Friday, November 11, 2011

Playing Hooky

Well, technically since I did put it a PTO request and I'm where I'm supposed to be, it's not really hooky. It's just and extra day off tacked onto the weekend so I can reclaim some of my own time. There has been momentous changes in my life, and it's been a little over a month since we've moved into our new home. We have more or less settled into a routine, and the house that we were trying to slowly fill with our dream furniture and furnishings is almost completely filled out because of our impulsiveness, impatience, and a little wiggle room in our checking account. In a couple weeks, we will fill this house with family for Thanksgiving, and I will be rocking the deep fried turkey for perhaps, the most awesome damn bird I've ever had the pleasure to cook. We also have friends visiting this weekend, so that will be fun for us. We also have been exploring our home improvement roots, taking on repainting Mom's house with a light orange coat of paint. We are not in the least careful, having spilled paint in various spots on the carpet that we have every intention of replacing, even before we had the notion that we could pretend to paint. That's going relatively well although it is going rather slowly. Either using too much caution or not being brave enough. November is shaping up to be a pretty exciting month - we should be getting our IXXI's next week hopefully, which is coming from the Netherlands, which I imagine have nordic looking printing out our photo cards and wondering why I consider my photography passable for any wall on any house. Also next month, I will be the owner of a Kindle Fire, which is like the poor man's iPad. Still though, it will be nice to have this tablet that I don't have to strain while reading, or suffer 3rd degree burns from like my laptop. And of course, Thanksgiving and the day after orgy, which is when I hope to acquire another television for our bedroom. Hopefully in the near future as well, I can get to revising and somehow producing one of my old screenplays. I glanced at it recently and it was a little rough. Somehow a 11 year old script will seem dated and awkward at whatever stage of life you read it at. Anyway, enjoying the new house, living the life. Stressed about work more than I've ever been but I guess it's got to give somewhere, right?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Getting Rid of the Landline Affordably.

This is a work in progress, and certainly not the best possible way, but I think it should suffice.

So we're finally deciding to ditch the landline, and switching over to mobile phones.  But because of budgetary contraints and since we generally don't use the cells enough to warrant a plan, I had to come up with a good method to keep everyone connected for as cheap as possible.  This is what you'll need if you're interested.

1) A broadband connection with Wi-Fi

2) A Skype account

3) An Android phone

4) A google Voice account

Costwise, it'll be about $140 for the phone, $30+ for the Skype subscription (annual), and whatever you pay for your broadband.  Naturally, if you don't already have broadband, or a computer, it's not very cost effective at all.  But for my particular case (broadband and computer a necessity), the mobile solution got a lot easier.

So, to start things off, what I did was to purchase a prepaid phone with Android.  You can actually get a refurbrished phone from T-mobile for 99 bucks, but I ended getting my wife and mom new T-mobile Comets for about 120 bucks.  Because the phones work on Wi-Fi, I turned off the 3G and all my data goes to my phone via my home Wi-fi.  I downloaded the Google voice and the Skype app.

I already had a Skype account with Unlimited Nationwide calling for about 30 bucks a year, it's basically a subscription that allows you to call anyone using Skype (computer or in this case, Android phone) to anyone in the US, landline or mobile.  It's not a bad deal with the computer, an even better one with the Android.

Then, I got a google voice account with a local number.  What Google voice does is a little hard to explain, but basically it's like smart voicemail.  Say my number is 555-5555.  If someone calls that number, GV will forward the call to any number of mobile phones, like me and my wife.  If either of us answers it, it stops ringing.  If nobody answers it, it goes to voicemail in GV and it can email you the message or you can access it on the computer.  It also has a transciption thingy but it's rather buggy.  So what that means is that to check your voicemail, you don't have to use your cell minutes, just use your broadband to check the messages.

So with all this setup, when I make a call at home or anywhere with Wi-Fi, I call the number, choose skype out, and I'm talking via Wi-Fi.  No minutes used.  When someone leaves a voicemail, I reject the call, it goes to google voice.

There are limitations because I can only use Skype to make calls via Wi-Fi.  When I receive calls, it will cost me minutes so basically I have to be the one who calls.  Also, Skype's a little buggy on the Android.  It stays signed in, and then for some reason it gets stagnant and doesn't want to place calls a few times.  You basically have to kill Skype before you make a call, which is a free app at the Android store.

