It’s November now, which means that it’s NaNoWriMo-National Novel Writing Month. This is something I’ve participated in for the previous four years (accounts of the last three can be found in the menu above), and this year for my Independent Study project I am going to write a novel, using NaNoWriMo as a tool to finish a large amount of the initial word count, and then spending the rest of they year doing rigorous editing, and studying the processes of finalizing and publishing a novel manuscript. I don’t intend to publish the novel (at least not at this time), but it is worthwhile to learn about now. Updates on the story itself and my progress will be posted here. So far I have a plan for the main events, characters mapped out, and I’ve stayed on my goals for the first two days, and am on track for the third.
I was very inspired by what happened in the session we played of Downfall for Directing and Script writing, so even though it doesn’t really follow a story format I decided to write an internal monologue during the final scene from one of the characters who wasn’t actually present, but I imagined to be an onlooker. I twisted essentially everything that happened to make it a bit more dramatic and fit my vision more, since that’s not entirely what the game was about but in writing you have free reign.
You can read it here.
First Story for D&S – Follow Me
In Directing and Scriptwriting, our first project was to play a storytelling game, called Follow, and write a story inspired by it. It didn’t have to be based on what happened specifically, but there was one scene in particular that I was very inspired by, so I took on the essence of it, the main points, and rewrote it in a way that is more suited to a story format. However, its still very dialogue heavy, which is always what my writing tends towards.
My blog ruins the formatting, so you can read it here.
As part of the design aspect of looking at 3D art programs, I looked at Paint 3D on my computer. It came free with the Windows Creator update.
It’s much more than an expansion of their original drawing program, Microsoft Paint. There’s a ton of new and convenient features.
-Pre-made ones in the program
-Online library you can download from
-Draw your own, and choose from hard or soft edges
-You select an object or the background, and it locks on
-So you can only draw on one or the other at a time, which makes it a lot easier to do cleanly
-Easy to turn object on all axis
-You can use all of the tools, even the default stickers, on the 3D objects
-There’s lighting effects, and you can choose the colour of the light and a place for it to be coming from
-There is an array of different brushes, which you can change the size and opacity of
-There is a colour pick tool, a colour wheel, hex code input, and RGB input, as well as default colours you can choose from
-All brushes can be changed to matte, gloss, dull metal, or polished metal finishes
It’s a really powerful and useful program. Actual layers would be nice, but that’s more working in two dimensions, so they aren’t really necessary here. It’s a lot of fun to use!
Comparing the Programs
Medium is a lot more complicated, and a lot more customizable than the others, but with less of the fun features. It’s more serious. The background can only be a sky or a flat colour, and there isn’t the objects like a pre-built snowman base, the little Android guy and dress form as there is in Sketch Up. It also doesn’t seem to have a movement feature, which sucks because the teleport feature was convenient. The area in medium is relatively small, as well, and you can move the objects through it instead of yourself. Quill also doesn’t have a movement feature, so you drag things around you and turn.
In terms of different brushes, Tilt Brush is far more varied, with sparkle, fire, bubble, and regular brushes. Quill only has basic brushes, and Medium has more tools. In erasing, they work quite differently. In Medium, its hard to erase because it takes out part and fades the area around it, though it’s possible that there is a way to change this. Quill erases more of a chunk, which can get annoying, but it’s more precise than Tilt Brush which erases the whole stroke.
A nice feature in Tilt Brush is adding in references, which you can move, change the size of, and colour pick from. You can do the same in Quill except you have to compare the colours yourself, unfortunately.
All of the programs have their own strengths and weaknesses, and are used best to create different sorts of things. Tilt Brush, for a drawing or painting, Medium for a sculpture or figure, and Quill for an immersive environment.
Super Simple Salsa Salad Dressing
The grocery store has started selling broccoli slaw mix, which is pre-washed, thinly cut broccoli, carrots, and other such vegetables mixed together. It’s very good, and convenient, but I was at a bit of a loss for what to use for dressing. I grabbed a bottle of salsa ranch, and that was pretty good, but it felt lacking. So I tried making my own.
One container of sour cream (I used low-fat)
One container of fresh chunky salsa (I used medium, it’s up to you. You could also use homemade salsa)
1 tsp. each of cumin, ground coriander seed, and cayenne pepper
That’s it! I mix them all in a bowl, and it works really well. The spices add a lot of flavour, since salsa alone leaves it kind of flat.
Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream
Some of my close friends are lactose-intolerant, and they also happen to have a fondness for coconut. And so, I went searching for an easy way to make ice-cream for the summer that we could enjoy. After looking over a few recipes online, I decide on this. I’ve made it twice before, and it turns out really well.
This recipe uses an ice cream maker, so keep that in mind.
1/2 cup dairy free chocolate chips (or regular if you aren’t worried about the lactose)
1 15-ounce can of coconut milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons of cocoa powder
How long it has to churn for will very depending on what machine you have. For me, it was half an hour to get a good thick consistency, making a double batch because I have a relatively large machine.
This is what the ice cream will look like when you finish stirring it:
And this is what it looks like when it has gone through the machine and is finished:
Family Recipe for Nuts and Bolts
Tasked with making a snack for new-student day, I didn’t have to think very hard about what I wanted to make. For as long as I can remember, we’ve been making nuts and bolts. A simple blend of salts and cereals, it’s a staple around holidays.
