Monthly Archives: August 2004

Olympics, genetics, and giving everything you have

More Olympics this weekend. First the U.S. basketball team, ahead most of the game and playing well, then losing in the last few minutes. Next, the women’s marathon, the heartbreak for England’s Paula Radcliffe as she couldn’t finish the race after leading the runners for the first dozen miles, then the come-from-behind bronze metal finish for the U.S.’s Deena Kastor.

Last week, Matt Haughey wrote about the genetic lottery:

“Every sport favors genetics to some extent, but I’ve always discounted them and held that anyone of any shape could rise towards the top if they trained hard enough. But at the absolute upper reaches of a sport, falling outside the norm becomes a liability and when the margin of error grows thin, you’re going to fall behind the best.”

I always think of Gattaca. Sure it’s fiction, but I think there’s some real truth to it — the power of the human spirit. The two brothers are far out in the water, and Anton asks Jerome how is he doing it, how can he swim further and do these great things when he is genetically inferior and all stats point to a heart that is long overdue for beating its last. The answer: “You wanted to know how I did it? That’s how I did it, Anton. I never saved anything for the swim back.”

Give it your all this week.

Lowercase web

Wired News will no longer capitalize internet, web, or net:

“But in the case of internet, web and net, a change in our house style was necessary to put into perspective what the internet is: another medium for delivering and receiving information. That it transformed human communication is beyond dispute. But no more so than moveable type did in its day. Or the radio. Or television.”

This is a good thing. Years ago, I remember arguing quite passionately with People Who Had Some Kind of Related College Degree that “web” should not be capitalized. I lost that battle, and have since occasionally capitalized it myself, for conformity’s sake.

Television feature request

I rarely watch TV anymore. When I do, like for the ongoing Olympics coverage, I quickly become frustrated with commercials (especially those not appropriate for 4 year olds, even if the main show is). I want a “visual mute” feature for my television. One click on the remote kills the sound and dims the picture, down to 15% or so. Forget high-definition, how about something I can use? (Patent pending.)

Timing notes

timing post-it I sometimes work on my animated film late at night, when the family is long asleep and I’ve worked enough in the day that I can’t stand the sight of a keyboard or mouse. Unfortunately in those times, I also can’t seem to draw anything worth saving, or muster the effort to start a new scene. Rather than stare at a stack of blank punched paper, I look at thumbnail drawings, think a little bit, and then come away with something like this image.

It has been said many times before, that animation is all about timing. Look no further than Flash web cartoons. More than half are crudely drawn and so limited as to make the Flintstones look like full animation. But when they work, it’s because the creator had some knack for timing, and pulled some small acting miracle out of the spacing, replaying and tweaking it again and again on the Flash timeline.

Traditional animators, by comparison, have it a little tougher. Some investment must be placed in the hand drawings before taking the stack of 50 or more sheets to pencil test under a video camera. So we scribble in the margins, plan it out, and hope for the best.

High School Reunion

Saturday night was my 10-year high school reunion (more specifically the Anderson High School reunion class of 1994 from Austin, which I say only for Google’s reference, even if it dates me). As recent as two months ago I had considered not attending, but I ended up having a really good time, more than I ever thought I would. It was great to see everyone.

I took some pictures. Only a handful came out, so my apologies to everyone who will only remain a blurry image in my copy of iPhoto. Perhaps that’s for the best. But I’ve posted the better ones here with brief annotations for anyone who was at the event. Most of the time I forgot I had the camera with me. (Whoops.)

Luckily I didn’t show up alone, so the nervousness and “I don’t belong here” feeling that I was bracing for was diminished. Afterwards, though, came a sort of melancholy that I did not expect, a vague emotional conflict between the few folks I’ll see again and the larger number that I probably won’t. Five minutes of conversation over drinks is not an adequate way to catch up on 10 years. Truthfully, I share more in common with some of them now than I do the people I see on a more regular basis. All Sunday I found myself thinking about it, and just sort of marveling at how our lives diverge and then criss-cross again, and how that same web is played out on a larger scale for everyone we meet.