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Thursday, May 15th, 2008 - 9:37 PM

"Sunlit Front Yard"

I liked the angle of the sun on the plants just outside our front door, so I took a few random photos. I've also been juggling lately - quite a bit. I haven't been keeping score because I've been doing wacky stuff that gets my heart rate up more, but the numbers are not worth recording.

sunlight 1

sunlight 2

sunlight 3

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Sunday, May 11th, 2008 - 10:33 PM

"Hi-Def Artwork Using DrawPlus X2 and Inkscape"

Mainstream and open source vector illustration software is finally approaching the advanced way of thinking that we artists employ. Okay, so I'm not such a great artist, but I have very high expectations for what I wish to be able to achieve through graphics software. Usually these expectations are met with disappointment. I'm not extremely fond of Adobe Illustrator, and my interest in CorelDRAW has waned significantly since Corel's business model shifted to corruption.

The lesser known but formidable Serif DrawPlus and amazing open source Inkscape have stepped up to the plate in recent versions. Both have much to offer in the area of curve manipulation. I specifically wish to recreate drawings with pristine thick and thin flowing lines, such as those found in comic books. My attempts at hand drawing smooth lines tend to be shoddy at best, regardless of pen or paper choice. Perhaps the biggest frustration or impediment is not being able to correct mistakes. Ink is not very forgiving, and botched lines cannot be fixed easily if at all.

It is my hope to eventually use some of my line drawings for higher production than low resolution web presentation. In their current hand drawn state, they are hideously rough when scaled to a reasonable size. I'm always looking for a vector illustration application that provides the quickest method for producing drawings with varying line thickness.

Without going into great detail right now on how I achieved the results, here is an image that shows the difference between original pen drawn lines and computer vector graphics. I finally found a technique that, while still slow, is more manageable than previous efforts. The resulting vector lines are perfect, even if the choices of lines or drawing style isn't. Eventually I'd like to redo many of my favorite drawings using this technique. I only wish there was a faster way. There are more expedient methods, but the results stink in comparison.

Graphics applications still aren't implementing some ideas I have that would really make this sort of thing easy, but they are getting closer all the time. I can't wait to see what Serif DrawPlus X3 has to offer. Inkscape has its merits as well.

Original Ink Drawing (zoomed & cropped)

original ink drawing

Same Area Recreated Using DrawPlus X2 & Inkscape

redrawn using DrawPlus X2 & Inkscape

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Sunday, May 11th, 2008 - 8:06 PM

"Jugglisk XXXII"

Listen

jugglisk: noun

The act of one person keeping a soccer ball from touching the ground using feet and other legal soccer hits (ie. no hands). Quite often the number of hits is counted and recorded.

Additional Information

Listen

chalcord: noun

A recording of data or events, written using chalk on a surface such as pavement or a chalkboard.

Additional Information

Listen

chalcord: verb

To record data or events, using chalk on a surface such as pavement or a chalkboard.

Additional Information

I thought of a new soccer ball juggling exercise that may prove beneficial. First, I start out with regular jugglisk , writing down my achieved numbers after each ball drop in a chalcord like normal. In the case that a recorded number does not exceed that of the previous number, I punish myself (reward, depending on the perspective). In order to continue with freestyle jugglisk, I must achieve a score of 10 in SocSum Advance. The benefit of this method is that it encourages me to focus and improve as I go along.

Jugglisk XXXII Chalcord

Jugglisk XXXII Chalcord
80 81 115 37
232 854
Total Recorded Hits: 1399 Average Hits Per Volley: 233.2
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Sunday, May 11th, 2008 - 7:28 PM

"Jim Guys are the Best Type of Guys"

Friday evening I was blessed to be able to ride with Dave over to Jim's house. I've been pretty bored lately, so this diversion was a Godsend. Jim Guys are a class of friend I cannot adequately describe. These guys befriended me 15 years ago, and we have stayed in contact through the best of times and the worst of times. In a world largely lacking examples of Christ-like love, I feel like a valued person through the influence of these one of a kind chums. I cannot guarantee I will always have these friends; only God knows that. However, I thank the Lord for bringing them into my life. Good friends are hard to come by in this life. The older I get, the more difficult it is for me to find authentic friendships. Life starts becoming more seasonal and evolving. Most come and go with the ebb and tide of life.

