Saturday, December 29, 2007

Renewed

So, as a follow-up to my WoW respec worry post, I am feeling much better about being a prot warrior. Will, Scott and I have run Botanica and Arcatraz with some pick-ups, and both went REALLY well.

I also took charge of the marking, and felt I did a rather good job of that. The trick to all this, I think, is for me to research ahead of time, and then give the group as much of a feeling that I know what I'm doing as possible. Though Scott will tell you that I was double-checking everything with him almost constantly :)

Either way, I feel much less stressed about holding aggro. According to Will, we were in Botanica with two top-tier DPSers and I held aggro just fine. Hooray!

Of course, it also helps to have very clever groupmates. We've been lucky that our pick-ups have been really on top of things. Perhaps Heroics are not so far out of sight afterall!

In other news: Pink Door, Jersey Mike's, and Gumbo-a-go-go have been checked off the Food Tour list.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Food Tour continues...

On a less dorky and less melancholy note, I've knocked two more places of my Food Tour list. Today I am enjoying a delicious sandwich from the liquor store deli, and on Friday night we ate at Lynn's. Granted, all I had there was a huge plate of sweet potato fries, but that's all I really wanted anyway.

I also got to see Strother. Hooray!! Strother is one of my all time favorite people, and I am thrilled that we got to hang out!

As for the rest of the Food Tour, I'm scheduled to eat at Vietnam Kitchen on Saturday with Ken (anyone else is invited). Pink Door and Gumbo-a-Go-Go still need to be worked in, Jersey Mike's I can grab for myself for lunch some day, and the bakery will surely sneak up on me one of these mornings.

Hooray for fooooood!

WoW woes...

After WoWing for about a year and a half now, it's finally happened. I always knew it would, some day, but I got by with just putting it out of my mind. But no more.

I have to respec full prot.

Now, my warrior was my first WoW character ever, so my spec is quite homemade, and probably not efficient at all. It is, as I like to imagine, held together with duct tape and patchwork. The reason I started out on the arms track to begin with was because it took me to my 30s to realize there were 2 other tabs to choose from...

So I got by with this flimsy arms/prot build that was wonderfully multipurpose. I could solo just fine, and tank just fine, and hold my own in pvp if it came down to it. My friends claim that I am a very skilled tank, and have the technique and theory down quite well. But technique and theory can only carry you so far, and lately I've been struggling like mad to hold aggro, even with all my tricks and a clever, cooperative group. If I have any intention of doing heroics, my homemade talent build has to go.

Will empathizes with me deeply, as it reminds him of the day he realized he would have to take his priest full holy spec. He was a brilliantly clever healer, but just couldn't heal to kill Terrok in Skettis. I suppose it is for the best.

I am also training up to be a more responsible tank in general. My server is apparently dreadfully tank-depleted, as everyone is always needing one. I've been making myself to do the marking, rather than rely on Will to do it, and take more of a leadership role. I think, mostly, I just need more confidence in myself.

...but oh, I am going to miss Mortal Strike so much!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Louisville Food Tour continues....

Mayan Cafe and Maido can be checked off my food tour list. Hooray!

And, in a shocking display of daring, at both places I tried something I DON'T NORMALLY GET!! (gasp!) At Maido I tried their udon soup, which was quite tasty, but the helping was huuuuuge. Granted, everything else I got was normal (miso soup, shrimp tempura, and one of about 4 sushi rolls that I repeatedly get), but the udon was different.

At the Mayan Cafe I got the Shrimp Invasion, which was deliciously tasty, and fried plantains of course. Though it was tasty, I will probably revert to my always getting the Uxmal Salmon, because it remains my favorite.

Now to approach the rest of the list...I would almost certainly have liquor store deli for lunch today, but I am carless, and thus stranded. I shall have to arrange otherwise.

In other news, the ballers played Apples to Apples last night, and it was predictably enjoyable. I've been sleeping and reading for leisure on my break days, and have begun poking at Actionscript 3 to prepare myself for the spring semester.

I'm trying not to work too hard, though.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I often praise Louisville for its delicious food opportunities, and since I'm in town for a bit, I intend to do a food tour. It's a trick to be on vacation, actually, because I'm still making a list and accomplishing tasks. Let's see what's on the agenda..

1) Penn Station -- CHECK! Scott and I went for lunch today
2) Maido
3) Mayan Gypsy
4) Pink Door
5) Gumbo-a-go-go
6) Lynn's Paradise Cafe
7) Nord's Bakery
8) Jersey Mike's
9) Vietnam Kitchen
10) Liquor Store Deli

Am I forgetting anything?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Silliness

Best Rock Band quote from last night--

Brendan: Aw, man, I have to drum for Iron Maiden.

Will: Just use one hand!

Brendan: ... THAT'S DEF LEPPARD!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Home again!

After an incredibly intense-yet-rewarding semester, and then an incredibly busy-yet-productive 2 weeks of working on the Bryan Scary video, I am FINALLY home. Home, and able to rest! I say that I shall sleep for days, but it's easier said than done.

I've never been very good at relaxing, especially when I'm wired to work my tail off. However, I am under orders from Andy to do so, so I must figure out a way!

At any rate, I got to see the ballers, and Brenna, and play some Rock Band. Tomorrow I'll get started on sleeping for several days.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

BVW Show!

Hi everybody! The big BVW show is tonight, and I'm super excited! If you would like to watch, there's going to be a live webcast of the show at 6:00 pm Eastern time

http://www.etc.cmu.edu/bvw/show/webcast/

Just check the link around that time, and if it's not up yet, wait a bit and refresh.

The show should be quite silly, if anything.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Home Stretch

At our last improv class of the semester, we did a brilliant activity. We sat on the floor in a circle, facing outwards, and had to close our eyes. Then three people at a time were chosen to stand in the middle. Brenda (our professor) would give instructions, such as, "touch 3 people you think are good leaders, touch 5 people who have a good sense of humor..." and so on. Then after a few of those, 3 more people would get to go to the middle.

It was a very warm way of affirming one another anonymously, especially for me (being one who is terrible at taking compliments. I get all squirmy). Plus, it is amazing to learn how other people truly see you.

According to my classmates (though I don't know from which ones exactly), I am caring, energetic, assertive, a good friend, someone who has been there for someone in a crisis, cheerful, wise, sensitive, and a good listener.

It was a great way to end improv, as my improv class has really bonded with one another. It was also a very refreshing start to the most maddening weekend at the ETC yet. We are all finishing our Round 5 worlds and preparing for the BVW show, and it is chaos for student and TA alike.

Nevertheless, the stress is good stress. We are all having a fantastic time, and I'm absorbing people's energy left and right. It's somewhat of a problem, though, because I've been constantly wired. Last night I stayed until my programmer left, but instead of going home and getting rest, I stayed at the ETC until 3 or so in the morning, riding a scooter around the halls and visiting with people.

I hope I don't crash after the BVW show on Wednesday. I still have much to do: I have two scholarship applications to finish, I have to follow-up with thank you emails for the interview I had last week, not to mention the marathon of work on the Scary video that is soon to follow.

...I am so happy to be here!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

Obligatory Thanksgiving Post

This Thanksgiving was probably the most awesome it's been in a long time. As per tradition, I'll now force the internet to read all that I'm thankful for.

First and foremost, I am thankful for my family. Part of the thing I love about Thanksgiving is how gratifying the routine is. I can always count on some of the same things happening every year, and that in itself is a very relaxing foothold for me while I bumble through life. My dad always ends up carving the turkey against his will, I always pick off pieces while he's carving because I'm generally so hungry I can't wait, my brother always scolds me for it, my entire family always stands in the kitchen to socialize (even though there's plenty of other room in the house) and gets in the way of the cooks. So on and so on. This year it was delightful to watch my mom and aunts and cousins play Wii sports. Everyone always seems so happy to be there. I know that there are plenty of people who are not blessed with a family that gets along as well as mine, so I try to remain thankful for that and not take it for granted.

Next up, predictably, are friends. Ah, to come home and see the Tuesday Night Ballers and fall into blissful routine. To have such a core of friends, even though we are a bit scattered at the moment, is a true blessing, and when we all come together in the same place I believe magic occurs. I am thankful for each of you.

I am also thankful for the ETC. This program is amazing, and perfect, and everything I hoped it would be and more. The people here are so devoted, to the work and to each other, and it's an explosion of creativity and knowledge that I scoop up and try to keep hold of. I am extremely fortunate to be here, and I intend to acknowledge that. Thank you collective entity that is the ETC!

A few more specific thankful shout-outs: First is Jesse Schell, my BVW professor. I am ever so thankful to have him about, not only because he's an awesome teacher, but because he's helped me out on an individual basis time and time again. I mean, sure, sometimes I'm terrified he's going to melt me with his laser eyes, but he hasn't yet, and has been nothing but encouraging and helpful and devoted to me and all the students. What a blessing for us to be granted slivers of his time. Thank you Jesse!

