Monday, December 11, 2006
Saturday, December 02, 2006
(February 1939 - The 2nd funniest thing is the writing of maybe as "may be" I love it!)
There are two scenarios I see here. In one, you are a squinty punk who pulls the trip on a fire alarm that ensnares you until a cop twirling a baton and sporting an Irish accent approaches saying, "Toy! Toy! What's all this then?" In the other, the same cop enters the burnt ruins of a building, twirling a baton, only to find a charred corpse dangling from the fire alarm, "Toy! Toy!" He says, "What's all this then?" Can't see much of a difference.
If there's a chance that a device can be used for something wrong, then a few people wrongly trapped isn't such a small price to pay. It's amazing that this logic still persists in most consumer electronics today.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Last weekend, I took Mandy to Glenlaurel Inn in the Hocking Hills of Ohio. This is the south-eastern edge of Ohio, about 2 and a half hours from where we live. The drive was amazingly fun, especially the last 45 minutes. For this short period, the road goes nuts. It's like driving through the Scottish Highlands, or so I'd guess it would be like. The weekend was great. We ate a 7-course dinner in their wonderful inn and enjoyed an evening of fireside talks and hottub bubblings. This area of Ohio is really interesting.
Years and years ago, my mom, Vickie (my friend Ian's mom), and myself marched up the "Shale Trail." A trail that runs up a flat limerock riverbed that runs about 25 miles. We fought hordes of mosquitos, biting flies, and biting snakes, but eventually made it to the delta at it's end. It was one of the more exciting experiences of my young life: Carying my gear on my back as I waded through miles of Ohio river for three days, I learned a lot about what a person can endure - which, in turn, helped me survive my Austin biking trip.
(Damn. Makes me want to watch the amazing King Kong again)
We headed from that side of town to Mount Adams to check out the area. Mt. Adams is a kind of cross between college hanging out and yuppie hobnobbin'. There all kinds of restaurants that contain words like "Bistro" and bars with buzzing neon palm trees. We went to a fantastic Thai restaurant called "Teak." We split an order of spicy tuna and spider sushi rolls, then had a plate of "Spicy Thai Chicken" and a small carafe of sake. It was all amazing and really reasonably priced. I can imagine that this area of town would be great fun in the summer, when the daylight is longer, and the nights are warm. The views from this high vista overlooking the Ohio River, Cincinnati Downtown, and parts of Newport on the Levvy are amazing. We're planning on spending more quality time in this area of town.
On our way home, down southbound I-75, we passed the exit to the Cincinnati zoo. It was backed up for miles. I guess we got out of there at the right time...
The Wedding DVD is complete. Finally. After playing around with "Roxio Easy CD Creator 9" and having endless problems, I decided to look into Adobe Encore 2 - a pro tool used for authoring. It's quite a bit more complex, but it is so much more deep in terms of functionality that I'm glad I took some time to learn the basics. When I decide to take the plunge into Mac or PC for hardcore editing, I know I'll be sticking with this tool. We are just printing off labels, cutting, and placing. It's down to rote reproduction, which is a nice change from having to learn new programs to accomplish specific task.
The main thing I learned doing this is: DVD authoring is one of the most annoying things I've ever come across in my 10+ year A/V history. From incompatible codecs to menu linking to DVD player incompatibility, it's a ton of work.
The thing I've come to respect most from doing this: Chad. He's done half a dozen of these films. Not only that, but they were for people he didn't necessarily care that much about. It goes to show the depth of his professionalism when he can go through the 100+ hours it takes to produce a DVD and do them so well, even though he wasn't necessarily emotionally invested is astounding to me. I have a little more understanding as to why he politely brushed me off when I would nag him about starting a wedding DVD production company.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Special thanks to Mr. Chad for helping me choose a printer and such. The model is Epson Stylus Photo R340 Inkjet Printer. It's a 6-tone printer designed for printing photos and discs. I'm sure I'll be bugging him for suggestions and help on many other video and printing related questions. Expect many shout-outs in the coming months.
I'm still debating on whether or not to start investing in a Mac and legit software to run on it. The advantages to building a PC are numerous: I can make a computer that is much faster than a Mac for 1/4 the price. They're much easier to upgrade, they run all types of software, and can play games. The downside is I can't run Final Cut Pro, Soundtrack, Pro Tools, Motion, or Adobe products that don't have half of their features stripped out just so they can work on a Windows platform. The other problem is I so fucking hate Microsoft that I'm willing to spend more money just to avoid having to install Vista on any computer I own. Granted, Apple isn't exactly championing consumer rights, but at least they aren't trying to cram the trusted computer architecture down people's throats... yet. The Direct X 10 stuff I've seen does look awful purdy, but if it comes at the expense of owning my computer vs. leasing it Microsoft, I'll have to look elsewhere for my gaming fun.
The thing that sucks most about having to pick one is the same problem with the current state of politics in America: I'm stuck between one of two options that are so close they might as well be the same. Sure, I could go with the Green Party or Ubuntu and be really proud of myself, but neither will help me get a decent editing suite up and running.
That's it from this side. Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Monday, November 13, 2006
This past weekend we basically hung out, cleaned the apartment, cooked, and bummed around. This past Saturday we made shrimp and chicken tendori and watched Serenity again, damn good movie that it is. Mandy just completed My Sister's Keeper and claims it's a fantastic book. I'm still plowing through The World Is Flat and catching up with the last two editions of Discover Magazine.
I finally decided to put a bit of initiative behind some film ideas and start on a couple outlines. I bought a DVD printer, 100 count inkjet printable DVDs, and 100 jewel cases. I will have the wedding video completed by the end of Thanksgiving and my demo reel designed and storyboarded by Christmas. My goal is to have the 100% of the footage shot by mid-January and the site and demo material publicly available by February 1st. I think with some sound planning and Mandy's watchful gaze keeping me in check, I will be able make this deadline. I can't wait. When that's all said and done, I can start applying for all of these wondrous post-production jobs I keep seeing.
There is a Christmas letter being sent out to people with limited access to the blog dealing directly with our stance on gift-giving this holiday season (hint: It's the same as last year). There is a permanent link to the Christmas letter on the left navigation of the blog. It's imaginatively labeled "Christmas Letter." I've also added a long-overdue link to Seeking With Jon, a great blog maintained by a good friend who writes about laboriously plowing through Seminary at the prestigious Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I know he'd appreciate you checking it out and laying down some sweet-ass comments.
