I've become really tired of the default templates, and I want to change mine. I have a general idea of what I wantâ€” a really sleek design that just oozes Web 2.0. Not to the point where it's impractical, though. I want it to look good.
Unfortunately, my CSS and HTML skills are very limited. So, I'd like to ask, would anybody be willing to make me a template? I'd be glad to give more information of what I sort of want, but at the same time, I'm totally fine with leaving it a little open to interpretation.
You can catch me at southwest23 at gmail. I'm Southwest2300 on AIM, but you'll be lucky if you can catch me on. I'm never on AIM.
Of note: This was posted from Deepest Sender. Sweet.
For my health class, I had to create a fictional product and advertise it in some way or another. My group, like most others, thought that shooting a commercial would be the best idea. Being the foolish one I am, I suggested that we go all-out— shoot as many takes as we need, since "I'll be able to edit it together."
I'm not a complete editing novice. I was part of the school's video-editing club in middle school, and we put together a fairly respectable little clip using iMovie. I figured that this couldn't be that much more difficult.
We shot it at my house, and everything went just fine and dandy. My friend had an old camcorder that recorded to VHS tapes, but we figured we'd be able to make that work, no sweat.
The first hurdle I ran into was getting the video from the tape to the computer. We couldn't find any video-in jack anywhere on any of our computers, and when we looked at it, we realized that we'd need a converter anyway to translate the data. That was no good. We could buy converters, but the lowest price online was $40. That was no good. We had to find another method.
We then turned to the idea of re-recording the video on the tape to a DVD, using a DVD recorder. Of course, the first problem there was determining who had a DVD recorder. Things looked grim, until Michelle told me she had one. I went over, and recorded a DVD. It worked. Score one for the home team.
When I got home, I ran into a snag. The programs I was going to use to edit this thing didn't recognize .VOB format. Coincidentally, the recorded video was in .VOB format. I flailed about, until my dad found somewhere that .VOB contained the exact same content as an .MPEG format. We renamed them, and suddenly, things started to work.
Or so it seemed.
Having given up on a free piece of software called Avid Free DV, I turned to Windows Movie Maker. It looked nice. It opened the .MPEGs… and then more problems arose.
The program would not reliably preview the video. I had to break this one long recording into many clips, so I could edit them together in the proper order, and so I could utilize the best shots. Unfortunately, it's nigh impossible to break a segment of video into clips if you can't preview the video.
Then, by some stroke of luck, the application worked with me. A little. It let me preview the .MPEG… once. If I moved the selector to any part of the video, or if I did anything, the preview would suddenly fail, giving me nothing but audio. But it worked enough to let me break it into clips. I breathed a sigh of relief.
However, the next step was to actually put the clips together, a process which is impossible without a preview. At this time, I learned that Windows Movie Maker didn't actually support MPEG-2 files.
I nearly beat a hole in the wall with my forehead.
I realized that what I needed to do was convert the .MPEG (or .VOB) files to .AVI. I Googled "vob to avi", and came up with a program, available for free download, that would convert that. Yes. Great. Lovelyful. I started downloading it. It was at a 94% download when Firefox decided to freeze up. I closed it, and my download died.
I re-downloaded it, and ran it, only to find that unless I registered this "free" software, I would only be able to convert video with a watermark, or "convert about 5 minutes of […] audio".
Of course, the video, with all its takes, is about ten minutes long, and registering costs $40.
That's where I am now. This is due on Tuesday.
If something could have gone wrong, it has. I really want to scream right about now.
I am never, ever volunteering to do something like this again.
It doesn't hurt much, but earlier tonight, I was able to bend it at an unnatural angle to the rest of my foot. Probably between 130 and 140 degrees away from the rest of my toes. I know that whatever happened to it happened sometime tonight, during Aikido, when, as I was taking a fall, I misplaced my foot beneath me and misstretched or put my weight wrong on it. It hurt a lot then, and it swelled up quite a bet. I iced it and have taped it to the neighbouring toe, so I guess it's all about what comes next.
So much for never breaking a bone.
Is there anyone who's broken a toe before that can explain what it's like and suggest what to do?
I promise, one of these days, I'll make a meaningful post again. Promise.
Yikes, I'm posting a lot all of a sudden. This does not bode well for our hero.
I've been doing a little bit more writing recently. I like to think that if I practice, someday I'll be a little good at it. At any rate, it doesn't hurt to write, and it's great fun to come up with ideas and just jot them down. I hadn't written for a while until Saturday, when I sat down and wrote a short little thing.
