On reinventing yourself

I've always fought against memories of the past. In doing so I've deprived myself of the chance to actually enjoy what they mean.

What's the first thing you remember when listening to Guns 'N' Roses' Sweet Child of Mine? To me it's Slash and his guitar at the beginning of the song.

I don't know about you but but music, Naginata and sometimes being a mean and nasty son of a bitch is so liberating.  Fuck the consequences and just go with it

I've decided that this is the last time I talk to the person I've been having problems with and then let the chips fall as they may.

Part of reinventing yourself is to keep yourself flexible and nimble. I heard news @work that put the June conference into perspective. Now it makes sense why I have to take vacation time to go and it defused that piece to the point where it's a non-issue. What brought my anger level up 'though is the fact that where I want to go professionally does not match where upper management wants me to go and no one has seen fit to tell me so.  I had to pry it out of my supervisor today and I know that he's as uncomfortable with this whole situation as I am but he really can't do much about it either. SO I have to decide if my peace of mind is worth calling attention to myself and the possible consequences of that action.

I can't get this song from my head and haven't been able to for a while. The emphasis to me is in the chorus:

We're fighting for the gods of war
But what the hell we're fighting for
We're fighting with the gods of war
But I ain't gonna fight no more

The first step is to take inventory of yourself, your priorities and your goals (both short and long term).

The last few posts have talked a lot about priorities, goals and commitments. For more details see Sometimes I just wishPriorities, realizations and commitments, and Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish so now I think  it's time to do an inventory of who I really am and take another, more serious, look at where I want to be or perhaps who I don't want to be.

I want to be someone whom people can trust, and not be afraid to approach; I want those around me to know that, if I see a reciprocal effort, I'll put 110% effort into our friendship. People who try to, in their words, "be nice" have a problem that I don't want to be a part of: in being  nice they deprive their friends of the opportunities to change and grow. I tend to be opinionated, sometimes too opinionated for my own good, but I'll always do my best to be open and honest with my friends.

I think that we all want to work on something we enjoy and can grow to love. The disagreements are more in the shape and nature of what that job is and the areas of responsibilities that it's associated with "the dream job". Some things are about the job itself and others  are more about what I want and the challenges I want to stretch me professionally.

  • I want flexibility;
  • I want room for growth: not be pigeonholed into one specific area but to be allowed to branch out as needed to get stuff done and not get bored to tears;

Perhaps that's the key to reinventing yourself.... To keep enough versions of you around that each one of them can take whatever is coming your way.

Am I really ready to do that? Am I willing to embrace the flexibility I need not to be afraid of whatever is coming?

One of the things that I've never learned all the way through is that there is no gain without pain.... intellectually I can understand it but I don't think I've ever internalized it and the fear still stops me when it's time to move on. I've said it before that I couldn't understand why was it that I didn't trust my instincts when they told me it was time to move on. Being totally blunt

I was watching, again, the series final for JAG: Fair Winds and Following Seas. The last scene when Bud flips the coin and everyone  keeps staring to see who is going to have to give up their life dreams to achieve happiness.

As I've said before what do you have to give up in order to get what you really want.

Being totally honest, I don't know if I could give up my job and be totally happy. I know I don't want crap like what happened today to repeat itself but I also know that  I'm not ever going to be happy without being able to exercise the atrophied skill sets.

I've hardly done any training or presentations since I moved to Chico. 10 hours or so in 3 years hardly qualifies as keeping your skills sharp.  I'm afraid that my instructional design and development skills are going the same way.  If you don't use them or at least keep current with the literature I'll loose what little of those skills you have left.

