I competed in the Kitbash3D Mission to Minerva contest

I recently competed in a competition for Kitbash3D’s Mission to Minerva challenge. I’ve never actually worked professionally in photorealism or CGI before but I figured I could learn along the way during the competition. Honestly the prizes for the competition were pretty modest, the grand prize all together may have only been worth about $2,500 but regardless I was interested in using the free kit they provide and the skills I’d learn while using it. The kits are produced for several softwares, I only really had access to free softwares like blender and Unreal Engine. I started out trying to learn blender and produce a moon environment and terrain using their noise generators. However after spending about a week or two learning and trying to render a couple simple scenes I ran into an issue where Blender would bloat to fill out all 48GB of my RAM in my high-end gaming computer. Sometimes rendering in Blender would take 24 to 48 hours while my computer would be completely unresponsive. There was also the option for real-time rendering with cycles that’s supposed to rely on the GPU which I had a high-performance Nvidia RTX 3060 with 12GB of GDDR6 and it would still lag and be unresponsive. 

I eventually started looking into Unreal Engine because graphically the engine renders scenes nicely and it natively works in real-time because it’s a video game engine. Working with the terrain and the environment were obviously different but because I could see how the scene was rendering in color in real-time I could iterate in it much faster. So I kept working in Unreal Engine and I was able to find and buy several assets for the 3D environment from online retailers that helped me to put together the scene quickly. 

I had an original idea of designing out a whole planned moon colony based on proposals from NASA and ESA. I ambitiously also wanted to make a video animation because I knew less people would produce videos than 2D renderings. I thought up an engaging story about a potential moon colony rebellion against Elon Musk. I started out making the animation and in fact I got pretty involved with animating a moon rover, and having camera tracks follow this rover through a planned moon settlement but eventually I realized the scope of work I had planned to complete a whole story in 3D animation was beyond the remaining 2 weeks I had left to submit. So I ultimately had to abandon my original plan an pivot to a 2D rendering. 

I decided instead to imagine if in the future there was space tourism to the moon, what would a potential vacation look like. I started with an authentic moon environment and kept the layout I had of structures for the moon settlement. Then to make it personal I added an astronaut couple lounging in an inflatable pool with floaties. This is a sight I’ve never seen before in other renderings of the moon or space tourism which is why I thought it was unique.

At the end I submitted my rendering, it obviously could have been a lot better if I had more time put into it but it was good enough to me. I sent it out and never heard any feedback on it. It obviously didn’t win a prize. There were a lot of other good renderings that real artists produced, but even so I think many of the best ones got overlooked by Kitbash3D. At the end I at least got the skills I wanted to develop and a free kit to experiment with. I have more ideas and more time so I can also then use the same environment and assets in a new production.

My Mission to Minerva Moon Vacation entry

I won $5,000 in the Pick 4 Florida Lottery

So I played the scratch-off lotteries starting in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic started.

I won $1,000 a couple of times along with a bunch of smaller prizes on scratch-offs.

But I never won anything beyond that, which is why I started studying the odds and found that obviously the odds for the grand prize are always better with Pick lotteries.

So I started playing the smallest Pick lottery first, the Pick 2. I won that within 2 days.

Then I played the Pick 3 and won the $500 prize within a week.

Then I played the Pick 4 lottery at the $0.50 level and won $2,500 within 2 months.

Then I played the Pick 4 lottery at the $1.00 level and after about 6 months of playing $48 every week on Friday I finally won $5,000 just before Christmas in 2022.

I only played with quickpick combos, with 2 tickets. This sometimes was two tickets of $12, two tickets of $24, or a combination of those.

In total it cost me $4,000 in tickets, and I profited $1,000 off the $5,000 prize.

At the end of the day, do I recommend it?

No, playing the game took a tremendous amount effort.

Anytime I went to the store I also bought snacks and drinks which became a bad habit.

Once you get started, and you start losing money, you’ll become a victim of the sunk-cost fallacy.

When you play the smaller lotteries it’s more likely you can finally win and recover your loss, but with the larger lotteries you may never win or recover.

I recommend just saving money every week with an account from Acorns, Robinhood, or some other brokerage.

Saving money is much more reasonable than playing the lottery, because you can always access your savings when you need it in an emergency.

With the lottery, there’s no guarantee when or if you’ll win.

Tika Masala

Food Photos

I love food. It’s one of my favorite things in the world. I’ll eat just about anything, and I’m always up for trying new things. That’s why I love going to restaurants in Jacksonville. There’s so much variety here, and it’s all delicious. I also love taking photos of food. I post my reviews and photos on Google so that other people can see what I thought of the food and decide whether or not they want to try it themselves. If you’re ever in Jacksonville, be sure to check out my reviews. You won’t be disappointed!

I stayed a night in a tiny house

Wyatt Sanders at Okeechobee Music Fest

Okeechobee Music Festival photos

Is Caffeine good for you?

I’ve thought about this for a long time, maybe since high school. I remember then having coffee, loving the taste, but not really feeling any different from it. I’d drink it, and think “Okay so aren’t I supposed to have all kinds of energy now?” but it’s not like that at all. Now that I’m older, for whatever reason coffee, and caffeine affect me differently now. If I’ve gone without caffeine for weeks and I go back to drinking a single 8 fl oz. cup of coffee I will stay awake until 2 or 4pm no problem. For me the problem comes in, I suppose with my genetics. If I don’t have a tolerance built up for it and I accidentally drink something with coffee then it will randomly upset my clock and offset it into the future. For someone who might need to stay awake late like a truck driver or pilot, where loss of consciousness could mean loss of life, then a secure consciousness is important.

However, if you know anything about the human body and medicine, then you know the human body has a rhythm like timing belt and cylinders in a car, the heart beats. Your body also wakes and rests on a rhythm known as the circadian rhythm. When these mechanisms are disturbed your heart can have tachycardia, palpitations, or cardiac arrest. This is because your heart has a specific sequence to push blood forward. If the sequence is screwed up then the pulses in the heart can effectively cancel out, causing the heart to fail in pushing blood forward.

When I was younger I saw a documentary about caffeine where they showed some sort of microbiome under the microscope being exposed to caffeine, and obviously it sped up immediately for a little while until later when it just ceased moving. It seemed as if the little cells sped up and shortened their life spans from their exposure to caffeine. I saw this and wondered is this perhaps similar to what would happen to us? We’re obviously much larger organisms as humans, our LD50 and ED50 and tolerance is much higher than some cells under a microscope. However when scientists look at the ED50 and LD50, those numbers are instantaneous, and no one tracks or even cares about those dosages over the long term. Maybe a cup per day would stimulate you, but what does a cup per day over 10 years do to you and your body rhythm?

The next thing I’m curious about is why would the coffee plant even produce caffeine? If you think about the biological costs of producing caffeine, the coffee plant obviously must have a reason to produce caffeine. It must have a reason why the plant would have evolved the cellular equipment to produce the caffeine molecule. Why would coffee plants produce caffeine? Well plants fall victim to some similar pathogens humans have to fight. Plants produce seeds that they need to reproduce. In other species sometimes these seeds are eaten by predators or destroyed by bacteria or fungus. Human agriculture sometimes uses pesticides and insecticides to protect fruit growing on plants. But what if the plants made their own insecticides? This is why I suspect coffee plants produce caffeine as an insecticide/pesticide to protect their coffee beans. Without coffee beans, you obviously can’t have coffee plants.