Posted in IRL

Being Crafty – Diamond Painting

I’m not talking about crafting in a game (though I am very slowly leveling my FFXIV crafting jobs each week still), but rather real life crafting. Lately, my gaming has been nothing much to write about because I’ve fallen into a pattern as I sometimes do in FFXIV when it’s between patches.

I’m still doing daily beast tribes, and might run alliance if other folks are up to it. But I’m somewhat taking a break from things like Expert and Copied Factory because in about a month or so, the next Tome patch is dropping, which means all the gear I’m wearing now is moot. So there’s really no reason in my mind to keep working on the set I have if my ilvl is good enough to move forward with the new content (and it is).

Our Zombie team has been playing 7D2D – and I haven’t updated a post here with our new war fort and adventures with copters… so I should write about that sometime this week. But aside from that, things are pretty quiet. Which leads me to the topic of this post.

Back during Prime Day on Amazon, I was surfing the lightning sales and ran across this thing. Aside from it being a crafting kit, I had no idea what this “diamond painting” was. I just thought the picture was cute and it was a cheap $8. Knowing that the holiday vacation was coming up, and I’d have some time to play around with it, I decided to get it.

I had to look up a video to learn what this craft was, because I’d never even heard of it. Turns out, it’s a blend between cross-stitch, paint by number, and bead working… all of which I’ve enjoyed in the past. But I hadn’t done any crafty stuff IRL for a long time.

Consider it like creating pixel art, but IRL!

I started working on it over the holidays, and was instantly hooked! There’s a real zen feeling when you’re focused on working on a “painting” as you’re lining up beads and slowly building a picture piece by piece.

I haven’t been much of a Facebook user for many years (aside from a few violin groups I’m a part of), but I couldn’t find blogs or communities out there for the craft aside from Facebook groups. So, I joined a few there and started to learn so much more about the craft. It’s also got me back on Facebook, which I never thought would happen, but not really in a social friends-list sort of way. I’m mostly there to see other people’s projects, get tips, offer what info I have, and get encouragement for my own projects.

Just like with every hobby I do, I wanted to make a blogging space for it somewhere. Some people keep a DP log, but I’m especially terrible about keeping hand-written type journals. Online blogging comes more naturally.

I considered putting some of it up here on this site, but then decided that my creative site at Sygnus.org was a better fit for it. So I’ve been creating my log of DP projects there.

So far, I’ve done a number of smaller projects – such as ornaments for my mini Christmas Tree. The very first project I finished, pictured above, was the largest I’ve done aside from the one I’m working on now.

I’m actually quite grateful for the hobby because I know without it, this past holiday would have been a lot more difficult for me. With the loss of my cat Sebastian, working on a new project and a new craft helped me keep my mind from wandering to sadder thoughts and gave me a calming outlet.

I even ordered away for a custom diamond painting of Sebastian, which I’m waiting to come in via mail. A lot of this is done over in China since the US hasn’t really caught on to manufacturing these kits. But you can send a photo to the makers and they will create a custom painting for you, complete with all the materials needed to make it.

Here’s the mockup sample of that:

Until then, I’ve been working on kits that I plan to give out as gifts to people this year. Yes, the bigger ones do take quite a bit of time to do, but as I said, it’s relaxing and (to me) quite rewarding.

So while I won’t spend a lot of time talking about it here on my blog (I might post finished pieces in the future if people want to see them), I did want to mention the fun new hobby I discovered and show you what I’ve been doing during the lull time in gaming.

Posted in IRL, Kitty Korner

RIP Sebastian, My Friend

Sebastian has been a part of my family for 8 years. He was a special cat – super social, very dog-like in his desire to please, constantly craving attention and affection, vocal and friendly. I’ve never met a cat quite like him, and I don’t know if I ever will again.

I took him to the vet last week due to lack of appetite and the fact he was lethargic and had been sneezing through the weekend. They said he was running a fever, checked him for anything else, and sent him home with antibiotics.

These seem to improve his disposition for a few days, but then on Monday of this week, he started losing appetite again. I knew my vet was open until noon on Saturdays, so I called and they brought him right in this morning.

At first, I thought this was going to be a blood test and possibly something treatable with the liver. But when the vet examined him this time, she found a mass in his stomach and also ordered an X-ray.

