Wednesday, March 31, 2004
I’ve got a lot of stuff on rotation at the office here. About 1,000 songs in my jukebox, mostly trance and electronica stuff.
I just digitized a lot of Air in the past few weeks, as The Man has a special fondness for them and bought a few recently. So I’m digging Walkie Talkie.
A few moments ago I’m listening to “Surfing on a Rocket.” I’m trying to sing along, but I haven’t heard the song enough times to know the lyrics, so I’m guessing.
I’ve got it so wrong. Starting with the title - I think it’s “Serving all the World Cake.”
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Monday, March 29, 2004
cybele is a goddess
[I know, I’m not usually one to post such things, but I was taken with the line that I’m the most affectionate dog ever and thought it was something you should know. Let’s face it, that last post about TMI was a really downer.]
Sunday, March 28, 2004
Today is the 25th anniversary of the nuclear mishap at Three Mile Island. In the wee early morning hours of March 28th, 1979 a faulty valve caused a partial meltdown of reactor two and the venting of radioactive water and steam into the area surrounding the island in the middle of the Susquehanna river, within view of the state capitol.
We lived in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. At mile 12 or so on the government’s little map of the area, we were not within the official evacuation zone. But my mother sensed that this little “venting” was a big deal early on and she pulled me and my brother and sister out of school that day and shut us up in the house. She then went out and bought bottled water and canned goods. We sat in the house for two days (drinking soda and eating pudding snack packs which was quite a treat for us) until Mom decided to take us out of state for the duration of the crisis.
For me, TMI always meant, and always will mean Three Mile Island. A period of unease, general distrust of the government and the NRC. TMI has always meant be wary of any possible cancers that can be traced back to that exposure.
By the time I moved to Humboldt County, the Humboldt Bay Nuclear Powerplant was shut down because it was found to lie upon a large and relatively active fault. (And when I say upon, I literally mean it’s right there, cuts right across the facility.) Though the plant was no longer in operation, the spent fuel was still there onsite, still to hot to move for another 20 years.
Seven years and one month or so after TMI, Chernobyl blew up in a far more devastating failure. This accident killed 30 people in the explosion and fire. No one knows for sure how many others will die as a result of the radiation exposures. The city of Chernobyl was abandoned. The radioactive plume drifted around the norther hemisphere. In Humboldt County I for several months after the accident, every evening along with the weather we would get a report as to the number of pico-curies found in that day’s milk at the local dairies.
It’s a sobering thought that today we’re more worried about dirty bombs.
Quick thoughts about last night’s blogger get together. I picked up Will and Susan at his place. My car makes me carpool. We parked on the roof of The Grove parking structure, because it has a kick-ass view.
I met fellow blogging.la peeps. Jay Bushman, whom I find I have a lot in common with, what with the playwriting and all. Then I finally got to meet Sean, who I find lives in the neighborhood. I complained to him about how he hadn’t posted my bio on blogging.la ... so he’s changed it. There was Spencer (5000!) who gave me the promised robot sticker (yay!).
Joe, a transplanted yinzer (can I call you that, Joe?), lives in Koreatown now.
Susan from 2020Hindsight sparked the conversation about Sandra Tsing Loh and public radio.
There was karaoke afterwards. Thanks to Jonah for setting it up. I never realized there was such a nightlife at the Farmers Market.
Saturday, March 27, 2004
That’s really it. The whole entry is just yay!
It’s a beautiful day. I picked some flowers from the back yard.
Friday, March 26, 2004
So I’m cruising around the ‘net, finding new blogs to read and going back through their archives. And wouldn’t you know, I stumble across a bad link. It’s no longer for an article in a once-reputable niche magazine, now it’s some porn loop that I can’t out of. There is no escape, it wants to download things, it shows me things (I have to admit, I actually learned things that I’m afraid to share) and as I’m trying to click out of all of it (trying not to click any dialogue boxes, just right click on the toolbar, I know their dastardly tricks).
Well, it’s no use, suddenly my browser shuts down and reappears with an all new toolbar. The nefarious program has also disabled my ability to disable it ... I go to the folder and take it out of my plug-ins and it just puts itself back.
Grrr. An hour on this I spend.
