Monday, March 30, 2009

Filming Techniques

Yesterday, it was really sunny for a change here. I ended up going outside and sitting on the swing by the pond for a while at first. It was rather relaxing to just listen to the water flowing from the whiskey barrel fountain into the pond. In fact, it was so relaxing I almost fell asleep. My head was nodding more than a couple times as I watched the goldfish come up to the surface of the pond to occasionally nibble on some fish food I had tossed in. It was a group of four goldfish and they kept in a fairly tight formation. I'm pleased to see they have survived the raccoon visits throughout the winter.

Afterward, I went back to the deck and sat down to read a book in the sun. I found my copy of "The Five C's of Cinematography" by Joseph V. Mascelli. There is some excellent material in the book and I highly recommend it if you're interested in film making. If nothing else, it gives one a new appreciation for what goes into making a film. I found myself looking at a movie running on the SciFi channel with a totally different perspective than before. Reading through about 25 pages, I learned a considerable amount on camera viewpoints. Specifically, the text talked about how to avoid distracting or confusing the audience with unexpected camera angles and perspectives. Pretty cool stuff. I'm going to try some of it out if I can borrow my friend's Hi8 Camera. Mostly, I'll be attempting to create a documentary style video clip for the backyard garden. Just gotta convince my friend to loan me the camcorder now. ;)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A week of hunting for jobs

I haven't been blogging much recently as I've been busy with job hunting. With the economy in bad shape, finding jobs to apply for is difficult. And if a person doesn't know anyone at the company, it's almost a given that your resume won't even make it past the garbage can. On the surprising side, a number of companies at least respond and say "We've reviewed your resume and do not feel you are a good match." In the past, it was quite common to not hear anything after submitting a resume. On the funny side, I received one response talking about how the put deep consideration into the review before rejecting my resume. This happened about two hours after I submitted my resume... hah! Two hours is barely enough time for my resume to find its way into anyone's inbox. Oh well.

On the plus side, I might be able to borrow a video camera from my friend soon. He found a working Hi8 camcorder and is still searching for another working camcorder. If I can borrow the camcorder, I'll be able to provide a walk through of the yard. Digital pictures give a nice overview of the yard, but a walk through with a video camera would show how it all fits together.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cat on a fence

Today's post is a fuzzy picture of my neighbor's cat sitting on the one and a half meter tall wood fence looking at me. Nothing special, I just thought it was funny to look outside and see the cat watching me.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A short story video: The fire that burns.

I thought I'd try playing around with recording video using the cheap webcam I picked up off a Craigs List seller a couple of years ago. For fun, I'm reading one of the stories I'll post up on my usual stomping grounds. Without further delay, here's the link to the video.


And here's the text for the story to follow along with should my diction be too difficult to follow. :)

The Fire that Burns

As I walked by the gas station at the end of the block, I noticed the driver of a truck panicking by one of the gas pumps. His truck engine had back fired when he attempted to start it and a small fire had burst out from beneath the hood. The driver was busy vainly trying to put out the flames with a small cloth rag. Seeing he was in trouble, I ran over to assist. Instinctively, I pulled my coat off and threw it over the flames hoping it would be enough to choke out the fire. While the fire dwindled down substantially, it wouldn’t go out. Looking around, I spotted the gas station attendant inside the store. I charged through the doors of the store and yelled, “I need a fire extinguisher!” I was completely caught off guard by his response, “No!” I pointed outwards and said “Give me a break, that guy’s truck is on fire dammit!”. The attendant responded, “That’s not my problem! This is for store use only!” I thought to myself “What the F...?” but I didn’t have time to argue with this idiot. My mind searched for another option. It was then I remembered I had a fire extinguisher tucked away in the trunk of my car back at home. Running to my old Chevy Nova, I popped the trunk open and grabbed the fire extinguisher. Sprinting back to the guy’s truck, I pulled the locking pin out of the extinguisher, aimed at the fire while squeezing the handle. As the extinguisher's white powder sprayed out, the fire died down rapidly and finally went out.

Stopping to catch my breath, I backed up and took a look at my now charred coat. It was clear the coat was no longer useful as it was burned heavily in several places and smelled of smoke. The driver looked at me sheepishly and apologized. I responded, “Well, at least we were lucky the truck didn’t start a larger blaze.” Considering the truck was right next to a pair of gasoline pumps, it could have been a total catastrophe. Too angry at this point to deal with the gas station attendant, I furiously stomped back home. Unfortunately, I now needed both a new fire extinguisher and a coat because some jackass gas station attendant wasn’t being helpful.

It wasn’t until later that my one of my friends chided me by saying, “Hey man, you could have simply called the Fire Marshal on the gas station attendant, right?” Awww crap! Being that I was fresh off the farm and only 21 years old, I was simply too naive at the time. I didn’t realize the Fire Marshal would have taken a dim view on the gas station attendants refusal to hand over the fire extinguisher. To this day, I still regret not having called the Fire Marshal afterward to have the gas station attendant dealt with appropriately. As Paul Harvey would say, "And that, is the rest of the story!"

