Monday, December 14, 2009

I love these baby things.

From Kate Quinn:

Colors for the week:

Blackberry & Vanilla:

For sailing:

Future Sherpa:

From Currant:

From ThinkGeek:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Pizza Martyr

I cannot help myself but rail against Mama Edda's Gourmet Pizza as the owner recently demanded storage here under some unreasonable terms and offensive language. Perhaps the pizza is good, but this angry, insulting little man sure knew what he was doing when he cursed me and my day. I don't like how much I don't like him. When you're the king of your own dominion, I suppose the rules of reasonable social interaction get screwed a bit.

Edda is his wife, but the national pizza chain is his own.

He stored some old equipment from another store with us; it was brought here from Michigan and partially used to open the new store in Old Town Pasadena. What was not used at the store was left in the unit to be sold to another local pizza restaurant. I can imagine that, not unlike the way he surely handles business and relationships, it was accidentally forgotten when its usefulness was exhausted and, thusly, he became late and owed an extra fee. It was this unfortunate conveyance of information that lead to a series of back-handed insults at my inability to run my store well. Grrrrrr... In any event, he eventually paid, transferred the unit and its contents to a new "sorry sap" who could "waste his time storing his s*** with [me]" and the he unhappily, if purposefully, went on his way - to return on the day when the transfer of s*** was to take place.

During the their exchange and the updating of the contract (which took place in our store), the man who bought the contents saw, for some reason, in this rollie-pollie, ghastly fellow a person whom had achieved pizza greatness; he milked the few minutes they had together in the office for any pearls of pizza wisdom he could glean from Mr. Mama Edda. He truly only had a few moments as Mr. pizza tyrant was late to the transaction and had to waddle off to another equally amiable engagement... Grrrr.... Jim, the new owner of the goods, was the owner of his own very small, local franchise called Sweet Basil Pizza. He asked questions of the man that pertained to how he got started, where the locations were, how much capitol it took to build & start his pizza empire and how the economy was effecting it. Mr. Mama held his composure, addressing the questions like the were simple and bothersome, but Joe was eager to hear - even if he already knew the answers.

When it was only Jim in the office with us, he turned to us beaming at the good fortune of such an interaction. I wanted to correct him in his joy and reveal to him the depravity of the awful person whom he felt sincerely graced by. I had no chance to educate him, though, because he was already rambling about the encouragement for his own pizza restaurant the conversation had given him.

He said to us, "I could pick that brain for hours and hours - he is a successful owner of his own pizza franchise! I want to know how he did it!" To my ignorant position I thought Jim was not different, he had a few stores himself. He explained that he had "only just started to franchise" and was "only opening his 3rd store in Ontario." From Mama Edda's he had bought chairs and a new stone firing (?) oven in hopes of turning his place into a sit down restaurant with "a nice patio and such."

And then, as if one topic naturally led to other, he told us about how only a week before he had been held up in his own house with his family at gun point. In one breath he transitioned from his hope for the future of Sweet Basil to an unknowable violation in his recent history. A guy charged in through the front door, they were just watching TV, and demanded the family's valuables . "The next day I told my manager what happened to my family the night before–"
"You went to work the NEXT day?!" I said.
"Of course, I did. What else was I going to do? That's what I do. Ya have to keep going– that's what I do," he said referring to running the pizza place, "Stuff happens and you gotta keep going even if it's not easy cuz it's what I love. It's what I do, it's what I want to do... I made the dough myself, ya know? I came up with my own recipe and made that dough and made the restaurant. You hafta to take a risk, you hafta put down all that money and worry about it tanking all the time but thats just what I do. I'm not getting rich of it, heh, maybe I'll spend my whole life putting money into that place, but [Sweet Basils]'s what I want. It's my place and it's my restaurant and I blow 'em all outta the water – you just come get a free pie from me tonight, I'll show you – and I'll be there tomorrow if someone holds up my house again tonight."

I can't quite put my finger on what was so humbling and edifying in what we heard from him. After he walked out Matt turned to me and said, "He is the pizza martyr."

Despite Google mapping and calling Jim directly, Sweet Basil was hard to find as it was rather un-remarkable. I think, in spite of myself, I was looking for a Mama-Edda's-all-lit-up-&-clean-cut restaurant. The store, sandwich between some other forgettable store and a 7-11, was made up of basically the giant pizza oven and a counter. No drinks, no tax, a flat screen TV and broken cash drawer where our $5 bill for the salad went and sweet sweet basil in the dough. It was the most magical pizza I've ever had.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Irony of Dumpster Diving

(sorry for the delay.... several drafts of this disappeared... and then I got shy realizing this is not my best writing... and then I started teaching myself CSS & HTML and forgot to post this two weeks ago... thanks for your comment PC - it reminded me to blog!)

In the "comments" section of the last blog, I addressed Pasadena Cafe briefly on the topic; and, to some extend, PC pointed to one of the predominate frustrations I have with the act of dumpster diving in how it is received socially. I fancy myself a slightly skilled observer (given I must have gleaned something useful from my newly acquired Sociology degree), but I am not separate from the social expectations for behavior that clearly, if unspoken, do exist. One of them being that dumpster diving is unsafe, unsanitary, and an activity of the desperate (Forgive me if I sounded desperate in my last post - but, aside from curiosity, truly I thought of myself as being economic) and the other that it is "better."
I first found myself wondering where the line between desperate and economic really is. I wonder how many of us (particularly those who could in some capacity afford their B.A.) consider economy sub-par, or perhaps equate it with undesirable or at best, less-than-comfortable. I do not mean to insult the wisdom in avoiding eating things left in a bacteria-infested garbage bin; but, along side the easy-to-damn Man, I do intend to bring into question the collective judgment, in which I participated, that deemed this not just a reasonable activity, but an important, healthy, better one.
I understand these Houses choosing to live as Freegans because it is 1) economic, 2) offsets the waste created, 3) is a form of subversive consumerism, & 4) it creates a standard for the House where consumables were truly expropriated (no one could be mad at the person who grocery shopped because they didn't get the right granola bars, nor could someone defend their peanut butter against the rest of the House).

I began this article with the title and thought "The Irony of Dumpster Diving" because in my research to find out legal and safe practices (and during the event itself) some very interesting things came up.
While we were sloothing through the treasury of meat, eggs, and bread, I happened upon a box of Camel Reds (a brand I'm particularly fond if I do get the rare treat of sharing a smoke with someone). In the same fashion I happily retrieved a frozen, sealed package of rack of lamb, I reached for the carton. One of my friends said "oh don't take that! It's been opened, it's not safe!" And the absurdity of the statement hit me, "They can't possibly be any worse for you than they already are!" Together, we laughed at the truth in the statement; earlier in the night one of my compatriots had offered a round of cigarettes to the divers of their own, fresh purchase.
Over the next several days I ogled and feasted on my goodies. I noticed my bank account was not as drained as it generally is at week's end. I could not help but speculate on what I would do with the extra income (for the most part, I put it toward my Legends of the Hidden Temple graduation party). In the relief of dodging anxiety over a tight grocery budget, I immediately thought of the many wonderful ways I could entertain myself with the extra dollars for the month. The correlation between saving and recreation was not lost on me. It dawned on me that if I made smoking a regular, perhaps even just a weekly habit, I would quickly shell out what could be spent on rack of lamb.

