Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives

April 2005 Archives

Live on set!

This is coming to you live from the set of Tohubohu's film, which is tentatively named after Scott Andrew LaPera's "The Big Lie That Solves Everything".

Hint two on what we're up to – it's a new, postmodern spin on the genie's three wishes story. With luck we'll have something up for y'all to see this week over at!


Tohubohu rides again!

Tohubohu is once again in full effect, making two different (yet mildly interconnected) films for this year's 48 Hour Film Project in Washington, D.C. I'm here with my old partner-in-cinematic crime Bill Coughlan, and we're making a fantasy this time around with the requisite character a hypochondriac, the requisite prop a bottle of wine, and the requisite line, "It was like that when we got here!"

The story we're putting together now is really quite cool – almost Gaimanesque. I love this one. Stay tuned!


Finishing Season #3: Rob Warner Photo.

Third up in the launch list, fresh off the presses this afternoon, is Rob Warner Photography, a clean, sharp site for a Chicago photographer with a portfolio powered by Todd Dominey's SlideShowPro. Lots of Flash involved in this one, so heads up. Next!

Finishing Season #2: Levin Ginsburg Attorneys at Law.

This project, produced by Anne Gallagher at Extreme Marketing and designed by Maria Sitelis from Sitelis Design, is a very utilitarian but straightforward and elegant site for Levin Ginsburg: Attorneys at Law. This project's been a long time coming, but it's always cool to see a plan come together. (Thank you, Hannibal.)

Finishing Season #1: Tory Ross.

As I push these projects live, I'm going to throw links to them up here so you can see what I've been working on. First up, a nifty little Flash piece for one of our Sound Advice voiceover clients, Tory Ross. Check out the nifty zooming trick accomplished by a scaled motion-blurred Photoshop image bookended with non-blurred versions. Who says magicians never reveal how to do their tricks? ;-)

In the words of the Black Eyed Peas...

All right. I fly out of here and into DC tomorrow at noon. This means I have to finish up a whole pile of projects in the next 24 hours, then make a movie in the 48 after that.

In the words of the great Black Eyed Peas, "Let's get it started in here."

Watch this space for updates – they should start coming fast and furious here in the next couple of hours...

It's 4:30 A.M. on a Tuesday
It doesn't get much worse than this
In beds in little rooms in buildings in the middle of these lives
which are completely meaningless
Help me stay awake, I'm falling...
– Counting Crows, "Perfect Blue Buildings"

4:30 AM on a Thursday, actually, but close enough. Late night marathon email sessions are rough.


Bring on Adobe Flash MX 2006.

Dear sweet Jesus, if the Adobe-Macromedia merger means that Flash MX 2006 will support Photoshop-esque layer effects, I want it and I want it right now.

That is all.

From sThig: Basic Human Requirements.

The good Scott Thigpen provides yet another interesting life insight: Nineteen Basic Human Requirements. These are as follows:

  1. Connect emotionally
  2. Be vulnerable and share feelings
  3. Have an appropriate sense of power and assertiveness
  4. Say "NO"
  5. Have initiative and drive
  6. Have at least a minimal amount of organization
  7. Be real, but not perfect
  8. Accept imperfections and have grace and forgiveness
  9. Grieve
  10. Think for oneself and express one's opinions
  11. Learn and grow
  12. Take risks
  13. Grasp and use one's talents
  14. Be responsible and follow through
  15. Be free and not controlled by external or internal factors
  16. Be sexual
  17. Be spiritual
  18. Have a moral sense
  19. Have an intellectual life

I think I can safely say that some years of my life are more fully actualized than others. I'm currently trying to fill in some of the blanks in this list, but resource management for this kind of thing is, as always, a real challenge.



Have had this design for less than a week and I'm already tempted to chuck it out the window. Someday when I have time again (ha!).


The source of said charts.

I just realized that I neglected to link to where the aforementioned charts came from – they are implementations of the XML/SWF Charts widget from Truly excellent widgets, as widgets go.

Also, I've elected to try and do exercises one day and cardio the next, to attempt to give my legs and other muscles time to heal. I've included Friday on this week's schedule, but this seems to be unlikely to happen, as this Friday I'm flying down to DC for some Tohubohu mischief. More on that in the week ahead, I'm sure.

On exercise charts.

So in an effort to overcome this plateau I seem to have hit entirely too early in my exercise efforts, I'm adding charts to the new right-hand sidebar to track some additional statistics. I'll probably add two more here soon – caloric intake and current weight – but right now I need to get back to work on some client stuff I want to finish up before a meeting tomorrow night.