While at Jim's house I drew two 3x5s. As usual, when I don't have an preconceived concept in mind I resort to drawing odd shapes with embedded facial features.

Mr. Morris' Seventh Elixir of Life

Mr. Morris' Seventh Elixir of Life

Underwater Status Quo Spy Gang Appeal

Underwater Status Quo Spy Gang Appeal

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Saturday, May 10th, 2008 - 11:16 PM

"Making a Case for The Last Unicorn"

The Last Unicorn
The original movie poster.
I love this classic image!

I cannot remember how old I was when I first watched The Last Unicorn. The Last Unicorn is an animated feature length film released in 1982. The film is based directly on a fantasy book, The Last Unicorn, written by Peter S. Beagle. The book is heralded and accepted as an important fantasy work of this era, with many appreciative fans (myself among them).

The memories of watching The Last Unicorn are almost crystal clear in my mind, even now. I didn't realize I had these somewhat suppressed memories until I found a DVD copy today at a local pawn shop. I'd seen it before but was too frugal to buy it, even though it was used and cheap. I am very pleased that I made the decision to buy the movie, as all the memories came flooding back. I value only a few things in this life more than good memories. The older, the better - as my decrepit mind has robbed me of most of them.

My grandma, Nana, somehow had a copy of The Last Unicorn in her beta videocassette collection back when my sister and I were quite young. In the summers of our youth, Nana babysat us quite often. One of our favorite activities back then was to watch movies, most often the same ones over and over again! I remember watching Back to the Future day after day, countless times. Disney's animated Robin Hood was another favorite of that era (THE story of Robin Hood IMHO).

There is something magical about The Last Unicorn that cannot be explained aside from watching it for yourself. I'm not talking about the loads of magic depicted throughout the story, but rather the incredible uniqueness of the movie's presentation. Everything about the movie is solid gold. The drawings are absolutely beautiful, with little to compare to in the world of animation. Many of the characters are drawn in a style that closely resembles Japanese Anime, though most devout anime fans tell you that the movie cannot be categorized as such (they are very strict and picky). Perhaps this artistic uniqueness could be compared to that of another favorite of mine, The Secret of NIMH. This gauge of artwork is not predictably Disney or Warner Brothers. Some argue that Disney's work is a benchmark to measure all other animation against. To me, the animation in The Last Unicorn outshines such biased standards due to its singularity and charm.

Musically, The Last Unicorn is a gem. I myself am not overly familiar with or a big fan of the band, America. Nevertheless, the songs they performed for the movie are incredible - as composed and arrange by Jimmy Webb. They sound to me like ballads, and they have a timeless charm. Let me tell you, when I saw the DVD on the pawn shop shelf today, the first thing that came to mind after the rush of all the childhood memories was the music. I was humming the tunes all the way home, and now after watching the movie again I'm tempted to find (or make) guitar chords for it! :) The exception to my delight might be the "love" songs Amalthea and Prince Lir sing to each other, but they too have their place in the story. Unlike some annoying interruptions offered by Disney-esque song interludes, the music in The Last Unicorn is vastly important and effective. The songs amplify the poignancy and emotion of the film.

The voice talent recruited for The Last Unicorn is stellar. Through their voices, the characters are brought to life, and they echo in the mind long after the ending credits roll. The cast list includes famous actors and actresses like Alan Arkin, Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow, Christopher Lee, Angela Lansbury, and more. It's always fun to learn who the voices are, something I would not have cared about when I was a young child. I now appreciate how animated characters are often rendered to mirror some physical attributes of the actors who voice them.

The plot and character development of The Last Unicorn are well executed. Each of the motivations and ethics of each character shine through without any room for doubt or discrepancy. The imagery and morals of the movie are somewhat raw. I remember being somewhat scared by the menacing images as a child, but they are not too harsh in my opinion. They are authentic enough to portray a reality, even in total fantasy. Real danger, heartfelt sorrow, selfishness, beauty, nobleness, conflict, rage, fear, and bravery are more than adequately depicted in the animated film. It is a valid argument that the movie is not appropriate for the youngest audience (surprisingly, it is rated G though), I feel I benefited from watching it as a child. I've always had an abnormally inventive and creative mind, and movies like this further inspire my imagination.

