Lemonade Day

This Sunday is Lemonade Day in Austin.  It's actually a nation wide event to encourage children to become entrepreneurs.  I don't believe we'll officially be taking part in the event in a public park or whatever they're encouraging, but we will be setting up a stand.  At the very least we'll be setting up a stand in front of our house.

We'll start around 10am and go until we're out of supply.  There may also be cookies and green tea.

We're really close to the main road running through Pflugerville, so if you're up north on Sunday and you'd like to help support future business owners, stop buy and get a glass.

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I was wondering how long that would take.

A few months ago I signed up for an account over at formspring.me.  It's a little site that allows people to ask questions of you anonymously.  While this could turn into a truly horrifying escapade, I thought maybe it would be neat way of communicating with any readers, be they regular or passer-by.

I didn't know it would post to Blogger as it did, I thought it might update the widget on the side rather than make hugely titled posts.  I don't much mind it, but I thought I'd ask you.  Are the formspring posts annoying?  Would you rather not see them?

Feel free to comment below.

Do you know any local artists who either enjoy, or are exceptional at, the comic book format of linear storytelling who would work on a project written by another artist (namely me)? I have many wonderful ideas but need a capable artist to create with.

The only local Austin artist I know is Paul Maybury. He's a wonderful talent, you should look him up.

What would you like to know?

If you could pick any comic to work on (or something to turn into a comic) what would it be?

As an artist I would like to draw the Silver Surfer for a couple books. As a creator, I would like to do a story based on the origin of The Fifth Element.

What would you like to know?


Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Originally uploaded by xadrian.
This past weekend, Tiger Lily and I drove to Louisiana for Festival International, a three day music and artisan fair in downtown Lafayette, LA celebrating Francophone and African inspired music.

We didn't actually go for all three days (four, I think it was officially open on Thursday.) The plan was to drive out Thursday night and do the festival Saturday, maybe Sunday. TG also had plans to visit her family and friends while we were out. I had plans to eat a lot of cajun and gulf coast cuisine. No one left disappointed.

Her family is from Abbeville which is about 20 miles south of Lafayette. Abbeville is home ot Steen's Pure Cane Syrup. The town is about 10,000 people and is surrounded by rice paddies and crawfish farms, as well as cane fields. It's an adorable little town with a very pleasant downtown.

While in Abbeville, we saw her dad perform at the Abbeville Players, they did Andrew Bergman's "Social Security." Before hand we had dinner at Riverfront and while the Crab meat au gratin was delicious, the etouffee was not. And at first I felt bad because while TG and her sister had made us ettoufee and gumbo, I always thought that going to a local restaurant was going to be different. The spices would be stronger, the roux would be darker or thicker. Something would differentiate itself from the home made fair I'd been used to - even though the makers were from the region.

I pushed through, trying to hide the distaste of the taste with vegetables and drink, but people noticed my plate was not being emptied. When they tried it, they agreed it wasn't good. TG's friend who worked at the bar blamed it on the teenagers cooking that night. Aside from that, the rest of the time I ate like a pig because I knew it wouldn't last. I think the high point was the crawfish and spinach bread bowl I had at festival.

The drive from Austin to Abbeville is about 7 hours. Some say it's six, but we left Austin at six with a stop in Houston for Lego (Lego store in the Galleria people!) and got in about 01:30. Same going home. My car does about 75 max, and the distance is 400 miles. Given the stops for gas and slow parts for small towns, I thought we did well.

Once in town we stayed at her parents house and the next morning we drove up to her old school to visit with friends and teachers. It's an all girl catholic school and I was one of three boyfriends. So the 8 of us roll in and it felt like I was part of a famous entourage, but as a support staff or roadie. We also visited her Nanny and we helped fix her computer. We got round steak and rice out of the deal.

Festival was just one day for us and I'm glad. We spent about 11 hours there and it was a really long day filled with good music and food and friends. We met up with her friends again later that afternoon but most of the time it was just the two of us walking around and pausing to listen to music. A couple bands we both enjoyed were De Temps Antan and Babik. Fishtank Ensemble sounded good but we didn't give them a long listen. The Givers were great, but not necessarily Festival Material. (They sounded like cross between Moldy Peaches and Phish.) The last band, Le Breastfeeders were high energy and a good way to spend your last bit of strength before heading home.

The following day was lazily spent eating, packing and driving. The drive home took just the same amount of time but felt longer as usual. We brought back a lot of happy memories, a couple bags of Lego and some full bellies. I think I'd like to go back for the Omelette Festival and the Star Wars exhibit in Lafayette.

Also, found my headaches were probably eye strain. My right eye was bloodshot the entire time but no headache, like a pressure valve was released. Two days back and they've started up again. Must get eyes checked.

This week is another history test, next month is full of birthdays. That's all for now.


