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Mar. 12th, 2011


Moving to Los Angeles

Hollywood Sign
Well, it's official.  Danny and I are moving to Los Angeles in early April.  My last day at LOVE is April 4th and I start my new job on April 8th.

I recently accepted a position on the new Cirque du Soleil show called IRIS, opening at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood this Summer.  This is the same theater that the Oscars play in every year.

I will be working as an Automation Operator (same thing I do in Vegas).  Although I'm technically working for a new employer (the Kodak Theater management), this will be my 3rd Cirque show and 5th year with them.  This job will also mark my 3rd time being an IATSE Union member.  This time, it will be with Local 33 Los Angeles.

The apartment hunt is on now and our focus is the Southern part of the San Fernando Valley (which is just North of the Hollywood Hills).  Possible neighborhoods include Studio City, North Hollywood (NOHO), Sherman Oaks, Universal City, Glendale, or Burbank.  There are some neat art districts in these areas that might be fun to live in or near.  Hopefully that will all be finished within a week and I'll give everyone our new contact info.  Our cell phones are not changing.

I'm very excited about this but I'm suddenly very nervous too.  After weeks of negotiations and research, it's finally for real...


Mar. 9th, 2011


Journey Into Imagination Recreation

Journey Into Imagination
I've started a new 3D drawing project as a hobby.  I'm still working on my other design stuff but I thought it would be a fun challenge to recreate something that no longer exists (entirely).  

I'm rebuilding the original version of EPCOT Center's Journey Into Imagination attraction in Google Sketchup.  My intention is to reconstruct the entire pavilion including all the interior ride elements.  This may take a long time.  You can see my progress HERE.

At press time, I completed the first draft of the ride building exterior and the original sign.  I realize that the building is sporting the newer paint job but I did that for comparison with my reference photos.  I will be changing it to the opening day color scheme shortly.  

I do not have access to detailed blueprints, but I've managed to get some good ground plans and some rough elevation info.  The truth is, I'm using the ground plans as a guide but most of the drawing is approximated.  I'm going to get it as close as I can but it won't be technically perfect at all.  I figure the inside will involve a lot of guess-work so the outside doesn't have to be 100% either.  I just want to make it a good trip down memory lane for myself and like-minded others.

If anyone has any good photos, videos, or blueprints, I'd love to get copies so I can get as detailed as possible.  Thanks!

Finally, I also want to say that this has been inspired by (and in some cases, assisted with advice and drawings from) these fine recreation projects:  Enfilm's Flickr DrawingsHorizons: Resurrected, The Mighty Microscope, and Virtual Toad.  Thanks guys!

Mar. 5th, 2011


38 Days of Blog: #34 – Your favorite place

Spaceship Earth
This is #34 in a series of 38 questions I'm answering.  Go HERE for an explanation and the question list.

The easy answer to "what is my favorite place" would be "any Disney park".  I just can't get enough of that atmosphere.  It's my homebase.  It's where I feel most at home and happy.  I know it seems silly but that's how it works.

The exception is probably Disney Hollywood Studios (or Disney-MGM Studios as I knew it).  I worked there for the majority of a decade and that magical atmosphere sort of wore out for me there.

The real answer to my favorite place is "EPCOT Center in the 1980's".  I loved it in its early years because it felt like it was built for me.  If I could time travel, I'd probably want to go back to somewhere in the 1986 to 1989 range.  I think of EPCOT's golden age being earlier than that but I also loved the late-bloomer attractions (Horizons, Living Seas, Wonders of Life, Captain EO, Morocco and Norway).  To me, Wonders of Life represented the last piece of the "original set".  Collect them all.

I guess I was just the right age at the right time with the right sense of wonder.  EPCOT fascinated me and firmly set my already strong desire to be an Imagineer some day.  I bought a book about how they designed and built it that I read thousands of times.  I collected all kinds of photos and articles about it.  In high school, I designed 2 new pavilions for it: Egypt in the World Showcase (which got me in the yearbook) and a biology pavilion for Future World (before Wonders was announced).  I even drew a large aerial map of the park on my closet door that was done in large part from memory.  It might've been a little crazy.

