What You Say?!?
January 27, 2005 10:39 pm
Vic and I are both voracious readers, and one of the many literary interests we share is an insatiable appetite for
comic books and graphic novels. A couple months ago, he purchased all the
Sin City collected
Frank Miller, and I
fell madly in love. Frank Miller is most well-known for
Dark Knight Returns, but I think in Sin City he really shines with amazing original characters and a unique brand of
noir sensibility. The tense artwork, the unforgiving plots, the terse monologues, the wry catchphrases, the captivating
panels; everything just fits so elegantly that I could write pages waxing poetic over it.
So, being somewhat of a comic snob and certainly an artistic purist when it comes to this series, I was very afraid
when word spilled about a Sin City
movie. Sin City is no X-Men, no Spiderman, no
popcorn-and-soda, good-guys-bad-guys, the-hero-always-wins, moral-of-the-story, message-to-society feel-good box
office fodder-for-the-masses fun-romp. It's dirty, it's gritty, it's sinister, and holy mother, I
am so afraid cinema is going to ruin its dark beauty.
But, hope lingers. The first two trailers (one is a San Diego Con leak that I've only found on
BT and the other at
Apple, bless their QuickTime souls) are
promising. The fact that panels from the comics are featured alongside the scenes lifts
my spirits. In terms of casting, the characters look the way they should and many of the names are big, but I'll hold
my breath. While the dialogue isn't Shakespeare, a delicate serious-yet-not-cheesy approach
needs to be taken, and I'm not sure most of the actors can pull it off. On the other hand, Frank Miller has both
writing and directing credits and Robert Rodriguez, who
took a stylistic leap of faith with
Desperado and polished it into an incredible artistic
statement, is producing. This would be a risky project for any studio - bringing something this cultish into
mainstream theatres is always hit-or-miss, and while the credentials are brilliant, it's so easy to fuck up the
art form, especially when Sin City is such a fanboy driven book. I fear the worst, but the silver lining is
And so, I leave you with some lovely movie posters that showcase just the tip of an iceberg full of booze, broads, and
January 23, 2005 12:50 pm
Last week, we went an entire day without corporate e-mail. It was actually quite refreshing, and I
got more items knocked off my task list than any average day at work. Without e-mail, the only means of
communication we had left were phone and person. Only the most important requests got through via these
alternate channels. It's easy to write an e-mail detailing some new feature or report you need. But are you
willing to pick up the phone and explain your request, knowing you'll need to answer
questions and justify your need for giving that person more work? Or even worse, if the phone fails to pick up, are
you willing to walk over and tell them in person what you want, knowing you'll experience both physical and
verbal reactions to your request? It makes you think twice about whether the things you ask for are worth
the effort, and as a result, only half the requests came in that would normally come had e-mail been up that day.
Obviously, the amount of e-mail one gets varies depending on position. I try to keep e-mails to our devs minimal
by forcing everyone to send me all requests. I filter through the deluge so they can work on the important
things. I usually get around 80 e-mails a day, which doesn't sound like much, but considering we have about 65
employees, this means everyone e-mails me at least once a day. But for me, the issue with e-mail isn't volume, it's
distraction. I'll be concentrating on a task, then a message comes in. I'll check it right away, for reasons
I'll explain later. So I pause my thought
process to read the e-mail, and usually it causes me to abandon my current task to work on a new one. Afterwards, it
always takes a while to pick up where I left off.
I do have a few rules for dealing with e-mail: filters and folders are my lifeblood. I'm consistent in categorizing
e-mails so I can find them later. I allow in-cell editing (this is an Outlook
feature; I'm not sure other clients have this) so I can rename subject lines at will. No messages in my
folders can be left unread - in fact, I don't touch anything in my inbox unless all e-mails in my folders have
been dealt with. And absolutely no personal e-mail in the corporate domain. I also
abide by the 100 Message Rule: there should never be more than 100 messages in your inbox at the end of the day. Which
means following up on e-mails as fast as possible and clearing them to a searchable, archived folder right away. This
leads to the "distraction" issue I mentioned before. Because I don't want to spend hours catching up on e-mail (and I
had to do this about once a week before I started using the 100 Message Rule), I'll handle e-mails as soon as I can. There
are situational exceptions, of course, but most of the time, I leave work under the limit.
The distraction e-mail creates is mainly good. It forces me to tackle problems quickly. It lets me stay on
schedule by making me to finish this, assign that, or look
into those. It makes sure no requests are allowed to languish, forgotten and late, in a stew of inbox messages. For the most
part, my e-mail policies have worked out. But it's still amazing how much more peaceful work is without e-mail - I wish we had one
day every month where no e-mails were allowed. Just so everyone can think without interruption for once.
January 11, 2005 9:01 am
Something I don't understand about New Jersey is why so many people who live here take so much
pride in the state. They'll defend this place with almost holy passion, when really it's a pretty
shitty place to live. I mean, off the top of my head, I can already tell you:
Given all this, why do I still live here? Because unfortunately I couldn't get a job anywhere
else. That doesn't mean I like it here. I can't comprehend why people
think this place is so grand - in terms of a location, it holds nothing redeeming, nothing of cultural or
social significance, except maybe the uncanny ability of its citizens to defend its crappiness to
the bitter end.
