Do You Have Any Hope……..?

Colbert: “Do you have any hope tonight for the people out there, about how we could be a better country, we could have better race relations, we could have better politics?”
 
Coates: “No”
—————————————-
I hang my head a little after hearing that, having had similar thoughts over the last few month.
 
America has had a funny habit of moving the goal posts, or changing the rules of the game, in order to maintain the only balance of power it’s ever known. It’s something I had assigned to the past, thinking the America I grew up in would never cheat, lie, and steal the way it once did; it had learned; it knew better, and it had evolved into a more just and transparent democracy that would not let itself fail as it had in the past.
I was wrong.
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America – A Land Founded on Protest

This country, its flag, and our military is strong enough to withstand being questioned and criticized; even disrespected if you decide to frame it that way. I find it offensive that anyone would think less of our country’s strength and resilience, and choose to put symbols of America over the needs and cries of its citizens. The people are what make this the country that it is. Without them, the US is nothing but another rock sticking out of the ocean; the flag is nothing more than cloth; songs cannot be sung; even the Constitution is nothing more than paper and ink without its people to enact and abide.

John Adams envisioned “a government of laws and not of men.”

Unequal application of the law betrays that very notion. Everyone should be up in arms – not about the anthem or kneeling – but the betrayal by our fellow man of one of our core tenants; that all men are created equal.

I will not dismiss the collective experience of some 46 million fellow Americans when they protest unfair and unequal treatment by our police, by our justice system –

By OUR government.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said – “Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for rights.”

This country was founded on protest. Protest is not what will bring harm to this country. Blind loyalty to a flag and a song – at the expense of your fellow Americans – can and will harm us all.

Not quite a year…

….between posts.  I think that’s a win?

Anywho, I’ve been keeping busy.  A second kiddo means I have less time than ever, but I still need to have my creative outlets.  Recently I’ve taken to social media-ing, broadening my horizons.

Instagram hosts pictures of cars that I’ve taken:

#ferrari #modena360 #challengestradale #scuderia #supercars #sportscars #racecars #scuderiaferrari #360modena

A post shared by Chris – (@ragingpandabear) on

The devil is in the details. #bmw #m4 #f82 #sportscar #eurocar #tunercars #mcar #bmwmotorsport

A post shared by Chris – (@ragingpandabear) on

 

I’ve tried to continue writing as well. This time I partnered up with my friend Dan and we’ve started a website called Unique Drops. I’ve always loved digging into niche and subgenres, so we’ve taken the approach of trying to cover the societal impacts that games have, and tell some individual’s stories within the community and industry.

 

 

It’s certainly a part time thing, but I hope to keep sharpening skills (that I may or may not have, admittedly) and it’s fun at the very least.

 

Saturday mornings in Redmond – the place to be to see exotic machinery

Exotics at Redmond Town Center

If you live in or are visiting the Seattle area, Redmond Town Center is the place you want to visit on Saturday mornings.

Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Mustang, Camaro, Porsche. Any Number of M cars, S cars; loud, fast and cool cars. Classic muscle, super cars and modern hyper cars all make their way over.

It’s actually one of the best atmospheres I’ve been around when it comes to car people. Most are quite inviting and would love to strike up a conversation about their customized ZR-1, their favorite model of Citroen or the home made aluminum porsche-esque roaster they showed up in with a Oldsmobile 4 cylinder 2.3 Quad 4 attached to a porsche transaxle (highlight of the day for me).

I put together this short video with some of the nicer shots I took – music props to my cousin Mark.

Meet the Games

I wasn’t kidding about the project stuff!  In addition to the Dad duties bestowed on me, I’ve tried to scratch the creative itch I was getting doing video work, and here we are.

The story starts with a few friends of mine have endeavored over the last few years with their podcast Infinite Lives.

A few months back, Dan and I discussed the potential for a project involving some studio work to compliment and help expand the media footprint for the group – and here we are with “Meet the Games.”

The format is intended to be something akin to “At the Movies” with Siskel and Ebert.  The intent isn’t to review games in full, rather it’s a brief impression the guys get from a week or two of playing and a suggestion of who may or may not like the game and if they think it’s worth a purchase.

Here is the result:

The plan is to make this a regular thing, but also add in some other concepts.

The “studio” is a spare bedroom in my house with a set I put together to block a window.  Acoustics aren’t ideal, but we do what we can.

