Go Yellow!

Well, in honor of the new Simpsons movie, Burger King has teamed up with Matt Groening and they have put together a website where you can simpsonize yourself.

Granted, it looks really nothing like me, but it's still pretty fun messing with your simpson self.

My laptop has lost its Print Screen Function. This is really annoying.


Harry Potter - A Look Back

So I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone back in the summer of '99. I had just graduated High School but I had found that kids books were fun and an easy read, and I kept hearing about this series of books. The hype was just beginning to start.

I actually just picked up the paperback version of one because I didn't expect to really get into it so much that I would want to buy the hardback of two, but I was instantly hooked. Sure, the series has a few weak points, like Sirius Black accessing the school through the Floo Network which makes me wonder why Voldemort doesn't just do it, but overall I was enthralled, read all three of the first books within a week of each other and was pleasantly entertained by the prospect of reading the next four over what I assumed would be a couple of years.

Its kind of odd to think that I didn't like the idea of them making these books into a movie, as I had a pretty set idea of what the characters and school looked like in my head and didn't want it to get ruined like Hollywood has a habit of doing.

Strange, as the series progressed, it gained in popularity to what can be percieved as quite explosive. This series of books is hugely popular to a point that has never been seen by anything that I know about. I mean, has there been anything in pop culture that has spawned something like this that you can think of? I guess in music there was Beatlemania, and movies have Star Wars, but really, I don't think I've seen a book series this popular before.

Well, I have read all seven books, buying Deathly Hallows right at Midnight and cracking that badboy open and reading all night. I took a break at around five am for sleep, and was back up by 830 to read some more. I was done by five that afternoon.

I cried. I laughed. I sniffled. I cried some more. I am engrossed, and I'm pretty sure that Severus Snape is quite possibly one of the best characters in the book because he's got so many layers to him, most of which we never see as the book takes place from Harry's viewpoint. We always see things from Harry's angle.

Whatever the case, without spoiling the book, which is excellent, I do have a biff with the Epilogue, and I've discovered I'm not alone. JK Rowling could have left it off and the book would have been fine. In fact, the Epilogue raises even more questions instead of bringing closure to the series, like it only tells of some characters, and introduces some that I personally don't care about. It was a bit of a disappointment.

Well, nix the epilogue chapter, and the series went out with a bang.

So, now what?


The Ferrets Are Gone

So, due to the fact that I'm going to go on vacation next week with the family, and shortly thereafter I go to drill sergeant school for two months, there was a little problem with a couple of my pets.

My brother did not want to look after the ferrets. In fact, he's been saying for a few months now that the ferrets needed to go. It is his house, and though I kept them for as long as I could, I begrudgingly gave them up today, giving them back to the place I had adopted them from. They are in a good place, and I was told that they would likely be kept together. If it is at all possible, I would love to readopt them later, but I don't see that as happening so I can rest assured that my two little fuzzbutts will be in a good place.

And hopefully Blaine won't be eating anymore earplugs.

So long my little carpet sharks, you will be missed *sighs*


Animation Woes

So my current major is 3D Animation. And I've been having issues with my 3D modeling class this quarter. One of the main reasons being that I discovered that I'm not to fond of modeling.

The good news is that the industry generally doesn't have one person do all aspects of the process. You generally focus on one area and work on that and when you're done you turn it over to somebody else. For instance, in character animation, you'll have somebody model the character, then that character will probably go to a materialist who gives it a certain look (this might be the same person in fact). Then you have a rigger, who puts a skeletol structure in the character and skins it so certain areas of the model are affected by certain bones (kind of like giving a 3d character muscles so to speak). Once all that is said and done, you have an animator who goes in and animates the character to do action poses and so on. And then there are other aspects, like background modelers and animators, lighting specialists, camera animators and so on.

I discovered i like animating, and I get materials, lighting and cameras. I could focus on any of these four areas in the animation process and be all happy. But I think once I get the hang of it, the modeling process might grow on me as well.

I just don't get skinning. At all.

Army Mental Health

so, more on the mental health thing.

The airforce base is currently limited to one psychiatrist and you can't get in to see them until October, so I had to go to Fort Lewis for the day with two other guys. We flew in the morning and flew back at night. I got home about fifteen minutes ago.

that's probably some of the easiest money I've ever made with the army, though it was the first time I had ever flown in uniform. We got a lot of handshakes and people telling us how much they appreciated what we are doing. Warm fuzzies were shared by all.