Oh, and I seem to have pissed off the Google gods. I'm not sure what happened -- if the ads don't reappear tomorrow, I'll ping them and find out if I broke something when adding this new code.

Finally, all of this tweaking has made me start to reconsider the way this page is laid out. It's starting to feel too cold and analytic. Hmm. I wonder what I can do about that.

Update: There, that helps. I've been thinking about adding a photo to the top of this page for a while, so this seemed like a good time for it. The shot above is an edited photo of Native American totem poles from The Field Museum, taken back in March when my friend Mike and his fiancee were visiting. I'll probably update this every so often as the urge strikes. Also, a quick nod to Tom Bridge, whose Tiki-head design is a distant cousin of my new friends. I put this together and thought, "Hmm, who does that remind me of?" Hey, Tom. Howyadoin? :)



So I finally bite the bullet and install Google AdSense on this page (the new "From Our Sponsors" bit in the upper right there) and now Google thinks I'm a teenage girl. Great. What, guys can't focus on their weight?

Hmm. I wonder if I can game the system here. Baseball basketball soccer football weightlifting Playboy grunt grunt grunt.

Let's see if that does anything.


Progress report.

It hasn't been a bad week – it hasn't been a great week, but it hasn't been a bad week. I'm finishing up a couple of gigs, leading off on a couple more, and still hitting the exercise bike with determined zeal. It's weird – remember what I wrote earlier about being more toned but not losing any more weight? The same thing has been going on this week. I'm noticing a perceivable change in my general outline, but the stats remain the same. My best hope here is that I'm gaining in muscle mass at the same time as I'm losing fat, so that eventually the numbers will reflect a drop, but if I wind up weighing what I weigh now and my BMI gets back to where it should be, then I guess I'll take that. :)


It's only Tuesday?

Boy, if every day this week turns out to be like yesterday I'd be finished with my entire to-do list on Friday. That would be good, because I'd also be dead.

One of the things they don't tell you when you go freelance is that, yeah, if you billed for a full 40 hours every week you could make some serious bank, but you really wind up billing for only about half to two-thirds of your time; the rest is spent on overhead, fielding emails, organizing stuff, and so on.

Yesterday I billed fourteen hours.

Think about that for a second, while I go take a nap.


More thoughts on Macrodobe.

Yeah, yeah, I know the resulting entity is going to be just 'Adobe', but 'Macrodobe' is fun to say. Anyway, I'm going to start adding links to who says what about this new development. Check back here as we go along.

Update: Added some more initial reactions. So far, 'shock and awe' pretty much sums it up. Now, back to your regularly scheduled link list...

And the official word:

Adobe + Macromedia?

Well, the entire blogosphere is going to be twittering about this for months: Adobe is buying Macromedia for $3.4 billion. This could be cool (think the Adobe Creative Suite with Flash and Dreamweaver instead of GoLive), or it could be the ultimate death knoll for Apple. If Apple continues to piss off Adobe with products like Final Cut Pro and iPhoto, what happens if Macrodobe yanks all its products from the platform?

More as this story develops. Over to you, Ted.

Risky behavior, continued part III.
This is the point in our narrative where my friendly competitor has the chance to catch up. Whereas Week One was fantastic, Week Two was a wash – no loss, no gain, which of course on a timetable means serious trouble. Week Two was sabotaged by going out to the Cubs game on Monday (which meant dining out for lunch), insane client workload and doing taxes (which meant lowered exercise time), and then hosting family visitors this weekend (which meant dining out for most meals on Thursday, Friday and Saturday). Further, Week Two saw the introduction of more weightlifting instead of the intense aerobic workout of crazy bike mileage, which means that while I'm more toned, I'm the same weight as I was before. Being toned is good (my arms and kiester feel great from biking and curls and so on), but what I really need is just to reduce all the extra me hanging around.

I'm getting a jump on Week Three, though. Taxes are done, the groundwork is laid for straightforward project grinding, and yesterday (Sunday) I did my personal best on the bike with fifty miles. Keep in mind that these are daily totals, as doing fifty miles at a stretch would probably make my knees fall off, but if you estimate that biking 10 miles per hour burns between 300 and 360 calories, then theoretically I burned between 1500 and 1800 calories today. That's huge, but it's going to be impossible to keep those numbers up – it's physically impossible for me to spend 4-5 hours on the bike everyday and still keep my client gigs (and everything else) going. Maybe if I designed some system to keep the bike in front of my desk... :(


Pixel fury.