The X-ray revealed a cancerous tumor in his stomach. They showed me the results and it was almost as large as my fist. He wasn’t eating because he couldn’t… and I was given the choice to take him home with appetite simulators (so I could “spend time with him”) or say goodbye.

I took this picture of him in the vet’s office, joking that he was “unhappy” to have another visit. I never imagined it was his last picture or that I was going to learn something so serious.

Though he didn’t seem to be in terrible pain, I was warned the tumor could rupture, which would be horrible pain for the cat. And while having more time with him was an option, I knew that it would just be a lengthening of a tearful situation that was meant to comfort me… not to see to the good of the cat.

No matter what I did, it didn’t escape the fact there was nothing to treat this. Whether it be today or next week, I’d have to put him down. The thought of that lingering sorrow and anxiety for days was (to me) worse than simply making a clean good-bye.

So spoiled with PILES of toys

And though my words here are somewhat making light of it, it hurts more than I can really express in writing. Sebastian was an empathetic cat, in tune with emotion and truly loved people in a special way.

I decided it was best not to delay what I couldn’t change and said good-bye to him at the vet’s office today. They allowed me to be there, and he peacefully passed away mere seconds after the injection.

I know it was the right thing to do – even the vet said that it would be her choice – but I have a lot of grief to work through. His loving presecnce at the window when I come home from work every day and first thing in the morning at the bedroom door, and how much he loved to share laps for hours… the way he “talked” to ask me for things, and just his companionship overall… I know I’m going to miss that for a long time.

I hope the Rainbow Bridge does something nice for the Holidays, Sebastian.

Posted in Art, IRL

New Drawing Monitor – XP-PEN Artist12

For many, many years, I have been digitally drawing on the Wacom Cintiq 12WX that Syn gave me back when she got an upgraded Wacom. It has served me very well all of this time, and actually still runs despite a slightly loose connection wire and a crack in the screen. If it tells you anything, these were released back in 2007. So, I’ve had it a LONG time.

Everything was overall fine until I built my new machine this year, which runs on the standard Windows 10. The Cintiq drivers worked, but sometimes the Wacom service would randomly shut down and I’d have to restart it, and overall, it just didn’t have as smooth a feel drawing on it as it did on my Windows 7 machine.

I knew there was nothing to be done for it but eventually upgrade. But I’ve been putting that off for a few reasons:

  • Drawing monitors are expensive
  • Monitor size

It may seem weird to you, but I don’t want a 21 inch drawing surface. It’s just too big. I want something I can half prop in my lap and on the desk while holding in my hand, just as I always did with my Cintiq.

For a while, the drawing monitor craze was bigger is better. Everytime I shopped around, it seemed impossible to find much under 15 inches. But that seems to have changed lately.

Also, back in the day, Wacom was the only brand to use. Period. So, I got it in my head that when I updated, I should only look at Cintiqs. And again, for a while, Cintiqs were HUGE in form factor. Lately, they’ve started making a 13 inch. But even that model is $800… which is getting close to the cost of building most of a new PC for me!

So I’ve been holding off. Until I saw a sale for Black Friday on Amazon last week. I admit it was somewhat of an impulse buy, but at $160, I picked up a XP-PEN Artist12. It had good ratings, was the right size – just a little smaller than what I’m used to – and for the price (a fraction of the cost of that Cintiq!) I figured I could try it out.

I got the tablet last night, actually a day earlier than expected. Won’t complain one bit about that. Setting it up was much easier than I thought it would be using the info in the user guide. I just had to make sure the monitor resolution was right, the app size was at 100% in Windows, and a calibration later, I was inking a test Wayrift page.

The only one issue I do have is that both it and my normal monitor run through HDMI. For some reason, my video card has 2 Display Port slots and only one HDMI slot. Go figure. So, to use the tablet, I have to switch the ports out.

I already have an HDMI to PD adaptor ordered and on the way, so hopefully that will fix that issue. I just want to set up the tablet as a second monitor to use whenever I need.

So far, I like what I’ve seen with this tablet. The resolution is much higher than what I was used to on the Cintiq, so that makes all the UI elements feel really tiny in the art programs I use. That’s just something I’m going to have to get used to, and not really an issue.

