Monday, March 29, 2010

A blog? What's that?

So, I don't know if you all remember this or not, but I have a blog! And you are reading it! And this is a new post! WOW!

So what shall I talk about today? The fact that I have lots of money I need to acquire for my first year of college? The amazing quality of the latest DVD from Rambler Productions? The ungodly amount of money you can spend on a single computer? Script Frenzy news? My Mechuwana presentation? The utter stupidity of people on Facebook? My new date for Prom?

I know, I'll talk a little bit about all of them. After all, I'm using this blog partly as a journal so I can remember things in the future.

First off, college. College is expensive. Even after taking out some standard loans and getting a bunch of grants I still need to come up with quite a lot more money to pay for my first year at college. I'm hoping to find some more scholarships but it's likely that I'll just have to take out more loans. Big surprise.

If you are friends with me on Facebook you probably already know that the 2010 WHS One Act competition entry Letters has a fancy new DVD available for purchase. This is possibly the best DVD ever to come out of Rambler Productions. I spent two and a half days feverishly working on the DVD menu design which includes a fully animated envelope which spins around and opens, revealing the menu buttons on the enclosed note. I also got footage of Mr. Setchell smashing the regional trophy with a sledgehammer. So far we've sold about 30 copies. We sold 23 of those before I even finished the DVD. Very popular, very cool product.

I'm looking to buy myself a laptop for my freshman year of college at NESCOM. NESCOM isn't requiring laptops this year, but that's like saying (insert witty comparison here). Anyway, at first I was looking at the State of Maine surplus sale where they are selling off the laptops schoolteachers used last year for only $400. Which is a great deal. However, through NESCOM I get a discount at the Apple store and can buy a computer with four times as much RAM, Microsoft Office, Final Cut Express, and a faster processor NEW for about $1,300. Base price of $900. While I could buy three state laptops for that price, it still looks like the $1,300 is the way to go. Tack on to that a required $150 hard drive and possibly a $100 graphics tablet (just for kicks) and I'm up to $1,500 dollars. Did I mention college is expensive? Not nearly as expensive as THE most expensive computer you can buy at the Apple store. Just for fun I started with the $3,000 Mac Pro computer (similar to what we use in the video room) and maxed out all the hardware on it. Have a guess as to the price?

$16,000

No, I didn't add an extra zero, you can actually spend sixteen thousand dollars on a computer. It has 8 Terabytes of space, 32 Gigs of RAM, four high speed graphics cards, two quad core processors for a total of 8 processors, and much more. This computer is an absolute BEAST.


SCRIPT FRENZY STARTS IN 65 HOURS!!!!!!!!!!!

AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Why don't they leave it as days till the 24 hour mark? It's so much more terrifying this way. I need to get working on that. Greenback is going to be amazing once it's done. I'm super excited. And now that I'm not endlessly working on the Letters DVD I can focus on it.

The promotional video I made for Mechuwana was presented on Saturday to the UMC here in Winthrop. I went in and gave a short spiel and showed the video. It went okay, though there were only about 12 in attendence. Norm payed me for my work on the video, which was unexpected. I didn't ask for anything. But as I mentioned before, college is a bit of a strain on the wallet, so I'm grateful.




You probably already knew this, but a whole lot of people on Facebook are STUPID. I'm not sure if it is a direct correlation to stupidity in real life or if the internet just draws out the soggiest gray matter available in a person, but GEEZ. I mean, come on, all those groups asking you to "JOIN AND SEE THIS THING THAT'S OMGOSH AMAZING/SICK/COOL/WRONG/BLATANTLY SCAMTACULAR." (In homage to the rants of Chris Balcer) (Also, OMGOSH is my new favorite interjection.)

I give three examples in this rant.

Instance #1

Here's a simple example "OMG FUNNIEST PICTURE EVER! JOIN TO SEE!" pops up somewhere and people immediately start joining up, trusting in the creator of the group to deliver on their promise. I'm not saying this promise isn't kept all the time but here are a few key reasons it's pointless to join this group.

1. How many funny pictures are there on the internet? A LOT. How likely is it that this will be the "funniest"? Pretty slim. Go look for some pics on Google and save yourself some trouble. Anything claiming to be the absolute peak of anything is probably a scam/lie.

2. About 85%* of these groups are scams in the sense that they have hidden links or more requirements in order for you to "see" the photo or whatever. These links bring you to virus-infested and spyware infested sites. I even saw a creator with the last name of "Ponzi" on one page. I laughed, perhaps scammers have a sense of humor.

3. There are far safer, far more entertaining ways to waste your time on the internet. A good rule of thumb if you feel you have to join one of these groups is to check what other people have written on the wall first. If they are generally positive comments you should be fine. If the page has disabled user comments then obviously the page is a scam. Another good thing to check for is a caps lock obsessed creator. You'll notice in all three instances the group name is in capitals. This is a desperate ploy for attention and, while not a game-breaker, is a red flag for the group.

