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4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

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I'm sick of the 1970s: 4/30/04

Strike 1:

I read today that Billy Bob Thorton will be staring in a remake of The Bad News Bears. My first thought was: It's kind of cool that the Bad News Bears are coming back. My second thought was: Yuck! Billy Bob? Eeew. My third thought was: How much schlock of the 1970s has to be remade into new schlock?

Strike 2:

I guess the 2000s will be remembered as the 1970s revival. It started early with the Charlie's Angels remake which was enjoyable and unique. Since then we've had the sequel: Full Throttle, Starsky and Hutch, and the recent Battlestar Galactica miniseries.

Strike 3:

We're not quite a third into this decade but with the TV shows becoming films, music trying to capture that oh so melodious lame sound of the 70s ballads, and the hip-hugging bell bottoms making a comeback, it's going to be a long and ugly decade.

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Got George? 4/29/04

Intro:

In May 2002, I heard about Book Crossing on NPR's Weekend Edition. In the course of learning about Book Crossing, I learned about the inspiration for it, Where's George. Although I've since joined Book Crossing, I've pretty much forgotten about Where's George.

Until Today:

My boss got a Where's George bill as change at the Carl's Jr. down the alley from us. She logged in the bill and saw that it had started in central California and had made its way to San Carlos. Since I had heard of Where's George, she has entrusted the bill to me to spend in Pacifica to keep the bill moving. I plan to use it as a tip at Kerry's this weekend.

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Tastes Like Teen Chicken: 4/28/04

On the April 27th, I posted an image, Estate Sale Finds, that reused a chicken mode (see "The Chicken Made Me Do It") I had done in 2003. I've actually reused the chicken a couple of times. Here's the chicken's history to date:

As you can see, he's had a quite a few appearances in my pieces although he took a hiatus from August of last year until April of this year. Unlike last year, though, I also posted a link to my latest chicken piece on the Yahoo Bryce Group where he was a hit.

He's so much of a hit, that he's the theme for next month's Bryce Group challenge. If you're a member of the group and want to participate, you can download the chicken from my site. Heck, if you just think chickens are funny, download him and have fun. He's a wavefront object file with two different texture maps and the template to make your own custom chicken maps.

Hobby Art for the Artist's Sake: 4/27/04

I had an interesting email from a fellow artist wondering why I took time off from creating art last year. He wondered if I had burned out or was frustrated with the lack of comments from viewers as he's currently facing that sort of crisis. I replied that I had been unemployed at the time and didn't have the time or energy to create but I certainly hadn't burned out.

I've been a hobby artist since I was about a year and a half old. I started with crayons and water colors (those cheap ones sold in drug stores). I later moved to paints: oils and later acrylics. UCLA introduced me to digital art and my husband fully encouraged me to pursue those interests. When I draw, paint, or create on the computer and I'm not at work, then I create for myself. I try to do something different (create a new model, create a different type of scene) to push my skills but I don't stress over perfection or what others will think. I do post online at the 3D Commune and here because the potential for human interaction is fun and I do enjoy receiving the comments but I don't live for them.

I'm a professional web designer / web producer and graphic designer is one of the hats I have to wear from time to time. When I'm creating for a client, I create for what they want or need. Then of course I'm working towards creating something they will like and will work for their project. Even in these projects though, I have fun. Perhaps if art stopped being fun I would stop but that hasn't happened yet.

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Sea Shell in the Alley: 4/26/04

I had planned to do an entry on blogging and journal writing having just finished the second book in the Georgia Nicolson series but my lunch break changed those plans. On my way to the delicatessen for one of those rare days where I could be away from my desk at lunch, I saw a strange pink object in the parking lot. At first I thought it was a crumpled orchid or perhaps a paper flower. When I got closer, I realized it was a sea shell.

How does a tropical sea shell find its way to an alley way in San Carlos? My guess is that it fell out of one of the catering trucks. The company below where I work is a restaurant supply wholesaler Perhaps they sell sea shells? I wish this sea shell had a tracking number on it like the Book Crossing books I read, trade and release.

And Book Crossing brings me back to blogs. Another member there posted a request for other members to post their blog URLs. She was mostly looking for live journal blogs, I think, but I posted the URL to this site. Here are some of the other responses:

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Heat Wave: 4/25/04

We're having one of our typical April heat waves, although a little late in the month. We only have five days left in this month. I hope the late heat doesn't mean May will be hot too.

