My Phone Hates Me

I wouldn't even chalk this up to first world problems.  I would chalk it up to me being a giant doofus.

Scenario one:  I'm walking from my bus stop to my office.  I'm not setting any records, but neither am I lollygagging.  I carry a messenger bag kind of across my back and my headphones plugged into my phone in my pocket.  Just as I cross the street, I pass a fire hydrant.  It's a section of sidewalk that's choked by utilities and you have to navigate one of two passages.  I take the one closest to the road.  My headphone cord catches the hydrant, my head snaps back and my phone jumps out of my pocket.

The phone, my biggest concern, is okay.  Thankfully.  I don't have a case on it, and it's a work issued phone, so I'm just happy nothing happened.  Its fall was buffeted by bungee cord the headphones became.  My next concern was my head.  It was really ripped back quite forcefully.  However, I didn't notice any stars or funny sounds or tastes so I guess I'm okay.  My third concern was if anyone saw me.  Hey, I'm only human.  I just managed to recreate a cartoon accident in real life.  Next to a bee or a spider web, this must be high on this list of amusing things to see happen to people at a distance.  I kind of hope someone saw and got a good laugh.

Needless to say the headphones were thrashed.  I've never seen trauma like this on a cord, it was very interesting.

Scenario two:  I'm visiting a comic shop looking for gifts.  As I walk in the door, I notice there's Christmas music playing.  I don't think anything of it.  It started as I walked in the door, it's holiday music, it's all very natural.

I find my gift, and then proceed to meander about looking at other items.  I'm partially aware of stares I'm getting, but I'm not giving it much thought.  At the time I just figured I was a guy dressed in business casual clothes in a comic store and people were eyeing me a bit.  I don't know.  This is also a game store, so there were guys at a couple tables playing something.  There's also a couple people at another table discussing music by the looks of it.  Also giving me a strange look.

I get back up to the front, trying to convince myself I don't need to start buying comics again, nor do I need that Serenity model or that Doctor Who action figure set (with all the Doctors) when I see a lady gesturing to me.  She obviously works there given that she's stacking shelves of comics from boxes.  I walk toward her thinking she's asking if I'm finding everything okay, but I can't really tell over the Christmas music.

She says, "Can you turn your music down?"

I blink stupidly.  My music?  What is she talking about?  "What?"

"That music, it's coming from you.  Is your phone on or something?"

Suddenly all those people staring at me flash through my mind.  I reach into my pocket and pull out my phone and it is indeed open on Pandora and it just happened to be on a holiday song.  (Not just any holiday song either, but some really obnoxious a cappella version of "O Come All Ye Faithful.")

I apologize, explaining I thought it was the store's music.  I fumble with it, trying to find the quit button all the while she's saying repeatedly that I really need to turn that off now, it's very disturbing.  I agree and again apologize.  Once I find it, the lag between hitting "quit" and it actually stopping could be measured in decades.  The music stops and I'm painfully aware of how quiet the store is.

I immediately head to the cashier, pay, apologize again (although the other lady said she didn't hear anything, thankfully) and leave.

Had I heard the music before I got into the store, I'd have known instantly it was my phone.  Had it been anything but holiday music, I might have figured it out.  But the combination of it starting as I entered and it being a Christmas song, just totally fooled my brain into thinking I wasn't a giant walking jukebox of cheer and holiday spirit.

I hope someone told their friends about that one too and they got a good laugh.

Carry on.


Made it so!

By now most of you already know.  Tiger Lily and I are engaged to be wed.


I'm actually a bit stuck for words.

For those not following very closely, here's a quick run down.

In 2007, my now ex-wife and I split up.  She came back out of the closet and I was okay with it.  No harm.  It was difficult at first but in the end we stayed friends and roommates to raise our kids.  Her new girlfriend moved in and we got to know her family.  Among them was her younger sister, Tiger Lily (not her real name obviously.)  She was visiting Austin to get a look at the University of Texas.  She is several years younger than me, but something sparked between us and both of us were smitten.

It was rough at first.  Her family wasn't happy about it.  We tried keeping it from them for a long time, but eventually they knew and you can probably read back through the history of this blog to see for yourself.  (Although I may have deleted them, it was bad.)  Still, we persevered, knowing somehow that it would some day be worth the trauma.  And I'm glad to say it has.

I'm not entirely convinced her family totally approves, nor my family for that matter.  But we've come to realize that it's our life to lead and that there will always be unhappy or unsympathetic parties involved.  I can't change their minds and I don't want to.  It's their prerogative and I'm sure those who aren't happy for us are that way for their own perfectly acceptable reasons.  I just hope that in the end they at least respect our choice and let us move forward.

But all is not dystopian plains of remorse.  For the most part, everyone was pleased at the news and none more so than TL and me.  We have a lot to plan and thankfully a long time to plan it.  It's always been our choice that she finish her education no matter what.  This union we've agreed upon does not change the things we've planned to do.  To that end, the date we have in mind will likely be in 2014 when she's done with her masters degree.  After that she'll be going right back into it for her doctorate.  At that time, I may decide to move or I may not.  So far the long distance thing has been going great.  Not perfect, and the snuggling is clearly missing, but thanks to technology, it's not as bad as it could be.

For the actually joining, we're still deciding what to do.  Her parents would like a Catholic ceremony, but we're not practicing Catholics.  I'm sure both families would like a ceremony of some sort.  We had a plan of just getting the JP certificate and then having a big nerd party, but there's likely going to be some compromises and some changes before then.  Either way, we want it to reflect who we are above any traditional trappings.  Yes Star Wars, Lego, Lord of the Rings and Star Trek will all be a part of it, and probably more.  Because, well, we're nerds.  And we like that.

So there's that.  Thanks for listening.  I know ABC hasn't replied to my request to develop a story about my life.  Modern Family is pretty close, but I think them casting me with Ed O'Neill is a little hurtful.  I'm not THAT old.

Am I?

Carry on.


Ad Rating: Cadical ATS vs Nissan Pathfinder

I've been watching a lot of TV lately.  More so than usual.  I can't help it.  I like watching football on the weekend.  I'm not even a sports nut, I just like having it on.  There's something calming, almost nostalgic about the snaps and buzzes of snare drums on Saturday and the evening musical cues on Sunday and Monday.  It sounds like fall, like childhood.

