When the going gets tough…

OK, this title came to mind, and immediately I remembered a song from the soundtrack of the 80’s movie “The Jewel of the Nile” (which was an awful sequel to a better movie called “Romancing The Stone”) by Billy Ocean that was not too bad, and the video was not bad… until… they decided to get the actors from the movie to cameo on the video. Watching Danny De Vito pretending to play a sax as big as he is it’s cringe-inducing. if you care to see it, here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-n3sUWR4FV4

Anywoo, vito-sax I always liked that phrase. My mother, bless her heart, talks to me on the phone everyday because she knows I feel sleepy at the wheel during my 66 mile commute to work. I do it mostly because she is almost 80, and one day she will not be around anymore to talk, so I do it while I can. She worries about me juggling so many things at once, like work full time, then school full time, and of course the responsibilities of a family man. But I laugh and reminds her that I might not be a young pup anymore but I sure enough had it worst before.

My first job was as a paperboy and my bike broke one week into it, but I did not quit. I did my route full of hills on foot, carrying the newspapers over my head. It would take me hours, even though it was almost for free because the newspaper managers were into a scheme that allowed them to keep most of the money and have us work for almost nothing, but we didn’t know any better. So I treated this job with responsibility and an ethic that has followed me to this day. I wake up early to do my job, and I do it as best as I can. And on top of that I had to go to school too, and I was not too much into school until I was on grade 11th, but I still went. On foot, because my family did not own a car. Never did.

I never got a bike from my mom, because she was afraid I might get hurt. But I did get it myself, and although I had no money, I managed to have 7 bikes within a year after I got my first, because I will find broken bikes and fix them. The ones that were not fixable I sold in pieces. Then when I was on my senior year… that’s when life got complicated: I got a real job on an Sbarro pizza eatery (where they treated me like an animal) but at least I had money, I was still on foot until more than a year after I got the job so I spent my senior year hoping on buses from home to school in another town and then to work, hop on a bus or walk over 3 miles to work and then walk around 3 miles back home around 11pm because there were no more buses anymore… just to get up at 5am next day and do it all over again. And I did not think much of it, because I didn’t know any other way.

So yeah, I know how to have it real bad, but that only makes me stronger. Reading CODE the first time is like reading Chinese, and English not being my native language doesn’t help things, especially when I don’t get things the first time and it makes me look (and feel) like a damn idiot. But why do I do this? I have a “good” job, were I can just stay until the day I retire, but I know one thing: I DID NOT come to this planet to pay taxes and then die. I will be almost 50 by the time I finally break free from my dead end job, but I am doing it, because you only have one life to live. And my story will not end up as the one of “could had been a great graphic artist/cartoonist/film maker/advertising man/web designer/coder.” NO. I am attacking this head on like it’s a hapless seal in the middle of the ocean.

Because that’s what we sharks do, dammit.

shark

 

 

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Happy Accidents

Oh, hi there!

I had been working real hard the last couple of days on my Web Design class. I have to say that I had enjoyed every single class so far, and this one it’s no exception.

The last couple of days I had been stressing over the making of a webpage. Even though I erased all of my Social Media Apps and my games in the hopes of concentrating more on my classes, I still feel kinda lost, BUT I am getting there. Nowadays when I have a minute to spare I use one of the fantastic SoloLearn apps to teach myself code. I think that I have a bright future on that particular thing, but I also want to concentrate on the ART of design, film, animation, etc.

Tonight I had been following a project for my class from a book called AGAINST THE CLOCK, which it was so confusing to me that I felt like I was reading Chinese, but I am getting there. After a not-so-successful attempt to do this as a group with a fellow student, I found that I did it way faster on my own. As soon as my friend left, a happy accident happened. The Dreamweaver program quit on me, so I have to start from scratch, which was the second time I did so because we used the wrong files at first. But that was a good thing because by going over and over again I GRASPED THE CONCEPT BETTER, and although the whole concept has not jelled quite right in  my brain yet, I am getting there.

So here at home, while listening to some Right Said Fred and some Lorde, I started from scratch again and now I am way more confident than when I started. I even messed around with the website I need to present tomorrow, I wish I had attacked the project earlier so it would not look like a tribute to the AOL times. But hey, it will be FUNCTIONAL, and that is progress. I am PAUSING, not quitting, for now because it is almost 2am and I have class at 9 today. Then off to my dead end job for the last 15 years, which will not be for much longer. I have a goal, and it is to break free from that Dog and Pony show as soon as I can. And I will prevail.

Pfff, have you ever seen a shark quit? Of course not. See you on the flipside.

 

Miguel

 

 

(You might be asking…. What’s the deal with this guy and sharks?

Well, allow me to tell you. In 1975 my mom had the brilliant idea of taking me to see JAWS on the big screen. I was so traumatized afterwards that even a drawing of a shark of any kind will shake me to the core. One day I realized that the only way that I was going to conquer that phobia was to learn from it. So I educated myself about sharks and I know more stuff about it that your regular Joe. But the real test was to confront the monster. So in 1998 I drove 12 hours from NC to FL to go to the Universal Studios Jaws ride and I was SHAKING on the cue, especially because the freaking Jaws theme was playing aloud the whole time.

