Archive for May, 2006

Another Day …

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

… another failure to take a decent amount of time to post …

… that’s because I’ve been in a state that’s normally anathema to us bloggers: I’ve been PRODUCTIVE

Yes, I’m starting to really get some major inspirations for that animation program that I demo’d this past weekend, and which I went ahead and bought, which, by the way, goes by the unfortunate name of SwishMax, but which is really cool and has lots of possibilities.

So today in my spare time (NOT at work!) I’ve been doodling and scanning and tweaking fonts and searching through sound effects.

To which I am about to go back to.

But first, an actual news item, which I just heard about tonight on NPR: Desmond Dekker, creator of that wonderful proto-reggae/ska tune of the 60s, The Isrealites, died last week. We throw around the word “pioneer” a lot, but he truly was a trailblazer, leading the way for the phenomenal later success of Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff, among others.

And now, I’m going back to doodling and scanning …

More Memorial Day …

Monday, May 29th, 2006

I got an early start on Memorial Day with my Flash video tribute last night, but here’s more:

My dad’s medals from World War II:

The green one just above the pocket represents the Bronze Star, which he earned but was never rewarded; my cousin Billy spent years cutting through the government red tape and the medal was finally awarded to my mom last summer.

More Memorial Day photos on Flickr.

Last night PBS broadcasted the National Memorial Day Concert, where, among other performers, country musicians Big & Rich performed their song The 8th of November, based on a true story of a tragic 1965 battle in Vietnam. You can read the lyrics here.

Gold Star Wives, “a support organization for spouses of those killed in the military on active duty or from service connected disabilities.”

Kids Domain’s Salute to Veterans.

List of American war memorial sites.

The VFW National Home for Children.

Remember.gov: The White House Commission on Remembrance.

We Americans often think that the rest of the world has no gratitude towards our country for our record of repeatedly pulling their sorry butts out of the fire, military speaking, but that’s not always true. Belgium in particular has a tradition of remembering American sacrifices on Memorial Day.

And finally, Memorial Day is not just about those who have died in battle, or who have died at all. When you’re out and about today, enjoying your day off around the lake, please remember to thank a veteran.

Memorial Day Video

Sunday, May 28th, 2006

As I mentioned last night, I’ve been trying to finish a Flash animation tutorial before the demo expired, and I finally got it done, just under the wire. And what was taking me so long is that I didn’t want to just do their pointless tutorial text (“This is my message” – bo-ring!), so I gave it a Memorial Day spin, and substituted appropriate graphics and music.

It’s not much, only about 15 seconds, but at least I know a new application now, and I made a nice little tribute in the proccess.

At first I tried embedding it in this post, like I’ve done with other videos, but for some reason it displays a random text frame from the video which looks oddly out of place, so I just eliminated the embedded viewer altogether.

So, if you don’t mind, kindly click this link and watch it, so I can rack up more views on YouTube for the first video I’ve uploaded to it … Thanks much!

Saturday Placeholder

Saturday, May 27th, 2006

I’ve been basically working on two time-consuming things today: A lawn-patching project in the front yard, and a tutorial in an animation software demo I downloaded last week.

So: No time to post.

But, just to reward you for coming here, here’s a great (and hilarious) music video combining the music of Weird Al, in the style of Devo, with video from my new favorite animaed series, Invader Zim:

(Click here if you can’t see the embedded player above.)

And as usual, you’re welcome.

Japan Tour Notes

Friday, May 26th, 2006

1. We had the last of our Japan tours today, at least for another six months. The difference this year is that we went all out and ordered really elaborate flower centerpieces for the pizza luncheon, and a few of us alert office workers got to take the flowers home at the end of the day. I got especially industrious and snagged four bunches. They were pretty exotic arrangements, including Bird of Paradise, yellow roses, and some things so unusual that even my wife isn’t sure what they’re called.

Pictures will be forthcoming.

2. Another bonus: They vastly over-ordered the pizzas, so almost everybody was leaving with at least one full box. The downside: The pizza wasn’t that great — Papa John’s thin crust, with an even thinner cheese-and-sauce topping base. In past years, we had always gone with Domino’s, and it was always great.

Maybe even the Japanese have their pizza standards, so they didn’t eat as much.

Still, it didn’t taste too bad, and the Roma tomato slices were a nice touch.

And it was free.

Also: there was fruit, and we got to score some of that too.

3. It’s always interesting to see what the Japanese wear to our plant; there are always a few people that picked up cowboy garb on their visit to our sister facility, Southfork Ranch.

That’s right, we’re corporately related to J.R. Ewing. We’re so proud.

Anyway: One of the Japanese women today had on a black denim motorcycle vest with white stenciled lettering. In a big, Old English font, it said “SUGAR ANGEL”, then, in smaller black letters below it, “Beauty must increase every day.”

Oh yeah, born to be wild.

4. Which brings up one of my favorite sites to mention here: Engrish.com, which features photos of hilarious fractured English used in Asian advertising and products. You’ll find lots of examples like the jacket I mentioned above in the clothing section, of which this is typical.