I have always especially liked the poignant scene where Molly catches a glimpse of the unicorn for the very first time. It is revealed in the movie that the average person does not recognize unicorns when they see them. Instead, people see an ordinary white horse, with no horn. Only a select few can see and recognize unicorns, those who wish to see them or those who have magical viewing abilities - like Christopher Robin sees the world of Winnie the Pooh, the Pevensey children see and enter the world of Narnia, or non-muggles recognize magical happenings and realms in Harry Potter. Molly is revealed to be one who has a pure heart and has always longed to see a unicorn since she was a girl. Rather than exclaiming with glee at seeing the unicorn, she exclaims, "Where have you been!?" with tears, saddened that she had to wait until her youthful years were over to witness what she lived to see.

Each character is memorable in their own special way. The butterfly that the last unicorn meets early in her quest is hilarious and very well drawn. The acting is genius. There are no stock clip-art animated figures used in the movie. Each character is uniquely drawn, often with contrasting but meshing styles. Take the group of Captain Cully's outlaws - each face is given special attention and one-of-a-kind attributes. The intelligence of the script is endearing, surely a credit to Peter Beagle's writing ability. There are numerous sophisticated and thoughtful allusions in the film as well as much well-constructed prose, poetry and riddles. These sort of literary structure, as well as the fantastic plot and character development set The Last Unicorn apart as a classic fantasy tale, rather than another dumb cartoon to add to the stack of forgotten footage.

It is possible to pull some moral conclusions and metaphors out of The Last Unicorn, though I am uncertain if they were intentional. I don't really like to analyze such things when I don't know the author's intentions. However, sometimes symbolism makes its way into art, even when an artist has no intention. Occasionally my own artwork receives such inspiration, so I know all about it. The legend of the unicorn is one that has passed down through mythology stemming possibly back to Biblical times, heightened and formalized more in medieval times. Down through history, the mythological creature has been ascribed some religious undertones. There is an odd connection found in some ancient artifacts and artwork between the unicorn and the virgin, Mary. Some even consider the unicorn to be a symbol of Christ Himself - though I find that somewhat strange.

The Last Unicorn old DVD - don't buy
This is what the old DVD looks like. The drawings on this cover have been altered and don't reflect the beauty and unique style of the film. Here they look too "cheerful" and bright. I'm pretty sure a rainbow doesn't even appear in the film, nor do most of the colors seen here. The curves are way too rounded, and it looks like it was airbrushed. The only character that looks remotely accurate here is King Haggard on the top right. See the picture and link below for the DVD you should buy if interested in owning the movie.

Giving it some thought after my latest viewing, I found a pretty blatant Biblical metaphore in The Last Unicorn. The movie is about a unicorn who finds herself alone and wondering about the lost state of her race. The story follows her adventures as she attempts to find, and even redeem the other unicorns. Being that the unicorn is white, pure, beautiful, immortal, life sustaining (the forest where she lives is protected by her mere presence and is always in spring), and lacking faulty human traits (comparable to sin), she could be a symbol for Christ. The fact that she chooses to leave her protected forest (paradise) to seek the lost parallels that of Christ leaving heaven to save the lost human souls. The unicorn even becomes a human, much like God became man in the form of Jesus Christ. The enemy who has captured the other unicorns very closely resembles a fiery demon or Satan himself. As Christ earned the redemption of human souls through His death, the last unicorn fights off the red bull to free her kind. The goofy magician, Schmedrick exhibits Christlike submission when he calls upon his magic with the words, "Magic, do as you will", much like Jesus gives glory to God His Father for all the miracles done through Him (Luke 22:42, Philippians 2:5-11, John 4:34, John 6:38). What appears to be agape love is demonstrated through the character of Prince Lir, who is not just interested in Amalthea (the last unicorn in human form) simply because of her beauty. He is willing to give up his life for her, and even denies his own desire to be with her for the good of not only Amalthea, but to the freedom of all the unicorns. His actions not only show his desire to impress the one he loves, but his sincere wish to serve her. He even says to Molly, who is coaching and encouraging his love for Amalthea, "Except that I wish to serve her, as you do, to help her find whatever she has come here to find. I wish to be whatever she has most need of. Will you tell her so?".

