Trygve.Com > Diary > JournalWeblogDiaryWhatsis - January, 2005
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World Conquest
January, 2005
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3d graphics

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

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

Friday, January 28th


Some Kind of Strange Card, Come Inside:
"The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper."
- Eden Phillpotts

In a similar--but far less profound sense--I've got an ever-growing "ideas" file that's not so patiently waiting for me to have time for them and, in the case of a lot of the humor stuff, develop some artistic talent while I'm at it. The various patent ideas that are continuing to languish may have a longer wait because even though they aren't very demanding when it comes to artistic skill, they're very demanding time-wise once you get past doing a basic search to see if someone else has already patented something substantially similar and to locate a few higher-profile examples of "prior art."

I'm spending another day surrounded by monitors and laptops set up to diagnose the potholes in the information superhighway that are making it harder than it should be to integrate Nyx's 15-year-old methods of handing dialup service with the distributed nationwide dialup service/"point of presense" wholesalers out there. Once again I'm thankful for that great invention of the 20th century, the telephone headset, which makes it possible to do pointless and bizarre things with both hands while I'm on the phone with technical support and network techs and they're waiting for their diagnostics to do something while I'm waiting for my diagnostics to do something.

Eventually, all of our diagnostics will finally resolve their conflicts and differences and they'll get together at the end to sing a big, happy--but highly technical--song, just like you've seen at the end of any Disney cartoon that was written by and for hardcore computer geeks.

Thanks to the miracle of the telephone headset, I'm also managing to turn out a few more products for my upcoming line of Treehouse Greetings greeting cards. I really should get more of them finished before devoting a page to them, but with Valentine's Day fast approaching, I'll go ahead and put up what I have and just keep adding to it.

I still need to create some functions to email them to people and stuff like that, but that'll require more concentration than I have available while I'm talking to the network techs.

my one and only

Oh, well. Back to try some different settings. Fifteen years is a long time, and it takes some patience to work things out. I know what needs to be communicated from one side to the other, but knowing doesn't mean so much.

Tuesday, January 25th


No News is Not Good News:

On the one hand, it's a certain accomplishment that Nyx.Net is now almost old enough to drive. On the other hand, there are some extra challenges involved in administering a system that's grown and been maintained by volunteer admins and developers for more than fifteen years. On the third hand (yes, those new herbal supplements do seem to be having interesting side effects), there's a whole lot of stuff that is running and doing what it should, but--on the fourth hand--in the case of a lot of it, nobody really knows *why* it works, where all the parts are, and why on earth it was set up the way that it was.

Back several years ago, I did go through and rebuild essentially the entire ISP in 1999's grand Nyx Rebuild, replacing the hard drives and computers and, where I could, trying to cut down the endless chains of symlinks that spanned from drive to shining drive (and back again). Keep in mind that the first decade of Nyx's existence was lived on an assortment of 30-meg (not gig) hard drives with bits and pieces of its operating system, programs, and data files constantly being shuffled from one place to another to keep everything fitting, leaving a trail of symlinks to lead the way back.

But you'd be surprised how many times following a trail of symlinks through the filesystems eventually led to a dead end, because the actually file or directory was long since gone.

rebuilding Nyx

This month's adventure has included handling the transition from using a locally terminated PRI circuit (nice, comfortable, easy-to-use technology where everything is right here where I can kick it if I have to) to a remote point-of-presence (POP) provider. It's got its challenges, not least of which has been some quirks in Nyx's RADIUS server, the details of which would go far beyond the scope of this blog (or any reader's interest). Finally got that part taken care of and tested, finished with what I hope are the last modifications to the login machines, I've got the latest set of updates to the router ready to phase in, and then I can start testing the remote POP services...

...and then, yesterday, one of our amazing team of volunteers, Casper Maarbjerg, was investigating an issue with the newsfeed and contacted support at Forethought, our upsteam provider. Four hours later they mailed back a note saying that they had discontinued providing newsfeeds and recommended we go somewhere else. Note that this was done without any notice or warning to any of their customers and note also that dropping one of our main services will not reduce their bill.

Great. So in the middle of dealing with the switchover in how dialup access is handled (which requires that all dialup users use new numbers and a different login procedure), one of our most popular services has been cut off without warning...and we have to absorb the added cost of getting it from another source.

Coincidentally, this morning AOL *also* announced that they were cutting off Usenet news access for its customers and recommended that they use someone else for their Usenet needs. At least they actually told their users; I guess that's one small thing in their favor.

Suddenly the choreography for that upcoming scene where I'm supposed to kill four unsuspecting opponents with a chair in less than two seconds seems so simple by comparison.

Monday, January 17th


Reel Soon Now:

They say 'word of mouth' advertising is the best kind, and that's often true--but word of mouth only gets you so far, even if some of the people you know have really big mouths.

