Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lazy Days.

Thermometer-lazy-4 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On Thursday, I was collecting my two boys from school. I parked in a secluded parking spot that's quite close to the school and the other parents haven't discovered yet. I waited at my younger son's classroom, because my older son always comes running over eventually and if I go looking for him we'll just end up chasing him around the school grounds.

Sometimes I guess I can seem quite lazy, searching out the closest parking space to the school and not bothering to chase down my eldest son. However, I do work extremely hard when it matters. Honestly I do. But I despise wasting effort and will always look for easier and faster ways to get stuff done.

A lot of the other parents at my sons' school park their cars, err... disrespectfully(?) They block driveways, double park and recently I came across someone who inconsiderately took up three spaces so that they could be parked under the shade of a tree! This Thursday however,  it became clear to me that all I thought I knew about laziness was nothing. I was an amateur.

At first I didn't understand what was going on. An older lady appeared to be idly rolling about on the sidewalk, however as I got closer I realized she had fallen over and couldn't get up. Along with another parent, I helped her to her feet. She said that she was fine and just had a weak, sore knee. Then the passenger window of a double parked Porsche lowered, and a woman shouted from the driver's seat, "You ok Mom? Do you want me to get *child's name*." Now grasping the school fence for balance, and shuffling towards the gate, 'Mom' shakily replied, "No, I'll be fine."

I'm not lazy. Neither is 'Mom', but there's a certain Porsche driver...

Thankfully the police have started a crack down on lazy parking at my boys' school.

However, this cop wasn't exactly parked on moral high ground... unless it's marked with a red curb!
Doesn't that red paint mean something?

Please note that if you are a cop then I have the utmost respect for you. And further, if you are the cop I photographed giving out tickets, then I thank you. Those tickets were well worth your minor parking indiscretion.

But let's face it, if I possibly can then I will poke fun at the law and law officers. Like the scorpion and the frog, it's in my nature. And if law enforcement officers would like to target my car with tickets, then I drive a silver  Porsche... *coughs nervously*

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Friday, September 6, 2013

Fear of Hot Dancing.

Jeez it's hot!
Not Hollywood sexy hot.
Hot, as in sitting in an oven, hot.

Last night was a record for our neighbours in Burbank as the minimum night temperature was 77F (25C).

Coming from the UK I always said I'd never complain about the heat, so I won't. However even though I won't complain, I never said I wouldn't get scared...

Yesterday we had a power cut late in the afternoon. The house became silent...well apart from the annoying beep from my computer's UPS and the automated phone call from the alarm company. The silence of the air conditioning was unsettling. I even could hear it above the noise created by the long queue of impatient motorists leading to the dark traffic lights.

Our house has a reasonable amount of insulation, so the heat increased gradually, but it was foreboding. Lynn was away in New York and I was to take our boys to see the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.

I worried that if the power issues spread it would be a catastrophic mistake to be at the Hollywood Bowl. This seems so alien to me. Being scared to go out because of 100mph winds or severe snow storms feel much more natural to much so that I'm not that scared, I have a level of experience and hence over confidence. ;) To be scared of sunshine and heat is still new to me.

I gathered together flash-lights for later and considered not going to the concert. It was going to be a risk even without the heat issue.  Our boys might not appreciate the old music of the orchestra or the art of the scheduled dance performance by Diavolo.

Fear sucks. So we went. The boys loved the orchestra and even stayed reasonably quiet, only once asking for more snacks. Then the Diavolo dance performance started. They were totally blown away, completely engaged in the event; the orchestral sound and the acrobatic dance. Especially Lachlan, our 6 year old.

The artists were amazing, though from our seats way back almost at the lip of the bowl, the dancers were almost a blur, even on the large video screens. Mind you perhaps that was for the best, it was so hot that it was probably better that we couldn't see every bead of sweat on all that Lycra.

Within 2 minutes of arriving home, power was returned and our aircon resumed its calming drone. I needn't have worried a jot.

