Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Evolution of Mindsilt

While reading this blog, you may have wondered, "Where did the name 'Mindsilt' come from?"  Maybe.  Most likely you've never wondered at all because of the explanation under the title.  That little explanation is pretty much it, but you may not know that Mindsilt used to belong to another site.  Technically it still does.  It's my own site: www.mindsilt.com.  As you can see, it still exists and you can read a bunch of really old stuff that I used to post there before I started this blog.  I'm working on getting everything moved over and redirecting this blog to that URL.  However, I have to port some code from that site to the pH site before I can do that.  Not a real high priority.

Anyway, I decided to use the Wayback Machine to grab screen shots of the old Mindsilt sites so that I could walk you through the evolution of Mindsilt.  Fire up the flux capacitor - here we go.

Original Mindsilt - 8/2001-9/2001
Breathtaking, no?  Looks like a rookie's attempt at creating a web page.  That's because that's exactly what it was.  I was going for the Commodore 64 look.  Good thing it was only a placeholder for a month.

Mindsilt - 9/2001-3/2002
This was my "Hexagon Period."  I was quite obsessed with creating a design with hexagons for some reason.  I guess I thought it looked cool.  Or maybe I was just jonesing for some Honeycombs cereal.  Each one of those hexagons with the words inside would light up with a different color when you moused over them.  The associated page then used that color as an accent.  Of course, those broken images weren't there on the site or this wouldn't have lasted long, either.  Unfortunately, this was a pain in the ass to maintain because everything was its own static page, but it was a definite step up from the original design.

Mindsilt - 3/2002-1/2005
 
Looky there.  I've got my own logo.  I drew the logo myself, but didn't have the skills or software at the time to create it in digital form so I asked my friend Jason to make it for me.  He did.  Free of charge.  I still didn't manage to create a database to house the data for the site, but I cleaned up the design and made it a little more readable.  This one may be my favorite of all the designs and I'm still not sure why I didn't just convert it once I finally added the database backend, but I didn't.  I guess I thought it was time for a change. 
Mindsilt - 1/2005-Now
 
Guess what?  I like gray.  I've used gray in every single one of my designs that I spent any time on at all.  Not sure why I settled on yellow as the secondary color, but I know that I immediately ruled out red because I didn't want to be mistaken for an Ohio St. fan.  Not that you care.  If you clicked on the link above, you know that this is the current design of mindsilt.com.  It's the first - and only - iteration of the site with a backend data source so that the pages are created dynamically.  Of course, the site is basically defunct now because of this blog.  This blog will eventually be moved to mindsilt.com and the design above will go away.  That's probably for the best since it's pretty generic and boring.  In fact, the more that I look at it, the more I want to take it down.
That's it.  That's my little trip down Mindsilt Lane.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Movies

Dee and I haven't made seeing movies a priority recently.  Mostly because there hasn't been much out there that we've wanted to see and partly because we've been so damn busy this summer.  So far, the only summer movies we've been to see are "Ironman" and "The Dark Knight."  I guess we like superheroes.  Dee has seen "Pineapple Express" but I wasn't invited (work outing for her team - isn't she a good manager?).  Regardless, that's a pretty poor summer movie showing.  I hope to rectify that for the fall.

There are a number of movies coming out this fall that look interesting to me.  Here's a list of some of them along with my thoughts.  In no particular order:

Burn After Reading
I will see this.  I've enjoyed all of the other Coen brothers' movies, so why not this one?  However, I'm getting a little annoyed by the whole Clooney-Pitt thing.  Are they required to do movies together now?  At least Malkovic gets to punch Pitt in the face.

Blindness
I read this book and loved it.  José Saramago is one of my favorite authors and this is the book that got me hooked on him.  Since reading this I've read The Cave, The Double and Seeing and enjoyed them all immensely.  I have more ideas for my own writing when reading him than I do with any other author.  I think "thought provoking" is the phrase I'm searching for.  ANYWAY, I'm looking forward to this movie even it probably won't be as good as the book - the movies never are.

The Road
Another book that I enjoyed. I'll be interested to see how this is received by the public because it's pretty dark (so is "Blindness") but I have high hopes because the same people that did "No Country for Old Men" (another Cormac McCarthy book) are doing this one.  I loved "No Country for Old Men" and hope they do as well with this.

Righteous Kill
I want this movie to be good.  I'm not sure that it will be.  The plot is basically Batman from the cops' point of view.  There's a vigilante killing bad guys and De Niro and Pacino are trying to track him down and the vigilante seems to be framing them.  Seems interesting enough and the trailer made it look good (but what trailer doesn't make a movie look good) but I'll probably wait a few weeks before seeing it.

Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist
This will be Michael Cera doing his awkward Michael Cera thing.  If you don't like that, you'll probably hate this movie.  It hasn't gotten old for me yet so I'll probably go see this, but not on the first weekend.

Zack & Miri Make a Porno
A Kevin Smith joint.  Hopefully he rounds back into "Clerks" and "Chasing Amy" form and turns out something good.  Depending upon the reviews I could let this one slip to DVD before I see it but I'm hoping it's good.  He's teamed up with the hot comedy stars of the moment so maybe that will help.


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Brad Pitt plays Benjamin Button - a dude who is getting younger instead of older.  Could be very interesting if you're not completely distracted by the makeup the entire time.  Or it could be "Meet Joe Black" all over again.  This won't be at the top of my list of must see movies, so it could easily be in my Netflix queue at some point in the future.

RocknRolla
Another Guy Ritche film.  I enjoyed "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch" which means I like his style.  I'm able to follow along with the accents - not everyone can - and it will probably be a fun little action movie.  Plus, there will be good music.

Those are the upcoming movies that have piqued my interest so far.  If you know of any others that you think will be good or movies that you have seen recently that are good, let me know in the comments. 

Monday, August 25, 2008

Weekend Recap

The Dark Knight
I know.  I can hear you saying, "'Bout time, Ford."  "Fordo" if you're Tristan.  (I have no idea how to properly punctuate that sequence.  Hopefully you get my point.)  ANYWAY, the point is that I finally saw "The Dark Knight."  Dee and I went yesterday afternoon.  Since I'm so late to the game, I won't dwell on it much except to say that I really liked it and that Heath Ledger was fantastic.  He really creeped Dee out and made both of us laugh quite a bit.  Dee said that she liked "Batman Begins" better because she thought the Scarecrow was a great villian.  I think "The Dark Knight" is better but not by a whole lot.  Good stuff.  We need to see movies more.

Date Night
Dee and I went out on Saturday to celebrate our six month anniversary.  Our anniversary was actually last Saturday but I was in Toronto for the Toronto Improv Festival so we had to push it back a week.  We went to Feast which is where we had our first date and where we went before I proposed to her.  Not much had changed and the food was still good.  Afterwards we found a bar with an outdoor patio and had a few drinks and made friends with an American Bulldog named Leopold.  Now Dee is bugging me to get a dog again.  Oh goody.

Feelin' Crappy
I was scheduled to be in two shows on Friday night (pHamily the Musical and pHrenzy), but my intestines decided not to cooperate.  Instead I spent the evening at home drinking water and eating bland foods.  Not nearly as much fun as doing shows, but I suppose it could have been worse.

Olympics
Dee and I watched parts of the closing ceremony for the Olympics and found it strange and comical.  The opening and closing ceremonies have always been the least interesting part of the games for me so I paid little attention.

I watched at least some of the Olympics every day there was competition and discovered that volleyball is a sport that should be on television more.  Not beach volleyball but five-on-five indoor volleyball.  I really enjoyed watching the men's and women's volleyball teams and could see myself tuning in frequently if that sport was ever on TV.  Of course, NBC has just signed a contract to air the swimming world championships for the next three years so we'll see plenty of that, but it's not nearly as exciting as volleyball.

Stupid Head
What I am.  I wrote this on Monday (as you can see by the post date) and thought I posted it.  Looks like I just saved it.  That was dumb.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hip-Hop

The more I listen to the radio the more I begin to think that all Hip-Hop (or R&B or whatever that genre is called now) songs are starting to sound the same - or at least use the same formula.  I think it's time for Hip-Hop to retire some of the many overused devices that make all the songs sound the same.  It's really the only way for the genre to progress.

Here are the Hip-Hop devices that need to be retired:
  • A chorus of dudes shouting "Oooooooohh!" or "Whooooooaaaaaah!" to the beat.
  • Da club.  Seriously, I think we've exhausted all of the club possibilities now that Usher wants to "make love in this club." (Really?  Are you "making love" in a club?  No.  You're fucking.) There are other interesting locales, folks.
  • Yourself and how awesome you are.  We know, Kanye, you're the greatest.  How about using some pronouns?  It tends to make the song more relatable to us common folk.  Listen to Rihanna, she's got this figured out.
  • All of the cool shit you've acquired.
  • Dolla dolla bill ya'll
Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of good Hip-Hop and R&B songs that use these devices, but it seems like every single song that comes out uses at least one of these if not more.   It's time to shed some of these tired old tricks and try on some new ones.  Things are gettin' stale and I need some new funky stuff.

