2013 is here

2013 is a mere 13 minutes away. I am sitting on my couch in the house we built in 2012, polishing off a second glass of @diosatequila cafe caramel flavor.

I sense that this year will be a transition for many in the computing world. (Well, hell. When is it not?)

I don’t have many resolutions, except that I want to get more of my creative self back out there in the world. I really need to get it moving. I am not getting any younger.

I am also going to polish off these last 45 lbs. that I intend to lose.

Bring it, 2013.

First Video Podcast Released Today

Today I had the honor of putting together the first “real” video podcast for The DVD Marquee, a DVD/movie podcast site run by Jeffrey Rosado.

Those of you who know me very well know that I’ve been dreaming of putting together a new media company.  Jeff, a longtime friend of mine, shares this dream.  He had the notion to fire up a quick video podcast for the Oscars this year and, despite the extremely tight deadline, he managed to land equipment and a location.  He shot from 10:00pm til 1:30am, then came over to my place to spend another 5 hours in editing.

The end result is what I’m proud to say is our first video podcast produced under the Red Abstract Productions banner.  It has a few rough spots, but I think it’s a good start.

For anyone who is curious – this was shot with a Sony miniDV cam with available light in the movie theater (yeah, I know, we’re working on lights!).  It was all color-corrected in post and edited with iMovie ’09 and Soundtrack Pro on a Mac Pro 8-core with 4gb of RAM.  We had intended to use all of the pro tools (Final Cut Studio 2), but being under the gun for time, we stuck with the basic editor because that’s what we know the best right now.

You can pick up the video podcast here.

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25 Random Facts About Me

I don’t want this to sound too harsh, but sometimes I get tagged by these Internet memes and it just grates on my nerves until they’re raw.

What I mean to say is, of course, I’m flattered that my friends thought about me enough to actually want to know random facts about me and include me in the meme.  The problem is when I’m tagged with something like this, it lurks in my Inbox with a follow-up flag that waves at me every time I open my email.  “Hey, guy.  Remember, there’s some folks out there that want to know all kinds of random shit about you.  Isn’t it time you ponied up?”  It’s about as annoying as those bouncing icons in the dock that want attention.  “Hey!  You!  Me!  Click me!  Hey!  Hello!”

Anyway, I don’t mean to say anything too harsh to Karen or Tony for tagging me on this one, but sorry, I’m going to combine your efforts.  Karen tagged me for 25 random facts at Facebook and Tony tagged me over the blogosphere for 7.  Not sure why the two memes have such an interesting diversity in numbers but whatever.  I’ll do the larger of the two evils.

Enough whining.  I’m starting with the list already.

