Monday, December 31, 2012

I Was Here First.

So my wife has started blogging.  How dare she?  I've been trying to get her to blog for over 4 years and then, on a whim, she suddenly starts.   I guess I should be happy?  And I guess I am.  But it's more of a shock than anything else.  You see I'd given up trying to persuade her.

Over the years I've tried so many methods to try to persuade her to blog.
  • I tried basic argument...which was never going to work lets face it.  We're married, so I am the last person she's going to listen to. 
  • I tried the 'build it and they will come' method creating a wordpress blog site at  Lynn showed no interest.
  • I tried to shame her into blogging by posting inane photographs on  This achieved a modicum of success, in that she liked the pictures of abandoned LA couches and soon started sending me more and more to post.  In fact, as back then I was driving her to and from work everyday, I would slow the car for her to photograph more shots of LA's eccentric couch positioning.  But still she would not type a word and I was sent the pictures by email to upload.
  • Then I had a revelation.  I should write a blog and either she'd see how easy it was....or more likely, my inability would get her frustrated to the point of action to 'show me how it should be done.'   Hmm, that sounds like Mrs T is errr... difficult?  Well she's not, and here she proved it.   Lynn loved my blog.  Encouraged my writing.  Helped me improve and gave me nothing but support...  Although, as lovely as that was and still is, she still didn't start writing her own blog!
  • Every so often, Lynn would rant about something or other in the news or on Facebook or Twitter and I would suggest that she wrote about it. The silence of her keyboard was deafening.
  • I thought I'd be devious.  While we were discussing how media was changing, I suggested that she start video blogging; become a vlogger!  This was met with 'some resistance' and could be said to have either backfired or created a beautiful thing...depending on your point of view.  Our ThisDayToday YouTube channel emerged from this discussion...but still not a blog or even a vlog.
So I gave up trying to persuade her.  I began a new life, accepting that Mrs T might write beautiful scripts, monologues and stories but she would never write a blog.  The wordpress site lay fallow and when it got hacked, I removed it and pointed to our new YouTube channel.

So what prompted Mrs T to start blogging?  A bunch of things, not all pleasant, including the passing of 'Stripes' our pet hamster.  But mainly it was because Lynn wrote her feelings down in a Facebook status and felt that she wanted to write something longer.  Simple really.  Facebook's failings must have surely prompted many wonderful things.  

I pretended not to be interested, but set up her new blog as fast as is physically possible. 

She gets many more views per post than I ever get.  She writes so much better than I ever do.  I could be very jealous and so I joke that I am.  I feign ambivalence and tease her for checking the view statistics.  I poke fun at how long it takes her to write each post and grumble when she asks me to proof read [Yes, if you spot errors in her blog the faults are all mine... I'm told it's part of the role of a husband to graciously accept all blame]

But I'm actually pleased, happy and most of all proud of Mrs T.  But what ever you do this New Year, don't tell her!

I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Guns n Curry n Friendship.

A good friend of mine organized an evening for his Scottish friends living in LA to meet up over dinner.   Sort of a Scottish gentleman's club, without the implications that the phrase "gentleman's club" might have.

The premise was simple.

Why not have an evening where everyone was understood, and their accents were only an issue to the restaurant staff.  We had a shared understanding of humor and a strong cultural link.

I could call someone an eejit and not only would they know what I meant, they'd know I was just having fun.

We had a great night, which included suggestions about what to do when we meet up next time.  I suggested we go to a gun club, as this is one of the most alien aspects of American culture to me.   And let's face it, it would be both exciting and relatively safe in such a controlled environment.  We  decided we should also add a particularly Scottish activity - and there are few things more Scottish than going to an Indian restaurant.

We agreed to call the next evening "Guns n Curry" - which sounded to us like the name for a Scottish "Guns n Roses" tribute band.  We predicted that we'd be singing "Sweet Japati of Mine" by the end of the evening.

I've just sent out an email and we've all agreed that we're not going to a gun club anymore.  We don't need a gun experience right now.

There's a lot of talk right now about gun control and new laws and services.  It's good that there is and I hope that something good comes of it.  However, I think we need to act as individuals as well. 

If you have a gun, I believe it is your obligation to reconsider whether you should have such a weapon.  Your gun(s) will probably never protect you and your family.  In fact, it is more likely that they will be used to inflict harm on you or your family.

