Wednesday, November 30, 2011


so as i may have mentioned, i finished up the official holiday video for the vice president of research a week ago or so. since we'd had some issues getting the kind-of-Christmas-y sounding song we liked, i'd been using guns 'n' roses's "sweet child o' mine" because a) it's awesome, b) it gave a big and dramatic feel to our one-minute video, and c) it's just really awesome. and so when it came time to send our draft to the important people upstairs, i decided not to tell anyone that i had the official song and sent it up with g'n'r.

the video was a hit.  the vp wrote back with lots of !s about how much he and his wife loved it and i was the office hero for the afternoon (i like to think that i'm always the office hero, but it was more visible that afternoon, at least in my mind.) what i was a little worried about was his comment about how much he even liked the temp music, as i didn't want to break it to him that we probably didn't have the budget to license the song.

yesterday, we finished the final video (and i'm especially proud of the vp's signature that writes in at the end; that took a little creativity) and i was ready to get back to the work that had been on hold since this "simple" project ended up taking up about a month and a half (kind of.) then i got called into my boss's office today, where she told me that they liked the video so much that, in addition to it being the division's holiday card, the vice president wanted to trim off the holiday greeting part and use it as an intro to for his presentation (next week). and yeah, he really liked the guns 'n' roses.

so i spent the last few hours of work rummaging through online music libraries, trying to find something that sounds like "sweet child o' mine", or at least has the same gravitas.

the thing is, that song is iconic for a reason....

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

everything louder than everything else

kristin shared this with me on sunday.
it's seriously dang.
so now i'm sharing it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

216 hours

there are nine days left before everything needs to be turned in for the fall show. that's a lot of coding, printing, designing, animating, editing, and whateverelsing to be done.

bring it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


things i love about being home:
  • driving my dad's prius
  • the fridge is always stocked to capacity
  • cats sleeping on your bed
  • my dad inevitably finding some excuse to go to best buy within an hour of me getting home
  • the smiths, where it's ok to be as smart and unique as you want
  • four actual seasons
  • trivial pursuit
  • memories from my life and who i am on every street corner
  • perkin's
  • fermopolis, peeps jousting, and my "uncle"
  • spud's hockey games
  • my mom's fudge is the best i will ever have
  • looking out the kitchen window at night
  • my parents are always happy i'm there

Saturday, November 26, 2011

life's a happy song

the marketing campaign for the new muppet movie was pretty clever.  the first trailer i saw made it look like a lame romantic comedy with amy adams and jason segel then the muppets suddenly showed up.  brilliant.  then they did a trailer called "the pig with the froggy tattoo" that was awesome just because.
but my interest and hope that it would actually be good slowly faded until i didn't even know it came out last weekend.

it's currently at 98% on rottentomatoes and i want to list a few reasons why i thoroughly loved it.

  • while the script at times stumbles to one side or the other, the story itself is brilliantly self-aware and is fully aware that the muppet show went off the air thirty years ago.
  • i really can't pick my favorite celebrity cameo, although i think it might be jim parsons.  that was awesome. although zach galifianakis as hobo joe...
  • my other dilemma of which i liked more: the barbershop quartet singing "smells like teen spirit" or the camilla and the chickens performing "cluck you."
  • the three greatest gifts in the world: 1. children.  2. ice cream.  3. laughter.
  • "rainbow connection."
  • all of the jokes about the generational disconnect: "whoopi goldberg! selina gomez! and, i'm sorry, i don't recognize you."
  • the power to travel by map.
  • my realization that i'm a muppety man.
  • the mahna mahna credits.
  • lastly, i'm pretty sure i had a huge grin on my face when they perfectly re-staged the opening song of the muppet show.
i'm not sure how well it will hold up over time it was the best time i've had in a theater in quite a while.
my dad, who is a muppet purist, and my mom also enjoyed the show.

Friday, November 25, 2011

big things

the joy of life is found in celebrating the little things.
but sometimes it's found in the big things.
like getting your favorite movie on blu-ray.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

he did it again

a handful of years ago, itunes updated and changed their music layout options.  you could display your music as a song list, an album list, a grid list, or a cover flow.  at that time, i mostly just listened to playlists of hundreds of my favorite songs and singles and thought the cover flow was a pretty cool-looking way to do that.  but the new grid list option laid out all of your music by album and, you moused over an album, displayed the option, "play album."

i hadn't really listened to "an album" since i migrated to itunes and mp3s.  i just listened to a large pile of my favorite songs like it was kjef, all jeff, all the time.  but now that i was presented with this novel idea of listening to a whole album, i started doing just that.  and that got me looking into the great albums of music history.  i bought the who, david bowie, the clash, bob dylan, kraftwerk, the talking heads, oingo boingo, and whatever else sounded cultured.
the way i listened to music changed because steve jobs changed how itunes organizes its music.