Instance #2 "PEDOPHILE ON FACEBOOK, JOIN TO VIEW HIS PROFILE AND HELP BAN HIM"

Okay, lets think about the trustworthiness of the creator of this group. If they actually wanted this person banned they would make this an open group and allow anyone to see who to ban. How do we know that the creator of this group isn't said pedophile and he is looking through the members list for guillible young girls to beguile? That seems a disturbingly likely situation to me.

Instance #3

"BECOME A FAN IF YOU DO THIS!!!! (Insert extremely common situation here)"
e.g. "go out of my way to step on that crunchy leaf" and "drop things, pick them up, and drop them again"


I am less opposed to this kind of group, I just think they are silly. However, in most cases they are aware of their own silliness and embrace it. It is interesting to see in how many ways we as a people are similar. But if it is so ubiquitous why do we need to state that we are "fans" of these things? Just to be sarcastic I joined the group "Being Stabbed Repeatedly" after seeing a bunch of people join "Not Being Stabbed Repeatedly." Unfortunately this plan backfired and my friends that had joined "Not Being Stabbed Repeatedly" also joined "Being Stabbed Repeatedly." GAH.

Looking at the hundreds of thousands of people who join these groups is a fascinating insight into the psychology of the masses. At least the immature, stupid ones. I am sorry if I am offending those people who join said groups and pages, and I understand that not all of these pages are BS and that some are just entertaining and people want to be associated with them. I'm preaching to the choir here though because I have wonderfully intelligent readers. I am a member of many different groups and pages, but I have some sort of vested life interest in them. Hobbies, local businesses, causes I believe in, etc. I am mostly just appalled at the people with literally hundreds upon hundreds of groups and pages. If ever you wanted to remove your membership from these it would take FOREVER.



I have a date for the prom this year! Despite my running streak of missing every single Winthrop High School dance I decided to break that run for prom. Hopefully the music will be good. I dunno if my date wants her name up on the web so I'll keep it to myself. If you have some interest you can contact me.

As a final thought I leave you with the following;

Last night on TV,
Oh advertisting, do you even listen to yourself? "LIFE, presented to you by Target"
It's almost as bad as "Tomorrow on Today!" That one always cracks me up. Or the billboard which says "ILLITERATE? Write in for a free consulation!"

*87% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New York City (Part 2)

NEW YORK CITY (Part 2)
Into the City

ITS ACTUALLY DONE! Sorry it's pretty much entirely text. I couldn't really find any good photos to use and I haven't found a good way to post video without putting it up on Youtube for the whole world.

My new promise to you readers is that I'm not going to promise anything. I'll update when I can. I do apologize for the long wait though. I've been focusing on other stuff. I do have some neat stuff planned for future posts and I hope to follow through on a couple of things I've mentioned before. Anyway, here is the second part of my trip into New York City.


We arrived in New Jersey tired from our trip but glad we had made it. We had finished a little over half of our audio book and were ready for a few hours rest before we went to Tribeca Cinemas for the premiere. We were staying at Jay's house. Jay is working with Allen as a business partner for his next film if I recall correctly. Anyway, his house was incredible. Just tucked away in a suburb, but the interior had some really neat stuff. He had a glove signed by Muhammed Ali, a player piano (it plays itself) and quite literally the most comfortable couch and living room set I have ever had the pleasure to indent with my rear.

We sat for a while and watched Eight Below on his big wall-mounted television. Apparently I have no soul because I laughed when Grace and Lindsey got all emotional over the poor puppy-dogs and also when the sea lion attack jumped them both. After that we ate sandwiches that Jay brought from a nearby deli. HOLY CRAP DELICIOUS! I wasn't aware that bread, provolone and ham could be that damn tasty. The sandwiches were huge too.

Our next order of business was to prepare for the premiere. We all dressed up fancy-like. Grace claimed she felt like an Egyptian goddess in her sparkly dress. I felt like my father in that everything (literally) except my socks and boxers I stole from his closet. Why? Because I don't really own much in the vein of fancy. I prefer what is comfortable.

Into the city! So the main thing that I appreciate more now after having been to New York City is the proximity to nature that I have here in Winthrop. I can walk to places where you can't tell humans have been around the area, where streams run and trees are thick. I always assumed there was some sort of exaggeration when I heard about the concrete jungle and how devoid of nature it was. It isn't exaggeration. Pictures don't tell the story. Even movies I've seen don't capture the essence of the city. Though I will say that after walking down a few streets I could think of nothing but the cities of Blade Runner (Which I am ashamed to admit I have never watched all the way through).

Keep in mind however that I was nowhere near any touristy part of the city. There were no recognizable landmarks to a country bumpkin like me. I could see the Empire State Building from Tribeca Cinemas but it was quite a ways away. The streets we went down were lined with shops crammed together selling all sorts of stuff. There was a store that claimed to sell nothing but rubber. (I don't know if the connotation is implied there or not). Large, gawdy signs with bright colors and neon lights adorning old, weathered building dominated the area.

