Thursday, February 21, 2008

Blu-ray Wins

Here's the article announcing the official death of the HD-DVD format.

Hopefully now Blu-ray products will speed up and grow beyond early adopters. I'm guessing the prices should drop considerably over the next few years. I remember Professor Baird (at good 'ol A.U.) telling us that in the 90's DVD technology had the fastest, most saturated adoption rate of any consumer electronics in history. I wonder if Blu-ray would have competed with that record had it not been for this silly format war.

I guess this is a slow news week for me (sorry for the boring geek babble).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Getting Stuck and Un-Stuck

2007 was a huge challenge for me in so many ways. The short story is I've been dealing with external and internal "sticking points" in just about every project i've worked with in the last 12 months or so. My relationships with my family and my freinds and even my clients have suffered from it. I'm working diligently to understand it and overcome it, and I have been recieving grace and help from a few key folks to help me through it all.

I may post more about that later, but for now i really just want to share something I found today that addresses this "stuck" thing... Maybe you've experienced it too, and maybe this will help.


Read the full article at

Internal Sticking Points

The sticking points that rise up out of our own thoughts and feelings are in many ways even more insidious and dangerous than the external sticking points listed above. They are, after all, part of who you are, and getting around them takes a concerted effort to change something about yourself. Or, at times, to change something about the project — which is often just as hard!

* Lack of vision: It may be that you simply can’t imagine finishing, or you can’t imagine yourself having finished. As you get closer to the end of your project, you unconsciously start holding onto it, checking and re-checking everything, revising and re-planning, even going back to the drawing board to start over.

If you find yourself in this pattern, first of all pay attention. Realizing we’re sabotaging ourself is often a powerful enough experience to get us going again. Second, take a few minutes to remind yourself of your goals and of the positive changes you expect to occur when you’re done. Third, write down a paragraph or two, or even just a list, of how you see your life when you’re done. Write a vision statement if you haven’t ever before. If applicable, write down how the people closest to you will be affected, too — knowing others hold a stake in your success can often motivate us profoundly.
* Self-criticism: Unlike the negativity of others, there’s no door we can close to get away from the negativity in ourselves, the Inner Critic who tells us our work is not good enough or important enough to waste time on, that we lack the skills and talent to pull it off, and even that we don’t deserve to succeed.

In some extreme cases, therapy is called for, but everyone faces an Inner Critic, even the most prolific creators. It’s sounds glib to say “just ignore it”, and yet, ultimately that’s what you have to do. Just like the criticism of others, you have to ask your Inner Critic to either help you figure out how to succeed or tell it to go away.

One thing that helps is telling yourself that it’s fine to suck — that, in fact, lots of incredible creators, even geniuses, felt their own work sucked. Give yourself permission to suck, and the Inner Critic sort of runs out of steam — what’s it going to say, “You don’t suck good enough?”
* Lack of planning: A lot of time we’re stuck because we haven’t planned our way through all the steps and we don’t know what to do next, or the plan we originally wrote (or otherwise conceived) doesn’t seem to apply. At times, you need to re-plan — to reconceive your project according to what you know now, not what you knew when you started. I often tell students that the best time to start their big papers is write after they’ve finished — you learn so much doing a big project that you always know much more when its done than when you began.
* Priorities: If you suffer from several of these internal and external sticking points — you don’t have time, your family and friends aren’t supportive, you don’t know what to do next, etc. — it may well be that your project is not a very high priority for you. IF you find yourself spinning your wheels for more than a few days, you’d better start asking yourself if you really want this — not just “someday”, but right now. Because you’re spending not just time but energy worrying about why you aren’t getting done.

Now, something can be your very last priority and not be a waste of time. If you’d like to write a novel but you have a family to feed and care for, writing that novel probably shouldn’t be at the top of your list! But know and accept that it’s a low priority and that other things have to come first, so you don’t feel guilty about not working on it — and so that, when you do work on it, you know that you can devote yourself wholly to it because everything else important is taken care of.

These are just a few of the things that stop us in our tracks. Each of us faces a slightly different struggle depending on the nature of our tasks and the nature of ourselves. What’s your sticking point?

About Author: Dustin M. Wax is a contributing editor and project manager at

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The New Dock is Done!

Well the dock has been done since 4th of July weekend, but I'm just now getting around to posting pictures.

