one, and really quite entertaining—I quite enjoyed it, despite knowing nothing about videogrames—honestly, if the 4 hour plagiarism just sounds too daunting/depressing, watch this one instead, it has many of the same themes and a bouncier, more lively presentation that's only 90 minutes or so.)

As so many women artists are all stripes keep getting lost to the sands of history, I can certainly empathize.

The sad thing is, one of the plagiarists he cites actually made a really popular and nicely animated video—basically, an adaptation of a magazine article...from a publisher who's since gone out of business, and of an article that is (I guess?) only in internet archives now. All that youtuber had to do was contact the original author, and buy the rights—probably for a few hundred dollars. Then he could've added the animation, narrative effects, etc., gotten the millions of views and thousands of dollars and likely gotten other hopefuls dropping resources in his lap, leaving him to do the bits he was good at (animation, dramatic reading, etc) and letting someone else do the stuff he wasn't (writing). I mean, we already have a model for this sort of adaptation, a agents can now add youtube rights in addition to Audible and movie options, hmmm?

Oh, credit where credit is due: Harlan Fscking Ellison was once actually on the right side of history. I loathe Ellison, not only because he may have been the most obnoxious, abrasive sf author ever, but because he was a sexist asshat; he was also famously litigious. But some tv producer swiped his and Ben Bova's idea for a robot policeman, was clearly in the wrong, and Ellison took him to court and won a hefty settlement. (The producer's lawyers tried to cite Isaac Asimov's Caves of Steel series as prior art—the ones with robot policeman R Daneel Olivaw—but Asimov defended the Ellison pitch. Honestly, I kinda wondered about that, but Ellison, despite being a jerk of the highest order, actually was a gifted author, and Bova was no slouch either, so they certainly could've come up with something different.)

(It doesn't make up for his extremely misogynist “A Boy and His Dog”)

The furore over ChatGPT and whatnot seems to have died down a bit, but it's clear that our laws simply haven't kept up technology, and all the ways bad actors are finding to abuse it to their advantage. I certainly haven't got all the answers (though 100 year copyright is way too long to sequester stuff) but I applaud anyone willing to take the time and effort to stand up for the powerless. So good on you, Mr Brewis.

Bonus, HBomb had a bunch of good content creators to check out at the end of the above—check them out if you do nothing else. Oh, and I have a little piece of mixed media art.


cropLike the assortment of beads featured yesterday, this week's gonna be a grab-bag of various topics—yesterday, lampworking, today, gift-decorating, tomorrow, well, check in and see!

Speaking of various and sundry, f2tE expressed an interest in making linocuts together.

It's one of the many media I've always wanted to try but never got around to attempting. Now that the internet exists, my first step in researching something about which I'm ignorant is to hunt around and find someone into $whatever-topic and see what they have to say. (The biggest difficulty is filtering out all the links whose goal is merely to sell you something, as opposed to actually just teach you out of the goodness of their hearts. Fortunately, artists—genuinely passionate ones about their craft, anyway—tend to be generous souls who enjoy gaining converts to their particular discipline, and that, I can generally identify.)

To wit, this artist, Belinda del Pesco, looks like a good starting point if print-making interests you:

  • lino-cut beginners start here;
  • her list of resources;
  • including a basic cutting kit —Flexcut's ‘micro palm set’ (Amazon is cheaper, but their link was long and ugly, plus, I don't like them, so this is Flexcut's actual site, which, again, I recommend, it's much clearer and more informative besides.)

Anyway. The nice thing about lino cuts is that you don't need a huge heavy press that costs thousands of dollars to make prints:)

Giftwrapping, if you scavenge the components, is an even cheaper, albeit more fleeting, medium.


cropWhoops, sorry about the no-posting last week, I was kinda busy, among other things, actually making beads. (Go me;)

So, ofc, it's times to clear out the odds and ends of linkies...

