Tuesday, February 26, 2008, posted by Q6 at 8:14 PM
My fiancee and I spent some time today with the wedding invitation person, and after dancing around cost issues and such, we finally decided upon something that wasn't as expensive as it could have been, was a little more expensive than we wanted it to be, and was exactly what we wanted.

At one point, we were looking over samples looking for a graphic to offset the type. (There are a LOT of leaves, seashells, and flowers in there.) Being a minimalist, I was looking for a simple, nondescript shape--something like the airholes in a violin. (I had actually created a little logo for all my handouts back when I was teaching. It never caught on, but I liked the idea of a "corporate logo" on my work.) Later in the evening, I thought of something really cool from an 80s movie that might have worked.

Something I noticed about John Hughes films (back in the greatest decade that ever was) was in the marketing campaigns--specifically, the movie posters. I don't know if Hughes himself had anything to do with it, but three of his movies--three of my favorites--had little stylized logos. "The Breakfast Club", for example:

"TBC," for the title of the movie. What its meaning or purpose is I don't know; it didn;t appear in the movie's titles or anything. It was just a symbol, a "movie rune," if you will. There's one on the poster for "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", as well:
(The logo in the corner is, again, the acronym for the title.) I wish that one was more clear, but you get the idea. I can't seem to find a hi-res photo of the movie poster for "Some Kind of Wonderful" anywhere, but if you ever come across one look here:
The acronym logo again. Like I said, it's just a little symbolic accent. And it's just such an accent that made me think of John Hughes movies while I was looking for a graphic for the wedding invitations. One other Hughes film* had one, this time much more prominent in the poster:

Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity. (But the little swirl we chose for the invitations looks good, too.)

* This symbolic line is from the ad campaign for "She's Having A Baby"--my fiancee isn't, so don't read anything into it.
, posted by Q6 at 8:06 PM
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Monday, February 25, 2008, posted by Q6 at 11:20 PM
After putting my son to bed tonight, I sat down and started writing. I actually started writing. I've been warned off treating this like some sort of pivitol moment in human history (even though it feels like exactly that), so I'll be brief. It's only four and a half handwritten pages--I'm doing this old school for now--but it's the biggest step I've taken yet. It's going the way I want it to, the flow of the story, I mean. Some of the actual writing is crap, and it doesn't really read like me, but I can go back and edit that later. For now, I'm going to keep going, little by little, until I have the flow of the story down pat. I'll go back and fix the language later.

But it's started, so I'm happy.
Saturday, February 23, 2008, posted by Q6 at 10:28 PM
I had this weird thing happen tonight, and it was mentally exhausting. I've been trying to get started on this book I want to write--a fiction piece--and I just haven't found the time to go through the process (which is to write and write and write and whittle thousands of words of crap into a coherent paragraph, then do it all over again). It's a task I keep dancing around but never seem to land on.

Tonight my brain used its down time to land on a completely different idea. I didn't give it much serious consideration until, about five minutes later, I had a brilliant setup for another book. For years now, people close to me (who have heard stories of the weird path that has been my life for almost 40 years) have suggested that I write my autobiography. Me, I don't think it's nearly interesting enough to sustain a reader's interest--though to be fair, I suppose a lot of that would depend on how it was written. Over the following 30 minutes, I developed the idea to the point where it had successfully jumped three hurdles: it would act as an autobiography, it would be written in first person (something I've been struggling with about the other book), and it would be presented as a fiction piece. It got to the point where I was writing it out loud with no end in sight. In the end, I had to seriously change gears, get something to eat, and turn on the TV in an attempt to shut my brain up. Creative overload can sometimes be a bad thing--it felt bad, anyway--but the results were nice.

So now I've got this decision to make: do I (a) shelve this for later and stick to my first novel idea, (b) shelve my original brainchild and try my hand at this, or (c) keep dancing around both ideas and never get a word down on paper?

Friday, February 22, 2008, posted by Q6 at 10:16 PM
Want to do it right? Turn Valentine's Day into a week-long vacation and leave the state.

My fiancee and I did exactly that last week: we took the week-long school vacation and went to Sedona, Arizona (thanks to a gift from her aunt--use of her timeshare). It's the first major vacation we've taken together, it's the first vacation I've had in a very long time, and it was a vacation without either of the kids.*

Sedona is something of a tourist trap, but it's peaceful. Lots of restaurants, LOTS of art galleries, and some of the most beautiful red landscape I've ever seen. We spent time reading, catching up on season three of "Slings & Arrows," and going for little five-mile hikes. (I had planned to do some writing as well, but I couldn't get into the mindset for it--again.) It was a wonderful vacation, the first of what I hope will be many. You'll pardon me if I bring out a minature version of my slideshow.

This is Bell Rock. Obviously, it looks like a bell--but the round parts on each side quickly earned it the nickname "Muffin Mountain" from my fiancee and me. We walked around it on one of our hikes, shot a lot of pictures, and got our shoes dusty. Should anyone in the Arizona State Park Service ask, our initials are not written on this rock--that was done by two people with the same initials as us. Honest.

Courthouse Butte sits next to Bell Rock, and we actually walked around both of them on that first hike. (My fiancee got very tired of me referring to this as Ming's Palace, even though it looked like a very forbidding evil fortress.) You probably can't tell from the photo, but this thing is huge. And beautiful.

There's a chapel here--the Chapel of the Holy Cross--that's built right into the rock formation. Not a big place, but very elegant and serene. (No, this isn't a postcard--I took this picture.)