The Old dock went 40 feet out into the river. Waaaay too long. The water depth drops to almost 3 feet at 14 feet out from shore, so there's just no reason to go out that far. The old dock was very poorly built out of 2x6's and aluminum decking with outdoor carpet on top (nasty--attracted ducks and geese--poop everywhere). And the last 10 feet of the dock had fallen and was completely submerged in the river.

So Frank, my super cool Father-in-law, drove up here from Vandalia, Ohio and he and i tore out the old dock, designed a new L-shaped dock, built it and installed it over the span of three weekends. (it didn't take that long just for the dock, we also had other projects that we worked on too).

This new dock goes 14 feet out from shore and the "L" runs 20 feet parallel. It breaks down into three sections (one 12 foot, and two 10 foot sections).

I should give props to Sarah, my little sister, because she helped us install the dock (see in the pics below she is wearing a pair of my waders--she was freaking out about get touched by fish, HA!)

We were able to salvage most of the auger posts from the old dock, and even some of the pressure treated 2x6 lumber. But we bought all new decking, a couple of new corner brackets, and galvanized deck screws. Oh, and we excavated a little of the shore to put in pavers with a gravel and sand base to serve as a permanent "pad" for the shore-end of the dock to rest on. I insisted that the dock should be level with the lawn--I didn't want people to have to step up or down from the shore. And the pavers worked perfectly. All together we spent about $300 on materials (which is about $2000 cheaper than buying a pre-fab dock kit).

So, anyway, here are some pics of the dock, the back of our house, Mom and Sarah on the boat, and Lauren enjoying Kristin's new hammock (a gift from Sarah and Mom).

Now that we've used the new dock for a few weeks, I'm pretty happy with the results. Our 17.5' Bayliner docks nicely to the 20' long section. And the water is deep enough for a second boat (like my father-in-law's Sea-Ark fishing boat) to dock straight in to shore along the 14' section (though we haven't actually tried that yet--so it's more of a theory for now).

The only drawback is that I'm really starting to see the benefits of a boat lift. I can't leave our boat moored to the dock for more than a day or two at a time because of the wear and tear on the hull and to the dock (even though i use bumper pads, it still gets pretty rough out there). And I don't have mooring covers for the boat, so without a lift and canopy, it is completely exposed to the elements. So, maybe next Summer I'll try to find a good deal on a used boat lift to complement the dock. But for now, I'm OK with trailering the boat to and from the public access ramp that's just down the road.

Friday, July 27, 2007

New Home Office Pictures

It's been a couple of months since I've blogged. But honestly I'm surprised I'm doing one even now. I've never been very disciplined at journaling. In college it was like pulling teeth for me to sit down and write something everyday. I guess for me, it's just soooo boring to retrace old thoughts. it just seems so stale and laborsome. But, anyway... these aren't moldy notions or rehashed rantings. These are just some poorly exposed images of my latest home/office project. "The Studio"... oooooh, that sounds creative and hip, doesn't it? Say it like a whisper... "Studio". Aaaah. Not an office... a "studio". Why? Oh, I don't know. I guess i just like to make fun of myself from time to time.

So without further ado; here are some new pics of... "the studio" *whisper with echo fx fade out*

Ok, "The Studio" is actually our walkout basement . It's basically one long room with a little cove, a bathroom, a laundry room, and a big utility closet. This image shows the editing workstation and one of my favorite decorative pieces--my bookcase with frames. I love the unfinished gallery look--got the idea from an empty frames motif that the brilliant designers at GCC did for the "My Life" campaign. I lurve it! Also notice the wall colors. I went with muted earth tones, tan and sage because I didn't have the budget to replace the dark burnt-orange carpet, but to our surprise these colors actually work ok together now. I have to point out the texture of the walls. The paint technique I used is actually called "suede" because the finished wall actually resembles a brushed suede effect. I bought the colors in a Ralph Lauren brand paint that actually has a fine silicone sand mixed in paint. The technique is a two step process where I finished the top coat with a four inch brush making thousands of overlapping X's. If you come over to visit, be sure to touch the walls, it actually feels like sand paper! Sorry to brag, but i'm very proud of it, and I love how it looks!

Oh, also check out my "fake" track lighting. It's an old crummy drop ceiling, so my lighting options are a little limited, but I finally found this four piece light fixture that's brushed chrome (Mac flavor : ) with retro bullet style lights. The ceiling is a little low and the lights catch in your eye a little at a couple of angles in the room, but it's not too bad, and unless you are 6'6", you won't have to duck.

