Cool stuff

This epic recreation of Deep Space Nine is so huge, I can practically fit inside! [text with images]- what it says: a huge LEGO Star Trek DS9 model πŸ™‚

Swearing: attempts to ban it are a waste of time – wherever there is language, people cuss [text] – an article about swearing that touches its function, and a few factoids. As an unrepentant swearer, I cannot not share this πŸ™‚

Version Museum – a visual history of your favorite technology [images]- if you really wanted to see how Apple’s website looked in 1996 or want a hit of nostalgia at the look of Word 2.0. It’s actually pretty neat πŸ™‚

Raytracing – in Excel!! [short video] – someone made a raytracer in Excel, and that just made me laugh in delight πŸ˜€

New Proof Settles How to Approximate Numbers Like Pi [text] – a cool result in number theory, explained in a way that makes sense to non-number theorists. I probably would have liked a tiny bit more detail about the graph theory tools involved, but still, the writing is neat.

A very wholesome Twitter thread about someone talking about his grandmother’s love of D&D – it has gnomes and jewelry.

A couple of videos about a custom pick-up on a Tesla base: the “fake commercial” video TRUCKLA: The world’s first Tesla pickup truck [short video], and the “making of”: I TURNED MY TESLA INTO A PICKUP TRUCK [long video]. I thought I had posted that already, apparently not, let’s fix it.

Kerbal Space Program 2 has been announced – to be honest, KSP is one of “those games that sound so very cool but that I just can’t manage to play”, whether it’s a matter of interest or of general skill or learning curve; I’m definitely curious about what they’ll do with KSP2.

A Mathematical Model Unlocks the Secrets of Vision – vision is complicated and not that well understood, and so anything that gives more idea about how it works is, to me, fascinating πŸ™‚

Cool stuff

Short one this week, and late on top of that, but oh well πŸ™‚

This problem seems hard, then it doesn’t, but it really is. (2011 IMO, P2) – a video solving a problem from the International Math Olympiads that stuck a lot of the students. The problem is pretty fun and the solution is very pretty πŸ™‚

Cook, Serve, Delicious 3 Takes The Intense Restaurant Sim On The Road – Cook, Serve, Delicious 3 has just been announced and I’m ready for it. I’ve played the first one A Lot, the second one a lot (that’s a bit less than A Lot :P), and I’m looking forward to the third one πŸ™‚

The Best Way to Thaw Meat – my husband showed me a few of Adam Ragusea’s videos, and they’re indeed very enjoyable and informative. As for this specific one, since my microwave oven decided to die on me probably for good this time (and I’m waiting for its replacement to be delivered), I actually tested what he’s saying, and it indeed works pretty well. Not as fast, but less risky too… so definitely something to keep in mind if I’m not in a hurry πŸ™‚

iamthemorning – The Bell – iamthemorning has a new album πŸ™‚ And since I’m even more useless a music critic than a book critic, I’ll just say I like it a lot.

Alternative non-spherical Earth theories – I will admit I have personal (and non-explainable in polite society) reasons for laughing a lot at this one, but it’s still good πŸ™‚

Baba Is You – a VERY neat puzzle game (available for many platforms) where the rules of interaction with the world are part of said world (and hence can be interacted with as well). Beware: melting brain.

Cool stuff

Japanese D&D Rules Cyclopedia – this is not the kind of illustrations that come to mind first when talking about Dungeons&Dragons around here these days πŸ™‚

Around the World in 125 Melons – a short article about a book about melons. I don’t even like melon much (and watermelon is basically pink cucumber, so it’s awful), but the pictures are cool.

Tiny robot leaps around carrying its own battery, electronics – what the title says, essentially. Small robots a few centimeter high, that can be combinable as groups, and that are pretty fun to watch moving πŸ™‚ The video in the article is worth a watch.