- 45 minute average commute.
- Why such a long commute? Because we have the highest average property tax rate. So nobody can
afford to live anywhere close to work.
- High cost of living. For a state lacking competent public services, it sure is expensive.
- Camden. Hooray for us.
- One of the most, if not the most, corrupt local governments in the country. I have
a bit of first hand experience with this. I don't trust any of our elected officials, even the
ones I vote for.
- Did I mention the long commute? Another reason this occurs is because real estate here is so
inflated, they can sell you an outhouse for half a million.
- Utter lack of subculture. We have malls, malls, and more malls. The entire state is one giant, painfully
boring suburb. People here are more vanilla than
Georgia. The only difference is that the rednecks here have more money, so they build malls
everywhere. Even the "asian" community in central jersey is whitewashed like a new plaster wall.
- Super high car insurance. I had to pay almost $2000 annually with a perfect driving
- Did I mention utter lack of subculture? Hoboken has lots of bars. Those bars suck, both in terms of
atmosphere and quality of clientele. Atlantic City also has lots of bars. They suck just as much. Rinse,
repeat with any other city.
- People here are rude. When you smile and say hi, they react like you just insulted them. You
live in New Jersey. If you want to be a snob, move to NYC.
- New Jersey Civil Engineers on Crack. Nuff said.
- And last but not least, HORRIBLE drivers. Learn to drive in the rain (start by turning on your
lights - you do realize this will help you see through the sheets of water). Learn to pass correctly (going
50 mph in the leftmost lane is not passing). Learn to obey traffic laws (see how that sign says
right turn only? Don't go straight through that lane). Learn physics (there are 6
cars ahead of me. No matter how closely you ride my ass, I won't be able to go through those cars. Don't
count on quantum mechanics here). And most of all, learn spatial coordination (half
of you have no idea how long your car really is, do you?).
January 10, 2005 8:00 am
Finally posted larger images
of the Star Destroyer!
January 4, 2005 8:30 pm
To the late
Will Eisner: No eulogy I write could do
you justice, so let me just say thanks and rest forever in peace.
January 4, 2005 8:52 am
Happy New Year to all! Welcome to 2005.
For Christmas, Vic's brother gave us the ultimate toy: a 3 foot long
Destroyer. When I finally got a day off work, we decided to crack this
puppy open and take a magical journey through a sea of grey:
The first section we completed was one of the bottom supports:
Picture of me holding this thing, for scale (it's gigantic!):
So the support structure ended up being these two triangle pieces:
The two supports were snapped together by their sides, and a stand was built in. At this
point it was very unbalanced (I had to hold the tip up to prevent it from falling), but it
made sense, as the bulk of the pieces were going to be directly over the stand:
Cool rear lights:
Direct shot of the lights:
After the base was done, the next step was to create the long panels making up the sides
of the ship. These panels were also HUGE and here is Vic holding one of the bottom ones:
First bottom panel attached!
A brief interlude showing our "workspace." We had Legos strewn over 1/2 our
loft. We made an attempt at organization by categorizing into separate trays
and bags. Even still, there was a lot of crawling around on all fours hunting particular pieces
and also a lot of counting. At the end, I think we were able to tell a 2x8 flat brick from a
2x10 flat brick simply by sight:
More Legos all over the place:
It might be hard to see in this pic, but the little round black pieces are actually magnets.
Instead of snapping on the long panels, the Lego developers came up with a
cool system of magnets that aligned the base support with the large panels. Once the magnets
were attached, carefully placed "angle" pieces locked together to hold the panels firm:
The magnets also allowed for the cool tilt of the panels. Since they were resting on joints, they
could bend and slope. Once everything was lined up and attached, the structure was
quite secure, and looked pretty damn good:
Here's the first of two sections that make up the top of the Destroyer. The nifty thing about this
was it didn't snap either. Instead, this section rested snugly in the hole between the
top panels, thanks to some clever engineering:
Voila! It's amazing how precisely
they crafted this so one large chunk fit smoothly into another:
And now, the final tower section. This slid right into place. Notice how it's bigger than Vic's head:
At last, the finished product. That is one kick-ass Lego set:
Again, for the sake of scale:
About 8 hours later (not counting our dinner break) we finally have the complete set. This
includes a plaque (which you actually build out of Legos) detailing
the Star Destroyer specs. It also has a little blockade runner, which is like an
$8 mini by itself, to show off the sheer enornity of the Destroyer:
This concludes the pictorial guide to a day of Lego goodness. High res versions of these photos
should be linked up soon. Many, many thanks to Vincent for giving such a
glorious gift - it's not everyday one gets to play with 3,104 Lego pieces!
See archived entries for December 2004.
See archived entries for October 2004.
See archived entries for September 2004.
See archived entries for August 2004.
See archived entries for July 2004.
See archived entries for June 2004.
See archived entries for May 2004.
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