That's pretty much it from this side. As nice as it may have been to be in GR these past few weekends, it's been awesome to hang out around here, just the two of us, for a weekend and do nothing.
"The universe loves a drama, you know; and ladies and gentlemen... this is the show."
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
A quick call out to everyone who attended Mandy's party this past Saturday. It was great to see everyone and spend some time hanging out. I know Mandy had a great time and was happy so many people came out to celebrate.
After traveling for three weekends straight, we're going be sticking around here until around Christmas. We will be back for Christmas for about a week and a half when we do come up. We're still trying to determine the holiday schedule, but there's plenty of time before we head back up.
Been listening to lots of really good music recently. Angie and Mark mentioned a CD by a band called the Scissor Sisters called "Ta-Da!". It's insanely catchy, disco-pop sounding music. It's really odd and cool. I've also been listening to a CD I keep hearing on a local radio station called "TV On The Radio." It's also amazing, but in a more subtle and less, uh, flamboyant way. Good stuff all around.
P.S. The subject is wrong. I actually do feel like dancing, both Rummy and DeVos are out.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
I love this guy. Point of fact, I would totally consider having his children, if he were so willing. His writings (both fiction and non) have been inspiring me to interpret the world through a completely different lens. Mayhaps this internal change will translate to a film, internet, or writing project of some sort. I love it.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
The big rush of the weekend came Friday when we all attended the 7th 24 Hour Film Festival. The top ten films (out of 21 entries) were selected and shown in the enormous theater 1 at Studio 28. For anyone who doesn't know, Theater 1 is the large house in the state of Michigan, seating over 800 people. It's also acts as a kind of Mecca for film geeks (specifically sci-fi geeks). It draws people for all over the state for opening night screenings of films. I've seen more movies in this theater than I can remember, dating back to my earliest movie-going childhood memories. I love this theater.
When you submit a film for the competition, the acadeny doesn't tell anyone whether their film made it to the top ten cut. You have to go to the theater and see if yours was selected. The films are shown in random order, with judges comments between each piece. Until your film shows, you sit in anxious anticipation, hoping the next piece to play is yours.
Ours was shown last. Oh man. When they started screen 8 and 9, I figured we were doomed. Then, after the title card "Film 10" faded out and I saw Mr. Croissant's name appear, I felt such a rush of elation. Everyone cheered and the whole of Theater sat in rapt silence as Jean-Baptiste's brilliance unfolded before us. They even showed me and my friend's little documentary about the film afterward - it was totally gratifying.
So, it was a blast to see something I helped create appear on the enormous screen. It something else altogether to win an award and be asked by my peers to stand before the mighty screen and say a few things on everyone's behalf. It was a very surreal / wonderful moment.
Sadly, director Jean-Baptiste Croissant wouldn't attend the screening, saying something about film festivals being too "Bourgeois." I accepted the award on his behalf, and if things go well, I should be able to reach him at autumn residence in Quebec, Canada. Ah, I love Skype and how it allows me to make free calls. I'll try to record the call and post it. It's one thing thing to see his films, it's another thing altogether to hear the genius speak.
I've included the video at the bottom of the post. It doesn't really do Mr. Baptiste's film justice to see it YouTubeized - but you should get the gist.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
A simple synopsis from SSS:
1. First, the actual '93 white paper by Vernor Vinge wherein he lays out the idea.
2. The Stanford Singularity Summit (SSS) where top writers, journalists, and hackers gather to discuss the idea.
3. An interview with Cory Doctorow (amazing author of Down and Out In The Magic Kingdom) at the conference.
4. "Nano Comes to Clifford Falls" a great short story / audio podcast featured on EscapePod arguing the pros and cons of the idea (with great commentary by Steve Eley)
5. The Transhumanist Manifesto (reformated into a FAQ) published on the 'World Transhumanist Association' website.
6. And of course, for full-disclosure, a collection of articles that are highly skeptical of the idea.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Today they announced that the shows are going to be released free, in podcast form. Each one is about an hour in length and makes for some of the most compelling listening around. If you're at all interested in audio documentary or compelling real-life stories, I would highly recommend subscribing to the feed and listening to some of the episodes.
Here's a link with more information and official press release.
If you know me, you know that I love cereal. I know I've got a good kind of cereal when it tastes great in a bowl with some Silk (or milk). I know I've got a great kind of cereal when you can eat it dry, right from the box. I eat all kinds of cereal, and I will try anything once...thus what leads to my rant.
It seems that Special K has a new cereal called Special K Protein Plus. Special K, which I like to eat, with added protein - needless to say I was sold. I was very eager to try some this morning when I woke up. As I poured it from the box, I grabbed a couple of flakes, popped them in my mouth and began to chew. BLEEEHHHH!!! I stared down at the bowl for a couple of seconds. It doesn't look like Special K, but I finally resolved that this was just a cereal that I would not be able to eat for a snack in the middle of the day.
I poured the Silk on and dove it. Oh my!!! Yuck!!! What is this cardboard, no flavor, hard as a brick cereal suckiness that I have in my mouth. GROSS!!!! I am thoroughly disgusted now, but as I no longer have time to get anything else I dumped some honey on it and choked it down.
This post is not only about me ranting, or having the opportunity to use the work suckiness. In fact, I wanted to get this out on the internet with the hopes that no one else would be subjected to such a horror of a breakfast.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
1. I never posted the link to the Jaron Lanier article in Discover I mentioned in the Sept 25th post. It's a good summary of what I was saying (or trying to say) about the reductionist trend in culture, espeically surrounding geeks. It's also an argument against the idea that we can reduce all human interaction, thought, and existence to information, so that it will neatly follow the classical world. I like the article because I mostly agree with him, and it has a cool wit about it. Check it out.