Plant Parenthood – an opinion piece about caring for plants – possibly the first time in a long while I got the impulse of getting house plants πŸ™‚

Shooting and Seeing Art in Automobiles – nice article, cool pictures.

XKCD: Spreadsheets – well, that was a surprisingly educational XKCD (with regards to Google Spreadsheets capabilities) πŸ˜›

The French Bastards – if you’re up for some bakery porn (and who wouldn’t be?)

What the #@*% Is a β€˜Grawlix’? – because I use them a lot, and I never know they had a name.

User Inyerface – A worst-practice UI experiment – if you ever wondered how bad UI can get, this is probably a fairly good example. It’s hilarious, but you might die a little bit inside too – consider yourself warned. And the level of detail is actually quite impressive πŸ˜€

Cool stuff

β€˜Botanical Sexism’ Could Be Behind Your Seasonal Allergies – apparently, at least in the US, planting male trees (when the trees themselves don’t have male and female flowers on the same plant) is a thing, mostly to avoid the littering of seeds. But then, male trees send more pollen in the air. I find both the reasoning and the consequences quite interesting – and I wonder if it’s also the case in Europe πŸ™‚

Cooking for Engineers…recipe infographics! (and interview) – a short interview of Michael Chu, who runs (ran?) Cooking for Engineers, where he talks about his recipe format. I had seen that recipe format a (long) while ago, and I was looking for it on Monday evening (because Pierre was asking if I had ever seen recipes written as a schema/graph/tree). And on Tuesday morning, I saw a reference to it on my Twitter feed via a romance author I follow. I’m very amused by the coincidence – and I really like the recipe representation πŸ™‚

AIs named by AIs – what happens when you feed a neural network with Culture ship names? Hilarity, that’s what happens.

Mighty Networks Live Interview with Host Lauri Novak, Host of The Photography Scavenger Hunt – when Google+ shutdown, the Photography Scavenger Hunt had to move, and we moved to Mighty Networks. Lauri talks about the move, our community, and the community building that goes behind the scenes, and it’s pretty neat. Also, there’s a sign-up for the 26th round tomorrow (July 12th 2019), so if you feel inclined to join… join us! πŸ™‚

Wizards Unite – if you remember (or still play!) Ingress or Pokemon Go, that’s the third iteration of that principle of “playing in the real world” from Niantic. The general idea is that you’re part of the Ministry of Magic and your goal is to avoid weird stuff being seen by the Muggles – and so you need to send that back to where it belongs using spells. It’s thematically strong, there’s more mechanics than Pokemon Go (at least at the time I played it), and it’s cooperative (so far). It’s free to play, there’s a bunch of stuff you can buy there of course, but I resisted so far, which for a week+ of play shows that they’re not pushing that too much.

Magic The Gathering Arena – uh-oh, another rabbit hole πŸ˜‰ It’s a free-to-play implementation of Magic The Gathering, it’s pretty well done on the “keeping you playing” front (this is a nice way of saying “they’re pushing the right buttons to get you hooked” :P), and they’re up-to-date with the set that gets available for play today, Core Set 2020. There’s also ways of giving them monies, but I have also resisted that so far, so it’s definitely not essential for newb players to have fun. (People who know what they’re doing may want to be able to get specific cards faster, though.) I also believe that you can unlock everything by grinding the rewards and by playing well enough (a few modes are only available through a currency that I don’t have yet, for instance), but I would have to double-check that. I may or may not have physical cards on order right now. Oops.

A few cool announcements on the LEGO side: a Harley Davidson which looks gorgeous, an Apollo 11 Lunar Lander (sad: not at the same scale as the Saturn V; cool: at a larger scale than the Saturn V), and a T-Rex.

BU researchers develop ‘acoustic metamaterial’ that cancels sound – using the shape of objects to get noise-cancelling effects of lightweight structures, that definitely enters the “cool stuff” realm.

