Day of the Mac #1

So… to finish this project I’ve spent the past several months programming, I need a mac with Xcode…  For those of you who don’t know me, I have railed against macs.  They’re overpriced, they don’t give you the low-level access I enjoy, they tend to have this “holier than thou” aura about their promotions…  I can’t stand it when people talk about only serious content creators use Mac.  Okay, in the day of Myst, Apple was the way to go, but that was 1992 when graphics cards were limited.  Today, you get wayyyy more bang for your buck on a PC.  Nevertheless, yesterday, ca 10 AM, I found myself in an Apple store.

An hour later, as I walked to my apartment with a MacBook box under arm, I felt dirty.  I felt like all these people were looking at me, and I wanted to turn to them say, “Hey, I’m not a Mac person” (with a nervous laugh).  “I just had to get one of these things so I could use this piece of software which only runs on Mac.”

Louisiana Trip

Hezakiah's Hands - Lake Charles Trip

I’m back at my parents’ home after having spent the week with my dad doing volunteer work in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Dad is a member of a local organization called Hezakiah’s Hands (it’s associated with his church).  He’s done several projects with the group, so I figured, it being important to Dad, I’d volunteer.  It was a great experience.  The group of people traveling down country (there were 18 of us) was a blast during the long ride.  We had a great time. I was amazed by Lake Charles.  It’s been a few years now since the devisitation of Hurricane Ike, but the ramifications persist.  Of course, living in the places where I’ve lived, where hurricanes don’t really exist, I felt kinda ignorant having been surprised that yes, it does take a long time to rebuild a community.  We would drive along the main thoroughfairs and all looked fine.  Once we ventured off the main drag, though, we’d see empty lots, boarded houses, and houses that shouldn’t be inhabited.

The first day’s shock was seeing the conditions of some of these places.  The habit, in Louisiana, is to raise houses from the ground, sometimes on pylons, but most of the stuff we saw was raised in a few blocks.  One house was perched precariously over a veritable pool of grey water that had gathered beneath it.  Its blocks were cockeyed in every direction from the force of wind and water.  Some room’s floors dropped half a foot or more over the length of 12 feet.  The shock the next day was when it sank in that a contractor had caused the pool.  The homeowners had sunk their lifesavings into saving their home, part of that project was building earth under their house to keep out water.  The contractor, instead, heaped earth around the perimeter of the house making it appear to have been filled in.  The perimeter just created walls for the collecting pool.  The underside of the house was rot and mold that had permeated all the way to the laminate flooring of their living room.


The people we met were wonderful.  We were treated to homecooked meals (smothered quail? – I’ll show you the photos later).  As I left one site, the lady of the house hugged me.


During the course of the trip, I took a few hours of footage on my D300s.  I will get it uploaded sometime soon.  I need to get to my equipment in my apartment first.  Too much footage to hack on my laptop:)  Meanwhile, I’m posting a photo of the group.  We were working in cooperation with the Presbyterian Disaster Assitance (hence, the shirts).  As always, I try to avoid religion in any of my discussions.  My beliefs are very personal, but universal in nature, and I’ll just leave it at that.

“All it takes to keep a man alive is…”

“… a positive attitude.” That’s what my friend said sitting next to me on the bench. I know we can all quibble about what it takes to keep a man alive and maybe come up with something else more poetic, but it wouldn’t be true, because the man who spoke this knows about staying alive in ways you and I don’t. My friend, William, spends his days in Rittenhouse Park, and his evenings, often times, at a train station. He has no formal residence. He has diabetes and has illnesses that come and go. This has been one of the harshest winters in Philadelphia history. Yet the man spends more time during our conversations talking about how to help other people, than talking about himself.

“All it takes to keep a man alive is a positive attitude. I could be lying on my back, dying somewhere, but I’m not.” There are other people in his situation who have gone over the edge. William offered one of them a sandwich yesterday, but the man declined preferring to “eat out of trashcans because his mind is so messed up.” William is not in that state and he’s thankful for that. He’s looking forward to the weekend, when we might see the mid 40s or possibly the bottom 50s. He’s looking forward to be able to take off his gnit hat and loosening his coat. He always asks me how my project is going and “how’s your girlfriend?”