2. I was listening to Coast to Coast this afternoon while testing an application. A subject was consciousness so they had an anestiaologist for a guest. In the fourth hour, when they take calls, a listener had this to say about a recent Roger Waters concert. I agree that there was a communal feeling about the event, but I wouldn't go as far as to say it was the single most amazing experienece ever. I just thought it coincedntal and interesting. Here's the clip.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Sunday, October 01, 2006
I can finally check off a major item on my list of "Life's To-Dos." Friday night I saw Pink Floyd lead man Roger Waters perform, among other things, the entirety of The Dark Side of the Moon. The weather turned cold and rainy as the weekend approached and it was raining and in the low 50s when we got into Chicago. Mandy and I went to a local sushi bar and had a great dinner while we waited for the concert to start and the rest of our friends (Chad, Megan, and Josh). The rain stopped and a very cold breeze started up as we headed out to the concert area, parked, and waited by the gate. When everyone else showed up, we headed in, found a spot high up on a hill and beheld the genius of Floyd play the greats.
It was really surreal. I've been to a bunch of concerts (I actually saw REM and Wilco at the same venue with my sister, bro-in-law, Josh, and Jon several years back) and I can say I've been to a concert quite like this. For starters, the concert was outdoors and it was freezing. Up to this point I've been fortunant enough to be holding lawn seat tickets on days when it was sunny and warm. This was freezing. Second, and most important, is the concerts I go to are always being held by people who are still actively creating music. When I go to see The Lips, Coldplay, or Sigur Ros it's because they've recently come out with a new album and they're touring to help support it. Even a Steely Dan concert Jon and I attended was performed to support the album "Two Against Nature" (which won the Grammy for album of the year). Steely Dan was a band that was around during Floyd's prime, but they're still producing music. I've never been to a show where the exclusive purpose of attending is to hear the studio versions of the songs that are, in most cases, decades old. To his credit, Waters did perform a new song, but it seemed really out of place. He wasn't fooling anyone, let along himself. Everyone was there to hear Pink Floyd songs and that was it.
I'm glad I saw him, but in a strange way it wasn't because of the music. In fact it's difficult for me to even hear the music. I've heard Dark Side so many times, both for personal pleasure and for business (I used to run laser light shows), it's difficult for me to even hear the music anymore. I've heard it so many times that it blends into the ambiance as a kind of sonic background radiation.
The concert experience was an affirmation of love for the man who helped create the albums that first opened my eyes to wonders of music. Before I fell in love with Pink Floyd, I never really enjoyed music. I tolerated or laughed at it, but I never "got it." I never could get why anyone would want to venture into different genres or look forward to album releases - ideas that are now so prominent in my life, it would be hard for young me and old me to have a meaningful conversation about music. I primarily listened to Weird Al and the Moody Blues and loathed the radio.
For me and many others, The Dark Side of the Moon was the album that finally gave me a reason to explore music. Pink Floyd stands, and will forever stand, on a musical plateau not great than, but apart from other bands. While my interests have changed, and I have found bands that are, in different ways, better my respect for the band remains untouched. They will always be the greatest band, not because the music is better, but because of the profound effect they made on my life.
Despite the cold and the distance from the stage, it felt good to pay my respects to the man who played a large part in shaping my musical interests. And judging from the thousands of people joining me on the cold hilltop, I wasn't alone.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Here's a really interesting link about agregating lots of images into one meta-image. Check it out (even though it has Playboy in the URL, it is safe for work). I find it amazing that the images even have flesh tones in them considering the number of images that had to be blended together.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Here is the link for now...
This is a sweet-ass video of a droplet of water being affected by sound waves. There's also a woman with a cool French accent saying important, unknowable things about said droplet. I love fractal fluid boundaries. Stirring ice-cold creamer into hot coffee, watching steam roll off a hot cup of tea, or smoke drift away from a smoldering stick of incense are all good examples of this effect. The coolest thing about fluidic boundaries is that they cannot be predicted or modeled it can only be known to be true as some percentage against chance (like quantum theory). Chaos Theory (or unknowable behavior that emerges from super-complex systems) is something that's come into vogue recently. There's an increasingly large group of engineers of the computer persuasion that think emergent social systems can be modeled using chaos theory. I'm not sure about this since it seems to assume that human interaction is totally reductive and can be represented in every way be our current understanding of information. I'm not so sure. There was a great article in Discover a couple months back argued against theory that reduce mystery. I'll post a link to it, if I can find one. Anyway, check out the droplet. It rawks my sawks.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
This week is going to be busy with the preparation for the Roger Waters concert in Chicago. I'm excited about that one as I finally get to make amends for not going to see him when he was in Grand Rapids. I'll post some video of the concert if I can snag it on my powershot.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
The Wired Article You Should Read
There's quite a bit going on on this end. Mandy and I have been working out more. She's still recovering from her first soccer game. I have an interview(ish) with a company just down the road that's looking for a full-time video producer, so I'm whipping together a reel. We're preparing for a trip to Cedar Point this weekend (pics and video will follow along with a better update). Last night I finished my Dark Tower trailer - When I find a place to host it, I'll post it. We've gotten our first cold-snap down (down to a chilling 55 at night).
That's about it. The blog's been sparse recently, but after this week of craziness, and next week's preparation for Chicago and the Waters concert, and the 24-Hour Film Festival, the screening, a Halloween party, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, I'm sure I'll have tons of time to post!
I kid! I kid, 'coz I love. I'm going to try to post everyday next week to get back in the groove. Keep it real, y'all!
Monday, September 18, 2006
Yesterday, I played my first game. I was quite nervous for many different reasons, but they quickly faded away. I was suprised that many of the women there had not played in this league before. I figured that I would be one of the only a few newbies, but I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case. One of the other things that I was nervous about was not playing in like...um, 12 years or so. I know it seems like a lifetime. The lucky thing is that many of the women on my team are in the same boat.
All in all, I had a great time. It was so exhausting and extremely fun. By the time I was done, I knew two things. First, I know that I would love playing with this team. Everyone seems very friendly and enthusiastic. Second, I knew that I am not 20 years old anymore. When I got done playing, I immediately felt muscles that I had not used in awhile. This did not give me much hope for the days following.
Which leads me up to today. I am incredibly sore. The entire day at work was very hard, especially the walking part! Every step I can feel a different muscle from my glutes, to my hip flexors, calves, to my back.
I like changing, so I am excited to feel sore for the rest of the fall and then some!!
