Trygve.Com > Diary > JournalWeblogDiaryWhatsis - April, 2005
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World Conquest
April, 2005
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off to see the wizard

because ... well ... why not ...?

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

Wednesday, April 20th


Do You Know the Muffin Man?

So this morning I find people coming in to a page of silly bodybuilding-style pose stuff that I'd written quite some years ago while doing Google Image searches for chocolate muffins

So I tried it myself and, sure enough, here's Google's response:

(I did a screencap because these results are going to change as Google is constantly updating its search engine results)

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?
search for chocolate muffins

Not quite as entertaining as the time Altavista had me listed as the second result for "music videos" for a month, but amusing nonetheless. "Trygve: part of this nutritious breakfast...."

arbor path

On the home front, things are going a little more quietly. I've been waiting on a rush DVD authoring job that's been needing to be done "right away" since the weekend. I can't get started until I have the master tapes in hand, though. But, then, I'm still waiting for the correct address to overnight everything to from last week's "emergency rush job."

Of course, if the producer wants me to re-shoot the entire movie with Muppets, I could possibly get around the whole "not having the master tapes" problem. I could do it, and fewer gallons of fake blood would be necessary than in the original. I've only got two hands, though, so we'd have to reduce the cast a little.

Yesterday, while waiting for the tapes to get delivered (they weren't) I put in a stone path and some other stuff. The day before that, while waiting for the tapes to get delivered (they weren't) I'd put up a second arbor and some other stuff.

Not sure what I'll do today while waiting for the tapes not to get delivered. Bake some chocolate muffins, perhaps?

Saturday, April 16th


Rock 'N Roll:

My Jeep leads a tough life: it works hard, it plays hard, it parks hard, and when I fill the tank, I get the cheapest grade available.

The worst it's ever had to endure was hauling the industrial shelving that now fills my garage, but that's a story for a different time.

Today's story starts out looking a lot like Christmas. Sure, there's no snow, and the tree in question has not only been dead for years, it never even had needles to begin with.

Still, I thought it looked cool and it didn't put up much resistance when I yanked it out of the ground, so it ended up on top of the jeep.

tree on jeep

Now, inside this selfsame Jeep, I was carrying rocks.
Or, in this particular case, "rock."

sandstone in the back of the jeep

The fight choreography work and practice that had originally been planned for today got called off on account of two other shoots being scheduled back-to-back...but neither of them ones that called for me to be on camera, so I had the day open.

After spending the morning working on some issues I'm having with the SDI cards in the main video editing system, I had a random urge to do a little exterior decorating. Most of the rocks I got are going various places in and around the south gardens, but I thought I'd try doing something creative with some of the bigger ones.

It's a lot like building things with Lego blocks, except that the stone blocks are much bigger, heavier, dirtier, and they don't click together like Lego blocks do., okay, so it's nothing at all like building with Lego blocks, so just forget I said that.

The block of sandstone shown above (we'll call him "Sly") was the heaviest of the bunch. I'm guessing Sly weighs in somewhere around seven hundred pounds, give or take, but that's just a guess. As you can see, it's as long as the back of the Jeep and pretty thick.

I think it took about an hour and ten minutes to get it into the Jeep, and this was eventually achieved by rolling it onto a pair of wooden spool ends (one is still shown above) and alternately lifting the corners and slipping pieces of concrete underneath until I'd raised the whole thing to the level of the bed of the Jeep and could slide it along the pair of wooden boards placed in the Jeep.

There's probably a simpler, easier, and more clever approach to this problem when all you have to work with are the bits of scrap lumber you can find lying around, but that's how I did it.

It's just as well I didn't get hired to build the pyramids. I'm guessing that would have taken even longer and I'm not sure the stone blocks they used in Egypt would even have fit into the back of the Jeep.

So they would have ended up being strapped onto the top, and I don't think my luggage rack could handle that.

sandstone blocks

After planting the sandstone pegs into suitable square holes, I ended up with this little sandstone family here. (Note the plush ankylosaurus included on the second-from-right block to show scale.)