Before I moved to Philly, I came to visit from LA, of all places, sometime around August. That’s the first time I saw that guy sitting there on the bench. I’m not kidding: 7 out of 10 people seemed to know him. Every 3rd person stopped to say hi. There’s a reason. He exudes optimism. He exudes joy. At that time, I actually said “hi” and we talked a bit. He introduced himself. I introduced myself. The funny thing was, I thought about him when I flew back to California. Two months later, when I moved to Philly, and I saw him, he recognized me “It’s Seth, isn’t it?”

I don’t know where I’m going with this, other than to iterate what we all should already know, and maybe too often deny. It’s not cheesy. It’s not oversimplifying, but it should never be considered profound. It should be obvious. “All it takes to keep a man alive is a positive attitude.”

Los Angeles – Almost a Week Now…

The other night, I took my camera and walked around “the Marina”  (Marina Del Rey) and then out to the pier.  Picture a moon above you, warm wind coming at you, waves below, the Pacific.  The pier goes on and on like an arm reaching over the waters.  You reach the end and there’s this circular patio.  You turn around, facing the beach and beyond, the quiet neighborhoods and beyond that: a thousand stars of the city of Los Angeles twinkling.  Stars of Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Venice.  Someplace beyond that is Burbank and Hollywood and all those other mythical places.  To your right is the airport, LAX.  There are other stars, larger stars, coming down from the sky toward that place.  Jets coming in bring people to and from the world in which you’ve stepped.

But, now I’m about to fall asleep in a town outside Santa Barbara, and again, I can hear those waves not too far off, rolling.  It’s intoxicating.  I grew up in such a silent place that I know and love, and here my sleep is surrounded with these lush sounds.  To me, it’s otherworldly.



Unico and the Island of Magic

{youtubejw}ulLK-vdOrOM{/youtubejw}  This is very possibly going to be the lamest entry I’ve ever made.
Anyone ever see an anime called Unico and the Island of Magic while growing up?  Anyone?  Well, I was probably 7 when I first saw this on the Disney Channel.  My brother and I were nuts about it.  We recorded it on the VCR and watched it I don’t know how many times.  It’s about this little unicorn (yeah, I know, I’m making a sissy of myself) named Unico and his adventures surrounding a mysterious magician’s apprentice, his estranged family, and a psychotic marionette-become-wizard.  Ok ok ok…  So, if this doesn’t grab you enough, let me put in that this movie used to scare the bujeebas out of my brother and me because the psychotic marionette was on a vendatta against humanity turning people into “living puppets” to be stonework in his castle in a place called (get this) NIGHTMARE ISLAND!  
Yeah.  Seriously!
It scared us half to death!
Now do you understand why puppets freak me out?
I’ve embedded a link to YouTube where someone was cool (and also foolish) enough to post the movie, in its entirety, in 10 parts.  I’m embedding a link to the 2nd part which introduces Toby, the magician/apprentice and my favorite character.

NAB 2009

It’s 5 AM at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Friday, April 24th.  I’m en route to LA after spending the past week at the National Association of Broadcasters show.  NAB is the big show in the US where everyone involved in content creation (3D, cameras, mics, capture, etc), post (edit, composite, etc) and distribution (ie my employer: KenCast) get together to attend conferences, training, and of course, exhibit our latest and greatest on the show floor.  I try my best not to discuss my work on this website (if you want to read about KenCast, please visit our homepage), however I will say it was an excellent show for the company.  With the recent downturn in the economy, tradeshows have been taking a major hit, however, even though traffic quantity was down at NAB, we had some of the best quality traffic ever.  