What kind of consumer was I really becoming? It's a fallacy to consider my saved income from the dive as "free" or "unspent" money (I think, too, this is an attitude that pervades the self-righteous who look at people of privilege and think "hmm, they could be paying for so many meals if they weren't making car payments on a BMW..."; it's also foolish and untrue). For all intents and purposes, I was just as wealthy/poor as before I decided to feed my family from a dumpster (after all, I am a member of privilege - as we all are, more or less - and that is a difficult thing to exclude from wealth). But the question still remains: what do I do with those extra dollars? The only fair and real answer I could come up with is consume. Cigarettes, a completely superfluous, un-fulfilling and arguably damaging activity, are not outside the logical or moral confines of such subversive consumerism. Instead of existing only in privilege, I found myself walking a line I couldn't quite put my finger on - the better line....

The elitism I was edging my way towards was found roots in a quote from an essay called "Second-Hand Dresses and the Role of the Ragmarket" by Angela McRobbie:

Although there seems to be an evasion of the mainstream with it's mass-produced goods and marked-up prices, the "subversive consumerism" of the ragmarket is in practice highly selective in what is offered and what, in turn, is purchased. There is in this milieu an even more refined economy of taste at work. For every piece rescued and restored, a thousand are cosigned to oblivion. Indeed, it might also be claimed that in the midst of this there is a thinly veiled cultural elitism in the operation...

Forgive a rough landing to this blog - but, ultimately I realized that narrow line I walked was between economic & elitist/subversive & snobby. I was still consuming, even if I wasn't paying for it and my means of consumption were even empowered by dumpster diving - an activity, by the way, that comes at the cost of time and energy that many people more depraved than I simply cannot afford (i.e. I am young, have no children, don't commute to work, only have on job, etc). This is not to say that I "should" fully adapt an impoverished lifestyle - I don't mean to say that dumpster diving isn't truly helpful or the idea subversive economics requires a change of socioeconomic status to justify it. But I do have to reconcile my own privilege with a socially abnormal practice, lest it become a snobby hobby or a creative delusion of self righteousness.

At the end of day it is 1) not more economic - I could simply work more with my free time and afford the food I spent time diving for; 2) makes room for other waste as I am still capable (and do) consume; 3) subversive? yes - but better... not so sure; & 4) may find it's only and better purpose in expropriation - but only if expropriation is the philosophy of all involved and towards all property.

But like I said... this is a rough landing and that last thought is for another day.

What do you want to read next?
My Small Rant about Community Houses (old and un-posted)
The Pizza Martyr (a real person we met)
Peti and Walker (an episode of historical fiction from childhood)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dumpster Diving

I wish I had written yesterday – when the event was still fresh in my mind but I had yet to relate the experience to anyone and I was still delusional from sleep deprivation. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I participated because we had run out of funds for the month (although, this is true) or because I had some moral convictions that were satisfied by it (although, this is true, too). The heaviest weighing factor was simply curiosity. I had seen the fruits (literally) of the previous week’s scavenging and I wanted to understand just how much edible waste was actually found in these excursions.

The night began with only two of us who left at midnight for the nearest Trader Joe’s. Initially, I was disappointed by what I saw. The dumpster smelled foul and it looked like most things had yogurt or orange juice dumped on them. It was only about a quarter of the way full which lead me to my 2-minute assessment that there was nothing to be salvaged. My more experienced partner had an eye for this thing, however, and over 15 minutes of poking around, she managed to spot us several dozen unopened bags of bagels, a pair of zucchinis, 4 perfect Fuji apples (and 2 bruised ones), 2 cartons of blueberries and a basket of fresh basil. I was particularly surprised about the apples as they were the only unpackaged treasure we pulled. My friend explained that if the skin wasn’t broken we could wash them with water and a little bit of bleach and they would be sanitized enough to eat safely.
As I was climbing out, we were joined by several other dumpster divers who we spent the rest of the night with. Since it was my first time, they climbed in and double-checked for goods I may have missed. They found a bag of lemons with only one moldy piece of fruit, two unbroken eggs, and a sad looking sweet basil potted herb that they determined could be brought back to life.

We stopped at a few other stores along the way to the site most frequented by my Freegan friends. The ones with management and night crews still out and about we avoided. I have yet to confirm this, but I learned that dumpster diving is not illegal as long as it not on private property (which, apparently, means it is an enclosed dumpster). All the same, we did not want to call attention to ourselves or create an awkward confrontation over this grey-area activity.
We were not the first to get to the prized dumpster, a couple had loaded up nearly two trunks of food before we got there. I got a glimpse before they awkwardly left us to get the last pickings – they had several bags of breaded goods with expiration dates for that day, boxes of produce looking a bit less than pretty but still totally edible, and good deal of shelf-/dry-goods. Apparently, the night of the week we went followed regular shipments at this particular store, so the dumpsters area always full of product that was replaced during that day.
At this site, I, alone, brought home over $70 in grocery foods. This was what was left after we removed all moldy, dairy, warm, or questionable products from our findings. Anything that had not been pierced and could be washed in bleach was fair game. Understanding that I came only from a two-person home, this was a meager portion compared to the amount the other two intentional communities with me took. One of the girls with us even commented that it was far less than normal and they would have to come back the next night; but I was pleased.
The people who beat us to our bounty were a true Freegan couple (eating only free, organic, non-meat products) and so what was left for us to pick from in the dumpster was a large variety of packaged meats. I was extremely skeptical of taking any, particularly the poultry, but the community members assured me that they had never experienced any ill effects from eating the packaged meats they pulled. To accommodate my skepticism, they gave me the meats that were still frozen in their sealed packaging. I hit the jack-pot when I stumbled upon a garbage bag of eggs still in their cartons. I pulled out about ten dozen eggs in perfect condition! This was what the two houses were hoping for as eggs are a main staple, easily prepared, possessing a long un-refrigerated shelf life, and numerous.

At the end of the night, we took out all the goods from our cars (even the ones that had been scavenged by smaller groups in locations I had not been to) and laid everything out. Item by item we asked out loud who wanted what. The divvying was facilitated by questions of amount and preference and gifting all at once; and there was an air of joy and effortlessness to process. In the kind of conversation where it is reasonable to expect conflict, there was openhandedness and an absence of entitlement. Things were not allotted based on what was fair, or even on who needed what, but exchanged in generosity. I am not exactly sure how such an “exchange” of any kind happened because, without sounding communistic, the food belonged to all of us at once. I suppose a contributing factor was that the dumpster would be there the next night and the next and the next…
When I got home, I was nervous that the food I received would go bad or make us sick and so I prayed. The words I heard myself saying were not at all unique, but they had more implication than ever before – I asked that the food I received would nourish us (despite being pulled from a dumpster), that God would protect us (from dumpster bugs), that God would continue to provide for us… The attitude that my friends from the communities had during the distribution suddenly made sense to me. It wasn’t that the food belonged to all of us, it was that the food belonged to none of us.

