Archive for Life Tips

Shocking Collaboration

My friends and I are completely hooked on animation and have learned to produce them on our own. It has taken some time but we are quite proficient now. They are useful in advertising and can enrich a website functioning as an explainer video. Of course, we see animation as an art form and also as a way to spice up a TV commercial. It is an activity that is never going to get stale or outmoded.

Today I want to share a job I acquired in which I had to illustrate some sales material for a taser safety course on Facebook. Rather than make a boring video, I elected to do it in anima style. My friends were eager to help with such a fun project. We started with examples of different types of stun guns and how they work. A Taser is a variation on the basic design except that the two charge electrodes are not joined permanently to the housing. Instead, they are positioned at the end of long conductive wires (attached to the weapon’s electrical circuit). When you are in need of immediate defense, you pull the trigger, thus opening a compressed gas cartridge which resides within the gun. It is all about expanding gas pressure behind the electrodes. When in action, the Taser launches them while the attached wires trail behind. This is the essence of its power. We will use diagrams and have anime characters explain the process.

Safety measures will include keeping these weapons away from children by locking them up as you would with any gun. Other points will include a description of the barbs that are attached to the electrodes. These grab onto an assailant’s clothes, sending a current down the wires into the attacker. A variation on this theme is the new liquid stun gun. A stream of liquid conducts electricity as an alternative to the wires I mentioned. The liquid, by the way, is a mixture of water, salt and other conductive elements. It is a very interesting innovation. I had to learn a lot to execute this animation project.

In the process, I thought about my own personal safety and whether I would want to carry a Taser or other type of stun gun so I went and found this guide: I certainly know how they work. I know they are a powerful method of self defense, perhaps better than mace or pepper spray. It comes down to what a person feels comfortable doing in the face of assault. They are certainly within the purview of the police, but I don’t feel competent about assuming this role. An electroshock weapon sounds formidable and I have heard that they inflict considerable pain. It depends on the area and distance, not to mention the duration of contact. I remember the horror story of the UCLA student who was subjected to shocks while being assaulted. This is certainly turning the tables. It would have been a different matter if she had access to her own Taser stun gun.

Nerd Fit

You don’t have to look like Mr. Universe to enjoy a fitness program. You don’t even have to be very buff. Slender indoors guys like to work out too. They want the latest info on vitamins, nutrition, and exercise like everyone else seeking good health. They know they need it. The problem is there is so much out there it is a maze of material to wade through. You can’t trust just any source, now, can you? You have to separate the wheat from the chaff, the peanut from the shell, and the tool from the shed.

I think that the decision to undergo a fitness regime is going to take some effort. I don’t do anything without forethought as you may have noticed. I like to know the ins and outs of what I undertake. So as far as fitness and exercise go, I have decided to narrow it down to 25 sites that purport to have the best solution to a slacker’s problem of inactivity, with my favorite being a site called Fitness Select. If you aren’t used to a lot of strenuous sit ups and pushups, how do you start? If you never heard of an elliptical, what do you do? Do you jump right in and strain your muscles so that you can’t move, or do you start slow. Is there a specific order to do things or is it random and at will?

I want to know the efficacy of the vitamins that are recommended for my age group and what is contained in each and every bottle. Is there nutritional value, calories, or additives? Anything that could cause allergies or something more serious? Are workouts timed? Do they involve circuit training? Are they done in a gym or at home? I want to know the extent of the ropes.

Yes, I do have a lot of questions but I want scientific answers. I want to analyze, quantify, and qualify what I do. I want to see it from the inside with my brain. Otherwise it may be a stab in the dark or a pointless excursion—an exercise in futility as they say. I want results and that comes with scrutiny. Maybe I need a consultant or a trainer. Maybe I need a guidebook with illustrations. Maybe I need to chill out.

I am still going to do this, don’t get me wrong. I will not let myself get paralyzed with my good intentions. I will act upon decisions made with reason and logic. My fitness will be the product of the very best set of exercises and come from the most effective diet. I want to know exactly what my calorie intake will be daily, how many I will burn, and what percent of each and every food group.

I hope to report to you soon the results of my efforts. With all this investigation, I expect to arrive at the ideal workout program for optimal fitness for a rather sedentary guy. I am no athlete, but I may utilize some tips and techniques that are universally employed. Wish me luck.

A Friend’s Inspiration

Animated characters are my forte. I get inspiration in weird places. No matter. They help me build an arsenal of scary, evil creatures that populate an imaginary magical realm. I want them to be new and fresh, with traits that have yet to be seen. With so much work out there, it’s getting hard. You look deep within for ideas. You look without for motivation. Whatever it takes to spark ingenuity is welcome.

Artists get inspiration in strange places sometimes. Picasso got it in women—not unusual at all. Cézanne got it in apples and oranges—mundane. Now Salvador Dali got it in melting watches on the beach. That’s eccentric and odd, in keeping with his personality. Animators are the same. They get charged up by anything in their surroundings that can be transformed into another time and place. Making the familiar strange is the definition of creativity.

You sit in front of your computer waiting for the ball to drop, for the mood to take you over, for the infusion of mystery and madcap–that is what makes art. In one case, as I was drawing from the depths of my gray matter, I remember something I saw on a friend recently—toenail fungus.

Toenail fungus is indeed the makings of ghoulish imagery. Evil beings can ooze a blackish yellow goop between their toes. Actually, the affliction lies under the toenail bed, but no matter! Viewers have to see it in all its ghastly glory. Sorry, friend. I don’t mean to insult you or to say you are hideous. It just makes for great gasps of disgust.