Cool stuff

I’ve been remiss in my “cool stuff” posting, so let’s try to get that running again πŸ™‚

Andy Weir’s Best Seller β€˜The Martian’ Gets a Classroom-Friendly Makeover – as someone who swears A Lot, it makes me a bit sad that editing swearwords is deemed necessary; but I still find the whole concept of “wait, that book is actually usable in a classroom, except for the swearwords, let’s see if there’s a way to get an expunged version” pretty neat πŸ™‚

Mambo mit den SchlΓΌmpfen – yes, it is Mambo Nr. 5, in German, with Smurfs. Things I didn’t know I needed in my life.

Manim – an animation engine, in Python, for explanatory math videos. I haven’t tested it, but it’s used by 3Blue1Brown – and their videos are cool.

Living Proof: Stories of Resilience along the Mathematical Journey – a collection of short articles about people in math, whose path may not have been as straightforward as it could have been. This sort of things is important – it normalizes the struggle that many people go through, and I believe that it makes it less likely that some people just give up on things because “it shouldn’t be that hard, if it’s that hard I’m not meant for it”.

Sensitivity Conjecture resolved – Aaronson’s post was the first I saw, but all the theoretical CS blogs I follow talked about a very pretty paper that just arrived on ArxiV: Induced subgraphs of hypercubes and a proof of the Sensitivity Conjecture. I didn’t know about the problem, but the paper is very readable (as long as you have some notion of matrix eigenvalues, basically) and the proof is very pretty. I cannot say that I have a good understanding of it (at least not in my definition of understanding maths), but I do understand enough to see that it’s very elegant. So that definitely enters “cool stuff” (if only for the reason “hey I read a (short) paper and I still understood ‘enough’ of it for my own satisfaction” πŸ˜‰ ).

Cities:Skyline – The Board Game – actually, everything’s in the link title. It’s planned for October (Essen release?), it’s a cooperative, and that’s already enough to get me interested/curious πŸ™‚

SMBC about mind privacy – since my own brain is particularly vulnerable to that attack, this made me laugh a lot πŸ˜‰

XKCD about predictive models and about coordinate precision – both made me laugh a lot too πŸ™‚

#balisebooks – June 2019

Version franΓ§aise ici : #balisebooks – Juin 2019

Gender Queer: A Memoir – Maia Kobabe

I don’t remember how I became aware of this comic, but I remember seeing a few pages, buying the electronic version, and reading the whole thing in a matter of a couple of hours. It’s the autobiography of Maia, who is non-binary and queer, uses the e/em/eir pronouns; and it’s the story of how e grew up and came to terms with eir identity. I really liked it, because it was sometimes funny, sometimes cute and often touching. Oh, and I liked the drawing style too πŸ™‚

Strangers in Paradise XXV – Terry Moore

Yup, that would be two comic books in a row – for someone who… doesn’t really read comic books (they’re very hard for me to focus on, because I read the text and I forget to look at the images and then I’m lost :/ ), it’s kind of a record πŸ˜‰ But, oh well, Strangers in Paradise. If you don’t know Strangers in Paradise, well, first, you should read it, and second, it’s the story of Francine and Katchoo, their relationship, their past (which may or may not include darker parts) and its contemporary consequences. And it’s super-good, and the art is wonderful.

In Strangers in Paradise XXV – because it’s been 25 years since the first issue, we get a new part of the adventure, some tie-in to Echo (of which I talked at one point, but only in French), and, well, more Strangers in Paradise, so I’ll take that. There may not have been enough Francine to my taste, but I can live with that, and I’m still super happy I got to spend a bit more time with the characters πŸ™‚

The Goblin Emperor – Katherine Addison

The story of Maia, whose emperor father just died, along with his heirs who were before Maia in the succession line… so Maia becomes emperor. Problem is, he’s half-goblin, in an elf society, so that doesn’t start well. And second, since he was never meant to access the throne, he also kind of doesn’t have the training that comes with it either. Hence: court is complicated, politics are complicated, and we watch Maia do his best with both. I had seen that book compared, in terms of mood and emotions, to Wayfarers (of which I also talked about in French) (for the record, my home computer is called wayfarer), so I probably had way too high expectations for it, and it’s probably why I didn’t enjoy it that much. It wasn’t bad, mind you, far from it, but it didn’t enthuse me.