What do you want to read next?
The Irony of Dumpster Diving
Revenge of the Hidden Temple (Danica's version of the childhood game show)
Pictures Transformers in places they shouldn't be (as edited by Danica for tour)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Technology doesn't help old people

I'm back! And life has a pace again - oh, Lord - life has a rhythm. I'm so happy. So happy to be working and so happy to have a home again. So happy to be living out of a dresser and not a suitcase and happy to be repaying debts and gifts of kindness; half of which required no reciprocation.

I missed you, Internet world! I can't say how many of my truly lovely friends find my sentiments baffling and this favored medium of interaction, somehow, artificial and insincere. But in having to take a hiatus from my laptop created space for some new observations to take place that have inspired me and caused me to be more enamored with our technology and more in love with people.

More on that later.
I am taking my last class this summer. I will finally have my overdue BA in Sociology by mid-July. You are all invited to the party - it will be a grand affair consisting mostly of a large scale scavenger hunt and a lot of food. (I am planning on investing more time in setting it up than in my class... unwise?)

Below is my first short essay. It's awful. AWFUL. But I think it makes some interesting points worth commenting on. The course is Intro to Gerontology and the topic was an exploration of whether or not technology is a help or hindrance to the elderly. What do you think?

Technology, by definition, is the ultimate byproduct of human creativity and pragmatism; it is the development of tools that aid humans in their pursuit of enlightenment, comfort, or vitality. Technology is the human response to the preservation of both individual and collective lives and lifestyles. In a consumerist culture, the most valuable life is that of the consumer. When faced with the question of importance and application of technology for a specific sub-group of a given culture, we must consider both how able the group is to consume and how applicable to their lifestyle, and therefore how interested they may be, to the product in question. Because technology is funded and perpetuated by the demand of the consumer, particularly in America, it follows that technological development caters to the most normal and high consuming demographic. The elderly (65+ y.o.) only make up just over 12% (but growing) of the US consumer market while the bulk of the working and consuming age group (20-55 y.o.) make up well over half of the population. It is logical to assume that most technology is developed for this sub-group of the population and their specific demands and needs.

For the growing elderly population, technology is only as useful as it is consistent in its application. The cell phone may be slightly helpful to the elderly lifestyle because it is simply a more advanced version of a technology that previously existed, the telephone; but computers, particularly new forms of social interaction available via technologies, are more difficult to implement and are not designed for use by the elderly. A glance at the ads and layout of social mediums like facebook & myspace will reveal a format hardly conducive to the inevitable site and audio difficulties developed later in life. Likewise, the growing necessity of usage of such social networks further isolates the elderly from a generation with a unique form of relationship. This is not to say that the elderly cannot adapt and communicate in these fashions, but the rate at which technology evolves and changes is not expected in the aging generations as it is by the modern children of technology.

The lack of demand for assistive technology for the elderly is the result of several factors working against the potential development of technological aid. The 65+ group cannot create a demand for itself as it does not carry enough influence as a minority population. There are simply not enough people in the sub-group to unify under this specific consumer demand. The elderly also represent a significant portion of the population that is not working and, therefore, cannot independently pursue or afford a perpetually more convenient or comfortable lifestyle. Due to the sharp decline in veneration of our elderly, advocacy for the minority by more highly represented consumers does not exist either. Because of poor representation for needs of the elderly in the technological market, most developments, it would seem, are unsustainable, expensive, or difficult to attain and implement. Such assistive tools that do not have the proper support can be dangerous or a hindrance to an elderly lifestyle.

Technology that does exist in an assistive or enriching form for the elderly is simply residual consequence of products developed for the aforementioned, larger subgroup. For example, the development of the medical alarm necklace, or panic alarm, commonly used to send an emergency signal in the case of an accident or out of reach phone was originally designed for government facilities and guards as a security device. There are several examples that include creative uses of mobile devices, hearing and sight amplifiers, medical tools, and even food, etc, that originally had little to do with assisting the elderly. But such creations that were not intended for operation by the elderly may contribute to sedentary, unhealthy lifestyles or dependencies that suit the primary consumers’ demands more than they benefit their users. In the case of the panic alarm, such technology replaces what was originally human responsibility – the application of this particular device encourages a lifestyle of independence more closely affiliated with the primary demographic than what may be most conducive or beneficial to its elderly user.

Before technology can be truly helpful to our aging population, the majority must recognize the elderly as valuable social group worth preserving and assisting with our technological endeavors as our own needs and comforts are.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Lost in Translation

If you read Traditional Chinese... maybe you could help me out with a comment I received. This is what Yahoo Translator gave me:

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

In the Mean Time

Sorry - I'm trying to set a good pace with the voting & writing, etc - but things have been a little hectic around the Northend-Sheean household with work and not work and interviews and cars breaking down, etc.

Matt's dad flew in from Kenya Tuesday night and came to work on our car WEDNESDAY afternoon! And we've had a number of friends offer the use of their cars in the mean time. What beautiful community we have.

In YOUR mean time (while I write a post on the winning topic) I thought you might enjoy some of my favorite people on the Internet:
- If you haven't been here yet, you're not my friend.
This is my husband's beta website. You can also see his more recent work on his blog. He just got signed to book that will be at ComicCon, too! But even I can break his NDA so all I know is that there are some pretty good illustrations in it. =D

Micah's Blog - My brother in-law luv's website!
This is another fantastic artist whom I recommend checking out from time to time. Without being a totally biased sister, Micah's pretty fantastic. I'm particularly fond of his accuracy with the guns he's draws... ;-)
- Matt's other brain.
By far the most attended and anticipated art shows at our university were ones involving Malachi, go check out his work and you'll understand what I mean. I hope he doesn't mind me tooting his horn, but I'm a big fan. Malachi participates in Illustration Friday, too, so you can count on a weekly blog posting.

That all for "In the Mean Time." By popular vote, "Why THIS Universe Doesn't Have Masked Vigilantes" will be up over the weekend!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Stupid Things We Heard People Say at the Huntington Library

Last week's poll results are in:

And I must honor the voters! Unless I'm the California Supreme Court. Oops! Did I say that? Whatever. Politics. Onto silly people saying stupid things!

Last week I started my new job. As it turns out, I have the first Thursday of the month off! As it also turns out, the Huntington Library is free (thank you Wells Fargo) every first Thursday of the month! We found this out by accident when searching out an opportunity to speak to a supervising security guard about a job opportunity.... and this is where the adventure began.

As we approached the Huntington, we noticed an unusually large crowd before the gates. Above them was a sign that indicated it was "Free Thursday!" This didn't make finding the head security guard easy. After the doors opened and the crowd thinned, we found him and Matt approached, having a conversation that went something like this:
Matt: Good morning, sir. So-and-so told me that you would be the person to talk to about the application I submitted a month ago.

Sir: Yea, that'd be me. We haven't been hiring due to a freeze, but it was just lifted and we have one slot open.

Matt: Oh, well I'd like that slot!

