Sunday, July 26, 2015

Is This Seat Taken?

I've come to notice that many of those I called "friends" have ceased to be.  Especially those going back to the hazy, crazy days of my youth. What happened? I'll tell you what happened: life. Life is what happened. People move to different locations, different jobs, different circles. Marriage takes you out of one and places you in another. Have kids? Some would say that life was over - at least one's social life.

If I focus on those who are no longer a "connection", it can become pretty depressing. But, I was reminded of something this weekend: big friends come in small packages. Life can be impacted in profound ways by the seemingly insignificant connections.

A year ago (July 2014), my wife and I flew to Salt Lake City, Utah, to attend Nerdtacular. I wrote about it in a previous blog post. Up to this year, Nerdtacular has taken place around the Independence Day weekend. This is the first year that it will be held the weekend of July 31 and August 1. My wife and I decided to not go this year, in order to save money and make it a long vacation next year (to coincide with our 10th wedding anniversary).

At one point during the event last year, we were waiting in the lobby to get into the ballroom for an event, and found ourselves in a conversation with a gentleman from The Great State of Texas (I believe "The Great State of" is part of the state's name, right?). You have to understand, there are people who come from all over the world to this event. Josh was friendly, funny, and engaging. That, by the way, pretty much describes the personalities of folks who attend.

After that weekend we kept a connection with Josh over Twitter. I mentioned him in the same post as above, so check it out for a taste of his Tweetness.

As July approached this year, I realized that I saw less and less of Josh on Twitter. He is a very intelligent software developer, so I'm sure his time is quite limited.

Yesterday I reached out to him via chat and told him we were thinking of him and to let him know that we would not be at this year's Nerdtacular, but were going to be watching the live broadcast of the event (check out Alpha Geek Radio). My wife suggested that if he got in front of a camera to wave.

His response impacted me so much that I'm writing this post. He basically expressed his disappointment and said that he had been looking to get together all year. He also said he was a reader of this blog, and that he wanted to discuss my recent sabbatical. Quite an intimate topic for someone I met briefly a year ago.

And that is the thing. It doesn't matter when, where, or how - it's in the least likely moments when a connection will grab you by the hand and hold on. You have to keep yourself open to those life puts in your path. Sometimes the simplest can be the most impactful.

Oh, and I guarantee, while I watch the live stream of this year's Nerdtacular, I'll be scanning the crowds for Josh.

© Emittravel 2015

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Hurt Me Once . . . Hurt Me Twice . . .

There is one thing that you possess, that nobody - no one - can take from you. Yet it is the one thing that we give away the most: good character.

Your word is your bond. And, unfortunately, be that a good word, or a bad word, it is still true. The hardest thing to lose is also the hardest to regain: your trust.

My wife and I were having a discussion over dinner concerning a comment made on a podcast we listened to. The podcast episode was called "Cracks in Human Perception" (a little long, but worth the listen), and at one point referenced global climate change.

Now, regardless of whether or not you believe in man-made global climate change, you have to agree that the solid rock that those who support it have stood on has become shifting sand over the years. From discredited photos of polar bears without an ice patch to call home, to the 1,000+ questionable emails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, to the lack of the lack of ocean-front property we should be dealing with now, the climate change criers have had to do a lot of back pedaling. Even to go as far as rename the argument from "global warming" to "global climate change".

Let me make a correction to the above: the global climate change supporters have not done any back pedaling; they have simply changed their arguments as if they have never said the previous in the first place.

Regardless, because those individuals felt they needed to give us visual representations to scare us into action - visual representations that proved to be, at best premature, or at worst outright falsehoods - they have lost credibility with a lot of people. They gave away their good character.

In 1989, George H.W. Bush became the 41st President of the United States. (From a Wikipedia article) In his first four years: military operations were conducted in Panama and the Persian Gulf; the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and the Soviet Union dissolved two years later.

Why bring up George H.W. Bush? Because, he was a one-term President. Previously, you would have to go back to Jimmy Carter, and since? Nobody. In spite of the Whitewater scandal that plagued Bill Clinton, and the (unfounded) hatred of George W. Bush, or the golf game of Barack Obama, all of those who followed served two terms. What was the difference? What President George H.W. Bush was remembered most for was, "Read my lips: no new taxes.", and then signing an increase in taxes that Congress had passed. He lost trust with the American people. His word was his bond, and it wasn’t a good word.

All this to say, that even IF the advocates of global climate change are RIGHT, they have lost credibility by being disingenuous. They were so pressed to follow an agenda, that they lost sight of the impact of their words.

Your word is your bond. Trust me.

© Emittravel 2015

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Please J.J., No More

Have you ever heard of J.J. Abrams? He's a producer, writer, and director; best known for shows like "Lost", "Alias", and "Fringe", and movies like "Super 8", "Star Trek", and the upcoming "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens". I really enjoy his work, overall. There is just one thing that really bugs me about it: lens flairs.

What are lens flairs? They are small glares that cut across the camera lens; usually because strong sunlight hits at just the right spot while filming. Now, I really don't mind lens flairs overall. It's just that Mr. Abrams (may I call you "J.J."?) likes to put them in post - after the shots have been taken - as a "special effect" - a sort of signature.

I think that J.J. likes to use them to create a sort of realism - to give the viewer what the director might see from his perspective.

Please, J.J., no more lens flairs.

It's one thing to see them in a highly-lit scene, where the small flash can go almost completely unnoticed. But, when there is an outdoor scene, in November, in Boston, with an overcast sky, there is NO REASON for a lens flair. At that point you don't have a neat effect: you have a distraction that takes you out of the scene. STOP IT!

There was an episode in the show "Fringe" where the above HAPPENED. My wife and I are watching through the series, and, you can confirm with her, I find I keep yelling at the screen: "Stop it, J.J.! Enough with the lens flairs!" What does this mean? Instead of being pulled into the scene, captivated by what I'm seeing, I'm being told "Hey you! You there! Sitting on your couch! This is only a TV show!!"

We're also watching the series "Doctor Who" (a non-J.J. Abrams production). But, unlike most, instead of starting with the more recent "reboot", we went back to the original, black and white, first episode. For me, I love a good story. I don't care if the ship in space is a model held up by really visible strings. Tell me a good story and I won't mind. The difference is, those effects weren't added in later. They were the actual scenes. The lens flairs added after the fact take me out of the story. It's like seeing the boom mic floating over the heads of the actors. You can't help but notice the mic, and then not even hear what they were saying.

So what's next, J.J.? What do you plan for Star Wars? Will we get flairs off of R2D2? Maybe off of the shaft of Luke Skywalker's light saber? Most likely, we'll get one on Tatooine, in a cave, without a single light source.

So please, for the sake of the story: stop it.

I wanted to post a bunch of pictures of lens flairs throughout this post, but I found something better. Below is a link to one of my favorite YouTube channels, Screen Junkies. They have what they call Honest Trailers. They are both hysterical and thought-provoking. After you watch this, you'll want to see all of them.


© Emittravel 2015