this month in my life

In no particular order, here are many things I’ve noticed about myself or in general:

  • I’m grinding my teeth a lot. I don’t know whether I’m impatient or anxious. When I’m up against stress, I grind my teeth. It’s been an on off thing I’ve done throughout my life, never as serious as I think it might be now. I think it’s a new habit that I am ready to break. Am I nervous?
  • The last few months since returning from Houston have been less productive than I’d like. I am, however, very proud that I have accomplished what I have. I set out goals a couple of years ago and have been pretty on target for everything I wanted. It was these goals I knew I could accomplish. My moment of truth is quickly approaching.
  • I have forced myself to buy mostly food that requires time and effort to prepare it. It’s a little annoying when I am hungry and want the quick carb fill, but I am determined to eat healthier. I’d much rather get into the habit while I’m not in bad shape than when I’m old and overweight. I need to find a happy medium. Sometimes it’s quite annoying when I can’t even find one thing to snack on that doesn’t require so much effort.
  • I will probably make only 2 more trips this year, most likely being away again for about a month. I want more travel but this is the best I can do right now.
  • Last year, I made a personal commitment to exercise. It began slowly but worked its way into a regular, habitual practice by the beginning of this year. Since then, I’ve quit my job and am now where I was before I started exercising. I have a bicycle and a roommate who will force me to go. I hope to make a better, more practical commitment to exercise. I miss it.
  • Since the beginning of the year, I’ve had a huge indie music kick which has been so refreshing. Sigur Ros is my current obsession.
  • I’m finally a few chapters into Harry Potter book 7. Once again, much longer than I had hoped.
  • If I could afford my own place, I totally would move. I’m kinda ready.
  • it’s very unlikely that I will go internationally bound this year. I was hoping that I could make something happen but there’s just no way for me to afford it right now. That makes me sad.
  • I’ve had a really nice summer full of travel, reconnection, and renewal. I’m winding down on a few last web design projects and in talks to begin some new opportunities. There is a lot waiting for me, a lot I want to do and it’s only the beginning. I need to set my forward momentum at a pace that I have to sprint towards. It’s looking really good from here on out. I haven’t felt this kind of excitement in a while.

me and my bright ideas

I’ve been so frustrated this weekend. I felt like the universe was once again against me every time I compressed and re-encoded a certain piece of video I recorded on Friday. Yet, as I should have assumed the whole time but was too frustrated to think about, it was user error.

I was invited to attend a party on Friday night in the Hollywood area. Although I was nearly 5 hours late, the party was in full swing by the time I found parking and walked a block to the apartment. I decided to stay longer at this party since I was able to spend time with friends I don’t see often and there was plenty of company to enjoy and people to get to know.

By the end of my visit, the majority of what was as many as nearly 85 people in one large 4 bedroom apartment, 1 bathroom apartment, there were several intoxicated people who decided that for no good reason they would allow anyone to do something random and entertaining to them. One guy got a buzz cut, the other was wrapped with adhesive tape.

I decided the adhesive tape was just the event that warranted my camera’s video feature. When I decided to try and upload the raw video taken off of my camera, Youtube told me to get lost. There’s supposedly this limit of 100MB per video, something of which I had no idea until that moment. In fact, I’ve never had a Youtube account until this past weekend. Maybe I’ll utilize my video feature on my camera more often now in light of this.

I then began what turned into a more than 48 hour event. I spent time researching free video editors and recognized one called VirtualDub since I had used that years earlier to compress and re-encode a DVD so that I could burn it onto a regular CD-R.

After tweaking some of the settings, I began my compression; simple as pie but took about 10-15 minutes. No big deal. I opened the newly compressed video, pushed the playback button and was happy with my initial result. As I skipped to the end of the video, I noticed that there was no sound after the 5 minute mark. What’s going on?

I tried it again, and again, and again. Same result with similar settings. I downloaded some new editors listed. Nothing was different. Then I began the process of downloading some “trial” versions of the big boys software for the Mac. If any operating system was designed for video rendering, it is the Mac. It’s a staple in the entertainment industry for video, audio, and graphical rendering.

I downloaded two “trial” versions only to realize I was missing one or two things that prevented me from even installing them. I waited nearly 24 hours for one of them to download! By this point, I’m completely frustrated and have spent a late night trying to figure out what is going on. I gave up at nearly 5am as it just wasn’t worth sacrificing anymore of my time.

This afternoon, I decided to try it out one more time. Ugh. What could I possibly be doing that’s causing this weird behavior? Then I rechecked the settings I so carefully choose to use. Aha! Could it be that by recapturing the frame rate at 24fps I am causing an originally encoded 30fps video to mess up?

Duh.

Me and my bright idea of turning a NTSC standard frame rate into a US cinematic standard frame rate without even considering the 3:2 pulldown was the result. And here I thought I actually knew what I was doing for the past 48 hours, thinking my idea was genius.

And now, hopefully after what I assume was a completely success compression, is The Adhesive Tape Mummy video. Those hairs on his upper lip… don’t worry, they’re from the guy who got his head shaved. I promise.

frozen yogurt

Sometimes, there are foods you taste, smell, or intuitively know you can’t stand. These tastes often form early in life and continue into adulthood. I, like most kids, couldn’t stand a lot of food when I was young. A week ago, one of my earliest food distastes was unpleasantly reconfirmed.