Then there's Andy Jih. Hi Andy! Andy is the head TA for BVW, and has taken me under his wing in times of need. He can apparently read minds. Or at least, he is perceptive enough to notice that in a time of high stress and emotional frailty, the one thing I need in the world is someone to talk for 4 hours over a pint of Ben and Jerry's. I look up to him a lot, and next year I want to be able to help some lonely, unsure first-year in the same way he's helped me. Thank you Andy!

I could go on and on about a thousand or more things, but I'll leave it to those for now. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Portfolio site

Phew! I finally got my portfolio site up. After polling advice from many different people in terms of a domain name, I decided to go with Drew's advice, which was just to keep wertle.com and make the front end my portfolio site.

Drew's reasoning was that wertle.com is quirky enough to be distinct (important with a common name like mine) but short enough to be easy to remember. Plus, it means I don't have to wrangle another domain name.

Worry not, the personal site is still there, it's just in the back.

The portfolio site isn't as polished as I'd like, but all the content is there. I just needed to put it up because it's time to stop dawdling (companies are already starting to scour the ETC website to look over us). Next I need to add the XO Game Jam result under projects.

Yay, it's nice to check something off my to-do list before making the drive back to Kentucky.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

XO Game Jam

(This is cross posted to my mailing list, because I figure not a lot of people are on both)

One of the second year projects here at the ETC is XO Games. This was a student-pitched project to design and build games for the XO laptop for the One Laptop Per Child project. The group decided to hold a Game Jam this past weekend, which is somewhat of a "design and build a video game in 40 hours" marathon, in order to test out the documentation they've been creating over the course of the semester.

I decided that this would be a brilliant opportunity to drag some of my non-ETC friends into the ETC experience. Ever since beginning this program, I've often thought about how so many of my talented friends would do so well in it, and wished I could share the experience with them. The Game Jam gave me an opportunity to share a sliver of that experience, and so after some healthy peer pressure, I convinced Will, Brendan, and Kyle to come up and participate.

Last Friday, 10 teams of 40 or so people met up at the ETC for the start of the event. The project group talked about the XO laptop and OLPC, and some of the quirks for designing for the laptop, and started us in with a "Hello World" assignment. If you've never seen the XO, it is quite amazing! It's very tiny, amazingly rugged and power efficient, and yet the screen resolution is better than the monitor I'm using right now. The idea is that these affordable laptops will be distributed to children in developing nations as educational tools, and to give them access to computing technology. In many situations, a child may have to travel to the only nearest power supply to charge the laptop, so the battery life on these things is pretty hard core.

After our initial program, my team ventured off to do some brainstorming. Since the XO is going to be distributed world-wide, we wanted our game to use very little to no language. We eventually decided on a pixel-hunt inspired adventure game, where you can click on objects in a scene to trigger events. However, only certain events (and only when clicked in proper timing) will advance the story.

40 rigorous hours later, we came up with "Cake Town," which I suppose can be called a rough prototype for a game. It only has two levels, and doesn't have as many interactive scene elements as we'd wanted, and it can still be broken if you try hard enough.

Still, Will's art and Kyle's sound design is amazing, and I'm still incredibly impressed that Brendan was able to program the thing to work having had little to no experience with the tools we had to use to make the game (Python and PyGame). You can download it here if you would like to take a look. It's about a 10MB download (size efficiency was something we struggled with, though the bundle download for the XO is only 2 MB. Still, for a dial-up speed situation, that's even a bit much).

As for my role, in true producer fashion I jumped in wherever I was needed. This included figuring out the tedious steps for creating an activity bundle out of our game for the XO, helping Will with layout coloring, getting Kyle into the ETC's sound booth so he could record Will's voice acting, and eventually helping Brendan with the programming in the last stages. It was an adventure, for sure.

The games that other teams came up with were all amazing. On Sunday we had school children play and judge our game, and there were some prizes for the winners. My favorite thing about this Game Jam was that there were teams comprised entirely of beginners (like ours) and also teams comprised of people who actually work in the game industry. Everyone at the jam helped one another, and it was a good community experience. And of course, it was great to see my friends from home, and give them a glimpse of the sort of stuff I get to do at the ETC. You should check our the Jam's photo blog if you have the time.

The downside to all this, however, is that I apparently do NOT handle sleep deprivation like I used to. I am quite sick, and my biological clock is completely confused (hence my writing this update at 3:30 in the morning). I'm hoping that Thanksgiving Break will help me get things back in order.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Happy Happy Crash

Today we presented our Round 4 worlds for BVW. They were all amazing, and all very well received! But I have been suffering a common course after every BVW presentation.

That is, the weekend before, and especially the night before when we're scrambling to meet the deadline, I get on this huuuuuuuuuge energy high. It was especially high last night, because our world was SO AWESOME and I was so excited about it. Then the day of presentation, I'm all excited and giggly. Then everyone presents, and it's awesome! Like, every single world was awesome, there weren't really any duds.

And then it happens. All the worlds have shown, the class is over, and I drop down off my energy high. And goodness, what a crash! The minute I walk out the door I am depressed and on the verge of tears, and it is purely a result of my body trying to normalize itself. Still, how stressful!

Jesse told me that many professional actors are chronically depressed for the same reason, because of the highs and drop-offs in energy level scheduled around performances (D Flo, do you find this to be the case?)

I said "how do I fix it?!?" But Jesse just smiled knowingly and slipped out a door. Drat! That means it's one of those stupid "life lessons" things, doesn't it? Grumble grumble!

Many of you know that I am terrible at taking care of myself in times of emotional stress. What should I do to avoid being dreadfully depressed after the BVW show??

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Childhood Dreams.

Hi all! I finally found an online version of Randy Pausch's lecture that I really liked.

Scrub to 8:20 to skip the intro speaker and get straight to the meat.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=362421849901825950

Randy was co-founder of the ETC and gave an AMAZING lecture on achieving your childhood dreams. Please give it a watch, it's worth the time.

Friday, October 12, 2007

What's in a (domain) name?

Hello Internet!

I'm shopping for a domain name for my portfolio website (a more selective and refined portrayal of my work than wertle.com, which is more of a personal dumping ground), and as you can probably guess, I'm suffering from the common name fate. What tips do you have for portfolio website domain names?

Here are some things that are available:

LisaBrownPortfolio.com
LisaDBrown.net
LisaDBrown.info
(regular old LisaBrown.anything seems to be unavailable)

I also considered making a subdomain off my animation group website, so something like lisabrown.argproductions.com or lisa.argproductions.com, which would probably read more professionally to people than lisabrown.wertle.com

Advice?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

On Wikipedia

Will made a remark about Wikipedia which I find quite brilliant, so I will repost it here:

"You have to treat Wikipedia like a really huge store and pretend you're shopping for trivia. You've gotta go in with a mission, grab it, and get out, 'cause otherwise you'll spend all day browsing through the pretties."

It is true that the link-filled nature of the wiki is akin to some carnivorous plant, slowly drawing you in, entangling you more and more, until you are digested over some extraordinary amount of time. Here is my current trail:

Sweeney Todd -> Titus Andronicus -> Seneca the Younger -> Medea -> Argonauts -> They Might Be Giants -> Tiny Toon Adventures -> Muppet Babies -> The Garbage Pail Kids

And then I had to stop, because it's late and I have to wake up early tomorrow for the Adventure Module!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Round 2 extension

Our BVW professor just emailed us that he has to go out of town on Tuesday, so we have a 2 day extension on our round 2 worlds.

Part of me is like "WOO! Extra time!" Especially since our group basically reworked our entire concept since interim and could use it.

Part of me is like "Crap, now he's going to expect them to be ten times as polished." Because, well, he will!

But that's okay, I'm feeling really good about how our round 2 world is going.

WE NEED PLAYTESTERS!

If ANYONE is going to be in the Pittsburgh area between now and Wednesday night, please volunteer to come and playtest for us! Email me or leave a comment here! Thanks.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Graduate Research at the ETC

Research is very important here at the ETC, as my TAs advised me today, and especially on the Round 2 world (the naive user world). Fortunately, graduate research at the ETC means playing video games. Lots of them.

At the end of every hallway is an arcade setup with ROMS of (probably) every arcade game known to man. Our current virtual world is steadily becoming some manner of 4 player pacman (with amoebas, and on the Beyond Questions remote control) so my TAs recommended that I do research on top-down view chaser/collecting games to see what I could learn and apply to my own world.

I sauntered down the hall, loaded up Ms. Pacman, and quickly remembered that Ms. Pacman stresses me out TERRIBLY. All the while, I was remembering a game they had at a restaurant we went to when I was little. It was a Pacman-esque game, only you controlled a paintbrush. The goal was to paint every surface of the maze. There were thingies that chased you and occasionally kittens would walk through your wet paint and leave little kitten prints that you'd have to paint over (you could paint over the kitten, too, stalling it and gaining points). Ah, what a fun game from my youth, if only I could remember it's name! Ah, no matter, it's so obscure they probably don't even have it, right?