  1. When I was 5 years old, I had one of the most terrifying nightmares ever.  I won’t describe it here, but I can still vividly remember the dream and plan to include it in a story someday to “deal with it.”
  2. I have recurring nightmares regarding tornadoes and frequent attempts to escape them.  I believe these usually occur during times of high stress and is somehow linked to the tornadoes of 1974 that struck Huntsville (I was two years old then and likely recorded some activity that still sticks with my psyche).
  3. I think I have far too many interests and hobbies and therefore really never start (or finish) any of them.  This actually bothers me greatly and it probably shouldn’t.
  4. Regardless of my ruthless and cruel sense of humor, I’m actually a sap on some things.  Particularly children.  Since I’ve had children, I get terribly upset when something bad happens to a child in a movie.
  5. I enjoy cold weather the most because it makes hot showers so much more interesting and soothing.
  6. I absolutely, positively cannot stand automobiles.  I can barely tolerate driving them and most certainly cannot stand doing maintenance on them.  I will always pay others to do even the simplest thing to maintain my vehicles.
  7. I am color blind on certain colors.  This is mostly wrapped around red and green but frequently discover that my eyes misidentify other colors as well.  My wife loves to point it out when I screw that up.
  8. It genuinely bothers me that I cannot see without glasses or contacts.  Sometimes it frustrates me so badly that it will instantly irritate me.  I often feel like I’m boxed up inside a container or trapped behind some kind of invisible veil if I dwell on this one too long.  The thought of Lasik or any surgery to my eyes terrifies me so badly that I doubt I’ll ever go through with it.
  9. Sometimes, things bother me too much.  When I was a teenager, I was terrible about dwelling on things and was unable to let stuff go.  These days I actually handle this much better unless it’s something that I believe can change and is worth screaming about.
  10. I think I have an absolutely terrible temper that is sometimes aggravated by severe lack of sleep.
  11. Once when I was a wee lad, I was invited to an Alabama public television show that starred a puppet.  I’m sorry, I don’t recall the name.  Unfortunately, something about the experience made me so sick that I yakked on set and it never aired.
  12. The one time I had chicken pox, the bumps were inside my organs.  Last theory I heard on that one was that my asthma caused the virus to do bizarre shit.  I was hospitalized for a week over that one.
  13. An ailment that struck me when I was little left me with a doctor informing my mother that there was little chance I would ever have children.  Through some miracles performed by a doctor, that turned out to be untrue.  Not long after being cured of this ailment, the doctor was killed in a farming accident.  Today, I have three wonderful, hilarious, fun and loving children with a thick skin and a seriously biting sense of humor.  (Note: this is one of those odd things that still gives me chills when I think about it.  It feels very fate-esque.  Perhaps why I enjoy shows like “Lost” so much).
  14. In general, I seem to relate better to women than men.
  15. My weight bothers me terribly and is the source of much consternation within the recesses of my brain but I often feel very powerless to do much about it.  That’s an ongoing war, let me tell you.
  16. Even though I constantly find out about new things regarding the culture, I find myself identifying with the Chinese more and more often to the point of wondering if I were Chinese in a past life.
  17. I don’t like to guess the endings to movies and people who try to figure that stuff out and talk about it in the middle of the movie should be fucking shot.
  18. People who talk in movies should be fucking shot.
  19. You will never catch any of my children talking in a movie because I taught them right (well, still working on the 4 year old).  They will not be shot.
  20. I barely missed being cast in “Space Camp,” a movie that was shot here in my home town.  It stars Kate Capshaw.  Just a week prior to this film coming to Huntsville for shooting, I was in a Space Camp commercial.  When we wrapped up shooting, the film folks were moving in.
  21. I miss acting terribly.  My acting “career” started at age 13 with a Fantasy Playhouse show.  The last show I did was in 1999 for Theatre Round the Corner.  During this timeframe, I did probably 60-70 shows, including musicals.  I’ve always hoped to get back to this one day when the children are raised and gone, if I’m not dead by then.
  22. I do not write enough.  I wish I could write more.  Sometimes I think writing is the only thing I was ever close to doing well.
  23. I was once fired for utilizing a CEO’s “open door policy” to explain to him that his management style sucked the sweat off of a hog’s balls.  Maybe it was a poor delivery.
  24. I think I’m actually pretty good at my own workflow and task management, but it has taken years and years to get to this point.  It’s rare that I forget an action or fail to hand it off to someone.
  25. I am always attracted to fiercely mean women and I’m not sure why.  Are all women that mean, perhaps?  Who knows.  But the cruel humor helps.
  26. BONUS NUMBER 26!  I’ve lived in this town all of my life and never had a reason to move (36 damn years).  In many ways, it’s because I feel like I cannot escape it and something is holding me here.  Not sure why.  People who are familiar with my writing may recognize this theme.

Alright, so that’s it.  I just started at the beginning and went through whatever popped in my head.  Hope it bored you to tears 🙂

I’m not going to tag anyone with the responsibility of maintaining the meme because I don’t want them to be pissed at me for tasking them with something they may not want to do.  Har!

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A Visit to Mission Control

If you were subscribed to my Twitter feed, you would have known in near real time that today I had one seriously exciting treat. I managed to squeeze my way into a tour group being led by the incredible Jack Garman here at Johnson Space Center. Think I would turn down such a chance? Absolutely not. Not only is Jack Garman a wonderful friend and professional mentor to me… today I learned much, much more about him… and I’m in simple awe. (Read the Wikipedia entry).

Even juicier, STS-126 is going on right now. While we were going through the MCC, we could see that the astronauts were in the middle of a spacewalk. They had been at it for about three hours when we walked around and examined all the folks at work.

It was just an incredible experience. The geek in me has truly been touched. We were allowed to take non-flash photos. All I had on me was my iPhone and never have I felt like I wanted to beg Steve Jobs for a better camera. Argh!