An Audience of One: Reclaiming Creativity for its Own Sake – Srinivas Rao

Another “wrong expectations lead to disappointment” – I felt this was less “Reclaiming Creativity for Its Own Sake” and more “Life Hacks for People Making A Creative Living”. Since I was on the market more for the first one that the second one, I was a bit disappointed. There was still a number of valuable things in there and it gave me food for thought. I may even get back to it on a couple of points for things that didn’t make sense for me to explore while I was reading, but which may make more sense a posteriori.

Pendulum – Tobias Klausmann

The third installment of Slingshot (about which I also talked in French) – Kim and Co. are set to free all the AIs, and they have multiple plans for that, including large scale industrial production, politics meddling, and military infiltration. And, once again, it works very well: the plot is good, the characters are cool, the universe is believable and well-described, and all the loose ends are tied. A very good conclusion to a very good trilogy. And Tobias is a friend, so y’all should buy his books. I promise you they’re great πŸ™‚

In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness – Peter A. Levine

A book about healing trauma -not something I’m directly interested in, but nonetheless a fascinating read about the strong connection between what would be primarily considered a matter of the mind (dealing with trauma) and the body and its sensations. Levine’s main hypothesis (as I understood it πŸ˜‰ ) is that PTSD comes from being in a scary situation, and the body not having the opportunity or the possibility to react as it “should”, and that working with body sensations to help regulating the body again apparently helps. The book is visibly primarily aimed at therapists, and it has a fair amount of case studies that read “too clean to be entirely truthful”, but I still found the point of view interesting.

The Last Wish – Andrzej Sapkowski

The Last Wish is the (chronologically) first book of the Witcher’s series. It reads as a book of short stories bound together by being “flashbacks” in a frame story. They’re telling stories about Geralt, who’s a witcher – a mutant with powers and training who gets rid of the various monsters that seem to litter his world. It kind of reads like a series of RPG scenarios – Geralt looks for work, he gets to know the Monster Of The Week’s threat, and he defeats the threat – although not necessarily in the way the GM would have thought πŸ˜‰ I really liked it, although I’m suspecting I would have enjoyed it even more if I had read it over a longer period of time. Sapkowski does a great job at showing his world, I’m super curious about the main character and the people gravitating around him, and I’ll read some more for sure.

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Yet another “does not meet expectations” on this month’s list (I’m starting to thing that June was the month of high expectations, and that the problem is me and not what I read :P). I was hoping either for a theory book that would talk about research on “flow”, or for something actionable/practical. Instead, I thought that this sat in the uncomfortable and not that useful middle between both. Csikszentmihalyi describes “flow” as the confluence between challenge and adequacy of skills, and he explains about activities that tend to encourage more flow, and about personalities that tend to experience more flow. There are a few points that could be considered as practical, but I felt that they have too much generality to be of any use to me. I was also bothered by his stance of Flow As The Only True Way To Happiness, and by the fact that it felt judgmental at times (although Csikszentmihalyi defends himself from being so). All in all: didn’t hit the mark for me.

TGSMU#3, or The Great Scavenger Meet-Up in Orlando

(Cover image by Patt Dickson)

My main reason to go to the US last month was to attend the Great Scavenger Meet-Up in Orlando. The Scavengers are a group of photographers that I’ve been interacting with for a few years – responsible in particular for that sort of things: Scavenger Hunt 24, Scavenger Hunt 25 Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

For those who know me, it may seem wildly out of character for me to go meet a large group of people that I don’t really know. And I’d tend to agree – I would lie if I said I didn’t have any reservations before actually making the trip. But still, it went very well, better than my wildest hopes, so… let’s talk a bit about that! Beware, this may be a slightly more personal blog post than usual πŸ˜‰

Planting the seed

The Scavengers is a community I thoroughly enjoy being a part of. The group is made of people of all levels of skill (which helps not feeling too much of an imposteur) (not TOO MUCH, I said) and of general positivity and enthusiasm. Before the meet-up, I had met with two of them (and one of them twice πŸ˜‰ ), who had happened to pass through my corner of the world, and I had a brilliant time every time.