If you haven't seen the movie, watch it. If I know you (likely if you're one of the 5 people who reads my blog!), come on over and watch it with me! I can always stand to watch it again... and again, and again, and again :)

In my looking around on the web for stuff about The Last Unicorn today I discovered something interesting about the creator and author of the book the inspired the movie. Not only did Peter S. Beagle create the entire fantasy, he was instrumental in capturing its magical essence in the movie adaption. Unfortunately, as often happens in the harsh world we live in, he was taken advantage of as an artist who doesn't know the world of business. Granada Media, the company that published and distributed the film did not give Mr. Beagle his proper credit and payment. The Last Unicorn has sold untold thousands of copies and has raked in quite a fortune, but the artist behind it all hasn't seen any reward. It is a horrible injustice. As an artist and creative individual myself, I hate to see this sort of thing happen. It is my wish to see the companies that do this sort of thing not only pay the artist what he is owed by contract, but be made an example of when they take advantage of people like this. The court should reward Mr. Beagle all the profits Granada Media gained from the sales of The Last Unicorn, so this huge corporation feels the pain of their crime. The reward should not be a pittance, but should have a significant effect on the pocketbooks of the heartless tyrants in charge of this monstrosity. Without the creativity of the artists, this company would not have the money it has, and therefore the situation should be made right.

The Last Unicorn 25th Anniversary Edition
This is what the 25th Anniversary Edition, remastered DVD looks like. Buy this one instead of the old one pictured above. Order direct from Conlan Publishing (link at bottom), so your order benefits the original artist behind the story.

If you are interested in purchasing The Last Unicorn for your own movie collection (It's a classic!) buy the new, remastered version direct from Conlan Publishing. It is a special 25th anniversary edition with greatly improved video and sound. Only by buying directly through this channel will Peter S. Beagle see a significant cut of the profits. It is a way we can reward his creative efforts. Not to mention that the regular, less quality DVD out there (the one I found at the pawn shop today) has a dumb-looking DVD cover that makes it look like you are buying a pansy movie like Care Bears or My Little Pony (no offense to fans of those stories, but that's not at all what The Last Unicorn is like). In addition, it is possible to express your frustration with greedy corporations like Granada Media by adding your name and comments to a list of fans who are speaking out against the corruption. I was glad to do so, as a fellow artist and lifelong fan of Peter's masterful work, The Last Unicorn. For the record, Mr. Beagle also wrote the screenplay for the animated Lord of the Rings movie released in 1978. This movie was one of several works directly influential on Peter Jackson and his modern-day film renditions of J.R. Tolkien's famous written works.

Normally I'm not able or interested in defending and pursuing causes like this, as I'm not exactly financially set in life, abounding in free time, or an activist. However, this bothered me a lot because The Last Unicorn is a great movie, renewing good memories from my childhood past. Artists should be rewarded for their work, not robbed by the already filthy rich. Not that I want to be rich - nor am I talented enough to be so - but if I had a genius work to my name, I'd hope to benefit from it. It's no different than working 20 years at an 8 to 5 job only to have your salary for all those years given to the president of your company, leaving you no money to buy food or comfort for your family. No one should have to endure this sort of corruption or abuse. It's like Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol. Since Peter Beagle has no ghosts of Christmas to help him fight against his Ebenezers, it's up to us fans to give him a much-needed boost. I feel like this is one of those times where, as an artist and follower of Christ (though among the least in both regards), to put the "Golden Rule" into action.