No matter. I go and download a spyware catcher… that’ll show those bastards. First I downloaded Spybot. It was good. It found lots of things that were hinky, unfortunately, it was not able to sucessfully uninstall that damn toolbar. So I went out and got the other highly recommended free program called Ad-Aware. Bless its little heart, it found the pluker right off the bat and that bugger is outta here. So, I’m so jazzed, I might have to send those pups some money.
I bought it at Woolworth’s. The Woolworth’s in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. It was on the corner of Main Street and Market Street. Catty-corner from the bank, and across the street from the drug store that still had a diner with soda fountain in back. I rode my Schwinn (green, Voyager which I also bought there) downtown to buy it. I parked my bike out front (we didn’t lock our bikes back then). I paid with change. It was that kind of town.
In the summers we got pool passes and spent our time swimming and putting pennies on the railroad tracks and playing ball in the back of the cemetery where they still had acres of extra space. It’s all filled up now.
I had that kind of childhood: spent riding bikes and visits to the library and tubing on the creek, there were popsicles and lemonade stands and water balloon fights. Paper routes and babysitting. Flip-flops and calloused feet and stubbed toes, bug bites and skinned knees. What did we do with ourselves?
Thursday, March 25, 2004
Okay, I watch Adult Swim. I like Futurama and Family Guy. I can watch them over and over again. And I do. Well, I haven’t seen all the episodes of Family Guy, so there’s a wonderful sense of anticipation to see if it’s one I’ve missed.
They’ve got these promos. That I admit I watch. Which I don’t usually do. Because I have a DVR. I eschew (read skip) commercials.
The promo they’re running now is “Who would win in a battle between a flying shark and a flying crocodile?”
Now, I’ve looked over the pictures of the shark and crocodile (cartoons, granted). Has it occurred to anyone that a shark is fish? He needs to breathe in the water ... water running over his gills and all that. The croc is gonna kick his ass because the shark is gonna pass out from oxygen deprivation. Jeeze ... it’s so simple people.
POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:52 pm
It comes up from time to time, what I do for a living. Well, how I make my wages, it’s not really a living because I don’t consider my job a career. It’s just something I do to make money. And I love it for many reasons. It’s not difficult, there’s very little bull involved. The hours are very regular and I have a swell office all to myself with a kick-ass computer set up and all the software my little heart desires.
I’m not sure of my title. Sometimes I’m called Digital Asset Adminstrator and sometimes Webmaster. But I do other stuff that has little to do with file management, like writing biographies and synopses. I create some graphics, but it’s not really in my job description, I just do it sometimes because it’s easier than hiring someone.
I work for an entertainment company, and we distribute TV shows and features and telefilms. I control all of the content for a couple of websites. (Maybe I’m a Content Adminstrator.) Anyway, the first website I run is a business-to-business fullfillment website. Our clients, all over the world buy our products. And then they want to promote them. So I get the high resolution photos from the shows and movies and I name them (in a convention that was set up by a committee so that all files have unique names and somehow relate to whatever they are and aren’t longer than 16 characters - we’ve got about 15,000 so far, so you can see that it is a little struggle sometimes). And I upload them to the website and I associate information with those files (called metadata) so that folks can figure out what they are and what they want. Then, like a store or something, they put them in little shopping carts and download them in huge batches. Some of our files are just documents - biographies, synopses, fact sheets, etc., so they’re not huge. But others are 600 dpi 8x10 photos, so you can imagine that we have a great webhost and stuff like that for this kind of throughput.
The other website I work on is for buyers of our materials and it highlights just what we have in our most recent catalogue. And around this time of year we promote stuff we’re thinking about offering, our pilots. I try not to get too involved in this, because the majority of them never come to fruition, and so I never have to do anything with them. But while they’re still in the planning stages we use the site to disseminate info to our teams around the globe.
The fun part of the job is our archive. We went digital about three years ago and the only time we send out physical slides and printed materials is when we have old inventory. If we’ve run out, then that title goes into the queue for digitizing. Some of the titles are huge shows that were on the air for a dozen years and have hundreds of episodes. Some are movies-of-the-week and others are feature films. Some are completely forgettable and others are little gems that make you want them to put the show back on TV. So, I sit here with my cool slide scanner and plug away at the piles of slides in my inbox. Each one gets a bit of retouching and color correction and then gets uploaded to our site.
