Trygve.Com > Diary > JournalWeblogDiaryWhatsis - August, 2004
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World Conquest
August, 2004
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trying for a younger look

because ... well ... why the hell not ...?

it's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.

Saturday, August 28th



There's no escape from the laws of quantum mechanics. The practical consequences of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle even make themselves felt on the bike trails: the slower an object is moving, the greater its effective wavelength.

For that matter, the less energy it has, the worse off you are trying to guess when an event is going to occur, like said object turning a random direction or abruptly deciding to come to a complete stop sideways across the trail.

 ...slowly-moving obstacles, say, five or six feet tall... 

Why, exactly, stopping without warning and then turning so one's bike blocks the entire path seems like such a good idea to so many people, however, may well lie beyond the explanatory power of even quantum mechanics. The answer may lurk in the depths of that fundamental burning desire of us all to study particle physics--and, in their particular case--it would appear that this expresses itself as an irresistable urge to cause high-energy collisions.

It's been a lot of years since I've worked on a particle accelerator--and I understand this basic desire as well as anybody--but whether at the linac or on a trail, I'd rather any high-energy collisions not involve me personally.

So, on the weekends, unless the weather is so cold or so hot that the rest of the world won't be out on the trails, if I want to get any riding in, it's better to get started as close to sunrise as possible.

hot air balloons

This morning, it looked like I wasn't the only one with this idea, since I couldn't help but notice the scene above out my window.

It's certainly one of the most crowded skies I've seen out here lately, but one distinct advantage I can see about their chosen sport is that, even in the crush of the weekend crowds, everybody still can navigate a pretty clear path.

I haven't figured out how to get my bike to take to the skies--at least not for any prolonged and non-injurious stretch--but I'm motivated. Even being able to jump over slowly-moving obstacles, say, five or six feet tall would be a good start.

Friday, August 27th


Staff meeting:

One of the things you need when you're selling your films is a complete (and accurate) script for your movie. That's not the one you had before you got started shooting your film, or even any of the innumerable revisions that you did during the shoot, you need one that matches what's actually in the film in its complete and edited form. case there's any doubt in your mind, hitting yourself in the face with a big stick does *not* look really cool... 

One of my exciting adventures for this weekend is going through and checking scripts and preparing promotional materials for the packages that'll be shipping out next week. Fortunately, I have all the footage already digitized from building master tapes and/or creating the DVD screeners that we've been sending out to distributors. I'll just have the movie on one monitor, the script on another, and I'm sure I'll think of something to put on the third.

Most entertainment companies have a whole staff of people to do this kind of thing. I've been working with a different kind of staff lately and, though my staff isn't really pulling its weight when it comes to editing and authoring, I'm sure I'll come up with some suitable use for it sooner or later.

Better staff-fighting skills will carry over to pretty much anything. After all, what's more basic and fundamental when it comes to weapons than a stick? It's probably better that I'm practicing some of the more elaborate and complex maneuvers with a stick first, anyway, because I've managed to send it flying when it should have been reversing more than a few times. I've also managed to hit myself in the face with it a few times when I was supposed to be doing something that would look really cool...and, in case there's any lingering doubt in your mind, hitting yourself in the face with a big stick does not look really cool.


The one drawback of practicing staff moves is that I can't do them in my house. Not, at least, if I'd like to keep my furniture intact. I try never to smash anything important when the camera's not rolling.

But I've checked the zoning rules out here very carefully and I've seen nothing that would prevent me from doing strange things with a big stick in my own yard, so that's just what I figure I'll do.

I don't think anybody's going to complain. And, even if they do, it'll be from at least ten feet away.

Friday, August 20th


Conquest of the Ninja:

While apparently selling Belgium on Ebay is against the rules, this week we sold the UK and Ireland. And, while we were at it, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Swaziland and Lesotho.

Or at least we sold the home video distribution rights in those territories for Shinobigatana. Mark's Ninja training has been covered in UK magazines before, but this'll mean that UK residents will finally be able to get his videos directly from local stores instead of ordering them in from the US. Convenience is as important to people seeking to master traditional Ninja sword skills as it is to anybody else.


Since International Licensing and Copyrights, Ltd is going to be putting together a PAL DVD edition, there are a couple of extra steps involved. Yesterday I laid back the NTSC masters for all the necessary video elements out here and then shipped them to Crawford Communications, Inc., in Atlanta, where they create the PAL-format digital BetaCam tapes that then get shipped off to ILC in the UK. My PAL equipment selection out here is pretty limited and does not include such niceties and a PAL DigiBeta deck. Darn.

But I don't do enough PAL work to justify getting that kind of gear in. A PAL DigiBeta deck might not be quite as expensive as, say, Belgium, but it's up there.

Wednesday, August 18th



Filmmaking and interior decorating have a lot in common. When you're trying to pinch pennies, two important rules are: 1) make use of what you already have and don't have to spend money for, and 2) whatever you do end up using, make it look like it's supposed to be that way.

That was a challenge for me when decorating my house, since it's architecturally unusual with a lot of odd spaces and traffic flows. It took some doing, but after some experimentation, I got the spaces changed from looking awkward to looking like they're the way they are for a reason.