Watching all this TV I've stumbled across a couple ads that are in stark contrast to each other, but are attempting to show the same thing.  I'm not an ad guru, or a marketing maven.  I'm just a person who appreciates good ad campaigns.  I don't like feeling patronized or needlessly hooked into a product.  No one does.  If you feel like someone is playing you for a sap, then the commercial just lost that company a client.

Let's start with the Cadillac ATS vs. The World.

At first glance, it's ambitious.  It's part Travel Channel, part James Bond.  The driver, his attractive and excitable passenger and the film crew travel to exotic locals in order to put this luxury car through its paces.  If it can handle THESE roads, it must be good.  It must be able to handle driving upstate to visit the family, or across town to catch that late night sci-fi/horror film.  Is there anything it can't do?

Well, yes.  It's just a car.  And let's put some perspective on it, it's still just driving on roads.  Yes, the roads are twisty and turny and bumpy and shadowed, but my guess is they are still flat ribbons on which this car goes forward with all tires touching at once.  Notice also that the car is brought in on a semi.  It's such a great car, it can't be bothered to cruise the pedestrian streets of Normalville.  It has to be carted in NASCAR style to these locations.

The car doesn't turn into Aquatron and swim to across that beautiful cove.  It doesn't fight those kid judo masters.  It doesn't plow across the ice flow.  It drives on a road.

The co-pilot's line "It's like Armageddon out there!" just solidifies that fact that Cadillac's marketing division really thought that viewers would buy into this whole adventure across the globe as a good way to show off their product.  The problem is, in the right hands, you could drive any car down these roads.  If you are a professional driver on a closed course, you don't need this specific car.  To me, this is an example of hype, and an ad campaign that's over blown and insulting.  It looks like an excuse for a group of people to travel the globe to "test" whether or not this car can handle these roads, as though the R & D people didn't think of that already, as though the safety team didn't smash up hundreds of cars just like this, as though hundreds of well educated people didn't already have their say.  Now we have Bo and Luke driving on a dirt road.

Where do I sign up for this job?

To top it off, it's not just ONE commercial.  Cadillac has created a whole TV/web video campaign about this car vs. The World.  There are episodes.  EPISODES!

By way of comparison, let's look at Nissan's Pathfinder commercial.  In this (remarkably shorter) ad, a family wants to see Glacier Point, but it's closed.  They feel their car can handle the terrain so they ask the trail guide to open it up for them.

What follows is a decent example of what a commercial CAN be.  It shows the car in action, it doesn't pander, it doesn't hype and it uses a bit of humor.  This car actually CAN go to exotic locations, but we aren't treated to the two hour IMAX hosted by Anthony Bourdain version showing us how.  It's simple, it's not overblown and it's not completely out of the realm of possibility.

I guess what it comes down to is why Cadillac may be trying so hard.  Their ATS is only $5k more on the base MSRP than the Pathfinder, but the latter is an all purpose vehicle.  Depending on the driver, it can be driven many ways.  The ATS is nearly a muscle car by comparisson.  It's a compact luxury sports car.  Nissan's site also lists the MPG for the Pathfinder, the ATS doesn't.  I guess "luxury" means we have to also deal with the pomp associated with the vehicle.

I wonder, would the sticker price be lower if they didn't have to pay for these people to fly all over the world doing what you could probably do driving around Colorado?



Tiger Lily reminded me that it's November, and that means it's another year to try Movember!  Movember is a time when guys enter the month clean shaven and then a grow a moustache (or mustache for us yanks) and raise money and awareness for men's health issue such as prostate and testicular cancer.  Much like October being all things pink, November is now all things mustache.

So I'm giving it a go.  I've already got a few pledges and that's good.  I don't have a goal other than to raise as much as I can.  You can read about the event online and if you'd like you can make a pledge.  

I don't plan on posting photos here every day, but I will put them up on a Flickr set if you're that hard up for entertainment.

Carry on.


Art Appreciation and Moral Integrity

A friend posted on Facebook that after viewing a certain type of behavior on Twitter by an artist they liked, they were now hesitant to keep buying this person's work.  When pressed, I gathered that it was mostly political rantings and that this artist was being a jerk about it to their followers.  This sparked a debate I've had internally for quite some time:  Is your appreciation of an artist's work contingent on how you see them as a person?

More simply, if they are a jerk, would you support them artistically?

We posted back and forth amicably, both of us agreeing that this situation was muddy at best.  I also started the conversation with Tiger Lily, wanting her take.  My initial argument came in the form of movie actors.  I like certain actors and their performances despite the fact that I know in their, sadly labeled, private life, they are either hard to work with, horrible to their friends and family or have a belief system that does not agree with mine.  I'm not terribly religious myself, but I do have an arguably inappropriate distaste for some religions.

That said, my example was Tom Cruise.  He's a believer in Scientology and his exploits in the public eye are weird at best.  In fact, I recall vividly how disappointed I was to find out that Will Smith was also a believer of Scientology.  However, I like Tom Cruise as an actor.  I know he's not the best, but I don't remember a movie he was in where I thought he was the worst part.  I enjoy his character portrayals, albeit limited, and I think he's pleasing to watch.  You could argue the same for any actor in a similar situation now, that despite their personal lives, they may be a very entertaining actor.

You could say the same, also, for writers, directors, musicians and artists.  And living or dead, these artists have or had some belief system that impacted their work in any number of ways.  But what makes us either continue to like their work or stop being a patron?  What throws that switch that says we will not support this person's endeavors because of how we feel personally?  And is it absolute or a level of gradation?

A few examples arose during our discussion, and these are two outliers.  The area's in between are the reason for this discussion.

Chinatown is arguably one of the best films of the 20th century.  Critics have always given it a high mark and film makers cite it as a groundbreaking piece of film.  However, it was directed by an alleged child rapist named Roman Polanski.  The charges against him lingered until his arrest just a few years ago, and even after his release by the Swiss government public opinion of him was negative.  Yet despite who Polanski is and what he allegedly had done (I only say that because he was never convicted) I've never heard anyone say, "I've heard Chinatown is great, but I won't watch it because Polanski is a child rapist."

On the other side is the online video The Innocence of Muslims in which a noted Islam basher creates a trailer for a film (that may or may not be actually ever released) that intentionally creates a false world around the prophet Mohammand in what can only be seen as an attack against Islam.  Creatively, these two examples aren't even remotely similar, but that's not at issue here.  What is is your desire to see it.  Chinatown may be thought provoking, expertly made, and wildly entertaining, but you know who made it.  The Innocence may be all these things as well, but its story is basically telling lies and is told by someone who hates the characters and their real life followers.  So now do you have any problem not seeing this movie?  Why?

