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For the past five years I had a tottery old T60 IBM ThinkPad notebook. It ran Debian well enough to suit my humble needs, but after having to glue it together several times, it seemed a good idea to get a new notebook for myself for graduation.
I randomly stumbled upon this blog post some time ago:…

Turns out, there's a tablet PC with reasonable specs and an even more reasonable pricing that is (by accident; it's not an official feature) compatible with the WACOM active pen driver and thus with a range of active pens. A Cintiq-like tablet for third of the price? And a usable notebook at the same time? Sounded almost too good to be true. But I got the Inspiron, ordered a Dell active pen from eBay and - it really works like a decent drawing tablet.

Img 20170105 225752 by chid0

While I do have some issues with the machine (glossy reflective display, widescreen, Windows 10), this opens a whole new world of possibilities for me. I never was much of a digital artist because I never had the necessary gear. So far, I got the pen to work well with SAI, but I am eager to try other software too, eventually.
Maybe this will lead to more regular art output from me? Time will tell.
  • Reading: What If, Randall Munroe
Img 20161115 153312 by chid0
I wrote my thesis during summer, defended it successfully, and am about to receive my diploma in two weeks. Instead of celebrating, the fact that my five years of study are now over left me with a gaping void and a blank uncertainty. I fought every step of the way and now that the battle is won I'm left standing there without a purpose, which is scary and intimidating. The logical conclusion would be pursuing a PhD, so I've started looking for open positions abroad (adding a fourth country of residence to my collection of three so far feels like a logical conclusion too, for that matter). But I can't help and answer the question I get a lot now - "What's next?" with a nervous "I don't know."
I admit I kind of lost myself during the past few months, and virtually stopped drawing - I'm trying to find both motivation and inspiration again.
Parsley, our DRSSTC, has been out of order for several months. We blew one of the IGBTs during performance tests last september... the coil underwent a substantial revamp, since the specs of the replacement IGBTs turned out to be so different from the old ones we had to redo the driver electronics (and spent a woeful couple of months debugging it). First thing we did with it (apart from having it play Abba, poor thing) was a photoshoot for Sumie-the-Stormhorse, who managed to take some truly amazing shots of it:

I had a poster accepted at the Transgenic Technology Meeting 2016; making this my first-ever scientific conference I'll get to attend. I spent my youth organizing conventions; and I can't help but see some similarities between cons and confs - I have the same giddy feeling, the same (not necessarily unpleasant) stress wondering who's gonna be there, which talks to attend, and yes even what to wear (both cosplay and formal clothes feel like dressing up for me).
Maybe as an indirect consequence, I decided it would be nice, after all this time, to attend a con as well - I got tickets to Animefest in Brno later next month.
Will anyone else be there? Would be nice to meet some other artists, I don't get to meet any in person otherwise.. maybe have a chat, exchange some doodles? I'd love to.
...leave me to my toys tonight
(the Mountain Goats, Surrounded)

aaand back to work.
I'll be gone for three weeks, taking a break from the world in Malaysia and Thailand. I've not forgotten about the ACEOs I owe - I mailed out those I already finished earlier this week. I hope to return in a more creative state of mind so I can finish those I haven't done yet.
  • Reading: Gerald Durrell, A Zoo in My Luggage
Here's the people who agreed on a trade:


I'll try my best.
  • Reading: Wikipedia articles on cryptanalysis
I finally managed to finish all the remaining trades and ACEOs that were due for an appallingly long time now - I've never had such a thorough art-block before. At times, I was convinced that I will never do anything creative ever again, that whatever fueled my output all those years spent drawing and writing has simply dried out. I'm still not entirely sure, but I suspect the reason for the lack of creative output is due to two reasons: me doing too many things at once and the lack of opportunity to have a creative exchange with other people. I was very bothered by this at first, but then I realized that the main reason is actually me being incredibly lucky - I have so much opportunity to do things, live things, experience things first-hand - that I don't "need" to draw or write. And since I know that things never last (for one, I'll be leaving for my PhD study in three years time, who knows where to), I'll just make the best of it while it does.
When I need my world to come back to me, I know it will.
  • Reading: Wikipedia articles on cryptanalysis
"I am pleased to inform you that your paper entitled 'Efficient gene targeting of the ROSA26 locus in mouse zygotes using TALE nucleases' has been accepted for publication."