There was no end to my need to know about the place.  I didn't just want to know about the rides and shows as most people saw them.  I needed to know how everything worked, who designed it, when it was built, all the in-jokes and references, and the endless trivia that probably made my parents crazy.

Why?  I have no idea.  For whatever reason, I never feel as warm and fuzzy as I do in that place.  It's my place of awe and peace.  It might be kind of strange but that is my answer.

Anyone have a time machine?


Mar. 1st, 2011


Unfinished Projects

I have been extremely distracted lately.  There is a lot of stuff going on including good stuff, bad stuff and even a few things that manage to be both.  When I get like this, I tend to start and stop about a million things.  I get very whim-oriented and don't really finish anything.  Just so I can feel like I actually have something to show for my stack of unfinished work, I though I'd post a bit about some of the things I've started.

Hopefully, I'll get back to finishing it once my life is a bit less chaotic.

This is a flume ride based on a tour through a quirky and cartoon-like toy factory (think of the visual style of the movie, Toys).  The ride content is presented in a funhouse / dark ride style with scenic elements that are almost entirely flat.  I want that cardboard cut-out Viewmaster kind of depth.  So far, I have modeled the entire ride system, vehicles, track, building and some of the exterior decorations.  I have also started the interior but only finished part of the load room.  The unique element of this ride is that it randomly chooses one of 3 possible paths, twice during the ride.  Here are some pictures:

Unfinished Projects: Toy Factory Ride Unfinished Projects: Toy Factory Ride Toy Boats Flume Ride Track Flume Ride Track

I admit, I stopped this one because it started turning into a job.  That would be fine if it were a job, but since I'm not being paid, I reserve the right to move on when I'm not having fun with it anymore.  What killed me was the tedious rockwork modeling.  Blah.  Anyway, this was a design for a waterpark based on the lost continent of Atlantis.  I know it isn't terribly original but I actually thought of this back in the early 90's and I wanted to see if I could represent my thoughts more accurately in 3D.  Once I realized I could, I kind of lost interest.  There is a good possibility that I will never finish this one.  Pictures:

Unfinished Projects: Atlantis Waterpark Unfinished Projects: Atlantis Waterpark

I started building this one mostly as an exercise in finished rendering.  There is no theme, just a standard mega-resort kind of thing.  I put a lot of effort into keeping the scale as accurate as I could and I did a lot of work with lighting too.  I dropped this one mostly because it was getting a little too Vegas and Vegas kind of annoys me right now (a big part of my distractions lately).  Here are some photos:

Hotel in Daylight Hotel at Night Hotel Courtyard Hotel at Night Hotel Glass Test Hotel Day and Night

I plan to finish this one.  I am modeling a gothic-style theater from a story written by a friend of mine.  There are some very specific story elements (gargoyles in particular) that I was having a very hard time representing the way I saw them.  That snag stopped me but as soon as I figure out how to draw them right, I'll finish.  This one is actually much further along than this one photo suggests:

Unfinished Projects: Gothic Theater

I have a handful of others that I've started but aren't far enough along to show including a restaurant, bumper boat / water battle, and a roller coaster with a really strange launch system.  I'll get to them eventually.  I need to get focused first... maybe next week.


Feb. 21st, 2011


38 Days of Blog: #33 – Your fears

This is #33 in a series of 39 questions I'm answering.  Go HERE for an explanation and the question list.

My fears...  Mwuh ha ha ha!  Whatever.

I don't think I have a lot of fears.  I'm usually not the sort to worry about things that haven't really happened.  I generally expect everything to be OK in the end.  Some of the fears I do have are kind of odd though.

My reasonable fears are fairly normal, I think.  I certainly fear failure in my relationships and career to some degree.  That seems to be increasing a bit on the career side as I get older.  "I'm running out of time!"  But it really isn't something that constantly worries me.  There's always next year, after all.

My daredevil theater-kid days are fading away and I have a fairly "healthy respect" for heights now that I didn't used to.  I still do work that requires me to be at heights and I haven't freaked out yet so we'll call that a minor one.

This next one sort of borders between reasonable and unreasonable.  I have a fear of causing death.  Accidentally, of course.  I'm paranoid about stepping on one of the cats or killing some idiot tourist with my car.  Scenarios like these keep me awake at night.  I find it very easy to imagine something like this destroying me emotionally and effectively ending the life I live now.  Shudder.