I believe that it is the actions that we make as individuals, that will ultimately make lasting change.  And so I hope that you personally decide to get rid of your guns.

The Glasgow Garam Masala evening will now take place in early in the New Year...without the risk of any  rock anthems being badly sung with Scottish accents.

I'd love to get your comments
  -Do you have a gun and think I am wrong to ask to you to consider getting rid of it?  If so, why?
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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tubefilter #PayToPlay Meetup Review.

Tubefilter #PayToPlay Meetup Dec 4, 2012
This is my first review of this type.  Actually, come to think of it, my first review of any type.  Why write it?  Because this was one of the best and worst panel discussions I've ever been to.

In my view Tubefilter's meetup last night wasn't really a panel discussion.  The format was somewhere between a sales presentation  and 'an audience with.'

From a technical point of view it met the definition of a panel discussion, in that there was a panel and there was some discussion.  That's where the similarity ends though.
The panel were:

Brian Norgard -  CEO and Co-Founder of Meetup sponsor Chill.
Dan Dobi - Director of "Please Subscribe" a movie being released on Chill.
Michael Urie - Ugly Betty star, who's made  "Thank You for Judging", a movie to be released on Chill.

The proceedings were moderated by Drew Baldwin from Tubefilter and they were sponsored by Chill and SAG/AFTRA New Media.

So I knew before I went, that the discussion would be Chill-focused and Chill-biased, but I've often dabbled in the space of pay-per-view and I was happy to hear their perspective and context.

What I didn't expect was that both Michael and Dan knew virtually nothing about this subject.  They'd separately stumbled upon Chill, by making an interesting movie and not having a distribution channel readily available for their niche markets.  So the best and most relevant information was being imparted by Brian, hence why in parts there was a feeling that we were attending a different event called either "An Audience with Brian Norgard" or "Chill's Emerging Dominance of Community Driven Direct Online Video Revenue"

The whole feel of the meet up could have been that a promotional talk....however, right from the start the panel was hit by a curve ball from Dan Dobi.  He mistakenly tried to justify that he never goes to movie theaters and watches movies for free using bit torrent.  Nice!

Drew, a skillful moderator, let Dan continue his rather odd confession to include using bootleg copies of all the software he uses...including Final Cut Pro and other tools that he no doubt used to create his movie...

Oh and did I mention, Dan would like you to pay $5 to watch his movie "Please Subscribe" on Chill?

Dan did however also impart some quite useful information, when he told us that you need to be quite technically knowledgeable to make bit torrent work.  I wouldn't know, as I've never used it, and won't... well not until his movie is available. ;-)

Do you like comedy that plays on uncomfortable situations?  I do.  So, I particularly enjoyed when Dan was confronted by an audience member question. His discomfort and embarrassed looks were a joy to experience.

Can I add to this comedy of discomfort?  This was a SAG/AFTRA union sponsored event where a panelist had admitted that he steals from pockets of SAG/AFTRA members... and would like you to pay him for something he produced using stolen software.  Surely the discomfort couldn't get any better?

For me though, I had a force multiplier sat next to me.  Before the event started I had been chatting to the guy next to me.  He was really knowledgeable and interesting to talk to... and he is a SAG/AFTRA New Media representative!  We didn't manage to talk after the 'panel discussion' which was a shame.  He seemed... well... quite busy.

It's often said that the internet is like the 'Wild West'; full of pioneers, adventure and risk.  Well I think I may just have had an audience with modern day version of Broken Nose Jack McCall

**Update:  Having written this, I then sent it to all of the panelists via Twitter.  I got a response from Brian saying he'd hoped for a fiery debate and a response from Dan asking for my email address.

Swapping emails with Dan was fun.  He is clearly not the serial pirate that he came across as and merely wanted to make the point out that there are significant numbers of people out there using bit torrent and other services.  Dan hopes that these same people would perhaps forgo those services, if they were offered the movies that they want to watch at a more realistic and affordable price.  After all it's got to be a lot easier to pay a couple of dollars and click download, than to use bit torrent and then worry that you'll be caught out legally later.  I hope he's right.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Free Daily Video Content

We now have a lot of videos.  One a day since March 1st, plus a couple of extras.  And they just keep coming, relentlessly day by day.  And day by day we learn how to better form the videos; better writing, better performances, better filming, better editing...  We love it.  Where we should be focusing more of our effort is in the sharing and promoting of our videos...but it's much more fun focusing on the videos, after all that's what started this project.