But I digress.
This one's called "Flying". I personally like the way it turned out, though, as with everything, there's room for improvement.
That said, "Flying":
She could hear the crowd, chattering and cheering, through the flapping walls of the striped tent. The elephants trumpeted, parading around the ring. She watched it in her mind's eye, following every step of the routine she knew so well. There; the elephant stood on its hind legs, and the audience clapped. Then; another elephant balanced itself on a ball, and the clamoring crowds applauded appropriately. She recited it in her head the way that some people mentally replay films. The girl had the better experience, however: her mental movies were matched with real sound.
The crowd was good tonight, she noticed. They wanted to have a good time, to laugh, and to be awed. It varied from night to night. Sometimes, the crowds were only looking for enjoyment, and they found it under the big top, more than they could have possibly imagined. Other times, audiences took their seats skeptical, with preconceived notions that muddied their experiences. Some came in angry, unwilling to chuckle or even smile. Others arrived in varying stages of heartbreak and depression. They told themselves they wouldn't find any fun in the circus, predictions that tended to be self-fulfilling. You get what you expect, she told herself, unless you open your mind.
Involuntarily, she sighed. Open minds were growing harder and harder to find, not just inside the tent, but in her entire world. It seemed that everywhere she looked, there were pundits spouting barbed condemnations. People from the Middle East were terrorists. People of faith were opinionated fundamentalists. Homosexuals were bizarre contortions of nature, and if you didn't vote, you were a communist.
It wasn't only adults spewing hatred, either. The children of the closed-minded often grew with visions as narrow as those of their parents. This was obvious in no place more than high school, where bigoted teens were quick to cast their judgments upon classmates that were even the merest bit unusual. A friend of hers had been singled out for tucking his shirt in. Wary of this, she and Nat had tried to keep their love discreet, but the ever-sniffing nose of society found them, and exposed how different they were from the rest.
Though an autumn gust nipping at her bare arms and legs caused the girl to shiver in her costume, the thought of Natalie warmed her insides. Natalie had made her understand the feeling of love, not the petty high school drama of relationships around them. With Nat standing beside her the entire time, she had broken down the walls that had contained her and restrained her for so long. Natalie had helped set her free.
The tent roared with thunderous cheering as the ringmaster narrated the elephants' exit. Poised, the girl stood waiting for her cue. From within, the ringmaster's deep silky voice wove the girl's welcome, and she stepped into the humid tent to the gaze of a spotlight and the gracious applause of two thousand hands clapping.
Adrenaline, the nectar of courage and confidence, flooded her veins once again, and she boldly strode to the ladder.
The ringmaster's booming tone lent to the audience tales of the girl's achievements, grandly exaggerated in the traditional manner of the big top. His resounding bass voice painted pictures of death-defying leaps from canyon walls and mountain faces. The crowd, stupefied, listened with awe. They had no clue that the esteemed girl of these yarns, who was currently scaling the skyscraper of a ladder, had a home in the very city they were in.
Being with Natalie had brought the girl more in touch with herself. Soon, she found within herself talents, passions, and dreams she had never imagined she could have. She began playing the harp, something that she would not have been caught dead with a year ago. The local theatre troupe found itself visited by an eager, talented young woman. It was as if Natalie had unlocked a door the girl had never known existed. The summer of that year, the circus came to town. It set up in an abandoned industrial parking lot by the river, and everyone crossing the bridges saw it. The girl went to watch the first weekend it was performing, and was captivated. She found a magic world beneath the behemoth canvas tent, where gaiety was the norm and the impossible was regularly proved otherwise. After the final show, the girl, thanks to Nat's gentle persuasion, approached the ringmaster and asked if she could audition for a role. He had declined originally, but slowly gave in. The girl auditioned fantastically, and left with the circus for a year.
She reached the platform at the top of the ladder, towering so high above that she could barely discern faces in the audience. Slowly, she reached for and gripped the trapeze, with a silent acknowledgment that this could be the last time she ever did what she was about to do. She stepped to the edge of the platform.
Tomorrow, she would go back to school. Her senior year. She would face the taunting masses, and she would stand tall, proud of who she was and what she had done. The words of the narrow-minded were only that, words, and she was no longer afraid. She was who she was, and no one could take that from her.