But most of the film projects I've been on in the last few years have been because of people I know or people who know of me, and I keep thinking I should do more to promote myself in a professional way: make a personal reel, a voice demo, some better headshot/resume sheets to give casting agents.

...but I also keep thinking, I've got shoots coming up that I should get some better-looking footage from...and I've got all these other projects that I already did, but don't have any footage from (yet). So if I just wait a little longer, I'll be able to make better promotional stuff. That, and there's always something else to be done that needs to be taken care of right away.

Despite all of that, I finally decided to sit down and whip up *something* from what I had to work with. As much as I wish I had more, something is better than "coming soon" matter what most web designers may think.

alas, poor yorick
(right-click and select "save to disk")

So here is what I've come up with so far. It's about 9.5 meg in Windows Media format, so you're much better off right-clicking on that link there and selecting "save to disk." Streaming it real-time would require a pretty fast connection, plus I only have a big enough pipe for three people to be streaming it at the same time. Any more than that, and it'll start slowing down.

I think it could definitely benefit a lot from some sound effects added to the mix, but I'm having trouble with some of those at the moment, and I think it's better to have no sound effects than to add them in randomly, with some places having them and others without. (Can't use the ones from the films I'm taking these from because they're mixed with the background music, dialog, etc., and I can't add the effect without adding everything else.)

I can add sound effects and clean up the music a bit more later. It's a start. Check it out.

Tuesday, January 11th


Head in the Clouds:

Everybody I talked to in and around Denver today said that they were having an overcast, cloudy day, but that was it.

Up here at the treehouse, I spent the day in a cloud, which is pretty cool: fog so dense that you could barely make out the nearest houses (though not *so* dense that even the central courtyard looked visibly misty, which does happen sometimes), the kind of fog that makes it seem like the rest of the world has gone away and you've been transported somewhere else. I'm not really sure *where*, but it always seems to be somewhere that's very still and quiet.

It's not that unusual for the weather to be a little different than it is in town; just the difference in altitude is enough to do it. I've had times when it's been snowing here, but less than a thousand feet down the road, it's just rain.

The cloud stayed put for most of the day. It's nice to have your head in the clouds sometimes.


As you may or may not know, I've got a large collection of Legos. Old-style Legos, back from the days when you got a bag (or a box) of blocks and had to think of something to do with them...not the modern version where "legos" are something more like a 3-dimensional jigsaw puzzle or plastic model with a bunch of oddly-designed parts intended to be assembled into just one thing. *My* legos are so "old-style" that I even have Lego building sets #004 and #005.

But in all my days of Lego-assembling, I don't think I've ever come up with an idea as brilliant as "The Goldfish"'s Guide to Building Logic Gates with Legos.

I'm in awe; about the only thing I can think of that could possibly top that would be to create a working reconstruction of Babbage's Difference Engine entirely out of Legos.

Ah, if only I took vacations and stuff like that. That'd be even more exciting than setting up dominos throughout the rings of the house.

Tuesday, January 11th


Hair Today:

It's no surprise that hair should be making headlines, and one recent headline that I can recall off the top of my head is North Korea Wages War on Long Hair

You may not have realized that one of the greatest threats to society is long hair (or, if you have, please stay away from my house). According to the North Korean Government, long hair has negative effects on human intelligence and long hair "consumes a great deal of nutrition" and could thus rob the brain of energy.

State-approved haircuts for men range from one to five centimeters in length, though men over age fifty are allowed to grow their hair on top up to seven centimeters in length to help cover bald areas.

under glass

While North Korea may be convinced that long hair saps one's brain power, I think the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCoS) would disagree. Perusing their membership list (which, naturally features photos highlighting these scientists impressive tresses) should be enough to convince you, too.

I didn't see any North Korean scientists listed.

I wonder if they have a "Mad Scientist" division? Though, I must confess, as you can see in the picture to the left, my own locks pale in comparison to most of the members of LFHCoS.

And as long as we're on the subject of hair, if you've got some extra dog hair around that you don't need, check out Patty Lee's Guide to Handspinning Dog Hair. Why not create handspun yarn from your dog's coat and make sweaters and other fine gifts?

According to Patty, spun dog hair is called "Chiengora," which is probably a good thing to know. Depending on the people you're talking to, saying, "this is a hand-made Chiengora sweater," may play better than, "I pulled this out of my dog brush."

Sunday, January 9th


The Time is Out of Joint:

I'm a tough guy to buy for, just in general. Seems I have bad luck with gift clocks, too.

The first clock I ever received as a present was from my father. That was the Christmas when I was sure my bedroom was infested with mice, though I could never see or catch them. But every night on the days afterwards, I'd wake up several times, sure I'd just heard a mouse chewing at the baseboard or something like that.

