Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Haunted Houses

I just got back from a 6 day trip that you can read about on our house blog . This anual trip inspires us for halloween. It is also a chance to see some of the best haunted houses in the country. The majority of the attendee's are haunted house owners and employees. So most of the conversation is about running the haunted house. I have always said that after talking with these people this isn't something I would do. Too many horror stories of asshole Fire Marshalls and strange customers. Besides I am not really turned on by making people pee their pants, barf or pass out. But what does turn me on is working on cool projects. One of the things I saw on our trips was a haunted house in a old Morturary. They had completely gutted it and rebuilt the inside. There was a lowered ceiling with wiring for sound, mics, and video everywhere. They had the COOLEST control room with a bunch of flats screen montors and racks of amps. They had some computer controls that managed all the mics, speakers and video. They showed a new exclusive effect that used CO2 fog shot down from a device in the ceiling then projected a video image on the fog. Got me thinking of all sorts of ideas for our halloween stuff. But this haunted house was one I could see myself getting interested in. As long as I didn't have to deal with the Fire Marshall or the customers.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

PCS Tour

I did something really fun on Monday night. I went on a technical tour of the theater at PCS . Chris and I have been members of the theater since it began in 1988 . When they built the new theater out of the old Armory downtown we had many offers to take tours of its construction and once completed last year we had invites to get a grand tour. We always put it off. Last week we got an invite to take a technical tour of the place with some other subscribers. I accepted.

The tour was arranged by Jessy Friedt and given by Creon Thorne the General Manager. Creon was involved in the design and construction of the new theater and knew every inch of the space. He gave us a great background on the historical building and all the LEED Certification details. But my favorite part and the reason for jumping at the chance to go was being able to see behind the scenes of the theater. I even brought my camera but was so interested in seeing everything that I never stoped to take a picture. Seeing all the lighting cables and fixtures brought back a flood of memories. The technical booth was very interesting (I wish we could have had some more time in there and a more detailed overview). I loved the feel you get when back stage. The notes left on the walls, the odd decor of the people who worked there. The feeling of family and creativity. I had a great time and the hour long tour just flashed by. I will have to remember to do that again.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Martian Child

Hey, these posts keep getting longer? I'll make this one short. Watched a movie last night called Martian Child. Based on a award-winning short story by David Gerrold (wrote the Trouble with Tribbles episode of Star Trek) about his experience adopting a troubled young boy and raising him as a single parent. Chris picked it out and as usual it was really good. It stars John Cusack and his sister Joan which we both love. Great story. It was one of those movies that you are surprised that 2 hours flew by and it was already over.

Sometimes we all feel like we must be from another planet.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Cats

After posting about working from home it made me think about the cats. I am a big animal lover which is probably one of the biggest reasons I have stayed a vegetarian for over 20 years. As a kid we had dogs, cats, fish, Guinea pigs, and rabbits. As an adult I have had birds but mostly cats. I really love dogs but they are VERY demanding of your time and I hate the thought of not being able to devote the attention they deserve. So I have stuck with cats. They are very independent and can have quite the personality. I got married when I was 20 in 1983 and we got our first cat, Merlin an orange tabby, that same year. He was the only cat we had for many years so he was VERY spoiled. I liked to ruff house with him so he was a bit of a hunter of peoples ankles and fingers. When we lost him to old age at 19 it was like loosing a member of our family and I wasn't in a rush to replace him. By that time we had also lost a female friend of his named muffy a few years earlier We also had a female kitten Chris found at the side of the rode that became Merlins best buddy named Maddie. We lost Maddie to old age just over a year ago but before that we started a new generation of cats.

In 2005 while setting up the Halloween display that we do every year we found a new guest that had the great habit of sharpening his claws on the foam decorations we built. He was a VERY friendly black and white tuxedo cat. After I got laid off I started leaving food out for him which he would gobble up and then hang around and nap and then disappear. We named him "Halloween" or "Hal" for short. As the days started getting colder after Halloween he would follow me to the back door wanted to be held and petted. One day, since I was home alone during the day, I just let him in. At that time we just had our older cat Maddie. Who didn't like the idea of Hal being in the house much. Maddie had always been an indoor cat and hated the outdoors (OK really was terrified of a leaf dropping on her). She eventually warmed up to him after weeks of hissing. Hal loved living in the house and didn't want to go outside all winter. He and I hung out all the time. After year you could see that Hal REALLY wanted to play with Maddie but she was too old to be bothered. Around that time I was taking her to the vet every day to get fluid IV's because of her failing kidneys. One day the vet set a cage out in the waiting room and stuck 2 kittens in it. They put a sign on the cage that said free to good home. The sign said the kittens names were Dorie and Mason. I told Chris about the kittens and after a few days we went down to check them out and brought them home. They were just little things and afraid of everything. Hal took to them right away and Maddie who was already used to Hal really didn't care about them (she was having her own issues with life at that point). Dorie is a grey and white short hair and is VERY small. Mason is a black and white short hair and is HUGE. He has VERY large paws and even after a year is still growing. Hal has fun chasing them around the house and playing with their toys. The kittens just love the open house to play in and have really settled in. Because Hal used to live outdoors in the neighborhood we don't worry about letting him outside. He never goes far and he is always in a hurry to get back inside where the FOOD is. The kittens are curious about the outside and last summer got out a few times and had to be wrangled back into the house. We are trying to keep them as indoor cats since they have no idea what is out there and would end up getting hurt or lost.

Hal will never replace our orange tabby Merlin but he is a unique personality in another chapter of our life. Now that Dorie and Mason are both a part of this house my days are filled with interesting adventures of the cats. Hal wanting in and out during the nice spring and summer days. The kittens finding new and interesting things to play with and get into which keeps me on my toes.

Working from home

Working from home isn't as great as it sounds. Sure, you get to dress how you want and can more or less set your own hours. But you also work alone. Or at least in my case. I don't have any kids and Chris works in an office all day. One of my friends will go to lunch with me once in a while just so I can talk with someone and get out in the world now and then. But sometimes I can go weeks without seeing anyone during the day. THAT can make you a little crazy. Surfing the internet is NOT a subsitute for real human interaction. I sometimes find myself be a little more chatty with the store clerks than I used to. Or if I haven't been around friends in a while I will catch myself dominating the conversation out of desperation.

The actual working is also a mixed blessing. No one disturbs me while I work (except for the occasional phone call) but I don't get to interact with my fellow employee's so I miss out on some of the work communication that goes on when cube hopping. You also don't get as much direction as you would within an office. This way of working isn't for the people who can't be self motivated.

Don't get me wrong I would take working from home over a normal office job any day. Not having to commute up to an hour to and from work, working in a sea of cubes, and conform to each and every corporate policy that is put in place is worth it.

I left my corporate job in November of 2005. I decided after 13 years of working for the same company to take a year off and do the things I didn't have time to do before. Turns out 12 months goes by pretty fast and you don't get as much done as you though you would. I worked as a contractor (which means you only get paid when you work) for a year before getting hired as a full time employee so technically I haven't really been working from home for very long. I will have to learn to deal with the few drawbacks to working this way as I continue to work from home.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My new blog

I started a blog were I can post stuff that interests me. I wanted a place where I could post stuff that didn't have to do with work, my wife and I or about stuff that happens at our house. We have other places for that stuff.

I've always had a fondness for Robots and Space since i grew up watching men walk on the moon and the toys of my generation were all NASA related.

One of my favorite Robot characters is Floyd from Infocom's Planetfall . Back in the day I had numerous little robot figures on my computer monitor all one form or another of Floyd in my mind. I still think I have a copy of the game somewhere?