This hasn't been fully implemented, but I'll be sure to update if it does/doesn't work out.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Facebook Statuses about Pearl Harbor

Yesterday before heading out to McDonald's with the kids, I saw a Facebook status that was akin to it being "Karma" that Japanese people are dying because generations ago, the Japanese military bombed Pearl Harbor.  And the status also noted that we shouldn't be collecting donations for the Japanese people because they didn't do anything for us.  I had a very instant "WTF" response, and it pretty much tainted my whole evening because it was so amazingly ignorant and xenophobic in nature.

It's gotten a lot of blowback from the internet community since, showing up even on reddit, and I just have to get up on my soapbox for a minute here.  I really shouldn't have to state why that avenue of thinking is dangerous and self-centered, not to mention incredibly stupid to boot.  But I just have to say this:

You can be a patriotic American without being hateful towards another country or its people.  

It's simple common sense but everytime I read about the religious protesting the right for a mosque to be built, or Indians being targeted because they looked like Muslims, or even that vapid comedian with his goddamn terrorist puppet - it drives me insane.  They perpetuate the stereotype of the narrow-minded gun-toting American that the world is wary of.  Shoot first, ask questions later.  

In recent months, I've read about troops in the Middle East disobeying orders to shoot citizens protesting their governments, and these troops no doubt love their country and have swore to protect their homeland.  But they have to know the difference between right, wrong, and being patriotic - and where that patriotism rests on the scale of ethics.  

So if you read about one of these Facebook statuses, I think the best thing to do is to comment on their post, and tell them that you've donated some money in their name for the people of Japan.  I think that's the most patriotic gesture you can show.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My ass is encased in a form-fitting cushion of awesome.

The memory foam that we ordered from Amazon finally came today, and it was a little sketchy when I pulled it out of the box initially.  It was so tightly folded up and bounded into a bale that it didn't look like much.  Even as I was dismantling it, I had to peel off what seemed to be a half inch of foam that looked and smelt like dried animal hide.  I had hoped that it was a good purchase, and wasn't so sure when I left to return to life.

But when I returned a few hours later, it had grown to it's natural state - the thin slab of stinky cheese slices was now a hefty, thick slab of form fitting heaven.  I'm not quite sure how it'll play on my back, but here's to the hope that it'll fare better than my memory foam pillow.  We had gotten those in the mail yesterday and although my wife claims to have had the best night of sleep in a long time, my experience was far from endearing.  In fact, I kept waking up to find my head laying on what felt like a chunk of cold cut.  My back was stiff and annoyed when I got out of bed this morning.  But I'm going to give it a week, see if I adapt to the pillow or vice versa.  If it doesn't pan out, I'll set the damn thing on fire.  I guess it's a bit flammable from what I read.

I uttered something witty today, even though I'm sure even the person I was talking to probably didn't even hear me.  But someone asked me if I was leaving too, and I replied that no, someone has to stick around to swab the decks of this sinking ship.  Sigh.  So many of my jokes never get realized because I don't have the same kind of audience as I used to have.

One of my major shortcomings is my constant feeling of regret.  Nothing to do with my family or anything like that, I truly love them and secretly thank them for preventing me from becoming this train-wreck it could've been.  But rather just the little things.  Things that I've done that, in other people's perspective, may have been good, bad, or just fine - but I still feel bad one way or another about it.  Probably one of my worst life decisions had to be that I went into wedding videography.  I know there have been customers who have recommended me, who simply love what I've capture on their very special day, but I've also had customers who have either not given any feedback - which I feel is probably because they hated it but didn't say anything, or they straight out disliked my work. 

I think the idea of ever being that responsible for someone's life event terrifies me now.  I don't mind doing something like that as a friend casually, but if money was involved or I was the sole person capturing that event?  No thanks.  I even had a dream the other night about an idea for a short film, had it all ready to go - but the lead actress had a schedule conflict.  I just don't want to deal with that anymore.  I'm getting comfortable with the idea that I'm a better follower and contributer, and not so much a leader.  I loathe the responsibility of being one.  I often even wonder if I'm a good enough father - although in that analogy, it's probably good that I'm even questioning that notion.