Ever since I ditched graphic design for a crazy dream about molecular biology, I've been asking myself the same question again and again: "Am I a scientist yet?" I got accepted at the university, but I still had to prove myself by passing exams. I passed exams, but I was still only a student. I joined a research lab, but I was just learning basic methods. "No, not yet" was the answer I would give myself every time.
Now that a paper I'm co-authoring is actually getting published, does that mean I made it? Come to think of it, I never felt like an artist either, so maybe I'll never feel like a scientist. And maybe it doesn't need to matter, I enjoy doing what I do - I'm not excelling at it, I'm not impressing anyone, but I enjoy it. And I think it's kind of a wonderful coincidence that my first paper is on targeted transgenesis - induction of novel traits via genetic modification. It's the fascination with genetic engineering that got me where I am now, after all. Wherever that is.
  • Reading: three years worth of notes I took during lectures
V populárně-vědeckém časopisu Vesmír, konkrétně v jeho nové internetové verzi, vyšli v rámci srpnového tématu "Vedci bez titulů" dva články: Biotechnologie do každé rodiny je rozhovor se mnou na téma DIYBio a biohacking. Brmlab - laboratoř kapitána Nema je audioreportáž o našem Pražském hackerspace, vcelku hezky približující atmosféru a projekty, kterým se tam věnujeme.

Blíží se další (snad školní, ješte nemám udělané státnice) rok a já jsem si dala udělat už druhý diář u Samantha-dragon - vřele doporučuji. V nabídce jsou různé formáty, lze si taky nechat udělat skicár, bližší info o všech možnostech a podle mého názoru velice příjemných cenách je k nalezení zde.

Commission: Diary for Chid0 by Samantha-dragon

Commission: chid0 diary by Samantha-dragon
  • Reading: three years worth of notes I took during lectures

I've spent my summer mostly working at the institute of molecular genetics, and whatever time there was left in between that and other typically summery exploits was spent with Parsley, our tesla coil. Since people asked; here is a bit more on my favorite toy (and probably the most murderous - and arguably the prettiest - thing I've ever built).
We started building her (it's obviously a she, look at those curves!) over a year ago. I've met someone at the hackerspace who happens to be crazy in exactly the same direction as I am - work went slowly, we spent most of the last summer on the driver and power electronics (she's a double-resonant solid state coil using two IGBTs and a driver with current feedback from the primary coil, you can find more technical info on her here). We ran first tests and measurements in autumn, and just when I finished her primary coil and both driver and power circuitry - on the same day, even - I got hospitalized for the holidays. We resumed work on her shortly after I got out, and after a minor setback (induction on the feedback coil fried half of the driver) and some tuning we got her to work eventually in early spring. We went about it cautiously, not more than one third of full power (she's fed through an old soviet variac so we can regulate current input) - but already she produced 20-50 cm sparks.
This summer, we finished her electronics, active cooling for the IGBTs and took her outside - now her arcs reach the floor on about 80-100VAC input. My friend made her a new controller, connected to her via fiber-optic cable - and most importantly, capable of MIDI input.
So these days, she's an almost finished singing tesla coil. Here's a video of her singing :] I ordered a keyboard for her which should arrive next week. If anyone in Prague knows how to play keyboard and wants to give her a try, let me know!
People's reactions to her never cease to fascinate me. They range from skeptical "isn't it completely useless? why have you built it?" and almost derogatory, through frightened "won't it kill you and everyone else around you?" all the way to enthusiastic appreciation - enthusiasm, sometimes, from entirely unexpected people.
But most importantly, I love that damn thing to bits. It's a dream come true.
I've suffered the most severe artblock up to date. I didn't so much as look at a pencil for the past few months. I did however manage to finish school, even though the last few weeks of it took a lot from me. It was an amazing journey all the way to the end, even though by the time I reached the last few weeks of it I had to force myself into every single step out of sheer mental exhaustion.

