progbear: Major-General Progbear (Default)
Self-portrait from the Marin Headlands, between Sausalito and Tennessee Valley:

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So it’s officially official: I will be working at Mt. Tamalpais State Park this season. Met up with M___ and we did the “walkthrough” of the place where I’ll be living. I say “walkthrough” in quotes because it’s just a small RV, with barely enough room for walking. There also seems to be an issue with the water, so there’s even more of a reminder of my years at Big Basin. It’s OK, I have a few other irons in the fire right now, and am hoping that I’ll finally get a full-time position this year.

Crossed the straits over to the surplus store in Vallejo to get a new pair of uniform pants. My uniform allowance finally showed up, and I used the sunny weather today as an excuse to make the trip. Also combed the thrift stores there, wound up coming back empty handed on that front.

Did I tell you I found a CED player? The store I bought it at, surprisingly, didn’t have any discs* so I had no way of testing it. I found a disc of Semi-Tough elsewhere, but the test is still...inconclusive. The disc emerged from the player BROKEN, so whether it was the player’s fault or the disc was that way to begin with (it was in pretty sad shape!) is yet to be determined. I need to find a way to get into this thing all the way; the compartment on top (to replace the stylus) opens, but it looks like the actual lid is held on with hex bolts on the underside. I’m guessing RCA really didn’t want users trying to service these things!

*I say “surprisingly” because usually when people unload these things, they also drop off their entire video collection, which means a huge stack of CED video discs.
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from Berkeley’s Urban Ore. I generally disapprove of mirror photos—especially with such an ugly, marred-up mirror—but I wanted to show off the new Nexus 5 and its snazzy new orange case:

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There’s a new employment opportunity coming up, and I’m going for it. It requires travelling to Folsom. That’s, like, three weeks away, though. Two weeks and I have a new co-worker; G______, who is returning to the park after a seasonal break. I still have yet to meet him, but he’s the brother of M_______.

Definitely taking advantage of any advancement, though. I like working in the park, but this work is getting a bit repetitious. I feel like I’ve done all I can as a seasonal maintenance aide, and the time has come to move on to more challenging work.

I forgot to link you to my recent cooking videos!

Mike Makes Macaroni & Cheese Pizza
Mike Makes Thrifty Tetrazzini (the [livejournal.com profile] vintage_ads community gets a shout out)
progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
Self-portrait from Berkeley Espresso. I think this is as close to a decent self-portrait as I’m going to manage this week. That’ll teach me to wait till the last second:

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Unusual week. Wound up travelling to Fairfax to do my laundry instead of the miserable laundromat in Santa Venetia next to the 7-11. And am I glad I did! Not only is there a much nicer clientele (no powdered goop in the machines’ drawers, no gaggles of screaming kids scurrying around like rats) but it’s far cheaper! 75¢ to dry a load of clothes! And free wi-fi! And I don’t have to worry about that horrible parking lot where I nearly always have an accident! Sure, it’s a slightly longer drive, but it’s so totally worth it. I’ll be back.

[livejournal.com profile] albadger and [livejournal.com profile] bigjohnsf chose to meet me at the laundromat of all places. We wound up dining at the pizza place a few doors down. It was like Improv Comedy pizza as we all shouted out random toppings:

  • Applewood bacon!

  • Roasted leeks!

  • Avocado!


  • As it turns out, it was the best pizza I’d had in a very long time. I’ll be back here, too!

    Replaced the needle on the MCS 6603 record player Al gave me and it sounds great. Through headphones or speakers, anyway. For whatever reason, when I attempt a digital transfer, it comes through sounding saturated and thin. I don’t know what I can do about this, as it seems to be an issue with my laptop’s crappy sound card. I’ll keep fiddling with it and hope I can find a cure. In the meantime, the old Realistic turntable got dumped at Goodwill. It’s served me well these past *ahem!* years, but really, good riddance.

    Maybe exciting news on the Confirmed Bachelors front, but it’s still too early to say. Maybe exciting news on the video front in general, but I’m a bit antsy about talking about it until I’ve really done something. We’ll see...
    progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
    Self-portrait from Santa Margarita Island Preserve in San Rafael:

     photo IMG_20160521_174052_zpspnadm0zt.jpg


    So I discovered this little park when I was waiting for laundry to dry. Who knew it was walking distance from the laundromat?

    Not as “exciting” a week as last week. The camp showers were fixed and while there were events at the group picnic site, there didn’t seem to be a a booze theme, which is a relief. The only thing notable was the amount of trash generated, probably as there were an unusual amount of visitors to the campground.

    I made a video, which not many people saw, as I seem to have set it friends-only at first. I fixed the error!
    progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
    Self-portrait from Berkeley’s Bangkok Thai:

     photo IMG_20160506_200126_zpswdscy9ss.jpg


    Came here for an early birthday dinner with friends [livejournal.com profile] bigjohnsf, Jim Billy, Seph and Ian. John sprang for ice cream after. I also got some birthday cake...sort of. M______, my roommate/co-worker, bought a chocolate cake for his girlfriend’s birthday and offered some to me. He didn’t even know it was my birthday too!

