Foreign Exchange

Ms. A is working with a company that places foreign students in American homes. I don't know that it's a strict exchange like you have a kid and you trade for another kid for a school year.

Regardless, she is now in charge of finding homes for kids for a full school year. She will be getting kids from Germany, Thailand, Serbia, Montenegro, and China. Most of the kids will be from Germany. This would be a great opportunity for families with young children or whose children have left home and those looking for a great exchange of cultural ideas, customs and traditions.

If you have or know a family within about 100 miles of Austin, TX who is willing to take a student in for a school year, please contact Ms. A and she'll provide you with all the details.

Also, please pass this along to anyone you can. The more families we find, the more students we can bring to the US for a school year. Thank you, carry on.


More G-man

Happy Birthday Gregory

Coolin it
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
Today 102 years ago, Marion Michael Morrison was born. He's otherwise known as The Duke, John Wayne. 22 years ago, Star Wars debuted.

And five years ago, Gregory Powell Rollman was born.

I don't remember much about being five. I remember bits and pieces of things that happened around that time, but it's hard to say if I was three or seven. I hope G-man has better luck remembering his life because it's a good one.

G-man is loved by a lot of people. His mom and dad and Miss LA all care for him quite a bit. I think his mom may love him the most, though. He didn't go to day care like his sister, and so Ms. A has taken it upon herself to not only stay home and care for him, but teach him as well. Where Lil Miss Austin got the brains, G-man got the charm. He's a crazy little ham who would rather give you a hug and make a crazy sound than most anything else in the world.

Except play Lego Star Wars, that boy is addicted to Lego Star Wars. It's all he wants to do and he wants me to play with him all the time. When he's not playing that game, he's asking me if he can play with my Lego in my room.

So G-man turns five today. He'll have a nice summer with his big sister and best friend and then come August he'll be in kindergarten and we plan on getting a lot of notes saying that all he wants to do is hug people and make funny noises.

Happy Birthday little dude.



Watercolor Robot
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
If you haven't been to Robot Portraits lately, well I don't know what to do with you. I've been pimping it for years now. Your loss. Anyway, what you'd notice is there has been more activity in that I'm also trying to churn through the 700 Robots list to the tune of a couple a week.

What I realized a while back is that the markers I use don't last terribly long and are $3 a pop. I have about $100 worth now and before even this one book is done I'll probably get another $100 just to replace what's used up. So I'm going to try watercolors.

A couple friends I know use water colors for similar projects and they're work always seems more professional. There's something about the markers I've never liked; they don't blend and they streak. It looks like markers. In small areas they work well, but for large areas it just looks blotchy and hastily done. So I'm trying watercolors.

The only reason I haven't tried them sooner is twofold. I've been a pen and pencil guy most of my life. I don't paint, use pastels or chalk, charcoal or ink wells with nibs or brushes. It's a mix of comfort level, cost and time. I've never had time to really explore other tools and thus push my comfort level. There's something to be said for accidental genius and not understanding the tool can sometimes result in happy accidents. Also, buying oils or acrylics is cost prohibitive, especially if you have a Lego addiction like I did for many years. So I'm trying to learn watercolors.

The other reason is a bit of a self confidence issue due to my late grandpa. He's main tool was watercolor and I have his work hanging in my house. To say he was prolific would be an understatement. He made a living doing it and me trying to learn how seems like a dodge. It's a mental issue, but I'm getting past it.

So I'm trying to learn watercolors.

We'll see how it goes.



Originally uploaded by Cheryl Rollman.
Oh goodness, let's see. What's gone on since we last checked in.

G-man has been registered for kindergarten. Later this month he'll be 5. LMA just turned 8 and will be going to third grade next year. In addition to the Destination Imagination, LMA also participated in the Texas Math Pentathlon, in which she earned a medal and scored the best on her team. She did quite well.

We've decided not to move just yet. Partly because we can't find the exact house we'd need and partly because the property owner and management company have yet to get us an extended lease agreement. So Ms. A and Miss LA and I (to a small extent) have been shaking the house over a sieve and making it livable for a while longer. We've switched rooms, painted, de-baby-toyed the play area, moved computers and desks and repaired broken or nagging items. I won't lie, Ms. A has been doing the bulk of it.

Just last night she got a canopy for the back porch and solar tinting for the back windows in an effort to lower our energy bills. I helped by putting up the tint and sweeping up some of the glitter LMA and G-man spilled on the porch that has now been tracked throughout the house.

