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Anyone else experiencing this problem lately?
  • Reading: The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
  • Playing: Overwatch (duh)
Japan was incredible. I pretty much longed to see it for the past 20 years - and my expectations turned out to be in no way exaggerated. Ever since we returned home I've been wishing that I was still there. Of course I brought back literally a suitcase full of stuff - food, toys, books, toys, tea, toys and toys. I'm not even exaggerating: my haul is of truly epic proportions.

Tokyo left the most profound impression on me from all the places we visited. I love cities - for the way one can get completely lost in them. Not physically, but rather the bigger the city, the stronger the feeling of complete anonymity - no one cares who you are. To me, this is the most liberating and relaxing experience. Tokyo is huge, crowded, dense, and every side alley tells a thousand stories.
Though I took lots of pictures, I have in no way managed to capture the beauty of the place.
I'd much rather feature burningmonk, an amazing street photographer. I think their pictures, just like the real city, tell stories.

Old Quarter by burningmonk
P H O N E H O N E Y by burningmonk
Mirrors by burningmonk
Fluorescent by burningmonk
Pastel Sky by burningmonk
  • Playing: Overwatch
I had good reason to expect 2017 to be a weird year for me but it caught up with me so fast I didn't even have time to fully comprehend just how much is happening.
For one, I managed to get a PhD position and full 4 year scholarship at the Max Planck institute in Dresden, Germany. I'm starting in September. I've thoroughly enjoyed my interview week there and am looking forward to it, even though the magnitude of what's expected of me is honestly frightening. The voice in my head reminding me that I'm not a scientist, just a graphic designer really wanting to be one won't shut up. I wonder if it ever will?

This is, at the same time, the year my three week Japan trip was finally meant to happen; and I was so overwhelmed with the whole PhD matter that suddenly it's April and I realized that holy shit I'm flying to Tokyo the day after tomorrow. It's been a dream destination for me since my early teens so I had ample time to obsess about what I'd do once I'm there, but now that it's a thing that's happening I'm completely empty and open as to what it will be like. I've tried to compile a list of concrete things I want to do (it boils down to "eat all the ramen, buy all the things") but honestly I'll just have to take it in stride.
I'll try to document my journey (Tokyo, Kyoto, Uji, Hiroshima, Hakone) with some pictures I'll post here, if anyone is interested:
  • Reading: Autobiography of John Cleese
If anyone is interested in watching me getting to grips with my new tablet and the whole concept of digital art by drawing lots of Overwatch fanart, I stream it on Twitch:
I'd appreciate other digital artists dropping by and telling me how the hell it is supposed to be done properly - any sort of advice welcome!
  • Reading: What If, Randall Munroe
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.