Anyway… cell phones aren’t allowed, so I put the iPhone in airplane mode and started taking pics. These aren’t all of the pics, but some of the better ones. Most of them are blurry (THANKS STEVE) and off-color, but salvageable with some work I GUESS… STEVE.

Here’s some of them. I’ll post a full album when I get home and have access to MobileMe. I only have iLife ’06 on this Macbook.

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An Amazing Feat

You may or may not know this, but I’ve been in Denver for the past week for a conference for work. The conference has gone well and most of the participants have flown home.

Originally I changed my flight because I thought that project management wanted to get together here on Friday to work on some issues, but that turned out to not be the case. I ended up with a free Friday. One of my coworkers asked if I was interested in hiking and I was immediately game… Yes!

She chose an “intermediate” trail named “Herman’s Gulch,” (Panoramio) about an hour west of Denver on I-70. We took two disposable cameras since we hadn’t brought any gear along. We also packed some snacks and plenty of water. We loaded up in the rented Toyota RAV4 and headed west.

We initially had some trouble finding the trail on the GPS, but using some waypoints that it did know helped to locate it. We hopped off the highway and arrived at the trail.

When I arrived in Denver last Sunday, I was surprised at how hard it was for me to breathe. If you’ve never been here… or never been high in the mountains… it’s pretty shocking how hard it is to catch your breath, even in the city. I know I’m having trouble breathing even in my sleep because every morning I’ve been awakening with an incredibly dry mouth and chapped lips.

Getting on the trail was the real test. The net says that Herman’s Gulch has some “moderately steep” areas, but now I know that this is Hikingese for “you’re fucking insane to try this.”

The trail is about a total distance of 2.5 miles at a starting elevation of 10,000 something feet and it goes up about another 1,500 feet or some crazy shit like that. The payoff at the end of the trail is a gorgeous lake… that… well, I will likely never see except maybe on Google Maps.

We could only take about 10-20 steps before our breath would totally leave us and we had to stop. It took us 4.5 hours to travel about 1 or 1.5 miles. When we started polling people to ask how much longer the trail was, they advised that we had about another mile to go and… “just before the lake, the trail gets really steep.”

Me: “Steep as in, like the beginning of the trail?”

Hiker: “Nah, steeper than that. It goes pretty steep for about 3/4 of a mile, then you get to the lake.”

I looked at my coworker and you can start to see the “to hell with this” on both of our faces. We obviously didn’t do a good job of covering it up because the pro hikers are telling us, “It’s a beautiful lake, it’s very worth it.”


So we travel up a little more and hit “that steep area.” My coworker looks at me and says with a look of minor disappointment… “Would you kill me if I called this and we turned around?”

“Of course not!”

So we turned around and made a much quicker pace downhill to the car. It still took us roughly another hour to get back, but it really was much easier. I didn’t feel like I was a dying fish at least.

When we arrived back at the car, we headed back toward Denver but was instantly charmed by the fabulous look of Georgetown, an 1800’s mining town buried deep in the mountains just off of I-70. If you get a chance to visit here, please do. It’s wonderful to visit and drive around. The houses are incredible and the view is just so outstanding that it’s worth the trip just to see it. They have a bed and breakfast there as well, which is where I plan on staying if I ever find myself heading back out to the Denver area. For sure.

We ate at a place called the New Prague Restaurant. It’s located at 511 Rose St., Georgetown, CO 80444. (http://www.newpraguerestaurant.com) I am plugging them here because it’s VERY MUCH worth the stop here to enjoy a good dinner. Two people in Georgetown recommended this place when we asked them for a food recommendation and this was definitely the place to eat.

I had a glass of Meridian Chardonnay with a bread-crusted salmon dish. The salmon was served on top of yellow rice with a vegetable mixture and lemon butter collected all around the plate. This comes with a caesar salad (which was excellent and very balanced between greens and dressing). The waiter/owner of the establishment served a shot of what he called “liquid strudel” to everyone there this evening. It was an AMAZING drink – full of sweet apples and peaches with alcohol, served frigid cold. He topped the meal off with a key lime cheesecake that just cannot be imagined or described – you just have to try it.

