Archive for May, 2004

Once Upon a Time on a Dark and Stormy Night

Posted by Arlo on May 28, 2004 under Videos

Sample After Effects Composition Window (25k image)The video club of which I’m a part has been working lately on finishing some of our first-year projects. One of them, entitled Once Upon a Time on a Dark and Stormy Night, is worth mentioning simply because I’ve invested such a large amount of time in it recently.

In our first year, we adopted a certain operation for our club. Each month, a new member would step up and offer up their own idea for a project. That person would often take on the role of writer/director and the group would rally around them and offer whatever help they could on the day of the shoot. Other responsibilities, especially those that require work outside of shoot dates, would invariably arise, but essentially, participation for most people would amount to an evening planning meeting and a daylong production schedule.

Every project will also have the typical post-production editing, audio, and music related tasks associated with it. What makes Once Upon a Time on a Dark and Stormy Night different is the amount of time we’re putting into extra effects.

Amelia Jenkins is the proud owner of Once Upon a Time on a Dark and Stormy Night and from the beginning she visualized it as animated. We discussed doing stop-frame animation, claymation, and the like, but ended up discarding those ideas because we suspected that they would be too time consuming. I suggested that we plan a normal shoot and use a combination of digital effects in post-production to achieve the animated look-and-feel she was after. Although I haven’t seen the movie Waking Life, I did read up online about how the director supervised the post-processing of the film. I was confident that, after the shoot was behind us, we could find something that would work.

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Welcome Back

Posted by Arlo on May 26, 2004 under Life of Arlo

Five Day Forecast (11k image)Bleh.

A "Big Thing," Part III

Posted by Arlo on May 25, 2004 under Life of Arlo

Continued from here.

That weekend, I began the daunting task of diving into some of the material my professor friend had sent to me. I picked up the Builder’s Guide for Cold Climates only because it looked very professional and had a lot of drawings. Boy, was that over my head.

I guess I should have had a clue with the words Builder and Guide included in the title. I’m not a builder. I mean, I’ve got enough tools and know-how to put together a particle-furniture that comes from the store complete with instructions, but anything beyond that is, well, beyond me. The book itself was well-written and quite explanatory, it just had a different audience in mind.

Before giving up on page 100 or so, I did sort of enjoy trying to figure out what they were talking about. Each chapter concerned itself with a different part of the homebuilding process; the foundation, insulation, electrical, plumbing, etc. All of it was geared towards building an extremely energy efficient, durable house in a cold weather environment. I got the most out of the first part of the each chapter where they gave an overview of what they were about to address. The rest was simply graphical variations on a theme. Unfortunately, the diagrams far outweighed the informative text. It wasn’t uncommon to find references to Figure 5.62 in a ten-paragraph chapter!

The sheer number of diagrams made it abundantly clear that many, many things need to be considered in order to properly build a home in our environment. As a prospective buyer, considering having my own home built, I worried that there was too much information. When it’s time to lay hundreds of thousands of dollars down, how can you trust your general contractor to make sure that all these little details are followed?

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Sunshine… and the living is easy.

Posted by Arlo on May 21, 2004 under Life of Arlo

Actual Sunset from my apartment... but from a year ago (25k image)I just (re)discovered something that might have a detrimental effect on the newfound proliferation of my web log entries… 

Straightforward sunbathing is awesome.

The weather here has been truly spectacular lately – the bank thermometer next to my apartment read 77 degrees yesterday – and I’ve been taking advantage of it every change I get. Which isn’t exactly all that often when I have to work 40 hours a week. Nevertheless, I’ve been using my lunch breaks to plant myself in a warm, quiet corner on campus, crank up the tunes, and use my laptop to pound out these entries.

Today I was a bit hungrier than usual, so I went to Subway first and grabbed a sandwich. When I got back to campus, I had maybe a half hour left on my lunch break. I sat down on a bench next to the library and started typing Part III of that “Buying a House” thing I’ve been blathering on about lately. The day was hot, though, and wearing a black t-shirt didn’t help matters. What’s more, I’d left my sunglasses at work. With them it’s difficult to make out what’s on my incapacitated-by-sunlight LCD screen. Today I found that it’s pretty much the same without them, there’s just more squinting involved.

Anyway, after all of 10 minutes, I gave up and simply lay down on the bench and closed my eyes. The sun blazing down was heaven and if I’d had more than 10 or 15 minutes left, I’d have probably let myself fall asleep.

I’ve only been living in Juneau for 10 years or so (A decade already? Damn!), but I’ve heard that the best time of year is always in the spring. Thinking back to 2003, I can believe it. As it’s been the last couple months, April and May last year were exceedingly clear and sunny. Unfortunately, it was also quite cold. I remember taking advantage of the good weather by playing disc golf and having to skate on the icy trails well into May.

Not this year. It’s been perfectly comfortable with highs in the mid- to upper 60s almost every day. The only downside is that my apartment gets quite a bit of afternoon sunlight and if neither Oksana nor I remember to go home to open the windows and turn on the fans during our lunch breaks, we’ll come home to temperatures (seriously) around 90 degrees. Not that I’m complaining – it’s a fair trade, in my opinion.

In all likelihood, this divine weather will not last much longer. In no time we’ll be back to Juneau’s typically depressing wetgreychilly summer. It’ll be depressing, sure, but at least I won’t be tempted to sleep through my lunchtime writing sessions.