Spending the day wrestling with stone blocks is a good workout, and it's pretty stress-free because, just like when you're working with pro wrestlers, you already know from the outset who's going to win.

beaver on petrified wood stump

Last week's inexplicable exterior decorating urge was a lot less work: a ten-foot ring of petrified wood arranged around a central petrified stump. (Note the plush beaver wearing a Santa hat on the central stump to show scale.)

Obviously, both of these projects invite the question, "...why?" - Which is itself a big part of the answer: besides being a fun thing to do for a few hours (at least if you're in a big-rock-movin' kinda mood), it's just weird enough to make people look at it and wonder "...why?"

That, and a grove of fossil trees sounded like a cool concept in its own right.

Stranger things have been done for less reason than that. I just might do some of those myself. There's something innately satisfying about leaving your mark on the world...even if it's a question mark.

...but that can wait until *next* week.

...and the dead tree? That I carried in through the house to the interior courtyard and plunked it down here:

Kinda looks like it's yawning, doesn't it? I'm not sure if I'll keep it there, but I think I'll let it rest a while before I start thinking about moving it.

the dead tree

Thursday, April 14th


Length in Numbers:

snowstorm april 2005

Okay, two more snow pictures, this pair being from Monday morning. Not an accurate representation of the current weather conditions out here at the treehouse, where it is bright and sunny, in the sixties, and the snow's almost all gone.

The soft, white, melty kind of snow, anyway. The similarly large pile of white stuff that descends from the IRS rather than the sky is still piled high and deep. I imagine I *could* try sledding down the stuff, though I'd probably be risking some nasty papercuts if I did.

With luck, it'll all be squared away by tomorrow, though I suppose it will never really just *melt* away by itself.

Way back in 2001 I wrote a short essay on the wonders of the tax code: Tax-Day Aftermath: "How Long is it?" which a couple of years later eventually grew into a longer, updated essay. Unfortunately, it remains a longer, updated, *unpublished* essay, despite having been submitted to a few places. I still think it's amusing, though.

snow on the balcony

Maybe next year. Or I should just write some more new stuff. Yeah, that would probably be a good thing, too.

Sunday, April 10th


When the world is covered in white, will you still dream in colors?

green man in the leafy snow

I thought this image was interesting: out past the garage doors, among the faces that adorn the retaining walls, this frond-like formation of ice and snow had grown up and onto the Green Man. It loses something when you see it through the camera's eye because you can't see the three-dimensional relief of the "fronds" reaching upwards and outwards from the wall, but perhaps you can imagine it.

Seemed appropriate, somehow.

A day that's frozen outside and warm inside is always a good day for cooking, whether you're making gingerbread, pies, or just something simple like today's dinner of salmon, rice, pea pods, carrots, broccoli, and water chestnuts. The smells of cooking food adds to the warmth inside when the winds out there are blowing cold and white.

I tend to cook by theme, smell, and taste more often than by recipe, so a given dish may never get spiced quite the same way twice. One of those automatic habits I developed years ago is that when I reach for an ingredient, I'll automatically pop up a mental list of the people I know who won't eat it, whether they're allergic to it or just don't like it.

But I'm easy; I've got no allergies to speak of (food or otherwise) and I have surprisingly few items in my pantry that I don't like. (Go figure.)

salmon with rice

Other people are more complicated, so you just have to keep that in mind when you're cooking for them. I've known a few guys over the years who would eat hamburgers with ketchup...and pretty much nothing else. It might sound limiting, but if they're going to be attending your dinner party, they're easy to cook for and if you happen to serve them the same thing they had for lunch or for dinner the night before, they're not going to complain about it.

I dated someone quite a few years ago who had a pretty long list of things she wouldn't eat. Terrific woman; happily married now and I doubt I've even crossed her mind in most of a decade. One advantage of dating a finicky eater is that the two of us could both get a light dinner at a restaurant simply by using an extra plate to hold all the things she'd pick out of her order. No need to get two entrees when half her salad and most of the trimmings were destined to be tossed aside.