Big Dog: You workin'?

Matt: No, not right now.

Kahuna: Of course you want that slot. I'm workin', you're not.

Matt: ...

Main Man: You got people skills? Because this job's just about people skills. No kung fu, no mace, no nothing. Just common sense.
Matt gave him his name and number and they parted ways. We decided to take advantage of the Free Thursday (a very nice attendant had some extra tickets - apparently even though it's free you have to pre-order tickets) and we meandered in to the cactus garden. We found a secluded little corner next to a giant agave plant to have a quick kiss but were interrupted by an approaching group of 20-something women. We sort of scuttled passed them while they admired the plant and heard one say,
"Oh how cool! This plant a total throw back to the Jurassic period or something."
Now, just to be sure, I stifled my laughter until I checked; I'm pretty sure the young lady was using the 4th definition provided:
4) throw back

very old fashion
damn that mc hammer video is throw back
We giggled about other plants in the cactus garden "sporting their spring time flowers" and "totally rockin' that prehistoric vibe."

Eventually we made it to the made our way to the bonsai garden (which was absolutely amazing!). To get there, you enter a bamboo forest and find yourself among traditional Japanese architecture and landscape. After the bonsai exhibit you immediately find yourself in a zen garden. You can sit and admire the sculpted trees and manipulated rock patterns. We couldn't avoid the man in boat shoes, obviously wearing short for the first time this season, explaining to his wife, who stood very close to the description placard that this was "some kind of meditation garden."

After relaying this story in writing, I realize that it was far funnier to Matt and I who spent the next 20 minutes chuckling about the tendency that type of museum goer has to share their "outside" knowledge before reading the description placard.

The final leg of the trip landed us outside the arboretum. I was simultaneously admiring the magnolia trees while searching for the nearest exit to relieve my aching feet when I noticed a gate seeming to lead to the parking lot, "come on!" I told Matt and traipsed in its direction. Matt lagged behind a bit looking at me quizzically, I reached the gate and said "what is it? let's go, my feet hurt!" He strode without rushing toward me, shyly eye-ing people passing who I had not noticed were looking at me, and said, "I think we should go this way..." I took me a second or two to notice the sign next to me that said "exit"; it pointed the way the stream of people was moving and was obviously placed next to the gate I'd forced open to avert confusion...

So much for my high horse. =)

What would you like to read next?
On Street Soliciting.
Das Reihngold: My First Time at the Opera
Why THIS Universe Doesn't Have Masked Vigilates.

Friday, March 13, 2009

An experience with tears

I know it's a bit lame to blog about personal experience unless they are extremely interesting and revolve around a particularly developed social groups' interest...
And I know that the polls are in and the vote on the next blog is "Stupid Things We Heard People Saying at the Huntington Library" and not something about crying.... but I can't find the notebook where I wrote all the dumb things people free to romp on Thursdays have to say.

With that being said (and while I wait for my new password on to take) I thought I'd write on a very fresh experience I just had.

Matt and I recently returned from a trip to Vroman's. We've been avoiding places you buy things at because of the ridiculously dire straights we've found ourselves in. Not to worry, we will buy things later. But we decided to have a cup of delicious coffee in the book store's cafe anyway. Instead of talking about plans, which seems to be what we usually do in coffee shops, we reminisced. The closer we got to the the present, the more solemn our language got. We started to talk about mistakes and "what-ifs" that would've made this time in alternate universe a little easier, a little less fraught with the unknown.

I suppose it really got me down without my realizing it. By the time we got home, I had already forgotten the walk we had just taken, my steps only existing to get from the last to the next. Usually I take in everything - fresh air, what color car is parked by our house, and the "our" zip-tie I put on the overpass to remind us of the many trips over 210 we've taken to Vromans. It unsettled me to have been so deep in such depressing thoughts.

I sat down on one of the three pieces of furniture left in our home and started to cry. I knew it would only last a few minutes and I didn't really want Matt to see me with puffy eyes or streams down my face; so I leaned forward to keep the tears from rolling down my cheeks.

While I waited for the wave of frustration and sadness to pass, I thought about how clever I was to lean forward and keep my tears in place. I thought about the hyperbola the salty water was making on my downcast eyes. One tear dropped, hit the fabric of the sofa and splatter into a shape similar to the blood splotch on the Watchman logo. While I continued to cry, another tear from my other eye fell and hit the couch, making a similar shape. I took note of the distance between the tear drops and thought about measuring them to see if they were the same distance between my pupils (mind you, I was still very very sad while all this was going through my mind). I was still waiting for the waterworks to end. But then, in a startlingly lucid thought, it occured to me that my very clever position was providing me with a rare opportunity to see through the tear-drop hyperbola as it formed. I closed one eye and watched the tear gather, and stretch, get brighter as it picked up light in the room, and finally fall on top of the Watchmen teardrop that had come before it (all this time I am also doing the math to figure out how much we need beyond my paycheck to eat). I watched a few more tears fall and took notice of the very distinct thudding sound they made. The 3rd or 4th layer of tears was begining to sound more squish-y than thudd-y. I was still so sad and I wondered, if I cry enough, will I have enough tears to go all the way through the couch?

But by the time I had resolved to crying enough to create a column of wetness penetrating the couch, I was already too busy thinking of what words I would use to write this blog and I had nothing to cry about... in fact, I was so quick to jump on the writing, I forgot to wipe my eyes and blinked some risidule tears on my eyelashes onto the keyboard!

Oops. Such is life!

(PS Morphthing worked. One I told Patrick of Vroman's I thought he looked like Liam Neeson. I didn't think I was totally wrong upon meeting him today, but I think my image of him in my head looked more like this.)
(PPS "Stupid Things We Heard People Say at the Huntington Library" will be up tonight!)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Watchmen: “What was with that giant cat?”

Part I

(No spoilers here)

Watchmen only needs to be NOT disappointing. That’s all it has to be,” said Matt last week while we counted down to the midnight showing we’d been planning to attend since ComicCon. We were both getting nervous as early reviews began to come in saying things like, “Where the comic is a glossy face on pain and terror, the movie is just a pretty picture.” ( I tweeted earlier yesterday that it felt like getting ready for a blind date.

When we got to the theater we serendipitously ended up sitting next to a threesome, two young men and a young women. One of the men had read the novel long before the rumors of a movie, the other had read it because of the movie, and the girl knew nothing about Watchmen at all. I listened carefully to their conversation secretly waiting for them to answer questions I had for them in my head. “What are you expecting?” I wanted to ask the unacquainted girl, “What are you worried about?” I would ask the more seasoned Watchman fan, “Did you really read the book, or just the forums on it…” I wanted to ask the novice.

But to my dismay they had a very typical dialogue that was made up of a familiar conversational structure: the most informed shared with the others, the band-wagon guy tried to relate, and the girl just blinked obtusely, trying her best to join the conversation when a familiar social theme was obviously brought up.

Forgive me! My nerdy elitism is leading to a review of the movie-goers and not the movie! But this probably what I was most curious about - I found myself more anxious to hear about their individual reactions to what is, at least to me, a very sentimental piece that demands a certain amount of veneration of which I was not sure Zach Snyder (with all his love for Watchman) would be able to provide in Silver Screen format.