I like to think that I’m doing my part to save the planet. By reducing physical press kits we’re eliminating the reproduction costs associated with them (photography makes some nasty waste products) and the shipping. Then I look at the increase in quality ... our clients get stuff on demand and in a format that’s better than the duplicates they would get and already in a form they can use. It’s pretty cool and I’m rather proud of it.
In the rest of my life, there is no such thing as perfection. But databases can be perfect and I take great joy in that; I can do something everyday that can be held up and praised as well done. Face it, we all like a pat on the back every once in a while.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Is anyone else as bugged with audio on the web as I am?
If I’m browsing a newspaper online or maybe IMDB, I do not want something PLAYING AUDIO. I don’t want to hear a trailer going on. I’ve got my streaming radio or my jukebox playing what I want to hear. This is the equivalent of magazines having perfume samples in them. Please only assail one sense at a time. The web is for stuff I can see. Go ahead, have your ads on the page. I understand this is how I enjoy free content. But please do not have the auto-run audio, jeeze it’s as bad as pop-ups. If I wanted to watch a damn trailer for Deadwood, I’d turn on HBO or go to their website or click on the damn ad. I do not want it playing.
The LA Times seems to be the worst of the bunch. They’ve got this damn western themed Eclipse gum ad ... pops up in front with the audio on. It’s got a mute button. Hell, it’s got a close button too. But if you’re a pixel off, you’ve just “clicked” on the ad and it’ll pop something up.
Is there some setting I’m not aware of that will keep my browser from playing audio content? It used to be when you went to a site that had midi audio or something like that, you just hit escape and it’d stop. (Tip, that still works for stopping animated gifs.) I know most of these audio ads are in Flash or something. I can’t very well uninstall Flash.
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
I still hand-code my blog.
Yes. I do. Whenever I wanna put something new on my list o’ links, I go into my blogger template and hand code it. I don’t use those spiffy things like blogrolling, and if I wanna ping, I have to go manually ping blogrolling.com and for some reason weblogs.com (why doesn’t blogger ping?).
I have no idea what other bloggers do. I’ve never used moveable type, since I don’t have an actual website. It’s odd that someone who makes their living as a “webmaster” has trouble with simple FTP on a regular basis.
But it’s true.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to keep hand-coding my template. It keeps me from changing my mind a lot and I think it keeps things simple.
Sometimes I think I’m an idiot and the people that employ me must be bigger idiots.
But my job is not about coding, it’s about content. And I can generate oodles of high-quality content.
I digress. I know some bloggers look down on Blogger.com. I like them. It’s easy. And everyone’s Blogger.com blog looks the same. My biggest beef with Blogger at the moment ... why isn’t the word BLOG in their dictionary? I spell check (which is a feature I love) and it always flags blog. Sigh.
You may consider this your three month update on the new car.
Gas prices are going up. And so is my mileage. I’m about to top 2,000 miles on my new 2004 Toyota Prius and I’ve gotta say I’m lovin’ it.
When I first got it, the mileage was anemic. About 42 miles per gallon. Yeah, you say, “I’d be pretty damn happy with 42!” But I know I can do better. And I am. I think the car was getting broken in and I seem to have pushed through a wall and I’m at 48 mpg my current tank of gas. So, as the price of gas goes up, so does my mileage and in a sense they’re balancing out. By summer I’m hoping to get about 55 mpg.
My old Subaru used to get about 28-32 mpg. So, I’ve gone 2,000 miles so far on the new car. The old car would have consumed about 68 gallons of gas - at today’s prices that’s $140. But even with my overall lifetime for the Prius at 43 mpg, that’s only 46.5 gallons and $97 in gas. Whee!
Monday, March 22, 2004
This flower has been bugging me since we moved to this house. It’s this huge bloom and it’s obviously not something native to Los Angeles. The plant has taken over a rather remote corner of the yard, back by the fence, beyond the sprinklers.
But here it is, March and it’s in bloom again. Damn, the thing seems really happy to be here. I counted eight current blooms and about another dozen buds. The flowers are freaky huge - about the size of softball splayed open.
I had no clue what this thing was. So I just started searching the net. I did it by doing a google image search for flower bloom.
Anyway, it is a tropical plant (classified as an invasive species in Hawaii) called Solandra nitida or Cup of Gold Vine. Turns out they’re dangerously poisonous, too.