Over the last several years there has been talk out on the Internet about a live action movie remake of The Last Unicorn. I have mixed feelings about it, as I'm sure most do. First of all, I think it is almost impossible to match the quality and charm of the original, especially in the live action format. Second, I've heard that the unicorns would be modeled after horses, which would look really stupid and without mythological, fantasy attributes. I'm thinking corny Mr. Ed, since there are times when the unicorn speaks or thinks out loud. Even if emotion could be added to a model that looked like a real horse, it would stand out like a [artificial] sore thumb, like using Kai's Power Goo to distort faces in digital photos (like the relatively recent live action Scooby Doo and Garfield movies - dumb!). The way the unicorn is drawn in the animated version is superior, and it may not work out well in a live action format. In addition, the features of all the human characters are so exaggerated due to the stylistic drawings, that there are no real actors and actresses that could do much justice to replicating the whole feeling and appearance of the original. Perhaps a better format would be to make a very beautifully rendered 3D CG version. At any rate, I would certainly watch whatever comes out - even if it stinks (if it ever becomes a reality).

Related Links:

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Saturday, May 10th, 2008 - 7:32 PM

"Jugglisk XXXI"

Not a drop of rain fell on me during my long walk to get something to eat for lunch today. The sky was overcast, and there was a feeling of rain in the air. Nevertheless, I decided to juggle the soccer ball after arriving home. I juggled until it started raining.

Jugglisk XXXI Chalcord

Jugglisk XXXI Chalcord
517 15 54 250
83 265 138 130
36
Total Recorded Hits: 1488 Average Hits Per Volley: 165.3
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Wednesday, May 7th, 2008 - 9:39 PM

"Please, Make My Code Complete"

Code Complete by Steve McConnell (2nd Edition)

So I've been thinking about what I'm doing in life as far as occupation goes. It's not something I like to think about much because I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. And well, let's face it, I'm pretty much all grown up by now. At any rate, I chose one path several years ago: web design and development. It seemed like the thing to do at the time. I don't particularly regret it, but I'm not absolutely certain it is what I want to be doing.

Even if I don't do it as a "career" per se, it's where I'm at right now. If for no other reason, I enjoy learning for the sake of improving my own web site, even if the professional jobs aren't as interesting to me. In fact, I have a big list of ideas in my head about how I want to improve my site. I've been rather hesitant in the last year or two at making significant changes. I have skill enough to implement just about anything, but I feel my methodologies will be pretty shoddy at best. So I've been wanting to learn more about good development skills.

I don't feel I'm horribly lacking in design knowledge. HTML, CSS, and such things are rather simple to get the hang of, even the advance trickery stuff. But my programming and coding style I feel leaves much to be desired. I have a bunch of artwork I've been wanting to add to my site, but I'm getting sick and tired of how I have to manually enter stuff into a database. I started working on adding admin screens to make it more practical to add content to my site, but I felt I wasn't approaching it in the best possible manner. I found myself repeating some of the same steps, writing the same code as when I made the blog writing admin screens. It's about time I learn some better coding practices.

In order to improve my programming gung fu (and general nerdiness), I've decided to read a programming book. I've read several before, mostly in part. I have a decent grasp of scripting languages, but I don't have many good examples of how to write good code. Most programming books really stink at describing the reasoning behind well written and badly written code. Of course this is somewhat subjective, and there are tons of "experts" out there who contradict each other on what "the most excellent way" is. Nevertheless, I am choosing to pursue better knowledge in the area of software construction, for the betterment of Esotropiart :). Oh, and it will probably help my future occupational prospects too, but that's beside the point.

I'll be reading a book titled, "Code Complete" (2nd Edition) by Steve McConnell. It comes highly recommended through a good programming friend of mine, Marquis Eden. And of course anyone in the field of programming probably knows all about - it's rather famous and highly regarded throughout the industry. I borrowed the book once from the library already. Finishing a book in time before having to return it (especially an 800 page one, full of boring technical information) is pretty much a hopeless venture for me. I'm a slow reader. I decided after a pointlessly long delay to go ahead and buy the book, in faith that it would help me in a manner that justifies the price. I rarely buy books. I just received the book today and have started the slow process of parsing the material found within. In other words, I'm still making it through the Preface. Hopefully Code Complete will give me some direction and help me make sense of and give structure to all this useless code floating around in my head.