WRONG! I typed in "paint" in the ROM computer's search box, and of the billions of trillions of games on there, one called "Paint Roller" comes up. And yes! It's the game I was thinking of! Thank heavens for obvious titles! Nonetheless, since it is essentially a pacman game, it caused me great stress.

I think the slow pace of our amoeba game will keep it from being stressful....or maybe even make it MORESO! (there is a 1 second delay on the input of the remotes, since they were never really intended to be used as a game platform, but rather a means of voting and submitting feedback in large lecture halls).

People are starting to post screencap videos of their round 1 worlds, so I'll have to get mine up soon!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Friendship is like a garden...or maybe like a petri dish

The hardest thing so far about the ETC is not its rigorous work schedule or high expectations (though I will admit, those are pretty freakin hard), but rather how the potential of emotional bonds are dangled in front of us like tantalizing carrots, just out of reach.

What I mean is, there are a lot of cool people here. A LOT. And we are bonding in such a way that we're all in the same room, working through the same experience, stressing the same stresses, and the like. But I'm finding that there is not much time to nurture friendships outside of the building.

Certainly I have made friends and I of course broke everyone in to my huggable nature early on. However, when I work at a friendship I tend to be a digger, and pick at a person and poke them and learn about them and burrow down into their soul to figure out who exactly they are. It is a delicate process, and takes time and diligence, and sometimes I even have to do it one person at a time. I cannot help that I am slow at this.

So, what I am left with at the moment is a deep emotional strain. I want to know my new ETC friends better and cultivate my budding relationships, but there is little time to do so, and I'm feeling terribly empty because of it. And yes, there are large parties from time to time, but as a card carrying introvert, those don't do much more than wear me out. I am unsure of how to handle this dilemma.

I'll have faith, though, as I see how close the second years are with each other, and the strong friendships that they've established among themselves. So, perhaps I just need to give it time, who can say!

I miss the ballers, and I miss Brenna.

Sleepy woes

Yesterday I made a major purchase.

I've been having trouble sleeping ever since I moved here. Even when I fall asleep, I feel like it's very light. I'm not sure what the deal is.

Also, there are some studies pointing to sleep disorders and fibromyalgia being linked, so perhaps this is the cause of my mysterious symptom increases in spite of my taking medicine every day? Who can say?

Regardless, yesterday I bought a memory foam mattress pad and a super official tempurpedic pillow. I figure that, even if they don't actually work, perhaps they'll at least have a placebo effect. We shall see!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Goodbye Purple Rocket, Hello Purple Rocket II

So, our BVW round 1 presentations were today (they went really well, and several ETC alums were there as guests to give feedback. They all work on Spore, neat!) so this is one of the few moments where I have a small break. Like, literally moments, round 2 has already started.

Anyway, I spent my celebratory time on WoW finishing the most important part of the game ever. That's right kids, getting my Netherdrake!



"So, um, you wanna be my new mount?"

In celebration of this happy occasion, I took an Outland tour and took a bunch of screenshots of me and Purple Rocket enjoying the scenery. Those of you WoWers are probably sick of looking at netherdrakes, but I DON'T CARE! This was a happy occasion for me!

So yes, I am going to make you look at 14 screenshots. Go!




Ah, Nagrand, the prettiest place in the game!







Purple Rocket says, "What's up with all these mushrooms?"





Netherdrakes are too clever to get themselves impaled.





Camoflage!



Too bad I can't take it to Azeroth. It's probably for the best, though, think how many screenshots THAT would be!







Wertle says, "Hey, let's go in there." Purple Rocket says, "Noooooo."



I always loved Terrokar Forest


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Food-o-Rama

The 48 of us first year ETC students are becoming quite close (spending most of our waking hours together in a room of 48 computers), and we've started to reinforce those bonds in the most primal of human ways: sharing food!

It took me several years to refine my ability to cook for one person, and now I'm finding the desire to cook in bulk. It started when I brought in a pot of ratatouille to share (which was swiftly devoured by first years, second years, and faculty members alike).

My roommate, Kelsey, also cooks, and proposed that we have a food party. On Saturday, seven ETCers came over to our house to cook large meals in bulk. We then split the dishes out amongst ourselves, packing them away in tupperware so that we'd all have food for the week (and would be able to eat something different every day!) It was a fantastic success! We all had good fun cooking together, and we even made cookies and cake to bring back to the ETC for those who did not join us in the food frenzy (again, these items were swiftly devoured).

I'm hoping this is something we'll do every couple of weeks. It's a great opportunity to share food and recipes, and of course keep one's meals stocked for the week.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Of Storytelling and Message Board RPGs

A huge focus at the ETC is properly educating us young'ens, as potential game developers of the future, about the intricacies of storytelling. Today's ETC Fundamentals class was focused on "The New Poetics," which takes Aristotle's Poetics and applying it to digital media, as done by Janet Murray. What this means is in addition to the Plot/Character/Theme/Diction/Music/Spectacle elements, adding the new element of "Interactivity," which is further explored in Murray's text.

This all reminded me of message board roleplaying, which I used to do quite a bit in high school and early college.

Yes, I'm a geek, I embrace it. Let's move past that...



Anyway, message board RP was only enjoyable up to a point, even if you were participating with fantastic writers and storytellers. It seemed doomed to fail for several reasons. One was that, inevitably, the back-and-forth turn taking would be disrupted by one party getting busy with other things, leaving the other waiting anxiously and unable to take his or her turn. The other big obstacle was that often, when engaging in a good story with one or two other people, other characters would post (and why not, if they saw how well the story was going and how much fun people were having), usually disrupting the flow of the current story to take it in the direction they wanted.

I remember the Tribes message board as being a fantastically set up forum. The creators had outlined a detailed and thoroughly fleshed out world in which the stories were set, and had constructed an engaging ruleset about the character "classes" one could play. They even made you have the character you created screened before you could start a thread with it (which some people found restrictive, but I found quite successful in adding to a believable world).

However, even though the set up was really good, and even though several engaging and interesting (for both participant and casual reader) storylines started up, they often suffered the same "doomed to fail" symptoms that I listed above.

Something that contributes to this in most message board RPs is the well intentioned rule: "Do NOT control other people's characters." Now, don't get me wrong, I see why that rule is in place. It's so people can't come in and take over and make people do things they weren't intending to do. However, it's the biggest contributer to the turn-taking failure when one party goes mysteriously absent. The story stops.

What of this exercise (and alert me if it's being done somewhere, because I want to go watch). Engage the RP as normal for several posts (because they always seem to be really good for the first 4 or 5 posts when the characters and inciting action are introduced). But then call a halt, let the participants grab what's been created, go off on their own, and write a story from what's been done so far. Then come back and share with each other their different stories.

I think this would be delightful! And it would get over the "don't control my character" touchiness in that you are not creating an avatar for yourself when you make a character, but rather simply a character, one that's fleshed out a bit and can be used. I think this would be fun for all parties involved, even if it did result in vastly different storylines.

Part of the reason that this appeals to me is that I am TERRIBLE at writing beginnings and endings. But oh, middles! I have tons of middles! All my secret writings that I hide away consist of middle upon middle upon middle. Oh to have a little help with the beginning and then to fly away with what I've been given. And the characters are already created and named, you just take them and make a story based off of what you know and what has been established so far.

I mean, is this not the same allure of fanfiction?

So, is this exercise being done anywhere on the net? And if so where, because I want to see how it turns out? And if not, someone should start it, because I want to play :)

Friday, September 7, 2007

My life as a texture artist

So, round 1 of Building Virtual Worlds began this week, and so far it's been awesome! The theme of our first world is "help character A who is afraid of character B." Our group is designing for the head mounted display, and we came up with a fun little game that involves pulling a man on an inner tube by a rope to help him avoid a hungry crocodile.

In a way, being tossed into these things without so much as a life jacket is stressful, but it's also fun and forces you to make decisions and cooperate and pry at your brain to be creative in a quick turnaround.

As for my role as painter, it is really fun! Unwrapping UV maps is something that is forcing my brain to think in ways I never thought possible. It's very non-intuitive to me, but I take delight in the challenge. I've already learned so much in just the one week, technical/software stuff, yes, but also things about teamwork that I'd never considered.

It is demanding, of course, and I tend to be at the ETC from 9 until 11 most days, with quick jaunts for food. However, it is exciting and fun and a challenge I do not mind. Stay tuned for more adventures!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

This is gonna be awesome...

The first week of classes went splendidly! Building Virtual Worlds is the class that's going to consume every waking hour, I can tell, but all 50 of us are in on it together, so it should be a bonding experience if anything. Everyone in the class is assigned a "role" based on their past experiences and the like (you aren't limited to only doing your role, you're just the person responsible for it. For example, someone assigned to modeling could still program, as long as they made sure the modeling got done).

I was very curious as to where they would put me, because I could have done any one of the roles (3D modeler, programmer, painter, or sound designer). I was assigned to painting, which basically means I'm a texture artist. It is exciting, because it's something I've never done before and I'm learning a lot of new things! I'm going to try and dip my hands in the other roles as much as possible, though. There is so much cool stuff to learn!