I went through and set up all the extra keys on the tablet and the pen, and everything is working as my previous tablet did control-wise. I also really like the matte finish on the tablet screen. One little nit-pick I had about the old Cintiq is that if things were hot and humid, or I’d just come from taking a shower and tried to use it, my hand would often stick to the surface, making it harder to draw. This tablet came with a little drawing glove to help with that, too, but I haven’t tried it yet.

So far, so good. We’ll see how it holds up to my art schedule. I kept the old Cintiq as a backup just in case.

Posted in IRL

Birthday Sea Monkeys and Building a New Gaming PC

Please excuse this very IRL post today – it is, indeed, my birthday!

And while I got sensible gifts, such as a Nintendo Eshop card and a nice SSD for the new PC I’m building (more on that later), I got one thing quite unexpected as well – Sea Monkeys.

As a kid, I always wanted to have Sea Monkeys, but never did. Yeah, I know they aren’t the whimsical little creatures depicted on the outside of the box…

I know they can’t be trained as the above ad tries to sell. But I still was interested in seeing what it was like to raise them.

I stuck a cheap set on my Amazon wish list years ago, and it languished at the bottom. I think my friends and family considered it a joke, and never looked twice at it. Well, until a little bit back when I half-jokingly noted – maybe it was around last Christmas? – that they’ve been on my list for years an no one ever gets them for me.

Well, Xaa took it that to heart and now I have Sea Monkeys of my very own!

The picture above was day 1, when you fill the little tank and add water purifier. Then you have to wait 24 hours before adding in the actual eggs. I had no idea how long my sea monkey pack had been in some Amazon warehouse, so I didn’t have too high hopes in seeing anything hatch.

But sure enough, that very night, I saw first one… then two… then three! Tiny, tiny white wiggly swimming things! My Sea Monkeys were alive!

Last night marked a full day of the eggs being exposed to water, and there’s a whole slew of them swimming now. Some are a tad easier to see than the first day, and from what I can see, they seem to be thriving. They’re still too tiny to try an take a picture of, though. I’m not supposed to feed them until Day 5, so I’m just observing them from time to time and giving them plenty of light from my desk lamp (which seems to excite them).

I’ll keep you updated!

Building PC Bummer

So, the time has finally come. It’s been over 6 years since I built the gaming PC I own now. And while it runs just fine, and the only thing I’ve needed to do was replace the CPU fan and upgrade the video card, it’s starting to feel its age. It’s still running Windows 7, for example.

So, I decided with my tax return, this year I was going to invest in the parts to build a new gaming rig. Over the weekend, Syn and I did some shopping, and between NewEgg and Amazon, I bought a new everything (except video card, I’m transferring my existing one). I backed up all important files, and waited for my parts to arrive.

Yesterday, the last shipment from NewEgg came in, and I decided to go ahead and start putting a few things together. It’s hard to resist with all those boxes sitting there waiting to be opened!

The start of my new gaming PC

I got the processor, CPU fan and motherboard all set up in the case, and figured out where all those tiny power plugs for the front case panel go. Then, I went to install the power supply.

That’s where I hit a snag.

I got a pretty beefy power supply this time around, and I was rather surprised at the size of the box it came in. Pulling it out, I took note that the bottom corner of the box was dented in – like it had been dropped. It looked a bit serious, but when I opened the power supply itself, it seemed like the inside was well cushioned, so I didn’t worry much.

I installed the supply, and it was only when I went to start plugging in the cables that I noticed the damage. It was subtle, but there – the corner was dinged, and the top of the power supply was bowed upward from whatever force had hit it. A bent power supply… is not something I’m willing to risk, especially when it cost over $120.

SO. I put in for a return and will be sending it back today.

I’ve never needed to return something to NewEgg before, so I hope it’s as painless as Amazon. The sad thing is, I asked for a replacement without realizing it’s going to take 2-5 days for them to process and then another 3 or so days of shipping for me to get the replacement. Which means my new computer building is on hold, maybe for a week and a half, until it comes in.

Kinda a bummer. If I’d known about the process time, I would have asked for a refund and just ordered one from Amazon and had it by Saturday. But it is what it is, and I can wait.