I first met Sivani – and I believe she actually planted the seed of “you know, this may not be that crazy”. She told me about the first Vegas meet-up, I remember babbling something along the lines of “oh, I could never do that, because, you know, PEOPLE” – and she pointed out that a/ most of the people in the community are introverts and I wasn’t the only one there b/ actually seeing people with familiar name tags (because I’ve interacted with them, or at least seen their names before) actually helps a lot. And I guess that it stayed with me – along with her stories and enthusiasm.

Somewhat more recently, but before I made any kind of plan (possibly even before any kind of plan was made at all), I met Dave – we walked a bit with our cameras in the city, and we went for dinner, and everything went well. It also happens that I have the deepest fascination for Dave’s work, because I’m in awe of his toy universe and imagination, and I’m amazed (and possibly slightly jealous) with what he manages to pull off.

And then, I remember a couple of coincidences, but not their order. I remember wondering if there was a meet-up at some point in the plans, and seeing that indeed things were getting into motion there. I also remember having a fairly vivid dream that I was at a meet-up, I was having a pretty bad meltdown, but that someone was actually taking care of me. Now, I don’t believe in dreams being meaningful or predictive or anything, but it made me consider the situation and deem that it was actually plausible that, if something like a meltdown happened, someone would indeed take care of me. (I remember talking about it on the Scavenger community at that time, and that people confirmed πŸ˜‰ ).

Making the plan

At that point, it felt like it was something I was considering, but not too sure about. One of the things that I was very hesitant about was the fact that the meet-up was in the US, which means a long flight, and more painfully… jet lag. And since my major concern was social-anxiety-related, and since fatigue (and ergo jet lag) really does not help with that, I was very hesitant. The flights to Orlando were also a fairly large pain from ZΓΌrich, which made me hesitate all the more.

When I talked to Pierre about that, he mentioned that the meet-up was roughly at a time where it would be good if he traveled to Boston, and so he suggested that I come with him to Boston, recover from jet lag, and fly to Orlando from there. I think that’s when things started to really click – that it was actually something that COULD happen.

Shortly afterwards, I told the Scavenger community “I’m in!”, and I booked the hotel in Orlando for the meet-up. It took us a little while to finish planning the rest of the trip (mostly because of procrastination), and at some point I said “folks, I do have plane tickets, I’m coming for sure, unless something super bad happens in the meantime.”

Uh-oh…

Well, the “something super-bad” was not that far. Two weeks before flying to Boston, I fell walking on a hiking path, and I sprained my ankle pretty badly. The following weeks were very stressful: I was in pain, I was super tired from walking with crutches, and it was generally speaking not fun. I had gone to the doctor and explained that I was hoping to fly; she gave me a prescription for blood thinners for the plane, which alleviated a very large fear of mine. I’d like to say that I didn’t waver, but it was a tough couple of weeks; just before leaving I told someone “well, see you in three weeks… assuming I’m actually making it to the flight, which I’m kind of doubting right now”. But in the end, I looked into “how do I fly with a crutch” (both in terms of security and luggage allowance), concluded it was not an issue, and off we went. I spent the first week in Boston, working a bit, getting over the jetlag, and getting slightly better every day; and when the time came to fly to Orlando, I was confident enough that I didn’t need my crutch and that I could walk enough… as long as there were not too many stairs going down on the way. Phew!