I don't know if it's some sick kind of burnout or what, but today I keep trying to get into a couple different client gigs and I just keep getting frustrated. I finished up one little project and then went to go read a magazine for a while as a break, and when I set the magazine down I was relaxed, but as soon as I sat down in my chair and looked at the screen again I was angry.

I forget who it was that taught me that misery is the result of two conflicting desires, but this is a true thing. I get angry because I don't want to be trapped in front of this computer when there's so much else out there in the world to do, but then I need the money generated by being trapped in front of the computer. On top of that, a second conflict arises because I need to be working out instead of sitting here at this computer, because this week was a complete and total wash for the diet, due to eating out several times and spending my time on taxes and client gigs and family visits instead of working out as much as I should have been. A tertiary conflict appears because I'm hungry, but I can't eat what I want because I need to be losing weight. See? A whole list of conflicts causing problems.

I have yet to reach the balance I'm attempting to attain through my optimization exercises, this much is clear. Someday. For right now, I'd settle for some relief from the Pavolvian conditioning I seem to be suffering every time I sit down at the keyboard. Good grief.


Done and done!

Today I learned a valuable lesson – don't do your taxes at four in the morning. When I went back over them this afternoon, I discovered I'd deducted my laptop twice (oops) and not taken the full deduction on my new desktop machine, which made a huge difference on my bottom line. Mercifully, it was a drop in the money I owed The Man. Huzzah!

In any case, everything's finished, the check's in the mail and I can now get back to client work and hanging out with my mom and my grandma, who are both in town this weekend to attend some antique... Botanical... Thing. Basically there's some big antique fair going down in the Chicago Botanical Gardens, a combination which will no doubt be catnip to my mom. Ah, well, it should be fun. If I tag along, I'll upload some pictures sometime this weekend.


Hot diggety dog, do I feel like crap. Last night I got home late, intending to do my taxes, when I discovered that my Quicken register and my Excel spreadsheet and my receipt envelopes weren't playing nice with each other – so instead of actually doing calculations in TurboTax, I wound up spending another night surrounded by piles of little strips of paper and pounding upon the number keys of my laptop with great vengeance. My original intent was to go to bed at midnight, but when I finished 'syncing' my registers it was 2AM. So I grunted, closed the laptop and went into bed. Ah, what fools these mortals be. After lying there awake for a few minutes, I got back up, marched back out to the living room and fetched my PowerBook, then lay in bed doing my taxes until 4:45 AM. Then – then! – I closed the 'Book again, swearing to rise in the morning and double-check for the errors that a man doth make in the wee wee hours of the morning, and lay there for a while listening to the birdies chirp outside my window. Eventually the waves of sleep mercifully washed over me, and I conked out as the roar of traffic out on Western began to grow.

When I awoke, the sky was bright and the traffic was quieter. "Aha," thought I, "I have slept for a good six to eight hours and it is now sometime in the late morning. Time to carpe me some diem and make up for lost time!" I summoned my energy and threw off the covers, wide awake and raring to go.

Guess what time it was.

That's right. 8 oh-frickin'-clock.

Say it ain't so, Jim. Say it ain't so.


We can rebuild him...

So after a long hiatus stemming directly from a massive issue with Movable Type (apparently you can't backup a MT install, delete it and then copy it back up again – d'oh!) I'm rebuilding Ken's weblog, The Thin Guy Diaries. His blog suffers from all the same "damn, gotta fix that"s as mine, such as the comment templates, the archives, and a bunch of other stuff, but I'll probably tackle those this weekend after taxes and visiting relatives and client stuff is all taken care of. One thing at a time here, people.

Anyway, the testing URL is, which will probably revert to its normal address early next week, gods of the Interweb willing. Apologies for the long silence, buddy – we'll get you back up and running bigger, faster and stronger than ever here ASAP.

(Oh, and I'm not kidding about 'bigger, faster and stronger' – I'm adding in support so we can track his upcoming shows, added in a sideblog like mine, and built in new support for as well, and the comments are back to boot. See? Progress!)


Risky behavior, continued part II.
A quick update to this project. I've been measuring my weight every day, but there are some wide variations in numbers, which makes me wonder if my scale isn't hosed. There has to be something bizarre going on here, because there's a variation of three pounds between this morning and Friday morning, which is impossible. I'm happy because this morning's measurement was the best one to date, and is actually ahead of schedule (down 5.5 puonds instead of the hoped-for 4.3), but this still offends my scientific sensibilities.