It was strange, when I got back from Kosovo I didn't really know what to say to this, because I genuinely didn't feel like I did anything and really didn't deserve to be thanked for sitting on my ass picking my nose for a year. Now that I feel like I'm actually doing something worthwhile, I can give them a thanks for their support without thinking twice about it.

The mental health questionare had some, well, interesting questions on it, some of which had definite delusions of schizophrenia and paranoia, about people stealing your thoughts and being able to read your mind. My favorite completely random and at first appearances pointless but probably has some abstract purpose was 'Your favorite sport to watch is the High Jump." My assumption leads me to believe that this question is thrown on there to make sure you are not flubbing the health exam but whatever the case, i answered false on that one.

The evaluation went great, I am not insane, the only real red flag that came up was my Dysthemia which hasn't been a problem.

I don't know why we had such a late flight back, but because we had traveled in uniform and didn't bring a change of close (we've decided to rectify this in the future in case a scenerio like this should arise again) once we were done with the eval, we had to figure out how to waste the rest of our time until our flight left.

We chose to see a movie. Life Free or Die Hard, which I will include in an upcoming summer movie post. But we got some funny looks coming out of the theater, like 'what are they doing here? is this our tax dollars at waste?' We were considering going to Seattle, but walking around Pikes Street Market in uniform didn't exactly appeal to us. That and Seattle traffic just plain sucks.

But Seatac is not an airport you wait for the last minute to arrive at. I'm just thankful there is such a place as the USO, which offers free wireless internet and a forum to post my previous rant because that was very fresh in my mind. Still, I wish it wasn't a case of flying all the way to Fort Lewis for a 2 hour examination. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

I need a new set of ACUs. I washed a set with a pen in the pocket. Gah!


Dysthemics and Narcissists Shouldn't Mingle

Ok, I have a confession to make. I've let something bother me longer then I should have. And I've discovered today that I have had every reason to be bothered. Warning, this is a rant, and it's been a long time coming. And after this post is over, this topic is officially dead. Unless I write an update on my NCOER, which might cause it to resurface.

If any of you have been following my blog for the last few years, you know I deployed to Kosovo for the duration of 2005. And my deployment was anything but smooth. And it wasn't the stress of actually being in Kosovo that made it thus, because a deployment to Kosovo is a cake walk, basically a paid yearlong vacation.

It was the fact that I put up with a major asshole for the duration of the deployment. Yes you narcissist son of a bitch, I'm talking about you. And yes, despite the fact that you outrank me by one lousy paygrade, you know, you decided to look past the fact that the United States Army entrusted me with the rank fo E5, not you who treated me like a PFC (his own words), I'm going to consider the fact that you have no business leading troops and you were an E6, not a non commissioned officer. There is a difference. Therefore, kiss my ass. I don't respect your rank because you sure in hell didn't respect mine. Your job was to mentor me, great job on doing that. Hell, I learned more about what not to be in a leader from you then how to be a leader.

There, I said it. Though I doubt SSG Dipshit no longer reads my blog (I would definitely not put it past him though), I can now get over the fact that I am officially over that whole incident. I've let it eat away at me for to long and I gave him the benefit of the doubt for bothering me for as long as he did. I can take comfort though, that I got to him too. I know I did. How he treated me when we demobilized back to the states confirms that. That bastard was on his guard, and he knew I was just waiting for him to cross the line because I would have been all over his sorry self.

Well, maybe I should start at the beginning. Being a Drill Sergeant Candidate that leaves for school in less then a month, I had to take a Behavioral Health Evaluation to be sure I was fit for training troops. I wanted to be honest with it because I had some issues where I was worried with how I behaved during my deployment.

My psychiatrist was great. I've been diagnosed as a dysthemic, though I haven't had any real issues since my deployment, just the usual mood swings that accompany hormones, and in my case, it will probably help me as a Drill Sergeant. Drill Sergeants (especially females) are supposed to be pissy. She looked at my mental health evaluation and pegged me as a dysthemic right away. Being a dysthemic does not bar me from drill sergeant school. See, I've got a clean record. I've had some mental health issues like depression before, but I've never truly acted on it other then at times crying my eyes out. And the last time I had a real break down was in Kosovo. I've looked back and have realized that I've never had issues like that before with other commanders and NCOICs. Just the one. And its because of him that I needed to be medicated there when I've never needed it at any other time in my life, before or since.

