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November 29, 2004

Beatallica

Okay, I was listening to Adam Curry's podcast, The Daily Source Code, and he played a song from an 'album' I'd only heard about. It's called Beatallica, and is a mashup of Beatles songs sung as if written and performed by Metallica. The example he played was Hey Dude, and it's ... just ... wrong.

Others I don't intend to try, but am amused by the titles:

Just visit the link and try to match up the originals with the mashups.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:59 PM

Extended Holiday

Off this Monday, just lazing about. This morning I finally got the kitchen computer (Jean's machine) fully restored. Feels good. I spent the better part of the four day holiday attempting to rescue the original disk, and when that clearly wasn't possible, running the computer to the Apple Store in the mall for a replacement disk. Now it has a slightly faster (5400 rpm, versus 4400 rpm), somewhat roomier (30 GB versus the original 20 GB) disk drive, and all of Jean's applications are installed. All her data too, thanks to a CD backup and my nearly failed hard drive mirror. All that's missing, and that's still admittedly a lot, are the various bookmarks and preferences.

I plan to let it cycle for a week or more, maybe even to the Christmas holiday, then I'll try to make a complete clone image onto the backup drive.

So once I was satisfied with the state of the machine this morning, I exercised, then spent the rest of the morning watching bad scifi movies while nibbling a fish lunch. I may even spend a little time playing Shadow Hearts this afternoon. So I get some holiday time after all!

Oh, and Kelly's diorama got finished this weekend too. It looks quite nice. It ought to, considering that Jean and I have been helping her work on it for two weeks now.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:08 PM

November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving is having a fun holiday. We celebrated in the traditional manner, making more food than we could comfortably eat. I ate to the edge of discomfort, then took two steps over.

Jean made homemade cranberry sauce, the Turkey and apple pie (with Kelly's help). I made my favorite tofu chili, mashed sweet potatoes and a pumpkin pie (with homemade whipped cream). We'll be eating leftovers for several days. In addition, I'm thinking seriously about trying out that Turkey Tettrazini recipe I've got.

Bad vibes today were due to a mysterious disk failure on my wife's computer. I tried backing up the data, most of which was backed up just a week or so ago, so I'm not too worried about data loss. But the disk itself is being really stubborn about recovering. I even tried a tool called Disk Warrior, which is supposed to be a miracle worker. It ain't working. I'm guessing I'm going to have to do a clean install over the weekend, then restore documents afterwards. Ugh.

Kelly and I are plowing forward on her school project, a diorama depicting a scene from the book The Tale of Despereaux. She has to do some project each month as an integral part of a book report. I usually donate a chunk of time to help her out (Jean does too, of course). Initially I thought this was a hassle, but I've come to enjoy the time with her, modulo the engineering arguments we engage in from time to time.

If Kelly completes enough of her project early enough tomorrow, we'll be going to see The Spongebob Squarepants Movie. Oh joy!

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:10 PM | Comments (2)

November 21, 2004

Baby Teeth and the Hierarchy of Needs

Sometimes it's fun being a parent. Kelly is in the process of losing another baby tooth, and she's obsessing over the idea that it'll fall out in the night while she's asleep. And she could choke on it. She was literally standing over the washbasin tugging it to and fro trying to get it to come loose before bedtime so she wouldn't risk this scenario.

I think I've steered her away from her nightmare scenario, assuring her that I've yet to see a recorded case of night strangulation by baby tooth. At worst, I said, she'd swallow it and never see it, or it'd fall out and roll under the bed, to be lost amidst the junk she's accumulated and refused to throw away over the last nine years. This of course led next to lawyering. If she didn't have the tooth, how could she 'extract' (heh) payment from the tooth fairy? I told her that since Jean and I knew about the tooth, we could issue an affidavit to that effect and place it under her pillow, which would be as good as a tooth. So then, Dad, what if we find the tooth later? Will the tooth fairy come and get it then?

Enough! In the nicest voice possible I explained to Kelly that while her tooth was surely bugging her, and I of all people, given my various sleep misadventures, sympathized with her, she at least had to make the attempt to sleep, given that she was a growing girl, school was tomorrow, blah, blah, blah. Then for some reason I got onto a monologue concerning the pillars of a healthy life, i.e. balanced meals, exercise, and sleep. And then, after she had agreed to try sleeping without obsessing over the tooth, we got to talking about what a person needs to live, and I spent awhile recounting Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Huh? How the heck did I get here? But she got it. That is so cool!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:34 PM

November 17, 2004

Happy Belated Halloween

Okay, now that we are well away from the holiday, I thought I'd get around to posting my banner photo for Halloween. Kelly is a cat girl. More photos are on my Flickr Site. None of them are all that good. I was more focused on being the holiday than capturing it, so sorry for the muddy images...

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:46 PM

November 15, 2004

Tampopo

So where is the best authentic ramen in the Portland Metro area? In the Southwest 'burbs? Or am I stuck with Top Ramen?