Why do we love Chris Brown before he hit Rhianna?  Why do we love T.S. Elliot despite him being a rabid anti-semite?  Picasso left a trail of broken women and yet his art sells for hundreds of millions.

So what's the dividing line?  At what point do we say to ourselves that our principles outweigh our desire to be pleased by art or music or the written word?  Are we not capable of separating the work for the worker, the art from the artist?

The original poster added that if he had a lawn guy that did great work but was later found to be a raging bigot, he'd find a new lawn guy.  It's a shift in art as work versus a trade, but the question still remains.  What about them do you find so offensive that you will not accept good craftsman ship and should that even matter?  Will you let a homophobic cashier check you out at a grocery store?  Would you let a racist dispense cash at a teller window, or fix your A/C or rotate your tires?

Tiger Lily also flipped it on me by asking what I would do if I found out someone didn't order a drawing from me because of my lifestyle.  Maybe someone doesn't like that I'm pro-gay and pro-choice and I live with lesbians while raising my kids and they in turn will not commission work from me.  My response was, that's their right to do so.  Yes I'd be hurt, but in the end, it's their loss more than mine.  They've missed out on having a unique piece of work done specifically for them.  Their lives are less rich culturally because of their personal beliefs.  So does that make them feel better about themselves because they've taken a stand?  My guess is that if they find a gay-bashing, pro-lifer who draws robots, they probably won't care a whit.



(from Robot Portraits)

In about 72 hours I'll be in a hotel in Atlanta, anxiously awaiting the start of Dragon*Con.  It's my first visit to this particular event and it will mark the first out of state convention I've been to in 7 years; the last being Chicago's Wizard World in 2005 where I unsuccessfully tried to sell my comic.

This time around I won't have any artwork to sell and sadly I won't be dressing up.  However, my lovely lady WILL be dressing up as Rei Ayanami from Neon Genesis Evangeleon.  She's very excited as this is her first all handmade costume.  We'll also be traveling with a friend who was wonderful enough to book our hotel WAY ahead of time.

To that end, I wanted to say that if you ARE planning on going to Dragon*Con, and you spot me there, I"ll have a QR code pasted on my person or pack somewhere.  If you scan it and email me or text me and place an order, I'll do an additional character sketch card for free.  "Ah, but how will you know I was there.  Can't I just place an order?"  Nay!!  You'll have to include a very special piece of information to get it, something you'll only know if we meet in person:  The shirt I'm wearing.

I'm very proud of my shirts.  They are of a style that is hard to find.  So if you see me, and you like the idea of getting a robot portrait AND a sketch card for virtually nothing, all you have to do is tell me what I wore when we met.

Even if you come by this page after scanning the QR and you don't remember or didn't see the shirt, let's face it, for what I'm charging, it wouldn't make any sense for you NOT to order something.  Right?

So I hope to see some of you fans out there.  Feel free to email if you're going and mayhaps we can share a beverage.

Carry on!



A friend recently linked this article and it's been floating around a while.  10 Pranks That Will Spice Up Your Relationship.  Read that first, then come back here.

The first time I read this, my initial revulsion gave way to complete disbelief.  On the heels of this wonderful blog post written by the most caring and sensitive human alive, I began to think that maybe romance is dying.  Do we have to pull cute pranks on each other?  Are we so cynical that creative, endearing proposals are sickening and exploitative?

Here are my responses to Fox News' 10 sweet pranks.

1. Don't do any of this shit.

Seriously, are you 5?  Gluing a coin to the floor?  Making up items on a list for a grocery trip?  Are you bloody kidding me?  I swear, there's a sentence in there that says, "...start laughing and pointing."  And we wonder why there's a bullying problem.

Here's what the article says to me.  In order to "spice up" your relationship, you should be sneaky and slightly hurtful.  Nothing turns a man on like making him feel small and stupid.

If you're going to stuff crap in his shoe or tape something to his mouse, just leave the note instead.  A note by the front door saying, "Take your clothes off and come find me" is a lot more "spicey" that "Hey, doofus, there's tissue paper in your shoe.  Aren't you a piece of work?!"  If you're going to pull a prank, do one together.  Make prank phone calls together and laugh about it.  Walk around town together and stare forlornly into cafe windows and wait for people to get uncomfortable.  Make up silly accents and ask for directions.

The point is, the more you do together, the less work your relationship will need.


A New Chapter

Corn Field
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
This last week I helped Tiger Lily move to Illinois. As you may know, she's going for her masters degree and U of I gave her the best offer. It may be that she will also go for her doctorate at the same school.

This started out as a simple matter of driving up in a moving van and spending a few days together before I flew back to Austin. We later found out that her parents were taking a trip to the Ozarks. It was decided that we'd meet for an overnight stay in Little Rock, then a few days in the Ozarks, before making the last drive up to Champaign.

The trip was stressful and there were more than a few things that went awry, but none were catastrophic and in the end it was a very kind gesture on the part of her parents to put us up and get us a few meals along the way. They also helped unpack and got TL some needed supplies.

The trip was fraught with small details that made it both trying and interesting. They won't enrich this story any more than me recapping the dream I had last night. In the end it became a small vacation; one in which I left my best friend before returning.

I probably shouldn't write anything this close to the event, but I know my family will have questions and want to know if I'm doing okay. Despite writing this I'm sure they will ask anyway. I will say that yes, eventually, I will be okay. We've known this was going to happen so at least it's not a shock in addition to the separation. However, that doesn't make it any easier.

I am very sad. I will be sad for quite some time. I hope I don't feel this way for two years. While I haven't lost my best friend, she isn't around any more. The sadness comes from the knowledge that after almost 4 years, I'll be sleeping alone, eating alone and experiencing events alone. I will have my kids and The Ladies around all the time and that's some solace. And I'm doing my best to stay busy and positive, but the sheer "apart-ness" of it is going to be crushing.

A couple we were friends with recently posted that they were ending their engagement. They were very cute and happy and seemed destined to be together. About 15 months ago She went to school in China and he moved to Oklahoma. After considerable examination, they decided their worlds were just too far apart and despite being great friends, they just couldn't be in a romantic, intimate relationship.

Yes I'm worried that will happen with us.