1. We finally got the cable hooked up. It's really weird to be connected again. Other than a month at 3-mile, I haven't lived in a house with cable I moved into Camelot, about 5 years ago. It's crazy how much the content has changed. There's a ton more, but the ratio of suck to good is still about 90:10. The HD content is amazing. I watched the amazing Baraka in HD and was mesmerized.
2. Cincinnati is made out of Germans and football freaks. Mandy and I went downtown on Saturday to hook up with some friends and check out Oktoberfest. It was pure madness. Crazy German food (we ate metts, garlic mushrooms, and potato pancakes) and drank us some beers. People were everywhere, crammed together on Fifth Street running along the river. Apart from the alcohol-fueled madness, I bring it up because it was the first time we really got a sense of how damn big the city is. I've been to plenty of street festivals and fares, mostly in the Grand Rapids area, and for some reason thought that was a good measuring stick. Every time I thought the stretch of beer shops, food marts, beer kiosks, accordion players, and beer vendors would end, it would snake in a different direction and continue on. It was good fun.
3. My specs are officially here. Mandy told me that I will remember my first day of wearing them forever, and I agree. It's so hard to describe how close the ground seems and how the proportions of everything are just a little off. Well, not off so much as on. My vision is significantly improved. I can stare at my monitor for several-hour stretches without my sight blurring. I can read street signs way off in the distance and the contrast of the black lettering against the white background on my iPod (40GB, video, suckah) is amazing. It's really cool.
4. I'm nearly finished with the wedding video. I just have to append the credit sequence and finish the cover art, then it will be ready to print. After that, my main video projects will include my demo reel and the 24-Hour Film Festival coming up in October. I've been firing off the video resumes as fast as I find the jobs (which ain't so fast) so I'll just keep playing the odds until I land one. The demo is more of a long-term project, but I need to get something out there to point people towards.
5. This is a reminder that Christmas is not far off. Mandy and I are going to be in town over the holiday and are trying desperately to not be stretched thin running all over the city. We're hoping to get our plans settled within the next month, so if you have something going on (or plan to) for X-Mas or New Years, let us know soon.
"After ten cups of coffee and bacon!"
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Being exposed to constant phosphor glare of a bad c. 20001 CRT monitor for eight hours a day has begun to wreak havoc on my poor peepers again. I decided to have another eye exam here and the conclusion was the same. "You legally aren't required to wear them or anything, but they would take some of the strain off your eyes and help with headaches and glare." Said the tall woman adding up the total for a single pair of glasses. While I am graced to worked for a company that sees it their duty to provide their employees with a scant modicum of health insurance, they see eye care as a luxury only the elite should enjoy. So, we have to pay for the pair out of our own pockets. Nearly $300 later, the optometrist office sent off my order for new eye-wear.
Today they arrived. I, the last holdout in a family of sight-impaired people, finally have a pair of glasses to call my very own. I have only just received the glasses and I would assume my eyes, having spent the past the 27+ years compensating on their own, will give me some amount of hassle in having to learn how to see through these things.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Nary a place exists where advertisements have not encroached. I cannot drive down a road, pee in a urinal, or watch a movie without being inundated with ads for all manor of things I would never consider buying. I can’t blame companies for taking these increasingly obscene approaches to marketing their wares. The internet is fast becoming the driving force in marketing goods to the highly valuable 18-45 male demographic, and these giant lumbering corporations have an extremely adversarial relationship with risk and change – two things the internet thrives on.
These creepy delights started my mind pondering the future of writing on food. Not just the packaging per se, but the actual food itself. You don’t get a copy of “On The Town”, “Recoil” or “City Beat” for free. It costs insane amounts of money (insane compared to online publication which is essentially free) to design, print, and ship even simple fanzines or newsletters. That money is recouped through the selling of ad space. So instead of you paying $5-$15 per copy the advertisers pick up the tab and you ignore the ads on the back pages of the paper. I don’t see this ad model can’t be applied successful to the distribution of food products.
Instead of the lame joke printed on the chip pictured below, why not print, “Think Different: iPod” or something witty like “I would go well with some Kraft brand Cheeze Wiz!” and not charge anything for the chips? The money for making, shipping, selling the chips would be recouped through the sales of ad space. I really don’t think this is such a bad idea. Pringles aren’t even food. Since no one is actually confusing a processed, salt-coated Pringle with actual food, I don’t think an ad would really make the chip any less dignified. I would totally pick up a can of Pringles if it had no monetary charge. I could ignore the ads, just like I do on TV, newspaper, and on the sides of the roads and enjoy the unfood without having to spend one penny of my hard-earned moolah.
Up-converting players are getting more common, but they are still the exception. This is sad because the image quality is much more vibrant than the 480p standard that it totally justifies the $50-$100 price different between a standard and an up-converting player. I can’t wait to see what a true 1080p HD signal looks like when the cable box is hooked up. I wish more people who really enjoy their home theaters were better informed so we could get a practical, feature-rich HD movie player like, uh, four years ago.
I found a great tweak guide for the TV. The picture controls are pretty limited (no gain or C/mi controls) but there’s enough to significantly improve the quality of the picture beyond the default settings. For instance, the brightness of the monitor is ridiculously high. The brightness might be nice for watching a movie with all of your windows open at noon, but that’s about it. Everywhere I’ve read about the TV recommends turning the brightness (lamp voltage, actually) all the way down for viewing in a room that is in any way darkened. There are several more controls in a hidden service menu I read about, but I’m not going to go mucking around in there – changing a wrong value in this ‘secret’ menu can destroy the TV.
Anyway, I love it. It’s going to be fun to watch some of our old movies again to check out how they look on the new screen. Sorry to devote an entire post to it. But, hey, we loves the films.
1. We’re not going to move the blog over to MySpace. While I still feel it would provide a more media-rich experience, the primary reason for joining MySpace is the social-networking aspect. Increasing the readership of DropMyStraw has never been a priority. This blog is maintained for a close circle of friends and family, and many of the subjects and injokes would only, in theory, benefit the target audience. We’re still looking into alternatives and hoping that Blogger gets its act together. I think I’m going to add a link on the right navigation bar that will take the user to a simple update log for anyone geeky enough to be interested in reading it.
