Archive: May, 2002

Remembering 9/11

posted by Jeff | Thursday, May 30, 2002, 5:28 PM | comments: 0

Today they finished cleaning up the site of the World Trade Center in New York. Looking at the photos, it's hard to believe it's the same place that two giant buildings came crashing to the ground.

Even though I wasn't directly involved (if you don't count me getting laid-off), the events of September 11, 2001 had a profound effect on me that I don't really understand myself. Almost nine months later, I feel like I never processed what actually happened.

More than 2,800 people died in New York alone. All things considered I can't believe it wasn't more. While I feel bad to think about it, the most disturbing part for me isn't the people who died, it's the fact that this amazing piece of engineering is just gone, wiped from the face of the Earth. Maybe I can identify with that better because I didn't know anyone who was killed.

This isn't to say that I'm not a little overwhelmed at times. When I see a woman carrying a photo of her husband, killed in the disaster, it gets to me. The images from prior disasters, the bloody child at Oklahoma City, the crying teenagers at Columbine, the mourning families from any recent plane crash... these things always get to me.

I like to build stuff. When I was a kid it was erector sets and Lego, and these days it's software. I love to watch a roller coaster go from an open space to a magnificent thrill ride. Maybe it's this will of creation that connects me to the loss and destruction of a building. Whatever it is, it seems to be a metaphor for what we as a nation will do next... keep on building.

No matter what they decide to do with the site of the World Trade Center, I know that our force of creation will be sustained. Individually we'll keep building skyscrapers, software, roller coasters and Lego toys.

In the mean time, I think I need to be sad just for a little longer. Then I'll be ready to continue my force of creation.

Life's little transitions coincide with the seasons

posted by Jeff | Thursday, May 23, 2002, 12:12 PM | comments: 0

My volleyball team and I ended our season last weekend at the regional tournament in Columbus. We did fairly well, I think. The weirdest thing came Monday when I didn't have practice. I had been spending time with "my" kids three times a week for the last five months, so naturally it's pretty weird when you suddenly go cold turkey.

Coaching club volleyball is so odd because you really get to know your kids in a way that you can't coaching other things. Being about ten years older than they are, I'm at an age where I can still be their friends without being too much of a parent-type, so it falls somewhere between older sibling and authority figure. I really value having that kind of impact and relationship with the kids.

So now we transition to the summer season, which means lots of cooking outdoors, amusement parks and hopefully many good times. It's so odd because you're almost removed from one world and put into another. Now that I've met dozens of people and made friends in the coaster community, it's like flipping a switch. My kids are off, the enthusiasts on. It's really strange.

Fortunately, being married means that you've got at least one common constant there, and I'm thankful for that. With all the weirdness in the last year, Stephanie has always been there, and even when I crave changes and forward motion, I can't imagine life without her.

So here we go... on to new things again. Summer goals include lots of coaster riding, the completion of some of my software and a party to end all parties, luau style. Hey, getting one tied on now and then is good for you. I've only done it twice since November, so I think I deserve it!

Here's to the summer of 2002!

Yoda and Star Wars kicks ass

posted by Jeff | Friday, May 17, 2002, 2:03 PM | comments: 0

Now that Star Wars Episode II, Attack of the Clones is out, I see critics are already dissing it. I'm guessing they forgot how to enjoy movies. Get a grip... this isn't Oscar material or anything, it's just a good story. It's the classic tragic love story with giant political overtones.

The only thing I can give the critics is that the movie isn't one to stand alone. It's part of the series. The only one so far that wasn't like that was Episode IV, since Lucas didn't know if they'd ever make the rest. That aside, the movie did several things for me.

First, it better showed the Jedi place in the universe. It's better understood who they are and what their part in society is. Heck, it even starts to explain why they went down the tubes with the rise of the empire.

Second, it starts to explain how the emporor came to power and who he used to get there. Everyone played everyone, and until you stop and think about it after the movie, it's hard to realize who the good guys really are. The Trade Federation guys play more of a role than perhaps previously realized, that's for sure, and it wasn't the one I thought.

Yoda finally gets his day. Now everyone understands why he kicks so much ass. Oh yes... this is easily one of the highlights of the film.