Friday, March 19, 2004
Wow, now I don’t feel so bad about my book sales. Blair’s book, Burning Down my Master’s House was released with much fanfare, being reviewed (not favorably for the most part) widely. The publisher printed 250,000 copies for the first edition. Read more here.
I, on the other hand, have sold 11 copies in my first month of publication. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not disappointed by the sales. There’s been no fanfare about the release of the play, I haven’t been on any talk shows, no reviews in the Times. Yes, two more people bought the play since my last posting about this on February 25th. It seems that people who have not heard of me are more likely to buy my book than people who have heard of Jayson Blair.
In case you’re a fellow Los Angeles blogger and haven’t heard, there’s an informal gathering of LA based bloggers at 3rd and Fairfax (the Farmers Market) on Saturday, March 27th starting at 5:30 PM. Read more about it LA Blogs. I’ll be there hanging out with the other bloggers, trying to match faces to URLs, maybe I’ll shoot a few digipix.
I haven’t much to say. I’ve abandoned work on the novel right now. Not in favor of working on anything else, but just because I haven’t the stomach for it right now. It turns out that I can’t just edit it in the same way that just wrote it. It apparently takes a plan and some notion of what the hell the novel is about and attention to continuity. I like revising plays much better, I have a bunch of actors read it out loud and they tell me what needs to be fixed. I wonder if I could lure an actor to read it outloud for me ... as if it were a very, very long monologue.
No matter. The weather is beautiful and things are growing in the back yard and I’ve got my camera back out and I’m takin’ photos.
So, at least once a week (or until I run out of servers space), I’ll grace you with a photo of something I took in my back yard.
Today it’s the lone calla lily. We have one calla lily growing under the Norfolk Island pine. I’m not sure who planted it or if it was part of a bed of lilies at one time, but it was happy to get some rain this spring and graced us with a bloom.
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Has anyone else seen this? Was I asleep for a week and missed this one? The Congressional Accountability for Judicial Activism Act seeks to provide a way for Congress to reverse Supreme Court decisions with a 2/3 vote. It was introduced by Ron Lewis (R - KY). He says “This is especially true when the power to interpret the Constitution rests in the hands of activist judges anxious to find the latest ‘right’ hiding between the lines of our founding document.” [emphasis added by me]
So now we have checks and balances and then another check for good measure? As Bill Maher has said before, sometimes the majority is wrong. The courts may be out of step with the prejudices of more vocal members of our great country, but they seem to be going in the direction of what’s right. It’s all a reactionMassachusettset’s courts upholding same-gender marriage.
Sunday, March 14, 2004
Well, it seems that scientists are prepared to announce the discovery of the elusive tenth planet. Many have suspected a tenth planetoid on a large eliptical orbit that takes it well into the Kuiper belt.
But what I found surprising was this article. It says, “A 10th heavenly body has been spotted orbiting the Earth.” Now last time I checked (and I haven’t been in school for quite a few years), things that orbit the Earth are moons. Things that orbit the Sun are planets (if they’re big enough). Glad they’ve got the basics down there at The Scotsman. (UPDATE: Hah! That article disappeared and was replaced with a different one with completely different text. No mention of a correction. I’m sure someone pointed it out to them.)
Other articles of course got it right and report that it’s being called Sedna. It was spotted by the Spitzer Space Telescope and confirmed by the Hubble. I think this only demonstrates the usefulness of the Hubble and the fact that we should make every effort to upgrade it and continue to use it.
Thursday, March 11, 2004
Here’s a cool article written by an academic about how life is not as stressful as some other academics would have you believe. Complain, Complain by David Lester in the Chronicle of Higher Education. He’s very even-keeled when describing the difference between the hard work that workers do and the hard work that academics do. Let’s face it, it can’t compare.
But my favorite part of it was this: I have not attended a faculty meeting since 1972. I found that I liked my colleagues much better if I did not listen to their silly comments in such meetings.
This is something I’ve suspected for a long time. We’re all much happier in the dark. We’re all much happier not looking at a big picture we have no control over. What’s the point of going to meetings where nothing happens except you are informed of everyone else’s dissatisfaction ... which you have no control over.
Yes, I belong to the Ignorance is Bliss Club. It’s a huge club, but don’t bother coming to the meetings. None of us ever show up.