I almost quit, but I was having my wife taping the whole thing and I drove for so many hours and I would not quit. The moment I sat on that boat I felt horrible, and the second that I saw that dorsal fin I covered my eyes and suddenly I was that 5yr old kid hiding behind the movie theater seat. But I knew that I only needed to see one thing: His DEATH. And I sure did… and the moment I saw the monster in flames and sinking, I felt free. I still have an occasional jump scare with a vid or a pic but for the most part I’m ok. Am I ready to  jump on a cage with them in the open sea? Hell no. I don’t even thing I could see a live one right in front of me.

But I do admire his attitude, his determination, his power… and that’s why I call Great White Sharks my spirit animals. They never stop, they never quit… and neither do I.

Such a majestic beast! )

 

 

You’re going to need a bigger boat. 

I knew that at one point or the other I would feel overwhelmed by all the things that I have to balance in my life. School is not a curve ball in my life, unless you substitute the ball with a meteor… anyhow, THIS is the one week I’m kinda lost. And by Kinda I mean REALLY lost. I have to turn in a 5 page website by Tuesday the 21st. Well, right now is 2:55 of Monday the 20th. And I am still nibbling on the details of how can I use Dreamweaver, do HTML CODE and CSS. And not only that, it’s my First page ever, and it has to be 5 pages worth of Copyright law. No pressure, right?

To top it all off, I’m at work 66 miles away from home, and it’s foggy. Actually, the worst fog that I had ever seen. So my idea of rushing home and sleep some, then wake up around noon and go full hog on this it’s now compromised by how quick I can go home today. All the odds are against me.

***AND I LOVE IT***. 

What, you thought I was whining and making excuses? Hell no! I am against the ropes but I am a fighter, always been, and I work better when the clock is ticking. My only real fear is that I do such a great job for a first try that people will think that I cheated. But this is not about another A on my grade book, or to brag about it. Graphic arts are in my blood and Web Design is my golden ticket out of my Smoke-And-Mirrors of a job. 

I am a 🦈 shark 🦈, and we have something in common. We go full speed ahead towards our prey and we never, ever stop until we get our prey. Sharks don’t quit. Sharks are fearless, determined, decisive, and aggressive towards their goal. 

I am a Shark. 

HTML Does not stand for “Hot Tamales, Margarita, lemon”…

I remember when I was a wee lad back in the 90{s, just joined the ARMY and 2 years later I got married. That same year I acquired my first computer. We are talking about the days of AOL, people… with just a local line to connect. My Modem was like 14kb. But that annoying sound tasted like glory, because it meant that you were connected to this new window to the world.

And boy, it was a world. It would be mediocre to the eyes of anyone born after 2000, because there was no social media, no MP3s, no iPhone, no YouTube… Having a page was so rare that it was kinda fancy to see a company having one. I remember seeing on a POPS box “LOOK! We are on the web.” and I thought that it was the coolest thing. It took the world by a storm. It is unbelievable for me that not even 20 years ago I only have CD’s, records and TAPES to listen to music. People who saw the potential for business made a fortune, on a bubble that later popped rather violently.

I used to be an early adopter (when I was single… and I only have to worry about myself) so I was on my second computer before people even got their first one. More than that, I BUILD that sucker. Speed was an issue, and I always wanted more. I’m very grateful for High Speed Internet!

But the funny thing is, I always wanted to program my own stuff, and even went to school for it but studying online back in the day was about the hardest thing to do. With the speeds available, it will take you a whole day to search between Yahoo and Ask Jeeves for your answers. They showed me how to build a page but honestly I had never typed a line of code before, we did it by using a Microsoft Office program and then send it to our teacher on an email or hand carry it on a FLOPPY DISK so HE could upload it to the web himself. So it was nothing like this.

I love HTML, I feel it intuitive, I still have a lot to learn but I learn by DOING, you can talk to me all you want but the real way for me to grasp concepts are by rolling my sleeves and getting down to business.

Here is my first successful attempt at code:

my-first-working-page

Today I copied almost line by line a code given at school. I changed the text that you read, but the core of the webpage, the skeleton of it, was on that paper and I need to keep doing those so I can have those “hum….” and “a-ha!” moments and eventually I learn to navigate those like a map… without looking at a map, because I know the road.

Did it changed the world? You bet. Not only the world, but us too. And I feel right now this same big eyed wonder I felt the first time I saw yahoo on a big clunky PC. Coding is my Train ticket out of Slaveville.

You watch.

Of Spline and Nurbs…

I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but it happens to me often: I’m taking some kind of test and just as I say to myself “man, this is as easy as pie” the laws of Jinx kick in and suddenly I’m struggling. It happens to me often. Had you ever watch the movie “License to drive”? Les (Corey Haim, RIP) is taking a drivers license test and just as he thinks “this is too easy, why don’t you just give me my license” the test becomes very difficult. That sets the course for the whole movie, that I recommend you to watch. (Matter of fact, here is the link: https://youtu.be/xaUa0O6pF5o ). 

