Saturday, February 02, 2013

A Long Overdue Update

I won this medal for completing runDisney's
Coast to Coast Challenge by finishing a
half marathon at Walt Disney World and
Disneyland in the same calendar year.
It's been nearly two and a half years since my last update and lots of things have changed.  I figured it was finally time to do something new here.  When I sat down to write a new post, I could barely even remember how to log in.  Once I did, Blogger had completely changed the interface, and it even forced me to update my template because the one I had customized was apparently completely out of date it didn't even work with the system anymore.

So now that I'm finally in and typing... what's new?  Well, probably the most dramatic change in the intervening years is I have become a runner.  If you had told me three years ago I'd be a runner, I would have laughed squarely in your face.  I've lost about 45 pounds, so I can breathe easily after walking up a flight of stairs.  I've run distances on my own two feet that are even still hard for me to comprehend.  I've simply taken it in stages.

In the summer of 2010, I began climbing at my favorite mountain, Stone Mountain, on a regular basis (two or three times a week, and I even stuck to it through the winter months) and that's how I shed the early bulk.  In March of 2011, I kicked it up a notch to running in my own neighborhood.  My first time out of the gate, I ran 1.4 miles.  The next time I ran, I doubled it.  From then on, it was a head game.  Once I increased my distance I had no excuse to do it again because I knew I could do it.

I ran my first official 5K on May 14, 2011.  It was the Brookhaven Bolt.  I immediately wanted a bigger challenge.  After buying a race bib for Atlanta's famed Peachtree Road Race (they had already sold out by the time I wanted in), I ran my first 10K just two months later on July 4.  I just recently ran my first official half marathon in January of this year at Walt Disney World, and the next weekend I ran my second one at Disneyland, completing runDisney's Coast to Coast Challenge within just eight days.

Running has changed my life.  It's improved my mood and allowed me to handle stress more easily.  I dare say I wouldn't be in the job I'm in now if I wasn't running regularly.  I've met great people that helped to inspire me to higher and higher levels.  Running has challenged me to think about other aspects of my life.  If I am capable of running 13.1 miles, what else can I do?  It's been an amazing two years and I will continue to go onward and upward (Excelsior!).

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ed Turner and Number 9

Over the last two years I've had the pleasure of seeing the shows of this band, Ed Turner and Number 9, a Beatles cover band in Augusta, GA. About a year ago I connected with the video crew and began recording the shows. Just recently, I was given a crack at editing their March 13, 2010 show. I've had tremendous fun doing it. Take a look at their rendition of Oh! Darling, just one of many songs I've heard them play. Many thanks to Ed Turner, the band, and Lance Jones for having faith that I could put this thing together. The band will perform their last set of shows this August 13, 14 and 21 as they perform the Beatles' ultimate album, Let it Be in its entirety. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

My New iMac and Adobe Premiere Pro

Well, I really feel like I've hit the reset button on my computer life. I'm back on a Mac for the first time in five years, so I'm learning the new (to me!) OSX operating system and figuring out how to get around generally. I also took the plunge and got the Adobe Master Collection of software, which includes the standard design programs that I use (PhotoShop, Illustrator, DreamWeaver, InDesign among others) and also includes a very important program that will propel me on in my path to video recording and editing: Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.

Most Adobe products appear on the surface to be very simple, and easy to use, but with time you learn that the programs are deep and capable of many, many subtle functions. I found Premiere to be deep from the get-go. I suppose it has to be. Immediately, just to get video clips to load into the program, I'm dealing with sequence settings. What the heck are sequence settings?!? Thankfully, it comes with extensive support in the form of the help menu. There are also oodles of videos at Adobe TV that go over the basic functions. They seem to be clips from a larger body of tutorial videos at Presumably this is a pay service to see the full length/in-depth tutorials. Perhaps I'll do that at some point, but the simple free stuff is all I need right now.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

It's a Mac, Mac, Mac, Mac world?