2. Since most of you indicated as your preference is that the posts be short and frequent, I will start doing that. I’m sure the occasional long-winded rant will still find its way to the frontpage. For these long, self-indulgent, and sadly inevitable transgressions, you have my apologies. If anyone has suggestions on topics, images you want posted, or changes that might improve the blog, just email, call, or comment.
So this crazy woman came to our apartment last night and started spraying shoe cleaner in her mouth. Seriously. Most of you know both my love for storytelling and that I am not one to back away from a slight embellishment. My moto in storytelling is: If it serves the story better to add little gloss here and there, why not? In light of this, I hardly ever claim, “This is the complete truth.” I only say this when it’s true. So, try to believe me when I say that this quick story is completely true and is presented without embellishment of any kind, because it is.
I had just finished trying to get my sister-in-law’s boyfriend’s internet connection to work by troubleshooting it with him over the phone. I have a year’s worth of “professional experience” doing this, so I’m often successful. Last night, I wasn’t. I couldn’t get the stupid thing to connect. After apologizing for wasting his time, I hung and stood to join Mandy on the deck. I heard a knocking at the front door (it was about 9:00PM). Somewhat apprehensively I walked to the door and peeped through yon peepin’ hole to take a gander at this mysterious caller. A woman was standing outside with a clipboard and a bottle of cleaner. After a quick double-check to confirm she wasn’t carrying any guns or copies of the Watchtower I opened the door and said, “Yes?”
She proceeded to rattle off where she was from (Philadelphia) what she was selling (some brand of oxidizing cleaner) and that the sales benefited a good cause (making her rich). I politely declined and started to the close the door when she said,
“Sir, do you have a shoe?”
“I have several.” I replied. Damn, I’m funny. I gave quiet chuckle and blew on my finely manicured nails.
“Let me see it.” She said back not smiling at my impossibly witty retort. I handed her one of my running shoes and she cleaned the side of it with the spray going on and on about how wonderful the stuff is. It did clean the shoe pretty well, but not enough for me to pay. I politely declined to purchase again and she said,
“Sir! It’s harmless!” She sprayed her bright yellow shirt, “It doesn’t stain!” She sprayed this quiet little man in a suit that had emerged from the shadows to stand to her right. He laughed and ran away. “It’s not poisonous!” She started spraying the shoe cleaner in her mouth, staring at me as challenging me to say, “Yeah, I’m spraying it my mouth! What are you gonna do about it?”
Somewhat shaken, I declined to purchase the cleaner / mouthwash and started quickly closing the door when she said, “You look like somebody famous.” The little man agreed, wiping the cleaner from his face where she had sprayed it, and said, “Yeah… you like that Kevin Sorbo guy from Hercules!” They agreed and started laughing. I nodded, smiled weakly, and quickly closed and locked the door.
Granted, having a strange person call on you at night and fill their mouths with shoe cleaner is strange in and of itself. But the really weird thing is I have been compared, in appearances, to Kevin Sorbo multiple times. It seems even people with obvious mental problems can see this similarity.
It started in High School, when the Hercules show was still on the air, and continues up to this day. I’ve had teachers, co-workers, random people at bars, and now shoe-polish-drinking salespeople tell me this. It’s really strange because I, and anyone I know well, have no idea what these people are talking about. I’ve included a couple pictures to see anyone else can figure it out.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
It also turns out that Mr. Mason had himself a son. Like Mr. Mason, his son, Duke, is also a person of small stature. He sings and heads up a band, just like dad. In fact, here are a couple pictures of him posing with Nicolas Cage and Don Knotts at what looks like a kareoke party.
On quick side note, his bio has this to say about one of his performances, "In September of 1995, The New York Times Magazine said, 'Duke Mason rocked the house . . . ', and, 'I found myself genuinely moved by the way he (Duke) took the stage and transformed himself into a giant. '" There you have it. I wanted to include this bit of praise to demonstrate that while tiny people are characterized as shin-biting trolls, and are often the butt of many jokes (hey, some of them rent themselves out to be tossed at parties), they can, at will, turn themselves into giants. It is apparently a magic skill they all possess and according to this Times article, they may also be transformers like Optomis Prime.
In the spirit of random album covers that make LOL, I thought I'd add this one and see what kind of crazy info Dolomite drudges up:
(Sue and Mandy looking over the Cincinnati skyline)
I'm throwing in a couple of pictures that I meant to include in past posts, but forgot.
The weekend was good. On Sunday, we went to a permanent Renaissance festival outside of town (about 30 minutes away). I kept having flashbacks of "Cable Guy." It was fun, in a campy kind of way. I keep thinking that there is serious money to be made in giving people the experience of living in a time when everything was simple. Gender roles were expressly understood, there were good guys and bad guys, and rumor was accepted as fact, so you could make up pretty much anything and have other believe it. The government's making all kinds of money off pandering to this black and white nostalgia that really never existed – why can't I?
(The 'Roses' - These people were really good. Shoulda bought their CD.)
(Matt and Mandy enjoying a Bass and a Hardcor Cider)
We came back home that night and watched "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" in the private theater setup in the complex clubhouse. It made me long for the TV that is now only days away from arriving.
On Labor Day we did more of the hanging out around the house, cleaning, working on a video project, grocery shopping. All in all it was a laid back long weekend. It's nice to take some time off, not just from work, but from the tedium of routine. Sometimes it's nice to just not do anything. It's a skill I'm slowly developing.
We're trying to set our schedule up for fall and early winter. We're planning a trip to Cedar Point in the middle of September and a Roger Waters concert at the end. October is going to be busy with the 24-hour festival, Halloween, and early in November, Mandy's birthday extravaganza. There are plans for a few people to come down and visit in late September and mid-October, so that all needs to get sorted out too.
Due to all the travel in September, Oct, and early November, I think we're going to stay in Cinci for Thanksgiving. We're planning to be down in GR for an extended period over the Christmas / New Years holiday, so anyone who has any gatherings they'd like us to attend, let us know. The sooner the better as the schedule just keeps getting more and more crazy as that time of the year approaches.
