Still aboot

No news of note to report. I’m still considering travel options… Egypt would be great except I can’t find any way to get to Melbourne from there that isn’t ridiculously expensive (cheapest thus far is $3,600, for that single, one-way leg of the trip). Which sucks, because it’d otherwise be perfect. :(

So anyway, still contemplating options.

I went and saw the opening of Hellboy II Friday morning (12:01) with Erick, F1 and Tom. It was pretty good – at least as good as the first, maybe better… nothing to rock your world, but a relatively excellent way to spend the hours midnight to 2am, as opposed to sitting at home impatiently waiting for the heat to piss off so I can go to bed. It has been warm the last week… mid-thirt highs all week, with warm nights. The smoke or smog or fog or all of the above that has lingered persistently during that time has seemingly been quite effective at trapping the heat overnight. It’s hardly been unbearable, but I have been here for well over a year now, so I’m getting soft so far as heat goes. Plus I want to save all my real bitchin’ for winter. ;)

So anyway… a week or whenever ago I went to the Wall•E opener with I think Erick & Steve… and F1/Ross/Tom also joined us randomly – we happened to see them entering TGIs as we were leaving. Now that was a good movie. Granted I haven’t seen Ratatouille yet, still, and Finding Nemo still has a special place in my heart… but nonetheless I think Wall•E is Pixar’s best yet. And the opening short, Presto, is similarly quite possibly their best short yet. So that was cool. :)

Otherwise… let’s see… been riding a bit. Discovered that all my work in the gym is of dubious real world benefit, as the Steven’s Creek reservoir ride still kills me. I tried going to the opposite direction most recently, up Pearce and round that way… that was terrible. :)

Worst of all, I was stopped on the side at one point, as I’d had to do half a dozen times already, and a guy driving by wound down his window and yellow out “nearly there, only fifty yards to go” or somesuch. And he was right – I thought I was still a way off the apex, but I was indeed right in front of it. D’oh!

It was a good ride, as was the one before, but damn… I’d like to blame all that smoke and crap in the air, which does make my lungs burn ever so slightly on occasion, I’ve noticed… but really I think it’s just the fact that I hardly ride at all anymore. :/

On the upside, I am supposedly still losing weight steadily, which doesn’t appear to have made itself visible yet, but, it’s nice nonetheless.

I’ve been a bit slack with the gym the last week or two… been going out on the odd night or two, and doing various minor things…

Oh yes, so, 4th of July. Ross had suggested going down to L.A. to see his friends down there and “make party” as the Germans call it, but then the day before when I finally poked him into making a decision he backed out. Ah well… instead, he & I went to F2’s new place for a first visit now that F2’s actually in there. There were half a dozen or so others there, friends of F2, whom I hadn’t really met before. That wasn’t too bad… laid back, and too late in the afternoon to enjoy the pool, ah well… and we were also all so lazy about actually getting up and going somewhere to see fireworks, that by the time we did they’d already started, so within 30 seconds of parking they finished. D’oh. I was quite surprised – last year I remember fireworks going off all around me at my place, from people’s backyards and whatnot.

So, this year at least, the 4th really felt almost exactly like Australia day back in Oz; it’s a day off in summer, it’s usually warm, beachy weather, people relax and have barbecues and do not a whole lot, and there’s fireworks at a bunch of places. The fireworks are better in Australia, though, from what I’ve seen of the ones here… I still very fondly remember going down to Mornington beach to watch them off the pier. If I recall correctly the first time I did that was the first time I’d seen fireworks in person. Very beautiful. One of these days I’ll have to go see one of the major shows that get put on in big cities and whatnot, see if they’re all people claim.

