Thursday, January 31, 2008

Heading Back to Orlando Soon

It's been wonderful spending so much time with my family and getting some wedding planning done. Now I'm looking forward to returning to Naveen in Orlando on February 11. Just booked my flight with Allegiant, despite some prior bad luck with them (as you may recall from this Thanksgiving post).

To make up for the extremely delayed arrival in Orlando last November, they offered an appallingly low $30 credit toward a future flight, and I don't know when else I might use it except for now. It's a shame that about half of that money went to food and water purchased at the airport in Columbia where we were stranded for several hours due to the oil leak in the left engine of our plane. If that weren't unfortunate enough, the pilot had even gone as far as to say several times that another plane was on its way to retrieve us, and that pizza and soda would be offered to us after de-boarding. Of course none of that was true and many of us were angered by the whole experience (especially those who claimed they went through the exact same thing on the initial trip to Fort Wayne prior to Thanksgiving). By the time we had arrived in Orlando it was after midnight (when we were to have arrived by around 6pm) and by the time bags arrived and Naveen picked me up, it was about 1am and airport security actually turned the lights off on us in the airport.

Ever more unfortunate, if you consider the leftover $15 of credit (after buying food and water where we were stranded), I was hoping to apply that to my flight back to Orlando in the next couple of weeks, saving at least the $15. However, the price of the flight I was looking at jumped $20 overnight, so there went the savings. Don't forget the extra $30 of taxes and fees that get tacked onto the seemingly low base price that Allegiant offers. I can shrug my shoulders about the taxes, but a $9.50 "convenience fee" when I had to spend over 14 of my precious Verizon cell phone minutes just waiting for a representative to even answer the call (they can't apply the credit to an online booking - you have to call to make your specially-priced reservation). So 22 minutes later and still having to pay a convenience fee (and don't forget $5 per bag I check), I'm not exactly appreciating the airline's "sincere apology" and I'm just hoping there's nothing wrong with the next plane.

At any rate, I'll be heading back to Orlando in 2 weeks after my parents' birthdays (mom's was yesterday, dad's is on the 9th). I'm definitely looking forward to getting back so I can focus on my reel and some new projects.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Quicktime Player Update

So, I'm just curious if anyone else has had problems with Quicktime Player updates.

I recently updated my QT player, and now several of my icons are messed up on my Windows XP Pro machine (Dell Laptop). Particularly my Photoshop files have been a problem. I've tried going into my QuickTime preferences and unchecking various boxes (such as jpeg, avi, and psd = photoshop, if you didn't know). Unfortunately that did not help.

So I went directly to a Jpeg file then and right clicked on it, selected "open with" and chose Windows Media and Fax player (my current preference) and selected "always use this program to open this type of file." That worked.

However, I tried the same thing with a Photoshop file, by selecting "open with" and choosing Photoshop; yet the "always use this program" option was grayed out. The PSDs will open with Photoshop, but the icons are still Quicktime PSD icons, which annoys me.

As you must know, I'm a graphic designer and an animator, so naturally I'm visually reliant on particular icons so that I can work at a fast pace. When I'm working with both PSDs (Photoshop) and MOVs (Quicktime movies), I expect to see immediately which files are which - but now, since the update, I've noticed my production slows down when I have to take time to figure out if it's a Photoshop file or a Quicktime movie. How irritating.

Any notes, please share!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Last Day in SF

So again, I'm writing this a couple weeks late, so forgive the "lack" of detail. :-)

I woke up thinking about how I'd never seen the buffalo in Golden Gate Park. So I took about a half hour to walk there and enjoy the scenery. Another gorgeous day. Light was flowing through the slight misty fog in the treetops, and it seemed like every tiny branch of green was reaching, growing. I love the park. The buffalo, on the other hand, were a little less interesting than I had imagined. Fascinating animals, but from 50 feet away as they chewed on bark and grass and otherwise laid around staring, they just couldn't keep my interest for long.

I hung around in the dog park for a little while before I realized it was getting toward lunch time. I was going to grab the Fulton bus back into town, but as I waited for one heading east, I spotted one coming toward me that was going westward to Ocean Beach and made a quick decision that I wanted to go there. I'm glad I did - it was chilly as always but a really glamorous, sunny day to go. I got some good photos there, and hung out much longer than I anticipated.

