Tuesday, February 26, 2002
From the it-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time files: Ordering a large mashed potatoes and gravy and thinking I'll just eat the whole thing for dinner. About halfway through, it stops being potatoes and gravy and morphs into this gluey cement-like mixture. I think I like it better when I get the idea in my head that a pint of chocolate chocolate chip Hagen Daas makes for a good supper. Oof.

More on the software front: Free Maya! Well, sort of. The supposedly kick-ass 3D program (never used it, can't vouch for it) is available as a "Personal Learning Edition" free of charge. You can't use plug-ins, and the software adds a watermark to images so you can't sell them or use them commercially. Still, for free, not too shabby.

And speaking of animation: The Kalamazoo Animation Festival International is coming. Yes, Kalamazoo. Yes, an animation festival. Yes, international. Yes, it's the first time they've tried to do something like this. Look, I just think it's cool that I live in the middle of nowhere and there's actually something here besides the IHOP with the word "international" in its name. And come to think of it, we don't even have an IHOP. The local airport is the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport, but only because there's a flight to Toronto. (Oh, the potatoes are making me ramble.)

Monday, February 25, 2002
Because that's just what software companies do: Photoshop 7.0 was announced yesterday. The big new feature looks to be a "healing brush," which will make photo clean up (as far as dust and scratches go) infinitely easier than it is now. I can, however, see people who do this kind of thing for a living, or for any kind of money, complaining that it takes away from their business, that now any moron with a computer can retouch photos without any of the skill previously needed, and so on. It will save me time, though, so I'm personally all for it. And it's native to OS X -- finally. I guess the new Mac geek mantra is "Friends don't let friends run classic."

Sunday, February 24, 2002
Earlier in the week, a friend reacquainted me with Roseanne Cash's Seven Year Ache. It's probably been ten or so years since I heard the song, but amazingly, I remember all the words. Unfortunately, it's been stuck in my head since Tuesday.

This also got me thinking about how much old country music I know. When that informercial for the Classic Country boxed set comes on tv on Sunday mornings, I can sing along to every song clip. It's interesting how a lot of this kind of music is circling back to "cool," probably in a backlash to all the contemporary country garbage that is being spun lately. I can't say I'm disappointed with old country's "re-discovery."

Happy birthday mom!

Friday, February 22, 2002
So yesterday I woke up with this 24-hour thing, feeling like complete crap, I slept in a few extra hours and took a handful of drugs, went to bed early last night, and now I'm completely fine. Like it never happened. I wish all illnesses could be like that.

This has been the longest week ever.

Wednesday, February 20, 2002
I got asked to do sound effects and percussion for a radio play production of some of Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, and last night was the first rehearsal. The actors hadn't gotten together yet, so they just read through the script a few times and I listened. I have to say, I'm not a theatre person, and I never was one of those kids in school who had to have a part in the fall drama, so it was strange for me to be in that kind of environment. (I did learn that some directors really do say, "Have fun with it!")

Due to a temporarily insane schedule and a dial-up connection that is still giving me all kinds of grief, posting this week may be boring, rambling, or not quite there, since I'll probably be writing them before 7:00 am. Eeesh.

Monday, February 18, 2002
Happiness: Darkest movie ever. It's a black comedy, and I only say black because there's nothing darker. Still, great movie, but I was so disturbed from watching it, between the pedophilia and the creepiness of Phillip Seymour Hoffman's character and the overall dysfunctional suburban malaise of it all that I couldn't fall asleep last night. Recommended, yes, but expect to feel especially beat up after watching it. Not a good date movie. Or a movie to watch while bonding with a family member. Or a friend. Or a casual acquaintance. In fact, just watch it alone. And then don't go out or anything.

Sunday, February 17, 2002
I'm not really a huge Olympics fan (I like to think of the whole thing as sports for the non-sports fan), but I have to say that I'm completely fascinated by the televising of bobsled and luge races. First of all, the cameras must be on motion sensors to follow the sleds: have you noticed that the camera catches a second or two of the sled as it approaches, then quickly pans to follow the sled as it leaves the field of vision? And the shots of the sled moving down the track cut so cleanly; I think the whole set-up must be automated, or programmed, or whatever, because I don't think a person could follow the action that smoothly. In other words, the camera switcher must, I think, be set to go from the camera at the top of the track to the next one down, then the next one, and so on, within a certain amount of time and without a person having to push all the buttons every time. I just think the appearance of effortlessness in the whole thing is amazing. I'm trying to remember how bobsled and luge used to be televised, but I never got that much into the Olympics, so I can't think of anything to compare it to.

Saturday, February 16, 2002
It's hard to understand how much you use the internet until your dial-up goes bad for a few days. Who knew?

Watched a few movies in the past 24 hours. The Original Kings of Comedy was bad. I'm sorry -- I know people love Spike Lee, and I've even been known to like him a lot (Do The Right Thing, for instance), but this was basically two hours of bad Comedy Central stand-up programming. And for a feature with the word "comedy" in the title, it was marginally funny at best.

I also saw Ghost World, which was a good and smart touch on the theme of pop suburban boredom. I think it handled it better than American Beauty even. It just came out, and my local video store had only one out of 30 copies on the shelf, so if you can find it, don't pass it by.

Tuesday, February 12, 2002
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, and I swear that for once in my life, I will not say something like, "Uhh...there's some dirt on your forehead" to the first person I see. I do this every year, and I feel dumber and dumber each time I do it.

Fun article: How schools are tricked into using PCs when Macs are better. Oh baby.

Monday, February 11, 2002
Just saw A Beautiful Mind. Melodramatic, to be sure, but not nearly as hokey and lame as I expected. Probably the first time I've seen Russell Crowe and liked him. Still, too many mental ward scenes for me to be comfortable.