First evening in Orlando

I landed in Orlando around 3PM – Dave and Debbie had synchronized with me to pick me up at the airport (thanks again πŸ˜‰ ) and the adventure started for real! Most of us were staying at the Embassy Suites on International Drive – Angela had organized a group discount, and many people were sharing rooms – I had made the choice to not get any roommate because I knew I would probably need my space at one point or another, and I didn’t regret that choice. A bit of time to get acquainted with my surroundings, and I found a group of Scavengers around the hotel bar πŸ˜‰ I admit I have a fairly fuzzy recollection of the events and of the people at this point. I was still very flustered, probably terribly awkward, and a tiny part of me was going “oh God why am I here already?”. I’m happy I was happy to keep that part reasonably quiet πŸ™‚ I found something to eat at some point, probably; but then one of the major event of my stay was happening at 10.30PM: SpaceX launched the Falcon 9 on that day. Since I was not driving, and since I was not comfortable enough trying to organize SOMETHING to get closer from the launchpad, I didn’t have a plan for that. I had, however, looked outside of the hotel, looked at a compass, looked at a map, and secured what I deemed a “reasonable” point for seeing things, if things were to be seen. I had had the impression that I had been either annoying or super repetitive with my “and tonight there’s the rocket launch!” – but… I left the table where I was talking at around 10.25, announcing “okay, rocket launch time”… and I was outside of the hotel, in the fairly warm weather, hoping to see anything.

There was enough time between 10.30 and “something happening” that my heart sank a bit – “I should have tried harder to get closer” – but finally, a small bright dot appeared above the trees. The bright dot eventually grew a tail, making it really unmistakable, even at that distance. I was adamant I didn’t want to take any picture, so I didn’t have my camera with me, but I still had my phone – so there, I have a few pixels of rocket on a picture.

And even at that distance, it was still a profoundly emotional experience and, for what it’s worth, I’m still happy I didn’t have my camera with me. I fully intend to go and see a launch from closer up at some point in the future, and I also fully intend to not have a camera with me at that time.

I came back to the table with a very, very large grin, “I saw the rocket!” and that’s when I understood that nobody had actually understood/realized what I was talking about before πŸ˜€ I’ve then been told “okay, from now on, we’re following you, because you OBVIOUSLY have awesome plans”. So all in all – despite my initial wariness and awkwardness, it felt like I was starting to warm to the people around me, and to start to include myself in the group instead of staying on its outskirts. And since this was technically happening before the start of the meet-up, let’s call it a win!

Also: I SAW A FUCKING ROCKET LAUNCH. That counts.

Friday: workshop day!

On Friday, we mostly stayed at the hotel, in one of the conference rooms, where we had a fairly packed day! But, first of all, group picture! Scavengers are easier to herd than cats, but barely – in the end, it did work out, and we have a group picture or 15.

Back in the conference room, Lauri started with the welcome speech; we were also treated with a few videos from people who couldn’t make it to Orlando but still wanted to say hi. These are people that I had never met, but I was still moved by their messages, and it was still fun to see these people whose name and sometimes profile picture I knew come to life on the screen.

Then, we had a talk by Dave, who had a talk with the subtitle “A rambling discussion of photography, toys, and toy photography”. And it was basically that, except that my own ramblings are usually far less structured πŸ˜‰ He talked about how he came to the Scavenger Hunt and to toy photography, and he explained the process around a few pictures, including his Acorn for the latest Hunt. It was quite eye-opening for me – I really (really) like what Dave does, and I kind of “knew” that there was quite a lot of effort in his images, but it’s one thing to have SOME idea, and even to read about it, and one thing to actually see it explained. It made me feel both a bit better about my own efforts (there IS a huuuge gap in our level of post-processing skill, but I have some hope that the gap is far less than I thought on the “images straight out of the camera” level), and a bit worse (thinking that maybe I don’t put enough effort in this). But all in all, an inspiring talk – made me want to try some more stuff (and to up my post-processing game πŸ˜‰ ). I also learnt about PixelSquid, and I’m definitely keeping that in a corner of my mind, it might become handy if I just need a 3D model of an Atari 2600 joystick or of a PiΓ±a Colada. You never know.