3 cups of Cheerios (off brand is fine)
3 cups of Shreddies
1 cup of stick pretzels
1/2 tablespoon of onion salt
1/2 tablespoon of garlic salt
1/2 tablespoon of celery salt
1/2 tablespoon of paprika
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 cup of butter or margarine
I chose to exclude peanuts so that it could be enjoyed by people with allergies. If you want to add them, sub them for the pretzels or up the salts and butter a little and add 1 cup
Melt the butter, and then add all of the salts, the paprika,the Worcestershire sauce, and the sugar.
On a baking sheet or a roasting pan, mix the cereal and pretzels.
Pour the butter mixture over it, stirring constantly.
Put it in the oven at 200⁰F, stirring every 15 minutes for a total of 1 hour.
If making a double batch (I recommend the roasting pan for this), add an extra 15 minutes. You can tell it is done when the Cheerios are starting to get lightly golden, everything is crispy, and there is very little residual butter on the bottom of the pan. Enjoy!
Overview of the Programs
Quill by Story Studio walks you through a sort of story in it’s tutorials, having you connect dots (who are in love), and then connecting other dots (to make the place where they live), and other such activities. There’s also little colouring pages. You have a menu where you can choose colours and such, but it gives you a palette for simplicity.
Things you can change: colour opacity, brush (ex. Thin flat, square, round), brush size and line width.
You move through dragging and pulling, and it moves the canvas around you. Turning does turn the camera, though.
There’s also a straight line tool, for simplicity.
It also has some really stunning scenes you can move your way though, complete with music. They are very surreal.
The blank canvas and backgrounds are off white, so they aren’t too glaring and you can add white details.
To select things, you have to like push your hand down through the menu, which feels a little weird.
Oculus Medium is rather complicated, and feels professional. The background can only be a sky or a flat colour of your choice. There is no movement feature, though you can move objects around you. The area you have to work in is relatively small, so you can reach everything.
There are a lot of precise tools in Medium, but it’s difficult and kind of confusing, because its more tuned to sculpting than painting. It’s easier to scrape away chunks of what you made than erase. Colours in Medium seem kind of dull, as well.
Celina’s favourite, Tilt brush is less professional than Medium. You can chose from a range of environments, like sky, snow, and pink lemonade. There are pre built bases, like shapes you can draw on and others, like a dress form, snowman, and the little Android gun. Movement is done with a teleport feature, which allows you to move through the large area.
It has a mirror feature, which works in three dimensions if you like, but erasing from one side does not erase from the other which is odd. There is numerous different effects for brushes. Sparkles, air can, traditional paint brush, smooth, and more, and you select colour off of a grid. You paint with one hand, and hold the menu on the other, and can leave it on what you’d like for easy access.
Another interesting feature is when you scale things, it gives you an idea of it in relation to real life-human sized, elephant sized, etc. And one of the best features is that you can input your own pictures into the program, move them around, and even colour pick from them! We brought one in so Celina could try drawing a Magikarp (which I will upload pictures of after with the design part of this project).
As part of a project for humanities, we were tasked with reading, analyzing, and writing poetry that fits a theme from the 20th century. I chose to look at pieces around the Vietnam war. Below are the three poems that I wrote for this project, as well as an explanation of the thought put into them.
To them I am a figure
And a provider of statistics
Kills to deaths
Putting a tally on destruction
They say no value can be put
On a human life
But they’re damned well trying
I may be a subordinate
Insignificant in the grand scheme
But the power I hold
Is nothing to laugh at
And I choose to use it to resist
Part of what I used to help shape this poem was a natural rhythm. Not a strict form, but I wanted everything to flow nicely until the last line, in which things change. A lot of the poetry about the war is literal. Although they use figurative language, the message is usually clear. So I wanted to use some of the same themes from these poems, and pull them together in something that seems grim with a voice that comes across as frustrated and fed up. Whether you read the poem as by a soldier who decides to leave duty, a draft dodger, or even a Vietnamese soldier fighting against the Americans, the tone is the same.
Who is it that against we are pitted
What justifies the crimes committed
There is so much we’ll never know
Going on in this awful show
My grip is tight as I hold my gun
It seems that we will stop for none
There is no rest when the objectives wicked
Perhaps you’re just too afflicted
My soul is numb for weeping so
And even still we do not go
Are kills battles really won
Each loss is replaced by another mans son
My goal here was to try and use rhyme to convey a somber tone. I was inspired by the fact that “Dance to the Music” had a rhyming pair, and there were some couplet lines in “Implosions”, and so I decided to write a poem in the form of rhyming couplets. These are questions I ask myself about war, and although it is written from the point of view of a soldier, “I hold my gun”, it is in a sense me trying to come to terms with what happened.
And I keep walking
And I keep walking
And I stop walking
In this poem, I wanted to attempt to write something that could serve to illustrate two points, by using vague adjectives. Snuffed is a term usually used for fire, but it can also be used for killing. To this end, I wanted to talk about the death of a soldier on the battlefield by comparing it to the burning of a village, and the fire eventually going out. Destructive in it’s time, both serve a purpose they may not have wanted, that they did not choose.
The use of a very simple form and a lot of repetition was part of keeping it vague, but it was also meant to give everything a rhythm, so that to some extent the last line is unexpected.