We aren't engaged but there is little doubt that one day we will be. Ms. A asked how long until I move to Illinois and my gut reaction was to say I'm not going to, but then I remembered saying goodbye at the airport and now I'm not so sure.

So now I'm a sci-fi character that moves between worlds, never truly belonging to either. With TL out of Austin, I'm going to spend more time with the kids, and that's a positive. But at the possibility of not seeing TL for 7 years, my heart is going to be constantly pulled toward those corn fields.


Summer of Change

Sink Hole
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
Hey all, just a quick update for those that don't follow me on FB or Twitter or emails or a phone call or in person. So, yeah, you.

As you know, Tiger Lily is moving to Illinois. I will be helping her move at the end of July, then she'll be there for a minimum of two years. After that she'll apply to other schools for her doctorate and either stay there longer or move again. We plan on texting and talking over Skype a lot. Yes we're going to try the long distance relationship.

To that end, we may also be starting a new podcast. Friends of ours invited us onto their new Doctor Who podcast, Playing Doctor Podcast and they've also been running the Dork Trek podcast as well. It's a model we want to use for Deep Space Nine since we're both big fans. It'll also give us an excuse to talk with each other at least once a week. I'll post more when it's available.

Some quick items. G-man's asthma is being treated by a new pulmonologist instead of the pediatrician and so far it's doing a lot better. Also, his reading has improved dramatically, so much so he won a prize from the library.

LMA is currently at camp and hopefully having fun. This is her first sleep away camp, so don't bring it up with her mom, she'll start crying. She's otherwise doing well and we're excited for her to start middle school. She'll be trying her hand at the oboe.

A month after Tiger Lily leaves, we will meet up in Atlanta for Dragon*Con. We'll both be wearing costumes so keep an eye out online at all the nerdy sites and you might see us. She'll be the sexy anime mech pilot, Rei Ayanami and I'll be the fat dude covered in cardboard trying to look like Dr. Gordon Freeman.

Then the big gay family is moving! It's just a little ways away into Pflugerville, but it's a nicer house. The ladies are buying it instead of renting and I'll be living with them for a while till I can get my own place. We have an arrangement with custody and child support and all that, so there are plans and they are in motion. Those of you who snail-mail cards and such will get a new street address soon.

To answer some questions: No, no one I know was hurt or lost in the fires in Colorado. My mom and uncle do lives mere miles away from the Waldo Canyon fire and were either evacuated or alerted to possible evacuation, but they are all okay. Secondly, no I don't know anyone lost or hurt in the movie theater shooting in Aurora. My brother lives just a couple miles away and they have visited that theater, but they weren't there.

This photo you're seeing is from a recent trip to Avery Island in Louisiana. It's where Tabasco Sauce is made. We visited Tiger Lily's mom and dad for the July 4th weekend and this was one of our excursions. (More available online.)

Future projects coming up include an album cover for an online acquaintance, some tee-shirt designs, some character designs for a couple friends, a possible Lego UT Tower rebuild and of course building my Dragon*Con costume. August is going to be busy.

I don't write here much, so please come find me on Facebook or Twitter. Carry on.


Prometheus Debate

A while ago, I talked about a major plot hole that I found in one of my more beloved movies.  It was one of those needling, pesky thoughts you would have over time.  But every time I watched it, I new something was wrong.

Which is how I felt watching Prometheus.

I don't think a movie in recent years has sparked such debate.  People in whom I have placed a certain amount of trust when it comes to gauging a movie's quality have said it was awful.  Other's who I wouldn't pick to tell me if it was raining outside said it was an amazing film.  Now, this is a failing of my own, not making up my own mind, but that's another post for later.  And I don't mean to generalize my friends into idiots and geniuses when it comes to film, but I know that if certain people love a movie, I will hate it.  That's just experience over time.  What I'd like to do today is put down my thoughts, and the thoughts my of my lovely lady, into a humble critique of the movie from an obvious layperson.

Ridley Scott has flattly stated that Prometheus wasn't going to be a prequel to Alien and I remember thinking that was a dodge.  When Star Trek came out in 2009, the fans were elated at the quality and performances.  The story was serviceable and there were a few spatial anomalies to be concerned about, but over all it was the most enjoyable movie I saw that year.  I recall walking back to the car just too happy to even speak; so many good things happened in that movie.  But I also remember knowing it was going to be a reboot.  It was going to use the same starting point, but go off in a new direction.  No one made any claims to the contrary.

Prometheus, on the other hand, was summarily dismissed as a prequel to Alien, and more of a story behind the mysterious Space Jockey.  This creature was window dressing to the horror that was later to unfold in Alien but has since sparked much interest.  What was this petrified life form?  Was it attacked by the xenomorphs?  Was it transporting the eggs for delivery or research?  Was his death intentional? A lot of questions were raised in that short scene, and Prometheus, it seems, was attempting to answer those.

From this point on, I will be talking about major plot points.  You've had your warning.

So, the movie wasn't a prequel.  It had a company that sent researchers to a world on the other side of the galaxy.  This world had a giant C shaped starship.  On this ship were containers with alien life.  This alien life easily infiltrated its host, emerged and grew quickly.  There's even a nefarious android.  No, this isn't a prequel.

I understand the desire to tell a different story based in that universe.  I understand wanting it to be separate from what you've done before.  But I believe that it was done wrong.  Sir Scott wanted to show where the mysterious Space Jockey/Engineers came from by giving us a prettier version of Alien.  The problem with the movie was that it brought up too many questions while looking like it was on the verge of answering them at the same time.

The opening shows a large pale humanoid figure standing atop a waterfall.  He disrobes, eats something from a small dish and dies, while in the background a large disk shaped craft slowly flies off into space.  The poison destroys his DNA and his body disintegrates.  Once in the water, the DNA seems to mend and become vibrant, active cells.  Though we don't know for sure, the setting is very Earth like, so we are to assume that this opening bit is the film's way of saying, "Hey, these guys pretty much invented life on Earth."  The question for later is, "Just human life?"

The basic gist of the story is that a rich old guy funds a trip to a planet based on a discovery by two archaeologists.  They find carvings and paintings of ancient peoples depicting the same giant figure pointing to the heavens and the same celestial objects.  The find the right location of the stars, find that there is a sun like ours, with a planetary moon much like Earth.  So they go there.  They find a building.  In the building they find a body (much like the Space Jockey.)  In a room near the body they find a huge head, a crystal on a dais, a mural with an alien figure and a lot of little vases.  Their presence activates the hi-jinks that is this movie and it turns into the goodnight song from the von Trapps as one by one the crew is picked off by something.  One Space Jockey is alive and the old guy shows up to ask him for eternal life.  The alien responds by going on a killing spree and the heroine must survive him and the elements.  She ends the film by finding another of the alien ships to go looking for where they came from.