a few weeks ago, i was whittling a few minutes before my dance class and meandered through the school bookstore.  on display near the entrance was the steve jobs biography.  i flipped through it, but it was $35 that i couldn't spare (fanny and alexander just came out on blu-ray, after all...) and while i consider myself a literate person, i'm not a big reader.

leaving the store, i pulled out my phone and opened up my kindle app.  a cell phone seems too small to be a practical reading option, but i downloaded the app last year because, well, because i could.  browsing the online store, amazon had the biography for $15, which still feels like a lot for something i'm downloading onto my phone.  but they had a preview i could get for free.

rather than the scrolling function like browsing the web, the pages flipped to the side, a feature that i hadn't thought about but which made reading much more convenient.  the book was wonderfully written, the small screen size broke up the text into convenient bite-size chunks and i loved that i wasn't carrying a three-inch thick tome but could just pull out my phone whenever i had a moment.  and i seemed to be looking for so many moments that, when i reached the middle of the second chapter where my preview stopped, i took less than a minute to decide that taking a lunch to school each day would justify that $15.  i downloaded the book and continued reading in the dark, the pages themselves being the only source of light.

being that my phone is essentially an iphone clone, steve jobs has now gotten me back into reading again.

note: if you're interested in biographies or in apple (i'm of the latter camp) and the book sounds in any way interesting to you, i highly recommend it.  i'm pulling out at every chance i get, in the moments between plays at a football game, when i'm waiting the drive-through at layne's, before tithing settlement... it's such a crazy story, i'd say it was too much if it was fiction.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

x & y

looking at my life right now, i am certain that someone loaded it into the projector the wrong way.  actually, it feels like a split screen, where one side has been mis-threaded, so that the two images don't line up, but in fact go in the completely opposite direction.

it's astoundingly baffling, actually.

i guess that when things don't work out and you're tired and frustrated and don't want to go on any more, you can either sit down and take what you've got where you're at, or you can just keep going on.

Monday, November 21, 2011

trajan warriors

as some of you know, i'm kind fascinated by fonts.  it's an extremely subtle art that i know only a little about, but i notice it more and more and love learning about it.

i was at the a&m football game against the kansas jayhawks on saturday and really enjoyed it (it also made me a little nostalgic for the days of going to byu games, but that's ok.)  a&m killed kansas.  the aggies had scored before we'd even gotten to our seats and the jayhawks only got on the board in the last minute of the game.  it wasn't just that we played better; they were a mess. there were so many slip-ups and errors that their highlight reel needed to have circus music playing behind it.

amidst this debacle, i couldn't help but notice the font on their uniforms.  football is a tough sport.  it's all about hitting people and throwing things so other people can hit them instead of you (although you still end up getting hit, too.)  at least, that's what i can figure out.  i know tailgating fits in there somewhere, too. big guys wear pads so they can look bigger.  everything has to look strong and mean, including the numbers on your inform.  see exhibit a.

big and blocky, just like their font

and so, in a world of concrete stadiums, end zones, and grid iron, the kansas jayhawks' uniforms stood out to me.  behold exhibit b.

the fightin' serifs!

with those serifs and graceful changes in line thickness (don't know the font terminology for that) it's hard to look tough. they look elegant, like the ad campaign for a new lotion, and if they hit you as hard as they could, it would probably leave you feeling cultured, not clobbered.
as the aggies were scoring yet another touchdown, i did some research on my phone while everyone around me was getting to first base.  the font is called "trajan" and i actually kind of like it, just not here. even if they hit ctrl+b and tried to bold it, i doubt that would change much.
so, in a world where psychology has a huge influence performance, it seems of little wonder that the final score was 61-6.

and apparently i'm not the only one:

exhibit c.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

past, present, and future

found  myself pondering this early this week as i took the morning to sit by a fountain and read.

rafiki: look down there.

simba: that's not my father. that's just my reflection.

rafiki: no, look harder... you see? he lives in you.

mufasa: simba.

simba: father?

mufasa: simba, you have forgotten me. 

simba: no. how could i?

mufasa: you have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. look inside yourself, simba. you are more than what you have become. you must take your place in the circle of life.

simba: how can i go back? i'm not who i used to be.

mufasa: remember who you are. you are my son, and the one true king. remember...

Saturday, November 19, 2011


i had a post that i was going to write tonight but (the other) kristin was in town and she took me to my first midnight yell.

maybe i'll post that post some other time. or maybe i'll post something else instead.