Well now. Back to topic. I knew that working full time 66 miles away from home AND going to college was going to be a challenge, but I know I can manage. This week I’m tired, and although I have a lot of homework and stuff to do, I feel like falling sleep pretty much all of the time. You know you are in need of rest when you drink an X-Large coffee on the road and still feel sleepy, and then go to sleep right away.

Well, such a situation is taking mental clarity and energy away. But you know what? I’m gonna do great still. So far I had passed all my classes with an A, and I will keep doing that. At least until March, when VA stop my Tuition Assistance and I will literally run out of money. What will happen then? No idea. For now, I can only concentrate on what is in front of me, and that is Digital Animation. 

I always wanted to be an animator. I’m a huge Mickey Mouse fan (did I mention that I can do his voice fairly well?) and of Walt Disney. Now this is the chance. And while I would just go blank faced if you ask me to define a “nurb” or a “spline” in my own words, I know that I have the talent and imagination to do this, dammit. You can give anyone the best painting kit and ask for a Picasso or to paint a Monalisa, but if the talent is not there, no paint kit will solve that. I had seen people with expensive instruments and they cannot play, and I had seen virtuosos making great music out of trash can lids and household objects. When the talent is there, is there; the rest is just technical stuff. 

So although I might feel sluggish at grasping this or that concept, I am confident that I will not only learn and eventually master it, but also create something great with it.

You watch.

The Enemy Within 

Sometimes I say that the only one person I trust is the Man in the Mirror. But that is the same man that tells me that we are going to start diet and exercise on Monday and he lies. It’s not happening. 

The man in the mirror is a wicked one. He whispers on my ear that I need to buy gear to make movies, and materials to make muppets, but then after I buy the stuff he switches gears and convinces me that today is not a good day. “You are tired. You need to rest. That green screen project? Do it some other time, that’s a lot of work and you will be exhausted by the time you are done setting it up, and you still have to pack it back, then deal with the movie editing….”

The point is, I had come to realize that I’m my worst critic and my worse advisor. That freezes me motionless, to the point that I bought the green screen equipment 1 or 2 weeks before September and most of it it’s still in the boxes.

Will my graphic design/animator/voice over/movie editor/Muppeteer end up being sabotaged by the man in the mirror? 

Time will tell. 

Bright day Preeper

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You know about Doomsday Preppers, right?

Yeah, those weirdos that stockpile on food and supplies in preparation of an imminent collapse of civilization as we know it? Well, turns out that they are really not that weird after all…

I mean, digging in your patio to build a whole house underground with enough applesauce to feed the children of your grandchildren is kinda loony. But being prepared for something that you think is imminent isn’t. As you may or may not recall from a past post that I made while in the middle of a Hurricane down here in Sunny Central Florida, I was nervous because I was unprepared. So what we are talking about today is PREPARATION. And I learned while in the Military that you cannot be too prepared.

A month or so before I even knew that I was going back to college I played a lottery ticket, and hit it with almost $300. I wanted to do something I always dreamt of. So, I went online and bought a Green Screen studio kit, complete with lights and all. Then I felt the itch to do puppets again, I used to do them as a kid and I knew I would enjoy that. But then, after buying a lot of stuff (some of it, like beeswax) that I don’t even remember their purpose, I decided to go back to school and finally get into the thing I know I was born to do. (Since I was a kid I remember delighting my family with jokes, and with my puppets!! I saw a puppeteer on a TV show and I cannot explain this but I, as such a short age, figured out how to do these puppets. Kudos to my MOM, because even though we were always broke she didn’t even hesitated to buy me the things that I, with zero experience, required for my project. She also got some of my drawings to a freakin’ exhibition, in an actual museum, for crying out loud… ) I had been a student for a couple of months now, and it has been challenging, but rewarding. I work very far away from my house, and even college is a good half an hour away or more from home. So…

The filming and puppet stuff has been put on hold. I really don’t have the time or the energy. But like a good prepper, I know that you cannot wait until the storm is near to prepare yourself. For that reason, the other day I decided to invest in my future and buy some more equipment. I got myself a Wacom intuos comic tablet; a freakin’ Nikon D3300 camera bundle that I looked for like a needle in a haystack all week long, and a drawing kit, shown below. But why?

tucanWHY? Because I think that the second half of my life is gonna be really different, that’s why. And that I am the only one who can drive myself into the direction that I always wanted to go. I used to talk about things that hold me back, but the thing that holds me back the most is the Man in the Mirror. I am inspired by guys like Stan Lee, who is almost 100yrs old and it’s still doing his thing. If I live to be 90… that means that half of my life is already gone. So I have to start doing this thing. Now. Look at Leslie Jones, for example. A couple of years ago, no one really knew her. Now she is know all around the world. As a ghostbuster, no less. And yes, I liked that movie.

So yeah, I’m stockpiling. The time will come were I will be able to do commercials, movies, comics… As any prepper will tell you, you have no idea, really, when will the thing that you feel is gonna happen will finally happen.

But when it does, we will be ready.

m.a.