Oh, that brown door is to the big utility closet--heater, water heater, pumps, storage, etc.

A closer view of the frames display. Kristin found the candle stand and the urn with grass--she's pretty good!

This is a view of the north side of the room across from the frames display and utility closet. That's our old 8' couch that i found a nice micro suede slip cover for. The big display case in the corner was built in and came with the house. I considered tearing it out, because it was old, stained and cumbersome. But instead I sanded it down and repainted it to match the rest of the trim and chair rail that i also painted. Right now you can see i have a tiny little tv sitting in there... that's temporary. In a couple of weeks i'm going to install a flat panel LCD HDTV on the wall next to this big corner display. Then that corner will be 100% decorative display only... not entertainment center. Oh, notice the small brushed chrome light fixture I installed in the top of the display. I had to modify it to hang upside down and run the cable neatly.

It's hard to see it in this picture, but the big brown ottoman is nearly a dead on match with the couch slip cover. We lucked out with that. they came from two different manufacturers. An added bonus is that ottoman has a lift up storage lid. Great for blankets, pillows, a bag of Oreos : )

The curtains are heavy cotton panels with loops. I found all the curtains, the rods with leather accents, and the matching draw-backs all at Target! All on clearance, in fact i didn't pay full price on any item in the entire basement! Except for the paint, that wasn't cheap, but I don't regret it.

Kristin put the big floor vase and the long decorative sticks together, and I absolutely love it! That big floor vase has been with our family since Kristin and I got married 10 years ago. A friend from college gave it to us as a wedding gift--i think it was Joani Crandle.

Eventually i'm going to sand and paint that end table--take it from honey oak, to chocolate brown like the rest of the trim in the room. I also have a couple of framed art pieces to hang on either side of the window. All in due time, i guess.

This is the future HDTV wall (between the decor and the brown display case). I've got my sights set on a Vizio 46" 1080p LCD. With a decent surround sound system and a PS3 with Blu Ray, it should make a nice little client monitor (and super bowl party system and family theater!) Looks like I'll have to re-aim my track light on that wall : )

Oh, to digress a little, in this picture you can really see the suede paint effect on the walls... Isn't that totally wicked! I must be easily impressed.

My edit desk. It's a mission style but finished in a dark mahogany. Very simple but big, heavy and sturdy. Check out my LCD monitor stand. It's a dual pneumatic arm from Ergotron. I think i paid $160 for it, and it's worth every penny in my opinion. My monitor floats whereever i put it. No knobs to adjust no screws to turn... just lightly push or pull it up down, in, out, side to side, whatever! I'm going to get a second one when i upgrade to a MacPro and new displays later this year. A great product, i highly recommend it!

And yup, there's my beautiful little MacBook Pro. And my BlueTooth Wacom tablet and my M-Audio USB Mobile-Pre XLR interface. That sweet little set up with my external drives has more media creation power than the half million dollar edit suite that I first learned in just 14 years ago (shout out to the fellas at Covenant Productions and the good old CMX Omni 500). And just think... we'll be making the move to 2k or 4k soon (beyond HD)! Wow, exciting times in the world of digital media.

This is a view of "the cove", a 6'x12' extra space that works perfectly as another workstation and a sound booth (very dead accoustics--great!).

In fact i just recorded my first voice over with a client in the new place yesterday (for Paper Depot)! Sounds fantastic back there!

The nice MXL studio mic was a gift from my way cool Father-in-law! Thanks Frank!

This is what we like to call "The Bistro" area. Stairs to the rest of the house in the background (obviously). And that brown door is to the laundry room.

This awesome little table was a scratch and dent on clearance at Target... retail was over $300, i bought it for $30!!! And Kristin bought a furniture pen and covered all the scratches. And it looks great! The two chairs were brand new without a scratch on them, but i got them on clearance too for only $35 for both.

It's hard to see in this shot, but the little square matte on the table was hand strung with small wooden beads. They almost look like coffee beans. I don't think Kristin likes the bowl decoration center piece. She keeps commenting to me that the balls don't match well enough or "there are too many red ones" etc. But she's being a good sport about it all. Our agreement is that i have "veto" power over all design and decorations in the basement, and she has veto power for the rest of the house.

A wider shot looking out the three panel sliding door to the walk-out brick patio. All these photos were taken at night, but you can see the green grass here because i had all the flood lights on in the backyard.
Note: I'm considering painting or staining the big wooden beam that separates the room. It's a rough hewn wood beam, and it's kind of a light honey color and it has paint spills and splatters from the previous folks who painted the walls and trim. Not a priority, I'll probably hold off.