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Monday, May 5th, 2008 - 6:11 AM

"Long Walk"

I just got back from a pretty long walk - probably 7 or 8 miles. It was quite enjoyable. I like to walk on roads that I normally whiz by in the car - or completely new roads. Even roads that are driven on hundreds of times look completely different when walking. It's a whole new experience. You get to appreciate details that are never noticed from the everyday perspective. Phew! Time to relax. Next time I'll bring my camera.

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Saturday, May 3rd, 2008 - 4:57 PM

"A Rooftop Experience"

Here's the EsoShow of pictures from my roof, as promised.

Rooftop Experience EsoShow
Click the image to see the pictures on EsoShow

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Saturday, May 3rd, 2008 - 1:28 AM

"Jugglisk XXX"

7777 record

Man, I hope this post doesn't get blocked! Triple X, man! Oh well, I'm not about to change my usage of roman numerals.

Today was a momentous soccer ball juggling day. I beat my record again. And whether He wants it or not, I like to give God glory for such things. I don't know why God seems to like the number 7, but being His clueless, curious son, I like to emulate Him (even if I don't know why). So seven is my favorite number of sorts. He is probably thinking, "Oh brother (son), you don't get it, do you?" Well, no, I don't. His thoughts and ways are far higher than mine, and I'm pretty pathetic and insignificant. Apparently He loves me enough to trade places with me and take my punishment on Himself though, so I must have some value. In fact, we all have infinite value because the value of an infinite God was traded for our lives. In of ourselves, we have no value at all, but for some reason the God of the universe values us beyond all things He created.

In that light, the least I can do is thank Him by my goofy gesture of honoring him "numerically". The whole time I was reaching the high numbers I was hoping to reach into the seven thousand realm. All I know about seven (without doing extensive research on numerology to prepare for this writing) is that we humans consider it the "number of completion". Of course God probably never told us this specifically. It is a human perspective or observation, but I suppose it makes sense. Seven days in a week and seven days of creation, seven seals of the book of Revelation, sevenfold Spirit of God, seven churches in Asia, seven trumpets blown to crush Jericho, seven woes, and so on.

By the way, while my understanding is somewhat limited, my greatest concern or goal is not to be just like God. I don't think such a thing is possible, even if I led a sinless life (which is not the case at all whatsoever). Perfection in action may not be enough to escape eternal punishment, much less make us "like God". We are all under a curse from one man, and only one man, Jesus, can take away the curse - and indeed He has for those who believe and confess in His name and crown Him as Lord in their hearts. My strongest desire in this life, bound by flesh, is to be allowed to be with Him, no matter the circumstance. This is what He desires of us as well. If only my life and actions reflected this desire, I'd probably also end up being more like Him than I am. It's only natural to display His nature in us as we approach Him. So my spirit is willing, but my flesh is so weak. Sometimes I wonder which is stronger. I fear my weakness is. Fortunately I still remember a great song from when I was a child to remind me that "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so!"

By the way, no lie: as I started writing those lyrics above, "Jesus Loves Me" suddenly resounded in my ears in unison with my typing. I typed the first line from memory, and the rest I "copied" from my ears :). A song on Rescue's new album, "Before the Throne" called "Love the Lord" actually contains the entirety of this classic children's song - a song more appropriately sung by adults who more often forget the simplest of things. A coincidence that this song played or that I even chose to suddenly listen to music as I wrote a blog entry? I think not!

Back to the juggling story: So I was intentionally trying to get over seven thousand to give honor to God (how does that honor Him? No idea, but it was my thought and expression). In fact, the whole time I was in the 6000 range, I was worried. I was thinking, "How can I claim this is for God if I drop the ball right on 6666?" :) Not only that, but according to most numerology generalizations, 6 is the "number of man", often indicating his efforts. These thoughts were going through my head, so I was really hoping I would reach at least 7000!