It's official! I've ordered my first Mac and it's on the road, being shipped to me as we speak (well, as I type this anyway). I'm really excited. I never thought I would buy one for myself. On the one hand, I'm a PC person. "Why," you might ask, "in the world would you buy a Mac, then?" Well, I'm pretty comfortable using Macs. I did design work at some design agencies several years ago, and they are all pretty much Mac based. Second, I am getting into video editing. I bought an HD video camera a little over a month ago and I need a new computer with which to edit. My PC laptop that I bought back in 2005 just isn't cutting it anymore. Plus, Macs are apparently better than PCs for video editing.

Sure there are down sides, but I made numerous trips to the local Mac store and grilled the salespeople over many, many features. I've settled on an iMac, which is basically everything built into one piece of hardware. The case you are used to sitting on the floor next to your feet, or up on your desk is built into the back of a 27" wide screen monitor. Something the salespeople clued me into in the last few days before I made my purchase was the $170 3-year service plan that covers any faults as long as there is no visible damage to the outside of the computer (for example, if you are careless and drop your computer, they won't cover that, but if a component in the computer goes bad, it's covered). I thought for three years, that wasn't half bad.

Also, the One to One education service is a deal! For $99.00 you get one hour each week for a year to go into the Mac store and have one on one training for any aspect of the Mac and its software. At first I thought that was per session. THAT is a deal! I'll be up there every week learning something. Just learning a new shortcut, or some obscure functionality will make it worth it.

I have some footage of my trip to St. Louis with Sarah that I can't wait to edit together, and I also have a pretty big project that's related to my job in the works. I'm pretty excited about that. I can't wait!

Many thanks to my buddy Andy for pointing out several things I need to keep in mind as I went into my purchase.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Kitty Zaphod

On Wednesday, Sept 16th, 2009, the week of the Atlanta flooding, I added a new little friend to my life. I need to back up several days to tell the whole story, though.

The week before the flooding, I walked out of my apartment on a bright, sunny morning, on my way to work, and small, sudden motion in my peripheral vision caught my attention. There were two little kittens, one gray and white, the other black and white, with almost identical markings. One was sitting in a shrub, the other had just leapt from it to safety under my house.

Where the front wall of my house meets the ground, there is one layer of exposed cinder blocks. One of these blocks is turned on its side to provide ventilation under the house. Once upon a time, someone built a small concrete wall just in front the ventilation brick to box it in and keep rainwater out. This is where the little kitten jumped to for safety, and his little sibling soon followed. They scrambled under the house, and then poked their heads back out to look up at me. As soon as I approached them, they withdrew through the cinder block, under the house. They were cute, but I figured I wouldn’t interfere with nature, and proceeded on to work.

Later that afternoon, I got a picture message on my cell phone from my neighbor with a note that said something like, “You have some kittens outside your house.” The picture had the black and white kitten, with a crème colored kitten I hadn’t seen before, so we were looking at a total of three.

Over the next several days, my neighbor and I kept tabs on them, and saw the mother (who must have been wild) nursing them a few times. Anytime we approached she quickly scurried out of sight. My neighbor even set some cat food out for them.

Then the rains came.

And they came even more.

Noah himself showed up and asked if there were any cats around, as he’d need them for the ark. (Just kidding.)

One night, I was sitting in my recliner, talking on the phone and I heard these tiny, itty-bitty mews coming from outside. I set down my phone, and opened my front door to torrential rain. At this point my front yard had begun to pool up, so what should have been the “blat, blat, blat” of rain hitting solid ground was a loud trickling sound as if 30 streams were running through my front yard. I stuck my head out the door and looked to the left, down at the concrete wall surrounding the ventilation brick (henceforth known as “the box”), and didn’t see anything. I absentmindedly stepped out onto the small, square, concrete pad that is my front porch and looked at the deluge. I stood there a few seconds before I heard another mew, and when I looked back at the box I noticed a little crème kitten, almost the same color as my house (which was why I hadn’t see him to begin with) clinging to the inside of the box. He was facing away from me, and because of the rain, he hadn’t heard me. I thought to myself, “Aw. He’s never seen rain, and he’s amazed at the water pooling up around the box.” It was a good five inches deep. I don’t know why, but I still decided to let mother nature take its course, went back inside and returned to my phone call.

