Thursday, January 29, 2009

Double Post

This week was so full of wonderfulness, I can't possibly whittle it down to 10, so there are 20 things instead.

1) It's always exciting when the first pictures of upcoming lego sets come out. This week the Canadian Toy & Hobby Fair led to a whole bunch of pics. I am particularly excited about the giant rock monster and the cool aliens in the Space Police III sets.

2) Tiffany and Seth made dinner at Krista's house. It was my first time having pork nuggets, they were tasty. We watched maybe the last third of the Jacksons TV movie. There was a giraffe at one point.

3) I got to make a flowchart for our office this week. It was kind of fun. I like flowcharts. You can organize things with shapes and colors and make legends, very satisfying.

4) I finally went to the optometrist, and a little over an hour later I walked out with my first pair of glasses. While I was jumpy about the eyedrops and the glaucoma test, it was all in all a really pleasant experience. The people at Pearle Vision were really friendly and helpful. I had a lot of fun with the optometrist. They helped me find a pair of glasses that look good on me and also come with magnet-on sunglasses. Very cool.

At first I didn't think the glasses were making that big of a difference. Yeah, I could see all the fibers in the towels hanging in my bathroom and see things distant things with a clarity I didn't think was possible, but how much would that change my day to day life, which mostly involves staring at a computer screen, or things that are even closer to my face? However after only a few days I had gotten so used to seeing clearly (though not yet used to putting my glasses on first thing every morning) that after stumbling around my apartment for a while wondering why the blurriness of sleep hadn't yet dissapated, or today when I realized I that until now I had been subconciously leaning in absurdly close to my computer screen to be able to view it clearly, I would wonder how I used to live everday like that. I am sitting back in my chair and marvelling at my ability to read 12 point font on a screen that is a yard away.

5) It was never a conscious decision, but I've known for a while that I subconciously modelled Phil and Sherry after Paul and Stephanie to a certain extent. When I was at their house for dinner this week though, I was reminded of the couple's similarity. I don't remember what led to it, but Stephanie said of Paul, "He got a memory like a goldfish." Paul made goldfish faces at her and then said "I even forget that i'm a goldfish." Which was delightful and humorous in it's own right, but it also reminded me of Phil's line in episode 2: "Yesterday? You expect me to remember something I did yesterday? I don't even remember what we're talking about."

6) Then we had some delicious stirfry and watched beaucoup Dr. Who.

7) The communications department had a joint meeting/retreat thing with the part of Alumni Relations and Development that is the most similar. The word synergy was only used once, but that the essence of the whole thing. It was nice to put some names and faces to a bunch of people who were only e-mail addresses before, and I'm sure there will be other beneficial reprecussions down the line. There were great breakfast and lunch spreads, which was enough for me in the short term.

8) Built a set for NNN episode 1.

SVELT of course stands for Super Villain Education & Leadership Teachery. (I orignially had it as Super Villain Evaluation and Legislation Tribunal, but that is clunky and obtuse.) The wall with the logo took the most time to figure out. I started by desigining the letters in Lego Digital Designer.

This made it easy to try out different variations quickly, since I could chage the color of any brick with a couple clicks. Then once I was satisfied I built it out of physical legos, using the computer screen as a guide. The technique I used to make the font is one I never would have thought up on my own. On this guide to lego fonts it is technique 4. it takes advantage of the 5:6 ratio of the horizontal and vertical sides of the standard lego brick. The trick to it is that the bricks are not all connected together, there are a bunch of pieces with varying orientations that are held in place by friction.

I was also proud of the furnishings. I really like the green chair - it looks coushy.

I was also very proud of myself for the stroke of genius of using that gigantic white flower piece as a frilly ottoman.

9) Getting cheered up by Dana and Lindsay when I was feeling like an idiot on Thursday.

10) Luckily, everything worked out fine that night, and thus Dave Nagel is my hero, having saved me from having to record a lecutre downtown from 6-7 (and then I would have had to go back to Hyde Park to return the equipment, so it would have been approaching 9 by the time I got home.)

11) I did however, meet Stephanie getting on the train downtown, which was unexpected and delightful. We proceded to my place for a fun night that involved LostWinds and Arrested Development and 30 rock and curried chicken.