So for this class, every two weeks we are put into groups and we have to create a virtual world for one of five platforms. When it's finished, we get put in another group and another 2 week round starts. (Apparently when they first formed the class, they gave the students 6 weeks to build a virtual world, but inevitably students would just goof off for 4 weeks and then panic and churn out all the work in 2. So they just cut it down to 2 week rounds ^_^)

The first "round" was one week, where we basically just learned our tools for our roles. We'll get our first group and assignment on Tuesday, and I'm super excited!

Having gotten a good grasp on my role, I fled home to Louisville for the long labor day weekend. This is mainly because I know I'll be so busy that I won't be able to return until Thanksgiving at best. All the wayward ballers returned to Louisville for a reunion of sorts, so I got to see everyone and feel quite refreshed! I'll be anxious to get back to Pittsburgh on Monday and finish off my texturing assignments.

YAY SCHOOL!

Friday, August 24, 2007

ETC Orientation

So ETC Orientation was all day today, and I was so excited last night that I could hardly sleep. My excitement was not disappointed! Granted, most of the day was devoted to introductions and nitty gritty need-to-know things, but...

...my God you guys, this place is cool. I am going to have so much fun here! It is like the Science Center, only times 1000.

Also, my classmates all come from such a diverse background. Computer scientists and artists, yes, but also mechanical and electrical engineers, business majors, history majors, medical electricians (I don't even know what that really is, but it sounds awesome) and of course people are coming from all over the world. I tried to be social today and sit with and talk to different people, but I'm not too worried, because as I understand it I will be working intimately with all 50 people in my class. They throw us into teamwork based projects right from the get-go.

The opportunities and industry names they bring in seem boundless. They told us that if we have anyone really cool in mind, let them know and they'll try to get them in for one of the seminars (we have seminars every week from faculty and industry professionals alike. Neil Gaiman is coming in the spring. Hooray!). Anyone cool that I should ask to get?

I am exhausted but deliciously excited and super happy. I'm really glad I chose this course of study, and I already know the financial sacrifices will be well worth it. Weee!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cosmic Frisbee

Last night I had the most incredible dream! There was a huge field crowded with many people, and we were playing the most gigantic game of Ultimate Frisbee ever. And everyone I knew was playing. Like, everyone. Nate, Josh, Ryan, Frankie, Woody...all the old Centre Frisbee folk. The ballers were there, the Shredding Tears were there, my friends from high school were there, the Science Center people were there.....eeeeveryone.

I'm not exactly sure who we were playing against, because everyone seemed to be on my team. Everyone was happy and running about. Every pass was perfect, and I was in no pain, even though I was running and jumping and such. Then, I threw a perfect hammer, and Nate Whitfield turned to me and nodded in sincere approval, smiling broadly.

...

Does this mean I'm about to die?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Adventure!

So, we hadn't used our oven yet, so I decided to try it out tonight to make sure it worked and all. After a few minutes of preheating, it definitely caught fire! Fear not, internet, it was very small and I put it out straight away thanks to my lightning fast Kempo reactions.

I'm not sure what caused it, because the oven was completely empty when I turned it on. But, who knows what's been lurking down there since the last people moved out and we moved in. I emailed my landlord about it, and I'm sure he'll have it looked at (thus far I've been very impressed with the responsiveness of our landlord, he even climbed out on the roof to single handedly brave a colony of hornets that was building a nest between the windows of our bathroom).

Meanwhile, I spent the latter part of the evening scrubbing down the entire kitchen to remove the thin layer of fire extinguisher powder which had settled upon it.

Every now and then, it's nice to have cold hard proof that you are quick-thinking and level-headed in emergencies. I hope my next Pittsburghian adventure will be less...uh...smokey!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

More site updates

As promised, more updates on the website, a links page, my resume, and a mailing list you can join if you want to be notified of Lisa life updates. I'll admit that last bit is redundant if you already read my journal, but some people do not.

It was very stormy today in Pittsburgh, and the power went out for a bit. This was somewhat detrimental when it was still out after I took my "Oh I'll just nap it out" nap. To save my sanity I went out exploring, treated myself to a cake batter with oreos and strawberries ice cream at Cold Stone, and sure enough the power was back upon my return.

The internet took a bit longer to get as nameless unsecure wireless network took the time to figure out that he or she just needed to restart the router. We're getting our own cable set up next week, so no longer will I rely on the kindness (carelessness?) of strangers for net access.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Update of Updates

Oh my goodness...can it be? Oh yes, it can.

I knew that stranding myself up here alone weeks before classes started would get me to work on tasks long left unattended. I FINALLY got my webpage updated

http://www.wertle.com

Once again, it's mostly backend stuff, but I've done some very clever things (I promise). I also feel like I now have a pretty good understanding regarding customizing Gallery which I didn't have when I first put it on there.

Things to note: The projects section has been redone, there's a brand new pretty sketch for you, and (as always) minor updates to come. Little things, like a links page and my resume, and maybe a picture for the About page.

You have NO idea how nice it feels to check this off my to-do list!

Busy Bee

Since the borrowed internet signal is too weak for any real WoWing, I've been getting lots of work done on the Bryan Scary project among other things. Productivity is the best cure for loneliness!

I finally got the ARG! Productions website updated, and boy was it due for one. There's still some reworking to be done, for example the About section needs to be rewritten, but a clip from the LadyBug short is up there to see.

http://www.argproductions.com/

It's not very fancy looking, and Will says he wants to spice it up visually, but what with all our work on important things it's a low priority right now. It serves its function well enough.

Oh yeah, everyone send positive energy to San Diego today. Will is at Siggraph participating in the FJORG! Animation competition, and his team is the ONLY ONE there doing a 2D piece. He called me this morning with an update as he took an unwinding lap round the convention center. This has made them somewhat of a crowd favorite, but it'll all come down to the judges in the end. GO WILL AND TEAM!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Note: Grilled salmon, macaroni and cheese, and applesauce can all be eaten with chopsticks.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Foods

As mentioned before, we don't have any silverware in the apartment yet (one of my other roommates arriving later this month is bringing some), so for awhile I have to make meals I can eat with chopsticks, my hands, or a wooden spoon.

Eating spaghetti with chopsticks is weird. The food still tastes delicious, and I have no problem handling it with chopsticks. It's just that, there's a disparity in my brain between the two things. Something feels off, as though my mouth keeps expecting something different every time I take a bite. It keeps my mouth on its toes, I guess, if mouths had toes.

Nevertheless, I'm going to have to come up with enough chopstickable meals to last me through the week.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Megabus

I wanted to follow up and post that, like green tea and rice, Kyle has introduced me to yet another useful awesome thing: Megabus!

I'm not really sure how these people stay in business, what with the ridiculous low prices, but it is a keen way to travel between big cities for cheap (that is, if you don't mind long bus rides).

The Tears dropped me off in Cleveland and I Megabused back to Pittsburgh from there. I'm definitely looking into using this to visit Chicago. D Flo: PREPARE!

5 Shredding Tears and 1 Lisa

What a fun week! The Shredding Tears performance on the roof of Glassworks was faaaaaaaaantastic! They are such amazing performers! Also, the sound was really nice, kudos to Ken for finding whoever ran sound for that show.

The next day I clambered into the tour van of said Tears and set out with them as an official roadie. The trip was delightful, and their show in Toledo was quite fun. I actually tried very hard to convince Bauer to let me help out, but he was confident in just having me assist Graham in guarding the van as they loaded in and out.

Graham and I make the perfect ominous guard team: a blind man and a short girl. Go us! Here are some highlights from the trip...

Favorite Quote:
"The only thing I've ever lost in the band was the band fund which I didn't lose." -Bryan Scary

Most amusing moment:
At a pit stop with single user restrooms, Scary attempted to expedite the process when he discovered the men's room had both a toilet and a urinal by inviting a COMPLETE STRANGER into the bathroom to pee with him (just being polite, the man was next in line after all). Upon the door closing, Mike, Graham, and myself exchanged the most befuddled, horrified, and bemused expressions. What I would give to have captured them!

And the winner of the "It's Clearly Obvious these guys have spent so much time together that they have assimilated one another's vernacular" Award goes to...
The word "absurd"

Thanks again to the Tears, who are so very lovable and wonderful people, who let me hitch a ride along their tour so that I could get back to Pittsburgh. I hope they come here to play some time.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Moved in

Unpacking complete! Well, mostly. 90%, I'd say, enough to clear out room for my roommates to move in their stuff. The kitchen here is fantastic, and I broke it in right away by making stir fry (because it's delicious! Also because the only eating utensils we have right now are chopsticks).

Will was an awesome help in moving the heavy things around, and he got to go hang out with his Pittsburgh internet friends as well. Yesterday was spent mostly sitting around and watching Will play Zelda (I had high hopes of him beating it before I have to return the game to DC, but alas, we only got as far as the creepy desert place. Oh well).

Today we set out for Louisville once more, for fun and excitement. Brendan is home, and I can't wait to see him! The Shredding Tears are coming, and I can't wait to see them either!