Catching Up Is Hard To Do

I recently received a message via Flickr from a friend I haven't spoken to in nearly a decade.  In grade school he was one of, if not my best of friends.  I was always jealous of his assortment of Star Wars toys and video games.  We rode our dirt bikes (he had a Diamondback and I had a Mongoose) over the hills behind the subdivision.  He was one of the few kids at my 13th birthday when I had the chicken pox.  But he was a year ahead of me and when I was in 9th grade at the Jr. high school, he had already gone to high school.  We connected a couple times in college when I became friends with the lead singer of a band he was in.  After that I think there were a couple emails, nothing really substantive, always asking, "So what are you up to now?"

Why do we do this?

Don't get me wrong, I love nostalgia.  I love thinking about how easy things were back in the day.  Everything has a glimmer of perfection when viewed through that aged lens.  And yet they never hold up.  I watched a movie with Tiger Lily recently.  It was one I hadn't seen for many years, but had always told people it was the greatest.  It was The Last Starfighter.  We watched it because a) it was one of those classic cult sci-fi movies everyone should see, like Tron and Flash Gordon and Dune and b) there was some news of a sequel coming out in the next few years.  So we watched and I think she fell asleep.  The Last Starfighter doesn't hold up really well, but it also isn't that bad.  The problem was, it wasn't that great to begin with.  I think it's an awesome movie, but I'm realistic in my understanding of how memory laminates everything in a glorious mix of perfection and raspberry preserves.

So when I get an email or friend request or some other form of communication from someone I haven't seen in over ten years I'm not exactly sure how to handle it.  I've always accepted them and responded as I'm genuinely interested in what they've been doing.  But it's the 8 year old me interested in knowing what the 8 year old them is doing.  It doesn't take but the length of a commercial to reply to someone and if they live farther than 100 miles away, it's not likely you'll ever actually see them.  The energy you must invest in communicating is low; no plans need to be made, no travel, no drumming up courage or interest or then excuses for leaving early if it becomes tiresome.  Firing off a response is a negligible effort.

Which is why we all do it.

TG and I spent about 30 minutes this last weekend going over my Facebook friends.  I had a bet with her that she didn't know all 420 of her online friends.  She said she knew 95% and that floored me.  So I went through mine and I think I actually knew 30%.  And of those, most were people I have not seen since I was at that post graduation party where that one girl left me for another guy.  (S'okay, she turned out to be gay so the sting wore off.)  Point is, a large number of people we "know" on line we really don't know at all and the term friend as become just another watered down version of a once powerful word.  I don't know anything about these people, yet I list them as my friends.

I think I'm going to change my answer to "I know OF them."  Explaining who these people are in relation to you when you're having a face to face conversation is laborious.  When I talk about Ms. A or TG or LMA, the people I'm talking to already know.  But when I say, "I heard today from so-and-so, you know him, the magazine writer, lives in Chicago, we did that thing together."  I can't just say, "You should of heard what Simon did today."  It doesn't help now that there's this layer of knowing them in the past but not knowing them now.

These types of way-back-machine relationships are like winning a pricey electronic gadget that you have no use for.  It's shiny, it's new, you won something, but you know you'll never use that USB waffle iron.

Carry on.



Originally uploaded by xadrian.
I realized as I'm blundering through another day in IT that I'm beginning to be unhappy with my job.

It's not healthy to keep doing the same thing despite poor results. It's not good for your mental or physical health to remain in an environment where you feel you don't belong or you're not very good at your work.

Don't get me wrong, my job is a good job to have. I have one, first of all. I have insurance, a bonus. It's a non-profit so there's very little effort to please shareholders or trim the fat. You have to do something spectacularly stupid in order to get fired. They have a 401k, it's downtown, my boss is flexible with my schedule and I get a fair amount of vacation.

But I feel like an idiot when I do my job.

It's one of those feelings you get after doing something for a long time, be it a hobby or paid position: The more you know, the less you understand. It may be that a wise man admits that he knows nothing, but admitting that in IT means termination. Telling your boss you don't know or you can't do it, means they'll hire someone who can at half your pay. So you end up doing things quickly but wrong just so you can get them done. You hesitate in pulling the trigger on projects and any big decisions you leave to other people.

I feel like a child.

I'm going back to school to learn a trade, to perfect a skill. I'm going to use that skill to get a better job, but one that might require me to move somewhere in 5-10 years. In the mean time, every new piece of software I install and every guide or manual I skim through and every service call I make reminds me just how much I don't know. At some point I'd like to know what I'm doing.

See, I spent 15 years drawing comic books and at no point did I ever feel confident in either my skill or knowledge. Despite having gone to school to study art, I'd always felt like an outsider and a hack, doing just enough to get in but not enough to make it feel like it was what I wanted to do. I want be a better person, a confident person, a knowledgeable person so that whatever job I have, whatever hobby I'm in, I don't look at all these wires or bricks or pencils and think to myself that I'm a fraud and it's only a matter of time before someone finds out.