My unreasonable fears are where it gets weird.  The least strange is my OCD about locks.  I have a very hard time locking the front door or my car because I can't trust that it is still locked when I walk away from it.  My memory problems play into this badly.  Did I lock it today or am I remembering it from yesterday.  I usually lock the door multiple times and often have to go back and recheck it.  I do not like that I do this and put a lot of effort into not doing it.  I would say this is under control but it is still an issue.

In bed at night, as my head churns in a sea of free-associated white noise, very childlike fears start to surface.  I get paranoid of shadows, movement, sounds, and even what might be out of view beside the bed.  The hallucinogenic properties of my migraine night meds don't help this much but I've always had these strange night fears.  They are not debilitating but they can keep me on edge (and awake) even though I logically dismiss them.  The weirdest part is the mirrors.  Mirrors in dark places mess with me a lot.  The bathroom mirror in the middle of the night is the worst.  It's not that I expect to see monsters or anything.  It's my own reflection.  I don't recognize it and the faces I see instead of my own can be very disturbing.  Inadvertently making eye contact (yes, with myself) can freak me out enough that I'll turn on the lights.  Boo!

Do I sound completely unstable and schizophrenic yet?  Honestly, there are reasons for a lot of this stuff.  My thing with locks stems from having a stranger get into the house when I was home alone as a kid and it extended to the car when it was broken into a while back.  The nighttime terror show is probably just an extension of a life spent with chronic nightmares.  I've actually thought up a few cool horror movie scenes from this that maybe I'll compile into a money-making screenplay some day.

Anyway, there it is.  Now you know how to scare me.  Mwuh ha ha ha!  Whatever.

Feb. 20th, 2011


38 Days of Blog: #32 – A first

This is #32 in a series of 38 questions I'm answering.  Go HERE for an explanation and the question list.

This question has had me stumped for days.  I can't think of a "first" story of any significance that I haven't already written about.  I'm sure others reading this will think of plenty but I'm stuck at the moment.

To clear this congestion, I will instead present a short list of various "firsts" that I think might be sort of interesting, in the order I thought of them...

First famous person I met:
Richard Nixon

First famous person I worked with:
Warren Moon

First world record I helped break:
Most stilt-walkers at the same time

First foreign country I visited: 
The Bahamas

First job I was paid to do:
Digging ditches (seriously)

First computer I ever programmed:
Texas Instruments TI/99/4A

First video game (that I remember):
Pong (for reals)

First trip to Disneyland:
April 1994 

First concert (as an actual audience member):
Erasure's Phantasmagorical Entertainment Tour (Dec 4, 1992 at Jones Hall in Houston, TX)

First "social network" (and ISP too):

First blog entries:
A little medical surprise - full of holes  (Oct 15, 2007 on MySpace / LJ)
Disneyland Trip  (Dec 8, 2007 on FB)


Feb. 13th, 2011


38 Days of Blog: #31 – Your sleeping habits

Playing Airplane?
This is #31 in a series of 38 questions I'm answering.  Go HERE for an explanation and the question list.

This is a photo of me from 15 years ago.  It's kind of odd and I really have no idea what is happening here.  I do remember that those flannel sheets were very comfy.  Anyway...

Sleep is a complicated thing for me.  It always has been but it has become a lot more challenging in recent years.  As a result, I've developed a lot of strange habits and routines around the process.

To begin with, if left uninterrupted, I'm one of those people who will stay in bed for 10 to 12 hours (and be asleep most of that time).  I also rock myself to sleep when I can.  That's not as severe as it was when I was a kid.

Because of my over-sensitivity to everything, I have to prep for sleep.  Door closed to block out light, earplugs in to block out sound, and sheets and blankets arranged to prevent wrinkles that will bother me.  I "make the bed" every day - right before I get in it to sleep.

I usually lay face down until my neck gets sore and then I turn on to my side.  It can take anywhere from 1 to 5 hours for me to fall asleep after I go to bed.  30 minutes on a good night.  It is really hard to stop my brain from running and I have this thing with music playing in my head that can keep me up as well.  In the last 2 years, things have become even stranger.  My migraine medicine (which has effectively cured me) has the side effect of minor hallucinations at night.  I see all kinds of weird things moving around the room while I'm trying to fall asleep.  Normally, I'm pretty good at recognizing that they aren't real and ignoring them.  They do, unfortunately, reflect my state of mind though.  For example, if I watch a scary movie before bed, the hallucinations can be a little more intense and distracting.  It's worth it not to have those headaches though.