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Again with the snow

And here we go with the same old thing again. :) When I woke up this morning, I looked outside and saw an unexpected but familiar site again, snow coming down in large flakes. The previous snow from a week ago had long since melted off but has now been replaced with a new layer of white powdery snow. If you look really closely in the photo, you can see the flakes of snow falling.

On a different note, I replaced the failed harddrive in the NeXT computer yesterday. I tried booting the machine and it at least got to the point where it displayed the built in monitor software which is a good sign. Now all I need to do is make a boot floppy disc and try to reinstall the operating system. Easier said then done though as I have some problems related to floppy drives on the Windows machines. I'll get it ironed out eventually.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Snobol4 and U2’s "the Edge", is Snobol4 an evil twin?

Someone recently sent me a comment saying I look a bit like the Edge from U2. A quick search on the Internet turned up a photo of the Edge. I decided to have a bit of fun a post a side by side photo for a comparison. Check it out:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Funky Lava Lamps

Recently, I traded away a lot of stuff I wasn't using or knew I'd never have a chance to work with due to time and space constraints. But I did keep some odds and ends that are pretty useless but plain out fun. For instance, I kept my lava lamps. For those who aren't familiar with them, lava lamps are basically glass containers which have a wax like substance suspended in a liquid. A light bulb beneath the glass container is used to heat the waxy substance and causes it to flow about inside the glass container in interesting ways. Here are a few pictures showing my green lava lamp in action. The pictures were taken with the camera flash enabled:

And these pictures were taken with the lights off and the camera flash disabled:

Hi8 camcorders and video for the blog.

One of the projects I'm trying to move forward with is to borrow a Hi8 camcorder from a friend of mine. My intent is to wander about in the yard and capture some video of the various landscaping features. Using a video capture card, I can convert the video from the analog tape format into a digital format. The digital video can then be uploaded to this blog for people to see better detail of what the backyard looks like. My friend has several Hi8 camcorders and is in the process of checking to see if any of them function. So hopefully there will be a few video clips on the way. Now you might wonder why I don't use a digital video camera instead of going through all the effort of conversion of the Hi8 format. I'm a cheapskate and don't want to spend money on a digital video camcorder, plain and simple. :) So instead, I'll find a work around.

I've mentioned the old NeXT computer the fella on Craigs List gave me a couple of months ago. At that time, he couldn't find the mouse or keyboard. Recently, he moved and found the peripherals and sent me an email to ask if I still wanted them. This morning, I took an hour and drove downtown to pick up the much needed specialty keyboard and mouse. I have to admit, some of the people on Craigs List are very decent! Now, my NeXT Step (pun intended) is to find an operating system for the machine. But that's a project for later. Here's a picture of the computer sitting on one of my tabletops. It's not much to look at, but it's a pretty cool piece of computing history.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Interesting weather and progress with the NeXT machine

Yesterday, the weather was really unusual. It was initially overcast, then started snowing. Afterward the sun came out very briefly, then it went back to snowing, followed by hail. I snapped a couple of photos for fun. The first photo shows the back deck with snow on it. The second photo shows some of the small hail, but it was mostly melted by the time I took the photo.

On another note, the fella with the NeXT computer just emailed me. He found the keyboard and mouse! Yahoooo! That means I'm one step closer to having a very cool retro computer up and running. I'll post more about the progress on the NeXT machine once I have acquired the specialized mouse and keyboard.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Latest updates

I managed to do a little more clean up around the house today unexpectedly. My next oldest brother stopped by with his neighbor and hauled away the unused washing machine I had stored on the deck. I also got rid of my barbecue grill as it needed a lot of repairs. I can always find a new barbecue grill off Craigs List quite easily so I'm not too concerned about not having one for the moment.

For fun, here's a picture of one of the few flowering plants in my yard at the moment. It's a primrose of some variety. Next fall, I intend to add a number of primrose like this to provide some late winter color to the yard. Staggering colors for the different seasons definitely helps to add character to the yard.

Here's another shot of the yard, taken late at night. While it's not the best picture, it shows most of the lights around the pond in action. Kind of cool looking if you ask me. Adding a light or two inside the pond and below the water level could add an interesting look. When the banana tree starts growing back again I intend to place a spot light under it and up-light the leaves for a cool night lighting effect.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Daily Dig - Mar 3, 2009

Ah, the stump has met it's match today. With considerable effort, I was able to split the stump up into thirds using wedges, a sledge hammer, and an axe.

Some of the chunks are still pretty good sized and will require additional splitting at a later point. For now, I just heaped them up off to the side so I could fill the hole back in.

I also snapped a few photos from around the yard of various imagery. For instance, here is a small batch of crocus blooming in the front yard just a few feet away from the stump I removed.

And in the back yard, I snapped a photo of the Moai Island head and the stone bench. Cool looking stuff if you ask me.

The front yard had some frost damage from the two week long snow back in January. The poor cactus shown here have had it and will need to be replaced once I have some cash flow going again.

And one last shot with no intended point. Here's the side fence with some smaller golden cypress along with patches of sedum.