12) Here's some info about the Lego train from last week's 30 Rock

13) We have a new governor! Also in the unequivicoally good news pertaining to the government catergory this week: Unfair pay bill passes.

14) After work on Friday I was exhausted from a long week, my eyes were tired of looking at things too, so I had a quick snack and then got into bed for what I assumed would be, at most, a 2 hour coma. I wome up a little over 4 hours later, confused and hungry. It was late for a full dinner, but I made do and then poked aroudn hte internet for a few hours before returning to sleep for another 7 hours. Delightful.

15) In my internet poking i discovered that Super Human Resources is finally being published. I met the artist at Brickworld last year, where I was impressed with with increidble Wild West creations. At that time he gave me a prieview booklet of hte first issue, but did not seem optomistic about it getting picked up in any way. So hooray for indie comic sucess! Krista is going to help me acquire it since she is well versed in the world of comic book stores.

16) Reminiscing about Brickworld / planning for this year.

17) On Saturday night, Stephanie, Paul, Tiffany, Seth, JJ, Dana and (eventually) Krista came over to eat Potato Flag and play video games. There was also a box of Sangria from Target (one box = 4 bottles of wine), some other bottles of wine & champagne, a pie of pudding and whipped cream and caramel made by Dana that was dubbed "Diabetes Pie" by Stephanie, oatmeal chocolate chip and cranberry cookies also by Dana, a plate of behemoth pastries provided by JJ.

Boom Blox was a hit and there was much yelling as the towers toppled (though not as much noise as when JJ uncorked a difficult bottle of wine). There were also forays into WarioWare and world of Goo and much frivolity. It was a wonderful night.

18) I spent this morning doing a little clean up, but most I just read Son of a Witch. I read probably the last third. The first time I read through it, I was a little let down. I enjoyed it, but it seemed bland in comparison with the dazzling colored Wicked. Now that I have read it through for a second time (and Wicked for a third) I recognize that Son of a Witch is by far a better book. Stephanie recognized this the first time around of course, and when I brought it up recently she said "Liir is a better character than Elphaba and his book is not constrained by the movie and the original book the way hers is."
I agree with that, but to elaborate, IMO Son of a Witch is better primarily because it's more focused than Wicked. In Wicked we are constantly switching viewpoints, and while the book is ostensibly all about Elphaba, it isn't until the last third or so that we actually see things from her persepcitve. The first few segements are told from the perspective of her parents, Glinda, Boq and Fiyero, and Elphaba weaves in and out. In Son of A Witch you are more or less with from beginning to end. There are a few parts in other perspectives, but those are only the parts where Liir is in a coma anyway.
Wicked also does a tremendous amount of world building. It deals with the ideas several different religions in Oz as well as political intrigue and many conversations about the origin of evil (or wickedness as the case may be) that feel a bit shoehorned in. The world-building is excellent, but there is quite a lot of it. Son of A Witch has the benefit of all of that being done already and doesn't have put much time into it.
I love both books dearly of course, and to be fair would still be more interested in making the animated movie of Wicked than of Son of A Witch, but it's clear which one is better.

19) Filling taxes is so easy. I did it in less than an hour today and now I've got $700 coming my way. Sweet! Granted, this was the easiest tax year I've had in a while as I only had one job in one state and no sneaky sources of income.

20) Got a phone call from Talya this afternoon and an e-mail from Adam earlier this week. Nice to hear from old friends.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This is what I look like now

Incredible what glasses and a haircut will do.

Even I'm surprised.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I did a lot of laundry this week

This was a strange week. I was off Monday and Tuesday, but worked this Saturday. Except that on Thursday and Saturday I worked downtown instead of at the office (would have been Wednesday too, but that got bungled). So it was back and forth and here and there and long and short. It was good, but it was hard to keep track of, thus these are in no particular order.

1) I added tails to parrot and monkey costumes

Started a new shark costume

Added flames to the Sun and gave it sturdier legs

It looks really cool against black.

2) For the inauguration I went to a viewing party at Sidetrack. It was a great decision. The crowd booed and hissed at Rick Warren and mocked the way he said "Sasha!" They cheered Aretha Franklin and her fabulous hat. It was great just to applaud and cheer, which would be weird to do if I was sitting at home and watching it by myself.

3) I did 5 loads of laundry this week. I had not really done laundry since before Christams and the piles were flowing out of my closet and creeping towards the rest of my bedroom. Now I can actually walk into my closet again. I even did towels and sheets!