Now I'm off to listen to Ice Cube's new album.

Monday, August 18, 2008

20 Days...

20 days until the Colts open their season against the Chicago Bears at the brand-new Lucas Oil Stadium.  I have a weird feeling about the Colts this year.  They will end up facing the Patriots in the AFC Championship game or they will be 7-9 and miss the playoffs.

Payton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Dwight Freeney and Bob Sanders have all missed or been out of training camp for a significant amount of time.  Not to mention that linebackers Gary Brackett and Tyjuan Hagler and offensive linemen Ryan Diem, Ryan Lilja and Tony Ugoh have all been hurt as well.  Maybe the Colts are being overly careful with their players during camp so that they will be ready for the season or maybe these guys are hurt and are going to be nagged by these injuries all year long.

The AFC South isn't getting any easier.  The Jaguars will be good and the Texans and Titans are improving (though Vince Young has been terrible in the preseason).  If injuries start chipping away at the stars and the rest of the AFC South gets their shit together, it could be a rough season.

In the end, I think they'll end up in the 10-6 area and make a strong run in the playoffs - maybe even the Super Bowl.  Unless Manning can't play - then they win three games.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

23 Days...

23 days until the Irish open their season against San Diego State.  I can't wait.  I'm ready for football.  This will be a big season for ND and Charlie Weis, of course.  There has been a lot of talk about how good (or bad) the Irish will be this season and there are rumors that Charlie has said the team can win 9 or 10 games.  That may seem ridiculous, but take a look at the schedule:

9/6 - San Diego State
9/13 - Michigan
9/20 - @ Michigan State
9/27 - Purdue
10/4 - Stanford
10/11 - @ North Carolina
10/25 - @ Washington
11/1 - Pittsburgh
11/8 - @ Boston College
11/15 - @ Navy
11/22 - Syracuse
11/29 - @ USC

The two best teams on the schedule are USC and Pitt.  San Diego State is not good, plus they are rebuilding.  Michigan is replacing nearly all of its starters and will be working the kinks out of a new and undermanned offensive system.  Michigan State will be good, but if the Irish play well they can win.  Purdue's offense will be tough but the Irish should be able to score points against them.  Stanford is still rebuilding under Jim Harbaugh (and was one of our three wins last year).  North Carolina is under a new coach and should be decent but that game is certainly winnable.  Washington has a good quarterback that will be tough to stop but that's about it.  Pitt is solid and should be in contention to win their conference.  BC lost nearly all of their starters to graduation and is in a rebuilding phase though they always play ND tough.  Navy will be solid but beatable plus the Irish will have the revenge factor going for them on this one.  Syracuse is one of the worst BCS teams in the country and has been decimated by injuries.  USC should smoke us - unless the Irish decide to repeat their 2005 performance.

I can see where Charlie gets his 9 or 10 wins, but I'm not quite as optimistic.  I'm also not trying to motivate the team by setting high goals.  I think the Irish will finish 7-5.  The team is still young and inexperienced and I think that will cost them a few games.  7-5 will put the Irish in a bowl game which they really need to win so that they can break their bowl game losing streak.  Because ND brings a lot of money to bowl games (the fan base is huge and travels well) and we all know that the bowls are about making money, they'll end up in a higher tier bowl than they deserve and will probably play a BCS team with a 9-3 record.  It will be a good test to see how these kids have grown up over the past two years and it will set the tone for next year when they will be expected to compete for a BCS bowl birth.

It should be a fun season to watch and we'll get a chance to see what will be some future stars start to emerge (hopefully).

**Don't worry, I'll post about the Colts soon.**

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

We're Still Alive

As it turns out, the sun didn't melt yesterday and the apocalypse has been delayed once again.  Unfortunately, I have to explain to my boss why I didn't go to work and my wife is pissed that I spent all of our savings on Oreos and hookers.

***

In other news, the night after I posted about how I'm pretty indifferent to the Olympics, the men's 4x100 freestyle relay team outswam the French in the most exciting swimming event I've ever seen.  Dee and I were laying in bed dozing off to the Olympics when we were suddenly aware that something amazing was happening.  Before we knew it we were sitting up in bed cheering as the Americans "out touched" (a phrase I've never heard until this Olympics) the French.  Pretty exciting stuff.