I've left a lot out for brevity's sake.  The questions and assumptions start here.

We don't learn from any record that these aliens are purposefully carrying the dangerous xenomorphs to Earth to eliminate us.  It was all supposition from an android whose sanity and loyalty were in question.  We assume he can read the ship's manifest and destination where it specifically states, "Cargo: weaponized life form.  Destination: Third planet of Terran system."  Our assumption comes from a) this ship contains a gelatinous substance that fucks with other life forms.  It has tons of this stuff and even the smallest drop of it turns normal living creatures into terrible monsters.  And b) a nice hologram of a wide rang of star systems shows Earth.  Amidst myriad of stars and planets, we now assume that since Earth is on there, that's where they must be going.  It couldn't be that we just exist in their databases.  They were there before; it serves that we could just show up in a star map.

So our theory is that the first giant space albino we see in the movie was dropped off on Earth as a punishment.  He was exiled with a loaded weapon.  However, the unintended consequence is that his DNA started life on this blue-green ball.  So ages later, his race sees what has happened and decide to come back with the xenomorphs to fix that mistake.  That kind of makes sense.

However, two issues come up.  The first being that form of eradication never works.  You use one animal to kill another and suddenly you have new dominant species to deal with.  How many times here on Earth has one thing been brought in to kill another only to become a bigger problem.  The second issue is that if we were a mistake, where did the cave paintings come from?  At some point the big guys had to come back and give us this information.  So what was the motivation there?  Was it them leaving enough evidence of their existence so that we'd go looking for them and bring a xenomorph back accidentally, saving them all the trouble?  Was it a benign few creatures, telling us stories of our existence, which we patently forgot over time?

Another idea is that they wanted Earth for their own and left a single person here to create life but that life became stunted and warlike.  The first visits were fine, just here to check up on humanity.  But later we decide to bomb the daylights out of each other over philosophy and land so the aliens decide we're too much trouble and chose instead to wipe us out before we become a problem.

But that is never explain in the movie.

So what we're left with is a film that sets out to answer more questions by asking them.  And I haven't even gone into who the rich man's "daughter" was.  (Theories are that she's an android but that story died with her.)  I get the distinct feeling that this will create so much buzz that additional films will have to be made if only to sate our curiosity over all these questions.  If not, it will die a very open ended story with just a surface level link to Alien.

In the end, Prometheus was a very pretty movie.  The environment, the actors, the action, the graphics.  At no point did something seem out of place or fake or unnecessary, other than the writing.


Coffee Waste

File this under First World Problems.  I wanted to treat my lady to coffee today.  She was nice and made breakfast and had the day off anyway so I thought I'd get her a nice coffee.  We stopped by the nearby Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and got our usual.  We're fans of coffee so we try different places, the more local the better.  CB&TL just happens to be the closest one that boasts a drive-through.

Much to my consternation, our drinks came with splash sticks.  These weren't the long splash/stir sticks you see at Starbucks, but a sawed-off version with the sole purpose of avoiding a couple dollops of coffee to escape while you drive or walk away.  They're a cute gimmick but that's all they are.  And the only reason CB&TL are doing it is because big brother Starbucks is doing it.

This is extremely wasteful, I hope they see that.  We recycle all the cups we get from coffee places, in fact it's more than any other single item in our bins.  But you have to separate it out to paper for the cup, cardboard for the sleeve and plastic for the lid.  Now there's another plastic that's likely a different number, but I don't know what number it is.  (I know, "Wah, wah! Shut up you stupid hippie!")

While I don't mind doing the recycling work, I think the company should take it upon itself to be more proactive about the plastic they use.  I'm okay with lids.  I think the old fashion lids with the perforated openings were just fine.  Plus, it's a single #6 recycling plastic.  They're easy to collect and then toss into your blue bin or take to the recycling centers.  No fuss, no muss.  Plus there's a reason for the lids; the coffee is hot. As we stupid Americans have found out, hot coffee is a litigious beverage.  We need as many barriers between our groins and our scalding morning jump-juice as possible.  We just can't be trusted otherwise, hence the lids. And that's fine.

But these stir/splash sticks are like paper receipts.  Unless you are collecting receipts as part of a business trip, I don't need one.  I have a record of it on my bank account.  Plus, it's not like it's a car or 65inch TV or computer; it's a cup of coffee.  As Mitch Hedberg says, "I give you the money, you give me the donut.  End of transaction.  We do not need to bring ink and paper into this."  Stir sticks have a life cycle of box, coffee cup, trash can in about 30 seconds.  Why even bother with that waste?  If you're going to have these sticks, put a special jar or bin out to collect the unwanted ones.  Or leave the sticks out for people to chose if they need them.  I understand you may be taking a large order to your office and you don't want to spill, but leave that choice to the consumer.  Don't just hand me plastic.

There's a place in Pflugerville called Dazzle.  They make especially good coffee for starters.  They are also very friendly, community oriented, and their overhead is almost nothing.  They work out of what may have been an old burger drive through, but it's maybe a 50sq foot free standing building and all they do is coffee.  What separates them further from the other local shops and the big chains is the lids they use.

I know they didn't make these themselves, but I did some research on the subject (and by research I mean I did some online searching for about 10 mins) and couldn't find the manufacturer of these lids.  (I'm sure it's on the lid itself, but I don't have one with me.  I'll update when I get one.)  The point is, I couldn't EASILY find it online.  Which is a shame because this is a genius level lid.  It's pop-up book technology AND it removes the need for wasteful splash sticks.

So why hasn't CB&TL adopted this instead of following Starbuck's lead with the sticks?  That's a good question.  I thought maybe it was cost, which is why I was trying to find a manufacturer to gauge price.  I can't imagine the cost of fancy lids outweighs normal lids + sticks.  Not to mention the waste cost we must endure afterwards.

So I'm making an effort.  I'm going to ask from my big chains that they not give me a stir stick.  If they insist, I'll hand it back and ask that they recycle it.  I'm going to write Starbucks and CB&TL and suggest this lid instead.  And I'm definitely going to patron Dazzle as long as I'm nearby.

