Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Nothing today. A good day, but long. We watched Monty Python's "The Meaning Of Life". Classic stuff. It's thundering and raining like crazy out, so I should keep this short then turn of the computer.

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

Droplet of Sound

I don't really have a ton to update today. I dropped a reel off to a place here in town that might be interested in a fulltime video producer, so I'll keep y'all informed about that. Mandy has a supah-fly interview tomorrow with a cool, anonymous outfitter here in town. If she gets it, she'll be testing middleware in a growing QA department and assumably making considerable bank - so send her good vibes for her interview tomorrow.

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

The Point

Cedar Point ended up being a bust due to weather. Mandy and I left Friday afternoon and drove through to Sandusky. It rained a little on the way and kept up through the night. The next day, Cedar Point day, it continued to rain and be nasty through the morning. We decided early on that the looming thunderstorms would probably keep us from going to the park. We all didn't want to spend $40 and not be able to ride more than a couple rides. It ended up not thunderstorm, but we had a good time hanging out. We got some really good Hibachi and played a bunch of cranium. It was fun to hang out with Jess, Mike, Lyza, and Noah. We all caught up and had a fun, relaxing time.

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

Mad Crazy

There's a really good article on Wired about some new, sweet services that cropping up around the fringes of that oft used term "Web 2.0." It's really cool to see the strong collabrative power of the internet bringing more and more people, places, and things (read data) into one, huge, searchable monster. The data can say amazing things about people and their interests. Check out the article, it's really worth a read and a few clicks.

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

Craigslist is...ouchsome!!

Since we moved to Cincinnati, OH Matt and I have been visiting very frequently. Besides finding job opportunities, and friends I found a post for a soccer league. Without thinking about it too long, I wisked my money and pic away and....woosh! I am all signed up to play.

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, 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!!

Specs pt. 2

This was a crazy weekend. We did some errands around the house and helped the cable guy hook up the cable. I'm just going to list a few quick things to get everyone caught up.

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.

(Mandy sneakin' a smooch on the sly.)

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.

("Spectacles, testicles, wallet, and watch.")

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


I've been plagued by "floaters" or little dark blips that slide in and out of sight for passed year or so. Early in the year (February, maybe) I had an eye exam. It was my first since, well, ever. The doctor recommended I pick up a pair of glasses for driving at night and my constant computer use. I never took her up on the offer since we live in a country where even the slightest a community-based approach to health welfare (business models are the best way to do everything, haven't you heard) I didn't have the money to plunk down on a new pairs of specs. So I went without.

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.

(I'm planning to model my entire look after my new pal 'Heino'!)

Friday, September 08, 2006


Mandy and I bought a couple cans of Pringles with jokes somehow printed on the chips. The creepy part isn’t that someone came up with the idea. Marketers also came up with the ‘Oozinator’, so who knows why they think they way they do. The strange part is that the text is so amazingly legible. I can clearly see the little serifs at the tips of the characters… printed on a potato chip. The flavor is the same crunchy, oily, salty delight I’ve come to expect from the brand that once popped cannot be stopped.

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.

(Or, it could read, "Visit and be amazed!")

TV Has Arrived

We picked up the new TV. It’s awesome. The only source running to it now is the up-converting DVD player. The 480p digital signal (the maximum resolution of a DVD) is up-converted up to 1080i. So, while the actual amount of visual information hasn’t gone up (a DVD is a DVD no matter what), the player can convert the image to fill a high resolution scheme. The advantage has a higher number of line of resolution, but the same data fills those lines. So, technically, it’s not HD. It’s more of an HD-poser. The short of it is there is no way to get the true HD high-rez resolution of 1080p until our cable gets hooked up next weekend.

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.

(When I get a true HD-source running through it, I'll take a picutre of the screen.)

Musings and no MySpace

Thanks for the feedback on how you’d like to see the posting structured. I have two quick bits of housekeeping before I get to the post.

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.

(Oh, now I get it.)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Insane Coincidence

So, Dolemite was inspired by Lowell Mason (the delightfully tiny man from the .... post) to go scouring the interweb for more info. He happened across this: The Lowell Mason homepage. It's worth a click. It's also interesting to note that Mr. Mason was recently in Grand Rapids doing some singin' (for God and country, I would assume).

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.

(Duke and Nic)

(Duke and Knotts)

Pictures like these are one of the reasons I love / fear the future. I'm not sure, but these could be the two strangest pictures I've found on the internet. Not because he's a tiny man (people are all sizes, and small or large, I think they're all equally funny) but that, only after tiny bit of searching for more detail about a random midget-singing album cover, I can come up with pictures of his son with Don Knotts. It's a brave, new world we're heading into where I can wontonly gather information on random tiny people... often more info than most would deem healthy, but there you have it.

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:

(This is just Freddie Gage's way of saying, "All my friends are dead.")

'Tis Trueth

(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.

(I like this picture)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

New Apartment Pics and Television

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 Ohio laws, cable providers can only make charge you month-to-month. That means, if we decide the stations we receive are not worth the moola, we cancel at any time and keep the $250. RAWK! HD Discovery channel will look amazing on the 1080p monitor. Oh, and an interest-free loan for everything for 3 years helped seal the deal. I'll post some pics of the TV when we get here and setup. A good article on the TV. A quote, "This is a true 1080p display that is slightly ahead of its time – but definitely ready for the future… at least until some uptight MPAA associate demands a new DRM scheme that renders all hardware obsolete and forces us back to using slide projectors and reel to reel tape."

Mandy and I are spending the holiday around Cin City. We're going to check out a festival and some of the cool attractions the city has to offer. When we attend these events, I will try to actually take picture with the camera I am holding. I'll post a weekend recap when I have more to add. Hopefully, by the holiday's end, I'll have some interesting stories and pictures to regale everyone with.

(The loft as seen from standing on the staircase - computer is to the right)

(The living room as seen from leaning over the loft)

(The loft as seen from the laundry room door)

(The kitchen seen from the living room - enterance is to the right)

(Bathroom as seen from the door near the enterance. Tub is to the right)

(Staircase leading to the loft - bathroom and enterance are to the left)

(The basement, filled with SPAMers, as seen from the 'Overlord Lookout' ledge - pits of tar are to the left)