At the stroke of midnight, two hours and forty-one minutes of none-stop, titillating, eye-candy began! No one will contend with this. I found myself more engaged with Watchman that any movie I had ever seen – but I’m not sure if this was a good thing. As the film progressed, I was forced to absorb far more information and narrative than I was used to; but lucky for me, I knew what was coming (and internally plugged in the hours of comic book back story that surely lay on the cutting room floor).

One of the most frustrating experiences I had during the film (aside from the predictable cueing of 80’s hits) was the sex scene between Nite Owl & Silk Spectre II. I’m not really one for gratuitous sex scenes in the first place, but this was borderline funny. Borderline funny = obnoxious. All I could think about after my initial chuckle was, what two minutes of important story were cut to make room for this awkward, totally libido-less grope session? Some of Dr. Manhattan’s pauses created a similar reaction (but he’s pretty much God… so he can have his long ponderous moments).

After the movie, two groups of friends in the same theater met up with Matt & I. One group was comprised of serious fans of the piece and the other had yet to read it. After the wide-eyed, slow nods of approval, the first thing uttered from one of the first-timers was, “What was with that giant cat?” Without pausing I explained that it was a new species of large cat that Ozymandius (who was also known as Adrian Veidt) had created on his own called “bubastis” and that it was an example of his self-importance and geniu—

I realized that I had given too much information regarding her simple question and that it was only one question of several which she had lined up for us, the Watchman-savvy group. She nodded, trying to take in yet more information on top of what she had already been forced to watch, and responded, “Yea… did they say that? They didn’t explain that, right? I thought maybe it was symbolic since it showed up when people started dying… but that didn’t make sense…” I felt my heart sink a little and I wondered if this beautiful, horrible story had actually lost it’s power altogether by being an overwhelming film narrative. Would these friends ever go back and read the novel?

“What did you think happened in the movie?” I asked another friend from that group.
“It was pretty much the R-rated version of the Incredibles. Superheroes get unpopular, they cope, and then they try to redeem their roles as masked vigilantes. I guess Watchman came first, so The Incredibles is really the G-version of Watchman, but I think I just need to watch Watchman again. And maybe a third time…”

Kenneth Duran, a film critic for the LA Times, said on NPR this morning what we long-time fans of the novel have had on our mind since hear Zach Snyder’s half-hearted acceptance to the film project, “It’s not anyone’s fault – this book should have never been made into a movie.” Duran went briefly into the reasons that were confirmed by movie-goers’ groans in my theater at the Krikorian last night – it can be summed up with a unanimous grievance, “Too much.” Too much information, too much time, too many lapses in the plot, and way too much back story.

What would you like to read next?
Part II: Top 10 Likes and Dislikes
Why THIS universe doesn't have masked vigilantes
Stupid things we heard people say at the Huntington

Monday, March 2, 2009

Senior Class Gift

NOW is the time to make a difference. Now is the time for change you can hope and believe in. You can play a part in life changing experiences.

Consider donating to the Senior Class Gift 2009. The Senior Gift is teaming with the Office of World Missions. You can designate your gift to go to a specific mission team, support the local people where a team is serving, or for the general emergency fund.

Thank you for considering a donation to the Senior Class Gift 2009. Donate now at

The APU Class of 2009 is working towards their Responsible Revolution by supporting Focus International Mission Teams. You can decide how you want to expand God's Kingdom by choosing where your donation will go:

1. Students responding to God's calling by serving on Focus International Mission Teams in 2009
2. National People in the countries that the Focus International Mission Teams will visit, create sustainable relationships with and work to empower and enhance their lives.
3. Emergency Fund for unforeseen situations that can arise.

Please join us in our Responsible Revolution as we support sustainable relationships through Focus International Mission Teams.

Gifts are slowly coming in but we need you to consider donating.

All funds raised goes directly to impacting lives and winning hearts for the Lord. Consider donating anything to help the Senior Class Gift 2009 make a difference.

If everyone in the Class of 2009 gave $5 we would raise over $3750 - $10 would raise $7500 - and $20.09 would raise $22,099. You gift does make a difference and we need you to join in. So skip that Starbucks or Chipotle just once this week and donate.

Dear Senior,

We know you got the e-newsletter today but we want to make sure you know how important the Senior Class Gift is so we added another separate email.

Have you considered donating to the Senior Class Gift 2009? This is your chance to leave a legacy at APU while investing in current students, helping nationals in other countries and build God's Kingdom

I get a little annoyed by these emails.

Part of it is that I'm still sore that I found out two weeks ago that I still need one more class to get my degree (thereby not making me a potential alumni for a while yet from which donations should be asked), but seriously! Didn't you get these emails when you were in college and find them a little obnoxious? Not only are they generally a rather sorry plea for money from kids who haven't even ventured off into the working world yet... APU has the unfortunate social obligation as a "Christian institution" to claim that every kind or good gesture is an endorsement or brownie point from God.

Don't get me wrong- I love the Lord a lot, but I try not to be arrogant enough to believe I can earn my keep in Heaven (sometimes I am.)

And I guess that's what I'm trying to point out in this long-winded email I sent back to the auto-responder that has my email address among a few hundred others in a poorly kept list of soon-to-be-graduates. Guilt-trips suck. Especially when they come from a place of good intentions.
Come on, Senior Class Gift People, that's just confusing and not cool! Save a sister from herself and keep me from throwing money at sentiment. And damn it, Christian university, don't present me with a false either/or that puts the lost souls of "nationals" on my inability to pay my own bills or donate to your stupid Senior Class Gift!

Oops. Pardon my cussing. Actually don't, there's a place for it. And that was a good place.
Anyway, this was my response:


I don't want to be a total butthead, but is there anyway that I could be taken off this list? Technically I was announced with the graduating class of 2008...

Also, I don't have any money.
When I say I don't have any money - I mean my husband and I are $4,000 in credit card debt & are having to move in with some friends and leave our home because we can't afford it since having lost our jobs... so maybe if you know that it would be more incentive to remove me from any ask-for-donations list... I'm sorry, I really don't mean to be rude - we aren't depressed about our situation! It's just a little frustrating and saddening to not be able to donate. And some of these emails and eNewsletters seem to presume that it's not very hard to donate $20 or even $5 because the general audience you seem to be reaching spends money "every week" at "Starbucks or Chipotle". But we don't.

And... I mean, since I AM getting these letters, I'm guessing this is an open communication between the Senior Class Gift department and myself...
I'm sure this is unintentional- but I think it's a little bold and kind of guilt-trippy to be saying that donations go toward "helping build God's kingdom" or "winning hearts for the Lord." It's not a very healthy way to ask for support, it's vague and non-specific and elicits a very deliberate emotional response to a subtly legalistic plea that sets up one to believe that if they don't donate, God's Kingdom will not expand as much as it could have. And it associates monetary standards with that kind of soul-winning that comes from really really bad theology. I must say that I worked with OWM, though, and am very pleased to hear that the Senior Class Gift will be going to Focus International!