If anyone's in Louisville on Wednesday night, you are REQUIRED to go to the OVCE rooftop benefit concert at Glassworks. Info: http://www.ohiovalleycreativenergy.org/events.php

That's all for now!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Pittsburgh!

Here I am in Pittsburgh! Safe and sound! Yay!

All the stuff is moved into the house, though I have an unruly couple of unpacking days, I can already tell. Some words of thanks...

First, God bless parents. Ah for parents to rent a truck and haul all my junk seven hours up the road from Louisville, and then to carry it all in, and then to hook up my window AC unit, and THEN to buy dinner for me after all that.

Secondly, God bless all my wonderful, wonderful friends. Yes for helping me load and pack my stuff, but also for the wonderful couple of years spent in Louisville. It was a fantastic and enriching time, and I am so lucky to have all of you. I will miss you all very much, but there will be plenty of visiting!

And finally, God bless people who set up unsecure wireless networks, just so Lisa can get online after moving into her new place but before she has internet service of her own.

That is all! More updates when the unpacking finishes.

-Lisa

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Dresses and Books

Two things happened today of interest...

1) Maria peer pressured me into buying a dress. A for-real dress, and an expensive one at that, which I never would have bought when sound of mind. But, as much as I don't want to spend money, it is true that I own no dresses (after my recent massive wardrobe purge especially), and going into graduate school, I am likely to encounter events in which I will need a dress.

At the very least, it is quite a lovely dress.

2) I nearly tripped over Scott's copy of Harry Potter this morning on my way out the door. Scott graciously lent me the novel to read first, due to my rapid reading pace. Indeed, I finished the book in record time: 7 hours with a 30 minute dinner break. I haven't taken part in such indulgent marathon reading in ages. I enjoyed the book immensely.

And now, bed!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fondue is a Fon-don't (except when it's a Fon-do)

Today was my last day of work, how exciting! My boss and coworkers gave me the gift of two large chocolate fondue dishes at the new Coco's Chocolate Cafe on Bardstown road. I gathered all the ballers I could and we had dinner there tonight. Delicious! SO DELICIOUS! It ended with me scraping my fingers inside the fondue bowls to get as much of the delicious chocolate as I could. It was an extremely thoughtful gift, and I'm glad my friends were able to partake in it.

Maria, you need to upload those photos you took soon, I want to see!

Afterwards, I gave away belongings to friends, as I'm trying to purge as much stuff as I can before I move. It was like Christmas day: "Who wants one of these...you? Take it!"

Meanwhile, did they make female taurens taller? Or the war raptors bigger? I swear I'm having more trouble than ever in Undercity. I used to just not be able to fit through the elevator door, but now I can't fit through ANY doors. I have a suspicion that while they seem to have accidentally replaced male orc shoulders with female orc shoulders, they also replaced female tauren war raptors with male tauren war raptors. But, of course, no one's going to raise a fuss about that (I did, afterall, accept the inconvenience of not being able to fit through doorways as payment for the badassery I would receive riding about on my DINOSAUR).

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Busy updates

Busy times, busy times.

Tomorrow is my last day of work. Half of me is excited (hence the not being able to sleep so instead staying up late and posting on LJ), and half of me is frantic because I have to leave them in the middle of their hectic getting-ready-for-the-start-of-school time. My calendar is packed full of social obligations I have to tend to before heading off to Pittsburgh, and it's equally exciting and exhausting.

Last Friday my Kempo friends came over for dinner. It was fantastic to see them again and amusing to watch Brad and James compete on the Wii. Kempo is such an important yet not often talked-about part of my life and spending time with them is always enriching. I'll try to keep updating within the next week, as I'm sure much will happen before I depart for the north.

A few notes...

1) They should just rename Facebook to Scrabblebook and be done with it.

2) Iisaw () posted this awhile back in his journal, and I kept meaning to share it. It is one of the most fun and cleverly designed Flash games I've encountered. Brendan, you would like this a lot, so be sure to check it out: BLOXORZ

3) The other day I helped my grandparents set up their first email account and send their first email. They were delighted.

That's all for now!

Monday, July 16, 2007

hee hee

Oh, how I love Stephen's Stories!

http://shamzmam.livejournal.com/114299.html

Monday, July 2, 2007

Read-a-thon

After a respectable 2 weeks, I finished Gone with the Wind, and as I suspected, it was better reading it now of my own free will than it was reading it under force as a 15-year-old.

I say "respectable" in terms of time because I feel I managed to pace myself quite well with this book. I think long books tame my brain into a steady endurance pace, which is difficult to do, as I am apt to devour books in large mouthfuls. It is not as though I skim books and just take in their surface. When I read I do consume the depths and flood my imagination with the details...it just happens in large gulps. I lift words up whole sentences at a time, not necessarily in the order presented, and reassemble them the proper way in my brain to create the story. It is fantastic! It is also why I can't read anything without seeing it all at once. This makes those little news ticker feeds at the bottom of the TV screen literally impossible to read.

But enough about at. First, commentary on the book: Scarlett is still as unlikable as ever, but believable. So one doesn't feel sympathy so much as recognition of at least one personal flaw buried in such a flawed character, and that's what causes pain. It's kind of like how she goes through the whole book wanting Melanie to die, and when it finally happens, her realization of how important people were to her is sudden and drastic and painful. Thus, you go through the whole book wanting Scarlett to get hurt, because she's such a bitch, but when she finally loses everything, you notice a piece of yourself somewhere in there and feel pain.

Oh, did I just spoil the book for some people? Oh... IT'S FREAKIN GONE WITH THE WIND. Come on.

Anyway, now I need another great big massive long story of a book to read. And drat it if I can't find my unabridged copy of The Stand!. Suggestions welcome.

Edit: I also can't find my copy of Harpo Speaks! This is distressing, as it is one of my favorite books.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Congratulations, Scott!

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Purple Rocket, Silver Bullet, and the newest addition to the ballers epic mount team, VERDE RAPIDO.



Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Grandparents? Linux? Madness!

In the ongoing effort to purge belongings before the big move, I fixed up my spare computer to give to my grandparents. I am running a secret experiment.

I put Kubuntu onto the box, in secret effort to turn my grandparents into geeks. Well not really. See, I have a theory: when all the little grandchildren come over and don't know how to use the Window-less computer, and my grandparents have to explain it to them, it will give my grandparents confidence!

The other part of my plan is to deter other well-meaning family members from trying to bombard my grandparents, showing them "Oh you just have to do this and this and this and it's eaaaaaaaasy," for they will be wary of the unfamiliar and back off.

Shut up, my plan is foolproof! For serious, though, they are a clean slate as far as computers, so giving them a Linux box will make no difference to them. They will likely only use it for the internet and word processing, and games (I plan on regimenting a vigorous solitaire schedule for my grandma so she can learn how to use the mouse).

Either way, they were both startlingly grateful for my gift, as though I'd given them some piece of precious magic. I'll return to their house when they get the internet set up, and will show them the wilds of the web. My grandmother, in spite of her tentative grasp of the mouse (both physically and metaphorically) specifically requested an Instant Messenger program, so I am confident of her drive and intent to learn how to use computers.

Alas for Linux, else I'd have her on WoW in no-time.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Tears

Whew! What a hectic week!

Bryan Scary and the Shredding Tears swept into Louisville and rocked any sense of routine out the window. Will and I met with the band about our project, and they are all super enthusiastic and awesome guys. Each one is quite huggable, oh how I love those Tears! They played a fantastic show at the Pour Haus, followed by merriment and amusement and Lisa staying up far past her bedtime.

Today I went kayaking with my family. I won kayaking lessons from one of the teachers at a faculty/staff meeting as a door prize (each department submitted a gift to the door prize pool). Coach Judd used to be my crew coach back in high school, and it was really fun to go out on the water. Kayaking is much easier on the arms than canoing. I should like to own one someday!

Lastly, as yoinked from , this is one of the coolest things ever.

Kinetic Sculpture

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Puppies and Owls

Two posts in one day? Madness! Nevertheless, it's been a busy day and there is much to post about.

Today Maria did a massive cleaning of her apartment in preparation for the arrival of The Shredding Tears on Tuesday, so I offered to puppy-sit for a few hours.

I also wanted to try out Brenna's new dog backpack that Maria got for her recently. She performed wonderfully in it! Brenna is a very sensitive pup and gets embarrassed easily, so there was some concern that she would be too embarrassed at wearing the backpack to be able to use it. However, she seemed unconcerned with it, and if anything she seemed approving of doing some work. I packed her up with water and toys and a towel to sit on and we went on a walk through one of the trails in Cherokee Park. Since she was concentrating on the backpack she did not tug on her leash, and heeled without even being asked. Many people passed us, and she did not show any signs of being embarrassed around other people. We went on a long walk and I gave her lots of praise and treats when it was over. Brenna seemed quite pleased with herself. I think the dog backpack is going to work out!