A lot of folks were walking their dogs on the beach. One woman threw a tennis ball as she walked, and the dog chased down the coastline to find it in the sandy water. As she got closer to me though, the dog ran after the ball, captured it, and brought it to me, dropping it at my feet, and looking at me as though we had known each other and this game for our whole lives. So, of course, I picked up the slobbery, sandy ball and threw it. The dog brought it back to me a second and third time before the owner caught up to where I stood. We said hello, and I threw the ball one last time before they continued down the coast.

The sand just shimmered and I didn't want to leave, but I had a pretty strong craving for these fantastic looking crepes in Japantown. So I found my #5 bus on Fulton heading east into town and got a ham and tuna crepe, aiming for something out-of-the-ordinary. Odd combination but I was pleasantly surprised. I shouldn't have, but went ahead and bought a second crepe for dessert that was a 'banana split' crepe complete with bananas and strawberries, chocolate chips, and vanilla ice cream. I didn't quite finish it as I realized exactly how much food I had just shoveled in my stomach. Oh well. It was fun. ;)

I continued on to Chinatown and looked at jewelry and shirts, and then walked up to Little Italy and picked up a few things there. I spent a lot of time walking to places, so I didn't get a chance to make it up to Telegraph Hill or the Wharf, but I figured I'd rather make it back home before dinner. Dorothy and Jeff made this really great spiced beef from Trader Joe's as well as some rice and salad greens with a spicy peanut viniagrette. It was a really nice dinner and a lovely way to spend my last night there. Later Dorothy even took me to Ghirardelli Square for a hot fudge Sunday treat just before closing time, and then we drove around the Embarcadero and passed a place called Citizen Cupcake (a division of Citizen Cake, which is truly an awesome name for a patisserie if you ask me). We got back home, watched a little tv, and chatted while I packed my bags. It really was nice staying with them at their condo (thanks guys)!!!

The next morning my flight was delayed due to fog, which was nice because it would have been too early to say goodbye anyway! But ultimately I did have to leave, and it was a nice flight back to Milwaukee (except around Denver, which was really turbulent and scary). I stayed in Wisconsin for another week and celebrated my birthday there with family. We also continued attending bridal shows and shops and got a closer idea about dresses as well. Booked the cake on the 19th at the Midwest Airlines Center show, and looked heavily at photographers. Celebrated my aunt Pam's 50th birthday (2 days early so we could get together on the weekend) and watched on TV the Packers vs the Giants playing in the -25 degree wind chill up in Green Bay. Really sad and unexpected loss there, especially since Tynes missed his first couple field goals - we all thought he'd be out of a job come Monday, but then he made that 47-yard kick during overtime that won the Giants a spot at the Superbowl. Pretty big disappointment for Packer fans, but I think I'll live. ;)

Now back in Fort Wayne for 2 more weeks, sorting through wedding stuff and going through storage getting rid of things I'm no longer attached to. And then I have to take a good long look at the companies that inspire me most and try to find my way to going pro with my animation. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sunday in San Francisco

So it's actually been about two weeks since I've left San Francisco. Therefore, I am recalling the last couple days of my journey with lesser detail than immediate posting would have allowed. You should be so happy. Brevity isn't a friend of mine.

It starts off with Sunday in San Francisco. Of the many churches in the nearby area I could have attended, Dorothy and Jeff asked me if I would like to accompany them to their church - a place called The Journey. So in accordance with a recent Christian Unity campaign by religious leaders such as the Pope, I thought it would be nice to step outside of my usual place of worship and try something new. And it was new - a very modern take on traditional sacred values. I later asked Dorothy if it would be at all insulting to compare it to a Christian rock concert. Much of the service was led by a couple of singing guitarists and a drummer, and the crowd could sing along while reading lyrics from a Powerpoint presentation. There were breaks for a pastor to preach about a modern-day acceptance of faith and putting belief into practice by living your convictions, etc. It was nice, and it was held in what looked like an old theater that had been assembled on an upper floor of a department store building. It was captivating, and although very different from my more traditional upbringing, it never seemed conflicting and never got boring.