This morning, however, grandiosity got the better of me. I sneakily thought I'd remind Lachlan of the performance as he entered his classroom. He was exhausted and I thought if he told his teacher why, she'd surely understand the value of the experience and cut him a bit of slack. And if his teacher got the idea that I was a great dad, so much the better.

So I asked him what his favourite part of the performance was and he replied, 'The Dancers...did you see? They were naked!' And with that he entered his classroom.

Now I have a new fear, a fear of what my son told his teacher about the hot, naked dancers that Daddy took him to see.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


The Wichita Falls Bank Robbery of 1896, Wichit...
 (Photo credit: fables98)
Banks. They annoy me. A lot.

Do I need to write more? Do I need to justify myself?
Probably not. Unless you work for a bank, or own one, then you probably agree with me.

My annoyance is significant, specific and stewing in my brain. So I'm going to vent. Normally I'd type a blog like this and save it as draft, so that I can delete it later. This time though, I think I have to share if just to make sure that you DO NOT TYPE YOUR BANK CARD PIN INTO A PHONE. EVER.

The Chase Bank has allowed unknown people in Texas to empty our checking account twice so far. Last week they called me to say there had been suspicious activity on my account again and so they'd locked me out of online banking until they could clear it up. Then they requested I type my pin number into my phone to verify who I was.  I wouldn't do this and so I was threatened that I'd have to physically go to a Chase branch. I then told each of the 5 people I was passed around, the reasons why I WILL NOT TYPE MY BANK CARD PIN INTO A PHONE. EVER.

I've been asked to do this before and I've always refused. Why would I want to broadcast my pin number to AT&T or T-Mobile or any of the phone call carriers who are routing my call? Also I work at home, but if I were to do this from an office phone you can be sure that my pin would also be stored on the office switchboard database too. And for what it's worth, the metadata that the NSA was accessing and was the subject of so much controversy is this very data; the numbers you type into your phone.

Now let's face it, if the NSA has been legally-ish obtaining this data, there will also be a significant number of organizations and individuals with more clearly dubious motives illegally gathering this data too.  Telephone exchanges are really just computers now and use the same technologies that the internet does..... So I guess we shouldn't be too worried. It's not as if there are foreign governments and criminal organizations on the internet constantly trying to hack in and steal data... [I can't remember, which is the emoticon for sarcasm?]

In fact if you want to go low tech too, it's fairly easy to attach a call logger to landline telephone wires and just wait for a 16 digit number followed by the '#' and then the 4 digit pin followed by '#'.

I've complained to the Chase Bank Fraud Hotline... blah blah blah.... Actually my personal bank battles will probably never end and are not that important in the big scheme of life. So all I ask that you just take one piece of infomation from this blog post:

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

When you need a camera....

I've been doing a lot of filming of my family lately. First there was Lachlan's pre-school "Spring Sing" His class danced to 'Foot Loose' and although he was great, he really came into his own for the whole-school dance to 'Gangnam Style.'

We arrived at the Spring Sing a little too late to get a good camera position...a lot of parents arrived over an hour and a half early! So I shot the whole thing from way up high in the back balcony. Though it actually worked out quite well, because I used a tripod and was away from the bickering and tantrums of....yes, you guessed it, I'm referring to the parents trying to get a better view.

Anyway two days later was Lachlan's 6th birthday and he had a pool party at home.  I played Gangnam Style to see if he'd do anything. He was spectacular!  Without flinching, he found a commanding spot and started the dance he'd learned so well. He wasn't nervous, he didn't care who was watching and he didn't ever seem to care if his friends would join him... though they did of course.  I've edited a great mix of the school and the home performances... which I'll probably share publicly in about a dozen years time.  I think 18 is a good age to see yourself dancing to popular music aged 6... Nahahaha! I am that evil dad!

However, there's a couple of things I missed getting on camera. Like when the lifeguard we hired for Lachlan's party, calmly jumped in to save his struggling friend...and then when she saved another friend a bit later...and then when she saved another friend a bit later.  I'll never regret having a lifeguard at that party, but the 3 saves would have made a great a YouTube video!