Back to what I want and don't want. So far these are the elements of what I'd want in an "ideal job." I realize that some of these things are not realistic and/or even possible but, hell, we're talking about an ideal so why not? 🙂

  • I want a place where I can actually practice training and instructional design even if it's as a secondary area of responsibility
  • I want a team, not a place where people feel empowered to dictate to other teammates. I've been as guilty about this as anyone and that's what I hate the most about the situation
  • I want a job where the rules are clear from day 1 with room for change, evolution and improvement where it's appropriate. It's not that I'm averse to change, it's just that I want to know when it's coming.
  • Related to the one above is wanting to at least get a voice on what direction my job is going. I know this is totally unrealistic, but it's one worth writing down even if it means that I'm never going to get a job that's 100% satisfactory
  • Communication, communication, communication. Things haven't been put on context and it shouldn't have to be my job to figure out what it is that I'm supposed to be doing.


  • Skid Row (Youth gone wild, 18 and life)
  • Linkin Park - iTunes selection
  • Rush - Roll the bones


  • Agile web development with Rails
  • Foundation's Edge


  • Learning to Program Rails
  • Trying to complete my final paper
  • Outlining my 2 summer writing projects


  • Reruns of JAG
  • NCIS
  • Stargate: The Ark of Truth

Damn, has it been that long?

Twenty-five years later, 'Tron' and other 'geek' classics are more compelling than ever

Image from Tron

Photo by Disney Enterprises, Inc.

~ "What's a nice program like you doing in a computer like this?": Cindy Morgan and Bruce Boxleitner in Tron ~

"Oh man, this isn't happening. It only thinks it's happening." So says computer programmer extraordinaire Kevin Flynn in Disney's 1982 film Tron, after he's zapped into the electronic world of the computer.

Though this line is never fully explained, it does provoke several metaphysical questions. Does Flynn - played with child-like enthusiasm by Jeff Bridges - think he's dreaming? Is he playing a bit role in an elaborate manipulated reality? Is his digitized incarnation any less real than his flesh-and-blood self?

Wait a nanosecond! Wasn't Tron set inside a video game? Didn't this film feature guys wearing glowing helmets and tight spandex? Throwing Frisbees at each other? Riding neon motorcycles?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes. And while Tron was undoubtedly a special effects summer extravaganza, the film also had enough style and brainy notions to make it enjoyable and relevant today.

To help celebrate the silver anniversary of Tron and several other genre films released that same year, the American Cinematheque and Geek Monthly magazine are presenting 1982: Greatest Geek Movie Year Ever! at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica from June 15 through 17. In addition to Tron, the festival will present Cat People, The Thing, The Dark Crystal, Poltergeist, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Various cast and crew are scheduled to make appearances.

"The classics of 1982 were all boldly original visions," says Mark A. Altman, editorial director of Geek Monthly. "They're also some of the last great visual effects films from the pre-computer-generated imagery era. Or, in the case of Tron, a precursor to that era."

The monumental task of supervising the computer-generated imagery for Tron went to Richard Taylor, whom director Steven Lisberger had initially approached for advice on doing a two-dimensional animated film about characters made of light.

As one of the film's visual effects supervisors, Taylor worked closely on various designs with visual futurist Syd Mead (Blade Runner) and French comic book artist Jean "Moebius" Giraud (The Fifth Element) and oversaw the four different computer graphic houses that created imagery for the film. While Tron made history as the first film to make extensive use of computer graphics, many of its otherworldly effects were achieved with traditional animation techniques.

"The process to make Tron was only used to make Tron, and it will never be used again," says Taylor. This was, after all, the pre-digital era. Everything was done optically, which was highly labor-intensive.

For example, Taylor created the effects that gave the characters and objects in the electronic world their distinctive internal glow. To achieve the effect, actors were first shot against all black sets using 65mm black-and-white film. Several high-contrast negatives and prints were created from this footage, then they were back-lit, and eventually the cells were hand-painted.

The Tron glow evolved from techniques Taylor had invented earlier for advertisements and on-air graphics, but its origins date back to Rainbow Jam, his light show and graphics company, which toured for six months with the Grateful Dead. "I was a full-on hippie at one point," he laughs. "We did shows at the Fillmore, the Avalon, all those places in San Francisco. Unlike other light shows, we were really painting-by-number with light. We were using slide and motion picture projectors. It was like lithography made of light."