I’ve upgraded my D3100 to a D5200 – the camera is noticeably faster and the tilt screen is a huge plus.  I haven’t had a chance to test out how much better the sensor is at preventing the wobblies when you move around, but it’s nice to know it’s supposed to be better.

In order to try and be faux-pro, I’ve invested heavily into a cheap Amazon CFL light kit (2800 watts in 3 lightboxes with stands).  I must say I’m pretty satisfied with it.  I’ve used it for this project as well as a DIY photo booth I setup for a birthday party and while it doesn’t travel easily, it does travel.  I’m still trying to figure out the best setup for our studio lighting, but it’s always a work in progress.

Audio is still something we’re trying to figure out – Ep01 used 2 Audio-Technica ATR3350 into a Zoom H4 that’s routed into the camera.  Ep02 used an ebay special $14 shotgun mic into the H4 that’s again routed into the camera.  I’m not satisfied with either one, but I’ll continue on and see what other options I have or if I could just use my tools better.  I’ve tried cutting down on echo by hanging a comforter behind me, I’m not really sure if it was helpful or not, but I’ll keep trying things.

Anywho, it’s a fun project that I’m happy to be a part of.  I love video games, I enjoy the creativity that video work provides from set design, lighting, framing, recording and editing, and it’s always fun to work with and help your friends out.  Here’s to hoping the internet keeps watching and reading this stuff.

Road Trip – My Attempt at Making a Film

So my latest endeavor (or hobby depending on how your look at my serial hobby trail) is videography.  Working with an older Nikon D3100 (I already had a good number of lenses due to my D70 photography work) I put together this short film that I submitted to the Jalopnik Film Festival.  I wasn’t picked to feature in the show, but it was a fun project that I hope to continue working on.

My cousin helped me out with some filming and put together the music, I did a bit of the filming and editing.

Well, it’s been a while huh?

Dang. November 2012 was my last post.

So a couple things have changed since then – all for the better, but lots and lots of changes.

I had just gotten married July 2012, and to that point, it was the biggest change to my life since I graduated high school – so 8 years or so of relatively stable arrangements. Moving apartments here and there, but really no massive changes other than the scenery.

And to say getting married was much of a change is being pretty generous. I had been with my wife (then girlfriend/fiancee) for 10 years (I’m a slow mover), so the “change” was more in the nature of paperwork and procedure rather than actually being life-altering.

With that said, these last 24 months have been nothing but a string of massive life changes.

I got a new job.
I tried to go back to college.
I bought a house.
I renovated said house over a 6 month period (unskilled labor mostly, skilled labor made it look good).
I had a kid.

Yeah, like the cherry on a sundae of changes, we topped it all off with a little human.

So with all that, it’s not quite a coincidence that the blog has been slightly neglected over the last 20 months or so.

So why now Chris? Why come back to write things on the net?

I had originally created this little slice of the interwebs for myself with the aim of helping me improve my writing – whether mission accomplished or not is debatable. Within those 8 stable years, I had tried and failed more than a few times to forge a creative streak in myself that would allow me to sustain a living wage without living like an artist.

That is to say, my girlfriend (now wife) wouldn’t put up with me not carrying my weight and not be a contributing member of society (mostly in the monetary sense).

I’ve tried blogging pro-am (meaning it didn’t go anywhere and I never got paid), I designed and printed tshirts (which I gave away after I decided I didn’t want to deal with taxes and stuff at that point), I’ve tried some photography (who hasn’t?).

All of those exercises were actually fun for me, but really didn’t end up going anywhere at the time. Still, the ability to enjoy myself creating is what really drove those interests and in that sense, it was a success.

After the last 20 months or so, I’ve had the opportunity to try a few other things that I didn’t get a chance to document and I think this might be a good place to do that. There are a few other things I’m taking a shot at; I’m trying out videography, exploring woodworking and furniture design, event planning, and potentially creating a business leveraging my passion for automobiles and helping those who aren’t quite as vehicularly inclined.

It’s more of the same really – give it a go and see where the chips land – but I’m pretty happy to have experienced it all and hope I can find a way to reincorporate that into my writings here.

So, cheers. To life, moving forward, and the unknown. To the continued exploration of the human condition, as narrated by a man who uses the pen name of a enraged monochromatic bear.