She looked down at them. They gazed back up at her, ready to be blown away. All of the women, the men, the children, the elderly; all the blacks, the whites, the Hispanics and the Asians; all the lovers and the fighters; all the believers and the skeptics sat on the edges of their seats, elated, waiting for her to astonish them with the impossible. And there, in a corner, her beautiful face watching the girl's every move, radiating a warmth she could feel at the top of the ladder, was Natalie, waiting softly and patiently.
There's no secret about it-- I'm a solitary person. I don't hang out much with people. It's not that I don't like them, it's just that I like doing a lot of solitary things. Besides, I have probably the most boring house on the planet. There's nothing to do at my house. Ever.
But, indescribably, people show up at my house. Sometimes it's random and unexpected, other times it's something I know about beforehand. People show up, and we somehow find some way to pass time, in my dreary, boring house.
Inevitably, however, there comes a point where I have to show them the door. Things have wound down, there's nothing to do, and we're just shooting the wind. This is also about the time when I want to do something else, and go back to my solitary hidey-hole. It has nothing to do with the company, it's simply that it feels like much longer will just be awkward and tired.
This is where it falls apart.
I fail miserably at getting people to leave. There is no way I can see to politely ask, imply, or force them to get out of my house. Even a simple "Can you please leave?" sounds ungrateful, rude, and nasty. Dropping subtle hints is as offensive, if not more so, since I'm not even respectfully telling them face-to-face. I have no idea how to politely ask my friends to leave.
As a result, when I try, it's a bumbling mess. Those last few minutes are always full of awkward indignation, as if I'm intentionally snubbing people by asking them to leave. Even though I try to be as gracious as possible, it seems almost guaranteed that when I ask people to leave, there will be some bit of a clumsy, sour mood hanging over the doorstep.
What should I do? From a certain point of view, yeah, I'm being rude by asking people to leave when I want to do other things. Sure, I could understand that. But when I ask, it's usually not only because I want to do other things, it's because I feel things are going to start getting dull and awkward. Of course there are alternatives, things I could do instead of ask them to leave, but sometimes the alternatives aren't as appealing. Besides, I try my very hardest to ask in a non-abrasive, polite manner, though that rarely makes a difference.
I like people. Feel free-- to some extent-- to come over. But it is my space, so please don't be offended if I ask you to leave. It's nothing personal, I just don't want you here anymore.
Dang. I can see this getting more than a couple disagreeing comments, especially since I'm already on the moral low ground. The audience is already convinced I'm the antagonist.
Sometime during the last two weeks, I realized that I hold my pencil in a very strange way.
Everyone else holds it with the tips of both their index finger and thumb together on the pencil. For some reason, I nest my pencil in the "crook" of my hand, and use the lower part of my thumb, if any of it at all, along with my index finger to direct the pencil.
So, in case you haven't heard the latest, the RIAA decided the next bold, courageous move they'd make would be to sue a dead guy's family.
Sue a dead guy's family.
Honestly, who was the boardroom suit who made that decision? "Mr. Scantlebury has apparently deceased. However, we believe it is in our best interests to continue the lawsuit, though extending it to his family. That's okay, though, we'll give them two months to grieve, and them hit them in the face with reality again."
Do these people even have consciences?
Well, apparently some of them do, albeit slightly delayed. After 48 hours, the RIAA dropped the case.
"Out of an abundance of sensitivity, we have elected to drop this particular case." Right, the same abundance of sensitivity that was present 48 hours before that announcement, when they had full intentions of persevering. Why can't they honestly admit that they made a mistake without stroking their own egos?
Talk about bad PR.
When I learned about this last week, I began thinking. So, last night, as the group of volunteers from the drama camp sat in IHOP, half an hour past closing, I conducted an experiment. I asked every person at the table if they had ever pirated music. The definition of "piracy", according to the RIAA, includes "unauthorized duplication" of albums (y'know, burned CDs) and online piracy.
My results were rather astonishing, though they make a clear point.
Out of the 18 people present at the dinner, including 3 adults, all 18 admitted to piracy. 100%.
Granted, a sample size of 18%, where 83% of those polled are high school students, is not going to be very indicative of the general populace. Obviously. However, it says something very significant.
People share music. Why? Because music is a commodity to be enjoyed. Music has a deeply-set hold on our lives and hearts, and has had that for a long time. When we experience something we enjoy, being social creatures, we seek to share it.
The RIAA will not be able to catch every person who shares music. Neither will a government be successful in attempts to restrict file sharing. People will always slip through the cracks or work around the barriers placed in front of them.
Music is a right, not a privelege.
And no matter how many dead guys' families you sue, that will not change.