On the way back, we had to head back into the downtown Denver area to pick up some knick knacks (the wife wanted some more Whole Foods bags and the kid needs a toy!) before reaching the hotel around 8:30pm.

All in all, it was an incredible day and one hell of an adventure. It’s too bad the thin air here makes me struggle to breathe, but I’m sure if I got used to it, I could certainly live here.

Sometimes I really love my work project. It takes me to exotic places on interesting adventures. It’s been a great conference and a fun trip.

Tomorrow my coworker is going rock climbing. I backed out of that one – not just because I just don’t have that kind of upper body strength, but, well, I have to fly home. I miss the family pretty bad, so while it’s been fun, it’s time to go home.

As soon as I get the pictures developed and scanned, I’ll get them posted. If they come out as well as what we shot… they’re breathtaking. I’ve never seen any nature like this. I can only hope to see it again.

A Friday Laff

This one goes out to Beth, whom I think needs some serious cheering up.

BTW, this video absolutely, positively scared the living bejeezus out of my little son.  I thought it was funny.

Sending thanks to Singapore

I just wanted to take a moment to thank the very lovely Eilla for the very nice birthday greetz as well as the wonderful plug for the new podcast. It’s always nice to know you have such great friends on the other side of the planet 🙂

Thanks again, Eilla 🙂 Hope you’re getting some sleep (finally!)

We Got The Funk

It seems like every friend of mine that works in IT has entered a bit of a professional funk of late; mayhaps myself is included in that observation.

There’s a whole lot of burnout going on out there and not much being done to combat it. Not withstanding the fact that IT is one of the hardest jobs on the planet (that is, if you have a family and/or a social life), for some people it can be pretty damn thankless at that.

I’ve been fortunate in that this job I’ve held down the last three years has been rewarding and fulfilling, but it can still burn you out. When you sit around and consider that maybe a visit to a chiropractor is needed just to get the stress off your back, either you’re working too hard or it’s time to poke the apple pie.

I’ve heard from numerous friends who work in this field that are ready to just A) get to another job or B) get out of IT altogether. Of course, I’ve been working on this new media thing so I’d hope to get out of IT support eventually. Production is what I think I love to do – I think.

Yeah, I said I think.

All too often I start up in something, seem to enjoy it, then it burns me out. I suppose I’m like a bat, moving on to the next bright light. I just keep hitting walls and shit like that too.

Too all of you getting killed in IT land – I hear you out there, screaming in the night across the web. Hang in there, it never lasts forever.

Unless it’s evil.

A Podcast Debut

This morning I was informed that the podcast roundtable was posted. I participated in this roundtable last week. Our discussion went on for a good hour and twenty minutes or so, but Jeff managed to whittle it all down to 23 minutes. I’m not sure how he managed that, but I’m looking forward to hearing it.

Just in case you’re curious, hit the podcast here. In case you’re wondering, it’s an Oscars roundup. If you have no interest in the Oscars, at least you were warned 😉

^dRkRaVN has kicked you from #alabama

Ah, that line. What sweet memories it brings back.

^dRkRaVN was our eggdrop bot on the EFNet channel #alabama back in the late 80’s, early 90’s. I think I have the timeline right. Anyway, we ruled that channel with an iron fist, one that you often found crammed up your virtual backside if you didn’t fit into our clique’.

Our clique’ was mean, evil and downright hilarious. The hours upon hours of endless fun with people I would meet later in life helped me get through one of the worst times of my life. I was going through a midlife crisis in my early twenties and without these folks, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have survived.

At the time I worked at one of the local TV stations. So when we decided to have a get together in RL for a LAN party, it made the local news. Part of it was that our most remote channel member, Booter (from Sweden) made the trek from Europe to north Alabama just to meet us. What a guy.

On the list server that we’ve maintained since those years to keep in touch, the chatter has been alive with memories. One of those memories was preserved… the news report from the station I worked at. Yes, they did a news report on us… and believe it or not (I certainly can’t believe it!) I’m going to post it here for you to enjoy now.

Yes, that’s yours truly in there with the long hair and the thinning on top. Yes, that’s Quake II you see us playing in the background.

Ah, lovely, sweet memories.

And if we can convince anyone that pressing ALT-F4 will get you channel operator status again, life will get sweeter still.

That one never got old.