Friday, November 18, 2011

hurts like heaven

dear girl,

here are some reasons i wish you were here:

+ i work in a really elegant building. tall stone columns on the outside, an open hall and grand stairway inside, it's the perfect place to to host a masquerade ball. i could meet you at the stairs when i get off work and we could descend them like we were royalty.

+ my friend and i are making a really interesting set of movies right now.  like, i'm really excited about this project. when we're working in the studio late at night, when i'm adjusting the lights, i wish you could be there with us.  the creative energy is invigorating and i want to share it.

+ i stopped and got layne's chicken tonight. i would have bought one for you, too, if you were in the passenger seat.

+ i'm going to the football game tomorrow. we get to kiss every time a&m scores a touchdown.

+ rock climbing is a blast. i think you should come with me.

+ i think i'd be more effective with my time at school if i knew i got to see you at the end of the day.

+ besides, it's almost Christmas time, so we'd have all of that magic to share together...  ; )

paul writes that he has fought the good fight and there is a crown laid up for him. but not just for him but for all who are valiant, because heaven by yourself would be pretty dull. i've said it before and i'll say it again: the times when i most wish you were in my life is when things are good.

at the end of the day, i'd like to look in the mirror and see you flossing next to me.

wherever you are,
i wish you were here,
i love you,

-->jeff *

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

wednesday, nov. 16, 2011

i think everything in
life is art
i got four hours of sleep last night.
and the night before.
my artwork generated some lively discussion between the two critiquing professors.
i hadn't done nearly as much animating as i should have finished by now.  i'm very disappointed in myself.
work was a sanctuary from school and they're happy with the "holiday" video and it's just about finished.
i hadn't eaten anything but a cinnamon roll today.
i decided to go to institute for the first time this semester rather than go home and eat.
words of mormon 1:7 is one of my new favorite scriptures.
i put in two very effective hours in the back room of the lab.  working like feels like eating vegetables; it's refreshing.
i made a warm dinner. did two loads of laundry, got to sit down for a moment, and i've got a few minutes to read before i'm going to bed.

today is a reminder for me not to give up.

and there are some rather perplexing parallels in my life right now.

post script: the new "brave" trailer is introduced as being "from the studio that brought you finding nemo, wall-e, and up."  those associations are very encouraging.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

above the trees

o fates! who hold the threads of life,

i can look up and see the great cogs turning, the gears moving into motion.  i can see the tumblers of time shifting.  and all i can think is to quote mrs. fox:

if what i think is happening, is happening, it better not be.

i know you know me.  and my quirks and all that.  so, i'm trying to figure out what's going on.  i mean, i trust you.  at least, i do as long as you know me.  i'm really hoping there's some surprise or a twist or something more that i'm not seeing.  because, in a way, it almost feels like you're trying to teach me a lesson.  but i already know that lesson.  trust me.

i guess i'll do what i can and trust you.

mortally yours,

-->jeff *

Saturday, November 12, 2011

november rain

i spent the majority of my day working on some hdr photography, the one assignment for my programming class that doesn't actually require programming.
when i unexpectedly had a few hours free at the end, i decided to head out and try the technique with the carnival that had once again taken up residence across from my old apartment.
i rather love carnivals and got invited to go on tuesday but couldn't afford the time away from school and you can't go with just anyone, anyway.

the shots didn't turn out as cool as i was hoping, but i still like them.

hdr stands for "high dynamic range" and the basic concept is that you take several photograph of varied exposure, so that you've captured detail in everything from the deepest shadows to the brightest highlights.  in the two shots above, i took five shots of each.  then you process them all together into one image that has a tone of information in it.  from there, you can tweak and play with it as you like.

jess and i did a handful in downtown bryan a few nights ago.  i think this image consisted of ten different exposures.  it was my last set i processed, so i decided to throw caution out the window and really crank the levels (i would have gone to 11 if it had been an option.)
as usually happens when i do anything with reckless abandon, it's my favorite.

Friday, November 11, 2011


yeah, i posted this on facebook, but it always makes me smile and you don't get many days on the calendar like this.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

name that tune

i picked up an album by the black keys from this month's round of $5 albums off amazon's mp3 store (they've also got she+him's Christmas album....)  i'd heard of them and knew they were supposedly cool but that was about it.  from my brief listen, they remind me a lot of the white stripes.  certainly worth $5, anyway.  so, there you go.