  • Last week was Thanksgiving, but for some it is a National Day of Mourning. Via bb, which has a bunch of links to explore.
  • John Oliver on the Israel-Hamas war. Yeah, there's something wrong when a comedian has the sharpest take on this ugly mess...
  • I guess Henry Kissinger didn't precisely foment strife in that region, but not, it seems, for want of trying. Via FTB.
  • Thaddeus Stevens was on the right side of history, so his story was of course buried, (let alone that of his housekeeper and co-abolitionist Lydia Hamilton Smith.)
  • Roz Kaveney seems likely also to be on the right side of history...so she's been fighting the same dragons of bigotry for half a century now. Cuz they just won't stay down.
  • Std Err (Marcus Ranum) brings a military historian's sensibilities to this delicious takedown of the movie Napoleon.
  • Free covid tests for US citizens are back. Via bb.
  • Gravity defying hills: in which your car seems to roll uphill. I experience the opposite version of this all the time riding my bike, in which my eyes tell me I'm going downhill, but my pumping legs assure me I'm climbing.

And here's another ancient page about glass bead samples, to go with the lot I featured a couple of weeks ago. Enjoy.


cropHeh. I gots stuff to do, so today's just linkies. That I would like to clear off my virtual desktop, so it's as nice and clean as my physical desktop, which I tidied up yesterday after months of letting it go (I even wiped off keyboard, and my goodness it was grosssssssss—so nice to the touch now;) Enjoy.

  • I love mint green, but not if it's made with arsenic. Yes, they really did make wallpaper with arsenic. Heck, they dyed clothes with it! If ever there was an argument for government safety regulation, toxic wallpaper is it...
  • This map of the Mississippi's meanders is gorgeous and informative in the way that Edward Tufte detailed in his splendid The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Lovely. There's lots of other interesting stuff on ‘The Public Domain Review’ site.
  • 25 words that don't mean what they used to —too lazy to actually check out the author's bona fides (though the words about which I've heard this sort of thing before, e.g. ‘nice’, line up with my understanding) but if ‘bun’ or ’bunny’ used to mean squirrel rather than rabbit, that's cool.
  • The Eames were the go-to designers of last mid-century, and the eponymous institute has a nice online exhibit of the toys they collected.
  • Not sure what link sent me off to this gentleman's web log but I admit to being charmed by the fact that his site even more old-fashioned than mine, despite its focus on robotics. Dunno how much of it I'll end up reading, but it looks interesting and well-informed.
  • CNN has a feature about a textile artist who's documented natural dyestuffs. Over the years I've encountered a lot of this, heh, stuff before, but Lauren MacDonald's new book In Pursuit of Color: From Fungi to Fossil Fuels: Uncovering the Origins of the World's Most Famous Dyes looks gorgeous.

Or you can check out a bead I made, um, a long time ago.


cropWell, I only managed three pages last week, which means...I've got a couple ready to go for this one!

Finally listened to that NPR essay on sitting (specifically in front of a computer...which I'm doing right now, ofc) and why it's so toxic. It's about a 20 minute listen (if you skip the ads and ending credits) but the single most fascinating bit came along at the 18:30 mark, in which the reporter was found to have dropped her blood sugar by her whopping 42% just by taking a 5 minute walking break every 25 minutes; her fatigue increased and mood/productivity dropped substantially when she wasn't able to get up for 8 hours; similarly her blood pressure was 4–5 points lower when she took breaks.

Soooo, just between one day and next, there were huuuuuuge benefits for getting up. Perhaps part of the reason the pomodoro timer method (where you do 20 minutes of something, then go to something else) works is that you get up to change stuff up.

The other bit that really struck me was the historical aspect, in which, you guessed it, the people who were first mainstreamed into sitting at desks, typing on keyboards and staring at screens were...pink collar workers, women not especially well paid—and without the political power to push back on working conditions that have now saddled us with this unhealthy, sedentary aspect of our lives. Sure, there have been any number of ‘ergonomic’ keyboards and mice developed, but this radio essay is the first time I've really heard the default assumption, that keyboards and monitors are the best I/O we could come up with, critiqued. That's exciting, though I haven't the faintest idea how to make it better. VR, which they touched on, doesn't strike me as ideal, because screens of any type still can't equal the comfort of looking at real stuff out the window or paper, at least for me.

(Of course, I'm an artist, and just about all of the activities I do—but especially 2-D (drawing/painting/mixed media) and bead/textile work (beadmaking, stringing, wirework, embroidery...) are also really bad for you. So there's that.)

The bead shown for today is one I'm not even sure I could make right now, as it's a two inch lentil, and making something that large usually means I have to be in consistent training, which lately I haven't. But it's nice to be inspired.