Today Sean and I went to Frontier Park (I think that' what it's called) to play a little ball but as usual there was some big event going on there and it was HOT. The park may have a wonderful play ground which is what Sean opted for over playing ball but there is very little shade. Only the back section of the park has any trees. I know that ten months out of the year the lack of trees is a moot concern, but for those other two months, they are crucial. It must have been close to 100 degrees up there.

We stayed for about an hour before coming home for lunch, juice and a nap. Sean managed to walk up and down the steps at the park all by himself -- a new accomplishment!

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What Dreams May Come: The Book and the Film: 4/24/04

I came to this book by way of the movie and like many adaptations, the book and the movie though recognizable in each form differ greatly in some fundamental ways. Both are about a husband and wife separated by his tragic death that ultimately leads to her suicide. Both end with reincarnation. The names of the four main characters are the same: Chris, Ann, Albert and Leona. I can see where the descriptions of Summerland (aka Heaven) in the book inspired the CGI effects of the movie and of course the metaphor of Chris trying to contact his wife (and visa versa) through her paintings. The descriptions of Hell in the book clearly inspired the way it was shown in the film (although the film, does a better job at presenting Hell than the book does) but clearly the book was only a starting point for Ron Bass (screenwriter of the film). How Chris, Ann, Albert and Leona relate thematically and narrationally differ GREATLY between the two versions and I am torn between the two. On the one hand, I think the film is a tighter story for how it brings the four together. On other other hand, I prefer the happier circumstances of the book's back-story.

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Happy Feet: 4/23/04

My day care provider has a daughter who is a drummer. She practices in the garage and the kids at day care love to listen to her jam. Sean has apparently been taking notes because last night he drummed (rather kicked since he was using his feet) a piece I've heard her practice. He did this during dinner so he had two bass drums from his foot rest and the underside of the dining room table and the cymbal from his tray. He did an almost perfect rendition. I know this means when he's older I'll probably have to get him a proper drum set (and a garage).

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Lots of Dreams Means a Good Night's Sleep: 4/22/04

Last night I had a wonderfully long and complex dream with enough details to spawn ideas for a half dozen short stories, which reminds me, I really need to finish "De Colores," my current short story project.

The dream took place in a large self contained community that had elements of the Gormanghast duchy, the city from Dark City (great film!), and my own fictional kingdom New Albion. In other words, it was a huge, architecturally intricate city / castle / estate / revamped slow ship and it happened to be haunted.

Down the poorer streets or hallways near a building that had been a bank but had gone bankrupt and boarded up its doors and windows before living memory, young women began to feel as though they were being stalked. What they didn't realize, nor did the police or the nobility, was that the cause of these stalkings lay within the bank vault where the body of a mass murderer who had died on the site of the old bank and was somehow now interred in the vault was now back as an angry and vengeful spirit.

Meanwhile, in the opulent corner of town where the ruling family and other nobility lived, they held frequent parties and laughed at how droll it was that the king wanted to live in a house with only five rooms and visitors to his country home should only call him by his given name, Jim.

Sadly then the alarm went off but I enjoyed all the details while they lasted.

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Death to Splash Pages: 4/21/04

In my continuing search for good web design examples that take advantage of web standards and CSS, I'm amazed at the high percentage of professional web design firms still using splash pages. Some of them even have multiple numbers before actually getting to the content. Like any average user, I want to get to the good stuff right away. Don't bore me with stupid splash screens. The worst of them are the ones that are so obscure in UI that they need explanations at the bottom of the splash as to where to click. Groan. Yawn.

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For External Use Only: 4/20/04

I understand the need for corporations to protect themselves from themselves and their competition and their customers but it can be a mind numbing experience to be caught in the middle of it.

About once a year in my career as a web designer I've had to take corporate training because all employees are required to take it. Unfortunately these training sessions are very rarely tailored to various business roles which means an hour or more wasted learning how to label documents, presentations or databases that I'll never be creating, seeing, or using.

But I'll be ready just in case I'm suddenly called on to give a multi-customer sales presentation that uses confidential materials.