    There seem to be other job opportunities in my future. A co-worker asked for my e-mail, and she sent me news on openings in other districts. Also, I’m on the lookout for local CPR/First Aid classes. Not only will that look good on a résumé/application, but it will be attractive to EBRPD the next time they have an opening.

    Keep on the lookout for the new Confirmed Bachelors promo coming soon. In the meantime, there’s this.
    progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
    Self-portrait from San Rafael’s Aroma Café:

     photo IMG_20160501_183015_zpsrhx4yanw.jpg


    Exciting week! We had to remove a dangling branch from the fire road passing through the campground. It was high enough in the tree that no tool we had would work, so we had to tie a ratchet wrench to a length of rope and fling it over and over until it caught on the right branch.

    Saturday was my first day ALL ALONE in the park, meaning I was the only maintenance staff on duty. So, of course, this business with the dangerous branch happens on this day! The VS guys’ temporary solution was to cordon off the area with A-frames and caution tape.

    Videos will be resuming shortly. I have a couple of Vlogs prepared (one with another Confirmed Bachelors mini-promo attached; no singing or clunky piano playing this time, though) and have the first draft of a script for another proper CB promotional mini-sode written. More to come, so watch this space.
    progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
    Self-portrait from Big Basin’s Silver Falls:

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    The 28th was my last day in park housing. It was supposed to be the 27th, but a [former] co-worker informed me it was meant to be Free State Park day, and thus trying to move and battle crazy throngs people slamming the day-use kiosk was not something I wanted to deal with. I opted to stay over an extra day. I spent my additional day avoiding the park entirely and visiting Santa Cruz.

    The rest of the week was all about hiking. I started by taking a trip out to Henry Coe (as detailed in last week’s post) and ended with a rough trip out to Maple Falls in The Forest of Nisene Marks north of Aptos. In between, it was all Big Basin, including an extremely wet trip to the legendary waterfalls of Berry Creek (see above, also this video) and a trip up to Ocean View Summit then back down the Hollow Tree Trail. I’d say I hiked something like 35-40 miles last week, the most miles I’ve logged in quite a while. And it seems like I’m in better shape than I was in 1999, as I was a lot less sore than the last time I went out to Berry Creek Falls.

    Also, spent the last hours of my park housing shooting videos. Including a new channel trailer and a new Confirmed Bachelors promo mini-sode (really, more of a skit, but still...).

    I know it was lonely out at Big Basin, but I’m really going to miss it. Still, I need to move on. So, we’ll see where 2016 takes me...
    progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
    Latest promotional mini-sode! Please watch and share with your friends!

    progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
    Self-portrait from atop Vollmer Peak. Sorry about the angle (i.e.: no cool vista behind me), but I was a thrall to the sun’s angle:

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    Got some hiking in on my days off, as you can see. Though it was so hot, I think merely existing got me some cardio! Looking out the window of the library and seeing the cool, gray, I can’t believe it was over 100°F earlier this week. Others want the warmer weather and they can have it. I thrive in cooler weather like this.

    For those who haven’t seen it yet, I have finally posted the Confirmed Bachelors promo video that I promised. There’s an outtakes reel up now as well.
    progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
    Another self-portrait from between the park housing and the trail camp:

     photo CAM01338_zpscu1vqjdc.jpg


    Bad news first: I’m really feeling the pinch this month, money-wise. I was rather profligate during my too-brief vacation, in a month with a big car insurance payment, no less. And rent went up this month. Ugh!

    But let’s not concentrate on the negative. On the plus side, it’s Labor Day. Actually, it’s after Labor Day! Meaning we’re past the peak season at the park. Meaning we maintenance folk can do actual maintenance instead of just cleaning restrooms all day! T__ and I went out in the Gator today to do some post-lunch clean-up, and if you could have heard the cheer we let out as we saw the gate to a particularly loathsome campground shut with a sign on it reading “CLOSED FOR SEASON,” you too would have been cheered. I suggested breaking out the champagne.

    Strangest thing I’ve said in a while: “This toilet brush looks like Liza Minnelli’s hair.” Cruel, yet true.

    And the good news just keeps on a-comin’! Finished shooting the Confirmed Bachelors promo video, and I’m roughly half-way through the editing process. If I’m very diligent, I might be able to post it as soon as tomorrow! It’ll be up later this week for sure. And let me tell you how much it delights me to see characters I’ve been writing about for months finally come to life, even if it is just me playing both parts on a spare “set” and skeletal costumes. In the meantime, my latest Vlog:

    progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
    Self-portrait from just outside of park housing:

     photo CAM01326_zpsebmmrnnj.jpg


    Exciting developments RE: Confirmed Bachelors. I’m so close to getting the promotional video up! I’m going to try to shoot some of it later tonight. Hopefully it should be up by at least Labor Day. Watch this space!