It is certainly not an infectious disease like the Ebola virus and nowhere near as serious. But you can rev it up for the right audience, make it nasty as heck like they did in this New York Times article. It is a simple thing akin to athlete’s foot but is hard to treat. It keeps growing, and gnawing away at your healthy feet.

My anime character will be otherworldly, of course, with tiny legs and giant feet. Claws will poke out at their ends like prickly cactus spears. The body will be thin, but the head enormous. It will fight for dominance with the feet. Hence the idea to add the flourish of fungus to make them stand out.

I can exaggerate the yellow color and the powdery texture to make it terribly unappealing. My friend just laughs. He hides his beneath a clean pair of socks and goes about his life as usually. My being will moan and groan with pain and roar with rage. He’s angry and ready to retaliate against the gods wielding mold and yeast. He turns from green to red when he looks at his toenails.

I hope this creative surge appeals to you as much as it does to me. Again, I get ideas where I can in all the weird and right places. Who knows? Maybe next time inspiration will come from a kitchen appliance or a faucet! There is always something you can do to transform the ordinary into the fabulous.

I Get my Best Ideas in the Shower

I like to think I am a creative. Who doesn’t? It saves us from the monotony of a bland life. I certainly admire the imaginative work of others in the fine and practical arts, especially in the field of animation. The Japanese anime tradition appeals to me the most in terms of imagery, draftsmanship, and expression. If I can’t do it myself, I can watch the ever-present streaming videos. Anime has been around for about a century and remains super unique. I have the habit of emulating the artists in this vein upon many an occasion. Dreams of conquering the field with my own characters, colors, and designs fill my sleeping (and waking) hours.

During the morning when I awake, I get my best ideas. As the shower head roars to life, and water washes over my moribund soul, I begin to conceive of ways of executing my fantasies. Since I am imbued with anime creations, I try to immerse myself in their folkloric tradition. They have a rich mythic path with religious and magical connotations. It is all part of a supernatural realm of gods and alien creatures that have some connection to Japanese history. If you can master the pronunciation of the titles you are a born aficionado.

I remain inert under the spray of a great shower as I think about my target audience and how far afield I would get—I don’t want to go too far from the fold. What genre would I use, like science fiction or fantasy? (Am I getting too esoteric for you?) Should I copy popular aspects of the Japanese style and borrow characters and stories? That would please me a great deal. So many questions are arising in time with the rising shower mist.

I twist the shower head to adjust the flow. It slants to the side and hits the tile wall of the stall abruptly. I move it back to focus the spray on my exposed face. Water pulsates as I move the lever to a new setting. My eyes are stinging, but are coming to life. I turn off the liquid cascade, towel myself down, and exit the bathroom. One more day and a new chance to change the world.

A shower is a great way to start off. You get creative right from the first morning thought. I don’t always get good results, however, but sometimes the ideas are distinctive and worth noting down. A daily shower is my ritual and hands-free rubdown. It massages my brain and spirit. It provokes and evokes in the way that only water can do.

I am floating on a cloud as I sip my freshly-brewed coffee and check my online emails. I reply to a few and jump over to CNN for the headline news. I look at my calendar and to-do list, and suddenly the excitement of the shower ideation is almost gone. The work day is beginning and a normal regimen is soon to begin. But not to worry. Tomorrow is another day.

Movie Etiquette

People do not seem to know how to behave in movies. As a fan of the cinematic experience, I don’t want my time ruined by bad behavior. So here are my tips (requirements) for basic etiquette on the part of kids and adults alike (I’m not sure who is worse!)

  • First and foremost, keep your mouth closed (unless eating, if you must). We don’t want to hear what you think of the film.
  • Keep your hands off women. That would be your date unless you are a bit perverse, but try to hold off until you get home.
  • Keep your hands and feet off the seat in front of you. There is nothing more annoying and your shoes probably smell.
  • Do not kick the seat in front of you. I don’t care if you have super long legs.
  • Kids, don’t throw popcorn or candy in the air or at anyone. If you need to practice your aim by tossing some in your mouth, you better be agile or risk some dirty looks.
  • Shut off that darn mobile phone. You don’t have to show stills or videos of the movie as people can get them on line. You don’t have to text anything. Go outside if you are a stubborn mule.
  • It is best to go to the toilet before the movie. It is disruptive if you have to walk in front of people when leaving your seat. Think ahead! If you can’t control yourself, don’t buy a drink until after the show.
  • Self-control is good advice. Your behavior is a reflection of your maturity. Don’t let bad actions give you away.
  • Don’t talk about other people in the theater. Some guys can be mean and defend themselves or their viewing mate with anger and a few swift blows to the chin.
  • Gum chewing is just plain disgusting. Don’t smack your lips or leave your mouth gaping while you do it. Try to be courteous and quiet if you must indulge. Never crack the gum unless you want serious repercussions.
  • Try to get to the movie on time so as not to disturb others. Do not step on the feet of those who did make an effort to get to their seats before the start of the movie.
  • Do not spill food, put gum under the seat, or leave used tissues on the floor. Yes, there is a janitor to clean it up, but why not help out and toss these things in the trash as you leave. Be a good sport!
  • Do not take a small child to an adult film. They squirm when bored or worse yet will run around the theater in circles screaming for attention. Babies are just as bad unless you have drugged yours.
  • If you are at a kids’ movie, let the little ones visit the toilet beforehand so as not to miss a precious moment. They get hung up playing with things in the bathroom like fancy bidet toilets fitted in some movie theaters or shopping centers or talking to other children. This makes those tykes late as a result.

There are probably a few more things I could add, but you get the picture. Try these tips out and find how a better quality movie experience is a welcome relief for you and all those around you in the theater.