After the park we went to my parents' place. We were sitting in the back yard when a great big barred owl swooped down and landed on the branch of a tiny tree just a few feet from us. We all watched in awe (birds of prey are sooooooo cool! Especially up close!). The owl payed us no mind besides the occasional glance in each of our directions. Eventually it flew up to a higher branch and began hooting for its mate, who responded a ways off. They exchanged calls for several minutes. Brenna was mesmerized. Eventually the mate swooped down into the yard as well, and then the two flew off in the other direction.

I suppose living in downtown Louisville has made the owls unconcerned with humans, so they were content to carry on their owly business within a few yards of my family. All the better for us to observe, I say!

Reading

The library at work was giving away free books that they were taking out of circulation, mostly copies of Gone with the Wind and Taming of the Shrew. I read Gone with the Wind in high school, and I remember not enjoying it, but mostly because I was 15 years old and being forced to read it, and you know how that goes. I thought that now that I'm a grown-up and reading it of free will I may enjoy it better, not to mention that I'm always looking for huge books to sustain my ravenous reading pace.

I will say that I am enjoying it much more the second time around, though Scarlett O'Hare remains in top numbers on my list of "Most Easily Disliked Characters in Fiction." I think the difference is that this time I am able to draw myself back a bit and look at the context, and find the ironies here and there. I mean, I still want to reach into the book and wring her neck, but rather than just being annoyed at the stupid main character I am able to look at it from a wider perspective.

So yes, I'll let my brain chomp on this book for awhile, once I get back into school I may not have the luxury of time to read for fun, so I'll enjoy it while I can.

In other news, James helped me re-secure the rack on my bike today. Accomplishment!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Zwing!

Yoinked from , this is a fantastic Rube Goldberg device.

http://www.chilloutzone.de/files/player.swf?b=10&l=197&u=ILLUMllSOOAvIF//P_LxP92A42lCHCeeWCejXnHAS/c

I realize it would be more impressive without cuts, but I don't think it would be possible to do and still see everything that goes on. My favorite parts are the umbrella and the cell phone that makes the other cell phone vibrate down a slope.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Take a Ride on the Purple Rocket...

Thanks to a 600g loan by Will and Scott, I was able to get my epic flying mount tonight!






Glorious speed!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Writer's Block: Words that you love and hate

What are your favorite and least favorite words? Any reasons why?

What a fun little feature! Nice idea, LJ.

Anyway, my favorite word is vicarious because it is such a useful word. I remember learning it on some vocabulary list in high school and being struck with awe. What a fine word! It describes a complex yet familiar human concept and thus serves a fine purpose in the English language. I felt my vocabulary had truly been enriched after being introduced to this word.

My least favorite word is plethora because it is so misused. It is one of those words people use in essays for no other reason than to show that they know the word. There are many other words to successfully describe the concept you are really going for, but because some teacher in high school told you that you had to use vocabulary words because it'd make you sound smarter, you used plethora instead. I'm certainly guilty of that, and we can't blame the youth. Still, having worked in a high school, when I hear a young student give a fine speech, and then destroy it by using the word "plethora," it makes me sigh a little.

So there you go. Now, if someone can use "plethora" in a sentence or paragraph where it is necessary and pleasing and appropriate, I shall give them a prize. Linguists: go!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Moving and Theater

More busy moving times! Wednesday afternoon, evening, and night was spent moving DC and Beth out of their condemned apartment. Scott, Will, and I wandered over around 4:30 and joined the party of shoving large furniture and piddly boxes into vehicles, soon joined by more friends and family, caravaning the stuff out to Beth's parents' workplace, wherein a warehouse existed to hold their belongings. It was a very efficient and successful move.

If my work in the theater has given me one thing, it is the appreciation of how tame the average move is. After working numerous strikes and road shows at the Norton Center, moving and storing the entirety of DC and Beth's belongings in a single day was a mild ordeal (I mean, we had the whole day! It was practically leisurely!)

In the theater, no person, even the smallest, escapes the frantic, precarious, and downright hard physical labor of tearing down and packing up shows. Even after many ninjutsu-like escapes, I took my turn carrying the damned sound board up the stairs of the Norton Center. Common household furniture is nothing! After detaching and loading an intelligent stage light with the sickening knowledge that it was probably worth more than my life, I can move fragile and sentimental belongings with utmost confidence. Scraping myself on a bookshelf is nothing compared to being bitten by an alligator clamp.

Though my work in the theater was often grueling, it has made me strong and confident in the face of common moves. I am very appreciative of all that the theater has taught me. So, future moves, I fear you not! For no matter how big the couch, no matter how many boxes, it will never be as painful as striking a show. And so I close with the words of Bill the Props Carp, spoken as he and I attempted to get a precarious chaise lounge off a very tall shelf: "You know, once mankind finishes filling in that periodic table, we'll find something heavier to build this out of."

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Fires and Soft Drinks

Phew! What a busy day. So, on Friday afternoon 6 fire trucks roared into the complex to the back apartment building. Apparently the roof and attic had caught ablaze! (A guy living on the top floor noticed it and ran up and down the stairs banging on doors, so everyone got out and no one was hurt). DC and Beth live in the same building on the opposite side (and in the basement, no smoke or water damage) so were told to get their stuff to leave for 5 days while they investigated for the possibility that it was an electrical fire.

Weeelll it turns out the roof was so damaged that they have to do major renovations, so all 12 families in the building were told they would have to leave for several months. For DC and Beth, who are moving to Illinois in July, this meant they were out for good!

The whole situation has been very lucky. Beth's dad offered space at his warehouse for them to store their stuff, and her parents' guest bedroom furniture CONVENIENTLY arrived the day of the fire. No one was hurt, none of their stuff was damaged, so all in all the situation turned out to be nothing more than a big inconvenience.

Much of today was spent helping them pack up all their stuff, so I am very tired!

In other news, a good thing happened today. We went out to lunch and I had a Dr. Pepper, and it was EXTREMELY unsatisfying. This is good, because Dr. Pepper and Mr. Pibb are really the only things holding me back from banning HFCS soft drinks altogether. The cane sugar root beers and sodas were quite tasty, but every now and then I'd suffer a strong craving for Dr. Pepper. Hopefully now the craving will be thwarted!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

WoW Geekery

Honestly? I was doing the Children's Week quests for the cash. The cute pet was a pleasant surprise.




He honestly looks like something you would have found in my sketchbook in the 4th grade. SO CUTE!! The orange tabby I bought on the goblin auction house might have to get sold.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

10 things Christians and Atheists can agree on

In other news, I really like this article

http://www.pointlesswasteoftime.com/godfuse.html

(yoinked from )

Pittsburgh updates

It has been a fantastic week!

On Monday I drove up to Pittsburgh (accompanied by Scott, who kept me from losing my mind on the 7 hour drive)to go apartment scouting with my future roommates. It was quite an adventure. The first 3 places we saw were absolute dumps, and the landlord was crazy, so at first we were all rather worried. However, each place we saw afterwards got better and better, leading up to the last place we saw on the last day, which ended up being the best one (and the one we pounced on right away, because there were a lot of people looking at it).

So, I have a home in Pittsburgh now! Hooray! I will probably move up there sometime in mid-late July, no set dates yet. It only makes me more and more excited about starting at the ETC. Squeak!

The other wonderful thing that happened while I was up there: I found out I won one of the scholarships I applied for! Huzzah! A mere dent in a large tuition fee, but money is money and I feel special for having won.

Yay!

Friday, May 18, 2007

The question, the choice...

Nap or productive, nap or productive, nap or productive........

*falls asleep*

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Stir Fry Adventure

Take heart, internet! I believe I have moved one step closer to perfection with my stir fry recipe, and will share it! The perfecting element came when Kyle told me about using green tea water to make rice. Brilliant!

Keep in mind that this stir fry, unlike so many stir fries, is delicious. It is one of only 3 ways I will willingly and ravenously devour vegetables (the other two being ratatouille and that yummy tomato avocado salad). Please make this stir fry and share it with the world. Now for the recipe...


This recipe serves 3-4, and is easily halved

Prepare the rice!
First you need some green tea water. Use about 1 teaspoon of tea to 1 cup of water and steep for 3 minutes. Use this to make your rice otherwise according to package instructions. I find 1 cup of rice dry is sufficient.

The Sauce! This is the secret to this stir fry's deliciousness
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey (as you may have gathered from my previous post, I am somewhat of a honey snob. I have a darker, strong honey that I use for cooking. The aforementioned light honey I use for spreading on toast, stirring in tea, and--as has been the case for the past week--eating straight out of the jar in heaping spoonfuls)
1/2 teaspoon Sesame Oil
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon corn starch

1) Whisk the soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, and sesame oil in a small bowl. This mixture is good for marinating anything you want in your stir fry that is....marinatable, such as tofu or chicken. If doing this, marinate whatever for about an hour before cooking. After marinating, Reserve the sauce in the bowl.

2) Whisk in the water and corn sauce and set aside for the final stir fry step.