Ta daa!

I found out today that a Lego builder I'd never heard of died. I didn't know him or what he'd built. He was apparently so influential that people are suggesting Lego name a piece after him. The man was also a graphic artist and had two kids. He was killed in a car accident.

That could have been me and it started me thinking that I shouldn't just sit here and feel the way I do while I do my job. Yes I get paid, but there's got to be more to it than that, and no amount of money should cover feeling small and worthless.

I can't say I'm strong enough to change, but I'm going to give it a shot.


Color of Life

Originally uploaded by xadrian.
I am procrastinating on much needed study time - at work - by writing this so you better enjoy it. I don't care if the content is nigh meaningless, you WILL enjoy this or so help me...

Much of the free world knows by now about the biggest event in the house since Ralph Furley took over the apartments. Ms. A and Miss LA broke up. It's only just resolved and Miss LA is now living in her own place. There was a lot of moving and crying and she said/she said, but as of now it's done, as least property wise. The two mixed a lot of pots and pans and pennies and while Miss LA and her dog are gone, there are remnants.

For my part I'll miss her. We'll still hang out when she has time but her presence was seldom a problem for me. I say seldom because that first little while after they started dating was still awkward for me. But over time we grew to like each other. I have a hard time hearing the stories from both sides about who did what and I feel bad not being more involved, but it's my nature to avoid causing people harm and through my inaction I feel I'm causing the most people the least amount of grief.

Aside from that, I'll let them tell their own stories on their own blogs.

Tiger Lily and I are doing just great. We've been assembling larger quantities of Lego, studying together, seeing movies, playing video games, watching sci-fi shows, just generally being very geeky. I think it's starting to make people a little sick of us. But I for one don't care, I'm very happy.

But other events are conspiring to make my life hellacious. Work is ramping up and as I commented to someone earlier, I'm barely competent enough to keep up. I feel at times overwhelmed, as though if I pause in the major workloads, I'll succumb to the pressure and beg to be terminated just to get relief. My work ethic is combating with my procrastination. There will either be triumph or epic failure. (Dad, don't read too much into that, I'm being poetic. My job is fine.)

I have some geeky news to report as well.

A couple weeks ago I moved my drawing table from my bedroom to the garage. I was getting no Robot Portrait requests and the few drawings I was doing didn't require an entire setup. I could do them on the kitchen table just as easily. This made room for some much needed Lego storage. Now, I have a fantastic amount of space in my small room and I'm in no danger of standing on any plastic bricks. I've pretty much abandoned my drawing in favor of building. I consider both artistic, one is just nerdier and more expensive.

So the other day I was submitting a link to Neatorama, a site I frequent, and I noticed a typo. So I emailed and asked if that could be changed before being published. The reply was that it couldn't, but the post would be checked and changed on their side so no worries. Then the replier, Alex, said he loved my Robot Portrait drawings and asked if I'd like to do a collaboration with him. After looking him up, I realized it was the founder of Neatorama, Alex Santoso.

Now, it may not seem like much, but being recognized on teh intarwebz is a huge deal. There's the rule of 1000 that states you work your ass off to be noticed and hope that your craft or talent is enough to sustain you, but once you reach 1000 fans, your notoriety will sustain itself and you don't have to work so hard to reach people.

My example would be internet favorite Adam Koford, or ApeLad.

Before the 700 Hoboes, before Areas of My Expertise, Adam likely did very well as a cartoonist, getting commissioned work regularly and with a steady client base. But the 700 Hoboes and his sudden association with Boing Boing and John Hodgman put more eyes on his already fantastic work. Then he created the spectacle that is the Laugh-Out-Loud Cats and now he's a household name...among savvy internet users.

The point being, his work is well known now and he likely doesn't wait long in between requests for work. He's likely backlogged and maybe even has to refuse requests if they don't fit his workload. He hit that tipping point where by more than 1000 fans are able to, by linking and talking and posting about him, sustain his freelance independence. He likely doesn't have to work very hard to maintain a client list now.

(In all honesty, this is all assumption. I know very little about Adam. He works for Disney in Utah doing character design for games so I doubt he actually has to do a lot of commission work. What I know of him I've extracted from posts online. Please don't think we're roommates. Mr. Furley can't find out.)

The irony is, I'd put all my art supplies away because I wasn't using them. In an errant post about Lego (my rekindled passion du jour) I stumble upon something that might require me to draw more than ever.

Of course it could amount to nothing. Alex himself even said that it would probably not amount to more than a couple a month, so we'll have to see. But in the mean time, keep an eye on the Neatoshop and hopefully you'll see my work there very soon.

Carry on.