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
It’s March and I can already see the way this year is going to go. It’s gonna be a great year for me as a writer but a sucky year for my health.
See, my play was published and I’ve had bronchitis since the week before New Year’s. The length of the disease was determined by the momentousness of the event. Then this week I find out that I’m gonna be published in two anthologies and I’VE GOT A COLD! I’m not sure if I can extend this pattern to previous years ... I did have the whole knee thing going on back in October ‘02, right when I started auditions for my production in Hollywood.
I don’t think I’m strong enough for Broadway or a runaway best-seller.
In other news, I’ll soon be blogging for blogging.la. Look for entries there from me on such topics as the greatness of craigslist.org, local cafes that welcome laptop writers, insects I find and photograph in the back yard and walking to work.
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Okay, maybe triumph is a little bit big.
I just got an email from my publisher (Playscripts, inc.) and they submitted two of my monologues and one scene from The Redeemer to be included in Best Stage Scenes 2004 and Best Men’s Stage Monlogues published by Smith and Kraus. (Okay, okay, they don’t have the sexiest site.) They only picked one of the monologues, but I’d rather that than both monologues and not the scene because now I’m in TWO books! I’ll keep everyone posted on the release date.
The pay is practically non-existent, but I consider it good exposure for my work. A little billboard out there directing folks back to my plays.
My marketing plan goes something like this: an actor uses one of my monologues or scenes for audition. Maybe he gets the part, maybe not. But he stands up there and says, I’ll be doing Stewart’s monlogue from The Redeemer by Cybele May (hopefully he’ll pronounce my name correctly). The director and casting director talk, maybe a little about the play and the actor’s interpretations or maybe not. But the fact that my name has entered the consciousness of the director is good. Maybe another year goes by and he might see another monologue (I have others up on the web for actors to use) and there’s that name again. One day he’s looking through a catalogue or browsing the web and he comes across my name and he’s heard of me. Suddenly I’m validated. He’s more inclined to read my more, perhaps even like it.
Anyway, that’s what I hope.
The next thing I should do is actually write some more!
Thursday, March 04, 2004
I’m not adept enough to create poetry from my spam subject lines. But I had to share this little doozy I got today:
Subject: Dip Your Toes in Lettering!
I didn’t actually read the text of the email. I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with press-apply toenails with little sayings on them (maybe they look like those little valentine’s candy hearts).
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
This is just an attempt to get my ping to weblogs.com take effect. I don’t know why I care. I really don’t get much traffic, but it’d be nice if some of them just came by curiousity and perhaps stayed for the quality.
So, this is just a blatant attempt to try to get myself to show up on lablogs.com.
Yes, it’s March and if you haven’t checked the calendar, it’s National Novel Editing Month.
Of course, I can’t do anything normally. I’m not planning on editing, because that implies that I have a “draft” of my novel that’s worthy of polish. I don’t have something rough, I have something that’s raw.
I’m planning a chapter-by-chapter rewrite. I’m just sitting down with print out and retyping it. My laziness will be a guide - if I don’t feel like typing it, it’s probably not good enough to be in the novel. If I can reword it to be more concise, you can be damn sure I will.
The Exchange, for those of you who joined recently, is the story of a teen girl who was raised by her mother and grandmother. When she’s in a car accident, her mother tries to track down her biological father. She’s not able to find him, but seeks help from a postmaster in the man’s tiny rural hometown. The postmaster takes pity on the little girl in the hospital and sends her flowers, signing her father’s name. Of course the girl writes a thank you note when she recovers and they begin corresponding. For years. Finally she comes to town in search of her father and finds this postmast, who is only a few years older than her and they strike up a friendship as the postmaster seeks to thwart her efforts to actually meet her father.
It needs work and what I had originally envisioned was that the bulk of the novel would simply be the exchange of letters between the two people as the girl grew up. She would start at 13 or 14 and eventually come looking for her father about five years later. I think the pretense of letters has got to go. I don’t think there’s any compelling reason that I can draft that they wouldn’t email each other, if not from the beginning, eventually the communication would become more immediate.
So it’s a lot to do. And of course it’s the second of the month and I haven’t started yet. The rules for NaNoEdMo are much more strict (well, for me) since they require 50 hours of work. And I don’t usually take that long to write it.
During November it's all about me writing a novel. Sometimes it's about whalewatching. You know, and then there's other stuff.