June 30, 2002
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New Glasses

I got new glasses. I woke up early Sunday so that Barb and I could get to the mall around noon, and I could get my glasses done by three, so I could get to work in the afternoon and be able to see. I'm pleased with what I got, and I'm glad that we could take care of it so quickly. I had only lost my old pair just the day before.

Andy and Ben and I have started participating in a new wave of sport called "Extreming" or, if you get going really awesome, "X-treming". A week ago, we went extreming down at a sand pit next to a motocross track somewhere. It was basically just a big pile of sand, with one side much steeper than any of the others, and we had a couple ways of using it. One was to simply run as fast as possible towards the steep side, then just before you can see the downward slope, when it looks like you've run out of ground to walk on, you jump as far as you can and you land, running and sliding down the sand. Then you climb back up, rest a minute, and do it again. The other option is to slide down on a snowboard. It's also kind of fun, I guess.

Andy Extreming Just this weekend we went extreming on the lake near Mia's house. They own a boat, and only have to walk a block to get out on the water. The lake isn't very large, but it's plenty big enough for boating and the like. We were riding an inner tube behind the boat, and going pretty well. It's a nice place out there, and I would have liked to be one of the people out on their sailboats, I think.

Alaska has been good to us. Every weekend we've been here, I think, has included at least one cloudless, sunny day. Before we had even had jobs, there were stretches of wholly unclouded sky that lasted for days. When it rains, we are usually at work, indoors. The rain has been light here. Usually by the time we get off work and have to bike home (or wake up and have to bike to work), the rain has stopped and the ground is dry, or nearly there anyway.

Doomed Policeman
Alien Menace
Saviors form the Deep

Andy commented the other day that we were stuck here in Alaska with no video camera, no legitimate way of making movies, and we've already managed to make three. It's been all thanks to Barb's digital camera. It has an option that allows you to plug the lcd display into a television and look at your pictures, or just see whatever the camera's pointing at. The camera still outputs the video at the same resolution that it would use for its display, so on the much larger television screen, it looks extremly pixilated and a little odd.

Since it's just a camera, we can only get video from it, not sound. We didn't want a microphone in the shot, so when we went to make this movie, we pre-recorded dialogue and played it back, while Ben and Andy (I was technician on this shoot) tried to lip sync to their own lines. The best results we got were after we ran it through Ben's mixer and slowed the voices down. I guess it gave them more time to react. Plus, it was just a little more strange, and that's always a plus.

Our other strategy has been stop-motion animation. We just realized this one a couple days ago. We can take a bunch of pictures, all in order, and put them right onto my computer into a video program I have. We just set the frame rate and that's all there is to it. We made a test movie, and I added sound effects that I pulled out of a video game. It probably took five or ten minutes to photograph all the frames, and a little bit longer to find the sounds and get them right, but it looked really cool.

We were so satisfied with our results that we tried to make a longer, more complex movie. We spent two or three hours photographing the one hundred and twenty one frames. It didn't turn out well. We hadn't been gradual enough, so things were happening so fast that the final product just looked like chaos. Also, our camera didn't stay in place, and we lost the final conflict resolution outside the top of the frame. That was a little bit disappointing.