4) Stephanie came over as per usual. We feasted on pasta salad and mesquite chicken. We played through a bunch of Wario Land: Shake It! and began watching Torchwood special features. Delightful.

5) A position in our department that had been vacant for almost half a year was finally filled: The Manager of Digital Communications. He came to our office this week to learn about what we do and what our digital needs/wants are (solution for archiving our media, centralized media server for campus) etc. He had lots of good ideas and seemed cool. I'm looking forward to working with him.

6) I don't know if I've mentioned her here before, but I certainly don't mention her enough. Someone who works down the hall brings her dog, Molly to work everyday. Molly wanders around our floor looking for attention/food. She is a very mellow dog, so unlike Renee's dog Cassius, I am not nervous about her kicking over my computer or anything like that. I just get to pet her and then send her on her way if I need to focus on something. It's a grea arrangment.

7) The conference I went to was interesting. Aside from hte Saturday training seesion, it didn't give me much practical knowledge that improves my job, but It got me thinking about our office and my career etc. in new and different way. We'll see if anything comes of it, but it was also a nice change from the hassles of the office.

8) I was pretty exhausted Friday and Saturday night so I stayed in, ate leftovers, watched movies where Brad Pitt runs around shirless (Snatch & Fight Club) and did some yoga. Very relaxing. I also took a nap on saturday night. Delightful.

9) I started listening to the Rachel Maddow show podcast this week. Now that we have a cool president I feel like I can listen to political news without just getting depressed. So far so good!

10) I finished reading Wicked (again) this week. It's not a perfect book, there are awkward sections and it's a bit disjointed, but I do love it so. It's so dissapointing how simplistic the musical was. I'd love to direct an animated version some day.

Monday, January 12, 2009

It was really cold this week

I'm still not used to the flow of these weekly posts. When I was posting 10 things a day, I was usually stretching to fill it out. Now that I have seven whole days to accumulate 10 measly things I find myself sturggling to figure out how to fit it all in. This week I am going to get around it by grouping similar things together.

1) Things you can read on the internet: Tiffany sent me links to a collection of bushisms and an article about this crazy cool apartment that is 24 rooms in 1. There was also a new bit added to Jack and Ellis. Stephanie has started updating her blog again and my friend Lindsay B Champion started one.

2) Fun phone conversations I had: Lila called on Monday night and we talked for a good while. Also I happened to call Dana while she was in the Sacramento airport during a layover on her spontaneous weekend trip to Oregon. We had a short little chat.

3) Things I watched on a television: The last two episodes of Torchwood Season 2 (poor Tosh), 30 Rock (Dr.. Spaceman, St. Bartelby's, etc.), the Office (I totally called Andy hitting Dwight with his car, but I did not realize how awesome it would be, this was one of hte best episodes in a while), Robin Hood Men In Tights (I forgot Dave Chapelle was in it), the rest of the first season of Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego (the last couple I watched first thing sunday morning with breakfast - it felt like watching saturday morning cartoons as a kid).

Alright, I ran out of groupable things, the rest I shall just let fall as they may.

4) Not losing my toes to frostbite. On tuesday night Stephanie came over for dinner. It was very cold and the heaters in my apartment were not making much of an impact. My kitchen floor was especillay cold. I was foolishly only wearing a single pair of socks. After a while I didn't even notice it anymore, this should have been my first sign that something was wrong. I but my feet in front of the heater to try and warm them up. It was then then Stephanie looked over and saw my my toes were clearly forstbiten and commanded me to go soak them in water so as to save them. 10 minutes later the color (and blood) had returned to all of my toes. But yeah, I definitely owe my toes to Stephanie. Not my proudest moment. I don't know how it stacks up against getting hypothermia in the middle of the summer, or the incredibly stupid way I broke my right arm, but it certainly isn't something I'm going to brag about.

5) On Wednesday I went over to Christopher's apartment. He made a delicious dinner, roasted chicken, and spinach and artichoke risotto. We watched the movie 9 to 5 which was one of Christopher's favoirte movies when he was growing up (he's a big Dolly Parton fan). I thought the night went really well, but he kept getting hung up on insignificant things (like dropping his fork or burning the dessert a little) and we parted on a strange note. I haven't heard back from him yet...