That's about it from this side. I have a couple cool non-us related topics to post on, but I'm going to wait on those.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
I have included a few pictures of the layout of the apartment for everyone who's been asking. I added them as small thumbnails. Just click them and you'll see a larger version. We finally ended up taking pictures because of the cleanliness of the apartment. Mandy's parents left this past Thursday and before leaving they decided to clean and vacuum the apartment - so we figured this is probably as good as it will get.
We paid for a new television today, but we'll be picking it up next week Wednesday. It's a 42-inch LCD made by Westinghouse. The cool thing about the TV is that it really is more of a monitor. It has no internal ATSC or NTSE decoder built in. That means, you can't just plug a pair of rabbit ears in and have it detect channels. It only reads from a digital source. This is handy for Mandy and I because A) We never watched broadcast TV and B) All of our sources are digital (DVD-player). The other cool thing that computer geeks out there might appreciate is that it's a 42 inch LCD with an 8ms response time, a DVI input, and a max resolution of 1920 x 1080...
The other cool thing about the monitor is that it support 1080p HD-TV which is the highest standard of HD-compliant signals. This will be really cool when the Playstation 3 comes out, since it support up to 1080p and plays BlueDisk HD-standard movies (Serenity will look SWEET!) The other cool thing about it is that it will support the HD channels we'll be receiving on our set-top digital cable tuner, so we can... what's that you say? Yes. A digital cabel tuner with HD stations. Yes. There will be a connection running from a cable provider to our house. Yes. We have finally decided to take the plunge and plug into the cable realm. The reasons for this are two-fold: They gave us a $250 discount on the TV for signing up and B) Because of
Mandy and I are spending the holiday around
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Mandy's parents are nearing the finish of their world wind tour of the United States as seen from the vantage point of two chrome horses. They bought a simple (and surprisingly effective) mini-DV camera from eBay and have used it to create a video diary of their trip. I plan to boil a pot of editing juices and render those tapes down to one, 30-40 minute biking adventure that can be enjoyed by all. As one of the last stops on their trip, they have been camping out at our apartment in Hamilton! for the past few days. Their visit has been most welcome. We've spent many hours catching up and swapping fun travel stories, checking out the city, and trying new foods. Originally, I was going to cite their trip as the cause for not posting, but it's not really true. I have had a lot of free time these past few post-free days, I've just thought it better to spend it hanging out and chiz-illin' with the in-laws than writing.
Not a single person replied to an important, previously stated question, so I'll ask it again in the hopes that at least one of you responds: Is it more desirable to post shorter, more frequent posts or longer, less frequent posts? Do you want daily updates with less content or maybe twice-weekly updates with more content? Let me know.
I'm planning a face-lift for the blog and possibly mirroring it on MySpace, to see if people dig the change. I hope to incorporate more media-rich content (audio, video, and spinning "under construction" signs) to make the blog more fun. Among several other problems, I can't seem to get the "Phone Audio" updater and the RSS-Feeds to work on Blogger. These issues, along with the integrated content management system at MySpace are two of the main reasons for the mirror. There's a new "improved" Blogger service that is currently in beta, but I can't get DropMyStraw to transfer over, so I don't know whether the changes will be good or not.
MySpace provides much more flexibility in the direction of media-rich content, and, from what I understand, it's much more reliable than Blogger, so who knows. Since we started the travel-blog project, we've gotten a ton of really positive feedback from friends and family. It's encouraging, and we thank you all for it.
My goal over the next few weeks is to get my business site installed and customized. I'm also going to start putting together a gee-whiz wow-bang demo reel to show potential client and ad agencies in the hopes that I can land a job that will pay me to do something I enjoy (what a novel concept). To do these few things, I plan to rebuild the RAID array on my computer (or, rather, pay Kleiner-One-Niner with beer to do it for me) and possibly upgrade some of the components with a little of the money I made doing video work for clients back in GR. In this way, hopefully, I can keep moving towards my long-term video goals and write the money spent to upgrade off as a business expense in the process (gotta love being incorporated).
That's it for now. I'm still planning to post the terrible and wonderful music video montage as well as some pics of the apartment. Stay tuned, great things are in the works!
(What is it with me and midgets?)
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Good on da' bun!
In honor of all things musically dandy, I present a simple and straightforward post. "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Even Worse" was the first CD I ever owned. My dad bought it for me ($29.99 at the time) to play on his brand-new CD player. Years later, the CD player ended up going to fuxupyo's dad. His dad (Pastor Joe) rewired it. He added a skip and random-play feature by wiring it to his computer through a parallel cable. Amazing guy with an amazing brain.
I loved "Weird Al" long before I loved the true launching point of my interest in music; Pink Floyd. I will love him long after the four remaining members of the
With that in mind, check out this link, and listen to the whole song before reading on: Don't Download This Song
When I listen to this song, two points become very obvious:
1. "Weird Al" Yankovic sticks to very socially acceptable humor.
2. His music is intended to make middle-schoolers laugh.
While these two ideas may seem innocuous at first, consider the underlying message of his song. He claims, in no uncertain terms, that the copyright and legal moguls of American (RIAA, BMI, and others) have stepped so far beyond the bounds of rational discourse that no one, save the hopelessly misguided, could actually think they are serving the interests of the artists they represent.
Now, this guy isn't John Stewart, Michael Moore, or any other far-end leftist humorist who has an axe to grind (BTW, I love John Stewart, Michael Moore, and, really, anyone who has an axe to grind about pretty much anything). This is "Weird Al" folks. This is the guy who parodied Michael Jackson's "Beat It" with "Eat It." He's not trying to be taken seriously, but therein lays the real beauty of the song. "Weird Al" sings to entertain middle-schoolers, not their parents. He writes lyrics kids understand because they are juvenile to take the line, "I accidentally shot Daddy last night in the den! I mistook him in the dark for a drug-crazed Nazi again!" as mere hyperbolae.
It demonstrates that middle-schoolers understand how ridiculous it is for the RIAA to sue children. Kids have highly-tuned bullshit radars, and they hate, hate, hate hypocrisy. Al is cashing in on it by making fun of such a bleedingly simple target: enormous corporate conglomerates who only fool the feeble-minded into believing that people sharing music with their friends is akin to flying planes into the world trade center. It makes a good case that the humor in the song is so universally understood to be ridiculous (like the OJ Simpson trial or the sounds of bodily functions) that a 13-year-old would understand the joke and laugh.