Carry on.


Type A Assholes

A recent article on CNN.com by an Austin based reporter garnered several antagonistic and arrogant responses, not least of which called users of Facebook "sissy men" and encouraged readers to play sports and watch more sports channels.  I tried to weigh in with a comment that was possibly too passive-aggressive, and when others jumped all over me for it, I found I wasn't able to respond to them; further encouraging the beast that is an internet argument.

So I've taken to my own unread blog to respond, mostly because I won't be able to get through my day unless I offer a long-winded, ambling and incoherent response.

The article basically says that despite everyone bitching about social networks, privacy and the erosion of face to face communication, Facebook is here to stay.  One seventh of the world's population uses it.  I think at this point the only thing being more utilized is oxygen.  I use it a lot.  I tried moving away from it, but here's the thing about ubiquitous monopolies; they're usually very easy to use.  I know they come with scary privacy policies and leaky protections against third party data mining, but my view is, if I was worried about that, I wouldn't be using the thing in the first place.  Is it fair to say I should have to trade my personal information in order to use a free social site?  I think that's the price you pay for "free."  I fail to see how much more nefarious Facebook can be than targeted ads.  Think about it.  They aren't getting a dime from you so they have to use advertising to make some money to cover the overhead.  Targeted ads result in more revenue because you're more likely to buy.  So, is that the worst thing that can happen?

Imagine you walk into a bar and start ordering drinks.  The drinks are free, there's no cover, and you can meet all your friends at any time.  You dictate the music that's played and who is invited.  Now, in order to pay for all this, the bar has to sell ad space on the napkins and coasters and TVs and the backs of chairs and maybe the servers' shirts.  For everything you see there that you go buy later, the bar gets a cut.  If they're randomly putting up ads for medical equipment, crochet needles and tours of the airbases at Okinawa, are they going to get a lot back?  Not from me.  If, however, I walk in the door and they ask me some questions about who I am and then all the ads become about space combat games and cheap places to take my kids and a few good breakfast taco/coffee shops, you bet I'd shop those.

Is the trade off bad?  That's up to you to sort out.  I'm not going to comment too much about personal privacy or else I'll have every Libertarian I know yelling at me about government interference and the death of personal privacy.

What I would like to talk about is all the negativity that seems to stem from using social networking sites as a waste of time.  First, let me just say, "Duh!"  Social networking sites are supposed to be a time waster.  What could you possibly be thinking if you feel Facebook and Twitter are built primarily as constructive, community building applications?  To be fair, they CAN be used to organize events, reach out to your constituents, be the face of a foundation or cause, but at their cores, these things are ways for people to talk to each other in much the same way we talk face to face; about nothing.

Think about it.  The last time you hung out with your friends, what did you talk about?  Stuff you saw on TV?  A sporting event?  What your kids or parents were doing?  How many of you (dictators and billionaire geniuses aside) planned the next revolution?  How many of you even said more than a few meaningful and deep things that changed someone's life?  And I'm talking about the most immediate interaction you had.  My guess is very few of us.

So why is it that there's this constant desire to put down Facebook because you're not on it?  Is your time better spent than mine because you aren't wasting time the same way I am?  I don't watch a lot of TV, and when I do put something on the big box sitting on that shelf, it's usually talking head shows or Netflix.  So is my Facebook time somehow worse than your reality TV time?  If I'm posting artwork in the hopes that someone will see it and order something from me, how is that worse than you watching The Bachelor?  Which is more noble, posting pictures of my kids so my grandparents can see them, or you taking that time to have another shot of tequila and then puking an hour later?  Which "social" is more constructive?

Agreed, I don't care to see when people say their lives suck but never follow up.  I don't want to know who is playing what game online.  I don't need to know what purses you like or what opinion you have about certain musicians.  But I read it anyway because that's part of who you are.  If we were at a restaurant catching up, what would you say to me?  I really like this new pair of pants I saw, or did you read that latest Green Lantern, or man I can't believe how much lag there is on Diablo III.  It's the same thing.  We're wasting the same time, so don't get all high-and-mighty about how your beer swilling floats down a river are somehow better than my party organizing or news article reading.

You're not better, you're just bitter.


How Long?

I mentioned something about this last time, but I thought I'd expound upon it a little more.  Tiger Lily is moving to Illinois to attend graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana.  She will not only be doing two years of graduate studies, but then plans on staying to complete her doctorate, which is another four years.

So at the very least, she'll be in Illinois for 6 years.

I was texting with my brother the other day and he asked if I was okay and if we were going to stay together.  I said yes to both but I got to wondering what it would be like to be away from someone for twice as long as you've known them.

Now, it's not like she's moving to China.  Illinois is just a couple hundred dollar flight away.  I can save up for a couple months at a time, visit, repeat.  Thanks to certain technologies, we'll be able to communicate with each other virtually face to face.  She'll be able to come back and visit as well I'm sure.  In fact, we have plans to go to Colorado for Christmas (or around that time.)

I know the question is going to be, "But that's a long time.  Aren't you worried you'll meet someone?"  To which I say, "What's to stop me from meeting someone now?"  I'm not actively looking for another relationship, I'm happy with the one we have.  I have no reason to stray.  Now, being apart this long with be difficult, but I'm not that type of person that has to be in a relationship.  TL and I are very happy and I think what we have will be able to stand the test of a few years.

Plus, in all honesty, I knew this was coming.  If it wasn't Urbana, it would have been Louisiana.  She likes Austin, but I know she doesn't consider it her home.  I know she'd like to move back with her family or live wherever she finds a good career.  I understand that and have been doing my best to encourage her to follow her desire to learn and better herself.  I have plans for myself but they are long term and are flexible.  They also hinge on my kids being on their own or old enough that they can choose if they want to move with one parent or the other.

So, in a nutshell, it's all good.  I'll have plenty to do with drawing and Lego and games and friends.  She'll be full time writing and researching and teaching.  I'll miss her terribly, but I know it's not forever.

Carry on.


Beware All of March

The last couple months were fairly exciting for all of us.  And by exciting, I mean it in the Chinese proverb sense of the word.

Tiger Lily and I had a quick Mardi Gras getaway to her home town where we visited her family and friends.  Most of our trip was planned around eating and with good reason.  The food in that part of the world is some of the best you could have.  You need time to build up your expectations, have them smashed and then time to recuperate afterward.  I love Louisiana food.  If were to move to a place based off food quality alone it would probably be there.  And based on my current spacial qualities, it stands to reason I base a lot of decisions off food quality.