Once I am asleep, I'm a hardcore champion at it.  I guess I snore pretty loudly and have slept through a couple of earthquakes.  I guess the deep sleep is a good trade off for the complications I go through to get there.



Feb. 12th, 2011


38 Days of Blog: #30 – Something that makes you cry

This is #30 in a series of 38 questions I'm answering.  Go HERE for an explanation and the question list.

I don't have a whole lot to say about this topic.  You're welcome.

I don't cry easily or often as an adult.  The exception being during parts of 2008 and 2009 when my doctor set the dosages of my migraine meds too high and it turned me into a 5 year old girl.  Thankfully, that's over.  As a child, it was unusually easy to set me off, but as an adult, I just don't get emotionally drawn into things very easily.  It's not part of some effort to be manly or stoic.  It's just really hard for me to get too worked up.  Chick flicks, weddings, high levels of pain... I'm pretty much immune.

The only exceptions are loneliness and loss of life.  I haven't experienced loneliness in the past 14 years thanks to Danny.  And I don't miss it.  Death crops up from time to time, of course.  I don't handle that very well at all.  Just thinking about it too long can mess me up a bit so I try not to think about more than I need to.  It's not an unhealthy internalization thing.  I do deal with it and process it, but I try not to dwell on it.  After all, nothing I can do will change it.

And that is all the time I think I want to spend on this topic.


Feb. 10th, 2011


Blizzard Theme Park... For Real?

Way back in 2009, my friend [info]erik_moore and I designed a fake theme park for a contest that Blizzard (makers of World of Warcraft) was hosting.  We put it together in our spare time over the course of 2 weeks, exclusively by e-mail.  Erik lives in Orlando.  You can see our finished entry HERE.

The funny and not really surprising part is that a park similar to the design criteria of the contest is allegedly about to be built in China.  Erik sent me this article about it today, but I don't think Blizzard has announced anything themselves.  We'll see if this turns out to be real.

I seriously doubt they stole any of our ideas (that we basically signed away the rights to anyway).  It'll be interesting to see what the final product is if it happens though.

You know, this installation could probably use 2 control systems programmers who are already familiar with the subject matter.  Hint, hint...


38 Days of Blog: #29 – Something that makes you feel better

This is #29 in a series of 38 questions I'm answering.  Go HERE for an explanation and the question list.

I think I'm supposed to pick one thing here but I'm going to do the short attention span list instead.  Sue me...

Things that make me feel good or better:

Obvious stuff:  Theme parks, cheeseburgers, sleeping in, cute or funny animals (see photo), good (or at least fun) sci-fi, and nice surprises.

Attention:  I don't like to admit it often because I think it seems childish, but I really get a good charge when I get positive attention from people I love or respect.  A little attention from Danny often makes my day.

Belonging:  It is not an exaggeration when I say that I've spent most of my life feeling like I don't belong or fit in where ever I am at the time.  This may be partly because I tend to look more to my future than my present.  On those rare occasions when I feel like I truly fit, I'm overwhelmed with joy.  The last time I felt it was a few times during my 9 years at Disney.

Singing:  Yep, the truth is out.  I'm a closet singer.  In the car, at my computer, but never in the shower.  I love to sing along to music and really enjoy harmonies (especially high harmonies).  It's very energizing.  Though I'm generally not brave enough to do it in front of other people often, I daydream about duets with or backing up very specific people I know that sing.  Weird, huh?

Completion:  When I finish something, I get a major jolt of accomplishment that can carry me on for days.  This is especially true of something involving creative output.  I can sit and stare at something I've finished for hours.  It's not really a self-admiration thing - just enjoyment from having accomplished something.

Physical games:  Paintball, ping pong, racqetball, hacky sack, frisbee, etc.  I've had none of this since I moved back to Vegas.  I like simple physical games that are free of excess competitive pressure.  It's just pure, stress-free fun.  Anybody game?

I think that's it.  Thanks.  I feel better already.


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