The psychiatrist pegged him right away as a narcissist, and told me that having those feelings and how I acted was completely appropriate for the situation. In fact, she told me the best idea for dealing with narcissists is to avoid them completely. And how do you peg a narcissist? She told me a great way. If you run into somebody that makes you feel like you're stupid, get away from them. Believe it or not, he did that to me. I know I'm not stupid, heck, I was an A student in high school and did awesome on that ASVAB, having the pick of any non combat MOS I wanted. Why oh why did I pick preventive medicine to this day I do not know. But I remember feeling like an idiot when I was around him. And it wasn't that he was really that intelligent (in his eyes he surely thought he was the world's smartest person and knew more then General Schoomaker) but he did make you feel like a dumbass. That is one way to peg a narcissist. She described a narcissist to me and I thought 'holy hell that's him!'

There are some other feelings I had towards him that I won't discuss in detail, but imply what you will, and she said those were appropriate too. And I think those feelings was what made me dwell on it for so long, that I had the capability of actually thinking that. The important thing was though I had the thoughts (it is not uncommon for people to have these types of thoughts at some point in their life), it was the fact that I did not act upon them and kept my reason. Good thing, I wouldn't want to end up in FT Leavonworth because of his pathetic ass, he wouldn't be worth it.

I hope that guy turned in his 20 year letter, because he has no business deploying in a real hostile environment. He has no business being in the military during war, he'll get his soldiers and himself killed. And for himself, it would likely not come from enemy fire.

This topic is dead, this is my one last rant about it. I'm in a kick ass unit now that I love, with people who give me a hard time (what do you expect, they're drill sergeants!) that I can actually respect. When they get on my case, I truly deserve it. And instead of hanging me out to dry by explaining in detail how I'm being punished, they actually tell me what I need to do to correct it.

PS - Everyone that has looked at my NCOER since coming off my deployment has told me that one ate up as hell NCO wrote it. And they don't even have to hear my side of the story to make that assessment.


3D Animations To Share

So, I uploaded my animations onto YouTube to share. No, they are nothing fancy. At all.

I don't know why they uploaded weird like they did, but the first moment is kind of weird looking.

They are all really quick, only a couple of seconds. And yes, the meshes aren't right, hes not skinned properly, and he has no eyes. But the character works for me.
The first one is a walk run excercise, where I had to do my character walking or running. He's running. I've only got one cycle though, I can't figure out how to loop it yet.

Here he is pulling on a box. This one may have come out most successfully.

And here he is pushing on a box. More fun.

His arms look like puddy at times and the mesh isn't exactly perfect, but I'm very excited to be able to understand how to do this now, I just have to iron out the details. Now that i know what I'm doing *sort of* I feel better about the software. THere is a lot of it I understand, like lighting *sort of* and cameras and now animation and all of that. Now I got to figure out the modelign and skinning better.


3ds Max is driving me insane, but I am getting it finally

I forgot to mention how I learned how to drive a boat last weekend. Good fun was had by all.

I'm starting to pick up on 3DS max, and I can tell you that after playing with this software, I have a lot of respect for people who can do this. It's tough! You have to get the timing just right and well, the meshes are more then enough to try to figure out without having your animation just blow up on you when everything is tweaked completely out of proportions. Eegh.

But besides the Mesh, I'm figuring this out and it's making me happy now. If I can play around with it some more maybe I will actually want to do this. And knowledge of the software will get me into the career field I want to get into I think.

Although I'm not sure I want to be a character animator anymore. It appealed to me once upon a time but holy hell it's tedious! I could probably do it if somebody else wants to model and skin the character for me. There is just so much to know.

My teacher mentioned that 3DS Max is capable of about 80,000,000 functions, or something insane like that. Meaning that I will never entirely understand this software. But good news, I'm in a better spot TODAY then I was yesterday.

Now, if only I can get those meshes to look right.


Fun with New Recruits

This weekend is a drill weekend.

I'm thinking that a few of my readers probably wonder what goes on in the quest to become a drill sergeant and are probably disappointed that I don't write more about my drill weekends.

To tell you the truth, most weekends aren't all that exciting. I take a PT test every month (I passed my run this time by 2 seconds, which means that I need to run a LOT more) and most of the time I sit in a class room and modulate on the Position of Attention and the Rest Positions while at the halt. I can also modulate the hand salute. Sometimes we march each other around to familiarize ourselves and we also do a lot of PT. But it is usually very routine and often times boring to discuss later.