My other favorite Olympic moment involves the U.S. men's gymnastics team.  Throughout the competition the cameras would show the various competitors and every time they showed Jonathan Horton he would try to look cool and say something like, "USA, baby."  Dee was laughing at how he seemed like "that guy."  After he completely nailed his high bar routine, he pumped his fists in triumph (as he should have) and smirked his cocky smirk and Dee shouted out, "HELLO, LADIES!"

I guess that's not technically an Olympic moment since it happened in my bedroom but it was still pretty damn hilarious.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The World Will End Tomorrow

The weather widget on my iPhone says that tomorrow will be around 80º and that the SUN WILL MELT.  Wrap up your to do lists because the world is ending tomorrow.


See?!  The sun will melt tomorrow!  I don't even know why it continues to give me weather for the rest of the week.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Olympics

I'm not a big Olympics guy.  I don't get excited about watching the Olympics and there aren't really any events that I absolutely must see.  However, I don't hate the Olympics.  When the Olympics are on, I usually put them on the TV and leave it on in the background in case there's something interesting that happens. 

I do think it's funny that there are so many people who get so exicted about watching sports that they would never stop to watch if it wasn't part of the Olympics.  Swimming?  Who watches swimming if it's not the Olympics?  Pick any of the Track and Field events.  Which of those are something you'd like to see on a regular basis?  Javelin is only fun when a judge gets speared.  If you've seen one long jump you've seen them all. The 100 meters is cool but that only lasts for 10 seconds at the most.  There just aren't very many events that I find interesting outside of the Olympics and the Olympics themselves don't make them any more interesting for me.

Of course, Dee can't get enough of this stuff so we'll be watching just about everything we can.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Department of Redundancy Department

This is a line from an actual email I wrote yesterday:
"The specs for the server for the Microsoft Project Server project are below."
 Grammatical issues aside, it approaches accidental tongue-twister status.  If I had been more keen to this possibility I would have written this instead:
"Please see the specs for the Project Server project server below."
 That's much more fun and still gets my point across.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Yearly Goals

I figured I'm about due for another check-in on my goals for the year.  Here we go:

1) Write every day
Of the 219 days in 2008, I've written on all but 32 for a 85.3% rate.  I've managed to increase from 81% in March.  Not too bad, but certainly not every day.  Since I've missed days, I can never get up to 100%.  However, if I don't miss another day for the rest of the year I can get it up to 91%.  That's what I'm shooting for.

2) Organize my iTunes
Back in March I was up to 22 playlists from five.  Now I'm up to 31 playlists.  Those new playlists have helped, but the biggest steps I've made in music organization is through rating my songs.  I've rated a large number of my songs which allows me to quickly and easily make smart playlists that I can bump songs in and out of simply by changing the rating.  I've also gone through and added metadata to a lot of my songs that don't have that info which allows for more smart playlist creation.  I've still got some work to do to get everything categorized, but the progress has been enough to make sure that I can listen to exactly what I want to listen to when I want to listen to it.

3) Re-do the second bedroom
Done!  Complete!  Finished!

4) Write and direct a sketch show
I've made some progress on this but not much.  I've finally got some sketches going but it's not coming along very well.  Plus, I've got another writing project on which I've been focusing most of my writing effort.

5) Take a writing class
Nope.  Failed so far.

6) Paint the condo
Dee and I have been looking at paint colors for each of the rooms and we're discussing whether we want to do it ourselves or hire someone.  Once summer is over we should have time to get this all sorted out.


7) Organize my hard drive
I've been good about filing things where they need to go and there's not anything left to clean up.  However, I have begun using Evernote to keep track of all of my notes, todo lists and webclips which allows me to keep everything organized all in one place that is also synced to the web.  Plus, I'm now using Scrivener for my writing projects.  It allows me to keep all the files I need in one place on the project I'm working on.

8) Continue to get my finances in order
I have continued to use the financial software to monitor and manage our spending.  Unfortunately, we're still not great at reducing our expenses.  We don't pinch as many pennies as we should.  However, we are a month away from paying off our wedding and we've done a very good job of paying down the rest of our debt.  We're not debt-free but we're approaching that goal.  We've also done a good job of saving as we both contribute to our company retirement plans and we also have a personal savings account with an above average interest rate that we automatically deposit to every month.  Plus, I got a raise and immediately increased the amount of money we put into that automatic deposit each month.

I'm very pleased with the progress I've made on my goals.  I knew going in that #4 would be the toughest to accomplish because I don't want to put up a show just to put up a show.  I won't stage a show of sub-par material and if I just don't write anything that is good enough, it won't happen.  I still have plenty of time and I'm still plugging away.