I'm still coping with loss of motivation regarding science - I think what is happening is a sort of transition; I am ceasing to be a silent admirer on the sidelines and slowly becoming a player in the field, with all that it entails... but there's still so much worth fighting for.
I got accepted at the department for Genetics and Virology at my alma mater for my Masters degree, I'm still welcome to work at the Laboratory of Transgenic Models of Diseases on my thesis; whatever that will turn out to be - and so I'll be fighting on.

Now that summer started, I decided to tackle another front and battle against the artblock as well - slowly, like learning to walk again, I started with simple nature studies (that all turned out abysmally, but at least I did something), and I'm moving forward. I owe Eninaj27 an art trade and Soturisi and keytaro ACEOs, and once I've satisfactorily restored my abilities I plan on concentrating on getting those done.
  • Reading: Inferno, August Strindberg
I'm out of hospital, hopelessly behind with exams, but trying to pick up my life where I left it: tangled between doubts about my career choice (Gödel, incompleteness, my own misanthropy pitted against the anthropocentrism of science), an unfinished Tesla coil by the name of Parsley and - don't worry, I have not forgotten - the art I owe and hope to finally find inspiration, and motivation, for.

Thanks to everyone who visited, wrote, called, and wished me all the good things I don't think I deserve. It was quite a surprise :]
  • Reading: Gödel's Proof, Nagel & Newman
It seems I'm spending New Year's Eve in a hospital bed.  No one knows what's wrong with me yet... 2014 can only get better from here :]

I'm still in hospital but it's nothing serious and I'm getting treatment already - and feeling better.
saniika, every year around this time, promotes the Christmas wishlist initiative. The past two years, I have joined in, both times listing my ever so constant (and ever so peculiar) ten wishes. Here's my list:…
But I'm not going to do that this year - for a very simple reason:

Everything that I wished for came true. Every single wish from that list.

My friend saniika however is going through a very tough time, so all I am wishing for right now is for her to find a time and a place where she'll be as happy as she deserves.
  • Reading: Raising Steam, Terry Pratchett
Life just literally gave me a lemon. I went outside to take out the trash and there it was, lying on the street.
Make lemonade or combustible lemons, Cave Johnson style?
A brief investigation yielded the information that citric acid can be used as catalyst for the reaction to synthesize HMTD, a highly explosive organic compound.
But I'm thirsty.
I did pass Biochemistry; unexpectedly. The first batch of transgenic mice I was involved in making will be born in September. "Bioelectric Phenomena and Their Measurement" is an actual course my university offers and that I can enroll in this year.

I stumbled upon a wonderful quote in the book I'm currently reading:

"If we wish to know about a man, we ask 'what is his story--his real, inmost story?'--for each of us is a biography, a story. Each of us is a singular narrative, which is constructed, continually, unconsciously, by, through, and in us--through our perceptions, our feelings, our thoughts, our actions; and, not least, our discourse, our spoken narrations. Biologically, physiologically, we are not so different from each other; historically, as narratives--we are each of us unique."

I think this is why I find characters so important in stories, since only through them, there can be a story, one that feels real - because it happens to someone, happens, in fact, through them... The plot, the story, emerges as a consequence of the characters, of who they are, the decisions (and mistakes) they make. For me, it always is the characters, not the narrative concepts alone (like the battle of good vs. evil), that carry the plot, create the story - probably that's why fairy-tales never appealed to me much. I'd love to hear your opinion on this matter.
  • Reading: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, O.Sacks
First of all, a big thanks for all the feedback I got from everyone regarding my last journal entry. There was an unexpected amount of it and though I'm still very insecure about my art, I'm a bit less reluctant to share it.

So summer started, and it's been a fun ride so far. Floods, burning substations, hunting for weather balloons using home-made radioequipment, probably failing biochemistry - it's all been part of it. We finished our Tesla coil, so I'm spending my days at the lab making cells glow and my nights at our hackerspace breathing in ungodly amounts of ozone and playing around with sparks and arcs. I'm experimenting with inducing metallic taste using non-metal electrodes for electrostimulation, caramelizing fructose with microwave oven transformers (here's the recipe… ), baking chocolate chip cookies, searching for uranium ore and trying to get some drawing done before my third year at university catches up with me.
What's your favourite way to spend the summer?   
  • Reading: anything I can find on mouse genetic engineering