2020 has been a rough year in so many ways. The relentless news cycle, ubiquitous uncertainty, social isolation, existential dread, and so much more. All amplified by social media.

The attack on the US Postal Service hit me harder than I’d expect it to. I felt driven to buy as many stamps as I could, to support the USPS.

Image for post
Image for post

At some point, I found myself staring at the pile of art stickers I was going to give away at conferences and shows…all cancelled because of Covid.

What was I going to do with them? Could I mail them to people?

I started with a little group of artist-friends and set up an online signup form, so they could send me their mailing addresses privately. …

Image for post
Image for post
Smash-a-rona, when the virus runs amok

Wow, I started writing the article months ago, but it feels like yesterday…and 10 years ago. Time in 2020 is unlike the before-time. Here in San Francisco, we were in shelter-in-place and quarantine for a long time. With the upcoming post-Thanksgiving covid spike, we may be returning soon.

How have I been coping? Among other things, I spent time developing Smash-a-rona; a simple physics game where the player defeats viruses.

Yep, that’s right. I’ve been channeling my stress about current events, into developing a game about them.

I was working on some background research and data visualizations related to Covid-19, and it was seriously stressing me. At this point, though, it was early in the year. What data that could be found, revealed alarming patterns and trends. …

Image for post
Image for post
Experimenting with Mapping Sticker Destinations

What is the goal of the project?

  1. Support the USPS by purchasing and using as many stamps as I can.
  2. Send little moments of joy to as many people as possible. When was the last time you got a treat in a hand addressed envelope?
  3. Collaborate with as many people as possible to collect USPS delivery times across the United States, and beyond.

How does this work?

  1. You sign up.
  2. I mail a sticker to you.
  3. You tell me when it arrives.

Is there a hashtag for the project?

There sure is: #StickersAndStamps

Use it when you post photos of the stickers when they arrive. Help spread joy!

Why Stickers?

I’d had a bunch of stickers printed up with my artwork, and was intending to give them away at upcoming events. But then Covid-19 happened and everything shut down. …

I want to draw a half circle. It should be simple. What am I missing?

Here’s a simple circle drawn with Leaflet on a Mapbox map:

L.circle((lat, lon), {
color: ‘#9fb391’,
weight: 0.8,
fillColor: ‘grey’,
radius: 50

Much like circle, I should be able to draw an arc on the canvas overlay.

L.arc((lat, lon), {
color: ‘#9fb391’,
weight: 0.8,
fillColor: ‘grey’,
radius: 50,
startAngle: 0,
endAngle: Math.Pi*2,

So, is this implemented in Leaflet? If so, what are the names used for ‘startAngle’ and ‘endAngle’ in that implementation?

If it’s not, where would I find ‘source code’ for the Leaflet implementation of L.circle, L.polyline, and more. With that, I can implement the function myself and minimize code complexity in my mapping code. …

I saw a post the other day where someone asked their postal carrier what they could do to help the USPS. The carrier replied “buy stamps”. This got me thinking.

I have a bunch of stickers made with my inkyDays drawings. I was planning on giving them out at upcoming Art and SciArt events. And then Covid happened.

Image for post
Image for post
#inkyDays stickers

I want to support the USPS, even if it’s in a very small way. I can buy stamps, and mail the stickers to people.

Most of my correspondence has been only online for many years. I don’t have current mailing addresses for a lot of folks. So, I set up a google-form for people to send me their postal address and request a sticker. So far, it’s working alright, and I’ve already received a few requests and plan to send out my first batch this week. …

Image for post
Image for post

Suppose we’re looking at a crowd of people.

We want to find out something about them, but we don’t have enough time or resources to ask them all. What do we do? We choose a few people, and only ask this sample of the population.

How does the way we sample a population impact what we find out?

What are the candidates saying to me with their advertising? I’ve been collecting data on video ads for some time, and recently notice an uptick in political ads from candidates in the past few months. Makes sense. After all, the Democratic Primaries are in full swing.

Having grown up in Northern California and living in San Francisco, I know the candidates are busy elsewhere in the country. They’re busy building up support for their campaigns in other states, with earlier primaries than California’s. We don’t really see much of the candidates at this point. Most of what I’ve seen of them so far, has been in the debates and in comedy show interviews. …

Warning! Possible emotional trigger.

This is a work of fiction. This was a nightmare I woke up from.

I had this terrible nightmare. I woke up and was unsure of what was real.

In my sleep, my younger daughter said “mama, we have to go”.

“Mama, we have to go”

“Mama, they’re waiting for us”

“Mama, it’s me. I love you. We have to go.”

I turned to this sweet, stubborn, wonderful child. I beheld her in all of her empathy and love, and loss. And all I could do was follow.

We stood beside this hole in the ground. …

If you’ve been following what I’ve been working on for the past year, you may have heard me mention that I’ve been studying advertisements on a streaming media service. I’ve publicly written about why I’m doing it, and some details on my tech approach in the study. I’ve been approaching this as a scientist; recording what I see in the world, analyzing my data, and preparing to report my results. But I haven’t published any of my data or results. I’m still not ready. I’m not done with the analysis and report.

However, I’m noticing a change in a certain advertiser that reflect current events that I think I should share before I release the rest of my study. The messaging of this advertiser has reflected current events and agendas before, for many years, and in various media. …

Image for post
Image for post

Developing a new skill or discipline can seem overwhelming at first, but it can be personally rewarding in ways we can’t always anticipate. For me, participating in #inktober has been an amazing adventure. I encourage you to give it a try, so I’ve been sharing my advice on getting started and keeping it going.

What’s #inktober? It’s an informal artistic challenge organized by @inktober, where artists draw with ink for the 31 days of October and share their drawings with the hashtag #inktober. There’s an official list of daily prompts, but following the prompts isn’t required.

When I first tried #inktober, it was a whim. I didn’t consider myself as someone who could draw (except with code). My first drawings were pretty terrible, but eventually I improved. I continue to draw daily, and share them with the hashtag #inkyDays on twitter and mastodon. …


Kristin Henry

Data Visualization Consultant. Generative and Data Artist. Creative Coder. Founder of GalaxyGoo. http://kristinhenry.github.io/

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store