I'm very eager to get my hat, because I want to be done with this and actually do Drill Sergeant type stuff. Well, they let us have a little practice today by bringing in some fresh recruits, none of which have been to basic yet.

The recruiters brought these new troops in to give them an idea of what they will be facing when they go to basic training as well as give them a leg up by providing some training in basic Drill and Ceremony (D&C) and some other training that they will encounter when they hit the ground at their basic training unit. Today it was Mout training, although I didn't get to help out with that. But I got to do the D&C training, with about six drill sergeants backing me up in full drill sergeant mode. Oh the fun to be had! Some of these troops were shaking, you could see the terror in their faces as they tried to do as they were told.

This weekend confirmed to me that this is what I want to do, I had so much fun training these troops standard D&C such as Rest Positions at the Halt and walking along and making corrections as somebody else made adjustments. I think most of them thought I was just a little older then them doing this (most of these were kids right out of highschool) and when they found out I've been in the army just shy of eight years they looked surprised. A couple of them thought I was maybe 20 or 22 at the most.

I wrote a little bit more about this experience on my Milblog, but it did get me geared up for the fact that I leave for Drill Sergeant School next month and now I'm all motivated to go there and kick butt.

Now, all I really need to do is work on that run time. It would also be nice if I can shave of two minutes or so.


Aesop's Fables

So I mentioned that I'm learning Flash, and I had to do a 'fairy tale', with it being animated and everything. Well, my drawing tablet is on the glitch at the moment and I hate my voice, but I chose to do an Aesop's fable, the man, the boy and the donkey, and this is what came out.

No, the art is not that great, but seeing as I had a lot to do and only a short time to do it, I got it done and my teacher liked it anyway.

Some people should honestly take note. Let's just say that I'm sick of it now and will now just share it amidst my readers for them to decide.

The donkey is my favorite character in the whole thing.


More then Meets the Eye

I had an issue with trying to think of what to get my nephew Cody for his fifth birthday, when it kind of jumped at me while I was at work. I mean, I liked playing with them when I was a kid and now that there is a new movie out, they're making a come back.

Yeah, I got him a couple of transformers. I don't think he really knew what they were when he opened them up, as he was to caught up with his nerf toys, but hopefully when he gets them out of their packaging and realizes that they turn into robots he'll have a better appreciation for them.

But anyway, I might jump onto the bandwagon and get into a Transformers kick myself, because I'm a geek at heart and I'm all for things that bring on a nastalgic feeling in me. And holy crap, that movie is friggen awesome!

I think Transformers will be making a comeback this summer becuase I can predict that this movie is going to do well. I went and caught the first showing at 8 pm (strange time for a first showing) and was amazed at the level of animation. I'm an animation major, I can now appreciate the detail and tweaking that goes into modeling all those little parts and for them to shift and transform from a Chevy Camaro to a giant robot. I was amazed at this alone.

It was also amusing to sit in a theater with a bunch of twenty to thirty somethings who grew up on these things and were hooting and howling when Optimus Prime made his debut. They even had a couple people dressed up as Transformers in cardboard boxes running around at the front of the theater before the show started. Lot's of fandom and hollering going on, I shouldn't have expected anything less from a first showing.

The story is a little fast paced, but I didn't mind because it is VERY action oriented. And violent. There is lot's of stuff blowing up. I do recommend it however, to anybody who likes heavy action that features giant robots that turn into different kinds of vehicles and proceed to blow each other up.

Good old fashioned fun. I'll have to see if I can pick up some of the older cartoons just to see the difference, kind of like doing a comparison between old and new ninja turtles. That's always fun.


I Hate My Voice

I don't know what it is about it, but I think everyone hates the sound of their own voice.

I'm certainly no exception to this. I've gotten used to it, but I feel like I sound different then how I hear myself. Why do you suppose your voice does this? Its like you hear somebody else when you speak then what everyone else hears.

Aside from that paragraph making absolutely no sense, I just wanted to reiterate that I can't stand the sound of my voice.

And though I'm getting a grip on Flash, my animations aren't that great as of yet. Heck, their a blooming mess.

I should have my next animation up here soon, I like the story, but it is really painful to watch and quite frankly, I'm getting sick of watching and listening to it, as I'm narrating.