To take it further, I told myself that if I reached 7777, I would purposely drop the ball and not continue, simply because the idea of trying to "outdo God" came to mind. This was the sin of Satan in the beginning. Rather than bask in the beautiful and holy presence of his God and worship, he started thinking to himself that he was worthy of such glory. He sought to become like God in a totally bad way - basically Satan thought he deserved God's throne. I don't want that - not even for a short time like in the somewhat humorous [and with questionable theology at least!] movie Bruce Almighty (but not Evan Almighty - I thought that movie sucked horribly). The very mentioning of being too much like Him where thoughts of being Him or replacing Him makes me ill inside. Forever may I be less while He is more!

I did in fact reach 7000 hits, and then on to 7777. On the last kick, I kicked the ball as hard as my somewhat exhausted frame could muster. I kinda missed a direct kick, and the ball went off to the side and ended up bouncing on the roof of our carport - the second time this has happened to me (surprisingly only twice).

Last time the ball went on the roof I somehow scrambled up the side of the house using a tiny step stool. When I got up there I realized how beautiful it was and wished I had my camera. Today I remembered this prior experience and took my camera with me. It wasn't quite as beautiful this time, but it was interesting, nonetheless. The extra height affords a new perspective on things that are otherwise quite ordinary from "Normal View!". I stayed up there for a while, walking around to check out the angles. I'll make an EsoShow tomorrow. I'm too tired to finish it now.

I'm thankful for God's reminder of His presence in my life tonight, though I'm SOOO far from being worthy. It sickens me to think of how sinful I am, and how it is my very sins that necessitated His sacrifice. I am humbled but thankful, thankful that He is alive forever. Death has no power over Him, it could not hold Jesus Christ down! Somehow He promises that we His children will also rise with Him when He returns to claim us. Praise God that He is close to the brokenhearted and that He knows we are but dust.

Jugglisk XXX Chalcord

Jugglisk XXX Chalcord
166 26 104 614 7777
Total Recorded Hits: 8687 Average Hits Per Volley: 1737.4
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Thursday, May 1st, 2008 - 10:40 PM

"He Shall Be Like a Burger"

Journal 13 complete

...planted by cup from Taco Bell, filling a journal in season.

I finally filled another journal. Completing journals used to be rather routine in my younger years. Journaling is something I've been doing on and off since high school. Sometimes I go a year or so without writing a single thing. Right now I'm in a journaling craze, unlike any other I can remember. I've been writing as much as 10 to 20 pages in a single day!

I feel like journaling is time well invested. My journal entries nearly almost involve reflection about something I'm experiencing, either physically, mentally or spiritually. I try to record important events as well as intriguing ideas that come to mind. Other times I will copy something verbatim that I find important enough to review slowly, like a letter, scripture, etc. Obviously it would be easier to just include material by slipping it between the pages, but I enjoy copying things. It helps me concentrate on what I'm reading or studying. I suppose there must be some scribe in me. Hopefully I don't have those same character traits of the scribes that were the enemies of Jesus! Obviously it's hardly fair to assume they are all bad. After all, we wouldn't even have the Bible (or many other important religious and historical documents) today if it weren't for scribes!

For the first time in 15 years or so I summed up the work represented in my journals. It would be fun to go through them and get more interesting stats, like how many poems I've written there, drawings, and other junk. For now, here's the basics (surprising even to me!):

  1. Number of "Completed" Journals: 13
    I put this in quotes because two of my journals were not filled. I left many empty pages. Otherwise they are all full. I tend to like to switch to another journal, especially after long periods of not journaling.
  2. Number of Pages Written: 1767
    Wow! That makes a pretty large book, longer than some publications of the Bible (though my content is filthy rags in comparison to that particular text)!
Journal 13 divisions

I was getting very anxious to finish this last journal. Originally, I used to give my journals "names". Don't worry, I'm not crazy! The names were simply "Journal 1", "Journal 2" and so on. I created a title page graphic for some of my first journals (haven't done that in a LONG time!). In that pattern, I just finished Journal 13. I have already started Journal 14. Oh, and by the way, I am a little crazy!

Interestingly enough, Journal 13 was written over a period of almost 4 years! Reveals how regular I've been (not). Interestingly enough, half of the journal's page volume spans about 3 years. There was a nine month silence, then I started up again recently. I filled the second half (91 pages) in about 23 days. It goes to show you that when I'm in the mood, I really write (mostly gibberish)!

