Moleskine GPS

I recently wrote a piece for moleskinerie. It has been published today. It's reproduced below.

I like gadgets. It's a weakness. If it has buttons, or even better, lights - then I'm hooked.

Travelbug on moleskine

I've wanted a GPS for some time, mostly for the geek value - it's true. So, I began to look for ways to justify the cost, and I discovered Geocaching. Geocaching started just a few years ago (when Bill Clinton switched off the 'Selective Availability' which meant that GPS systems had accuracy of a few hundred metres), and has since grown into a worldwide sport. With a good GPS signal, your location on Earth can be known to within a few metres.

In the simplest form, someone hides a geocache. Someone else finds them. The caches could be hidden out in the countryside, or hidden (discretely) in a city centre. Just the other day I went into London and found 13 caches, some in very well trafficked areas.

Caches can be more complex, in a multistage cache a series of clues need to be solved to discover the final location - and in a mystery cache research may be needed before you even walk out of the door!


Simple Cache
GCGBGB : Last Delivery
GCVKR6 The Elvetham Heath Reserve
'X' marks the spot

When a cache is found, the finder writes in the log to claim a visit, replaces the cache and moves on. As caches are often (but not always) placed in interesting spots, I\'ve found that since starting to cache I've discovered places locally that I never knew existed. Geocaching provides me with a 'purpose' to a walk - a definite target, and it helps to keep each walk unique.

Where do the moleskines come in? When I started I decided to keep a personal log. In the log I record the cache name, coordinates, and any other piece of information. This may be a hint to the location, so that I can help anyone who gets stuck that follows, it might be a note about the weather. When I get home I log my finds on the geocaching website.

Geocaching website:

Another feature of geocaching is the gift. Many caches contain 'goodies' - these are usually small items. The rule of thumb is that for everything taken out, something else goes in. One common type of item is the travelbug. A travelbug is a trackable item with a unique serial number. When at a computer, the item can be logged independently and it can be tracked in it's travels. The number should not be revealed online, as it is evidence that the bug has been found. Travelbugs should be placed in a new cache within 2 weeks, and not taken unless this can be done.

Of course, if I take anything from a cache, this is recorded in my notes. I make special care to record the ID number on a travelbug, so that I can put it into a new cache the same day if I wish. (The danger here is that someone else may find it and log it before I do - this messes up the chronology of the bug, if late in the day, I don't worry about this. If early in the day I attach a note to say I'll be logging >the find by the end of (date), and for the finder not to log themselves until after that time  )

I wanted to launch a travelbug (I now have seven out in the wilds) - and my first travelbug? A moleskine, my own 'wandering art project'.

I launched it by putting it in a newly placed local cache, after preparing it well. Inside the cover are instructions about what the travelbug is, and about it's mission.

The Silent Sentry 1 Geocache

The bug itself can be tracked here:
Track the bug

The idea is that each finder makes their own piece of art in the book, and scans it, before placing it in a new cache (hopefully well protected from moisture!)

The future? I've found 65 caches in total, and am heading for 100. I'm currently looking into paperless caching (so there is less printing out before I head off on a walk, I could take the gps and pda, and off I go). Even if I do make the leap to paperless caching, my moleskine log will stay with me to record the results of my finds.

Related links:
Link for 'Geocaching'
Geocaching in the UK

Flying Mannequin - Sad Mannequin

Flying MannequinSad Mannequin It's been a little while since I posted any of my doodlings directly on this site. Here is one that I finished literally within the last hour or so. The main figure for both is in ink, and the background of the flying mannequin is acrylic paint.

Unfortunately I only remembered after I started putting the colour in that I was using regular waterbased ink and not noodlers, and so the ink began to run and I had to redraw lots of lines from the figure itself. Ah well, live and learn.

Big Ben

Houses of parliament

I went into London for a time today. One of the sketches I made is shown here. This was done sitting near county hall, on a very cold day indeed.

Photo of Big Ben

I visited Parliament Square today, then walked past the War Rooms, through HorseGuards Parade and Trafalgar Square. I then dived onto the tube and went up to Tottenham Court Rd. to get an xD card. After this I went out toward St. Paul's, and considered the whispering gallery, but decided against it as the cost is high and time was against me. I then went over the millennium bridge toward the Tate Modern before heading back into the tube (at St. Paul's) and making my way to 'The Gherkin', which isn't the easiest thing to find!

The Gherkin

The Gherkin from below

Westminster Protest

Having seen The Gherkin close to, an impressive structure, I went back toward Covent Garden and met up with the wife, the sister and the sister's bloke. We went on the London Eye, one of the most impressive structure that's out there at the moment. We then went to the Bierodrome for food. Monica and I had Mussels, beer was also had, along with a stick of schnapps (a wooden stick, with holes for schnapps glasses - we had six). My sister had an aubergine thing, and her bloke had chicken.

Self Portrait

An attempt at a self portraitThis is my first ever attempt at a self portrait. One obvious error is that the neck is a little long. I'll leave the critique for others.... This was done by taking a photograph and putting it onto the computer screen, I then copied from this photo. I was going to use a mirror, but I simply could not find one of suitable size, we have plenty of large mirrors, but they're not a comfortable distance from a suitable drawing place.

As with most of the other pictures, the picture links to a larger version.

Maj. Samantha Carter

Major Samantha CarterFollowing a few rather dodgy experiments, I have decided that I need to practice faces as often as I can. Though I did draw Einstein to my satisfaction, this wasn't drawn by looking at Einstein, it was drawn looking at him upside down, I won't be able to persuade people to stand on their heads for me. Nobody was around, and so I popped in a DVD, in this case, Stargate, and forwarded to a scene where someone filled the screen. It just happened to by Major Samantha Carter, i.e. Amanda Tapping.