The film's extreme stylization - dark backgrounds, glowing neon colors, polygonal landscapes, geometric vehicles, and an absence of external lighting - was an aesthetic decision that embraced the limitations of computer-generated imagery. "The actual process of making something out of polygons, then shading it, became a design influence," explains Taylor. "Not only was the film made with computers, but it was about cyberspace."

Tron's groundbreaking visuals were not recognized by the Academy Awards that year - the visual effects Oscar went to Spielberg's E.T. the Extra Terrestrial - but the techniques Tron pioneered earned it a place in film history. The Visual Effects Society (VES) has ranked Tron number six on a list of the 50 most influential visual effects films of all time. VES member Gene Kozicki, of the L.A.-based visual effects house Rhythm & Hues, believes Tron's legacy was in moving computer-generated visuals into the realm of storytelling. "Research into this type of imagery had been going on for over 15 years, but it was more scientific in nature," Kozicki says, "Once artists began to share their ideas and treat the computer as a tool, it moved away from strict research and towards an art form."

Tron's story of humans interacting with sentient computer programs in an electronic world placed the narrative ahead of its time as well. In 1982, the term "cyberspace" had just been coined by science fiction author William Gibson. In another two years, Gibson's seminal work Neuromancer would launch the cyberpunk genre.

To help flesh out this new electronic frontier, director Lisberger drew inspiration from gladiator films (Spartacus), video games (Pong), and the writings of Carl Jung. "I was studying Jungian imagery and his notion of the higher self," says Lisberger. "Jung calls that process of trying to communicate with the higher version of one's self 'individuation.' When I saw computer programmers in the early days, trying to communicate with programs they created, it was obvious to me they were trying to reach [their] maximum potential."

Tron calls individuals in the electronic world "programs" and the programmers who created them "users." Though they can't quite comprehend their creators, "programs" nevertheless hold "users" in high esteem. So high, in fact, that their reverence takes on religious overtones. This angers the megalomaniacal Master Control Program (affectionately known as MCP) - a malicious piece of software, brilliantly conceived and animated as a gigantic spinning cylinder, and voiced with panache by David Warner - who believes it has grown smarter and more powerful than the "users" and is hell-bent on conquering both the electronic and real worlds.

Lisberger, another product of the '60s, explored alternative forms of spirituality. He offers an unconventional interpretation for the relationship between "programs" and their "users."

"When the characters in Tron are saying the 'users' are up there and they're perfect and they're going to take care of us, it's exactly like being in our world and thinking angels and God are going to take care of us," he says. "The difference is, in the world of computers there isn't one sole entity - each 'program' has a 'user.' I believe the closest we can get to spirituality is not to externalize it, but to try to find it in ourselves. There's no daddy with white hair sitting on a throne who's going to make everything right if I behave correctly."

Lisberger's enthusiasm and love for Tron is still going strong 25 years later. Unfortunately, audiences back then didn'treflect his enthusiasm, and Tron failed to meet its box office expectations. Chalk it up to poor timing or mismanaged marketing - it opened one month following E.T. - but perhaps the message of the film was a bit anachronistic.

"These are not the times for what we were talking about," Lisberger ponders. "If anything embodies the times we live in, it's Johnny Depp's character in Pirates of the Caribbean. He's ready to take every chance on any fly-by-night scheme to get rich. If the spiritual quest we're talking about hearkens back t
o the '60s, then that's where we're at right now. I'm not condemning it. It's just the backlash."

The Shadow Chronicles Rock

The Shadow Chronicles rocks!!!

I didn't even realize when the story was over but it's such an engrossing and transparently took me from New Generation into the story line without being too disruptive with everything I already knew about the universe.

*** Spoilers ahead ***

The first part of RTSC happens in parallel with episode 85 of the TV show and takes the point of view of the returning Expeditionary fleet and Ariel as to what happens both on Earth as well as in space during the last battle.