To the left of the stairs is the "Art" corner. This is an area reserved for family art time (check out lauren's easel). So far, all three of us have used this area for painting--the circles art on the wall is one of mine actually. kristin painted two wall art pieces for the bathroom, and Lauren, well she has enough stuff to open a small gallery already.

Kristin and I have talked about possibly putting in a small kiln in the backyard so we can introduce Lauren to pottery. That might be a project for next year.

Entrance to the laundry room and to the downstairs bathroom. Next week i'm going to add a small tea cart and a esspresso and coffee maker against that wall. So when clients and guests come by, we'll have something to sip at the bistro table : )
Also need some sort of wall art on that wall... if you have any ideas, shoot me an email! I'm open to suggestions.

And finally, here is the downstairs bath. I put in new wainscoting, chair rail, paint, and a new vanity, sink, and mirror.

Those are Kristin's original paintings. Not bad!

We still have some stuff to do in here. Gonna put up some shelves, towl racks, and some sort of cabinet or hutch for towles, hair dryers, etc.

Kristin chose all the decorations in here and I think she did great! The bathtub was this robin egg blue, so we were kind of limited with what we could do with color schemes, but Kristin suggested the wainscoting and a "beach house" motif. The only other thing we want to do in here is change the light blue wall color above the wainscoting to a dark blue denim texture like this...

Maybe not so bright blue... a little less saturated and maybe a little darker--a soft cobalt with this denim effect would look very cool i think.

I love this little vanity! the faucet is a cool vintage design that fits the beach house theme ok. I didn't do too bad with the plumbing--taking out the old sink and puting in the new, but i had one problem... the "P-trap" fitting is too low for the new fitting by about two inches, so I fixed a temporary extension to it and smothered the seams with plumbers putty. It leaks a little when i run the water at full blast for very long... so I really need get the right P-trap and fittings soon.

Well that's all for now. I'll update images as we make more changes.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Kristin and Joe Montana

Today is the day. Kristin's last day of high school teaching. Forever? For awhile? Who knows? But she's moving on to another game, same team; just a different role.

For those who don't know, Kristin has resigned her faculty position at Elkhart Memorial High School and has accepted a new position on the Creative Arts team at Granger Community Church.

This wraps up eight years of teaching for Kristin; the last four have been at Elkhart Memorial. Tracking backwards from there it was Lindale High School, TX; New Summerfield Middle School, TX; and Highland High School, IN. She did her student teaching with Kay Kelly at Anderson High School.

Of course I'm very biased. Most of the time I am Kristin's biggest fan, greatest proponent and champion of her colors. But, i hate to admit it, sometimes I'm also her nastiest critic and loudest heckler. Regardless, I'm proud to say that from my point of view; Kristin has made profound, lasting, positive changes in the lives of the students and teachers she's come in contact with.

I remember her first year at Highland. It was pretty rough emotionally for her. Adjusting to the new role, learning the politics, and dealing with the ugly things that go on in the teachers lounge... Every teacher faces those things, sure. But Kristin's biggest challenge was what it has always been: How to keep her heart from breaking for her hurting, lost, abandoned, broken, and abused students. It was literally a culture shock for her that first year.

You have to understand that Kristin has always been an incredibly motivated learner--it's one of her most admirable strengths. She got straight A's all through high school, graduated at the top of her class and finished a year early. At AU she scored perfect A's in every class except one... her first ever "B" came because she didn't do well on a final exam in a Phys Ed class because the night before she was out all night laying under the stars on the football fields with her stupid boyfriend. What a jerk. : ) HA!

Even still, she graduated summa cum laude with honors in two different departments (the only person in her class to do so), and she was even asked to speak at graduation.

My point is, she's a hard worker, she's very smart, and she has always loved school--she loves to learn. So, in her first year of teaching, it was hard for her to understand or relate to students that weren't motivated, eager, or excited about school. She quickly learned that for some of her students, education wasn't a luxury they could afford to put at the top of their worlds.

I can't remember the names or faces, but Kristin started coming home from school that first year in tears; telling me stories about how John is incredibly funny, witty and smart. He is hands down the best improv actor in her class--Robin Williams incarnate! But his mom is a prostitute and drug addict, and he can't focus because he's worried if she's going to overdose again.