Next came TL's trip to Illinois.  Out of the five school's she's applied to for graduate studies, only UT Austin and UI Urbana replied, and of those only Illinois made an offer with some coin.  So she visited the campus and loved it.  So much so that as of today she's put in an application on apartment.  Some time in early August, we'll be driving a moving truck to Illinois.

Spring Break and South by Southwest came at the same time this year.  My Real Job boss has ties with the SXSW people as he's done A/V work with them for years.  This time, he started his own thing called Create.  It's loosely based on the Maker Fair idea of bringing together builders and hackers and other geeks.  At one point I had to explain to the kids that the term "hacker" just meant "someone who works to understand something inside and out."  So the Create event had food hackers, building hackers, electronics hackers, etc.  My boss asked if I could make a poster for the event and in return I got a couple SXSW passes.  TG and I used them to see a couple films and get into some events and tents and stuff.  It was quite the experience, but it was definitely overwhelming.

Ms. A and Ms. El Paso (I guess henceforth known as The Ladies, since that kinda of what I call them in reality) got the music portion of the festival and as far as I can tell had a good time.  I say that only because we rarely saw them but when we did they were exhausted, quibbling and laden with free stuff and fliers for parties. I think during SXSW that's called "success."  They're much more into seeing shows and finding ways to get free beer and food and as they've done it for a few years, they're pretty good at it.  Ms. El Paso's been fighting with some health issues so I think they both of them took it a bit slower, but I still think they had fun.

It also meant I got to hang out with the kids for half of their spring break.  We didn't do a whole lot, and I'll get to why in a second, but we were able to lose two kites in about 10 minutes.  We also took a short trip to the SXSW Screenburn event, which is a video game expo basically.  They had demos of games and booths with developers and college programs as well as a full LAN gaming area and a small theater are for previews and panels.  Sadly, most of the gaming industry revolves around first person shooters which may or may not also have spurting blood, buxom females and needless violence.  While we as adults can separate the pixels from the physical, there was a discussion as to the merits of bringing the kids there.  However, I was able to steer clear of the cheerleader chainsaw zombie bus and the strippers as alien killers games and actually find the booths where development, interactivity, learning and innocence still counted for something.  (There weren't many so it was a short trip.)

Some time during a long march back to where we parked, I must have gotten light-headed, swooned, fell, and dragged my lolling tongue across a plague ridden corpse wrapped in bio hazard waste.  I don't have any memory of such an event, so I can only assume I caught something airborne and it turned into what the doctor later called "pneumonia like symptoms."  I tried coming up with a clever analogy for this queer phrasing but I'm still a little tired.  Needless to say the rest of the weekend I spent being miserable and feverish.  Now TL has it, at an almost comically accelerated rate compared to what I went through.  She had to call into work which almost made her as sick as the virus itself.

Finally, the children are vexing.  Long are the parents' woes when it comes to the rearing of the small humans.  Our specific variety continues to provide an endless supply of exasperation.  They aren't spiteful or malevolent, but they are willful and in Lil G's case, a bit prone to distraction.  The parental units of the group have been noticing some trends of late in the two children and we're both worried and stressed.  Lil Miss Austin is willful and at times mean.  She's also very manipulative and crafty.  Her brother is sweet but he's spacey and forgetful and prone to aggression.  This has been translating to an overall lack of respect, attention to rules and follow through on chores.  They're past the age when we can say, "Oh, well, they're just young kids."  Not gonna fly anymore, Jack.  LMA is going into middle school next year.  It's time the behavior gets straightened out or they're going to be let go into the world with real problems trying to understand why things aren't going well for them.

It's an on going issue, and it'll change again in a few months, then again next year.  Parenting is the Law of Evolution if the Theory ever needed some legitimized help.  It's not that they are bad kids or that we are bad parents, it's that we are Parental Artists and will be tweaking and perfecting these two pieces of work until we die.  If that piece of work requires a quick slap or a 10 year grounding, then that's what it needs.

The rest of the year is shaping up to be as exciting and hopefully in a good way.  I like how 2012 has been so far.

Carry on.


Class Moviefare

Here's my monthly post about stuff that tens of people will at least skim over, but which I use to vent about things I don't like.  Wah wah wah, bitter old me.

The Alamo Drafthouse in Austin is one of those things that you brag about to people who don't live in your town.  Most towns have things like this and the larger the town, the more things you have.  There's a saturation point at which the novelties become common place and "when everyone is super, no one is."  I believe that's happening to The Alamo.

When I first moved to Austin about 13 year ago (yes this is going to be one of those) the Drafthouse was still a weird little one screen theater in downtown Austin.  It was one of the only places you could see The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  The Colorado St. theater eventually closed, but by then a new 4 screen Alamo popped up a little farther north.  Then another farther north, then another a bit south of downtown.  The downtown Ritz reopened in a new location.  This is all to say I've been a patron of the theater for nearly as long as they've been around.

The brand itself has been sold and now there are theaters in Houston, San Antonio and a town in Virginia.  There's also talk of a new theater in Denver.  The Alamo is big and it's due in large part to its dinner format and its propensity to run cult movies.  Other theaters have food and club houses, but the Alamo has events.  They change their menu to run specials to match the events.  They run TV shows, festival marathons and outdoor Rolling Roadshows.  It's a very cool theater.

The problem is, like everything good, it gets big and noticed.  And I'm sure, like all things that get big and noticed, there are old farts like me lining up to complain about it.

I've had very few problems with Alamo over the years.  We've always been able to get tickets, the food is always tasty and the events they run are entertaining.  We first saw the Intergalactic Nemesis at the Alamo.  We've gone to New Year's Eve parties, seen 80's films, watched an MST3K type group rip on some classics and of course seen our fair share of summer blockbusters.  It's a place I tell my friends about and they are jealous it exists only (well, primarily) in Texas.  The Alamo was voted the #2 best movie theater in the US and one of its preview bumpers about not texting made it to Anderson Cooper's show.