There is a side story that becomes central to the later acts of the movie where Vince Grant (the late Claudia Grant's brother), captain of the Icarus, is sent to unsuccessfully rescue the SDF-3 where they first meet the new enemy, the Haydonites. The Icarus obtains information about the Neutron-S missiles and the danger they present to Earth and to the people who employ them.

While the Icarus attempts its rescue, the Expeditionary Fleet is getting pummeled by the Invid and their numbers. On Earth, Ariel is trying to convince the Regees, her mother, to leave Earth and not a second too soon as the Expeditionary fleet decides to launch the Neutron-S missiles to eliminate the Invid presence on Earth without success as the Reeges destroyds the missiles as she leaves the planet.

For the rest of the plot, buy the movie you cheap ass

Those of you who have seen the series will find some differences between episodes 84 and 85 of the TV show and the new movie, but while they are significant, they help close the TV show much better IMO than a straight retelling of the last 2 or 3 episodes of the show would have done.

Battlestar Galactica: Exodus, Part 1

Damn, it keeps getting better and better. Exodus tells of the preparations for the return of the Galactica to New Caprica to rescue the civilians from the grip of the Cylons.

The insurgence discoveres that it was Col. Tigh's wife, Ellen, who betrayed them; they don't know the reasons for the betrayal just yet. The cat is out of the bag that Sharon's (Boomer's) daughter did not die at birth as Sharon had been told aboard Galactica, this shakes her faith and confidence in Admiral Adama and the other people she's interacted with but still carries out her orders.

There is this really touching scene between the two commanders. Lee tries one last time to convince his father not to go in what is, essentially, a suicide mission; he doesn't make it. However, as Lee is boarding the raptor that will take him back to his ship, Adama adopts the formal military protocol for when the commander of a ship is leaving and the salues Lee before he boards the ship that will take him back.  It's just those little details that make the show so appealing to me. It's not just that it's a military show but that it's a military show with a human background.

Battlestar Galactica. Season 3 premiere

Show me what it's like
To be the last one standing
And teach me wrong from right
And I'll show you what I can be

Say it for me
Say it to me
And I'll leave this life behind me
Say it if it's worth saving me

Nickelback -- Savin' Me

I have to give it to Ron Moore, David Eick and their writing staff. They've done wonderful Science Fiction. It's still too contemporary for me to accept it as Battlestar Galactica, specially since I grew up with Richard Hatch's Apollo and Dirk Bennedict's Starbuck, but it is the difference that makes it so attractive as a science fiction show.

The Cylons occupied the colony of New Caprica. President Gaius Baltar surrendered the colonies and the fleet lead by Admiral William Adama, commander of the Battlestar Galactica, and Commander Lee Adama, commander of the Battlestar Pegasus, fled rather than be destroyed. The Cylons led by the human like models have pretty much subjugated the colonial survivors into almost slavery under the guise of a new attempt .

Some humans have decided to resist and form an underground. Some of the Sharon and Six Cylons start having doubts and it all evolves into a game of punch and counter punch where the Resistance hits and the Cylons hit back.

Meanwhile the Galactica's Fleet has its own problems. Admiral Adama (a wonderful portrayal by Edward James Olmos) is pushing his people harder than they should and his son calls him up on it and chastisizes him when 2 pilots die in a training accident after being out in space for more than 11 hours. 

When things come to a head Admiral Adama decides that the Pegasus under Lee Adama would lead the fleet back to New Caprica and rescue as many of the survirors as possible. The survivors are getting ready to "distract" the Cylon overseers to facilitate the rescue attempt.

The sabotage and redezvous with the rescue party is betrayed by Colonel Tigh's wife who believes that it's the only way to save his husband from death, or maybe worst. One of the many Boomer clones has sworn loyalty to the human fleet and leads the attempt to contact the new caprican resistance.

I don't want to spoil the episode any more than I absolutely have to but I have to say that it's some of the best screenplay and directing I've seen in a long time.