So, what does that say about the rest of country and the state of corporations manufacturing consent? Who knows?
I just know that there really are some people who stand behind the RIAA saying, "Yeah, we should totally sue people for sharing music they legally own!" But the mere existence of this song shows that a new generation, one not so hopelessly dependent on "voices of authority" to tell them what is and isn't morally acceptable, is looming heavy on the horizon. "Weird Al" is onboard for the long the ride. When I was a kid, it was funny to make fun of Michael Jackson and gun control. Al is still pointing towards the obviously absurd, only now, most if the adults aren't in on the joke. And that's may be the saddest part of all.
God bless the Glorious Weirdness. It takes a true luminary like Mr. Yankovic to show us the absurdity of our ways… even if it was already painfully obvious to 10-year-olds.
“Let me tell sonny, let me set you straight. You kids today ain’t never had it rough. Always had everything handed to you on a silver plate, you lazy brats think nothing’s good enough.”
-Weird Al YankovicImage 5 in "Whose Wax Baby Pictures Towards Which The When Picture HAPPY???"
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Life's been good this side. The days have been very pleasant, bordering on hot. It's strange how the air is so dry. It'll get really hot temperature-wise, but it won't be that cloistering, stagnant hot that
There isn't a whole lot to report on our side. Mandy and I went to dinner at the Taj Mahal, an excellent Indian restaurant down the road from us. We hooked up with a guy we went to see The Illusionist with and good food and a good time was had by all. We're still going strong on the veggie thing with no real end in sight. I was skeptical of my ability to be disciplined enough to withstand the shimmering, lard-coated meats (so juicy and tender) for more than a week, let alone a month. But, it turns out, like everything else, if you plan for it and keep at it, even strange things become the norm.
It's amazing how adaptable people really are. We get pissed (well, I do) when our daily schedules are interrupted by a traffic jam, and act as if it were the end of the world, but we can adapt to crazy, life-altering events with the same grace. I keep thinking about the poor people in
I'll close this post with a very interesting tidbit of trivia that Kleiner-One-Niner sent me today. Mandy and I live in
Two sources that prove this are: Wikipedia.Org and The Cincinnati Enquirer.
The hippies and art-types may have their cool loft apartments, their art galleries, and their "drugs" but do they live in a city that demands the speaker exclaim in a proud, trumpeting voice that they live in "
So, come visit us in
Picture #4 in the "Funny! Pictures! That! Are! Funny!"
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Been a fun, fast weekend. I think we're starting to get settled. Two weekends in a row we've been here, working, shopping, meeting people, hanging out. It's been fun and very educational. It's very neat to see how the vibe and flow of an area is similar, yet different from the area I grew up in. Now that I've been working for a little while, I've again come to love the upcoming weekend and dread its passage. I honestly can't believe that most American companies only allow their workers two weeks of vacation a year. Somehow people have come to accept this insanity and work, literally for years, with 14 days of 354 that they can take off of work. That's craziness! If everyone woke up and realized that this is all you get and banded together and demand large corporations give them more than two weeks vacation well, then... the company would fire them and outsource the jobs.
So maybe that's not the best idea, but I'm standing for this two weeks a year crap. There are other ways to make money and live a life that don't involve actually living on the weekends and working for five days for 30+ years.
Friday: We hung out at home then went out for dinner at a local place PF Chang's. It was a kind of upscale Chinese restaurant that carried more than the usual take-out fare. Mandy and I were talking about how it's difficult to find a Chinese restaurant that isn't a simple take-out place. This was really good. The prices were reasonable (only $8.99 for a pan friend noodle). The tea was incredible. It had a smoky, black tea flavor to it.
Saturday: We slept in, went out to breakfast at a Red Squirrel (a local chain sort of like a Big Boy) and went to Old Navy. I needed to get a couple pairs of hole-free pants for my job. That night, we met up with a couple people and headed down to Newport on the Levy. Newport is a lot like Navy Pier in Chicago. It has some cool attractions, but it's mostly a large attraction for white people who are too leery to wander around the more seady parts of the big city. We went there because they were showing "Snakes on a Plane" and had a highly recommended pizza place.
The couple we hung out with were really interesting. For the purposes of this post, it's only important to mention that the woman is an Art Director for a large ad agency here in town. Her job consists of drawing, working with creative teams, outlining videos, and enjoying the weekly martini Friday afternoon. Like other graphic designers I know, she had access to various foosball tables, free lunches, and incredibly flexible working hours. This instantly made me angry. Again, I was reminded of far, far away I am from doing something I remotely enjoy. I have the degree and the talent, I have only to keep applying to jobs and building more portfolio until I hopefully land a job where I too can enjoy a martini while editing the next Death Cab For Cutie music video.
Snakes on a Plane was... about snakes on a plane. It was great to see its second open night because the crowd was totally in on the joke. There were lots of hoots and hollers and uproarious cheers when Samuel L. Jackson delivered the hallowed line, "I have had enough of these motherfuckin' snakes on this motherfuckin' plane!" Good stuff.
Sunday: We hung out at home. Mandy some delicious breakfast thing consisting of eggs, cilantro, chili oil, and other herbs and spices. 'Twas delicious. We met up with a friend and had a three hour conversation about health care, marriage, and bad Ohio drivers over a cups of fantastic chilled coffee. It was miserably hot and humid Saturday, but today it was perfect. Sunny, around 80 degrees, and a light but constant breeze. The perfect day to rest. We went shopping at Jungle Jim's, stocking up on our weekly supply of vegetarian thingies. We're heading into our fifth week of no meat (apart from occasional fish and shellfish). It's been fun, but I haven't really noticed any particular health benefits other than my left arm growing back after losing it in that terrible, terrible plane wreck. So, there's at least that. I think I'll continue on with it until I come across a really good opportunity to eat a steak or some sweet, sweet bacon.
Life is good, but we miss everyone back in GR. Friend and family are really important to us and the separation is taking some getting used to. We have to miss things like birthdays, movie premiers, and the occasional Founders brew, but it's a price we have to pay for a new adventure. It's very fulfilling and hard - it's strange how often those two aspects come packaged together.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Quick update tonight. Not much going on in the Big Cin other than toiling for the man. Both Mandy and I headed off to work, worked, and returned from work. We ate some delightful pasta and headed off to a Borders Books nearby to pick up a copy of CityBeat.