About fifteen minutes passed before I heard the mewing again. I went back outside to check on the little fellow again. This time I leaned a little closer and saw the inside of the box had begun to flood. There was already an inch and a half of water pooling up. That’s when I realized the kitten was stranded on that little wall with water both outside and inside the box. He wasn’t amazed by the rain, he was terrified.

Some sort of instinct kicked in. One that said “save him.” However, I knew I needed to lay a little groundwork first. I went back inside and found a cardboard moving box and put a towel in it. I grabbed another towel and threw it around my shoulders. I put some flip-flops on (because who knew what was lurking in the water I’d have to step in to get to him).

Now, at this point I have to tell you that I already wanted a cat, but had put it off for a long time because of the expense, and did I really want to commit to a little life and be responsible for it for years, and years.

So, if you will, imagine me standing there on my concrete-pad-front-porch, rain coming down all around me, with my blue jeans rolled up to my calves, flip-flops on my feet, and a towel around my neck, staring at this little kitten when the thought pops into my head: “I may be about to meet my cat. This may be the first time I touch him.” All of a sudden this seemed like the making of a momentous occasion and I’d put a lot of pressure on my own shoulders.

Time seemed to expand. Every move I made seemed to take forever. I remember stepping to the frigid water, which went up and over my ankle, and wading over to him. He still hadn’t heard me because the rain was so loud. I noticed that, even though he was under the overhang, he was covered in tiny droplets of water as if the morning dew had settled on him.

I reached out that long, endless reach with my left arm and my hand grasped his midsection.

Time jerked into fast-forward. So did the little kitten. He thrashed, and spat and hissed all at the same time. He flailed his little legs (with some mighty sharp claws at the ends of them, I might add) as he tried to wheel around on his “attacker”. A moment later, I had lifted him to the towel around my shoulder and draped it around him. He instantly went silent and I waded back to my front porch, went inside my house, and straight to the moving box. I lowered him onto the towel and then put the lid on the box, thinking that this would make him feel safe.

I went about my business for a while, hoping that the little guy would calm down. I eventually went back to the box and lifted the lid only to hear more hissing and spitting. The box was even lurching around as he thrashed. He had a lot of strength for such a small little fur ball. He eventually calmed down and then burrowed under the towel. In hindsight, I think he was scared because he couldn’t see anything and didn’t know what was going on. Once he could see, he was fine.

I let him set there for an hour or so, before picking him up and holding him in the crook of my arm. He snuggled right up, apparently relieved to have some warmth.

Zaphod, as I’ve named him, has grown into quite a playful cat and I’ve taught him some tricks I thought only dogs could learn. He sits, stays, stands, jumps up on his kitty condo, and crawls inside all on command (with the promise of a treat, of course). I’m teaching him to walk in a circle right now, and he seems to be picking that up pretty easily.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Wonky Website

So... it's been a long time... let's face it... a really long time since I posted anything of substance. Honestly, the only reason I'm doing anything now is because I was confronted with a complication with my website hosting. My website was shut down (yet again) because of high volume internet traffic. Apparently someone thought my pics from Dragon*Con 2007, and some Egypt photos were cool enough to post a link to them from a high-traffic website. My site went down and I had to take the photos off before I could restore service. I decided to take most of my content down, lest that kind of thing happen again, and again, and again. I will rework my content, and then repost it at some future date. In the meantime, I wanted to make at least my blog available, but even that is in a stripped down format. So long personalize graphics.

There actually is lots to tell you, including the fact that I no longer have internet at home (a personal decision to free up time) which in itself makes it difficult to make updates.

Well, I have to go. Writing from a Panera Bread, and they are closing... so I'll write again sometime in the future. Hope you are all well. Hello Gillian!