A new wave of healthier dessert shops have popped up very quickly in LA. Leading the way is a shop called Pinkberry. For those in other parts of the country, Pinkberry is a newer, hipper version of TCBY which serves frozen yogurt. Pinkberry has become a rage, although, one of which I do not understand.

I had the opportunity to try out my first frozen yogurt shop in years. A small chain called Red Mango landed a spot in Westwood Village, the closest vicinity for hungry UCLA students. Although Pinkberry is just a few hundred feet further, she wanted to go get some Red Mango frozen yogurt.

The last bowl of frozen yogurt I remember eating was chocolate flavored. I never was a fan of vanilla because it often too closely resembled regular yogurt. Red Mango serves one of two frozen yogurt flavors: plain and green tea. Assuming that this could be pretty sweet and possibly taste more like ice cream, I gave plain a try.

One topping of dark chocolate chips later, I had my first plain frozen yogurt dessert sitting in front of me. After just one cold bite, my taste buds went into overdrive. I can’t remember the last time my face showed so much misery over dessert. It was one of the worst tastes I’ve had in my mouth in a long time.

I might give Pinkberry a try, all because of the crazy hype, but I will not freely give up my hard earned money on a bite of frozen yogurt again until I know I won’t feel like vomiting from just one bite.

my internet favorites for summer 2007

I’ve consumed some really great Internet lately. So, I think I’ll take the time to share some of my favorites.

  • Last spring, notable author Kevin Smith wrote what basically amounted to a short story of the drug addiction his hetero-lover and best friend Jason Mewes fought and defeated. It’s probably one of the longest but most interesting stories of struggle I’ve read. It goes without saying that Kevin Smith is a brilliant story teller.
  • Science of Sleep – After a few minutes of this movie, I knew it was exactly what I’ve been desiring. Without ruining it, it’s set in France and the lead actor knows English, Spanish and French fluently. You won’t fall asleep, I guarantee it.
  • Although I hate politics, I’m looking forward to see how Ron Paul does next year. His chance at winning completely relies on grassroot campaigns, but he’s honest and straight forward. I believe what he says.
  • I love open source, free software that replaces bulky mainstream software. For Windows (since most of you who read this use it) Read pdf files with Foxit. Open zip files with 7-zip. Watch videos with VLC. Launch your programs with Launchy. Index your files with X1.
  • The best and worst of the Internet (I’ve seen most of these)
  • I’m not one to get excited about another guy proposing to his girl, but this is one of the best proposals I’ve ever heard of. This guy put a ton of work into this and deserves the best. Good luck to him.
  • Web design is my trade. Piepmatzel is some of the best of design on the Internet. Very much worth spending some time on. I’d be so lucky to one day make this exclusive list.
  • America has a dirty little secret, and it has nothing to do with 9/11. We’re headed for disaster, as I’ve been told since I was in grade school so many years ago. 60 minutes rules.
  • My latest musical inspirations: Arcade Fire, Sigur Ros and Kings of Convenience. Sigur Ros is releasing a full-length movie; I’m in anticipation.
  • Need to find good food in the area? Yelp. Would you rather cook at home? All Recipes. Share you music and discover new ones. Last.fm. Share you photos. Flickr.

the absence of a normal day

6am is just around the corner and my eyes just won’t stay shut. So, as my 3mg of Melatonin supplements slowly absorb into my body, let me entertain you and pass time all at the same time.

Days like today are unexpected, random but welcome in retrospect. I was early to a wedding, drove through rain for the first time in two months, was just minutes and miles from a tornado, spent too much money on not enough haircut, was almost late to the same wedding, met lots of relatives, made an old friend happy, made a boyfriend jealous, chauffeured several friends around, enjoyed a quiet house party, was possibly offered a opportunity to drive cross country for four weeks, bonded with friends, and drove over 200 miles in one day. This wasn’t a typical Saturday.

At times, and more often than not at this point in my life, I’m a homebody. I’m never in need of being out but enjoy it when I do have social plans. The abundance of downtime puts the absence of socializing in a desirable light. I’m sure that just as habits get monotonous, so does being out every night. Someone should tell my roommate that.

It’s a weird feeling when you arrive at your destination with expectations only to find out you miscalculated your timing. An empty parking lot for a wedding that started 15 minutes prior was a pretty bad sign. Being told how early we were, however, was a little embarrassing.

After a scary ride through an oncoming storm with tornadic winds and rainfall, we landed in the area mall to do what we do best: spend our money. She left with a new smaller sized dress, I left with a new but familiar look.

Just seconds from the actual ceremony, we ended up waiting another hour in front of the big screen with drinks in our hands and football on the tube. It seems as though nothing was going right but everything was as it should be.

I had forgotten how many relatives she had, and also realized there were a few still not accounted for. But we made friends with several cousins and their dates, enjoyed some strawberry fondue, and watched the evening slowly unfold from waiting another hour for two photo lovers indulge themselves in the remaining light of the evening. I knew she was happy for me to be there.

The uneventful ride back home was only dampened with one jealous boyfriend. Little does he realize or care to know that I’m no competition. I picked up two more passengers after changing into my normal get-up before ending up at a swanky, upscale house in the hills.

This was a much quieter house party than our birthday bash a couple of weekends ago, and it was pleasant to relax and take in the evening. The thought of being able to accompany a band for four weeks swam through my head for the next few hours, but ultimately was disrupted with good conversations. Several hours passed and I completed my journey.

I believe the Melatonin has kicked in. If not, it’s gonna be a restless few minutes in bed while I try to force my mind to shut up.