Now, there's plenty of things about this that doesn't work, it's not really her on the page - the shading is not right, the eyes and so on. However, considering where I'm coming from, I can see lots of reasonable things, she's recognisable (if you squint a bit and look at it from an angle) and that's a big thing... and she was drawn right side up!

Portrait PracticeThese are some practice sketches from earlier in the week. The top left sketches are from a colleague to show me the proportions of the head. The sketch on the right is the wife - done before the help from the colleague. The nose is wrong, as it the size of the cranium.

The bottom left sketch was not done from life, it was purely an exercise in the proportions. Drawing in the cranium felt SO unrealistic, it felt huge, however, as soon as it was covered with hair, it seemed to shrink. I think it's because the human brain concentrates on the bottom half of the face where all the features are.

Another trial of a faceThis is another trial of a face, again not from life, it's really an exercise in proportion, this was done immediately before Major Carter! One can see the construction lines I used as a guide.

Portraits in PenThese last few were quick sketches I made at the bottom of a scrap piece of paper I was using for some quick jottings. The one on the left started as a portrait 'from life', but went a little wrong so it ended as a doodle. The others were doodles from the start!

Once I clicked through a few of the technorati tags, I soon found this site of Stargate cartoons, and this made me laugh out loud.


I bought some chalk today, and after some experimenting I decided to have a go at an exercise in one of the art books which I bought. That is to take a photograph and attempt to copy it upside down. This is the result, which frankly I am both amazed and thrilled at.

Albert Einstein

It is a sketch in Chalk, fixed with spray as it's in my moleskine book. I am absolutely astounded with this - I drew it! I tried to draw the wife a few days ago, and the results were less than convincing, don't go hunting on the site, the pictures are not even worthy of that. The book I got is wonderful, I'm a convert, the simple act of turning a photo upside down works!

The thinking is that if you draw a face, your brain gets in the way, it interprets what it sees, 'nose', 'ear' and so on - and one draws the symbols, not the patterns of light and dark. This exercise is a first step to disconnecting the symbolic part of the brain and demonstrating to the student that it's the powers of observation which are the biggest impediment to progress.

It makes a sort of sense, though it does not stop it being magic.

Vase, Circuits and Ciaks

Pencil sketch of a vase

A few pencil sketches have been made over the past few days.

I was most pleased with this first one of the vase. The vase is from imagination. I haven't got the shading quite right near the bottom, but stopped as I was concerned about 'overworking' the picture.

I am please with the fact that the shadow and vase blend at the bottom right, making the viewer join the lines.

Integrated circuit

The integrated circuit was drawn during an idle moment today. For those who are interested in this sort of thing, I think it was an NE555

I find this pretty ordinary

The last picture holds some interest for me in the subject matter, given the fact that I'm drawing in a moleskine, I find it nice that I drew my Ciak journal!

Ciak in watercolour and pencil

Both drawings were done using watercolour pencils, but the drawing on the right was made wet and the one on the left was not.

The wife prefers the wet one, and I prefer the dry!

Koch Curve

Koch CurveI drew another fractal today, the Koch Curve (click on the graphic for full size). The Menger Sponge took more time, and by rights I should be more satisfied with it, but the Koch curve is somehow nicer to me, it's simply elegant.

The curve is formed by starting with a line, and in the centre third, creating an equilateral triangle. This is repeated for every one of the four lines we now have, and so on.

The fractal dimension is around 1.26, this is because to make curve we have had to use four smaller copies, each is a third the linear dimension. I.e. To increase the size 3 times we need four copies.

3dimension=4, so dimension=ln(4)/ln(3).

Like the Menger Sponge I drew the koch curve freehand.

today's sketchesIt was just one of several sketches I drew today. Of the 'arty' ones, I'm quite pleased with the water.

Menger Sponge

Menger spongeThis is a close up of the sketch in my moleskine (click on the picture to enlarge) which shows a Menger sponge. A Menger sponge is a fractal shape, and so an accurate rendition is not possible. I've gone to 'level 4', with 'level 1' as a cube.

To make a Menger sponge, start with a cube, and make a square tunnel through each side. Each face is 8/9th the area it started with. This can be thought of as eight squares in a ring. In the centre of each of these squares, remove another square tunnel. Wash, rinse, repeat.

When taken to infinity, we end up with a very holey solid. It has a fractional dimension, it's a fractal.

It actually has a dimension of 2.72683. What's this mean? Well, imagine a line, double it in size. It gets twice as big. I.e. you need two original lines to make the new one. That's a change of 21. I.e. this has one dimension.

Take a square, double it in size, it's area increases four times. I.e. you need four original squares to make the new one. That's a change of 22. I.e. this has two dimensions.

Take a square, double it in size, it's volume increases eight times. I.e. you need eight original cubes to make the new one. That's a change of That's 23. I.e. this has three dimensions.

Now, to make a larger menger sponge, we need to increase it in linear size three times. That's not a problem, with cubes we'd need 33 cubes (27 cubes), the dimension is still 3.

With menger sponges we'd need 8 for the top and bottom layer, and 4 for the inner layer, so that's 20 smaller spongers to make one larger sponge.

This means that 20=3dimension, so ln(20)=dimension*ln(3)

In turn this means that the dimension of the sponge is ln(20)/ln(3) or approximately 2.72683. It's more solid that a flat surface, e.g. paper, but less solid than a solid, e.g. a cube.

For more information on this topic, I can highly recommend 'Flatterland' by Ian Stewart. The classic prequel is out of copyright and available online as well as a bound edition.