Either that, or I just got used to it all after a while.

On low-budget projects, I've often been known to supply much of my own wardrobe; that's got its advantages, not only in cost savings, but also inasmuch as it means my wardrobe will actually fit. That means I don't have to answer difficult questions afterwards like, "why did you do that whole scene with your arms like that?" ("Because that was the only way to hide the fact that the sleeves on the suit coat ended a few inches below my elbows.") I did once have an enthusiastic member of the wardrobe department sew six-inch extensions onto the ends of a sportcoat's sleeves. This is a bad idea; just trust me on this one.

shot of the ceremony

So I have a small project coming up where the director wants me to be wearing one of my chainmail pieces, the full-length ceremonial piece shown at left. The challenge is that this time it's going to be used in a pretty vigorous fight sequence with me facing three opponents and this particular piece of metal apparel was not designed with combat--or, for that matter, flexibility and mobility--in mind.

I don't have a problem doing action sequences with half my weight in costume and accessories added on, but it's an interesting challenge to choreograph a fight sequence that looks effective and makes it look like this particular piece of armor really was designed for combat.

I just have to cheat and design the combat for the armor, instead. I'm sure nobody will notice.

 ...He says his hands hurt pretty badly after a bunch of takes, but nobody's ever killed him for real yet... 

Though coming up with a combat style and suitable techniques is a challenge (though a fun one, it should be noted), one definite plus is that this armor will quite effectively stop slashes with swords (though I'm less trusting of thrusting) and, because it is so heavy, even a real hard hit or kick ends up feeling like nothing more than a moderate shove.

Now I just have to work on my arrow-catching skills. That's not a skill I've mastered, even without armor. (Mark can do it, though; he's done scenes which called for catching or deflecting thrown weapons like shuriken through the straightforward technique of having someone throw them at him while the camera's rolling. He says his hands hurt pretty badly after a bunch of takes, but nobody's ever killed him for real yet.)

Don't think he can double me for the arrow-catching sequence, though. He's the guy on the right who's dressed in black in the scene above. I am very tempted to get a shot of him wearing this particular piece of armor anyway, just for the entertainment value.

Monday, August 16th


Patently Oblivious:

Speaking of patents and patent ideas, I read this morning that Apple Computers had filed for a patent on a Color-Changing Computer Case where, essentially, they make the case out of a transparent material and shine the desired color of light into the sides of the material.

Now, that sounds like a "why didn't I think of that?" idea, except that what's worse is that I did think of that some years back.

Only, in my case, I'd been thinking of it as a joke: jelly-colored computer components were all the rage and I'd had the idea of doing a spoof ad for a computer case similar to Apple's patent idea. The sad part is that I didn't get around to writing it up--the furthest I'd gotten in the project was to buy a few transparent plastic display cases from The Container Store. I didn't ever get around to setting up the rest of the props and photographing it all in action.

Too bad, too. It would have been that much more amusing if I'd actually finished the page back then.

Ah, well. The line between satire and reality has always been blurry. I suppose I really ought to browse through the rest of my notes on humor pieces I've been meaning to write and decide whether they really belong in my humor section or in the patent office.

Thursday, August 12th


Swing Shift:

Like most people, I've got my list of patent ideas--mostly electronics, optics, and solar energy related, in my case--that I've never gotten around to patenting. The furthest I've ever gotten has been to do some basic patent searches to see if anyone else has done it. I suppose I might be better at motivating myself to getting through the whole patenting process if 1) I was more certain that these would really be practical in actual application and 2) I had a good idea of what to do with a patent for something that's interesting, but not so interesting that the world really can't live without it.

The trend nowadays seems to be towards avoiding that last bit of uncertainty by patenting something that's completely obvious and, ideally, something that people are already doing and making money with. Then you already have a list of companies out there which you can try suing the pants off of.

While this would appear to violate the requirements of Originality, Novelty, and Non-Obviousness as required for patentability by Title 35 of the United States Code, you would think that the person or company filing all those lawsuits would be the one caught with his pants down...but these days that doesn't seem to be the case. There are plenty of companies right now making a business of doing essentially that. In the present legal climate, it might just be that this is a more reliable path to success than the arduous task of developing a new idea and--even harder--convincing the world that it needs that new idea enough to pay you for it.

method of swinging

But it's always possible that this legal climate is nearing a change-of-season. Case in point: back in 2002, Steven Olson was granted patent number 6,368,227: Method of Swinging on a Swing covering the techniques of swinging sideways or in an oval or circular manner on a swing, with or without producing a Tarzan-type yell while swinging in the manner described.

At first blush, you might think that it could be a challenge to turn such a patent into a significant revenue stream. Sure, you could distribute brochures to parents and parents-to-be detailing your royalty structure and payment plans, should their children ever wish to swing side-to-side. You could run infomercials or a public awareness campaign, but practical enforcement would remain a big question mark. The only realistic option I can see would be to contract RIAA to hang around schoolyards to beat up any unlicensed swing-using children and take their lunch money, something I'm sure RIAA would be delighted to do.

