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Conversations with E, day 3667

Oompa LoompasE: Hey dad, you want to hear me recite the Preamble to the Constitution?
ME: Sure.
E: [recites the Preamble word-for-word, only a little bit haltingly]
ME: Wow.
E: Did I get it right?
ME: Yeah you did. I’m gonna cast a write-in vote for you to be president in a few years.
E: Whaaaat?
ME: I can already tell you’ve read more of the Constitution than the guy who’s there now.

Changes in fortune

A lot’s been happening in between me catching stomach viruses and sinus infections. I’ve renegotiated my home loan to something that’s survivable on my present income level. That’s a good thing. I hadn’t said much about it on the internet, but my continued occupancy of the house in question had been a question mark for the better part of a year. The negotiating process was stressful, maddening, and s-l-o-w. But I’m waiting for one piece of paperwork I have to sign, and then it’s done, allowing me to calm my beef min and concentrate on other things.

A while back, I learned that Avid was releasing a freeware version of its Media Composer software. Those of you who have been with me for a while know that I used to edit video with Avid Media Composer practically in my sleep, whether at work or at home…except that the Avid system I had at home was, unknown to me, a limited time offer. Sheer bad luck intervened, and the insurance company with whom I had homeowners’ insurance at the time conveniently decided that this was business equipment, not something one would find in a home, and therefore they wouldn’t cover its loss. I enlisted some help to try to restore the machine to working order, to no avail – it wouldn’t be a video editing system ever again. But where the new Media Composer Free is concerned? Any PC with the space and RAM required will do. A decent video card is best, but again, not required.

I socked back a little bit of money toward a new (well, refurb) PC with the required specs, and have begun setting it up as a new Avid. It’s slow going acquiring the necessary hard drives for this venture, and it might be Christmas before I’m editing again, but it will happen. I’m excited about it. It’s probably my most marketable job skill and I haven’t been able to practice it for seven years and change. Video editing is just what I do. Some people can whittle intricate shapes out of wood…I do that with pictures and sound. Or at least I can with the right tools. Budget and circumstance have not been my friends of late, but in this case, things worked out almost too well.

And speaking of that… Read More

The Little Green Men on closeness

Too closeFrom time to time when he was younger, and occasionally still now, E has struggled with the concept of personal space – you couldn’t violate his, but he could get all over anyone else. So the following interaction as all three of us sat on the sofa watching something on TV amused me greatly.

  • E [watches intently]
  • C [cuddles up to E]: Hiiiiii!
  • E [ignores little brother]
  • C [getting in his big brother’s face]: HIIIIIIIII!
  • ME: Hey, C. Back off. Personal space.
  • C [still in big brother’s face]: PERSONAL SPAAAAAAAAAACE!

At this point I just kind of had to try to hide how hard I was laughing at it all.

The Little Green Men on hippo feasts

Fiona says helloWe’re big fans of Fiona the Hippo, the adorable superstar of the Cincinnati Zoo, at my house. Little C knows her as “the baby hippo”; E just likes to watch watermelons tossed into the hippo cove, where Fiona’s full-sized parents devour them whole. As we watched a Youtube playlist of the Cincinnati Zoo’s hippos – including Fiona – the boys provided the following narration:

E: Watermelons! OM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM

C: Deeeeeeeelicious, hippos!

😆 It’s doesn’t get better than when they team up and tag-team something like this, each with their own sense of humor.

Conversations with Little C, day 990

Little C is learning to recognize letters – he’s on the verge of reading! As we pull up in the store parking lot:

C: “W…A…L…M…A…R…T…fingernails!”

ME: “What? Fingernails!?

C: “They’re fingernails, daddy.”

He’s pointing to the “flower” design in the Wal-Mart logo.

Walmart + Fingernails

Fingernails. Now I can’t unsee it. And neither can you. 😆

Work the room

That first time I went to Classic Gaming Expo was quite something. I had won, in a contest on the Digital Press forum, a pass to attend the alumni dinner held the night before the opening of the show proper. This event was a closed-doors event where the game designers, programmers and executives got to mingle and have a bite to eat and a few drinks without the pressure of the paying guests who’d be asking, the next day, “what was it like when…” questions that they probably get asked every year. Me, I was neither a game designer nor a programmer. I had, in fact, played Atari today, but I hadn’t worked there. I liked to think of myself as a historian and a game journalist at best, but definitely felt out of my depth. To my mind, this meant one thing: sit back, shut up, soak it all up and remember it. Listen, don’t interject. This ain’t your party, but you got in anyway, just relax and enjoy like you belong there. In short, it’s advice I’ve given to my kids as they grow up: it’s not all about you.

Well, that’s what I thought going in anyway. Some of the show’s honored guests graced us with their presence on the forums and we were already acquainted in an internet kind of way. I was almost immediately greeted by ex-Apple-and-Atari programmer Steve Woita, who is a bundle of almost-zen-like friendly in a Hawaiian shirt, and he immediately introduced me to Keith Robinson, president of Intellivision Productions. Keith and his cohorts – the “Blue Sky Rangers” – had been the original programmers for the Intellivision game console in the ’80s, and when Mattel Electronics dropped the video game business like the hot potato fad they thought it was, Keith bought the rights to the software, the hardware, and the name. It has to be pointed out what a unique situation this was: the Atari that releases games now is neither the Atari that Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney started in Ted’s guest room, nor is it the boom-years giant that it became after Warner Bros. bought it from Nolan. Modern Atari is an intellectual property holding company that scooped up the remains of 1980s Atari at fire-sale clearance prices. Same with the current holders of the Colecovision name and IP. These IP portfolios have changed hands many a time. Intellivision Productions, though? That was always the same bunch of people who had made the games in the first place. And at the center of that web, as its organizing force and its public face, was Keith Robinson.

Keith Robinson
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So, for the first time in over 10 years, I’ve gotten myself a video camera.


Technically speaking, there’s been one built into my phone all along, but here’s the thing: I have to take great pains to make still photos from that same phone come out not looking like crap, and…it’s my phone. Yes, I use it to play music, surf the web, and catch the odd Pokemon or two. But…it’s a phone.

The camera above set me back $18, and weighs nearly nothing. I’m still having a hard time, on a gut level, accepting that the above is qualified to be called a camcorder. It records to SD cards that, depending on where you get them, may cost you more than the camera. Read More

He's big, he's fearsome, but most of all, he's FUN!