Now playing: Sin City and Sahara

Anyway. This weekend I went and caught both Sin City and Sahara, which were both a lot of fun. Sin City was an experience, because when the film starts, it takes a little while to adjust your expectations. At first there's a knee-jerk reaction to how stylized it is, and how riddled with cliches and odd poetic twists the dialogue can be, but before long your mind gets into the rhythm and it becomes one helluva ride.

As for Sahara, it was a blast. A lot of the reviews out there accuse it of having an overly complicated plot for an action-adventure movie, but I say we need as many complicated plots in movies as possible. Matthew McConaughey was clearly having a great time while making it, which infuses Sahara with the same degree of silly joy as Ocean's 11 and Ocean's 12. The added hotness of Penelope Cruz and the offbeat goofiness of Steve Zahn made this one of my favorite cinematic rides of a while. It's great fun in a similar vein to the Indiana Jones movies, but what it lacks is the occasional gravitas of Harrison Ford; even when Matthew McConaughey is being serious he's still more lighthearted than Junior.

Take me out to the ballgame

Today, though, I'm knocking another item off the list of things I want to do before I leave Chicago – the good Mr. Schultz and I are going to catch the Cubs game this afternoon. I'm seriously looking forward to this – I haven't been to a baseball game in years, and going to a Cubs game with Ken is going to be like going out to dinner at fancy restaurant with Jamie Oliver. Go Cubbies!

Aside from that, things out here are chugging along pretty well. This is going to be an interesting week workwise, but I'm feeling pretty upbeat about it. God bless Spring – it couldn't have come at a better time!


Slow Sunday.

I have a million things to do right now. I have more than enough client work to fill out the week, I need to finish up my taxes, I need to do stuff to get ready for school, I have work to do on the new Inkblots, but right now it's 77 degrees in Chicago, beautiful, sunny, and I just want to lay in the sun. Yay Springtime!

Oh, and FWIW – Andy and I spent the majority of yesterday trying to get a fresh install of MT 3.15 up and running on our server and it didn't take. We think Nick needs to throw a switch on the backend. So it's coming, but it's going a lot slower than I'd expected.


New Rule.

If you call me, leave a voicemail. Especially if you don't have caller ID. And especially if I happen to be sleeping at the time. Jesus.


Things are looking up.

I've whacked that last post because it was just whiny, and because things are looking up since then. The business partner that was headed out on vacation called me back and laid the groundwork for me to keep hammering while she's gone, which is awesome, I got an email from a new potential client which could be excellent, and now I'm sitting in a coffeehouse in Evanston relaxing a little.

The biggest thing, though, is that I bit the bullet and went out and bought that Treo 650 I've been eyeing for months. It's sitting here next to me now, and I'm scouring the web for all the additional stuff I'm going to need. The first thing I've discovered is that the call quality on this sucker is marginal, but there's a ROM update I need to install which should help with that -- plus, I have every intention of using the Bluetooth headset I just ordered instead of holding a bloody great PDA to my jaw every time I have to answer a call. I am Geoffrey of Borg. Pleased to meet ya.

I'm also a little mortified by the sheer wiredness of my setup right now. I have my iPod jacked into my PowerBook, recharging, and the headphones jacked into the 'Book as well. I also have the smartphone plugged into the wall, as is the 'Book. This is really damn geeky. I'm going to have to figure out a better system for all this stuff, I can tell.

I've actually been thinking a lot about this lately -- what it means to be a geek in the 21st century, and how such an existence can be tempered, improved. I'm always going to be wired, but how does one live the wired life without being, well, a geek? I mean, there are aspects of being a geek which are good – intelligence, independent thought – but there are also aspects which make me as a designer shudder. A stereotypical geek lacks social skills, fashion sense and personal hygiene. Paris Hilton packs a fair degree of hardware, but no one thinks of her as a geek per se, because she does just fine in these three arenas (and she fails miserably in the 'intelligence' and 'independent thought' arenas, but I digress).

Hmmm. I wonder if I could pen a 'designer eye for the geek guy' article for Inkblots. There are certainly things that a geek can do to improve one's image which could bridge both worlds, right?



I see a trend emerging here.

So I'm following the Abs Diet, ah, diet – three small-to-medium meals with three snacks in-between, and this seems to be working fairly well. I've also been doing a crazy amount of cardio – I put in 40 miles on the bike today, one ten-mile stint this morning before breakfast, another ten-miler after I came home from the day's main work, and then another twenty during and after The West Wing. I think I'm also dropping weight, but I'm not sure if the reported losses on the scale in the morning are really trustworthy, or if they're just natural physical variations from day-to-day. I weighed myself this morning and I'd definitely dropped since Monday, but I'm expecting to try that again tomorrow and not see any variation, or even a gain.