When we were coming into the city/New Jersey we crossed several bridges. One bridge afforded us a view of both a ridgeline with high cliffs bording a river and in the other direction the city skyline. Looking at both I decided that I was more impressed with the ridgeline. I think it was then I realized that cities really aren't my forté.

Forget Texas (granted I have never been there), New York is freaking huge. I would never want to live there. Lindsey seems to think it would be awesome. I contend that there are simply TOO MANY PEOPLE. I have never seen so many people in my life. The sheer density of population is mind-boggling. From what I saw it is conceivable that one might live for months, even years, without having to leave the space of two or three blocks. All their needs would be provided for. A two-block world. CRAZY.

To actually get onto Manhatten we had to drive through the longest tunnel I've ever seen. It went down for a solid five minutes of driving before coming back up from under the water. Grace was fascinated by the idea that we were cruising under millions of gallons of water. We all told her to take a swim.

Perhaps the most important thing I learned in New York is that despite all the nay-sayers. Stereotypes are true! At least to some extent. For example, I met my first real life crazy mumbling hobo! He was wandering around near us talking about people in general and swearing a lot. We also met a guy who ran a parking station. First let me say that driving into the city with a car is really expensive. There are small parking lots scattered about the city that you can drive up and pay to park in. Space is so limited they have elevated parking spaces so one car can park on top of another. Anyway, we needed a spot and the first lot was full but the guy running it (out of an "office" that was a couple pieces of plywood) said to us he could move someone else's vehicle because "Money talks, money talks, ya know?" Picture that being said by a solidly built asian fellow with a heavy New Yorker accent and a wad of bills in his hand he was riffling through.

Eventually we found an open spot which Jay paid nearly $60 for. SIXTY DOLLARS to park for a few hours. For comparison Grace left her car in Portland overnight and paid a total of about seven dollars. Thank you Jay.

We found the cinema and I got to see my posters on display both outside in the "Now Showing" poster boxes and inside on easels where the red carpet pictures were taken. Really cool. Though the corner we were given to stage our video equipment in smelled like vomit, which wasn't cool. I assembled my homebuilt steadycam and filmed a lot happening on the red carpet. When Thea Gill (the lead female actress) showed up, she commented on my posters and then gave me a kiss on the lips. Yes, you read that correctly, I was kissed by a movie star. Albeit a thirty-nine year old one. It was rather unexpected to say the least. But that's just how Thea is. Bubbly and inhibitionless.

I would link to Grace's New York pictures here, or Lindsey's, if I knew where to link to online. Perhaps one of you could let me know?

Watching the movie again wasn't anything special, the screen was actually smaller than the one in Winthrop. After the film we headed on down to Club Libation for some festivities. While the food was pretty tasty the place was packed so tight it was difficult to move around. I wasn't exactly a big fan of the music, which tells you that Lindsey enjoyed it throughly. I got free drinks at the bar though. COLA. Geez, you didn't think I meant booze did you? Anyway, there were bouncers the size of mountains, one of whom Shaw claimed she could take on. We stayed in the club for a while. It wasn't that great if you ask me, if only because you had to be within six inches of someone else to hold even a simple conversation.

Rereading this post I notice that I sound like I didn't enjoy a lot of my time in the city, which isn't true, it's just that there were certain elements I didn't like. My overall impression was; Awesome place to visit, awful place to live.

After Libation we went back to Jay's and crashed till late morning when we got up, had delicious pancakes, and started the seven hour trip back to Winthrop. On the way back we listened to some more of I, Alex Cross on audiobook till we finished it. I learned that I am an excellent power-napper with the ability to both sleep and be entirely awake at the same time. (A talent I used recently at the dentist).

When I finally arrived home from my longest single trip ever I was quite satisfied with it.

Er.... the end.

THERE. I finished the post. Feels like I finally broke through a wall and can post about other things again. HUZZAH!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Addendum

You may recall my post about mind reading a while back on the Rambler blog. At the time I couldn't find much in the way of media to show just what was happening. Now I have! Check out the video below to see REAL mind-reading in real-time. CRAZY!

Also, all 137 years of my favorite magazine, Popular Science, is now available for free online. How crazy is that?!

Believe it or not, but I've been blogging pretty much all day. Despite this, I still haven't quite finished my New York Post. I'm hoping to finish it tonight. What's taking so long you ask? Well, I'd like to say it's because the post is going to be full of awesome videos and photos and witty comments but I think all I can blame is laziness. Note to self: Don't split posts over multiple days. (I'll probably break that too.)

However, I have accomplish several things of note today! You might have noticed in the sidebar there is now a "Subscribe via email." So now those of you who diligently check my blog every day in anticipation of a new post can relax and let the internet monkeys do it for you. I think that the way the thing is set up it will send you a notification to your email between the hours of 5 and 7 PM if there is a new post. Why 5-7? I really don't know. At some point I'll figure out how to make it instant.

I've also add a feed with the latest posts from Rambler Productions. I revamped that blog as well, though both this blog and that blog still have a few kinks I need to iron out. You can read about the updates over there here.

Without furthur ado, MIND READING!!! (I don't like the voice-over)