So yesterday while editing, I stumbled on a way to make it look like there was a TV playing in the background, partially obscured by a hanging model of a car.  This kind of experimentation and learning happens everyday and is a large part of the fun of it all.

And today?  Well it occurs to me that there are people out there with websites needing daily content to keep their sites looking fresh.  Perhaps they'd like some free daily video content?

Our videos always aim to be informative, funny and suitable for everyone.  Hmm... What does "suitable for everyone" mean?  Well, we won't do bad language and we won't do that 'drive by' vicious type of humor.  From time to time we may poke fun at Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh and those who seek out we're pretty sure they'll still be happy to be mentioned even though we're poking fun at them.  In essence, we try to keep things at level where our 9 year old son could watch without being shocked.  Though he may not laugh when the concept is beyond his experience.  They will only have implied naughtiness without gratuitous references to erm whatever... 

So if you'd like to use our videos, the playlist is here:

To embed it on your site you need this piece of code:

You can get the code yourself and choose the player size by going to the playlist and then clicking on 'share' and then 'embed'.

It'll look like this:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Yup, that's me out of my depth again.  We had a last minute hitch with one of our performers, so I stepped in.  Normally, Lynn would have covered it, but she'd already been on for the 18th.

Lynn and I had fun, but we were both uncomfortably covering what we would call the other's job.  Though I think it's good for us both to see the other side, it's not easy to let someone sit where you would sit, and then watch them struggle.   In a way, however, it helps you realize what you do know and, as we're both struggling at the same time, we try to be as respectful as we can to each other...well as respectful as a couple that have been married for 10 years can be. {notsomuch}

In the video, I'm most unfair to Sir James Dewar.  Clearly he was a brilliant scientist and just lacked business knowledge or abilities.  Without the internet, how many of us would truly know of the potential value of patents?  And how many would know how to even go about getting one?  And I say this as someone who actually has a patent in their name.

Having written this, I suddenly realized something.  I generally refer to it as my patent, but I was essentially a student working for British Telecom at that time and so everything I did was owned by them.  However, something to do with US and Canadian law meant I had to be paid materially for the patent and so I was paid one US dollar and one Canadian dollar.   Valuable indeed these patents!  Hmm, maybe I was as business savvy as Sir Dewar.  Who's the eejit?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Extreme Whack-job.

QUIK from Colin Kennedy on Vimeo.

I hate this video. Mostly because of the hopes I had.  I thought I'd love it and then I just couldn't get around the fact that if I was walking or driving around LA when he did this, I'd definitely wish to punch him in the face.   I know, this is an extreme reaction and for that I apologize.   I haven't hit anyone since high school, so even though I'd have wanted to, I wouldn't have done it.  There is some background to this reaction though.

When I was very young, under 12, I had a lot of accidents.  I broke a leg, got concussion, stitches and when my parents decided we should move house they did test hospital runs to see which routes were fastest.  Some of my accidents were inspired by the TV series 'The Fall Guy.'  I was young and stupid, but by age 12 my accidents stopped.  I'd figured out what caused the most idiotic accidents and I just stopped doing those things.

 I bought both my boys skateboards the moment they first asked for them.  I had one as a kid and loved it - I didn't even have that many horrific accidents on it. ;-)  I'd normally share good videos with my boys, but they aren't getting to watch Austyn's video.  Doing skateboard tricks on the sidewalk / pavement with side streets, pedestrians and traffic is bonehead stupid.  Like Jackass, but without the humor.

There's a behind the scenes video too.  I watched it hoping that there'd be clearly shut off streets and everything possible done to make it safe and warn innocent pedestrians.  But no, just spotters with walkie talkies.  And worse, Austyn moans about how difficult it was to make and is shown throwing his board away in disgust when messes up his stunts.  Petulant child behavior that I detest.