The second talk was Gilmar – whose work is also very recognizable, and very inspiring too – at the risk of sounding very obvious, I really like her handling of colors, that make her pictures really stand out. She first talked about creativity and getting ideas, as well as about her own journey and inspiration, with a few examples. Then she dug a bit more into the technical specificity of building composites, and I learnt a ton of stuff, even though I’m not using the same tools as she is – many things are transposable, and these were not things I was even aware of asking about (the unknown unknowns!), so this was brilliant!

We then split in groups for lunch – I ended up at the Bahama Breeze with a group that got split over two tables – I was a bit nervous during lunch, because the planned lunch break was an hour, and we for sure went over that πŸ˜‰ but since one of the presenters for the afternoon was with us, well – I tried to relax and enjoy my food still πŸ˜‰

In the afternoon, we split into groups. I first saw Mark‘s presentation about how he created his Fire entry for the Hunt – he released a speed edit video since then. This was also super interesting – I learnt about a number of tools and “but how do I do that”, and mostly, I learnt about the quantity of work that goes into that sort of things. One of the things that struck me is that I usually consider that if a given “final image” requires me to take, say, 60 shots, it’s… a lot of shots. Mark was showing his Lightroom catalog, and he literally had hundreds of shots… only for the “body” part of his picture. I also found very interesting when he was talking about his light setup and how he adjusted it and so on. Those are not processes that are even remotely on my radar, and that’s definitely something I want to explore more.

In the second part of the afternoon, I joined the toy photography part, provided by Dave again. He had setup a light box, and provided a LOT of toys and figures, as well as Lume cubes to play with, and a fair amount of advise about posing the figures and lighting them. This was a ton of fun – I did fall in love with the Lume cubes (I just ordered a couple yesterday), and I’ll probably splurge on a decent light box at some point (for now, my ad hoc tinkering with a box and a bunch of tracing paper to soften daylight is good enough for me… especially in the summer). And I do have a few shots with which I might make images at some point – we’ll see how that goes πŸ™‚ Dave wrote something about the whole experience too: A Toy Photography Workshop.

There was also a third group doing portraits with Gilmar and her awesome-looking lights, but I got hit by a case of the shys and didn’t approach that group from less than a few meters away.

In the evening, we had dinner at Olive Garden (incidentally, we had one of the best waiters I’ve ever seen) and, as we came back to the hotel, I declared that I was going to go for a walk in the direction of the Ferris wheel that was visible from the hotel, because Ferris wheels are pretty cool picture topics πŸ˜‰ We made way with a few other Scavengers, met another group on the way, and generally speaking had fun. And so, I have a first set of pictures here: Orlando – Icon Park. (Yeah, there was more than just a Ferris wheel there.)

At the end of the day, I was bubbling with ideas and motivation and all this sort of things; I believe that Friday was the day that made the most contribution to the motivation that I still have today, and gave me the most ideas of things to explore. It’s also the direct cause the my “Spiderman” image that I built a couple of weeks ago when coming home (more details in Spiderman visited ZΓΌrich!)

Saturday – Bok Tower Gardens

On Saturday, we went for a field trip at the Bok Tower Gardens. The garden has a very pretty tower (the Bok Tower in question):

There was a Game of Thrones event in the garden that day, with a lot of cosplayers! It took me a while to connect the dots between “wait, this guy is REALLY reminding me of someone” and “ooooh, he’s cosplaying as George R.R. Martin! Well done!” before I had seen the rest of the people. I know that many Scavengers took the opportunity for some great shots, but I was, at that moment, both too shy and too flustered to even try to interact with them 😦 It’s a bit sad, it would have been cool – they were really looking fantastic! It must have been quite difficult, though, because they had a lot of layers on, and it was probably around 33-35Β°C at that time… The tower is also hosting a carillon, and it’s been playing for a long while – including, at some point, the GoT theme, which I found very cool πŸ™‚

The garden also encloses the Pinewood Estate, which I could visit. It has, in particular, fantastic tile work and light fixtures πŸ™‚ And a very cool sink.