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:15 PM

November 14, 2004

Idle Animation

Kelly's school was closed for Veteran's Day (and Friday too, for teacher conferences). I knew about this last weekend, so last Sunday Kelly and I made a field trip to buy a game. We started by looking for something educational, but couldn't find what she wanted, so we ended up getting Pokemon Colosseum, a game that's been on her Christmas list since it came out. Kelly's got limits on how much television and video game time she can burn in one day, but we lifted it for the two-day school vacation.

Now Kelly plays games pretty intensely. Without a brake on her involvement, she'll play for hours at a stretch. Too much of this is not a good thing, and she eventually becomes grumpy. Two days of this isn't really enough to bring out the brat, but it does bring out the zombie:

"Kelly, are you hungry for lunch?"

... silence ...

"Kelly!"

... "uh huh? Um, what did you say?" ...

"Are you hungry for lunch?"

... "okay" ...

I won't belabor the point, this goes on for awhile unless we step in front of the television, which we do. Now for a little seque, which will seem pointless, at first, but bear with me.

Many video games, action, adventure, platform, whatever, give you a chance to breath when your character is in 'safe' areas, i.e. places where there's no action or goal as yet. Save rooms in Resident Evil come to mind. This comes in handy if you've been locked in battle for an hour, unable to stop without losing your progress, and your bladder is just about to burst (I'm talking to you, Final Fantasy X).

Step away from the game controller long enough, and your character will begin to move on his own. He'll reach up and scratch his head, look around impatiently, tap his foot. Sometimes he'll even make rude remarks. I've even had games where the character will break the fourth wall and call out to me, "hey, I'm ready to go here!"

In Pokemon Colosseum, there is nothing so overt. The 'idle animation' looks a lot like the active animation, but stands out when you're not controlling the characters. This is because no normal person displays idleness by bouncing gently on their knees while matching tempo with their crooked elbows. That is, they push their elbows back just a little bit as they lower themselves, then straighten knees and elbows to stand upright.

Ready for the end of our seque? Good. I'd been watching this activity on the screen for awhile as I waited for Kelly to surface enough to talk about lunch, when it twigged. Without saying another word, I positioned myself so I was in Kelly's field of vision. Not in front of the television, just where she could see me. Then I began imitating the idle animation of her characters. Saying nothing, looking straight ahead, rocking on my knees, crooking my elbows.

Maybe half a minute passed, then Kelly looked up. At first she looked puzzled, then, as she had stopped running her characters, they went into their idle animation. She looked at the screen, then at me, then jumped up and tackled me.

I've been having fun the entire rest of the weekend tweaking her. Whenever she makes me wait, I go into my idle animation. Then she stops whatever she's doing and chases me. Too amusing.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:34 AM

November 08, 2004

The Incredibles

Saturday was NOVA, and also the premier weekend of The Incredibles, so naturally, we had to take a crew to see it. Sunday I was telling Jean about it, and Kelly piped up "I wanna go!" So it looks like I'll be racking up the viewings.

This is the first Pixar movie which was not helmed by John Lasseter. According to reviews I've read, he was concerned that Pixar would become stale, retelling the same successful stories for years on end, like a certain animation company Pixar has worked with. Instead, he asked Brad Bird to create a movie, giving him complete creative control. Bird is responsible for another cool movie, The Iron Giant, and as a result, I was looking forward to seeing The Incredibles.

Well, I wasn't in any way disappointed. While this movie has many of the earmarks of a Pixar film, it also is new, having a viewpoint that appeals more to the adult eye. Family quarrels, boring work and ungrateful people populate this movie. Bad guys don't just get knocked down and look humiliated ("and I would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for you gosh darn kids!"), they die. And there are no musical numbers at all!

There are clever references to other icons of pop culture. One was a tribute to the speederbike chase through the forests of Endor from The Return of the Jedi, only done better. The villain's lair is straight out of the most extravagant Roger Moore era James Bond movie. And subtle details are constantly flying by.

I was trying to explain it to Jean, and this is the best I could come up with: It's as if they filmed the entire movie with live actors on location, with a tremendous budget. Then they sat in a theater and watched it over and over. Each time they noticed a little detail of light, or some bug moving in the background, or the way an actor stumbled when turning a corner, they wrote it down. Then they animated the entire thing. And added more stuff that can only be done with animation or CGI. It's that full of detail. Detail that happens in the background, not waved in your face, "look at me, look at all the cool stuff I can do!"

The writing is also a lot of fun. Now I did a lot of comic book reading both growing up and when I should have known better, and I still watch the usual superhero and scifi movies. So maybe I'm more steeped in the conventions than the average viewer, and can more easily appreciate the way this movie has fun with them. But I suspect that most folks who enjoyed Finding Nemo themselves, and just used their kids as an excuse to go see it, will enjoy The Incredibles as well.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:09 AM | Comments (2)