It reminds me of laughing at how heartless one of my friends had been to a cyclist.  My friend was walking across a side street when the cyclist was traveling at high speed down the main road.  The cyclist wanted to whip into the side street that my friend was crossing, but he was going way too fast.  He braked badly, lost what little control he had, and tumbled to the ground.  It was all so fast my friend was kind of rooted to the spot, braced and awaiting the impact of the cyclist.  Luckily for my friend the cyclist came to a rest just inches in front of my friend.  And then my friend, merely stepped over the bleeding cyclist, and walked away as if nothing had happened.  He was sooo angry at the cyclist, he couldn't speak to him and refused to even acknowledge him.

So am I over reacting?  Am I just old and soft now that I am a father?  I don't think so.  After all, I bought my sons skateboards and bikes, and I've even taken my 9 year old karting on 45mph karts.  I encourage taking risks, tease them when they bemoan their little scrapes and tell them to get back on that bike after a fall.  But to do skateboard tricks through a crowded city, crossing side streets and loading bays at a speed you can't stop from... Nope, that's the idiotic sort of thing I'd have done when I was pretending to be Colt Seavers.

 Let me know what you think... or just send me links to some better videos...
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Scary Debuts.

My video is out.  Our secret is out too.  Quite early on, in the the start up of, we realized we needed to speed up the process of filming the pieces.  Alfred
Molina is our current record holder having shot the most pieces in one session, but not everyone has his control and memory retention.

So when on a job, I looked closely at a professional teleprompter being used to help some local actors create an instructional video for Japanese doctors...a tricky gig where all the crew struggled to stay focused, as everything was in Japanese and the director was in Japan watching via Skype.  The teleprompter just looked like a piece of glass at 45 degrees, with monitor underneath it.  So I did some research and that is all that's really needed in a studio situation - it's more tricky in bright sunlight etc.

With some left over plywood in the garage, less than $20 for a new picture frame and an old flat-ish screen monitor, I had everything I needed.  As soon as we started using it, we become so much more productive.  We've always striven to pack in the material to keep the videos short, and the teleprompter helps with the precision needed.  And as the performers get used to it, it becomes a guide not a master.  It's funny though, Mr Molina has continued to show his metal and still remains our record holder - recently we shot 12 pieces with him in one session !

Then it struck me.  Who invented the teleprompter?  We should cover that.  Who should write and perform it?... and that's where it went wrong.  Of course, I should write and perform it.  After all, I was that one who built the thing.   Only one snag.  I don't perform.  I guess you could say I write, in that I write this blog, but it's not the really the same thing.  It scared me.  I felt embarrassed.  I've never wanted to perform.  But none the less,  I had to do it.  We shot it on June 5th - that's a long time to get nervous.

On the very day my video went out, my eldest son Fergus started at a new school.  When we arrived in the US almost 4 years ago, Fergus spent a miserable 6 weeks at a local school, that ended with his teachers losing him in a public park.  I know, total incompetence!  He never went back to that school.   So we were all more than a little scared about the new school.  Fergus was clearly nervous, but he rose to the challenge.  He's managed to keep an open mind, stay positive and he's already made a new friend.  He even seems to like his new teacher... that'll change! ;-)

They say, "What scares you, makes you stronger."  Be strong my friends.
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Summer Shenanigans

The Silver Dream Machine & a younger me
(apparently I wasn't going fast enough to get into shot)
Summer camps are an odd business.  It seems the more we spend on them, the less happy my children are.  Sometimes I think we should just kick them out on the street at 9am with a watch and an instruction not to return till the next meal time... it worked for me...

Well, maybe it didn't.   There were quite a few incidents with a local farmer.  And, I suppose there was that time I got caught riding a motorcycle on the Queen's highway without a helmet, or insurance, or a license (I was only 12)  and the motorcycle was just a little less than road worthy.  Hmm.  I've said too much already, never did tell my parents about that one.