Stick It Up Their BUTT Day

Posted by Arlo on May 19, 2004 under Thought Objects

Stick It Up Their BUTT Day!!!1 (25k image)Hey, did you know that today, May 19th, has been formally declared “Stick It Up Their BUTT Day?”

What? You haven’t heard? Come on, it’s been formally declared and everything! By who? I think it’s a Hallmark holiday, let me check…

No, wait, look at that. It’s just an e-mail chain letter that’s been going around! Let’s take a look:

From: Lourdes Paepke
Sent: Thursday, May 13, 2004 10:51 AM
Subject: FW: Don’t purchase gas on May 19

Hey, everyone. We all hate chain letters, but lets try and pass this one around, and also do it!

It has been calculated that if everyone in the US did not purchase a drop of gasoline for one day, and all at the same time, the oil companies would choke on their stockpiles.
Hahaha. How great would that be? Lets see how THEY feel!

At the same time, it would hit the entire industry with a net loss of over 4.6 billion dollars, which affects the bottom lines of oil companies.

Therefore, May 19th has been formally declared “Stick It Up Their BUTT Day” and we’re asking all of you not to buy a SINGLE DROP of gasoline that day!

The only way we can make any kind of impact is if you forward this email to as many people as you can, and as quickly as possible.

Waiting on the administration to step in and control prices is a long game that we’re going to have to pay for in the end. Take some control, and make your voice heard!

We can make a difference. If they don’t get the message after one day, we’ll do it again, until they do!

So do your part and spread the word. Then, mark May 19th on your calendars. Even better, put a post-it in your car reminding you not to buy gas on May 19th!

It’s time to say enough is ENOUGH!

There are so many things wrong with this I hardly know where to begin. Okay, how about we start with a little thing called “credibility?”

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The $1,149.75 Grand Prize

Posted by Arlo on May 18, 2004 under Life of Arlo

Over the past couple of weeks, Juneau has been amazingly nice. The weather has been all we can hope for this time of year, hovering in the 60s and 70s during the day and sunny, sunny, sunny. I thought it was a little funny when Oksana took time out of her Saturday to go indoor tanning at Northern Hot Spots, but we are planning a two-week beach vacation next month, so I can appreciate the need to build up a burn-preventing base tan.

What would probably have changed her mind, had she known about it, was that Northern Hot Spots was using Saturday to promote their business with a radio broadcast. When Oksana arrived, she was immediately asked if she would like to participate in a live, on-the-air interview. My wife is the sensible type. She said “Heck no!” and went about the business of darkening her skin.

At the counter, she noticed that there was a “today-only sale” – 15 tans for $47.25. Since she had been stealing my tans of late (purchased to prime me for Cuba), she decided to lay down the cash. Being a full-on promotion day, she also accepted a tanning lotion sample and threw her name in for a prize drawing.

She told me all this, of course, upon her return home. Then we promptly forgot about it.

The next day, after spending more time out in the sun at Eagle Beach, we returned home and decided to take a nap. Strangely exhausted, we both slept like rocks/logs/babies and didn’t even hear the phone ring. That evening I awoke first, stumbled out of the bedroom, and promptly sprawled myself on the couch. Oksana arose a short while later, droopy-eyed and with lines etched into her face from the wrinkles on her pillow.

“Beh,” she said. Could’ve been Russian, but I think she just needed her tea. She noticed the red-flashing button as she passed the answering machine on her way into the kitchen. She pushed it and we heard:

“Hi, Oksana. This is Terry calling from Northern Hot Spots to let you know that you won a year’s supply of free tans in the drawing this afternoon. Congratulations.”

In an instant, Oksana went from slouched and drained to conscious and jubilant, her fists raised to the ceiling in celebration. She’d won the coveted Northern Hot Spots grand prize, sure, but was acting like it was the first time in her entire life that she’d won anything at all. Wait a minute… it was.

Anyway, Oksana’s happy. The next time you see her you may notice a big smile – or, at the very least, a darker epidermis.

Me? I get my Cuba tans back.

A "Big Thing," Part II

Posted by Arlo on May 15, 2004 under Life of Arlo

Continued from here

$300,000. That’s the amount that Alaska Pacific Bank was willing to sign over to us at the drop of a hat. During the AHFC homeowner’s class, we were told a simple formula to guesstimate how high our mortgage could reach and our combined incomes topped it out at only $210,000. You can imagine the shock we had when we realized how wrong we were.

We spent that Friday evening going over the large amounts of practically incomprehensible paperwork. The $300,000 loan would be good at 5.5% interest, only 5% down, and the closing costs would be about $10,000. It would have stretched our finances to the limit, but conceivably, we could have taken that loan out on Monday!

The part that gave me the most pause, though, was the schedule of payments. The magnitude of a 30-year loan doesn’t quite sink in until you see the date of the final payment: April 1st, 2036. 2036! I’m picturing the end of fossil fuels, world-changing contact with extra-terrestrials, or at the very least, flying cars! Are we really ready for such a protracted commitment?

We had plenty of time over the weekend to reevaluate our financial lives. Could we afford a waterfront, sunlit house? Would it be possible to build our own home? Should we even consider pushing our limit, or should we look into something we could pay off in a lot more time?

We also started to talk more seriously with other homeowners, and of course, the suggestions started to come in fast and furious. Spend your limit on waterfront – it’s an investment! Get a place with an apartment so that you can rent it out and let someone else pay most of your mortgage! Spend as little as possible so that you have some remaining cash flow for emergencies!

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