Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Post of Depressing Proportions

The world seems terribly depressing at the moment so I thought I would quantify that depression with several examples of the events and current state of our planet and ourselves. Before I begin I would like to note that I am an extremely optimistic person most of the time. But sometimes I cannot simply gloss over the horrible events in our world. This quote from The Sarchasm kind of sums up the reason for this post.
Everyone already knows about global warming. We already "know" about poverty in Africa as well. We already know about Darfur. We knew about Rwanda. But the one way to ensure inaction is to let an issue escape to the margins rather than keeping it in the front of our minds. The only way to ensure people don't forget is to keep talking.
You probably already guessed what prompted this post. At best estimates, the Gulf oil spill catastrophe has spewed forth seven times the amount from the infamous Exxon-Valdez spill. Using the most liberal estimates it is more than 100 times worse and getting "worser" by the day. This is completely unacceptable. My sister's post on her blog today also deals with the Gulf catastrophe.

I've embedded the real-time oil ticker along with the live video feed coming from the giant crack in the pipe. To see the live video feed just go here. Make of it what you will. It occurs to me that I've never actually watched a train wreck in slow motion. I think I'll go do that now and compare.

 Since I've already depressed you I'm just going to continue. This chart (from this website) shows the world population over time. I don't know about you but I cannot believe that that spike is sustainable for long. In my opinion nearly every major problem in the world is directly or indirectly caused by overpopulation. Now this is a problem not easily solved. China's attempt at controlling population with their one-child policy has been met with limited success and much opposition. There is no single solution to this problem, but it is one that we must face somehow.

I would get into a discussion about how I think we as a culture view death in way not beneficial to ourselves but I haven't entirely formulated my stance upon the topic.

It has been estimated that a total of approximately 106 billion people have been born since the dawn of the human race, making the population which is currently alive roughly 6% of all people who have ever lived on planet Earth. That is an extraordinarily high percentage considering the estimated age of humanity (200,000 years).

I have had this world population clock on my homepage for the past two years. It reminds me every day that humanity is on a collision course with complete and total disaster. Our population is skyrocketing while the arable land (land we can use to produce food) is diminishing rapidly.

On a side note this graphic about bottled water usage is appropriately depressing.
On another side note this is an extremely complex version of the national debt clock I have running next to the world population clock on my homepage.

Finally, watch this video by Hank Green of the Vlogbrothers (link also in the sidebar) about population and being green and understanding just what is going on in this crazy world of ours. It will hopefully bring you out of the depression I just forced upon you. I also hope it empowers you to ALWAYS think about the state of humanity and the state of our world. If you don't have time to watch the video (it's four minutes) go to the website he talks about in the video here.

There are dozens of other depressing things we are doing to the planet right now. The destruction of rainforests, the trash vortex in the Pacific which is the size of Texas, the list goes on. But I'll leave you with something inspiring.
This hangs above my bed and reminds me of what is at stake every day.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Apple's Cash Screwup

So something that struck both myself and my family recently on the news (video here) was the story about a woman who had slowly saved up $600 in cash in order to purchase herself an iPad which was to be her first computer. She was turned down at the counter and told that to purchase an iPad one must use either credit or debit. Cash was not accepted.

When prompted, Apple simply pointed to a line in their purchase policy. Customers may only purchase an iPad using debit or credit and they are limited to two iPads per customer. According to many, this approach is designed to foil those who would buy up fifty or sixty iPads with cash, smuggle them overseas, and sell them at ridiculous markups. As my father pointed out while pulling out a one dollar bill, Apple's policy can't possibly be legal. Written right on the money we use everyday is the phrase, "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private." Let me highlight a few words there, "legal tender" for "all" debts. Something doesn't quite mesh there in my opinion. However, if you watched the video link above to the end you already know that according to the U.S. Treasury Dept it is legal to not accept cash.

Needless to say this is a strange development in our economy, where what is essentially imaginary currency is accepted where physical money is not. This brings two extreme situations to mind.

One, the idylic, utopian future portrayed in Star Trek where credit is the only form of currency. Money is obsolete, (much to the dismay of Khan) and greed is not as prevalent.

Two, a world of economic slavery where you must present deeply personal information in order to do any buying or selling. Orwellian in privacy and reminiscent of some of the events in Revelations.

It isn't just big corporations turning away from the greenbacks. People are started to expect cash to be rejected in some cases. Just last weekend when I was filming the Kennebec Dance Centre show I recall a woman asking if she had to write a check or if cash would be fine. (On the other end of the spectrum we had a woman ask if she could use debit). It's fascinating really how many ways humanity has come up with to organize wealth. Much of currency nowadays simply zips along through the tubes of the internet, hardly ever being used as actual cash. I've also always found it amusing that many bills are produced using the leftover scraps from that most American of apparel, blue jeans.