Reminiscing  my misdemeanors has just reminded me of a friend's tale of woe.  His parents went on holiday and for the first time, they decided he was now old enough to be able to stay at home himself.  I think he was 16 or 17.  When his parents returned, his father went straight to the drinks cabinet.  He grabbed his bottle of single malt whisky and immediately turned it upside down...  He had marked how full the bottle was when he left...but he had marked it with the bottle upturned.  My friend had looked for any kind of marking that would show how much whisky remained, but unfortunately had not predicted this technique...  My guess is, that his dad had drunk the whisky the first time he was left alone too!  Not surprisingly, I didn't see my friend for a while after that incident.  But the whisky was very nice... ;-)

I guess I'm just grumpy about the cost of summer camps.  It seems summer is the time for increased expense in Southern California.  There's the cost of running the aircon.  Extra use of water.  Summer camps. Vacation?  Some chance...  But then again, we are living in a veritable giant playground!  That's it, we're off to the beach...

Monday, July 2, 2012


The BBC Scotland cameraman at Brave.
Didn't I used to write a blog once up on a time?  A time when I was the 'at home parent', and Lynn went out every day to the wicked world of late night TV comedy.  Back then I had more free time, but it didn't really feel like I had any, I was so focused on our boys and making our new life in this country work.

Now Lynn and I are both at home, but working.  Not working like a normal job; working mainly to make a success of the YouTube channel or other projects.  It's created an interesting dynamic.  Who's the 'prime' parent?  I've no idea.  We've had to split the parenting jobs between us, usually based on skills, patience or obsession.  Lynn obsesses with the mental torture of American school life and has taken up the role of child therapist.  I am school lunch provider, toy fixer and manager of audio visual technology service provision...;-)

I thought I'd stopped writing this blog, because I had no time.  However, returning to the blogs' dashboard, I noticed that I have often tried to draft new posts.  The issue has been that my obsession with our video work, meant when I did draft something, it became an advert for our videos and nothing to do with being a stay at home Dad.  So I didn't publish.  Perhaps I should have, but I often struggle to keep things simple and so I felt they were too much off subject.

Well, in a few days time it will be July 4th.  American Independence Day.  Perhaps this blog can gain its independence too.  I'm sure that from time to time I'll praise, mention or moan about my position as Father in Residence but actually life is as huge as you can make it.  So I'll try to include some of all of it.

For example, we were invited to the International Premier of Pixar's new movie 'Brave'.  Lynn had helped with some writing consultancy and script polishing and is credited in the special thanks section at the end.  We got to take the whole family and it held a deep significance to us.  Our first truly public outing in this new country.  We walked that green carpet, past all of those photographers and journalists, with our Green Cards in our pockets and our 2 boys who now have American accents.  We didn't see the significance of it at the time though, as we were obsessed with ensuring that the experience wouldn't overly stress our children and would give them a wonderful experience that few people ever get to enjoy.

And today, yet more independence.  Our eldest, Fergus, started a new summer camp at a huge place nearby.  He was all wide eyed and excited to be starting there, but instead of expecting Dad to figure out the way it's organized, he suggested that I just leave him to it.  No way am I leaving my 9 year old without meeting the person who I will hold responsible...  I get him sorted and then say, "Give your Dad a hug then, and I'll be off."  No hug!  Arms kept still by his sides, whilst I grabbed him and laughed.  I wasn't laughing in the car though.  No, apparently I'm an emotionally soft Southern Californian now and my boy is growing more independent and more American every day.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Yep, we're daft.  Creating a video for every day is fun.  It is, honestly.  Especially when you get great people to help with the creation.  But there are certain days where it seems that nothing has ever happened, or certainly nothing worth joking about.  And then there's days like St Patrick's, where the main event is like a big elephant in the room and it can't sensibly be ignored.

When we were planning this project, we'd expected that nearly all of the videos would be of Lynn.  The videos would show off Lynn's talents and keeping everything in house (literally), would keep things simple.  We then thought that we might be able to persuade some friends to do a few days here and there, to keep things more interesting.  So first we made some test videos and sent them out to friends for some feedback.  Then two things happened, one we realized that it would be too much for Lynn to perform them all and two, lots of our friends loved the idea so much, that they wanted to help write or perform them.

So I guess we're not the only daft ones.  In fact, I think our St Patrick's Day video proves that!  Tightly scripted and just as tightly choreographed... ;-)

Sometimes it all seems to be too much work and I think we're being beyond merely daft.  And then we have another amazing experience.  Like on Friday, we shot 4 videos with Kathy Baker and I still chuckle thinking about them.  Her first airing will be for Friday March 23rd and I can't wait to share it.  I am that daft.