6) Had lunch with Arthur at Salonica. I found you he's a Doctor Who / Torchwood fan, so we talked about the Whoniverse a bit. We also talked about sleepwalking (I told him about my imfamous "sleeprunning into the bathroom to hide from the Russian Spies who are trying to steal my Bio lab report") and his Ambien induced hallucinations.

7) Paul and Stephanie make damn good cinnimin chickin. The bread and cheese and pineapple was also delicious.

8) I got to be a lot of different characters at Screenwriter's. There was a trippy/dreamy screenplay called Phantom Vibrations.

9) I bought a new TV. I used the upcoming swtich over to digital as my excuse and took advantage of Circuit City's going out of business sale to pick it up. The TVs were only 10% off, so it was basically just taking off the sales tax, but the TV I got was on sale already. It's a 26" LCD HDTV. It's not a whole lot bigger than my last one, but it's much crisper. The difference between the SD channels and the HD channels I pick up with my antenna is absurd. I've had a lot of fun just switching back and forth between the NBCs.

10) Paul (my ex) called me more or less out of the blue yesterday to join him and some of his friends as they hopped around a couple bars in Boystown for his birthday. I ended up having a really good time, even danced a bit, which is unusual for me, but I'm starting to see why people do it. It helped that the bar was playing music I actually know and enjoy (Jamiroquai and Billy Joel!) and that those Melon vodka slushies were so delicious.

11) After Circuit City I made a stop by the Container store, because I always need more containers for Lego sorting. I found these containers, which are meant for papers, folders, business projects etc. They happen to work perfectly for storing plates though and they fit really nicely into my shelving. They were also pretty cheap.

See how nicely they fill up the top middle square?

They are also perfect for storing torsos. When I realized this, I got very excited. I have been storing torsos in a few oddly shaped bins which were awkward and bulky. They fill up on of these cases beautifully though.

This is an example of when sorting is fun, because it is a rewarding aesthetic experience in itself. Here are the transparent pieces I sorted last week, which I also like looking at.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Video Games Ahoy!

1) Went on a Braid internet spiral: It started with this AV club interview with the creator, and a few links later i was reading a behind the scenes of the art design. And the next thing I knew I was reading a talk Feynman gave called What is science?

2) I lost my awesome Lego USB key and then re-found it the next day on the bus! I mean Ias soon as I got off the bus I realized it was missing and exactly when it had fallen out of my bag, but it was too late to get it back. But the next day I got on the bus at exactly the same time (thank god for the 174 being so regular) and it happened to be the exact same bus and no one had noticed my USB key in the 24 hours it sat there (it's the same color as the floor, so I'm sure that helped) so I picked it up and laughed a triumphant laugh.

3) Met Christopher downtown at Star of Siam for dinner on Tuesday and then we went to see "Doubt" which is a slightly awkward movie to see on a date, but it was good and we had a nice time. I think I would like Doubt better as a play. In between we got drinks at the Second Story Bar, the only gay bar downtown apparently.

4) The workdays seemed to go quickly this week.

5) Mead got me some comics from India. They are retelling of famous myths etc. Very cool.

6) Another consequence of my Braid Spiral was playing the games Passage and Gravitation. These are very short games (one is 5 minutes and hte other is 9 minutes, which are only barely video games, they are more like interacive conceptual art or something like that. Warning, they are also both kind of sad.

7) I made dinner for the first time this year - Tortelli Soup = delicious!

8) Another video game I played this week is Crayon Physics Deluxe. I played through the Demo and had and absolute blast and decided I needed more. The game is a puzzle game where you in each level you need to get a red ball to touch a star. You do this by drawing stuff. Unlike most puzzle games there isn't just one solution. There are infinite solutions. Take the level "Needs more Unicorn" for example. This is what it looks like at the beginning:

A simple solution to the level is to just draw another ramp to direct the ball to the star.

Or you might do something more in spirit of the level's name.

I was not able to actually beat the level using these unicorns, even with the later addition of some spinning planks. However I had a blast trying. Some levels I will play around with for nearly an hour even though I see a simple solution almost immediately. I love this game.

9) I spent a few hours this weeked desiging and building this sun creature. In the final version all those flames will be red instead of black and there will be twice as many, but until that bricklink order comes in it''ll stay in prototype. I'm pretty happy with it except that the legs are not great at supporting it, which will be a problem for trying to animate it. Still, not bad for a first draft.