On the other hand, *I* didn't fare nearly as well as anything that came off the grill; why she didn't just send me back to the kitchen to begin with remains a mystery to this day. I think there were some things (but by no means all) about me physically that she liked, or at least that she thought were acceptable, but I can't think of any other ingredient I have that she wouldn't have much preferred to pick out and set aside. That's a lot harder than extracting the pea pods from my salmon and rice dish above, because I'm pretty well all baked together and my various ingredients and flavors have had plenty of time to get all mixed up by now.

At least that's one problem I didn't have today. There's no pile of unwanted bits and pieces pushed to the side to be thrown away, just the empty plate that's left at the end.

Sunday, April 10th


Snow Doubt:

Another spring day at the treehouse where the weather has changed from warm 70-degree days to a day when they're predicting up to two feet of snow (but we should be back up to the 70's again soon enough).

Seemed like a good morning for feeling toasty inside. When I first moved out here, some twelve years ago, I'd worried that a house with a big hole in the middle would be expensive to heat, but it's well enough insulated and all the windows are double-paned that it's actually cheaper than a lot of much smaller houses.

snow covered tree branches
wrapped in a red sheet

If I ever want to warm up fast, I suppose I can always fire up the movie lights; nothing like having a few 1000- and 2000-watt lights aimed at you from a few feet away to chase away the chill.

Though the shoot that had been scheduled for today has been cancelled because of the weather. There's not *that* much snow out here now, but the possibility of two feet of the stuff coming down is enough to discourage most movie crews.

At least it is when there's just me out here. If the actress from last week's shoot was here (pictured at left) then the crew probably would show up after all.

But, hey, if they wanted to massage the script a little, I'm up for doing a chase sequence through two feet of snow. I'm all for it.

In fact, with some approprate fake fur coverings, some raggedy chainmail, and a couple of moderately huge swords, I think we could do a really cool swordfight in this weather. I just need a movie to put it in. Time to make a few phone calls....

Nothing like a good sword battle to warmed you up and get your blood flowing. Um, one way or another. Fur alone isn't enough to do the job, as you can see from the picture to the right. (Does she look warm? No? I thought not.)

rabbit in the snow

Maybe if she had some chainmail, too. Hard to say.

petrified wood

Saturday, April 2nd



half a face

Donning a mask, lurking in the shadows, and killing innocent (and not-so-innocent) people isn't something I do every day, but, to tell you the truth, as far as I'm concerned, that's quite all right. It's okay to do that kind of thing once in a while, but I'd hate to be typecast as someone who *just* goes around lurking, killing, and wearing a mask while doing it.

For starters, no matter how big the role, your face doesn't get much screen-time. Not most of it, anyway. For another thing, you so rarely get any really good lines, except maybe "Mmmmmm-mmphh-mmm!" And even that's not all that memorable. Half the audience is will probably mishear it as something silly like "MMmmpfff-mmm-mmpphhmmm!"

So much for your quotability. See if *that* ever shows up in a sidebar in any of the articles about the film.

It won't. So you see what I mean?

But from a production standpoint, it does have its share of cost savings. For one thing, just think of all the scenes where you won't need to have a hairdresser on the set. Except for those rare moments when you reveal the killer's true identity--and, of course, you don't want the bad guy to be suffering from "hood hair" right then--your need for makeup and hairstyle touch-ups is minimal.

On the down side, unlike a lot of roles I've done, this is one where you can't just run out to the store to get something while still in costume/makeup.

Just try it if you don't believe me. I've made quick runs to the 7-11 when dressed as anything from an evil overlord to a priest, and that's no problem.

But with the mask on, the 7-11 clerks get all nervous about it. Don't mistake those "discounts" and free stuff they offer you as evidence that they particularly value you as a customer and are trying to make you feel welcome.

And, well, how are you going to drink that Big Gulp through the mask, anyway?


Even without the mask, it's still not a good idea. If anything, the potential consequences are even worse: as you can see, I might get mistaken for a camouflaged raccoon and get hit by a car. That hurts. Ouch.

Hey, just because I'm a mysterious masked killer doesn't mean I don't have feelings too.