anyway, i was listening at work a few days ago and a one of their songs really reminded me of another song, but i couldn't think of what it was.  i knew it was a song i had heard recently, but i couldn't place where.  i could vaguely recall just enough of the song to know i wasn't imaging it and i knew it was a live recording with audience in the background.  it was a sort of jam session, where the band would play a groove and there was a really great guitar that would finish to the applause of the crowd.  it sounded like an older song, and since i'd been buying mostly new music recently, i was afraid i'd heard it on the oldies station here, which meant i probably wasn't going to stumble across it anytime soon (at least, i was pretty sure it wasn't coldplay....)  it stuck with me through the week, barely expanding to anything more than a few muddled bars, but enough for me to know that i had heard it.  the best i could think of was that it kind of sounded like this, but i hadn't heard that song in years.  it was like having a piece of food stuck in my teeth that i just couldn't get out. thankfully, no one could see into my ear canal, this stray music wedged in there.

so tonight jess and i were heading to downtown bryan to shoot some hdr photography for our programming class (mutually agreed as the best assignment in the class since it doesn't actually involve programming--more on that later)  i was listening to the oldies station, since i figured she didn't want to listen to my general conference cds and, despite what the classic rock stations seem to think, i like things other than pink floyd.
we were somewhere between here or these when "seasons of love" came on by the zombies.

and that's when i realized.

no, the song stuck in my head wasn't "seasons of love", but it was a track off of that same album, which i had been listening to for a few days a week or two earlier.  i didn't know the name of the song, but i knew that was where it came from.  it was like finally scratching the itch.

for the record, the song is "she loves the way they love her."  it's the best song on a solid album that you should be listening to anyway.  i've listened to it five or six times this evening.

Monday, November 07, 2011

sense and sensibility

my sister...
i feel like i'm standing on the edge.

for most of the big decisions of my life, i've chose safety, reason, and wisdom.  and that's great, but i want to shift a little.
i'm not trying to change who i am.
not at all.
i think i'm bloody awesome (pardon, leithal).
but i feel like a photograph that just needs some color correction.  i want to shift the mid tones, tweak the highlights, touch up the shadows, adjust the color temp, and see what i can do in the curves editor.  to bring out the information that's really in the image.

sometimes i really wish i could turn my brain down to medium low and just live without thinking so much.
or else utilize my whole brain, like that guy in that movie "powder."

Sunday, November 06, 2011

we are all in this together

sitting in the chapel tonight and listening to president packer speak at the fireside, i looked around the room.  he was talking about how there is nothing we have done of which we can't be fully forgiven, and that we can change who we are and become a better person.  i wondered about all of the people sitting around me, wondering what trials, challenges, burdens, and hurt they are dealing with.  i haven't a clue what they might be, but i bet that 90% of them are heavier than what i carry.

Friday, November 04, 2011

knowing that you know

i don't know much about a lot.
but there are a few things.

and i'm just going to say that i know i wasn't wrong.
i knew it then and i know it now.

it's been a good day.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

script writer

thanks, former 786


The lab is full of partial to fully crazy graduate students, brilliant minds who will soon be at the best animation studios on the world.  Some are working on programming assignments or animation projects, some are sharing the latest internet meme videos, and some are even laughing.  Occasionally, a wacko is riding around a on razor scooter.  In the far corner with his group of friends sits our hero, JEFF (32).  Ruggedly handsome in a pair of stylish jeans and casual brown shirt, a pair of headphones emerge from his tousled locks of flowing hair.  His striking eyes are focused as he animates.  Empty Coke cans populate his work station.

(to himself)
I wonder what it'd take to get a
script written to select and key
all of the controls all at once?

He begins to write an email to his group, suggesting the idea.
He stops.

That doesn't seem too tricky. 
I wonder if we could just do it?

Acknowledging that he still can't write a line of code to save his life, our hero discusses the idea with a team mate.  He soon realizes that, using the program script from the summer, he could probably adapt it himself.

Jeff returns back to his work area, thinks for a moment, then taps BRANDON (23) on the shoulder.  A well of knowledge on just about everything cool, Brandon explains how to write and save a script and where everything fits in the pipeline of it all.

Determined, Jeff goes back to his animation software and opens the script editor.  After studying how the commands are processed, he begins to write his own script.  He checks the correct names against the rig's controls.
He runs the script.
It works.

It works.  This is awesome. 
I did it.  I am awesome. 

He grins to himself and feels a sense of accomplishment not felt since this morning on the climbing wall.  He considers running up and down the rows, handing out high fives and hugs, but opts not to brag, to instead humbly keep this to himself.

I still need to blog about
how awesome "quiet company" is. 
That's pretty much all I've
been listening to lately. 
Bah, I'll get to that later. 
Tonight is animation time.

Our dashing hero continues to work for a few more hours.  On his way home he hops in his convertible, grabs a box of chicken from layne's and enjoys his dinner with an endorphin boost from arrested development.