After a few days of this, I discovered that the clock my father had given me made sounds like a mouse chewing on the baseboard at random times. It was quiet enough that during the day, with all the other things going on (and my not generally being in bed), I didn't hear them, and it was infrequent enough that if you stared at the clock and waited, you'd lose interest long before it did its little scratchy noise again.

I still have that clock around here somewhere, but it doesn't have batteries in it any more.

brown and fuzzy

The next clock I got as a gift never actually changes time, it just sits there and quivers each time one of the hands should move. I've got no idea where that one is.

The third clock randomly runs forwards or backwards, depending on its mood of the moment. So, it's like a time machine (except for the "actually moving through time" part) or a really low-budget live-action remake of "Yellow Submarine," except without the Beatles.

I'm sure there's something very deep and symbolic about this, but I haven't yet figured it out.

I keep meaning to put together a little promotional reel. Obviously, we've done some for the stunt team in general, but I really should have one for me.

It would certainly make it easier if I had the footage (whether edited or just raw) of all the films I've been in, but this often seems to be a challenge. It's not that I wasn't promised it at the time of the shoots and it's not like I haven't been asking, but actually *getting* it can be quite the challenge.

barnett trident crossbow

Mark's done some pretty heavy work on some much larger-budget films and run into the same problem. On films that haven't been released yet, he's been trying to confront the producers at the last few film markets without success, and on other projects, he's had to wait until they were out on video, just like everyone else (and when it comes to the cool stuff that didn't make the final cut, he's out-of-luck). It's not that producers will tell you that they won't send you the's that nobody ever gets around to it.

I still have some stuff to work with. Right now I'm sifting through the raw footage of nine takes of me getting kicked in the head, trying to decide on the best one.

There's probably something very deep and symbolic about that, too, but in this case, it's not so hard to figure out.

Thursday, January 6th


Somewhere, Under the Rainblob:

Saw an interesting atmospheric phenomenon this evening as the sun was setting. It may be one of those things that everyone else already knows about, but I don't recall seeing something like it before. There was an irregular blob of light that appeared to be projected onto a cloud, shaped a bit like a tomato that had been dropped somewhere between eight and seventeen-and-a-half feet, depending on its degree of ripeness, about twice the apparent diameter of the sun. The blob had the colors of the rainbow going across its width, with red closest to the sun.

It persisted for a while but, unfortunately, not long enough for me to locate the camera, memory card, some charged batteries, and get the above set up outside.

So I can't show you what I'm trying to describe, but I can direct your attention to something much more bizarre, Custom Creature Taxidermy where carcass artist Sarina Brewer will be happy to sell you stuffed and mounted animals that haven't been available since P.T. Barnum. (Note, BTW, this is not a site for the squeamish; if you don't want to see someone creating art with dead animals, don't click.)

I should point out that Sarina has a special page where she sells off the leftover bits and pieces at reasonable prices. A half-dozen skinned squirrel heads in a jar might not be the perfect gift for everyone on your gift list, but in case there's someone in your life who happens to be that particular kind of *special*, where else are you going to go?

I guarantee you that a gift bought from Sarina's boutique is a gift that will never be forgotten.

Thursday, January 6th


Do Not Use For Personal Hygiene:

The Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch has released the list of the latest winners in the Wacky Warning Label Contest with the top honors going to a toilet brush clearly labeled with "Do Not Use For Personal Hygiene."

Some of the other winners include a scooter that warns, "This product moves when used," and one of those little inflatable plastic bags used for packing material (the ones that cause shipping boxes to blow up like a balloon when sent from New York to Denver) that includes the cautionary notice, "“Do not use this product as a toy, pillow, or flotation device."

Hmmmm...seems like I've seen weirder ones myself, though right at the moment, I can't think of anything besides the packet of screws that are meant to be used by trained professionals only.

But, then, up until now, I didn't know there were cash prizes available for sending in the weird labels you run into. Take note of that website up there and maybe the next time you read a warning label that leaves you scratching your head, you can turn it into a little extra spending money.

Tuesday, January 4th


Bar None:

I'll buy a lot of weird things because they're on sale. I think this falls firmly into the "bug" rather than "feature" category because it often involves figuring out what on earth to do with it after I've bought it rather than before, which would really have been the much more sensible thing.

At least when it's a food product, it's usually pretty easy to figure out what I can do with it.


...but not always. Case in point, this box of "Caramel Nut Crunch Keto Bars" that had been marked down to a small fraction of their original retail price. Usually, where food is concerned, "eat," seems a fairly straightforward application. In this case, I'm not so sure.