10) On Saturday Christopher and I had dinner at Demera, an Ethipoian restauarnt across the street from the Green Mill. Our waitress kept forgetting us, but the food was delicious. Then we went across the street to Crew, a gay sports bar. Neither of us are in to sports, but it was close and the gay english pub next door was crowded. There was a football game on (some sort of play off) but it wasn't distracting. A great evening all in all.

11) Got interviewed about my Lego collection by a friend of a friend. I never mind talking about LEGOs for an hour or two, so I enjoyed myself.

Monster Battle Royale 2: The Reckoning

It's not so much a battle royale as it is a slaughter by the pinpuraptoart, but you get the idea. First, it encounters the lethargic fizzard. Notice the cool mug Renee got me for Christmas.

What a jump!

Can i interest anyone in coffee or dessert?

What's that sneaking up behind? It's the deadly Snant!

A pitter-patter of tiny feet and already it's somewhere else

Oh no it's too fast for our hero!

Or is it?

It isn't

It's almost sad... almost

After a long day, our hero gets some well deserved rest.

But this is just what the dreaded Faunt has been waiting for

For you see, the Faunt is a creature that stalks its prey in their dreams

It whispers sweet nothings to our sleeping hero

It latches on

And swtiches heads?! What's going on?

Who should we be rooting for?

Oh no! Watch out!

Too late!

Our hero wakes up suddenly. "Phew, it was just a dream."

...or was it?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I have to keep reminding myself it's 2009

Like I said, for the foreseeable future I will be doing 10 things per week instead of 10 per day. I just don't have the time for that.

1) Woke up for the first time this year. Spent a lazy morning with Krista, Seth and Tiffany. Krista made a delicious breakfast and we watched the Lion King. Not a bad way to start 2009.

2) That afternoon I watched lots of animation. A couple lego ones and a bunch of others recommended by the animation blog. Here are my favorites from that bunch, there were a lot of different media used: sand, Flip Books and Photographs, Creepy puppets/costumes, and Clothing. I also liked Procrastination. My absolute favorite was The Old Crocodile. I just love it.

3) The next day I went on a date with this guy Christopher I met at the queer nerds event. It went really well. We ate at Ping Pong and then had a couple drinks at Minibar and Sidetrack. We spent almost six hours talking. I felt a real connection, I think we are both very interested in learning and thinking and have similar mindsets in that way, even though he didn't go to the U of C, he's got that same level of thoughtfulness that I've come to expect after constantly being surrounded by intelligent people. In other words: wonderful!

4) Karan tipped me off to this: run goomba run

5) Went to Target on Saturday and bought such things as: a humidifier, a clock for the living room, the stuff you but under rugs so they don't slip, fruit snacks, light bulbs, a small lego set, a plastic case perfect for sorting tiny lego pieces, underwear, a new scarf, and new workout pants.

6) Then I spent the evening sorting legos while watching Northern Exposure and Space Ghost. The tiny translucent pieces have been given a new home, as well as the 1X2 plates and tiles in all their variations.

7) On Sunday I did a bunch of laundry. I also took the time ot improve the stability my bike rack. It is now held in place by four strong bungee cord. Huzzah.

8) Christopher called to schedule another date.

9) Watched some "Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego" The episodes in the first season are very formulaic. In the span of three episodes the decetives were menaced by a shark, a kimono dragon, a jaguar, and an alligator. Zack has tripped and gotten stuck too many times to count. And Carmen's plots have all involved stealing a series of enormous items to attempt something rEdiculous like contacting aliens, genetically engineering a dinosaur and painting her face on the moon. I love them all the same.

10) This monkey costume is not as good as the shark costume or even the parrot costume (which wasn't originally intended as a costume, but now I have completed the triumverate of pirate animal costumes!

Better pictures when I have time.

Friday, January 2, 2009

PIcture Post!

Here is the thing I helped Dana put together a couple weeks ago

And here's what happens when I play around with it in photoshop for too long

Lego Josh

Lego Ben Kolak

Shark Costume

Bi-Pedal Shark Costume

The inevitable result

All the awesome pirate lego sets I got for Christmas

This awesome goose drawing I did for Stephanie