The Drafthouse started running a test last year with reserved seating and here is where I have a problem with it.  I'm not a communist or socialist, but even if I were there are some things I don't believe in.  One of those is that I don't believe money should get you special privileges.  Now, this is a slippery slope because that sentence taken in another context could show me in an hypocritical light.  My job earns me a paycheck which buys food and rent.  My employer provides health insurance which comes out of my salary.  By those minor things alone, I'm wealthy when compared to the rest of the world.  However, I'm not specially seeking this out because I know it'll give me an advantage.  I'm not allowing my check to be deducted so I can get into a hospital before someone.  I'm not buying food from a grocery store so I can get to it before someone who has less or no money.  I realize the argument at its base is not valid and I'm willing to concede that.

That said, I don't believe in paying extra for assigned seating.  I don't like it on planes or movie theaters.  I believe it promotes a class system if you can produce more cash and get bonuses because of it.  If you and I are both traveling from Dallas to Chicago and you have extra 100's in your couch and I've had to save for six months, why is it okay for you to travel in luxury?  Because you have more cash?  If I worked and saved and was thrifty and diligent and made good choices and you received an inheritance or were the offspring of a mogul, who is the more deserving of a good seat on a plane?

These are philosophical questions that come up when I get all hot and bothered about assigned movie tickets, and here's why.  We go to the movies regularly, but not a lot.  We usually go in the evening, to the same theater and we buy food.  We get there early, we don't often save seats.  We tip well.  We encourage people to go to the theater when they're in town.  When things go wrong, we give the theater and its owners and operators a lot of slack.  We're good patrons.  But now it doesn't matter, because if you pay just a little extra, you can show up late and get good seats.

Now, that's not exactly true.  You still have to be there 30 minutes early, but now a ticket prices of $12 instead of $10 will mean you get priority seating, aka first class.  You don't get an assigned seat, but you get your pick of seat before general admission.  It's like a concert or certain airlines.  The more you pay, the better your seat.  It doesn't matter if you're the biggest fan, or got there the earliest.  If you don't pay more money, you don't get to be in a premier position.

And yes, I think all concerts should be one price, general admission. I think all airline tickets should be the same price, first come first served.  I like the idea that effort and attentiveness and desire gets you the results you want, not just a few more digits in your salary.  I think if you want it and get to it first, it's yours.  If you wait and are lazy about it, money shouldn't save you.  First class plane tickets should be abolished and last minute plane tickets should cost more.  Early birds need rewards and having premium seating anywhere should be completely abolished.  There was a local farm league hockey team in Austin for a while and you could get tickets for $8.  You sat anywhere you wanted.  If you got there early, you could sit near the glass.  If you go there late, you couldn't.

I'm all for earning your keep and making a name for yourself and striking it rich and getting what you deserve.  But being able to buy a nice house, a college education for your kids or a new car isn't the same as buying your way to the front of the line.  We shouldn't penalize those who plan ahead by allowing those who pay more to move ahead.

I welcome your differing and blistering responses.


Fine Tuning

LMA tried out for a bunch of instruments last weekend.  Middle school is coming up and she's chosen band as a primary focus of her elective activity.  It was that or art, theater arts or choir.  She wanted to do all four, but was convinced that learning an instrument would be beneficial later in life.

If you look at all the videos on that channel, it's all (most) of her try outs.  I believe she's settled on the oboe (not videoed) and then will take percussion in private training.  She did very well at all her events, got high marks and the teachers were fighting over her at a couple points.  LMA is naturally bright and will likely pick this up no problem.  We're very proud of her.

Yes it's a lot of random squeaking in the background.  That will eventually turn into virtuoso performances at the London Philharmonic.


Boxes and Boxes

Yes it's that time of year, but for us it's the first time of year.

Wait, what?

LMA started Girl Scouts last year and this is her first cookie drive.  Needless to say our expectations on how many we could sell are very high and given we've been at it for 10 days, there's a good chance she'll get a lovely prize.  Ideally we want to sell enough so that she can go to camp for free.  That would be excellent.  The rest of the prizes are kind of astronomical and require a marketing and PR firm more suited for superbowl ads than local cookie drives.  For instance, if you sell 3000 boxes, you get (along with all the prizes leading up to it) an iPad2.

Doesn't sound like much at first, especially when you think of how often you hear about these cookies and how much people like them.  (By the way, they do contact crack, it's on the ingredient label.  Swear.)  But when you break it down, it comes down to about 100 boxes a day for a month.  Now on our best day so far we've sold maybe 80.  Over a weekend we did away with almost 200.  But I don't know if this is something we'll be able to do.  1000?  Very likely.  3000?  Um....

So if I haven't spammed you about it, this is your warning.  I have them at work and the Ladies are shopping them around to the places they frequent.  We haven't done booths yet but we might as the weeks go on.  You have to be careful of how you sell these.  There are rules in place, mostly to protect the girls, but also to promote some qualities the group maintains, such as teamwork, leadership, confidence and character.  You can earn a lot of that being rejected by 95% of the people you talk to.

Aside from cookies there isn't much going on.  G-Man is also in a group, Campfire USA.  It's a very non-denominational scout group.  They go camping and have trips to see local city things, have projects immediately impacting their community.  It's pretty nifty and it's giving him a good opportunity to meet some new kids.

Tiger Lily has found a job and is working at a local bakery.  She's in a terrifying stasis mode wherein she has no control over what's going to happen to her next.  She's applied for five grad schools, has sent off her letters of intent and her financial paperwork and is now just waiting to hear.  She's also applied for an internet research internship in DC and is waiting to hear on that too.  TL doesn't do well with waiting so she's spending her down time catching as many Pokemon as she can.

I'm currently not doing anything of importance.  Still drawing robots, still pining for the days I can spend sorting Lego or building something.  I'm online a lot and that's about all I can say.  My job is fine; got a good review and a cost of living raise.  TL and I are going to taekwondo twice a week and we've recently received our yellow belts.  I'm having fun with TKD but it's obvious I'm not getting younger by the way my ankles protest during the class and my back complains afterward.  I also try to ride my bike at least once a week.  Despite that I haven't lost any weight, though I haven't put on any either.

So, nothing major going on.  I'm boycotting the Star Wars 3D movie and getting ever closer to actually putting all my design ideas to paper and get them on some shirts.  I'm also convinced this Lego idea I have is going to be huge if I can ever get it going.  But, that's what hobbies are for, keeping you entertained until you retire.

Carry on.


Biking on hills

Biking on hills: Check out this movie

For those (grandparents) who haven't seen the kids in a while, Ms. El Paso recorded them riding bikes. 2 of 3 of these are mine. They all look very much not small any more.