That said, if you figure biking 10 miles per hour burns 6-7 calories per minute, which is about what I was doing (and yes, I spent about 4 hours today on the bike), that means that I burned between 1440 and and 1680 calories, which translates into a little less than half a pound (3500 calories). Let's see if I can keep this up, though.


Risky behavior, continued.

So The Race to Negative Thirty is still in full effect. Today I did 25 miles on the bike and a great deal of walking, which doesn't really enter into my daily routine as much, so I think I'll count that as the missing 10 miles on The Bike. I also did some flys, crunches and what I believe are called overhead hammer curls, which absolutely kill when you do them with 20 pound dumbbells instead of 10 pound dumbbells. Irritatingly, I weighed myself again and I am convinced that there is something screwy with my scale, or else I fluctuate a full 1.5 pounds from one hour of the day to another. That's a little creepy, actually, although not at all outside the realm of possibility. I believe that what I'll have to do is set up a recurring appointment on my day planner to weigh myself at the same time every day/week in order to maintain some degree of scientific consistency. My friends who are actually scientists are out there snickering right now, I can tell – the irony is not lost on me that I'll be earning an MS instead of an MA, believe me.

The walking today was done primarily at the mall, while waiting on a friend whom I had taken to the dentist across the street. I went looking for clothes, but it's dawned on me that I shouldn't go clothes shopping yet, as any XLs I buy will need to be Ls if this experiment works (or Ls as Ms, etc.). That's a limitation I can deal with.

When I came home, I turned for inspiration to my old photo album from my days spent at The University of Exeter. I flipped through page after page of photos from Venice, Rome, Paris, London – all of these wonderful places, with the faces peering back of a thinner, more youthful me and at least two people that I don't talk to anymore, one of whom because she turned cold right before her wedding (interesting side effect, IMHO) and the other because I've completely lost her contact information. If you read this, Jordan, drop me a line?

In effect, this experiment is part of an effort to reboot my system, if you will, and try and wipe out the damage from the last – Jesus – 7-8 years. I've learned a lot in that time, but a good chunk of that is stuff I wish I hadn't. I've made some staggering mistakes, trusted some people that I really shouldn't have, and you can see it when you compare those photographs from 1999 to ones from 2005. I've also done some great things, don't get me wrong, but when I'm sitting down and thinking, "Okay, man, who do you want to be in six months? A year? Five years?" I find myself thinking that at least some of the answers to my problems – or leads on those answers – are actually to be found in the past. The key is to learn from those mistakes and, instead of dwelling on who I'm not, build on who I am. (Well, build on everything but the waistline, I guess.)

Anyway, I need to make a late-night run to the 24-hour Dominick's for fish and bananas and other diet chow. Onward!


Oh, yeah. It's on.

35 miles on the exercise bike today. I can't wait to see how rubbery my legs are tomorrow.


That tears it – the risky behavior starts now.
So this weekend I went out on a date – two, actually – and while I had a great time, for various reasons I had the point driven home that I really, really need to get serious about my plans for Spring Training. Namely, I need to peel off the thirty extra pounds that have managed to snake their way onto my ass in the last eighteen months or so. Further, the five-year reunion for my college class is coming up in eight weeks, and I'd like to be back down to my fighting weight for that as well.

Tonight I made a challenge with one of my classmates – The Race to Negative Thirty is on. To your right you will find a graph charting the necessary decline in poundage that would have to be achieved for the next eight weeks. According to The Abs Diet losing thirty pounds in six weeks is possible, but I remain skeptical. I'm not going to go on another one of those stupid Atkins/South Beach diets, because the last time I went on one of those I lost some weight but also turned into The Incredible Hulk – for some reason, a huge protein injection also resulted in a massive testosterone boost, which then in turn made me irritable and, well, roaring. I'm man enough without turning into Mr. Hyde, thanks. I like the Abs Diet because they basically say, "Eat right, exercise more, and by the time you can see your abs you'll have lost a bunch of flab everywhere else." I like to call it the 'No Duh Diet'.

Every Monday for the next eight weeks I'm going to post my progress in the form of an updated version of this graph. It won't be available in the archives, since I'm not sure I want this misadventure to haunt my future, but it'll be up here for y'all to taunt and mock at your leisure. The way I see it, I'm going to use the boost in my self-confidence from recent events to help drive this experiment – if I can get into M.I.T., I can do anything.