What the mmfffff is up with Hotmail mmmfffffffff account temporarily unavailable my mmmmmmmmffffffuckin' Microsoft.

Sunday, February 10, 2002
Really interesting report on 60 Minutes tonight about the marketing of fast food to kids and the current child obesity rate. It included an interview with Eric Schlosser, the author of Fast Food Nation, who is, as you might expect, extremely knowledgeable about the subject. CBS's treatment of the marketing reminded me of PBS's Merchants of Cool program from last year in that it was pretty obvious, with lots of look-how-these-media-conglomerates-are-throwing-this-in-our-kids'-faces-and-they're-just-loving-it. However, you have to look at it with a skeptical eye, since McDonalds, and BK and just about every other fast food company on the planet advertises on CBS. The network can only expose so much before coveted ad dollars get taken away. Still, good segment.

Friday, February 8, 2002
It's kind of hard to believe, but tomorrow will mark the one-year anniversary of this site. I originally started doing this as a writing exercise so the act of writing would seem more comfortable to me -- you know, trying to make it a little less painful so I'd procrastinate less and write more. I'd fallen out of the habit, so I told myself that I needed to do at least ten minutes' worth of writing each day, but I knew I'd never keep to that unless I knew someone -- anyone -- was reading. So here we are. It's worked to a certain degree in that writing articles is less of a chore, but what's been most interesting about doing this is the people I've come into contact with since a year ago. I've met (or e-met) a few cool people, re-connected with a few friends from college, and, if you can believe this, met (or e-met) someone who is actually engaged to a friend from college. (Right now my mom is thinking what a small world we live in -- oh yeah, my increasingly web-savvy mom found the site on her very own doing a little web search and can now keep tabs on me. She's so happy. Hi mom!)

Also, it has been cathartic to get some thoughts out every day. So I'm keeping on with it. The experiment continues.

Thursday, February 7, 2002
I spent about a half hour this morning laughing hysterically from the stick figure drawings on Seriously. I was crying from laughing so hard. Favorites include I have a banana in my ear, why is it so green, it wasn't that big in the catalog, and what's in your shoes. I guess it was mostly funny because one of my students kept explaining what was happening in the drawings, and I was laughing at her more than I was laughing at the pictures, but either way, goddamn, I laughed like crazy.

Tuesday, February 5, 2002
I frequently take a look at's top-selling CDs to see if there's anything hot and new that I might be interested in. Usually it's about what you'd expect: the same new popular bands with a few old popular bands sprinkled in for good measure. But this evening, right there at number 78, was Free To Be You And Me. Come on, you remember...Marlo Thomas's feminist album for kids. I loved this when I was little. I saw it a few times on 16mm film in grade school, and my mom frequently borrowed the record from the local library for me. I remember really liking the "Boy Meets Girl" sketch with Mel Brooks and Marlo Thomas, where they're both babies and they each guess their gender wrong and then play into existing stereotypes, only to find out that even though they're not what they thought they are, they can still do whatever they want, regardless of gender. (It's really interesting, and far far ahead of its time in terms of children's entertainment.) I actually bought myself a copy of this CD five or six years ago, but I'm very curious as to why it's suddenly so hot that it's on Amazon's list. Anyone know?

Monday, February 4, 2002
This whole Enron thing is reminding me of my situation at my previous job, where my boss got her position through very dishonest and unethical means, I found out about her dishonesty, and her superiors decided to keep her anyway. It was a huge eye-opener for me. I'm not saying that I was totally idealistic -- I'm not that stupid -- but it really clued me in to the kind of people I'm up against in the workplace. Mostly, they're selfish, lying, opportunistic creeps. The people I work for and with now are much more compassionate and forthright, which I'm very happy about, especially after everything that went down where I worked before I got my current job. But when I found out about the Enron fiasco and all the dishonesty that went on to lead up to their current mess, I can't say I was surprised that something like this happened. In fact, I almost think that the only difference between Enron and lots of other large corporations is that Enron got caught padding their figures and lying about information.

Switching topics...something I tried for the first time the other night: fried pickles. Yeah! Sour pickle spears battered and deep fried. And you know what? They're really good!

Sunday, February 3, 2002
Last night I went to see a friend's bluegrass band play. I thought it was going to be at a local bar, but they played at this community center a few towns over. The community center turned out to be the cafeteria of some kind of alternative ed high school. They drew a surprisingly good crowd, most of which were older and very Christian-looking. No one danced; they all just sat there very obediently on the folding chairs that had been set up. Oh, and there was no beer. Between sets they had this makeshift lemonade stand with coffee and brownies and brown bags of popcorn. Not that I've been to one, but it seemed a little like a pro-life get together. Everyone had blue eyes and was wearing bad sweaters and denim, and I felt generally out of place. I got a few funny looks, one in particular from a gray-haired man that I took to mean, "Why don't you take your black leather jacket and go back to Puerto Rico?" (Yeah, I'm exaggerating here, but only for effect.)

I think there's some big football game today? I don't know, since I'm furiously working to finish a lengthy article on The Gilmore Keyboard Festival, a local music festival that actually has a big international reputation.

Saturday, February 2, 2002
It's Groundhog Day, but so far, no one's made a big deal out of it. I guess it's only a big deal when it falls on a week day and people actually watch morning TV, and morning TV shows need to fill the airtime, so they send a Roker to Pennsylvania to watch a dirty little rodent poke out of the ground. Anyway, they say we're to have six more weeks of winter. I live in Michigan. Winter ends around Memorial Day. I think that's more than six weeks away.

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