Afterwards we drove up to Twin Peaks, which sadly I hadn't seen before. It's a beautiful area slightly more south than I have been accustomed to venturing. It was a gorgeous day and the views of the city were clear and nostalgic - looking at the city from above just makes it seem even more a place I could call home. Of course, from this height, nothing could be wrong with my city. ;)

We also visited an extension of heaven called Scharffen Berger, a fantastic little chocolate factory across the Oakland Bay Bridge. We first watched a presentation on how fine chocolate is made from a wide variety of cocoa beans worldwide. We got to sample various 'nibs' and discover how subtle flavors from one crop can completely alter the taste of the final product, as grapes from various regions can affect the flavor of wines. We took a tour of the factory and inevitably purchased some limited edition chocolate, which I've been craving but saving for the time being.

Dorothy and I went dress hunting later at a bridal store with no luck, but soon went on to do some real shopping downtown, and came back with a bag or two from a European-style outfitter called Zara. Dorothy found a cute white fitted shirt with a green and silver pinstripe, and I found a deep teal, artsy, fitted t-shirt with silver, black, and various metallic patterns more or less scribbled on the front.

We worked up an appetite and made our way to Little Italy where we dined at Michaelangelo's. What a fantastic dinner. They came out with fresh bruschetta and greek olives before we could blink an eye. We split a calamari salad (marinated rings of fresh calamari atop viniagrette greens) and shared tomato-cream spinach ravioli and one of the best cioppino dishes I've ever had (fragrant tuna, salmon, clams, mussels, scallops, squid tentacles and calamari rings). Out of this world! For a cute little end to the meal they brought out some puffy ginger (?) cookies and a plate full of gummy bears. It was too cute! We were the only two in the restaurant and couldn't figure out why.

Back at home, Dorothy gave me an early birthday present - a pair of Swarovsky earrings with dark purple and green stones in a dangling leaf pattern. They are beautiful and I can't wait to wear them out to a nice dinner with Naveen or my family. And purple, of course, has been 'the color' since I got engaged, strangely enough! Of course she knew that and chose a beautiful gift. Thank you so much!!!

One day left in San Francisco... one more post to go. ;)
See, toldya brevity and I don't get along...

I Am A Graduate of Animation Mentor

What a day, and what a night. What a marvelous experience. I am way way too tired to give the full report, other than to say the weather was perfect, the people were genuine as always, and the ceremony itself was a blast. This place means the world to so many people - it's an amazing feeling, all this pride and joy in a school, in someone's dream to make other people's dreams come true, and we all shared this magnificent journey together. What a huge gamut of emotions. The ceremony was both touching and funny. The reception was also full of laughs and tears - and I got interviewed by the AM team out on the bay behind Ft. Mason while the sun went down over the Golden Gate Bridge... It was just surreal. It felt like my own little piece of heaven.

Even tonight, the joy still continued. I didn't really eat there, despite some delicious looking appetizers and drinks, so some AM friends were kind enough to offer me a ride to find some place to eat. We headed to Amici's for some pretty awesome pizza (I had the Boston one with eggplant, as well as some kind of white wine but I forget which). Then they again offered a ride to the Mint Karaoke lounge where we were said to be, but it was completely packed. We weren't there long but we were around long enough for my new friends to buy me a mojito - I swear, I stepped into another dimension of kindness and heart today. I just feel as though all is right in my own little world, and if I can just hang onto this positive energy long enough, I should be able to make it out there as a pro.

We had a blast, hopped to another bar, and really enjoyed the evening. I had some really nice conversations and mostly just felt like I should pinch myself as if to wake from a dream. They drove me home tonight too. I'm so grateful to them (hey Anton and Breanne!) and everyone out there - it was fantastic meeting all the grads and getting to spend some quality time together.

And now, it's just about 2:30 so it is definitely time for bed. More later, and pictures, definitely...

I Am A Graduate Of Animation Mentor!!!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Artsy Fartsy

Today was a real artsy-fartsy day. Got up early and spent several hours at the Legion of Honor, which is currently featuring Marie Antoinette (paintings of her, her furniture, jewelry, china, etc). Of course there are also a good handful of works by Rodin, Monet, Renoir, and other greats.