Three major things I'm working on for the blog are A) A series of photos and possible video of the apartment B) A quick 2x2 analysis of the videos I edited for a client back in GR and 3) A revamp of the layout of the site with a couple of new features.
Also a quick question: Is it better to post detailed (possibly video) responses that occur only occasionally or to post shorter but more frequent articles? Let us know in the comment section.
Three funny things:
1. This guy is my new hero.
2. Today at work I sat listening to q Coast to Coast AM podcast when a woman called in asking host George Noory for some information on a topic he mentioned in a previous show. Here's a link to a couple minute clip of the call. For those of you who are C2C fans or just enjoy listening to how gullable some people can be, you'll get a kick out this. A couple months back I posited the question, "Can people really be gullable enough to believe the majority of what people say on a late-night radio show that is dedicated to alien abductions, government conspiracies, and time travel?" The answer is self-evident.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Went out last night. A local magazine, CityBeat, had a posting for a free advanced-screening passes to the film The Illusionist. Both Mandy and I responded to the ad, hoping to up our chances of scoring the tickets. We ended up both getting accepted. The film company sent us each three passes (good for two entrances) to the 7:30PM showing. We invited the dear Kleiner-One-Niner and a couple people we've met through the glorious forum Craig's List. The meeting went well, everyone seemed very laid back and into probing the little knooks and crannies of the Big Cin, so I'm sure we'll all find ourselves puttin' on the Ritz in short order.
The film was good. Beyond that lame and untelling word, you'll have to read my review on MindSplint, which, at this point, does not exist. Keep checking back. I'm sure it only be a matter of months or years before it finds its way out there.
The main thrust of this post isn't the film, new friends, or even cleverly reworded lyrics from the musical "
1. Bob sends a legit email (Message A) to another person in the company, while accidentally CC'ing the message to a distribution list that contains every person in the company.
2. A copy of Message A appears in the inbox of everyone in the company because everyone was on the distribution list that Bob accidentally sent his message to.
3. Everyone in the company opens the email, realizes that they have no idea what Bob is talking about, and click "Reply to All" to let him know. They click the send button, transmitting their reply to Bob and everyone in the company again, because the corporate-wide distribution list is listed as a recipient.
4. The process repeats over and over. Every time anyone replies to the message, everyone in the company receives the reply and starts responding.
In the past, I've seen this DistroBombs go one for months. People would return from a long vacation, see a 200 messages in their inbox, and reply to it saying, "What is this all about, Bob?" Then everyone would start replying with the message, "Stop replying to the message!" which everyone receives ad nausum.
What intrigues me about the whole scenario is how effective it is. One person sends out a message with a large distribution list on it and soon, everyone in the company is getting messages, inboxes fill up with alarming speed, mail servers crash, and geeks like me spin in our chairs placing bets on how many messages will circulate before the chain stops. Total pandemonium, in other words. The effectiveness is not a defect of the mail system. It behaves just as it should, sending mail to the inboxes the user has designated. The whole bombing process only succeeds because of the users inability to understand what is happening. Even after several emails containing a subject and body that only reads, "DO NOT REPLY TO THESE MESSAGES" people will still reply asking, "What message?" or "Please stop this Bob! I'm trying to work!"
I guess I shouldn't be amazed that professionals working for a large company do not possess the basic skills necessary to prevent something like this from happening. Haven't worked for a company where my sole responsibility was convincing grown adults who had paid hundreds of dollars to own their own ecommerce "business" that yes, indeed, their keyboard came equipped with a num-lock key. But still...
Anyway, if anyone knows what the technical term for the scenario above actually is, let me know. If there isn't one, I'm going to create an entry in the Urban Dictionary for it.
And last but not least, the second in my continuing series of "The Funniest Picture Thingies Evah'!!!"
Monday, August 14, 2006
In the meantime, I have been listening to the podcast EscapePod. I would highly recommend it if you're a sci-fi fan. The stories are great (many of them Hugo and Nebula award noms and winners) and it's great fodder for coming up with stories for use in, say, a film, short stories, or your own podcast. The more I listen to the pod-o-sphere, as it's sometimes called, the more I want to get involved. The great thing is, like the better part of the internet, it's free, distributed, and anyone can contribute. I haven't figured out how or when I'd have the time to do anything with it right now, but the idea is definitly there. I like to write, voice-act, and do cool audio thingy-jiggies. I think a serial story would be something more fun than a news update or a "today in sports" deal. It would have a set length and I could make sure to have at least half done before I started to publish any. I dunno. If anyone is interested in doing something along those lines, email or comment here. I think it would be good fun.
In the meantime, here's a picture in a series of posts I like to call, "Funniest Damn Pictures Ever"
Sunday, August 13, 2006
It's been a busy weekend. Friday we headed off into town to check out an open-air Seafood Festival in
Saturday, we mostly hung out around our apartment. We went to a festival (there's always festivals around here) in
Sunday (today) is errand day. We bought a ladder and some pleasantly-scented items. We cleaned up around here and did our weekly vegetarian grocery shopping. It's strange that this coming Tuesday, we'll have hit our goal of two weeks with no meat. It hasn't been that hard. The only times I've noticed is during breakfast when haven't been able to dive in a steaming mound of sweet, sweet bacon. Ah well. I don't know how long I'll keep it up, but it really hasn't been that bad.
Today, on our way out to breakfast this morning, we saw a badger scurrying down the road. We slowed down to get a look at it, and sure enough, it was Mr. Badger. We pointed and honked and drove past. Here is a good link to commemorate the occasion.
Oh, also, on Saturday Mandy and were driving somewhere when we stopped at a red light. A random car pulled up alongside us. The driver looked over at me and in this mocking-serious tone said, "Go Buckeyes." I waved. We drove off. I'm guessing that he was inspired by our blue
Also, I promised some photos of our apartment by this weekend and, yes, I lied. The apartment is finally cleanish, the boxes put away, and the random junk arranged (somewhat). I'll try to get the pictures done tomorrow and post them.
Peace n' love, y'all.