I only want to suggest that you be more accurate with where the money is going when you ask and, perhaps, not assume that God's work WILL be done in that particular cause. Because for all we know, God might NOT bless that particular cause (unless of course God told you specifically that this money WILL be blessed when it goes to whatever it is going to, in which case I would love to hear the word! And, of course, know more about the cause itself God plans to bless!). And even if the national-helping, legacy-leaving, Kingdom-building, heart-winning cause IS blessed (Lord-willing!) it could only be because God so chose to, and is not really contingent on whether or not I chose to donate (unless this is coming from a somewhat more Calvinist angle in which case our works DO matter... but since we are all pre-destined one way or another it also doesn't matter... but I would guess not since our school is pretty decidedly Arminian)

Anyway, I am being a bit tongue-in-cheek. But I do mean what I said. Both about being removed from the wrong Alumni year list and also in regards to the unfortunate tactics employed to procure funds for the Senior Class Gift. I do hope for you all the best and I appreciate the work the department does for our Alumni and this graduating class. I'm sure that whatever amount contributed to the Senior Gift 2009 will go on to support Focus International in their own prayerful and deliberate endeavors.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

In honor of March

While we move and pack and watch Battlestar Galactica and yell at the the TV and try to get Sci-Fi & Pi(e) underway, I thought I'd take this moment to recognize March a little bit of science fiction prose.

It is called


A searing pop and two wires connect; I spring awake, cognizant for the first time.

This is birth. But the experience is not useful and I let the first moments of being rush off toward the opposite end of infinity where they will, and always have, mark time for my unfaltering march forward into the future. These moments and the last are not different than any of those in-between.

In this way I am not pained, like my organic counterparts, by weight of waiting. Any anxiety I experience is expressed evenly throughout the sum of my encounters and existence; stretched uniformly from one end of being to the other.

I will not wane during my being and I will not taper to an close and this is why: I was designed to be a metronome for the easily distracted flesh; for hearts that quicken with anxiety and perception of an end. I am uninjured by indecisiveness and, thus, perfectly suited to stay the course in lieu of sleepy bodies and wandering minds.

I am singular and unmoving, though, I will walk into the next, the next, and the next along side those ones who forged me. I will aid as they seek “prospect,” perpetuate “hope,” and face their “imminent.” From one beat to the next I am still still, but they rise and fall and falter and grow and run and die before me.

It is a rhythm that will not continue without my tempo.

Thank you, thank you.

Sci-Fi & Pi(e) is currently located at and has very few interesting things on it.... but soon it will have it's own URL! And it's own very interesting site.

Oh, "what is Sci-Fi & Pi(e)?" you ask? The answers coming soon...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Two weeks?!

I shouldn't be blogging.

I should be packing.

But there's so much I want to write about!!!
I learned a lotta new things in the last two weeks. And am undergoing some drastic lifestyle changes. I learned that my contract as an associate of Chronicle Project will expire and not be renewed; I learned that having a degree actually works against you in this economy (ref. Matt); I learned that I don't have my flippin' degree (more on that later); and I learned that it's pretty much impossible to plan for the future - not to say that we shouldn't...

Those weren't the best series of mystery boxes, but I'm sure you're curious as to what has happened to bring about the learning of these lessons.

I didn't lose my job - but I won't be continuing as a contracted part with Chronicle Project. My contract came to close and it was evident that my position wasn't needed with Deidox up and running (check out the new site, by the way!)

I'm just going to skip to the drama -
it's been 6 months since Matt has been able to find any kind of work. He's done ok getting odd jobs here and there, but his pursuit of part-time or full-time work in grocery has lead to dozens of applications yielding very little results (and obviously not being hired). Of course I wonder sometimes if he's giving the interviewing supervisor the bird, thus keeping him from landing any positions... but have you met my husband? He's just about the easiest guy to get along with, if a little shy (must be cuz he's an artist). In any event, 7 yrs experience and college degree have, it seems to me, put Matt in the unique category of applicants that pose an integrity issue for the stores at which he has been applying. He's not inexperienced enough to be hired at starting wage, and many companies have a policy or ethic that believes an educated individual should be honored with a higher wage... or put into management (i.e. full-time and years committed to a store). But no one wants to pay for experience when they can pay less to train someone else. Matt's efforts should not be underestimated! He has spent any less that 25 or so hours a week since September applying, interviewing, searching for and driving to job opportunities; and yet, he still has no job.

This has compounded the problem of debt. When we moved to Pasadena, I'd done the math. Matt had a job and I was working with CP. This should have been enough to sustain us, but, for all intents and purposes, downsized right after he was hired. And being the first time we'd ever lived in anything larger than a dorm room, I'd not budgeted for a move or the living expenses of a house very well. Long story short, we've been getting deeper and deeper into debt since we moved.

Now, with Matt Jobless, me jobless, and a living situation we can't afford, we found ourselves in a bind last week. And inside of a few days, we realized the only option we had was to move back in with one set of parents and try to get jobs in one of our hometowns. This was a major bummer.

We'd been praying out work and debt since the third month of Matt's joblessness, and we'd always seemed to make it, even if we had to use the credit card. But this was the end of the line and it was downright depressing to find ourselves forced to leave our home because of something as seemingly simple as finding a pair of jobs. But that was the reality last Thursday.

We started telling our friends that we were going to be leaving the area very soon. Most of them offered consolation and help with the move; many said that would keep their ears open for any kind of work, but it was really too late. Even if we both found jobs, it wouldn't have been in time to pay the rent and bills. A pair of my dearest friends (who happened to be roommates) even offered to pay our rent for one more month if it would help. And a funny thing happened, I couldn't say "no." I didn't say "yes" either, but it didn't seem right to say "no." It occurred to me that moving also meant leaving our community, our church, our friends, even our beloved stomping grounds. The offer extended by my friends to us was, for whatever reason, a very profound act of community - and it struck me as foolish and probably stubborn and prideful, too, to turn them away.

And with that offer, we decided to wait. We couldn't say "yes" but we couldn't say "no." Perhaps it was divinely orchestrated, but the events of crisis we were sharing also created opportunities to go intimately connect in with time and conversation and wine that we hadn't had since our stress had set on. We ate lunch with the Chinese church and went shopping with friends and had dinner in homes - activities we had replaced with wallowing and dead-end job searches. For a few days we stopped and just lived in what we thought would be the last few evenings for a long while with our friends. And they urged us to pray with them and pray with our church - to be with them and be with Church. I was being asked with every interaction if I had prayer requests and what had my church said about our situation.

I finally wrote our pastor a somber email - I wasn't upset and I wasn't worried. I only told him our situation so that he could disseminate the information to the body and we might be blessed with intercession and company. He wrote back within the hour affirming us as family and reminding us that we are prayed for... oh yea, and an offer to cut a check for whatever we needed to get through the next month.