Anyhow, that's something that I have to work on.  Letting history be just that and not reliving it over and over again.  I suppose writing things on a blog isn't necessarily the best path to living in the moment either.  Hmm.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Migraines and change

Really nothing that says good morning like waking up at four in the morning with a killer headache. Then I just got hyper-freaked about the time and tried to sleep despite the constant worry that I just wasn't going to get rid of the headache. When the ipod finally sounded, the headache was itself in full blast. So, utilizing one of the perks of the job and the fact that my manager is in Sweden, I emailed in that I was going to work from home after I slept the headache off.

So hours later, when I woke up feeling a bit confused, I ended up going into work anyway because there really is a ton of work to do and my job isn't the type of job whereby the work goes away you make it go away. So I went in, stayed really late, and now my schedule feels off again.

At any rate, I really needed to work today because our weekend was a giant spending spree, and amazingly a lot of it was done without even leaving the house. We got a memory mattress and pillows at Amazon, then got another Roku box because despite the PS3's streaming capabilities, it is more of an afterthought app that sometimes stutters at what it has to do. And I love that company anyway. I think we've bought 5 Rokus from them now. All the power to them. Then we went on another spree at Old Navy, because I really need more clothes than polo shirts and sweatshirts, so I got some dress up shirts and kids clothes. All and all, a grand damage to the checkbook.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

High Strung

It's ironic that I was once so bored with my job and I felt like I wasn't challenged enough. And above all that, I had no time to do anything at all. Because now I'm constantly thinking about work, worried about work, and dealing with constant deadlines that I have to constantly tell myself to relax and pace myself. It has gone the opposite direction and considering the circumstances, I am feeling much better about my job and where I stand in the world, although I don't feel like I have enough time to do everything that I need to do.

For a while when I was helping out at my current position, I would simply enjoy the longer days, playing a lot of video games, feeling much more relaxed. Now I play far less video games, mostly on weekends and not even that much. For some reason I'm gravitating toward watching shows more, its passive nature somehow seems a little more appealing to me. And perhaps, just being able to find the time and place to play my type of games can be difficult.

I've been thinking about video a lot, it really seems to be my medium of choice despite its inherent difficulty. It's easy to take a bad photo and make it interesting, but bad video is just bad video to me. My expectations for my HD camera have been borderline, recently hearing about people using their DSLRs to take classy looking videos have gotten my interest spiked, even though it is still lingering in the ball park of the prosumer cameras. I don't really have a great reason for getting a high end camera of any sorts, since I'm not actively pursuing any artistic endeavors. But nothing like nice looking video gets me feeling giddy. The Nikon D3100 has entered my field of vision, and it's a camera that retails for about the same as my D50 years ago. I don't really have any need to upgrade the still photography aspect of it, although having that bundled with HD video is something that I would love to be able to do. And with the lenses that I have? Sweetened the pot instantly.

I don't know, it's just to fulfill that gadget bug that constantly bites at me, I'm not even entirely sure how much shooting I would actually do when I do get a camera with video. Probably not much than I am now. For now I'll likely shelf the idea because of the moving in June, the possibly layoffs, and god knows what else.

It's really like a lie that I tell myself, that I'm ok doing what I do, when I really miss going around shooting movies and telling stories that nobody really watches. If only I had the gift of drawing, or animation, or having friends to make movies with me. Well, off to bed. Friday's around the corner.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Star Brite

My brain is rotting.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Office Boy

Taken at IKEA


Taken at IKEA

Lamp at Ikea

Taken at IKEA

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Alex's Calendar

I asked Alex about the picture he drew for his January calendar and he explained that it was Zoe and him on a sled, being pulled by Daddy, who is sweating lines. Mummy's face is red because sometimes she gets angry while walking the dogs.

Dirt, Nice to Meet You...

I guess we must share the same birthday.

