Tuesday, January 29, 2008

January round-up 

I know, I'm a couple of days early, but odds are I wouldn't find the time to blog in those two days. I'm a bit surprised that I managed to find time today. Interesting how much my blogging seems to spring as much from the time to write as it does from the desire to write. Ah, well. Anyway, during the past week or so, there were a few things that I wanted to blog about, so I should just write down the short versions.
The last weblogger's meetup gave me the incentive to update the old blogroll. One interesting addition is My Shrapnel, where Gila is posting various writings dealing with her survival of a suicide bombing. Gila's a good writer regardless of the topic, but when she's recounting something so compelling as this, she's fascinating.
A link at Unshelved led me to this blog, where I discovered this post about comic book super-heroes. All I can say is that Eric Burns has perfectly captured my own feelings on the matter.
I got another e-mail from Bloatmeal the other week, asking me if I was ready to switch jobs yet. Surprisingly enough, I felt a moment or two of temptation. Those higher paychecks and benefits were nice to have. Of course, once I started recalling acid reflux and stress headaches and lack of sleep and corporate b.s. and all that, I had an easier time replying, "no."
In a tangential vein, my current boss' last day is Thursday. The whole company is invited out to a dinner/retirement party after work. We're also taking up a collection for a farewell gift. I have to admit that I had a moment of resentment over that. He's the one selling out for big bucks, right? sigh. I can't believe I've gotten so stingy....
I finished Season One of Stargate SG-1. It's so... American. Take the episode "Singularity", where the crew find out that the little girl they've rescued has a nuclear time bomb implanted inside her. A great bit of drama. If it were Farscape, the bomb would have exploded and the crew's anguish and sorrow would have played out over a number of episodes. Instead we get a bomb that magically defuses and dissolves away once the child ventures far enough away from the stargate. Not very satisfying television. Ruminator is right--I should be seeking out the new Battlestar Galactica.
I had a busy Saturday: a Bible class, a memorial gathering and a program on making comics. The memorial was for Anita Rowland. It was nice to hear again how wonderful a person she was. She truly deserved to be loved by as many folks as she was. (Or should I say "as she is", since that affection hasn't gone away.) It did feel a bit weird being there, though. I really didn't know her all that well, and her friends and family even less. I kind of slipped in late for the program and then slipped out early during the socializing. I felt like a ghost mourner, come to pay my respects.
Regarding the comics program, it did give me an idea for a creative endeavor. One of the presenters, David Lasky, gave a workshop on mini-comics, where we were supposed to create our own. While throwing out starter ideas, he wrote down the title "My Most Embarrassing Moment". It occurred to me that a mini-comic might be just the vehicle to tell the tale of my most embarrassing moment in China. It's something that takes up many pages in my writing steno book, but might be able to be condensed into a short, illustrated tale. Of course, if I don't have time to type in a blog, when will I find time to illustrate a comic?

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Must seen TV 

I've started watching through Stargate SG-1, having finished watching all of the collected Farscape episodes. Like Farscape, I'm borrowing the DVDs from the Library, so weeks after I put in my request, I end up with a two week glut of watching television. The thing was, with Farscape, I had to exercise self control to stop myself from watching just one more episode. With Stargate, I can take it or leave it. The series concept is far more promising, but it fails to deliver. I find myself forcibly suspending disbelief so as to continue watching the episode. I can't believe that Farscape got axed after four seasons, yet this series ran for ten. It reminds me a bit of the various Star Trek series. Week after week I'd watch mediocre stories just for a chance to enjoy some likable characters and with a distant hope that this episode might be good.

There's also another Star Trek parallel. I started watching that series ten or so years after it first ran. Now I'm starting on Stargate after its tenth anniversary. Of course, the way I'm watching it is worlds apart. Instead of trying to catch a commercial ridden rerun at whatever time the TV station chooses to schedule it, (It was 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon back in '77, if I recall correctly.) I get to watch whatever uncut episode I want, when I want... well, assuming the DVD player's working, and nobody else in the family needs to use the TV. What progress! Now if only the writing would follow suit...