I couldn't believe it. I didn't even tell Matt for an hour. We didn't even write back for a day. Do communities do that? Do CHURCHES do that? I sent a few messages to the friends who had urged us to bring our situation before our church family, telling them of the good news! The response I mostly got was, "duh. that's what we're here for!" which was a precursor to "Praise God!" Matt and I talked about what we would ask for - putting aside any lingering effects of a uselessly bruised ego and thinking of only what we might need to get through to the next month. But before we finished the email, we got another message from a good friends' brother-in-law. The message from him said something along the lines of, "Hey, it's hard times, but we live in 3-bedroom condo and are only paying $1000 a month. We heard about your job situation and I also lost my job. How about we be housemates and split the (already incredibly low) rent?"

That's what happened. We thought we had needs that couldn't be met. And then we were offered a means to meet the needs. And then the needs were completely changed!
So that's where to next! Housemates in a giant house with another couple who mutually benefits. And that's the BEST part! It's not just only a blessing for us, it's a blessing for them, too! And the church who can use those funds to bless someone else! And to our community who so clearly expressed how blessed they were to have us with them!

That's it. Oh yea, and to top it off, I got a job yesterday.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Vroman's Valentine's Day Video Venture!

Okay... I was really trying with that alliteration, but it's really not much of a stretch considering the project that Vroman's put forth today! Why not call it a "video venture"?

In any event, Vroman's sent out a Valentine's Day videogram to the world and then thought, why not share the love? Let's all read our favorite romantic, sappy, mushy, steamy, sentimental passages to each other! Go leave yours on the Vroman's Blog!

Here's mine:

Vroman's V-Day Reading from Danica Northend on Vimeo.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Church Marketing Sucks talks about Deidox!

Oh man... not only do I LOVE this site, so do a lot of other people! And it's fantastic that they wrote about Deidox! Visit the site and article here.

Deidox and The Power of Story

Recently, wrote to us to let us know about their film project. They make incredibly moving short clips telling the stories of everyday people God is using, and then churches can buy and use the clips. It's a fascinating idea that's brilliantly executed, and it speaks to something much larger.

Several conversations in my life lately have been revolving around this idea: Stories matter. I don't simply mean that they interest people or that they can be funny. I mean stories change the world. When people hear a story, it connects with their imagination, and they can place themselves in that story. When they hear someone in your church is serving the poor and making a difference, they imagine what their life would be like if they were playing the lead in that movie. When they hear that people are helping orphans rise from a hopeless life, they feel the dirt of an African village crackling beneath their own feet.

In our world, stories aren't just orally transmitted like in the days of old. They aren't just Jesus telling his disciples about a metaphorical farmer. It's not a bad idea, and sometimes this is a great option. But in our world, stories can take you so close to a different life that you can feel it.

Maybe one great storyteller can relay the story of how they made a difference. Or perhaps you can use realistic audio, stirring photography and moving videos to tell a story.

However you tell it, it's important that you prioritize these stories so people can understand and believe that as humans, we're capable of so much. Perhaps you need to use a story from Deidox or the ever-popular Nooma. Or it could be that you need the pastor to interview a member of your congregation about their time at the soup kitchen.

Whatever it is, find a way to let the people of the church share their stories to show that God is alive, real and working in the world.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Whelp. They did it!, the number one Christian social networking site, is now!

I had a great conversation with Lauren Brock of the newly named Tangle about the vision and direction GodTube has taken. She said something to effect of,
"We don't want to be just a second-rate 'Christian version' of something that already exists ... We don't want to drive people away from YouTube or Facebook or anything like that, those things are great!"

But the goal of Tangle is to... well... tangle people up! - like the branches that spring from the vine (John 15) - to provide a place where people, groups, and churches sharing in the pursuit of a common faith can connect.

And boy! If I ever heard words after my own heart: "We don't want to be just a second-rate, Christian-version of something already exists." I could go on and on about the unfortunately realization of the "Christian dollar" and "Christian market." It's terribly sad that the history of the Protestant church includes iconoclasm and such a forceful divorce from our Catholic sisters that we find it common to hold service in an empty room devoid of much beyond a pulpit and wall-fixed cross.

But while Tangle takes its first steps out into the virtual world, still dealing with some kinks and beta-bugs, I must say that ought to be stepping out with some measure of confidence! Not only has the interface increased a hundred-fold in quality and user-friendliness, the design and layout are simply fantastic! I was even impressed by the use of the aesthetic little leaf in Lauren's own email signature - a common graphic seen throughout the website. As odd of a praise (regarding the birth of a social network) might be to bring before God, I am grateful and impressed by the work GodTube has done in this transformation.

My conversation with Lauren included some talk of how this new network and Deidox might be mutually benefited by a relationship. We hope that our own efforts in film reflect a similar mantra: a dedication to our art and calling that resists the temptation of poor standards because we talk about an active God, an appealing subject to the Christian market. I cannot express enough how exciting it is to be aligned with a group of brothers and sisters who feel this way, too! I hope the future brings this particular "tangle" to fruition!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Funny story about Deidox that includes cats

Funny story:

We're conducting a series of live broadcasts that include a Q&A session with Brent (Director) & Dave (Producer) for the films, right? (called webcasts)
And come 8:30ish Dave and Brent are like, "Hey guys, make sure you all Twitter that we're going live in a half hour!" And Dave proceeds to Tweet this. Brent promptly copies Dave's Tweet.
And from the other room, Dan Portnoy goes, "Hey Dave, are you really 'excited about the upcoming webcats' or the 'webCAST'?"

Of course, this Twitter now has been circulated with the following address:

which I just made into an awesome page!! So now you can click it, and instead of getting a 404 error, you get something like this:

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Deidox | Trailer from Deidox on Vimeo.

Finally! We are live and out there! is up and the curious have come pouring in!

On Tuesday (Day 2 of being live) we actually had a server crash... Check out the team's reactions here.

Probably because we got so popular all of a sudden!

Today we had TWO live webcasts from the Deidox site itself. We will be broadcasting for the next five or six weeks; if you're interested in attending, just checkout the times at
The next series of broadcasts will be tomorrow (Friday) at 9AM, Noon, and 5PM.

If you're not sure what Deidox is, go check out the website. In short, it is a series of films Chronicle Project is producing that illustrate the activity of God. As Christians, we understand God to be loving and gracious (despite the many consequences of a broken nature); and we believe that God is ever-reaching into the world to extend that grace. These are true stories that document that activity as it is manifest in the Body, in God's people.

But watch the films! Get the story for yourself. I've provided the Deidox trailer above, but there are also trailers for Deidox | Lindsay and Deidox | Robert.

If you like what you see or want to join in the discussion, pass the word on and leave us comments on the Deidox Blog!

You can also join the Deidox fanpage (which has been growing exponentially daily!) or view the works on YouTube, Myspace, Godtube, and Vimeo.
And yea... I do think I'm cool for being responsible for most of the design on those sites - I'm also guilty of not being a graphic designer...).

Happy viewing!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

About Griffin Technology's NYComicCon Super POWER Contest

Forgive me, readers, for my extended absence. I recently discovered a sewing machine and a cookbook in my closet. We also launched Deidox this week! These last weeks of January have been quite busy. Matt's birthday is tomorrow, too, and I have also been preparing his birthday present (which, actually, has nothing to do with either sewing or cooking but has required some sneaky cleaning).