...but it looks like not even the powers of RIAA can save Steven Olson now; checking back on the status of that patent revealed that, on July 1st, 2003, the USPTO issued a re-examination ruling cancelling Olson's claims.

Oh, well. At least Steven's had the experience of going through the patent application process now; whipping up a few patents for similarly obvious business practices and well-used web design ideas should be a piece of cake and, it would seem, that's where the money is these days anyway.

Wednesday, August 11th


...and the Winner is:

Me...I think.

Well, it's not a big victory, really, but as a result of yesterday's elections, I've come a long way towards winning my phone back.

It doesn't matter who (or what) won yesterday's primaries, but with any luck this means I won't have would-be politicians using automated dialing systems to call my telephone number on an hourly basis every single evening like they've been doing for weeks. Pete Coors has been absolutely the worst of all, with his campaign calling me with a recorded message at least every other day.

Personally, I'd thought that the use of automatic dialers and recorded messages was illegal. I guess it is...unless you're a politician. I'm on both the Colorado and national Do-Not-Call lists, which would make it illegal, too, except, of course, for charities and politicians.

...hey...wait...I'm running a 501(c)(3) here myself. And I've got 25 dialup lines. Maybe I should configure a few of those lines to start calling Pete Coors' home phone number continuously from 5-9 PM. Obviously, he thinks that this is reasonable behavior.

I just need to come up with the right recorded message.

Monday, August 9th


The Power of Change:

While here in the US of A, our elected representatives have pledged never to stop thinking of new ways to harm our country and our people[*], the Athens 2004 Olympic Committee has devoted itself to protecting the commercialization of the Olympics.

A glimpse at their list of Restricted Items and Actions brings home the fact that the Olympics is really all about money: for starters, if you're attending the event, you are not allowed to wear or have in your possession any items (including hats, t-shirts, bags, etc.) displaying trademarks of companies that compete with any of those sponsoring the 2004 Olympics. That could be more restrictive even than you'd initially expect, because Adidas is one of those, presumably, you aren't allowed to wear clothing that bears a logo, name, or trademark of the clothing manufacturer, unless it happens to be Adidas. I don't know how far they're going to go in enforcing this; I'm just quoting their published rules.

 think of what even one such malevolent spectator could do to a critical Olympic tiddleywink match 

But if you're thinking of attending the games, you'll at least be relieved to note that the committee has helpfully put together an official process for filing a Brand Protection Incident Report if you should observe a violation of their brand protection policies.

But speaking of the Olympics and money, another of the more peculiar restrictions on their list is that you're not allowed to have a large number of coins in your possession. It doesn't say what constitutes a large number, but there's a fair chance that anyone used to parking in downtown Denver would risk being in violation of this policy. I'm sure you can imagine the sheer mayhem that could be wrought by a spectator with a pocketful of loose change and a taste for evil. Just think of what even one such malevolent spectator could do to a critical Olympic tiddleywink match.

At least if he had pretty darned good aim, the results could be nearly as bad as if he'd managed to sneak in while wearing a shirt with a Nike logo.

I suppose I shouldn't give the Olympics too much trouble about this whole money thing; after all, they did select Michelle Grove for part of the torch run.

olympic torch run

...of course, they did charge her for it....

* "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." - George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

Wednesday, August 4th


Surfin' Fu:

I have way too much junk, but I'm still beset by that fundamental tendency towards maximum perversity in the universe that dictates that anytime you get rid of something--even if you hadn't used it for years--you'll promptly need it.

Back in the spring, I ended up giving away my old trampoline, so, naturally, all of a sudden, I need one. Mark got hired to do the stunts on The Surfer King (which is, quite possibly, the very first surfing movie to be filmed in Denver) and (you knew this was coming) some of them involve the use of a trampoline.

Unfortunately, the one for the film isn't very portable, so we need to pick up a spare one for testing and practice.

Obviously, what I really need to do is to figure out how to use this natural force of the universe to my advantage. If just doing a little housekeeping is powerful enough to result in the spontaneous appearance of a movie role, I should figure out what other junk I have cluttering up the place that would come in handy for a movie and then get rid of it. Once I do that, a whole film crew--complete with budget--should miraculously appear.

Okay, so maybe that's a bit far-fetched. But even if it doesn't actually work out that way, it could be one way to motivate myself to get the garage cleaned up.

Monday, August 2nd


Amazing Cakes:

What could be a better way to add some...(ahem) to your party with one of the most amazing culinary creations I've ever seen, Barbara Jo's amazing Thorax Cake?

In her recipe and construction guide above, she mentions that she modeled her design after the diagrams in Gray's Anatomy. I'm glad to know I'm not the only chef around who keeps a copy of Gray's Anatomy discreetly (and alphabetically) placed amongst the cookbooks.

thorax cake

Or if you're looking for a dessert with a little more bite to it, don't forget to check out Barbara Jo's recipe for Zombie Cake. It's a little sedate compared to the zombies I'd been fighting with last month, but the zombie cake does have the tremendous advantage that, since there's no actual actor lurking beneath the surface, you really can carve it in half without relying on the clever use of camera angles and cut-away shots.

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