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

January Weblogger's Meetup Report 

(I have to make an official report, so I'll have to refrain from adding too much personal comment.)The January Meetup had a sparse attendance: Chris (Actually, he was the third to arrive, but I'm putting him first because he's has the alphabetical advantage.), Clark (He was the first arrival, technically, but he also had dinner at Ralph's, which gives him a slight advantage.), and John. (I didn't have dinner, I just had a beer) (Karen, our organizer was playing hooky. She had a chance to go to Macworld, so she blew us off. Hey, if I was involved in all this technology stuff like she is, I'd do that, too. Actually, I'd do that even if I was just using computers and software I dug out of the company dumpster, like I am. Of, course, I don't have any vacation time, so I'd have to forgo getting paid, assuming that my boss would let me go. And then, of course, I'd have to get down to San Francisco--but I might have enough frequent flyer miles to swing that.)(Karen had asked me to cover as "organizer", which I agreed to, despite the fact she called me Phil. She wanted to make sure someone gave the illusion of organization, because there were a lot of newcomers RSVP'd for the event. I could have told her that no one who RSVPs for these meetups actually show up, but I didn't. I was afraid that if I said something these people would actually show up and make a liar out of me. Anyway, I agreed to fill in and tried to organize. I brought stickers and markers, so we could make name tags and even brought my laptop so I could have people sign in electronically.) (Paper and pen would have been so lame and even more retro than my iBook.) (Clark was intrigued by my old clamshell iBook--he wondered if it would be possible to slip the guts of one of the current MacBooks into a the clamshell casing. That would probably irritate the heck out of Steve Jobs.) Jack, our scheduled speaker, had a last minute change of plans, so he wasn't able to make the scheduled presentation on adding RSS feeds to your blog. (Which is a shame, because Clark still needs to do that to his blog. He mentioned that he's going to do a big redesign on his site.) (I wouldn't minded hearing about how to add the RSS feed either, even though I'm using Blogger and they do all those things for you.) But despite that disappointment, we had an enjoyable chat (No, really. My worst nightmare would have been that the responsibility of conversing would have fallen upon me and the group would have reduced to staring out the window and uttering short statements about every fifteen minutes or so. However, Chris and Clark spared me from that fate.), discussing Chris's marketing ventures (Can you believe it? He's actually making money on the web! Of course, he has to write about golf, so it's not free money...), Clark's logo designs (Typical design woes--the customer is a lot better at communicating what they don't want rather than what they do.) and John's outdated blogroll.(I had no idea that Daphna had started blogging again and that she had dropped the "Sex Kitten in Training" title.) (We actually discussed more that those three things, but if you want an exhaustive record of the meetup you'll just have to come yourself and take your own notes.) (Let's see, anything else? Um, I suppose I could report on our respective beverages: Diet Coke or some other Coca-Cola product for Clark, Red Bull or some other energy drink for Chris (he said it was nasty), and a Red Hook ale for myself. (My first Red Hook since 2005!)) All in all we lingered for an hour and a half and then went our separate ways. (I actually only had to wait about a minute for the #36 bus! An excellent end to the evening, especially in January.) Or to paraphrase Clark, we stopped surfing the 'net at Ralph's so we could go home and surf the 'net there. Actually, I took a walk with my wife, which is one reason I didn't write up this report until Saturday.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Here we go again 

It's deja vu all over again. Back on January 2nd we had a state of the company meeting at work. The company, we were told, is for sale. Well, all but sold, actually. Some of my coworkers were quite shaken by the news. Me, I haven't been employed there long enough to be shaken. Besides, this is the fourth time I've been sold out. I've endured a buyout which didn't affect me in the least and one that gradually transformed the company into a Dilbert strip. I'm content to see what happens. I'm not expecting it too be too bad. My fellow pre-press grunt, however, is taking a more pessimistic wait-and-see stance. He's also a buyout veteran, but he's experienced layoffs and pay cuts. Of course, he seems to have endured a lot of grief from his past employers. Sometimes I have to wonder: Has he been exceptionally cursed? Or have I just been exceptionally blessed?

Anyway, this past week, we got to meet the new big kahuna. He seems nice enough. He's optimistic, but hasn't been promising a bright and wonderful future. For that I was grateful. If he started going on and on about how we're on the verge of some magnificent growth, I would have been combing the want ads. The only thing he did say that gave me pause was mentioning off-handedly about adding a second shift. As second pre-press banana, I guess I would be a prime candidate for a second shift position. The problem is, I'm enjoying having my evenings free. I'm not so sure I'd want to go back to the swing shift life. On the other hand, that would probably mean extra cash....

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Passion builds like a summer storm.
I am the wind, a force of nature
Raging across the prairie with the power to make the forests tremble.
Then--a spark
The majesty begins to falter.
Lightning flashes and the metaphor shatters.
I am a child and the merry-go-round slows to a stop.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Signs, signs 

I saw an odd thing today. While we were walking down the hill today, we saw that someone had defaced a number of real estate signs. A real estate agent name of Henry Ung had placed a bunch of little green signs on a number of corners along College St., I guess directing people to various homes he's selling. One of the neighbors apparently is honked off about this and took it upon themselves to paste bright magenta stickers over Henry's name and number. The sticker offers a wordy diatribe addressed to Mr. Ung, railing against his "offensive" and "illegal" signs. Now while I hardly think that the real estate signs beautify the 'hood, I don't really think the magenta stickers improve the landscape much. I mean, I always figured that signage was just part of the urban environment, like cars parked along the street and bus stops. Anyway, I don't understand why, if those little signs are so offensive, the offended neighbor just didn't remove all the illegal signs. They could have just dumped them at Mr. Ung's office door. (I should note that they had already attempted to contact Mr. Ung directly. He didn't return the calls.) Or, to be really nasty, they could have just moved all the signs so that they directed Seattle's home buyers to Mr. Ung's own residence. Oh, well. I guess I'll never understand activists.

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