Afterward I jogged back to the condo and did a photo-dump so I'd have enough room for the next round of museum shots at the De Young. Unfortunately what I did forget was an extra set of batteries, which cut short my picture-taking there. Many great works though and I only wish it would have been next Friday, when they will start keeping the museum open Fridays much later until 8:30 or so, rather than 5:15.

I'll try to get photos up as soon as it's feasible.. for now, I need my beauty sleep. Big day tomorrow.

PS, tonight I went to Green Apple Books and spent an arm and a leg on a huge bagful of bargain books and CDs. Then we picked up Burmese food from a place called Mandalay Restaurant. I had the Asparagus Spicy Chicken (which also had eggplant and mushrooms in it, as well as basil and green chili and hot sauce, yow)! Really tasty. Nearby was another really awesome crepe place... soooo tempting... someday. Someday before I leave I will indulge. We watched La Vie en Rose, and now, it's time for bed.

Friday, January 11, 2008

AM Open House Was A Blast

Today was a very humanizing day for me. I know that probably sounds really strange out of context, but if you're anything like me, you spend a great deal of time behind a computer, and you would understand how much today meant to me.

I spent much of the first part of the day talking with Dorothy. I know she's super busy right now, but it was so wonderful to just be able to sit and talk with her in person rather than over the phone. I miss the company of such great friends - so it's wonderful when I can visit them and enjoy some time with them.

I mentioned at some point how it is a wonder I even got to San Francisco the other day - I think with all things spinning around in my head, I was just going through the motions getting on the plane (I fly a lot), and I could have made a mistake and missed my flight. I almost didn't notice a last-minute gate change, as I was sitting with my computer wondering where everyone had gone. I managed to cross over to the new gate just in time to board, and then when I got on, I sat in the wrong seat (worse, the window seat, so I made two people stand up who didn't need to, twice - once for me to get in, and once for me to leave, most embarrassed, when someone came by and claimed the seat as their own). I felt like a total space cadet. I really think my mind is just on graduation and jobs and marriage and about everything else, aside from where I'm sitting on a plane.

Today was no better, though. I was enjoying talking to Dorothy so much that I trusted I knew where the AM open house was without double checking. It's strange, I always double and triple-check myself, but in this case, I had just remembered the street address (918 Parker Street) and assumed it was just a few blocks down from her condo on Geary. As it turns out, the headquarters is on Parker Street in Berkeley, which I noticed just at 2pm (when I was about to leave for a 3pm arrival at the San Francisco Parker Street). I scrambled to get my shoes and some last minute things, and Dorothy ran me down to the Market Street BART station where she dropped me off and I grabbed the BART to the Ashby exit and hailed a cab to go the rest of the way. It was 4pm by the time I arrived at HQ, and although I had been a little bummed about being there late (open house was 3-5 pm only), I got over it really quickly once I started seeing all the familiar faces.

What an amazingly fun time it was, seeing everyone again. I met many people at the past two SIGGRAPH conferences, so a good number of people I already knew by face, but many people I only knew by name. It was just so terrific though, and I definitely feel that lasting natural high, even now, as it's midnight and I'm ready to crash. It's an amazing community of genuine people that I am so proud and honored to be a part of. I consider myself extremely lucky.

Our final films and also graduation were the topics of most conversations. Apparently Suzanne wants to do an alumni interview of me before graduation - I'm not sure if they are talking to all the graduates like an exit interview, or if it's an on-cam interview (which I've seen clips of before in some of the lectures). Either way, I'm always impressed by how much this school reaches out to its students for input and striving to help us all achieve our goals. Of course many of us have a ways to go before getting our dream jobs, but it's all about finding those stepping stones.

Anyway, it was a great time at the ol' HQ. By summer I think they'll be in the new building in San Francisco, which is totally exciting. I got to talk to Bobby Beck about it for a minute. He's so extremely positive, it's impossible to be anything but upbeat while talking to him, and he definitely talks to you as if you're the only person in the room, which just shows how devoted he is to each and every student that comes through this program.