Quick “Lost”

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Just one thing tonight, but it’s Lost related, and it’s a biggie:

For those of you (including me) who still have tons of questions about all the hundreds of little details that intertwine in the Lost universe, spend some time wading through the Lostpedia, an open-source wiki dedicated to Our Favorite Show.

For instance, if you’re curious as to what The People With No Lives have deduced about Radzinsky, the mysterious former hatch partner of Desmond’s former hatch partner, or the various fake Dharma orientation films floating around, or, perhaps more to the point, all the little pies that the omnipresent Charles Widmore and his family have their fingers in, you now know where to turn.

And if, like some of my co-workers, you missed last night’s finale, you can get a way-too-indepth retelling off the events, of this episode and all others.

You’re welcome.

“Lost” and Loving It

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

Hey, remember how Lost ended last season? With Jack and Locke staring down into the newly-opened shaft, and we didn’t get to see anything but a ladder?

Well, this season finale is better.

I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t watched their Tivo yet, but here are some clues:

1. Somebody leaves the island.

2. We find out why the plane crashed.

3. We see Desmond’s flashback — fitting, since he was the first person we saw on the season opener last fall. We see why he was sailing around the world, how he came to be in the hatch, who his partner was (it was somebody from one of Sayid’s flashbacks, and someone who knew Kate’s father!), and how his partner really died, and where he’s been since he left the hatch.

4. We see Taylor Hicks win American Idol — no, wait, wrong show …

5. We see what happens when the counter runs several minutes past the countdown — and it ain’t pretty …

6. We see Libby in a pre-crash situation that didn’t involve the asylum — and her connection to Desmond’s arrival on the island.

7. And, in the end, we see three of the main characters about to undergo a major lifestyle change.

8. And, in the very, very end, we see a scene from an ice station in Siberia …

And that, people, is entertainment.

By the time you read this, TV Squad will probably have their detailed review up, so check it out, even if you did watch the show. Between the writers and all the commenters who have nothing better to do, they’ll tie together all those obscure flashback characters, like the billionaire and Kevin, with everybody else’s flashbacks.

Robots, Nerds, and Code

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

Three quick things, because I like to kid myself that I could get something done if I don’t spend all night posting:

1. The Spook sends this link: Mystery Robot Said to Solve Crimes, Find Mines in Chile.

He adds the comment, “Now we’re talking….bodies, gold, oil.”

And guns. Don’t forget guns.

2. I found out that one of my co-workers used to work in tech support (not computers, exactly, but computer-based machines like ATMs), so we traded stupid-user horror stories, then I told her about The IT Crowd, the British tech support sitcom, which I wrote about here earlier in the year — and which is now on YouTube. And since I looked up the links for her, I might as well post them here, so here’s Episodes One, Two, and Three.

3. I’ve just got to say Welcome to the people who keep arriving here by the dozens through my post Saturday night about the Morse Code in Sunday’s Foxtrot comic strip.

I went to the trouble of decoding the message, because every time I post the answer to something intriguing or puzzling (like the snowman riddle on Lost, or the “Shape of Things to Come” commercial for Target), especially in the comics (like the recent Get Fuzzy/Pearls Before Swine crossover, or Foxtrot’s “Sgt. Neelie” trick last year), there are always people searching for it, and I like seeing how many of them I can reel in.

That’s the one kind of fishing I like to do …

To the Dogs … and their festival

Monday, May 22nd, 2006

Yes, yes, I didn’t post yesterday, but you’ll agree it was for a good cause: I was sorting, uploading and tagging several boatloads of pictures (97! Yikes!) of yesterday’s doggie festival, which went by the cutesy name of Bow-Wow Pow-Wow. I wanted to get the photos online, because I promised the folks at Scottie Kingdom Rescue that I would get them some photos of their booth, since they forgot to bring a camera, and they’re contractually obligated to some sponsor or other to provide photographic proof of an exhibit.

I suggested that they hold up the current newspaper, just like hostages and kidnap victims are often made to do to prove that they’re still alive, but they said that just plain photos would do nicely.

Hey, I just try to inject a little drama where I can …

Anyway, they’re nice people doing noble work, so check ‘em out!

Also, check out the festival’s co-sponsor, the Second Chance SPCA.

Because all dogs deserve a second chance …

Code Turkey

Saturday, May 20th, 2006

I’ve always said that Foxtrot is the geekiest comic strip ever, and it keeps proving me right.

In tomorrow’s strip (yes, in Dallas we get the Sunday paper on Saturday, because that’s just the kind of Type A, high-strung, can’t-wait city we are), the young geek Jason is seen doing a tap dance across several panels. In the final square his friend ask him if he made it into the talent show, but Jason said he didn’t because he one of the judges knew Morse code.

So I got curious as to what the message was, so I decoded it, and here it is:

“SOME DAY I WILL RULE YOU ALL.”

That doesn’t seem like something that would disqualify a person from a talent show, but the important thing is that there was an actual secret message embedded in a comic strip.

That’s what I call maximizing your entertainment value …