Not for the weak minded.

An Office Icon

August 19th, 2009 Josh

four_drawer_letter_file_cabinetThe filing cabinet. It is an icon of organization. The metaphor used to explain computer storage to old people. The timeless cornerstone of nearly every office. And if you are like me, almost completely useless.

Although not totally, my job has gone paperless. The papers that are required are kept in a secure part of my building anyway. So there my file cabinet sits with the 4 pieces of paper I put in it when I got back from training the first day I was here. It is a waste of a perfectly good piece of space.

Today as I scooted by my classic institutional filing cabinet I thought: “what could make this better?” Well, my friends, prepare to have your mind blown. I am going to give you back your office icon, updated with everything you need to make it useful again. Although since I’m blogging on my lunch break, you’ll just have to do with a word description as I’m not prepared to GIMP this thing out.

So without further adieu:

  • Top drawer:
    • fire-proofed standard size drawer. For the 4 papers you need to protect.
  • Second drawer:
    • Appliance rack/pantry. Hide your personal coffee maker, toaster and dry snack stash from your boss and co-workers.
  • Third and forth drawers:
    • Front half houses a mini-fridge and the two “drawers” open as a single door.
    • Back half houses fridge mechanics and a fireproofed NAS with removable redundant drives. Lets face it, your files are digital, lets bring the filing cabinet up to speed.

That’s it my friends. The future of filing cabinets. Just remember where you heard it first.

Grandpa’s Tour of Duty, Part 2: Close Call

August 13th, 2009 Josh

I have been so busy over the past few months that I have let many of my projects collect quite a bit of dust. Tonight I finally broke out and posted another war story video from my grandpa.

When I took these videos, I didn’t start when he started telling the story. So I ended up filming most of the story, then having him circle back to the beginning. The videos previously posted were actually taken after this one, so there is a small gap in the story. I also didn’t have time at the moment to research this part of the story, but if you want to try to figure out what battle this is, I would love to have some comments on it!

Yes, I’m Addicted

April 23rd, 2009 Josh

To anime.

Now hang on… chances are that the first thing you think of if you are not familiar with anime is something your kids watch. This is not what I’m addicted to. Anime covers such a wide range of genres, artistic styles, lengths, and ages that the word itself is misunderstood by anyone unfamiliar with it. Good anime can put 90% of hollywood movies to shame.  So what I’m going to try to do is explain it. At least explain why I like it, and why you should too.

I’ll start out with my general overview of anime. (Bear in mind that I have no education in the visual arts whatsoever, so my classifications are not based on any real categories – only my opinions) I like to break anime int 3 different distinct classifications. The first (and least interesting IMO) is the stand-alone, sitcom-style. Every episode has a plot that resolves, and you can watch any episode and be satisfied. The second is episodic anime. This (as I understand) is the classic type, and usually has a plot that extends through one season (25-26 episodes) to resolve in the last one or two episodes. Each episode is still generally stand-alone, but the sub-plots are developed throughout the season, over many episodes. The good thing about this is that there is usually a definitive end to a series. My favorite anime of all time falls into this category.

The last classification I like to refer to as epic-dramatic. When I say epic, a series in this classification can be several hundred episodes, and span years with each episode highly linear in the overall story. These are the most addictive. I’m currently addicted to one of these – I’m at episode 80 of the second actual series. I watched the first series back in college and seriously watched about 160 episodes and never saw the end of the first series. I just recently picked up watching the second series because it’s available on Hulu (which is even worse since I can watch as many as I want in a sitting).

So why is epic-dramatic anime so addictive? Because it’s epic. When the writers have limitless episodes to build a single character, plot, sub-plot, setting, etc… the level of detail for each is ridiculous. The average mini-plot for this type usually spans 3 episodes. In fact the whole reason I’m writing this is because in the show that I’m watching now, one of the main characters died in the episode I watched today. And it was a death worthy of Shakespeare. The show is about some ninjas in a made-up land (don’t laugh) and the character that died spend the last 3 episodes fighting one of the baddest of the bad guys, and lost. In the episode today it took him 15 minutes (out of the 20 minute episode) to actually die. That’s 3/4 of the episode, just to die. And the bad guy got away.