Besides staffing the booth, I did peel myself away to visit other exhibitors, including two of my favorites : Adobe and Autodesk.  Adobe put on several presentations on the future of flash in content delivery to devices (I also attended presentations on the latest incarnation of their multitrack mixer : Audition).  I have been on Production Premium CS3, but at the show, a special 15% discount enticed me to make the jump to CS4:)  So, that should be waiting at my apartment when I get back to CT.  

Autodesk, whether at NAB in Vegas, or the sister show, IBC in Amsterdam, is always my favorite booth to visit.  Last year, the booth was constructed from unpainted plywood, perfect for recycling.  This year, the booth was actually constructed out of the cardboard tubes used to bring in the carpet used by the show.  It was gorgeous.  You can see a hint of it in the wide shot of the hall, below from my iphone, as well as the carvings done in the cardboard wall surrounding the demonstration theatre.  Autodesk always does the best job in demoing their postproduction products.  I’ve been to presentations where they have people from Weta showing color grading on King Kong, editing on trailers, etc.  Their demoreel stops people in their tracks.  I just love to sit their and watch.  Of course, the only Autodesk tool I’ve really touched is Maya, but someday I hope to get my hands on Flame and the other post tools.



Lawrence of Arabia

I know this is going to make me sound like a complete uncultured boob, but until two weeks ago, I had never seen Lawrence of Arabia.  Maybe you are in the same boat?  No?  Well, I like to believe there are other people out there who haven’t seen this classic (because, among other reasons, if everyone else has seen it but me, than this entry is fairly pointless).  So, assuming there is someone reading this who, like me, has never seen the film: this is for you.

See it!

I don’t know what compulsed me to put the film on my NetFlix queue, but I’m glad I did.  I watched it as I was flying to LA two weeks ago and it just made 4 hours sail by.  

Lawrence of Arabia is based upon the writings and life of an actual historical figure, T.E. Lawrence, and his struggle to unify the feuding tribes of Arabia in order to fight off the Turkish invaders of World War I and thereby liberate the land and people he has come to love.  The film traces his campaign in concert with his 


I definitely would not consider this a review, so much as : I need to get back in the flow of building content on a website:)  I’ve been very busy wtih my company’s website and it’s just drained my ability to sit down and work on my own pages.  However, I’ve got to get back in the flow.

Tonight, my brother brought over Darkon.  We saw a clip from it almost a year ago and Adam finally grabbed a DVD.  “Darkon” is a real-life role-playing game going in the Baltimore / DC area (see since 1985.  The film documents the events and people surrounding a chapter in the “civilization’s” history when an alliance of rebel nations attempts to break the power of an empire.  However, the film goes way beyond events and investigates the motivations of the actual people behind the masks and armor, comparing and contrasting their “real” lives with their “Darkon” lives.

I have to admit, the premise of this whole film at first struck me as laughable.  Just seeing these people and hearing the speeches on the field made me cringe, but as the film progressed, I found myself understanding why these people need this other reality.  In fact, I began to see how I, and everybody else, may not be any different.  There’s a particularly poignant moment when a player compares his playing a character in a game to his weekday role : playing a manager at a Hot Topic, trying to get people to buy his clothes.  

If you have the time and an open mind, Darkon is worth it.

Fires in Los Angeles

I was a bit surprised by the Montecito fires only to find out shortly thereafter that Los Angeles County had fires of its own to deal with.

I was no where near the flames, but, like most people around me, it was the topic of discussion and the reason the TV was on.  I wasn’t effected but I know people who were.  (No doubt some of you reading this fall in that category in which case I hope things turned out all right in the end.)

I’m on travel in Minneapolis right now, however, here are a few quick shots I was able to cobble together remotely.

It got dark a little early with the smoke blocking out the setting sun.  Two shots were taken Saturday ca. sunset while the other shot was taken Sunday morning on the main drag in Marina Del Rey. 

Marina Del Rey during Los Angeles Fires,


 Sun Reflection in Side View - Marina Del Rey -


Couple walks in Marina Del Rey Ash -





Reach out and make a friend