What else… still haven’t heard a whisper from the IRS on my tax stuff, so I poked about a bit and using their website have found out that apparently all is “well”, or at least, they’re not telling me if it isn’t, and to keep waiting another week or two. Hmmm. I seem to recall it taking a while last time, though I’m not sure it was this long… I mean, it’s been nearly three months now since their close of submissions, and I got mine in a week or two earlier…

I’ve been playing with my new tablet since I got it a few weeks back. I thought “bah, 4″x6″, what the hell is that?” and went for a real size tablet, 9×12, thinking that’d be a nice size. I hadn’t really thought hard enough about the border. Or the weight – my first clue that maybe I’d been a little impractical was when it shipped and UPS’ website told me the box was 6.7 pounds… hmmm… when it arrived, I was like “oh crap, what have I done” – the box is about the same size as a MacBook Pro box. Possibly a 17″ one. And heavy. I had to rearrange my desk just to fit the thing on it. Even now if I want to use the mouse right-handed I have to gingerly push the tablet half-off.

Though it is nice to have one that’s close in size to the 24″ display on which I work, right above it… I presume that helps with getting used to drawing in a different place to where the result shows up.

So, I played around with it a bunch when I first got it, naturally – using it instead of the mouse for a while, getting used to the feel and the whole holding-the-pen-very-very-carefully-a-few-millimetres-above-the-surface bit, which takes a bit of practice. But not too much – after a day or two it felt fairly natural.

And so I’ve been playing with that sporadically, where I’ve had time and inkling. Thus far I think Matisse is safe.. :) I’ve mostly been fooling around, though I have sat down on three separate ideas and tried to get them into pixels. It’s really hard. Partly getting used to the tablet, that it doesn’t really feel like the real medium – though today I swapped to one of the other nibs and it has a much more texta-like feel, which is nice – but perhaps mostly because I haven’t drawn, at all, in like a decade… and since the style I’m generally going for initially is inspired by Penny Arcade and Ctrl-Alt-Delete, which is very clean and unforgiving of an unsteady hand, it’s taking some perseverance indeed. It’s also made me realise that I haven’t sat down and thought about the visual composition of something in, well… at least as long as I can remember. :S

But I kinda expected this; it’s going to be a long while before I’m cranking out stuff I’m actually proud of. Though a couple of times I’ve noticed real progress, which has been most uplifting.

Though I’m kinda miffed with the software I have available. A lot of the simple shareware or freeware apps are really nice and simple and work basically, except they all, consistently, seem to have very poor pressure sensitivity. And most don’t even consider tilt. Even Painter Essentials 4, which is a crappy imitation of the real thing granted, is pretty haphazard with its support for tilt. Which isn’t so much debilitating as simply annoying – there’s many brushes which don’t have circular symmetry, yet you can’t control their angle. Argh!

Anyway… both Painter X and Photoshop CS3 are waaay expensive, and I ain’t that sure yet that I need them.

So, what else… I’ve been chatting with Bobo somewhat frequently as she’s been in Germany with the pot tosser… seems she’s been having fun. I’ve been checking up on Rob’s mission thing in Africa – Malawi, specifically. I guess he was jealous of all the attention Tony got in Nepal. :D Though I’m a bit behind on reading it, I see now… though I see two interesting photos – one of Rob holding a power cable and a screwdriver, followed by an update a few days later showing a melted plug. Hmmm… perhaps Rob picked up a few too many electrical tips from Tony. :P

I haven’t heard from Tony in ages, actually. Must… write… email… gaaahhh…

Tonight I’m heading up to S.F. to see Sara Bareilles at the Fillmore. By myself, alas – of all the people I asked, F1 was the only one to even know who she was. Which seems odd, given she has two big hits on the radio here at the moment, which have been playing for months and months. Go figure; the world seems a very very scary place when it appears that I’m more up to date than others.. :/

Looks like it’s sold out too. Hopefully it’s good.

I was hoping it’d be easier to drag F1 out to something like that, given his girlfriend Elana is living in S.F. over the summer, but then again I’ve no idea what her taste in music is.

So that’s about that, I guess. Currently contemplating whether to buy Guitar Hero 3, given I’ve developed quite a taste for Rockband having played it at F1/Tom/Ross’ and F2’s a bit… if the Guitar Hero 3 guitar worked with Rockband, I’d have bought it in a second. But as far as I can tell it doesn’t. Funnily enough Guitar Hero 3, the whole game including the guitar, is exactly the same price as the guitar alone for Rockband – $60. Weird.

So I guess I’ll just have to keep randomly inviting myself to F1/Ross/Tom’s place instead. :P

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