In the rock formation right behind the chapel is a bit that look's like an eagle's head. Nature has its way of being cool.

We also visited the nearby town of Jerome, which is an old mining town. Quite a few shops, lots of old buildings, and a "ghost town" which is really little more than a junkyard with an admission fee. The best part of that excursion, to be honest, was the Douglas House, a mansion of yesteryear converted into a museum of the town's mining history. (I like museums.) The relics of the town were fascinating, and I learned some stuff about rocks.

5.09 grams/centimeter3 -- The Bornite Density.

The art galleries were really eclectic and diverse. This gallery had all kinds of sculpture, including the Shiny Horse. Another had all kinds of stuff made of glass, some of which reminded us a lot of Chihuly's work.

All this natural beauty . . . and this dude's taking my picture. Go figure.

It was a great vacation: peace and quiet, no work (no Internet at all, in fact, for a full week), some beautiful country, and a beautiful companion. I could get used to traveling after we get married.

* My fifteen-year-old son stayed with his best friend and their family, with tons and tons of my gratitude. He seemed to keep everything together, checked on the house, kept the dog and the snake alive and happy, and managed to sneak away once to visit his she's-not-being-called-that-but-she-is-the girlfriend--certainly the subject of some future blog post.
Thursday, February 14, 2008, posted by Q6 at 9:53 PM
And the Wedding plans continue . . .

We did our Engagement "Photo Shoot" and got the pictures back (proofs via an online gallery). The photographer we're using--Luminaire Images--is truly remarkable. My fiancee and I are two people who don't think we look all that good in photos, so we were pleasantly surprised to see how good they came out. We'll be using one shot for wallet-sized invitation inserts, another for a display photo at the wedding, and another for an 11x14 canvas print (we had the option to use the display photo as a "sign the matte around the picture" thing, but I think we're going to use a traditional guestbook instead). So, photographer: check.

Now we're dealing with invitations, which is really more or a headache than I thought it would be. Style-wise, we're somewhat limited by budget. Budget-wise, we're just limited. The most recent estimate came in at almost $10.00 per invitation (we need something like 50), and made us take a very serious look at Evite. We looked online at some of the order-on-the-Internet stuff, and saw some nice invitation styles, but nothing that made us drool all over the keyboard. So, invitations: pending.
Sunday, February 10, 2008, posted by Q6 at 9:48 PM
Once the new school semester started, my son went missing. Since the beginning of February I've instead been living with a kid who is no longer flunking History (he received a B on his first big test of the Spring semester), who is doing better in Math (one of the only few As on the first test), and is paying more attention to note-taking and the like (for now, anyway). This new young man is eating less than the last one did, by almost half. And this new kid seems to be spending more time with friends (male and female) and less with his TV.

So if you happen to know the whereabouts of his room's previous tenant, well . . . just make sure someone takes good care of him. I'm gonna hang on to this new kid for as long as possible.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008, posted by Q6 at 11:28 PM
I've had a truly weird experience this evening.

It wasn't an easy day at work, and I've got a "thing" going on between me and my son (my fiancee is involved as well) that isn't going so well, either. After everything quieted down, I spent some time unwinding on the computer. This includes the weekly download of free songs on iTunes. I also peruse the available music, though I don't have the funds to purchase everything I want (why can't students give iTunes cards at Christmas instead of Starbucks cards?).

And it's usually the 80s songs I look at. It's the music I grew up with, the music that represents the fond memories I have of my childhood. No matter what I went through back then--and some of it was pretty bad--I've always looked back with a strong fondness for those times. Working with students, I've come to two conclusions: (a) many of these kids don't know how good they have it, being young; (b) I look back knowing full well how good I had it, and how fun it was. There was a time when I believed that going to heaven meant spending eternity reliving my junior high school years; I don't believe that anymore, since doing so would mean going without my kids, my fiancee, and all the good things that have come since then. If anything, my hope is that heaven is an amalgam of all these things.

But tonight was weird. I found three 80s songs by different artists, each of which were staples on the radio, constants at school dances and house parties, and which more or less defined that decade for me. (They, with other songs, are, quite simply, the soundtrack of my teenhood.) I listened to these three songs (the preview bits, anyway) and they carried with them memories of the past. Images, people, conversations, fashions, and experiences began to wash over me at a pace over which I had no control, forcing themselves into my consciousness. It affected me physically. For several minutes, I was actually nauseous. The memories were that strong.

It is possible, apparently, to overdose on nostalgia.
Monday, February 04, 2008, posted by Q6 at 10:08 PM
In my life, the "things" usually only break for me. My iPod crashed during a software upload, and I couldn't get it started again. ("Hold down the Select and Menu buttons at the same time," various websites said. Nothing.) So my son and I go to the "Genius Bar" at the Apple Store, and while we're waiting for the next available PhD in Music Player Mechanics, we see various things on the plasma screens on the wall, including the Select/Menu button trick. My son asked me if I'd tried that, and I explained that it didn't do anything for me. "See?" I asked, and demonstrated by holding down the two buttons.

At which point, naturally, Percy wakes up.

I explained everything to the Genius (a very cool guy named Steve), and he explained that software hiccups aren't unusual, but aren't frequent or fatal. He went ahead and restored the iPod anyway, just to be safe. I took it home, synced it to my iTunes, and all is right with the world.*

*There is still something of a little glitch--when the iPod goes unplayed for five minutes it emits this terrible (but not terribly loud) white noise. I'm not going to make a big deal of it, since it's really not that big of a deal.