We finally get to see what got Anakin so pissed off that he started down that dark side road. You feel bad for him because you know where he's headed, and he seems incapable of doing anything about it.

This movie already has me jumping for Episode III, which we all know is going to be a downer because it will have to include the fall of the republic, the rise of Palpatine, the near wipeout of the Jedi, the birth of Luke and Leia, the assumed death of Padme... really dark stuff. I can't wait!

The critics can go fuck themselves... I really enjoyed the movie.

Rediscovering photography a summer priority

posted by Jeff | Thursday, May 9, 2002, 6:04 PM | comments: 0

I'm a media whore, obviously. Having gone to school for radio and television (oh, and journalism, double major), I live for this stuff. Ever since high school yearbook even I was a photography junky. I've touched it all from print to Web, radio to video. Through all of it though, photography is still one of the things I like the most. I just haven't enjoyed it lately because the whole film thing is a drag, especially as it relates to the Web.

I'm about to change that now, since I ordered a Canon D60. Since it works with my existing lenses, I've got all of the creative freedom of an SLR, without the limitations of film (and scanning). That's really good news!

Even though I wanted to resist digital photography in the worst way, I bought my Nikon Coolpix 990 back in 2000. I needed something with good resolution and image quality to crank out photos while at the IAAPA trade show to post on CoasterBuzz. I hesitated, but knew that film processing would just not be practical. About $900 at the time, I bought the camera.

I've shot hundreds of images with it since, and I do like it. Its biggest limitations have been the lens and the flash, which is too close to the lens resulting in much redeye. It makes very nice 4x6 prints when sent to, and has the ability to run in the usual modes you're used to on a traditional SLR.

Canon has made the huge leap in resolution with the D60 and put it in an SLR for about $2,199. Yeah, that's expensive, but consider for a moment that my average outing to an amusement park kills 8 or more film rolls. Do the math... with processing that's easily $100, and chances are I won't find half the prints worthy of making my photo album. If I get serious about shooting again, I don't doubt that the cost will be justified if for no other reason than film cost savings.

In any case, the thing is backordered big time, and it's easily the hardest camera to get right now. I'm told another two weeks or so. Here's hoping!

Finding drive and hitting goals is not easy

posted by Jeff | Monday, May 6, 2002, 6:17 PM | comments: 0

Early in life, in our American culture anyway, someone tells you that you have to work for a living, working sucks and there's nothing you can do about it. I think that's mostly a load of crap, but it sure isn't easy to get to that point.

While at Cedar Point yesterday, I sat there in awe that I was so relaxed and enjoyed just taking in the sights and sounds. If I had my wife with me and perhaps an adult beverage, it would've been perfect. It didn't take long for me to start wondering... what will it take to have the ultimate freedom to do what I want and still make a living? Ah yes, the American dream.

Truth be told, I'm lazy. However, I wouldn't go as far to say that I have a poor work ethic. The real problem comes with the fact that my drive and desire is directly proportional to my interest. So if I'm doing a job that I'm not that interested in, I don't put much work into it.

In sitting here and writing this, I've decided that there are specific goals I need to identify and figure out a roadmap to get to them. My goals follow:

  • Make enough money that I can retire early, and in the short-term make enough money that Stephanie can concentrate entirely on getting her advanced degrees. That's what makes her happy, and a happy wife is a good wife (which in turn makes for a happy husband)!
  • Work for myself. There's the biggest challenge. I've got all these things that I can do. Really cool things (or so I'm told), and I have absolutely no clue how to turn that into cash. Quitting the day job and going after them isn't an option because I can't trash the previous goal.
  • Do something that interests me. This one is tied to the previous item. Naturally the point of working for yourself is to do something you like.

Some days it's hard to even think about stuff like this when you have a pretty good life. I've got a beautiful wife that loves me (and that's no small accomplishment), a functional car, a nice house, I get to dine out often... I really have absolutely no right to complain. In fact I often feel guilty for even entertaining such thoughts. But am I wrong to? I don't think so.

Maybe it isn't possible to be 100% happy about all of your life, but I sure as hell plan to try. I know that anything that isn't right is within my power to try (provided it isn't some natural phenomenon), and I miss the days when I believed that as a part of my very being. I must fight the temptation to let the world beat me down!