The dogs are both getting along, my Lego is all nicely sorted, (though I still have much to get done) and school is nearly over for LMA. She performed last night at her school's Night At The Movies event; a 30 minute program where the second graders put on a small show about movies, complete with abridged songs and a costume or two. LMA had a speaking part and she was very charming. She's also doing very well with her grades, all in the upper 90's and last report had 100 in science.

Ms. A is meeting people today to start work on being a foreign exchange student placement coordinator, which could be a great thing for her. Miss LA interviewed earlier this week to be an artistic coordinator for, I believe, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Texas so wish them both good luck. My job has been going along, no change. Still a lot to do and it always changes and I receive both adequate recognition and proper scolding to keep me in line. Nothing new to report there.

Couple little online bits, since I'm very into the online world. Robot Portraits is still going. I just had my last one go out so if you want one, now's the time to order it. I plan on doing more 700 Robots but experimenting with watercolors. The 100 Artists Project has yet again fizzled out. I have help this time around, but there's just no interest and I don't know how I could have spent two years working on it and have no momentum. The sketchbooks are still out, so might as well try to finish those. Though if that's all I'm doing, I'm going to stop paying for a web site. I'm still writing reviews for Television Zombies, but my shows are all off season now. I'd been doing Fringe, Dollhouse and Star Wars: The Clone Wars. They'll all be back in the fall. I may be doing some work with the TVZ people on their site to help them out, so we'll see.

A few odd commission jobs and a couple really neat ideas for Lego builds should keep me occupied over the summer. I don't know what the kids' are doing yet. We thought of doing a camp for LMA at least, but that hasn't been finalized. And yes, to all the people in Colorado, I will TRY to visit with at least one child over the summer, but I can't promise anything.

That's all for now, carry on.


Star Trek 2009

I'm going to offer a counter argument to Dan Coulter's review of Star Trek, but only because I really like Dan and I know he's a huge Star Trek fan and a lover of good science fiction, of which there are scant decent works.

(Warning, there will be spoilers, both here and on Dan's site.)

I saw ST:09 at the Alamo last night around 7pm. Got there early and got a good seat. Was then treated to a typical Alamo tribute to William Shatner, some more comic moments of Star Trek, TOS, and a bit of fun with Austin improv comedy troupe Start Trekkin.

Not gonna lie, I enjoyed the bejesus out of this movie. Enjoyment is a personal reaction and had I seen in alone instead of with somone, seen it at a big cinaplex instead of the Alamo, took my kids to see it, I would have reacted differently. Yes there were parts I didn't like, but they were few and far between. I was entertained by the movie and that's the biggest compliment I can give it.

There's been a lot said about J.J. Abram's handling of the franchise. The fans and non-fans are equally divided. I've heard a lot of fans of TOS say they'll see it and probably hate it and a lot of casual or non-fans say they'll see it and it looks interesting. Based on Dan's review, I think that plays out. He doesn't say he hates it, but he offers a lot of points about why it's not good. The problem I have is I don't think these are J. J. Abram's Star Trek problems, but Star Trek or science fiction problems in general. Let's take a look.

1) Idiotic Science - Yes this movie has a black hole through which ships jump around like revolving doors. The black hole is literarly a hole in space. It's not right, not even close. Near the end, they throw anti-matter into it and it all blows to hell without blowing up the ship. Is this Abrams' fault? Not entirely. Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman wrote it in and Abrams let it go, but were they playing off established paradigms? I know of an episode where a "black star" flings the Enterprise into the past. In fact, Star Trek is riddled with hypothetical situations involving time travel, celstial bodies and dubious science. Are we blaming Abrams for this? If we wanted real science, would we really be expecting it from Star Trek?

2) I will give Dan this. I caught it too. I'm surprised something like this isn't caught in storyboarding. Someone could just say, "Could we have the 2nd in command Romulan say the last encounter with the Enterprise damaged their warp and they can't go above 1 or 2?

3) The introductions were crazy because the characters were crazy. They're archetypes, parodies of themselves. There was going to be no right way to introduce them, no one would have been 100% happy. Personally, I thought they were excellent. Given the history we've all built in our minds about each character, it actually added a lot to who these people were, something the original never did.

4) I agree the sexism was high here. No bad looking people, even Bones was moderately crush worthy. But again, you can only hate it for being a reboot and being totally not the same thing or you can say it's bad because it's not the same thing. You can't do both. Short skirts, like 'em or not, were something the original series had. It was just as much part of the show as phasers, warp drive, unbelieveable fight scenes and bad make up.