After the party, there were high winds forecast. Not high winds for Scotland of course, but then hot weather for Scotland is like a winter's evening here in Los Angeles. We'd bought, and I'd fought, two very cheap gazebos for extra shade at Lachlan's party. So with the winds coming, I thought I'd dismantle one gazebo and try to secure the other to see how it would hold up to these very slight winds. (I'll help you read between the lines here - The gazebo's cost less than $20... and they are overly complex... and I was tired...OK so I couldn't be bothered!)

With all the work clearing up, I needed a shower...  I was just waiting for the water to warm when Fergus came shouting that Mom wanted me.  I thought she was just hassling me that dinner was ready, or the iPod needs charging, or her phone wasn't working the way she wanted it to, or... well you get the picture! So I said I'd be there after my shower. A few moments later Fergus shouted again that Mom really needed me.

The result is that I have no footage of Lynn at the far end of our backyard, relentlessly holding on to a twisted-and-flying-upsidedown gazebo. And I am also without any footage of me arriving to the rescue; partially wet and wearing only pajama pants...
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

For my Valentine.

This year has been a love story.

For the love of *insert blasphemous term*, 
why did we decide to make a video, 
every *insert expletive* day?!

The wife has been blogging again  and has let slip our decision to stop producing a video every day. Freeing ourselves from the daily schedule is long overdue, allowing Lynn time to write for other projects and me time to, well, I don't know quite what exactly.  Lynn tried to summarize by saying I wanted to wear a suit again, but that's not quite it.  Suits are really just uniforms with more options.

What I want is to do, is more in the the field of business and less in the field of cameras and video editing. You see we started ThisDay Today as a business. There were no illusions that our comedy videos would make millions, we just knew that we wouldn't become experts on online video by thinking about it.  We had to actually make videos. We knew we had a lot to learn, therefore we should make a lot of videos...

So we've learned a lot.  We've learned how to set up a studio, manage a shoot, direct, edit, upload, share, configure YouTube channels, manage licensing... and make quite lovely quiche to keep the even lovelier performers coming back. And we've learned that we love doing this.  The wife and I work quite well together... especially if I do as she says without question. ;-)

I've also learned that I want to do more of it.  Not more, as in more than our daily show, more as in working with businesses.  Perhaps making branded content for businesses, or perhaps even the right job will come up with the sort of analysis and development challenge that I find I crave.

Roses are Red,
Violets are Blue,
Posting vids daily,
Is a hellova todo.

You know for me our Valentine's Day video sums up this journey so far. We've changed so much about our videos since we started. They're now longer, ruder and sometimes even contain more than one take. But we still try do the whole thing in one take, Lynn still molds the script around the performer and we rarely know what the background of the video will be when we're shooting it... which can feel a bit like tightrope walking without a safety net.

If I watch our first video with Alfred Molina,  I cringe at my edit...but it still makes me laugh. Back then we didn't know Mr Molina so well and we thought we might have to rent a proper studio to keep him happy. We were sort of embarrassed about our makeshift studio above our garage. We needn't have worried though.  I seem to remember Lynn made a quiche that day...the first of many.

Cut to shooting the Valentine's Day video. This time the character was straight from Molina's mouth. He called Lynn with the idea and she wove her magic into a script. As usual, we had no idea what background to use when shooting it. And I suppose fittingly for Valentine's day, Fred brought his wife Jill to watch the proceedings. We had a lot of fun. In fact you can hear Jill fail to stifle her laugh at the end of the Feb 1st video which we also shot that day.  Lynn made another quiche; brocoli and cheese this time.

So the Valentine's video sums up the year for me.

We didn't over analyse. We just got on with it.  We all contributed our own piece of the puzzle and helped each other with theirs. Throughout we had fun, laughed and worked hard.

And even though our video may appear to be somewhat anti-Valentine's Day... 

I wish you the happiest of Valentine's Days, Mrs T.

(I wonder if this blog post means I can forgo getting a card?)