I haven't decided how long to wait until I go back and read all my old journals. I've read some pages here and there, but not in great volume. I don't expect there's much in there that anyone else would value much, though certain family members might have some interest. I'm trying to be a little more intentional nowadays about recording events that might be of historical interest later. I'm not talking world events and such, but rather personal history. As I was counting up the pages for the stats above, I realize how much more inspired and creative I used to be. Some of my old journals are a sight to see! I have always valued good handwriting, and some of my oldies are really goodies! Not only have I lost some of my former creativity, but my writing skill used to be more polished I think - at least more entertaining to read.

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Thursday, May 1st, 2008 - 10:09 PM

"Jugglisk XXIX"

Today I started out with some SocSum Advance, knowing that it would help my coordination for the evening. I wasn't in the frame of mind to break my record, but I did decent anyway. Such a nice afternoon, I couldn't resist!

Oh, I almost forgot: I finally beat my SocSum Advance score! I think I've beat it before, but I tend to lose count. When I lose count I require myself to start over - part of the rules. My new SocSum Advance record is 21. I know, sounds small. That amounts to 231 total hits. Restless Foot SocSum is a considerably more difficult and strenuous juggling format than freeform jugglisk . While I can get thousands of hits when using both legs alternating freely (not a huge challenge to my endurance), getting 18 or 20 exchanges of increasing single foot volleys is enough to make me lose my breath.

Jugglisk XXIX Chalcord

Jugglisk XXIX Chalcord
6 77 231 232 372
2256
Total Recorded Hits: 3174 Average Hits Per Volley: 529
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Thursday, May 1st, 2008 - 9:14 PM

"Ubuntu Linux and Wubi, Can You Digg It?"

Ubuntu

I just installed Ubuntu last night, one of the many distributions of Linux available out there nowadays. I tried installing it once before on my then new laptop. I had problems getting it to work while retaining my windows partition and gave up. I ended up having to reinstall Vista as the result (horrible operating system - easily the worst Windows ever). My friend Dave explained that there are challenges that make it more difficult to install Linux on a laptop. For one, there can sometimes be complications with wireless internet hardware.

There was a day when I was interested in all the technical nerdy stuff, but now I'm more of a lazy moderate. At least in the case of hardware, I want everything to just work. I don't want to have to hunt down drivers or write them myself. The newer Linux distributions have greatly improved usability, especially when it comes to installation. Unfortunately there is still no guarantee that all hardware devices will be automatically detected, as many hardware companies don't bother to release Linux drivers.

Take my Wacom Graphire 4 graphics tablet for example. Its functionality is not supported by default in Ubuntu. My graphics tablet has been effectively rendered into a really big touch-pad, which really sucks. Even worse, I can't figure out any way to click and drag anything as it is functioning now - quite a nuisance! I'm currently looking at a 3rd party group of people who have come up with some drivers for many common Wacom models. Wacom has not developed any official drivers for Linux and are supporting the work of this independent group. I downloaded the software but am not well versed in installing stuff on Linux (much more difficult than in Windows), so I haven't got it working yet.

What made me to give Linux another shot? I recently read an article on Digg that mentioned a cool Linux tool, Wubi. Wubi is a specialized installer for Ubuntu. It allocates space and installs all the system files. The advantage is that there is no need to set up a separate partition and potentially mess up your Windows installation (normally part of the trouble of setting up a dual boot system). In fact, it allows you to install Ubuntu from within Windows. In addition, the operating system can be uninstalled at will, also from within Windows. So far I haven't noticed any problems with either operating system. The installation appears to be a success. I'm anxious to try some open source software that is being developed with more diligence for the Linux platform. An application of particular interest to me is FontForge, an open source font creation application. Other programs that I am already using in Windows are also available for Linux, including Blender (quite impressive 3D modeling and animation), Inkscape (awesome vector illustration!) and GIMP (decent bitmap editing, though I'm not a huge fan).

I resisted until the end in correcting my title... should be "Can You Digg Them?" But that sounds really dumb, doesn't it? Actually, I didn't start with that title, so I wasn't holding out.

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