5) I thought that about the monsters too, even though I haven't seen Cloverfield. (I've been told to stay away.) But monsters do exist in Star Trek. Most of the time they are just sentient aliens with an ax to grind, but honestly, seeing another life form that's not a homonid with a rubber band stuck to its nose is enriching. If a klingon were dropped in the middle of the woods on Earth, would it have to deal with a bear?

6) There wasn't a time during the movie when I thought, "Oh just stop talking already." There was plenty of action for me, I'd almost complain there was too much and not enough talking. I'd have liked to see more explanation that wasn't crammed in at the end or during Spock's mind meld. The lends flare thing was annoying and we talked about it later. Once or twice I can understand, but I think the bridge was built out of LED flood lights or something. That was actually one of my biggest gripes. It was distracting.

7) And this was the other. Unless Nero had some fancy projector on that ship of his, there was no way Spock would have seen Vulcan implode like that. And...wait for it...the science...wouldn't something visible, that close, suck the other planet in as well? Black holes generally gobble up anything near by and I'm sure anything within even Vulcan visual range is going to end up within the event horizon of a planetary sized black hole. But, Malcom McDowell did try to steer a dimensional super string, so who's to say what can be done.

8) No arguments there.

9) Watching this reminded me of the Galaxy Quest bit where they have to run through the chompers. I think they had the idea of beaming someone into water and liked the idea so much that they had to get him out. But get him out with fun and action. I mean, it makes sense to have large tubes of water in engineering. Your cooling and potable water would need to circulate somehow, with a large turbine perhaps. But I don't think we'd see them like an early Microsoft screensaver as it was.

10) This actually did upset me. We're 200 years into the future. It'd be like my kids stealing my car and cranking Bach. Yes it's a good song, but for Frak's Sake, get Evervescence to write one specifically for the movie or something.

Agree with the nitpick, but I can see in the planning that he shoots him and drops the gun in order to have both hands free to almost fall.

I'll tell what I didn't like, and take this as you will.

A) Goofy science is one thing, but I know what a black hole is. I don't know what Red Matter is unless we're talking medical analysis of stool samples. Is it like Dark Matter? It's introduction to a material we have to take on faith and that causes three different plot points in the movie. At least make up something we're already afraid of. Boson Matter, maybe. Sticky Muons. And then for Sarek's Sake, explain it. It takes one line. Kirk, "What is that stuff, anyway." Spock, "I'm not sure, but if I were to guess, the future me has been able to discover a recently theoretical partical that can drastically alter space time."

B) Nero's ship was a mining vessel from Romulus. Why are so many bad things (ships, asteroids, monsters) these giant pokey claw like things? I know it's pyschologicial, but a display of evil is not evil. A show of power is not power. Plus, it made it hard to understand what was going on. Action in action movies has always been about quick edits where nothing may actually be happening. If you've got a visual frame of reference, that's fine, but when your backdrop and subject are these twisted and sculpted pieces of aliens spacecraft, it's just a giant jumble of "What the hell is that?" and you have to let your music and sound cues pick up the movement. Armageddon and Transformers are two examples of this where there's just too much going on. Just because you CAN make a computer animate 2,000 different moving parts, doesn't mean you should.

C) I didn't actually understand the time loop thing. I had to think about it after the movie. I will admit I'm very visual and at times complex plot points make me furrow my brow and grunt, but I thought a time travel Star Trek movie would be kind to me. But Abrams loves that.

That's all I can think of right now, and I don't mean this to color the fact that I really enjoyed the movie. I wasn't bored. I laughed. I was excited. I was emotionally invested in a few characters. I was surprised. I left the theater recapping scenes and lines.

I also don't want this to seem like I'm downing Dan's assessment. He was right on a couple times, but I think over all this was a very enjoyable movie. I'm going again to IMAX to see it and honestly I'd buy this DVD. I enjoyed it more than all but one Star Trek movie to date. I consider myself a fan of Star Trek, so take that as you will.

Carry on.


Moo Cards

Moo Cards
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
A while ago I got a handful of cards from moo.com after they did a promotional tie in with Flickr. I'd always threatened to get more because I loved the quality and the mini card size.

Well, good news, MOO has opened a US printing facility. So if you live in the States your order can be sent in five days.

I highly recommend them if you're looking for quality cards. The added plus of having them be as individual as you want them is an amazing touch. 100 quality cards for $20 (plus shipping.)

Give them a shot.


First of May

Crap video quality, but it's the thought that counts.