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Funny Source Code: 4/19/04

One of the best ways to learn coding techniques after having mastered the basic skill set via tutorials and reading, is to study real world examples. In my on going project to hone my CSS / XHTML skills, I have been viewing a lot of source code to websites I visit. As I've mentioned before most sites I've visited are still using tables for layout and design and font styles rather than CSS for layout and design. It's actually fun to guess if a site is using CSS tableless layout or not.

Anyway, in my search for CSS sites, I came across Mr. Potato Head commented out in the header of a site I visited. He's done as ASCII art and made me laugh. To see Mr. Potato Head, just view the source of the Sparklejet home page.

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Things that Fly: 4/18/04

Even with inclement weather by eleven o'clock, Sean was ready for our weekly adventure. He made this obvious by brining me his jacket and shoes and when that didn't work, he brought me my shoes while admonishing: "Go!"

I decided to take him to the Palo Alto bird sanctuary. We haven't been there in about half a year and it would be the first time that he'd really be up to walking any great distance.

We didn't walk as far as I had hoped, managing only about half a mile before it started to rain and before Sean was ready for a nap. But we did spend some quality time sitting on the benches watching the planes take off over the slough. Sean is getting crazy about airplanes and really enjoyed seeing all the different types of personal and small aircraft taking off.

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More House Hunting: 4/17/04

Today the three of us looked at two other houses.

One was an open house "contractor's special" that was on the far edge of what we can afford. With $32,000 in bug related damages before a mortgage and a bidding war clearly brewing amongst the more established real estate buyers, we left. If we had been one of those older and more established buyers I still think we would have left. The kitchen was an after thought and there was no sensible place for a dining room table.

The second house we only drove by because it's still tenant occupied. We love the yard. We hope that the house is something we can see and maybe make an offer on. We're still waiting for the real estate agents to get together.

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The Beach in Advertising: 4/16/04

While looking at website portfolios, I came across an odd one for a law firm specializing in divorce. Above the introductory text, the website had a picture of a woman sitting on the beach with her arm around a dog, staring wistfully into the waves. Why has the beach become so linked with personal problems? There are ads for various medicines that feature folks on the beach. There are others for life insurance. Now divorce. What's up?

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Funny Homes 4/15/04

We took our first serious tours of real estate today. I don't count the HUD auction in Pasadena back in 1997 because there was no way we could have afforded to get into a bidding war and we knew it.

Anyway, we looked at a long skinny house that is very quirky but we could both imagine ourselves cramped but happy. If we moved there we would need a dog. I can picture the dog, Sean and Sean's sibling (if there ever is a second child) running up and down and up and down the hallway that connects all the pieces together. The kitchen in the place is WONDERFUL!

The second house was too small, too dark and just felt angry. Even though it had a WONDERFUL yard the yard did make up for the bad karma of the house.

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Sock Monkey! 4/14/04

Intro: I have a sock monkey. My grandmother made him and gave him to me in the 1970s. Sock Monkey now lives in my son's room. He's a little threadbare and stained but still as adorable and mischievous as ever.

Why the Sock Monkey Blog?

Yesterday while Googling around for reference images of row boats for an art project, I found a site about Sock Monkeys being kidnapped by pirates. It had to be the funniest thing I've seen in weeks on the web.

A Googleful of Monkeys:

So out of curiosity I Googled on Sock Monkey and came across quite a few fun sites:

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Bryce Six: 4/13/04

Before you get your hopes up, Bryce six isn't currently in the works. Corel has stopped supporting it for the Mac which is stupid. Bryce started as a Mac native program so Corel is only supporting the poorly ported PC version.

The Players:

Corel: the current owner who bought it from Metacreations who bought it from the original creators: KPT, made up of Kai Krause and Eric Wenger.

bryceformac: A website set up to hopefully get enough support to buy Bryce from Corel and collaborate with the original KPT folks. Utopian but not likely to happen.

Pandromeda: The MojoWorld Generator / Transporter folks also have a background in Bryce's past. Ken Musgrave aka Doc Mojo worked on the Metacreations versions of Bryce. He now heads Pandromeda where their flagship is the fabulous MojoWorld. It's quite a robust program for creating entire planets using similar techniques used in Bryce just on a much larger scale. They are also courting Corel but so far Corel isn't willing to sell. If I were to bet money on the outcome, I would put it on Pandromeda.