The Stir Fry!
Olive Oil
Fresh grated ginger
vegetables
...okay okay, that's a little vague, but for serious you use whatever vegetables you like. If you are unsure, just go to the frozen food section and buy one of those packages of frozen stir fry vegetables. They have a good variety, and frozen vegetables store well. For fresh suggestions, I love putting shiitake mushrooms in this dish. Shallots or 1/4-1/2 of an onion chopped up is a nice addition.

1) Heat up a bit of olive oil in a wok or pan over high heat.

2) If you have marinated something, like tofu or chicken, throw this in first to cook. Then remove before doing the vegetables.

3) If using onions or shallots, throw those in first and let cook for a bit.

4) If using mushrooms, throw those in second.

5) Throw in your vegetables and the grated ginger and stir fry away. If applicable, throw the tofu/chicken back in and toss about.

6) For the final step, add the sauce and cook until it thickens.

7) Remove from heat and serve over your green tea rice. Eat and savor the deliciousness.

8) (Optional) Take some slices of bread that you baked yourself by hand and smother them in yummy light honey as a supplement to this meal.

9) Eat.

10) Notice that a hummingbird has returned and drinks out of the hummingbird feeder you put up recently.

11) Squeak and kick your feet a little in excitement.

12) It is good to be alive.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

O...M...G...

Today at the farmer's market the Honey Man was there! I AM SO HAPPY! Of course, many people at the farmer's market sell honey, but this is the guy I normally buy from. See, lots of the local honey here is clover honey, the really dark, strong kind. But this guy also sells a really light honey that is super mild and delicious. I'm not sure what flowers the bees make it from, but I have yet to find another like it.

I had meant to buy one of his giant 5lb containers of honey to last me through the winter, but the last few markets in November he was not there. I was so sad. I tried finding lighter honeys at various stores, but none could compare. As the opening of the farmer's market for the spring approached, I had secret fears that Honey Man's bees had fled the planet on their bee ship, like so many bees have been doing as of late (they know something we don't, I am convinced).

But today I am rewarded for my patience! Joyous day! Return of Honey Man! I got home and had the most delightful spoonful of splendor I have had since winter set in. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Cellos

The cello will be my downfall! At work, the school's bell choir often practices in the foyer outside my office. This is all fine and well, but today they had a girl playing the cello with them. For some reason, the cello pulls and tugs at me and makes me want to cry the way no other sound does. It is tugging things loose.

You see, when I started taking this medicine, I stopped crying. I am guessing this is because my medicine is a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, meaning that in addition to managing my pain threshold it has the bonus side-effect of also being an anti-depressant. Last year, when Nancy got sick, I started crying on a pretty regular basis. When she died I began crying pretty much every day. When I started on the medicine, it suddenly stopped, and it was rather jolting.

However, I don't think I'm done grieving. It is similar to how the medicine works on my pain: I can still tell that something is not right, that the pain is still there just below the surface, I just can't feel it. Similarly, I feel like my grief is still there, just below, being numbed out by neurotransmitters. And, just as drastic shifts in barometric pressure strip the numbing layer off my pain threshold, some things open up the emotional haze like a seam-ripper.

That brings us back to the cello. Still, it fascinates me how tone and sound can evoke such strong and specific emotional responses. Sound is a mystery to me, something I can't grasp the way I can drawing and painting. It is always so sharp, too. My exposure to the cello is pretty low, I'd say (except when I was questing in the damned blood elf land with its damned blood elf music. I was teary-eyed through the whole zone!), so it always surprises me how strong I react to it. And it's a very specific tone, too. The bass is too low and the other strings too high to make me weepy.

Baffling.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Silly WoW stuff

Home again home again, and a sufficient evening (morning?) of WoWing. After several rigorous rounds of Alterac Valley, we went on vacation to Draenei Land.

Hilarity Ensues!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

NYC part 3

So Matt and I were going to go to the aquarium yesterday, but instead we just sat home and played video games all day long. This is fine by me, as this vacation wasn't so much of a "see New York" trip as a "visit my friends" trip, where the friends just happened to live in New York. We did have the obligatory New York style pizza for lunch, however.

That night I made stirfry for dinner and Carleton came over. We finished off the evening with a rousing game of Dominos. My family and family-friends are rigorous Dominos players in the game of Mexican Wild Train. It's a very fun game with easy-to-explain rules, so I often spread it around where I can. I'm wondering why I haven't introduced it to basketball yet.

Anyway, I also played a round earlier in the week, and it must be New York luck, or something, because I nearly won every hand! Last night's game, however, Matt beat me just barely in the last hand. Beginner's luck trumps New York luck.

Now to get ready to go to the airport and go home, where I will round off my spring break with WoW and laundry. See you Louisville folk soon!

Friday, April 13, 2007

NYC part 2

Yesterday was rainy and cold, so potential zoo plans were cancelled. We did make it to the Met, which is good since it's one of those places I felt I should go visit eventually. First, though, we had hot dogs at Gray's Papaya, and I must say they were the most delicious hot dogs I'd ever had. I am not a big hot dog person, either, and maybe only eat them once in a blue moon. I am ruined on hot dogs!

Anyway, the Met: we focused on European Painting, Ancient Near Eastern art, and the arms and armory section. They had this unfinished Durer painting that was AMAZING. I love it when I get to see process stuff, especially from people who are badasses. Anyway, I found it very interesting that he completely finished the drapery and hair on the portrait (like, down to the crazy little individual strands of hair highlight) before touching the hands and face. The hands and face had a few places of glaze over them, but for the most part you could totally see his ridiculously detailed Albrecht Durer style preparatory sketch. I found it interesting that he appeared to be starting to paint the lips on the face before anything else. It was super cool, and it made the whole trip to the Met worthwhile.

After our museum trip and an obligatory "Lisa is on vacation" nap, we went down to Little Korea for dinner. I met back up with Carleton, and I got to meet up with Yale too! Yay Yale! We ate at this dumpling place that was DELICIOUS, and wandered about a Korean market store afterwards. We were waiting for Ian to get done with work so he could come join us too. We tried a Korean icecream place, but it was not my style. It was more of slightly tart yogurt with fruit toppings mixed on. Fine in its own right, but not satisfying to my desire for icecream.

When Ian showed up (yay Ian!) we went to Lindy's for cheesecake, and spent a good part of the evening sitting and chatting. I am glad my two sets of friends got along, that's something I always worry about a little when friends collide.

Anyway, it was fantastic to see Ian and Yale, and it was a lovely evening of New York galavanting. Coming home tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

NYC

The best part about working in a school is that you still get school breaks off in addition to your two-weeks vacation. Woo! For my spring break, after two solid days of WoW and Easter family times, I came up to New York to visit many friends.

First I visited Carleton, which was very fun and involved a lot of eating and computer nerd talk. I also obtained the Gameboy Advance version of Final Fantasy VI as a visiting present, yay! Carleton taught me some clever Java tricks and helped me with some questions my Java tutee had that I didn't know the answer to.

I spent a lot of the past two days asleep. I know some people would fuss at me for this (won'tmentionanynames*cough*Will*cough*), but Carleton was totally fine with me nodding off for hours at a time, both because he understands my nappy nature and the effects of this disease. I can't help it that I need to sleep so much, I just can't, and I think maybe my body relaxed for a spell, which means it tends to shut down. Regardless, I had the nappiest of times, and it was refreshing in the end.

Right now I'm staying with Matt, another friend of mine who I hadn't seen since summerstock at BTF. Tomorrow we are going on a touristy sort of run, and hitting a zoo and the Met for free, since Matt is a member there. Hooray free stuff! I'm also hoping to see Ian and Yale while I'm up here in the City.

More updates later!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

High Fructose Corn Syrup

There has been lots of talk of late among the Tuesday Night Ballers about high fructose corn syrup. As those of you who live in the United States know (or maybe do not know), high fructose corn syrup is really bad for you, and can cause all manner of heart and liver problems. This is why they don't let them use it in many other countries. However, because it is so cheap to make, in the US one will be hard pressed to find a beverage that does not contain this sugar substitute.

But worry not! At the grocery store tonight, Scott and I decided to peruse the labels of a variety of drinks, so that we could compile for your convenience a list of non-high fructose corn syrup beverages! And so I give you our list:

Passover Coke
Red Bull
Northland 100% cran-raspberry juice.



...Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Chicago

We went to Chicago this weekend to visit D Flo! By we I mean Scott, Kyle, and myself. Scott gives a full account of the adventure if you want to read, but I will say that Body Worlds 2 was cool as hell. And of course Scott was as giddy as a kid in a candy shop...or a PhD anatomy student in a room full of plasticized cadavers...whichever.

Seeing D Flo and Ezzie was super nice, and it was very fun to have Kyle along as well. I did, however, forget to clean Kyle's car today, like I was meaning to. Kyle! Come to Maria's tomorrow for empanadas! I will then clean your car!

In other news, I have 4 scholarship deadlines fast approaching and am rather worn out. However, I will be going to New York in 2 weeks to visit Carleton, Matt, and hopefully Ian and Yale. Yay for visits!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Night Florists

I really really really like today's Anacrusis. Like, a lot. Well done Brendan!