And that yields a second album: Bok Tower Gardens. I kind of regret not having more pictures of the gardens themselves – it was very nice, but it was also very warm (limited me-compatibility) and sunny (limited photo-compatibility).

We were also very lucky to have Tatjana AndrΓ© with us, thanks to Angela and Jim – she modeled for us under the heat with a lot of patience and grace, and was generally speaking amazing πŸ™‚ It was the first time ever that I worked with a model, and it was a very interesting experience, although not necessarily one that I would repeat any time soon. I do have a hard time taking pictures of people in general, and I have an ever harder time editing/processing pictures of people in general – and that’s something that came very clear during this session and its edition. It didn’t help that I made Bad Choices with camera settings, and that my pictures were often either unfocused or annoyingly noisy, and it didn’t help that my focal length was not nearly long enough. Despite all the awkwardness, I did get a few decent shots.

And that album is here: Tatjana.

In the evening, we had pizza in the hotel lobby, and some toy photography shenanigans happened, lit with a mix of lume cubes and cellphone lamps πŸ™‚

Later, we went for drinks to Lafayette’s – there was a cool band, Ancient Sun, and I enjoyed that a lot. I don’t know much about saxophones, but I particularly enjoyed the saxophonist’s performance πŸ™‚ And I may have ended on the dance floor for a couple of songs – proof that my ankle was definitely getting better (A couple of songs was all that was reasonable, though!) And at the same time, there was more toy photography shenanigans happening πŸ˜‰

Unfortunately, I had to bail pretty fast, because for all the fun that it was, it was also very loud. But as I walked back to the hotel, I felt an amount of joy I have only rarely experienced in the past few years. I think it was a mix of “everything is going great despite my initial fears”, “I’m learning a ton of stuff and I’m super motivated right now”, “I like literally everyone I talked with” and “I’m actually glad I bailed and kept the good memories instead of pushing through and ending up in a worse mood”. I arrived at the hotel, dropped a few lines of apologies on Facebook (which has been our major communication channel during the meet-up), and spent an hour or so editing some pictures from Boston. Someone nudged me to come back down in the lobby, which was much quieter, and after asking myself whether I was okay to do that and whether I wanted to do that, I spent a bit of time in the lobby, chatting and laughing, before eventually going to bed.

Sunday – last day! And after…

My Sunday was pretty quiet. I went to breakfast quite early, because I wanted the opportunity to see everyone who’d be there and to hopefully say goodbye to everyone – I don’t think I managed, but I still saw a lot of people. It was a bit sad, of course, but I think there’s still some certainty that we’ll see each other again, at least on the Hunt, and hopefully in a future meet-up.

I had arranged a ride to the airport with Gary and Wade, who had planes around the same time as mine (thanks Gary πŸ™‚ ), which made me somewhat nervous (timing-wise) about joining other people’s activities (on top of being somewhat weary in general), so I stayed in the hotel lobby in the morning with my laptop, and continued my photo processing.

I posted my last “25th Scavenger Hunt” post from the airport in Orlando, which I thought was quite fun.

The whole thing ended three weeks ago, but there’s still pictures and memories trickling on the Facebook group, which makes the whole experience last just a little bit longer – which is amazing.

Since the meet-up, I’ve done the Spiderman thing, I started learning how to use GIMP for real (I’m watching videos and everything!), and I do have a concept for a couple of images that I want to make – and I typically don’t have images in my head before I start shooting, so I’m super curious about how this is going to turn out.

And, hopefully, for the next Scavenger meet-up, I’ll be less nervous beforehand πŸ˜‰