I'm no connoisseur of protein bars. In fact, the vast majority of them I wouldn't buy or even try eating because their ingredients list has too many things that are on my "not to be eaten" list, like sugar, fructose, sorbitol, and other things I think are metabolically disadvantageous.

But the ingredients list for the Keto Bars actually looked pretty good; at least as good as any protein/energy bar I'd seen so far.

Not that I'd eat one on a ketogenic diet, mind you. The second ingredient listed is glycerine--11 grams per bar--which they may not count as a carb, but your liver will convert it into glucose, so, like most "low carb" products, it's pretty high-carb as far as your body's concerned.

So, "keto" is a bit of a misnomer, but how about the taste? It does actually have some kind of taste, though it's hard to identify. Imagine a cornbread recipe without sugar or baking soda; add some protein powder, and allow it to harden into a brick. I could detect absolutely no trace of caramel flavor. Or nut flavor either, unless we're talking about some new genetically engineered nut that has had all flavor-related genes removed.

keto bar

As you can see above, "crunch" is clearly a significant part of the name. Unfortunately, the manufacturer neglected to make it a part of the bar itself. The texture is also a lot like the aforementioned "hardened cornbread batter plus protein powder" brick. Not crisp or crunchy, not hard, not soft, not chewy...just sort of "there"--like it's lost somewhere in the undefined middle of texture space.

However--and I think this is very important--it is generally rectangular in shape and approximately 2.75 times as long as it is wide. This, I believe, unequivocally qualifies it as a bar. So, it may not be keto, caramel, nut, or crunch, but it is most definitely a bar of some kind, which at least gives it an overall score of one out of six.

But that still doesn't solve my original problem: what to do with it. Hmmmm.

Saturday, January 1st


Personal Space and Cyberspace:

It's probably a good thing that I'm not too worried about my personal space. There's a lot of touchy-feely people out there, which is fine by me. The biggest problem is coming up with some sort of snappy comment in return. The other day, I was in a mall and someone grabbed one of my upper arms and said, "do you have a license for these things?" What do you say to something like that? I just said, "yes, I do," which is still the closest thing to a clever response that I've been able to think up.

The weirdest time, however, has to be when I was on a street outside a warehouse we were filming in and a bunch of people had gathered to find out what was going on. We'd put up all the usual warning signs in the neighborhood a few days beforehand, but even so, shotgun blasts and explosions still arouse some people's curiosity.

Anyway, this one woman who was there kept hitting me on the chest, insisting "that isn't real!" Which, you have to admit, is pretty weird. Sure, there are a lot of special effects and things that aren't real that get used in the movie industry, but none of my body parts fall into that category. I won't guarantee that none of my body parts ever have special effects, but so far none of these have been captured on film.

barbell curl

But I still have to work on those snappy comebacks. That and come up with something clever to do the next time some random person walking by turns and asks me, out of the blue, to demonstrate some "amazing kung-fu moves." This time I just talked briefly about the difference between fighting for film and fighting for real. I know Mark would have known what to do, but what do you do, anyway, when someone's just standing there? Seems like that's a scenario I've never had to deal with: blocking an opponent's strike, going to a joint lock, then to another hit-kick sequence is everyday stuff, but what do you do with someone who's just standing there expecting a demonstration? Bonk 'em on the head?

So this could be one way to defend yourself against a martial artist: just stand there and smile expectantly and hope they're confused enough that they can't think of anything suitably devastating to do.

Actually, don't try that. Or, if you do, don't blame me if it doesn't work.

As you can probably tell, I'm not too worried about my cyberspace boundaries either. Obviously, there's far more about me that I've put up on the web than anyone would actually want to know. Some of it even goes wandering and takes up a life of its own. The goldfish cracker background has found its way onto the backgrounds of countless numbers of webpages and, starting New Year's Eve, what seems like half of the xanga, livejournal, and myspace pages out there are using either one of my fireworks pictures or the festive shot of Stanley, that handsome rodent pictured at bottom right. There are even some pictures of me that have packed up and found other homes on the net, including a livejournal page I ran into recently where the background was entirely pictures of me. I should feel flattered that the author picked that motif over my headcheese one.

As much as they get maligned sometimes, I think livejournals and the like are some of the most remarkable developments of the web and something that may slowly and subtly change how people relate. At any moment, you might wonder about a friend you hadn't seen in years and, with a quick web search and a bit of luck, peek in through a window onto their life and catch up on what they've been up to. On the one hand, it could lead to people getting back in touch when otherwise they would have never gotten any further than just wondering...and on the other hand, they might just forget to: after catching up on what their old friend has been up to by reading his or her journal, picking up the phone might simply seem redundant.

It used to be that when you brought someone up-to-date with what's going on in your life, you knew who you were talking to. Now you've got no idea.

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