Conclusion:

In the meantime, I'm still working on a massive update to my Bryce Freebies section. I'm talking about hundreds of new things for Bryce 5 users. I will also continue to maintain the Bryce 4 freebie section.

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Big Boy Bed: 4/12/04

Sean is really into doing things for himself. Last week he asked us in his own special way through toddler pantomime for us to remove the side of his crib. He wanted to be able to put himself to bed.

Yesterday we finally caved in to his request and converted his crib into a toddler bed. He must have spent an hour practicing getting into bed and out of bed. Then he learned how to bounce on the mattress!

Of course when it really was his bed time he wasn't quite as eager to stay in bed as he was to go to bed. It took some careful coercing on our part to convince him to stay in bed. He did eventually agree to stay in bed and slept the entire night there without falling out. This morning when I went in to check on him I found him in his chair by the window watching the sunrise.

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Do You Know the Way: 4/11/04

The three of us spent today driving down and over to East Bay to look at an "as is" home for sale just on the edge of what we can afford. The home was in Hayward and was fine but the street had a serious parking problem. We decided it was too expensive for such an obvious on-going hassle.

We then drove south south west along the eastern edge of civilization down through Union City, Fremont, Milpitas (where we stopped for lunch) and to San Jose before heading up the 101 and homeward (via a grocery store). The trip southward gave us the opportunity to see cities we've thought about moving to and to see if we could imagine ourselves doing the commute.

In the end of the day we decided that San Jose looks the most promising. It would be a longer commute for Ian in total distance but it would be the same amount of time because the Bay Bridge is always so bad for him. My commute would be the same distance as my old UCLA commute but less time because few routes can rival the insanity of the I 10 through Los Angeles.

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Keys in the Cup: 4/10/04

My son and I have a favorite game we made up called Keys in the Cup. It's a game of coordination and is very noisy. The noisier the better. It goes like this. Take a set up toy keys. Sean has a ring of four that are meant to be teething toys or a rattle but he's really past that stage now. Anyway, rattle these keys around and then drop them in a plastic up, preferably one that isn't much larger in diameter than the key ring is. Then jostle the cup to make the keys jump out of the cup. Try to catch the keys in the cup as they come down. The keys on the ring will wriggle about making a lot of noise and making it difficult to predict how they'll land in the cup. The higher you make the keys jump the more likely it is that you will miss them on the way down. It's very funny when you miss. And very loud. Have fun!

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Sean's Adventure at Berkeley: 4/9/04

As today is Good Friday, Day Care is closed. That meant Sean got to go to Berkeley with Ian. He spent his day spinning in circles until he made himself dizzy, tossing a tennis ball around, pushing buttons and closing (or attempting to) doors. Sean's greatest thrill was learning how to make the elevator work. He has also decided that lemon poppy muffins are wonderful. I agree.

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Who Moved That?: 4/8/04

The other night when Sean and I got home from day care / work, I parked the car in a guest spot right at the back of the parking lot because I wasn't sure if Ian was home yet. Sometimes parking is really bad for him so I always try to save him the reserved spot if I can.

The next morning I expected Sean to see the car as soon as we came down the stairs and go right towards it. He instead started to head off towards the reserved spot. I ended up having to pick him up and carry him back to the car which he hated. I think from his perspective he couldn't see his curtain in the window. If he doesn't see the curtain he doesn't think that it's our car.

As soon as I brought him around the side and he could see the curtain he said in a really surprised voice: "Who moved that?"

Since starting my new job in January, I've been buying lunch once a week at a local Chinese restaurant. I was just there on Monday and everything was the same from the previous visits. Today, only four days later, the woman and teenaged boy who run the place at lunch time were replaced by a different woman and teenaged boy. The place had been completely repainted on the inside, changing the wall trimming from brown to green. I don't know if they've had a change of management or if I got there at the start of a new shift and that the wall color was just some redecorating. At least the food was the same. The experience made me think of Sean's double-take when I had parked the car in an unexpected place.

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Lunch Time Ponderings: 4/7/04

Yu Yu Hakusho is the current Cool Kids offering at Carl's Jr. Yusuke et al seems out of place at the Carl's down the alleyway from where I work. The average diner at this place is a 30-40 year old male construction worker or UPS driver. I feel like I'm the only customer who has even seen the series but I haven't watched it in 6 months since we gave up cable.