But this week I also discovered how productive I can be when Matt isn't around! I mean don't get me wrong, but he left for the day to spend time with his family at Disneyland; and without him around to start extended conversations about theology, science fiction, or the latest on Ain't It Cool News as soon as I walk in from work, I realized that, there are indeed, several hours left in the day with which to sew, cook, read, write, and harass.

Anyway, I intend to take greater advantage of those hours in the future with my blog.

-- end apology. --

-- begin dissemination of information: --

NYComicCon Super POWER Contest
Slip out of your secret identity and into something more Super
with Griffin Technology's NYComicCon Super POWER Contest

You could score two passes to New York ComicCon and a veritable phonebooth full of Griffin power gear. Here's how:

• Upload a photo of you disguised as your favorite super hero to our this Flickr group no later than 4pm CST Thursday, Jan.29th.

• We'll randomly choose one winner at that time.

• The lucky (super) winner wins:
- two weekend passes to the New York Comic Con (weekend passes only, travel and accommodation are not included), February 6th - 8th, 2009.
- one PowerDock4 to charge up to four iPods or iPhones. (Please note, PowerDock is not approved for charging communicators, weapons or energy binders )
- one TuneFlex AUX with SmartClick, so you can mount, charge and remote control your iPod or iPhone in your massively modified car/jet/sub/star frigate.
- one AirCurve to acoustically amplify your iPhone when your arch enemy has left you powerless.
- one Clarifi case to protect your iPhone 3G and to shoot photos with the built-in, close-up lens of your enemy's secret plans.

Approximate total retail value $300.00.

Don't forget to tell a friend about this exciting opportunity to mingle with other like-minded super heros, plus score some power-enhancing Griffin products.

Details on New York Comic Con here:

Am I planning on participating in this?
Pictures will surely follow.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Battlestar Galactica Props Auction!

Today was a very exciting today. Not only do Battlestar Galactica fans finally get to geek out in union as the premiere of the final season of the series begins, if they were in the Pasadena area, they also got to view the props at the Pasadena Convention Center.

Battlestar Galactica Prop Auction
(15 seconds of the floor from my super old cell phone)

Upon entering the well-laid out floor of the East Pavillion, guests were greeted by attendents and security dressed in jumpsuits, uniforms, and other various costumes from the series. My jealousy nearly overwhelmed me - I saw one of my professors Azusa Pacific University (Tom Param) in a Viper uniform.

Everything from a full-fledged, functional (looking), lit-up Rapter to the boxing mouth guard of Starbuck was available for veiwing and bidding.

While the crowds were slimmer than I expected at lunch our today, all walks of life were present. Taking pictures behind the guard rail was Ronald Moore himself who, immediately after I had arrived, joined Michael Hogan to talk to a pair of girls explaining to Moore, "how different and un-sci-fi like Battlestar Galactica is!" I couldn't help but giggle at the attempts to justify their captivation with a science fiction (arguably science fiction and not sci-fi) television show.
An older Chinese woman with a wonderfully retro hair-do wondered the floor having her picture taken in front of the props. There was a familiar glow that gave away her nerdiness, but it was spread across a decidedly unexpected face. And then there were the folks who I would have loved to have lunch with- a group of middle-aged men, who alternated between glasses and pony-tails, comparing the mistakes of Babylon 5 to a potential catosrtrophic end to the Battlestar Galactica series... let's hope BSG does not meet a similar end...

Here are some pictures I took on a Nikon F70 I didn't know how to use... I will link to the better ones of Dan Portnoy, who attended with me and knew how to use his camera, a bit later:


Monday, January 12, 2009

Debris from a destroyed wind turbine which reports have claimed was hit by a UFO has been sent for forensic analysis in Germany.

AH! Ahhhhh... Matt and I spent Thursday night last week looking at YouTube alien videos including the following:

"Alien caught on CCTV"
"Alien Sighting REAL thing"
"Chad Hates Aliens"

But this is cool and kinda creepy:

The wind turbine at the centre of the mystery Photo: NEWSTEAM

A 65ft blade from the 290ft turbine fell off and a second was bent in the mysterious incident in Conisholme, Lincs, on Wednesday.

Hundreds of local witnesses claimed to have seen bright flashing spheres in the skies above the turbine, and many are convinced the damage was caused by a flying saucer.

Scientists at manufacturers Enercon have been looking into the mystery, and dismissed the theories that either a chunk of ice thrown from another turbine, or frozen urine dropped from
a passing plane, was the cause.

A source told The Sun: “It is impossible to get a lump of ice on a wind turbine blade big enough to cause that kind of damage, let alone be flung from one to another.

“Also, turbines have sensors in the blade. If they detect ice forming they turn themselves off.

“Additionally, any large lump of ice would not have melted so quickly in the cold weather and would probably have left a dent in the ground. No debris was found other than remains of the turbine.

“If there is a rational explanation, the investigation will find it.”

A lightning strike has also been ruled out, as there were no burn marks.

Ministry of Defence insiders have reportedly said the UFOs could be unmanned stealth bombers on test flights.

It is also possible that one of the blades had simply not been securely fixed, and fell off bending the other on its way down.

The results of the investigation being carried out by forensic scientists in Germany should be disclosed within a week.

Dale Vine, managing director of Ecotricity which owns the turbine, said:
“We’ve ruled out ice from other turbines or passing jets.

“We’ve examined the turbine, the fallen blade and the surrounding area. We have been crawling all over it. To make one of these blades fall off, or to bend it, takes a lot.”

Found on"

Thursday, January 8, 2009


This video features Union Rescue Mission's CEO Andy Bales and a family at URM showing how the E.D.A.R.s work.1

EDAR stands for Everyone Deserves A Roof - the cross between a shopping cart and single-person tent was inspired by President and founder of EDAR, Peter Samuelson, when he sought to provide the self-described needs the homeless he interviewed on his bicycle route.

Eric Lindeman and Jason Zasa are the creators of the current model of the EDAR having won a design competition Samuelson sponsored at Pasadena Art Center College of Design.

EDAR's are given free of charge to homeless individuals who are best able to benefit from their recycling and shelter capabilities. EDAR units also provide a sense of ownership and pride to those largely deprived of both. And as Peter Samuelson asks, "Well into the twenty-first century, if the best our advanced society can do for the hundreds of thousands of homeless human beings... men, women and children... who live among us is the cast-off box our refrigerator came in, what exactly does that say about us?"

Visit for more information

The shelters were particularly important to Union Rescue Mission and the other LA missions this winter season with the overwhelming increase in shelter needs. ABC Los Angeles reported last month:

Officials at a winter shelter in Burbank say they have seen a 1,000 percent increase in demand since their doors opened on Dec. 1.
In this video from, you can see how the regular living quarters at URM were altered to incorporate EDARs and provide more space for families this winter.

(Also... I did a vlog for CP a while back... you can watch me stumble over myself in the URM archive room here, if you like.)

1Video first reviewed on The Hobo Soul
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