And then there's Derell. Possibly the fastest sprinter in the state. College scouts are waiting with scholarship offers, but he wasn't in class today because he's been expelled again for possession. Kristin learns that his dad is a dealer, his uncle is a dealer, his older brother is a dealer, and he just can't see life beyond all the instant money if he just keeps up the family business.

There have been countless stories over the last eight years--dozens of teenage pregnancies, some kids rendered homeless, abused, raped, abandoned, you name it. Kristin's heart breaks for them every year. She reaches out to them, ministers God's love however she can, because she sees beyond the school desk and seeks to understand exactly why the troubled student--the one with the endangered soul--just can't seem to stay focused on The Great Gatsby, or the predicate verbs in his workbook.

I remember that first year, she told me once... "They all seem so callused, so cold and bitter toward the kids." She said, "I just can't understand why anyone would choose teaching as a profession if they actually hate it that much!" Of course, she was talking about some of her fellow teachers in her department or in the teachers lounge. She detested their attitudes. To her it was injustice for an adult to talk about or treat a student with such disrespect and disdain. Because with Kristin... it's all about people. Loving and helping other people.

This hasn't changed one bit over the last eight years. In fact, her passion for hurting people has only grown stronger. That's why I believe this new career, this new post at GCC is divinely orchestrated. I'm not a mystic, but i do believe God has called Kristin to this appointment. We both have seen evidence of God's hand on the work that this ministry is doing. And we both feel very blessed just to be a part of that great work.

On a side note: this Baker family has decided to hang up the nomadic boots for awhile, and plant ourselves here in Michiana. For better or for worse--but we believe for better.

Leaving the direct contact with students is a hard thing for Kristin, she tears up just thinking about not being a teacher anymore... but she knows in her heart that she's going to love the work God has for her at GCC.

So, if you get a chance, hop over to Kristin's blog or shoot her an email and tell how proud you are of her. It's time to stand up and cheer. Like when the game is well in hand late in the fourth quarter, and Joe Montana trots off the field and waves to the crowd as the backup comes in to finish the game. As for her role as a teacher, Kristin played her part and did her job well. She changed the lives of the people she touched, she shared the love of Jesus and she made a pretty good dent in this world.

Now she's going to rest for a month or so, and then get back in the game. This time she'll be playing a different role. But it's a role she was born to play.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Might Be a Montage

Ooooh. My first post. I've never posted a blog before. I'm a little nervous. Not sure what to write. There's one side of me that wants to rant and rave and fly around in all caps like a ticked off 300 pound male version of Avril Lavigne.

I'm not 300 pounds though. I've been losing a little weight. I do paint my nails black on occasion though.

Then there's another side of me that is really excited about just blogging about fun stuff. Reporting about vacations, family time, life lessons and Notre Dame football. Aaaah, that sounds fuzzy. Like hot coco, marshmallows and dandelions. Doesn't it? I mean, really... I know I'm a very lucky guy to have my wife Kristin, who is so faithful, loving and supportive--committed to this family and committed to loving me through all the gale force winds. She said once that she married me because the safest place in a storm is in it's eye. hmmm. not sure if that's a complement. And I have a great little daughter--she's got me wrapped. And i could just blog everyday about my two girls and our adventures together.

Then there's another quadrant that wants to keep it all pro. Seven Habits, 21 Irrefutable laws, One Minute everything, Rich Dad Poor everyone, the Creative Cow and all the barn yard animals. Really geek out and let fly about my business, client management, advertising and marketing trends, the entertainment industry, and all the latest developments in the uber-cool world of digital media. I could easily get lost writing in twists and tangles about the wired world of my profession. I can't help it... I'm passionate about it! I was made to do this stuff!

And of course I could dig deeper and really unpack some stuff about my faith, my questions, my answers (usually wrong, but still answers). My journey trying to follow Christ. Trying to make a difference and trying to do the next right thing. It could spin in a positive direction--the incredible awe of God I have experienced on the proverbial mountain tops, the lives I've seen changed for good, the people I have known who've made a difference. The hand of God I've felt from time to time. The Grace I rely on. Wow. I think I could do that.

Maybe I will. Maybe I'll just get around to all that somehow.

Oh, one thing though. I might accidentally or intentionally forget my audience from time to time. I might just forget about your feelings, and your perception. I might get inconsiderate or even offensive. I hope I don't hurt you. I hope I help. And I hope I learn and discover new things from all this.

If nothing else, maybe it will be a montage.