I ordered a side salad "to go" at Carl's today because they're cheap and tasty. Unfortunately the person who packed my to go bag forgot to give me my salad dressing. I could have gone back but I didn't. Fortunately the salad is still tasty without the dressing.

Joe's Ristorante, just across from where I work went out of business before I started. I think a new restaurant is coming in from all the work being done there. That's a good thing but in the process of updating the restaurant, the construction folks have painted over a lovely funky but faded mural that used to be on the south facing wall. I hope they put something as interesting there. A plain wall won't be the same.

111,120 KM Under the Ocean: 4/6/04

My husband and I were talking the other night about the Jules Verne novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and we both admitted to having been confused by the title at one time. 20,000 leagues (60,000 miles or 111,120 kilometers) is 8.5 thousand times deeper than the deepest point on the ocean. 20,000 leagues is the distance the two men traveled on the Nautilus.

I remember in 6th grade a group of boys did a huge series of blue prints for the Nautilus based on the book. I thought it was a waste of time back then and still do but apparently lots of folks don't. The blue prints of the Nautilus feature in Clive Cussler's book Valhalla Rising. And there's an entire website devoted to blue prints and 3D models.

I much prefer the sequel to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. If you get a chance, read The Mysterious Island.

Read the review at 8/01/03/twenty-thousand-leagues-under-the-sea/">A Striped Arm Chair.

Shark Week: 4/5/04

Thought 1: I'm currently reading Jaws as part of a Book Crossing relay. I've never seen the film even though I'm old enough to have. It and I just haven't crossed paths. I haven't even been on the infamous tour to see the mechanical shark. Nope. I'm coming to this book having read The Deep, also by Peter Benchly (and Stanley Thornes). I underestimated Jaws, expecting it to be less engaging and more along the lines of a monster of the week type book. I also didn't realize that it took place on Long Island. The Long Island connection has me constantly subconsciously placing characters from The Great Gatsby into the book but so far they haven't been eaten by the shark. Anyway, I recommend reading the book whether or not you've seen the film.

Thought 2: The Discover Channel does themed weeks of animal shows. I guess they started off with sharks and that's how the phrase was coined. Shark Week to me used to mean a week or two of hard sell web marketing campaigns when I was at my previous job. Every couple of weeks we'd have to promote a new product over all of our websites even if it didn't make sense to. So one week it would be CRM and the next week ERP or RAC or what have you. I don't miss Shark Week.

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Daylight Saving Time: 4/4/04

I'm not a big fan of daylight saving time. Today I'm tired and cranky. I'll be much happier when October rolls around again and we fall back to normal time (er, standard time).

In the meantime, I'm back from a lovely day at Coyote Point Reserve where I tried to teach my son how to blow bubbles. He doesn't get it yet but he will. He sure laughed hard when I blew them. We also watched airplanes land at SFO and he played on the jungle gym. He's really getting good at daredevil sliding. He desperately wants to learn how to climb up the slide like the older kids do rather than using the stairs. He hasn't figured that out yet. I think it's because his arms are still too short. He'll probably be able to by the time he's two.

House in California: 4/2/04

Hard to believe that six months ago I was wondering what was going to happen next in my life after being part of the mass lay off at Oracle. Now I'm happily employed at a much less stressful job and am on the verge of maybe buying a home. We're in the process of getting preapproved for a loan.

Perhaps it's because home buying has been on my mind or perhaps it's just a catchy tune, but I've grown very fond of Keb' Mo's "House in California" on his Keep It Simple album. Take a close listen, it's a very funny take on the current ridiculously high housing prices in California.

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Mad World and Musical Irony: 4/1/04


I'm listening to the Gary Jules cover of "Mad World" (the acoustic version, not the Donnie Darko version) and while I do enjoy both of his covers, I prefer the original Tears for Fears version because of their use of musical irony. The Jules' covers are straight up interpretations of the lyrics only with very dark and depressing instrumentation. The original version would follow each dismal line with a little riff of "tra la la" type music turning a depressing subject into something way too cheerful to the point of being comedic. That subtext is missing from Jules's versions.

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