Friday, April 1st


Qwest for Hire:

If you've been following my ongoing adventures with Nyx Net's dialup service, you know it's been giving me headaches for a couple of months, in between the work involved in handling dialup service in newer and cheaper ways...and the work involved in dealing with providers flaking out or not providing the services agreed to.

If you haven't been following my adventures in dialup, suffice it to say that it's been giving me headaches for a couple of months, in between the work involved in handling dialup service in newer and cheaper ways...and the work involved in dealing with providers flaking out or not providing the services agreed to.

I *think* the last of the problems have finally been worked out, and it all came to pass through a long day of aggravating but ultimately productive phone calls.

After the previous dialup provider didn't provide dialup, I finally ended up switching from our old ISDN PRI circuit from ICG to the much cheaper solution of using a couple of ISDN BRI lines from Qwest. I'm cutting down on the number of lines in the process, but dialup usage has dropped steadily over the years, while the cost on the PRI circuit has been steadily increasing. The switch will save Nyx over 75% on its monthly dialup expenses.

I got new equipment in to handle the lines (a 3Com RAS 1500 unit), got it set up, configured, and tested, and when Qwest finally got the lines installed, not so very long after the installation date, it worked right off the bat.


The lines weren't rolling over when busy. They weren't even *busy* when busy. If a modem was in use and another call came in, instead of going to the next modem, it got routed to some other number where nobody ever picked it up. It just rang endlessly. If calls aren't being routed to your other lines, what's the point of having all those lines in the first place?

And so the day began, much like any other, with my calling Qwest to ask why the lines weren't working, since they said they'd have them fixed the day before.

But this day was not like any other, because I got a call back from "George," who was an actual ISDN technician, not just a mere customer service represetative like all the others.

Unlike the mere customer service reps, unfamiliar with this kind of technology, it seemed nearly impossible at first to get him to understand the concept of a modem and how it might be different from a voice telephone. This particular conceptual gap ruled the first part of our day; I kept trying to explain the problem, he kept trying to talk about telephones.

3com ras 1500
note: this is not a telephone

Eventually, we moved on to Act II, Call I, in which he switched to the tactic of insisting that there was no way to route phone calls go to the next line when one was busy. No one, apparently, has ever done this before, or, perhaps, even thought of a reason for such a service.

Though I, personally, suspected that even Qwest itself could handle more than one incoming call at a time. I could be wrong, however.

(Sarcasm, I should point out, has no effect on some people. This doesn't mean that being sarcastic can't still be personally satisfying. But I digress....)

As the day wore on, we made our way past this particular area of disagreement and moved on to Act III, Call II, in which George had had checked their files and determined that everything really was working fine after all. In the past, I had been able to dissuade lowly customer service reps from similar misapprehensions by the simple method of dialing the appropriate numbers using my fax line and holding the handsets together so they could listen to how "ringing endlessly" sounds different from "modem handshake." Not so with George; a mere demonstration that it wasn't working was quite insufficient to shake his newfound belief that it was working and had really been working all along, since that's what their records said.

I asked if he thought Qwest would mind if I just marked their bills as "PAID" in my own accounting records and never bothered sending them checks? That would be fair, right?

It pretty much went downhill from there. He insisted that if anything was wrong, it was entirely my fault and the fault of my equipment. I responded that if the calls weren't even being routed to my equipment, how could my equipment be at fault? I insisted that this was standard equipment and a standard way to use BRI lines. He insisted that it wasn't any such thing.

At some point before either of us had accused the other one's mother of being a hamster, he abruptly announced that he was going to go get someone else in his department who had *thirty* years experience in these things and *that* person would tell me *exactly* the same things he had been telling me all along.

And, so, I was on hold while I awaited the coming of this Wizard of Telecom who, according to prophesy, would appear on the line and set me straight.

About a minute and a half later, he came back on the line. "It's working now," he said quietly. I tested it. Sure enough, everything was working just as it was supposed to.

I asked him what they'd changed; he wouldn't tell me. I asked him what had been wrong and he wouldn't tell me that either.

But it *was* working, and that's really all that matters.

I'm disappointed, somehow, that the Wizard of Telecom never appeared. I shall just have to delve into my own wardrobe department and see what lurks therein.

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