Apple did reverse their no-cash policy before the evening was over on the very day the story broke. They shipped the woman a free iPad and issued their apologies.

I don't know about you, but it kind of makes me want to be a pirate and only trust in my shiny doubloons. That or barter and pay the bills with chicken.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

To Help A Friend

My friend and fellow video student Anna Doyle, who is also acting for me as Charlotte in "The Hazards of Love" recently entered this video in a contest for $500. If it receives the most views overall she also could win some other prize. Anyway, it's really quite well done. Enjoy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

No Pain, No Gain

But if pain is directly proportional to gain I don't think I ever want a million dollars.

So yesterday was the first filming job for Rambler Productions not directly related to the school. The Kennebec Valley Dance Centre performed its 2010 Spring Show "Above and Beyond" right here in the WHS PAC. They fired their professional videographer and hired us on. No pressure right? Two three hour shows we filmed. I am SO glad I only had to film one of them. I was on steadicam so I was moving around, crouching so as not to block the audience, and never really getting a chance to rest. So my legs are currently out-of-order and my arms ache like crazy. It's painful to get up, sit down, and don't even get me started on kneeling to pick something up.

Apparently for previous shows on DVD their videographer had been just setting up a single camera, running it without zooming or changing angles of any kind, burning it to DVD without chapter selection, and charging about the same as we are for the finished product. We on the other hand shot from three angles, one mobile, two stationary. We are also including chapter selection and a sweet menu transition with a sillohetted dancer pirroetting across the screen to reveal a new menu.

The good news is that my pain is not without good cause. Currently the orders for DVD's total nearly two thousand dollars. So while I may complain about my legs, I'm not really unhappy about it. Rambler Productions is receiving 2/3 of that money. Some of it will cover the cost of DVD's and cases, the fancy new 1 to 5 DVD duplicator we just got, replacement parts for some of our cameras, and a finder's fee to Mr. Setchell and the drama department for suggesting us to the KVDC.

This Thursday I will be interviewing Keith Leavitt, a local metal artist, about the sculpture out front of what is now the grade school. "Reflections from Nature" is a collaborative sculpture from the late 80's early 90's which has many panels depicting different aspects of nature and our relationship to it. The picture to the left is from last year or possibly the year before that of my advisee group oiling up the sculpture on Day of Caring. Funny story about that picture, I scoured the web unsuccessfully for a good one of the sculpture, then thought of the town website. The site had slideshows of photos, but I didn't see one of the sculpture and I couldn't just open the albums because I needed a password. Weeeeelllll....lets just say I "managed" to obtain that photo.

Anyway, during this year's Day of Caring we were out there at it again with our pails of puréed vampire oiling it up for future generations. Before we put brush to metal though we watched a video which Mr. Leavitt made back when the sculpture was being constructed. I thought it was a really neat video. It was fascinating to see the different elements of the sculpture being designed and built. I offered to convert the VHS to DVD and now it's a full blown project! (Like I needed another.) But really I'm happy to do it and I'm really excited about the final product.

Hazards is coming along. I'm worried about three songs. More like two seeing as the last two songs are pretty much the same. I don't know if Annan Water, The Wanting Comes in Waves (Reprise), and The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned) will be completed in time for the end of school. More on that in my next post.

In other news my lovely sister Bailey has decided to follow in my footsteps and create a blog of her own. A Vine of Stars is where she will be posting her not-so-inscrutable ramblings. She's a much better writer than I am and her posts are quite a bit more cohesive.

So go read her blog. I'm off to shoot the moon.....with a camera. Got a sweet timelapse yesterday and I'm hoping for a repeat.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sports: An Outside Perspective

I updated the blog! Not just with a new post either! A whole new fancy banner and background. If you have a widescreen monitor there is more to the background than just trees. There's also some weird ball of green energy, which I don't actually like, but since I can't see it on my monitor, I don't care enough to remove it. I'm also in the process of revamping the "about me" section because it really sucked before. The Rambler blog also got a few design updates. Anywho, on to an appropriately rambling post.

I started writing this after I got back from watching the last basketball game of the school year. It's been sitting in my drafts for a while. I figured it was about time to finish it.

Sports make sense to me. The human need to compete, to pit oneself against others with mind and body. The structure of training, the loose camaraderie of the players. The thrill of victory and the resolve that comes with defeat.