Here’s where epic anime shines. 20 episodes ago, this guy was a background character. They spent about 20 episodes bringing him to the front, developing him, and then killed him.  Amazing. The kicker – the last, most important character that was killed off was this guy’s dad, killed by the ultimate bad guy.

How would you feel if Joker killed Robin in Batman? You know Robin. You like Robin. He’s a good guy. Now he’s dead. That’s about the feeling of how killing off this guy was. Shocking enough to make me write a blog about it.

Now after raving about how good the series I’m watching is, I must say that it’s really hard to find good anime on American TV. Most stations play garbage directed at kids, but once in a while, you’ll find the good show that is geared for adults. But unless you know what to look for, you won’t even have a clue it’s there.

There are many other reasons why I think (good) anime is worth watching. Namely, each show has it’s own signature art, music, and plot development. There are anime shows for any genre taste. I’m primarily into the ones with martial arts, but that’s quite a few of them. Like any other form of art, chances are you won’t like 99% of what’s out there; but when you find that 1% that you like, you’ll be addicted too.

Here are my favorites (most have been featured on [adult swim] on cartoon network at some point):

  • Cowboy Bebop – all time favorite. Only 26 episodes, and is so good that it has a cult-status.
  • Ghost in the Shell – slow, but great plot and not epic (it actually has an end)
  • Full Metal Alchemist – pretty childish, but I liked it.
  • FLCL – this one is just plain off the wall
  • Bleach – carefull… it’s epic
  • Naruto – also epic (this is what I’m watching now)
  • Trigun – yet another epic
  • Frisky Dingo – this is not what I consider anime, but it’s a cartoon with the most complex comedic story line of all time. I appreciate a good story line.

Richard III

March 19th, 2009 Smerfj

Mostly I write blog posts for friends and family but this one is for the local folks.

Last night I went to see a local college production of Richard III. I rarely go to see live theater, but our friend Allen from the Shoreline Music Team is an actor and a few of us wanted to show up and support him. On the way to the theater Matt Menendez called me and I ended up meeting Evan and him at the door. Once we got inside we found Sam and Monica had come as well. It turns out that this was Sam’s first live theater experience, and he enjoyed it.

There were several other people who didn’t make it out, so I thought I’d give my honest opinion so they know what to expect. The play is an edited version of Shakespeare’s Richard III, cut down from 5 acts to 2 (still 3 hours long) and set in the future. Setting it in the future made for some very interesting visual devices, although apparently cell phones loose out to foot-messengers in another 100 years… 

I was never good at audible comprehension of Shakespearean language, so I found it a little rough in the beginning. It takes superb linguistic skill to speak Shakespearean while conveying complete ownership of a role- most of the actors fared ok, though only a handful (including our Allen) of the actors did this well. As the play went on I got a little better at understanding the actors; it was also a lot easier to tell who was who after most of the people were killed off…. In the second act  I could see most of the actors settling into their comfort zone and I think this is where the play really took off.  

Overall I thought it was a very well done production for a college, especially for an opening night. If you plan to see it, make sure to read through a synopsis of the full Richard III play. Even though it is cut down, there are still enough characters for a 5 act play but not enough time to develop them. It will really add to the performance if you are more familiar with the characters beforehand.

Allen did an excellent job as well and was one of the more prominent characters (also playing a few other supporting characters later in the play). Definitely go see it if you haven’t!

More like it

March 3rd, 2009 Josh

I just uploaded my shop pictures that I used to have as header images on my last theme. They are now being used as the background images. I really like them… they all came out of my grandpa’s machine shop down in Fort Myers. It’s the coolest place on the face of the planet. If you wan to enjoy them… just hit refresh. These aren’t in my photo album, but I might put them there later.