(For those of you who read my journal but have not friended the wonderful feed of Brendan's weekdaily 101 word short stories, you should! )

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Huzzah!

Another scholarship application in the mail! Woo! On a roll! Or somethin! Granted, I have 3 more scholarships to apply for in April, so I will not cease being busy, but it does feel good to mark the big red "high importance" to-do items off my list.

I deserve a bit of celebration for these small accomplishments, yes? Perhaps chocolate? Perhaps pie?

Also, Mariah, I'm still pondering over your interview questions. Ponder ponder!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Birds and Stones, Hair and Puppies

I got a haircut! Brendan also took new pictures of his and Maria's puppy, Brenna! Pictures abound!









One Locks-of-Love donation later...









You can enjoy more photos of the puppy here, more pictures of my new hair here. Granted, I am not one to blow dry my hair, and I take showers at nights, so my hair is now much more wavy and crazy-like than in these nice pictures. These enjoyable photos have been brought to you by Brendan Adkins, the official photographer of the Tuesday Night Ballers.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lent and such

This Lent I have a few smaller goals vs. one big one. No soft drinks, which isn't so much a drastic change as a clamp down on an already dwindling habit. I really only ever have soft drinks on Tuesdays, and occasionally if I go out to eat for lunch or on the weekend. This is a closing of the gap, so to speak.

Also, I am reducing my WoW time to 7 hours a week to be condensed or spread out to my liking. I've been making a to-do list a mile long of tiny tasks and odd jobs to be done this Lent, and I can also devote the extra time to applying for scholarships. I've sent in applications for three so far, which I feel is a pretty good pace, but there are quite a few in March and April that I'll have to be more diligent on. So it isn't so much a "less WoW" as a "replace one unit of WoW with one of these other tasks to do." The distinction is important, otherwise I'd just go back to napping all the time.

Other news:
- on Friday I'm getting my hair chopped off to donate to hopefully end up on some alopecia areata-stricken child's head.
- Brendan took pictures of the puppy last night, and I'm saying this so he'll post them on Flickr or some such so I can share them with the world
- My great-grandmother of 104 years old finally passed away this week. More on this later.

Monday, February 12, 2007

California

So my boss and I are in Folsom, CA, for the aforementioned training. I have a feeling this week will be exhausting, but we did get a chance to see the sights yesterday a bit.

We went into Sacramento to the zoo. They have a hyena there! I love hyenas! They also have a giant anteater. Those things are awesome!

Later we wandered around historic Sacramento, which seemed to have been founded on candy shops. We then returned and poked around Folsom, which has some pretty bike paths and such.

The rest of the week will be training and eating, I think. Anyone near Folsom want to visit?

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Updates and such

Why do the funniest damned things always happen to Stephen?

Thanks everyone for birthday wishes! It was a brilliant birthday full of fun.

I got to puppy-sit for Brendan and Maria for the beginning of the week. Brenna and I had tons of fun, and Brendan needs to take and post more pictures of her! She is the cutest, and we only have pictures of her up from when she was a little puppy, and also that time we threw her in the pool a lot.

In other news, I get to go to Folsom, California next week, but it is for training for work. I will likely only see the hotel room and the training classroom the whole week, bleeeh. My boss, however, did let me install WoW on a work laptop such that I may preserve my sanity during a week of learning huge, complicated pieces of new software.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Birthday Times!

Today is my birthday, and for some reason I am super excited about it! Or it might be that I am just super excited about life in general, and the fact that it's my birthday is incidental.

Woo 25!! This year is the big move out of the 18-24 age demographic, so farewell college kiddery, hello twenty-somethings!

Tonight I am having dinner with my family at my brothers' and tomorrow is the Celebratory Early February Birthday Chili Party.

So, if you are in Louisville and free tomorrow, please stop by my place for chili! Food around 3, but accepting callers as early as noon. Yay!

Yaay!

Yaaaay!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Pie experiments

Occasionally Whole Foods has really good deals on fresh berries, so tonight I picked up some blackberries with nothing in mind to do with them. When I got home I began to crave pie. I didn't have enough blackberries to make an entire pie, but I did have a few apples laying around, so I figured I'd be experimental.

Internet, blackberry apple pie is quite possibly one of my most delicious baking experiments yet! It has such an unusual combination of flavor and texture, it's just so. Just so I tell you!

Oh how I love pie!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

WoWery



I like to call this piece: "#$%^&*! Rogues!"


Cleaning

The problem with cleaning, or rather my problem with cleaning, is that I'll be going along fine and then get caught up in some intense, delicate task...such as untangling and building a new climb structure for my 12 year old philodendron. As such, the cleaning never really gets done, because I spend the rest of the day on said delicate task.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Chicago

First of all, thank you guys so much for your congratulations, it really means a lot to me! I feel all warm and squishy inside knowing I have so much support.

In other news, Scott and I went to Chicago this weekend to visit D Flo, and it was tons of fun. We got to meet Ezzie, who is D Flo's little Maltese puppy. She is a fluff ball of playfulness and love, and has reshaped my previously bad experience with Maltese. D Flo needs to video her and post for all to see.

On Friday, Scott and I went to the Museum of Science and Industry. It was tons of fun, though Scott had his hopes raised because Body Worlds 2 was on our map. However, it doesn't open until next week. Hopes crushed! We still had lots of fun at the museum, and we saw a cool Omnimax about Deep Sea Volcanoes.

That night we went to see D Flo in a sketch Comedy show at Donny's Skybox at Second City. The show was written by the Second City Conservatory writing students, and was quite entertaining. D Flo remains the funniest man I know.

On Saturday we went to the Shedd Aquarium. We saw the sharks and the rays and the dolphin show, the belugas, the sea dragons, and so on. I love aquariums, but it tempted me to run out and buy another betta, which I can't do right now. Sadness! That night we ate out to celebrate my grad schoolness, and I got to see Squirt, who I haven't gotten to hang out with in aaaaaaaaaaaaages. Yay Squirt!

The rest of the trip was all Guitar Hero and Mario Party, but I am very happy I was able to see D Flo. Yay Chicago!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

"Dear Lisa,

Congratulations! It is my great pleasure to inform you that you have been accepted into the Master of Entertainment Technology (MET) degree program of Carnegie Mellon University..."

I AM GOING TO GRAD SCHOOL YAY YAY YAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!!!!!!!

I did have a brief weekend of panic when I first got the acceptance letter, which was for the upcoming semester on their Australia campus starting in February. But it turns out that is just there for people who want to expedite entry and such, and I can start in the fall at Pittsburgh as planned.

SO MUCH AWESOME!

Saturday, January 6, 2007

WoW

We had our first full guild WoW party instance tonight. Basically it was running Scott through Sunken Temple. We so cute!!



We had an entourage of pettage going on


Silly picture!


Silly pictures are hard


Wednesday, January 3, 2007

2006 Review

Oh man, 2006 seems to have happened all at once, so this will be short.

I guess the most dominant events of 2006 have been, unfortunately, sickness and death. The most prevelant, of course, was Nancy's brain cancer and death in March. Looking back, I am surprised to see that the time between when she went in the hospital and when she died was little less than a month. It's strange, because that time felt like forever.

Immediately after her death I went to visit Will in Savannah, and wrestled between having a fun time with my friend (who took me on my first ever trip to Disney World!) and my overwheling grief. Among all this was my own weird health problems, in full swing. It was a tryingly timed trip, and I still feel like I made a bad impression on Savannah in general because of it, and still feel bad because of it.

Shortly after said trip, my Nana died of lung cancer. Following that, Bonmom died (Mary Beth's grandmother). Eric and Mary Beth's cat, Check, also died last year. No one is allowed to die this year, okay guys?

Moving on, the spring and summer progressed in a slightly upward direction. My parents decided to sell their house, and so massive cleaning and repair began. I got to visit D Flo in Chicago and have many fun times. I got to visit Will in California and see such exciting things as Cartoon Network and the La Brea tar pits. Brendan and Maria adopted Brenna, the first canine member of the Tuesday Night Ballers. Camping, glorious camping occured! And of course, through the power of peer pressure, I came to begin playing World of Warcraft.

Moving into the fall, I got the cue that 2006 was a year for initiating change, so I applied to grad school, and we'll just hold our breath about that, I s'pose. More changes with the winter, as I am now beginning to successfully address my weird health problems. A new cat wandered into our lives, and Eric and Mary Beth took him in. I think it all culminated in my parents successfully selling their house, and our combined Christmas dinner to toast Nancy and say goodbye to our home.

New Year's came and went without much fuss. Fun times were had playing video games and spending time with loved ones. I think I'm ready to get started on 2007, I feel good about it.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

I can seeeeee!

I got new glasses today!

I'd been long overdue for a prescription update, so I was looking forward to it. The world is like a crystal!

Getting new glasses is always a little weird for me at first. My perception of reality has been suddenly improved! It's as if the world is less real.

Things are so startlingly clear that I feel like I am going to trip and fall into the world, as one fears they may trip and fall into the world on the TV screen, only in three dimensions so it's trippier.

Does anyone know what I'm talking about?