I used to play sports and I felt all those emotions. I played T-ball when I was very young, soccer here and there in grade school, more soccer from middle school to sophomore year, and sometimes the occasional rugby bout with my friends. I wasn't terrible at the sports I played either. I was a decent fullback in soccer and was pretty good at dodging the rhino-like charges of my friends in rugby. I even managed an in-the-park home run way back in T-ball (cause I'm that awesome).

My trouble isn't with sports, its with the social environment which surrounds them. I attended two basketball games a while back just to hang out with the crowd and be entertained. While I can't say that I didn't enjoy myself it did show me just how out of place I am at sporting events.

Now I recognize the fact that part of my awkwardness at sporting events stems from the fact that I am a nerd and any social event can result in my feeling uncomfortable. But some of the chants and motions the fans do are just plain WEIRD. For example, when our team had a free throw everyone would raise their fingers up and wiggle them in silence. When the OTHER team did a free throw the arms went up again but instead of wiggling fingers there was much jerky arm motion. Eventually it was decided that every time there was a free throw the fans would all turn around and face away from the court. And there was someone in an inflatable sumo suit.

In fact a lot of our nationally accepted notions of sports are just bizzare. I could go on for quite a while about how the leader of our nation gets paid $400,000 a year while athletes can get paid $100,000,000 a year. It's kind of ridiculous. But I suppose nobody is going to pay to watch Obama sign bills into law.

I guess a lot of what ends up throwing me off is the extreme competiveness some people experience. I need only point as far as the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry for an example. People break down crying when their team loses, whether they're a player or just a fan. I don't have a very confrontational personality so I end up not being nearly so concerned. It's possible that is due to the fact that I can only truly recall being on the winning team of a sports game about five times. Ever. So losing a game isn't a big deal for me, it's just a fact of life.

Whatever the case, sports games just don't present a fun time for me if I'm actually watching the game. All that said though, I do enjoy going to games to hang out on the sidelines with friends and chat, even if I don't know whether to be cheering for a touchdown or a basket.

                              -The Emotionless Rock

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Just shipped off hard drive with the back end credits for Putt Putt to Secret Headquarters Inc. Coolest production company name ever. Im writing this on cell.

...(on the computer now) Which means I can only fit two lines per post.  Still, it's kind of cool. I may use the ability to update without a computer now and then if something really cool happens. Then I'll elaborate later. I'm still against using Twitter, but I'll admit this is much the same concept.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Organization and Opera (for Josh H.)

This post is dedicated to my cousin Joshua Hunt so he can see that my blog is not dead!

My life has become a lot more organized of late. About the only thing I have failed to organize is time to blog. Which you probably noticed.

One thing I have organized the heck out of in the past couple days is my plans for The Hazards of Love. Every single film date (well, almost) is planned out to the very end. Tomorrow I'm filming two halves of two different songs. I still desperately need to figure out how to film the scene with the deer however.

While I haven't been organizing THIS blog, if you check out the Rambler Productions blog you might notice a couple of changes. I keep trying to add more features to it to make it more interesting and useful. I also tend to run into this problem with myself when reading other people's posts. And since I'm an admin I can go in and fix them. Take note though that I do not change the message or intent of someone's post, I simply fix grammar, spelling, and I add relevant links. I just can't leave sentences like "this great solder agaisnt the Roman was named Sparatcus" lying around in the open. Someone might see them.

The "unexpected excursion" to Boston went very well and I'm really glad I decided to go. We went to see "Young Frankenstein" at the Boston Opera House. As our group of 16 loud high-school students filed through the front entrance of the Opera house we all became suddenly subdued and quiet. It was like we had stepped into a royal palace. The ceiling soared about forty feet above us and there was a chandelier that must've been ten feet tall. Every square inch of the walls was covered in ornate plaster scrollwork. We all agreed that we immediately felt underdressed in our sweatshirts and jeans.

When we got into the actual theater room I was completely floored by the immensity of it. The place seats 2677 people, is about 100 feet from pit to ceiling, and there are massive pillars around the edges. I'm pretty sure my mouth was hanging open a lot.

The show itself was incredibly impressive. But what else can you expect when it was written by the same guy who did Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs, and Men in Tights? (Mel Brooks) Bawdy jokes and clever lines made the show absolutely hilarious. The choreography was incredible, the props and sets were SO perfect, and the acting was unparalled. Stage theater is so very different from film and affords a truly unique experience.

I've only received one coat of arms to date. This one by Chris Balcer. I would have my own to upload but seeing as my editing computer has no functioning video card I can't really do that. Since Chris was the only person to send me anything, he wins the super amazing awesome prize from my house. However I don't think I will be using his submission on the blog, sorry Chris. Once I get the computer back up and running I'll see what I can come up with myself.

That is all for now. Wish me luck!