It was a huge thrill to see the staff and students though - and we all were having such a great time that most of us hung around afterward and decided to have dinner at the Never Fails Cafe in Emeryville - which happens to be the cafe that Oren took me to a couple years back. Fun stuff. I had a half chicken salad that was pretty great. Odd combination though, it was like a Waldorf salad with grapes and walnuts in it, but they threw it on top of iceberg lettuce and drizzled hot mustard over the whole thing. Not my favorite flavor combo but it definitely was good eats. I spent a lot of time with Derek Gladen, who was nice enough to drive me there (he's the one with the awesome short about the kid who's nervous about his artwork, but grows up to have his own gallery - a really good piece).

Actually I saw lots of good folks, like Alexiss Memmott, who is pretty much an awesome AM poster child at this point, as well as her friend Adam who is just starting AM, and Todd (Draeger). Also bumped into Suzanne who told me about the interviews, and a handful of other great staff members like Taylor Mahony who just got engaged. And I saw Hector Artunez and Kyle Detweiler (who we're supposed to call Evan but no one ever remembers that), and Jim Wooten, Jeff Weidner, Alex Lehmann and his beautiful wife (I think her name was Sara, and she was so sweet!), and of course Jay and Bobby and Becky and Molly and a lot of the gang (although I didn't see Shawn or Carlos). Who else.. so many faces, and such a good time. At the dinner I met Espon Nordow (from Norway) who sat across from me, and an ILM security guard named Harold, who isn't an AMer yet, but wants to be soon, and meanwhile seemed to know a lot of people there. Oh, and a Justin Rice who was kind enough to take a handful of us to the BART station at the end of the evening. I know I'm forgetting to mention a few people at the moment, but it's getting on 12:30 and I am about to fall asleep at the keyboard. I just wanted to convey what a nice time it was and what a positive effect it had on me tonight. I'm just excited to know that if I ever have the pleasure of working with any of these people, that they are all so talented and so full of heart. Again, how lucky am I!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

PS - Website

PS... I posted a preliminary version of the new Flash site at if you want to check it out. I've got a lot of work to do on it, but at least there's stuff in the animation section. Have a look and let me know if something bothers you about it.

I suppose a downside for some people might be the Flash 8 player requirement, but it sure lessens the load for me at the moment. As soon as I'm done traveling I expect I'll dub the site in HTML so that people can view Quicktime versions of the files. For now I'm waiting to see how necessary that is, though.

Have a good weekend & I'll get back to you with some pictures - I've definitely gotta hit Japantown once more before I leave for some really awesome looking crepes.. Cya!

Happy New Year! (Finally)

Wow, took me long enough to get a new post up. It's been travel-mania for me. First Orlando to Fort Wayne, then driving up to Milwaukee for Christmas, back to Fort Wayne for New Year's, then Naveen flew back to Orlando for school and I drove back to Milwaukee for a bridal show, then flew to San Francisco (where I am now), and when I fly back to Milwaukee I have another bridal show and my birthday (and several others) before driving back to Fort Wayne and eventually flying back to Orlando. Whew!

Now that that's all off my chest, where was I? Oh, first, San Francisco. Man do I love it here. Staying with Dorothy and Jeff who generously offered their guest room for this week. They have a nice condo on Geary around 28th, so yesterday I really got my exercise. Yesterday was my first full day here, and I walked about 30-40 blocks here in SF and have blisters to prove it, oops. It was Asian Day - I walked to Japantown and enjoyed a lunch special at Benihana's for ten bucks - came with the whole shebang of ginger salad, miso soup, edamame, hot green tea, four pieces of sashimi, shrimp and vegetable tempura, a few ounces of grilled salmon, a California roll (I know, I would have preferred eel but oh well). For ten bucks in San Francisco's Benihana, I think that was pretty good.

Anyway, continuing down Geary I made it to Chinatown, where I picked up some $2 bargain t-shirts and odds and ends for family souvenirs. In the evening, continuing the Asian theme, we were going to go to a screening of Secret Sunshine, a Korean film playing at ILM's in-house theater, but ended up swinging European (Portugese) for dinner at Grubstake's cablecar restaurant, where we actually ended up ordering some very American cheeseburgers. Watched episodes of The Wire when we got back, and I crashed around midnight.

Today is the Animation Mentor open house at the ol' headquarters. Pretty sure it's from 3-5pm so I have the morning to do whatever. I'll bring my camera for sure.