P.S.  The website is up now and it has the youtube versions of the videos embedded, so smartphone users can get to watch more easily.

Monday, March 12, 2012

JFDI - One Week In.

We've been merrily filming, editing and posting our videos for over a week now.  And we're tired.   So tired that sometimes I find myself staring the computer screen, unaware that I'm even looking at it.

I've made a few mistakes.  Had to reedit.  Had to re-upload.  Had to return home for the letter that I'd set off to post.

Did we under estimate the workload?  Perhaps.

Did we underestimate the obsession?  Definitely.

But here's the rub. I've never felt so alive, so energized and so fulfilled.... Hmm, if I'd read or heard someone else say that, I'd assume that they were lying, or delusional, or both.  Perhaps I am deluding myself, but boy is it fun.  I must delude myself more often!

We film at home.  When people arrive they usually seem a little nervous.  Perhaps that's because of the big steel 'drug dealer style' front door that we still haven't changed, or maybe it's the feeling that internet videos are still considered to be a bit like the wild west.  Soon though, there's coffee and chat and we head up to our makeshift studio, with it's big green screen and bright lights.  Then it's all fun.  Lynn directs.  The scripts are tailored to precisely fit the performer through practice, reviews and re-takes till we're all content.

Lynn tells me that not all shoots are like that.  There can be a fair amount of tension and stress.  Perhaps that's the effect of the budgetary risk.  We haven't got a budget to risk.  We're just risking our time.

I had a wonderful lesson on Friday.  A script just didn't work, so Lynn went downstairs to see what other options she had to hand.  The idea being, that meanwhile I would shoot the next script without her direction, by myself...  So I recorded Jeremy talking about the spring equinox.  And then it was up to me to give direction, give him notes.  There was silence.  A lot of it.  Then we just laughed, it was so obvious that I had absolutely no idea what to do!

I do the studio setup, the camera, the lights, the sound, the editing, the uploading and a whole lot more.  On Friday I got a glimpse of just how much Lynn provides.  She directs the writing, the performers, the editing and a whole lot more.  It's a good feeling to be in awe of your wife.

P.S. Our website is live now.  It's pretty basic at the moment, as all of our effort is being spent on the videos, but it's easier to remember  than the or youtube addresses.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Our Latest Obsession.

It's 1:30am.  I have to admit my wife is right.  I am obsessed.

Lynn and I had this argument a few weeks back.  Though it's difficult to remember the details exactly, here's my version...

Lynn was moaning about what some exec or other had said to her.  I wasn't listening.  I'd heard it all before and I was bored.  One of our flawed traits is to assume that someone else will have the answer, that someone will be more knowledgeable than us.  It's a flaw, but it's often difficult to spot when you're tired and, let's face it, who wants the opposite situation where you wrongly ignore the advice of an expert because you didn't like what they said?

So I suggested that it might be nice if she put more time and effect into creating our own products.  Why didn't she write her blog?  Those photographs of abandoned couches are nice, but maybe she could actually write something.  Maybe instead of complaining about someone else, we could just do our own thing.

Lynn was angry, so she 'mentioned' that if we were going to do something our selves, it should be short and interesting and follow a structure.  And it shouldn't be live, because it should be scripted and well put together...  There after followed a 'spirited' conversation where we thrashed out a concept for what we've called "This Day Today."

And then we made a big decision!   To employ the principles of JFDI - that's JUST F*CKING DO IT!  We've had good ideas before and not implemented them fully, waiting for the right time, over thinking the marketing, getting too scared of the costs, etc.  Not this time - JFDI.

So we made 5 test videos.  We showed them to friends.  They liked them.  We got some more writers.  We set our selves a stretch target - to start posting the videos in just over 2 weeks time - March 1st.  (A stretch target being one that you think might be possible, but isn't that probable).

From that point on, Lynn was obsessed with getting the pieces written and getting interesting performers on board.  Then as it all become reality, I became obsessed with which video platform, how to do the filming, editing, web presence.......

And then I realized one night.  California is behind the times, literally.  New Zealand is 21 hours ahead of us.  That stretch target became Feb 29th at 3am.  Yes I am obsessed.

So here you have it, we just f'ing did it...  http://Blip.TV/ThisDayToday   And if you like it, we'll keep doing it too.