I've been feeling rather old lately, and I think children are to blame for that.  They get all old and big and then I realize that they're no longer kids, and some of them even have jobs.  That makes me feel old.  It's a rather strange phenomenon, because some of these kids I see when I'm younger, and then for whatever reason I don't see them for years and that person disappears.  For example, I've seen Derrek like three times in the past couple years, and I know he's 18 and taller than me in a tophat, but if the 6 or 7 year old version of him shows him requesting no onions in his food and wanting to play Nintendo 64, It would not be weird at all.  Because 7 year old Derrek existed far longer in my memory than the 18 year old version.  Same with some other kids, like Bobbie when I did her sister's wedding and she was the little girl running around, and now she's a teenager and everything.  Recently a cousin of mine befriended me on Facebook, and I didn't really remember who he was until I asked my mother on the way back from the airport this morning.  Turns out he was my third uncle's son, a kid that I used to play with whenever I visited Malaysia.  I even remember specifically playing with mercury at his house.  Or maybe that was a faulty memory from mercury poisoning, who knows.

But no, the kids are one thing, the other being that everyone is getting old.  Movie stars I've seen are getting old.  I'm falling apart myself, fragments at a time.  All in all, I'm pretty ok with it mostly because everyone is aging too.  Even you, right now as you read this post.  

Dirt, have you met my friend?



Stained glass clown at Value Village

Interesting chicken at the Value Village

$20 for this wonderful hand drawn portrait of someone's parents at Value Village

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Dubious Milestone

So today, at 34 years of age, I finally wrangled myself and my wife into a gym where I got onto a treadmill, for the first time in my life.  For the first time I was running with no particular destination in mind, other than the fact that I was trying to get some form of exercise back into my life.  I've been paying for the gym membership at my work for about a month and finally I dragged myself in there and get pretty close to convincing myself back out.  But Elaine was with me and we both needed to just get into the gym and get back into some kind of healthy form.  Even since I got myself a desk job, I've been doing even less exercise (although my previous job was more manual labor, not really exercise per se.)

It was a pretty good stride, occasionally breaking into some wimpy form of jogging whereby my arms flail about like some chicken with wing atrophy.  I'm still not a big fan of the locker room, further reinforced today when a naked man out of the shower made some eye contact with me and smiled.  It's not like I'm some complete homophobe, because it literally could some hot girl coming out of the shower naked, I would still feel completely uncomfortable.  I guess nudity weirds me out to a certain extent.  Or maybe I'm just a big fan of modesty.

Anyhow, other than extending my work hours a bit more, I think I'll enjoying this working out thing.  Especially after Zoe looked at my tummy and said, "You must be really full."  I hadn't eaten anything for hours.  Sad, sad, middle aged tales.

Ribs for Dinner!

Ribs for Dinner!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Talking Death

There was an unfortunate fire a few blocks from here, whereby a father and four children died in a New Year's morning fire, and it became a short topic this morning with the wife, and once again when we passed by the apartment complex where the Police and Fire Department were still on location, gathering their info and investigating the scene.  

One thing I've never really shied from with the kids is telling them certain truths, and this case was really no different.  I told them that the family got caught in a fire, and they died.  I know some parents really wince at the idea of this kind of honesty, that perhaps I should maybe not tell them quite everything.  A child's innocence is something to be valued, and should be shielded from the world's ugly truths as long as we can keep their world view candy coated.  

Well, I can't really subscribe to that thinking completely, I guess there's a line somewhere in there that I like to fudge around.  I try not to scare them too much of all the things that could happen to them, but I do enlighten them that if you don't watch the road, cars could hit and kill you.  If you talk to strangers, that some of them can be bad people who might hurt them and take them away.  That when Zoe sits on the banister on the top of the stairs, she could fall and break her spine and not be able to walk or could die.  And in this case, that if we're not careful with fire, people could get killed.  All that seems like a very harsh thing to tell 6 and 7 year old kids, but I feel like it's responsible for a parent to inform their children that these are truths of the world.  If I'm going to let them watch children's programs where there are bad people or adversaries, I feel that it is important for them to know the major dangers around them at least.  So

Incidentally, watching Max Fleischer's Superman cartoons right now.  The animation holds up extremely well, there's quite a level of detail especially impressive with the facial expressions and such.  There's quite a cinematic feel to the animation, although some of the stereotypes are painfully embedded into the cartoons.  Lois Lane seriously toes that line between bravery and utter idiocy as she seemingly gets herself into trouble time and again.  This version of Clark doesn't seem as goofy as the Reeve version, more of a boring straight man who happens to be Superman.  

Anyhow.  Back to Superman beating some Nazis disguised as African savages.