    Not really a lot else to report here. With school resumed, the season at work is already beginning to wind down, with fewer campers and day-use visitors alike. Labor Day will kind of be our last hurrah, and campgrounds will gradually be closed one by one. I intend to apply to other organizations as the season winds down, to get my name out there. Not sure when the last day of my season will be, though my supervisor did say he wants to keep me for the full nine months, so it’s looking like I’ll be down here until December.
    progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
    Self-portrait, après-swim, from the shores of the South Yuba River:

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    Took a few days off work this week. Went up to the South Yuba River to take advantage of the world-class swimming holes. Seriously: if you like swimming and you’ve never been, you need to go at least once in your life. Got a teeny bit sunburned on my upper back but nothing too terrible. Wound up meeting up with [livejournal.com profile] 2ndbanana & Bob in Sacramento at...a pool party. That’s right, after I went swimming, I went swimming some more! I was determined to cram as much fun into my mini-vacationette as possible!

    It was about 9:45 when I finally left Sacramento. The thermometer on my car read 88°F. How do these people live?

    Oh, and my latest Vlog:



    Back to work today. My glasses broke again. Just before leaving for work. As my temporary solution was to rubber-band them to my head, my co-worker M____ took pity on me and helped me fasten the earpiece together with some first-aid tape. I really wish I had my vintage specs handy.
    progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
    Self-portrait from Acacia Walk in the Berkeley Hills:

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    I’d write about the latest on Confirmed Bachelors, but I’d rather just show you. Also includes my latest thrift store find:



    Work has been hellish. I’d go into details, but I think I’d rather just forget most of it. Saturday, in particular, was extremely stressful. I’m taking a few days off next week. I think I’ve earned it.
    progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
    So...I don’t know if anyone has been following my Vlog series on Youtube, but here’s the latest news:



    I don’t know, maybe I can only concentrate on one creative project at a time. But I know that Confirmed Bachelors is the way to the future, not more tired internet movie reviews.
    progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
    This week’s self-portrait from the streets of San Francisco:

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    As you can see from the above image, I turned up at Dore Alley. Too late to have fun or anything, but I was there. Lesson learned: don’t bother unless you have the day off and can show up when people are still around.

    Progress on Confirmed Bachelors is happening in exciting ways. More episode ideas, including some partially-written stuff and a tentative episode guide. I’ll be making a new update video soon, so watch my video page, and I’m making tentative plans for concept art for a new FB page for the series proper. Also working on a promo video with me playing both Charlie and Oliver. More on these things as they develop.

    Finished playing though the entirety of my collection this week (more or less randomly). It went like this:

  • First song played: “Bang, en boomerang” by Svenne & Lotta, 9/3/2014, 7:43 PM

  • First album played: Aftenlandet & Regnbuefuglen by Anders Koppel, 9/3/2014 7:46 PM

  • Last song played: “Sì” by Gigliola Cinquetti, 7/25/2015, 1:52 AM

  • Last album played: Duke by Genesis, 7/25/2015, 12:32 AM


  • Funnily enough, with the new playlist started, Aftenlandet & Regnbuefuglen was the fifth album played! Anders Koppel was the keyboard player from the Danish band Savage Rose, and this 1977 album is the soundtrack to a Danish film called Aftenlandet (English title: Evening Land). From IMDB: “Made with a cast of 192 non-professional actors, Evening Land continues to explore the form of fictional documentary intervening polemically into a period of intense debates about the media, worker militancy, terrorism and the anti-nuclear movement.” Sounds very 1970s and very Danish. Amazingly, the soundtrack album is now on Spotify!
    progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
    Self-portrait from the Union City civic center area:

     photo CAM01294_zpswa82m2xz.jpg


    Jeez, this week couldn’t end soon enough! Crazy busy week at work, it was like a holiday weekend without the holiday. We were short-staffed on Monday, so T__ and I wound up working 45 minutes over. Also, N___ and I left early on Saturday to carpool up to Napa to take an aptitude test for [undisclosed State job]. Seven hours of driving for half an hour of filling in circles with #2 pencil. On top of all that, it was hellishly hot for most of the week. Doesn’t do much for my energy when working, especially when working my butt off.

    I did get copious amounts of work on Confirmed Bachelors. I haven’t been this excited about a project in a while. Currently working on a funny little promotional video in which I play both of the main characters. More on that as it develops, until then, there’s this:

    progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
    Self-portrait from El Cerrito’s Fairmont Park, under BART tracks:

     photo CAM01051_zpsebd567b3.jpg


    Took Chester out for his first wash last week. Amazingly, that didn’t bring the much-needed rain. Rather less amazingly, he’s already filthy a week later.

    Had an odd thrift store experience this week. I spotted a VHS tape I wanted for *ahem* selfish reasons. But I really ought to have looked at the tape more closely, as it turned out to be not the tape I was looking for, but another video in the same series. Acting on a hunch, I returned the next day, and checked the video whose box was of the video I had. Sure enough, it contained the video I wanted. I wound up paying twice what I wanted but fortunately, these were thrift store prices, so it was not an expensive lesson. But always check the inside before you buy!
    progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
    Because you guys deserve an image of me at work, a photo taken at the bench next to the service dock at Ayala Cove:

     photo CAM00276_zps5f2c2f4e.jpg


    All good things must come to an end and so it is also with my seasonal work on Angel Island. I knew it was coming, just not so soon: the 31st is my last day. I can reapply in February for the next season (and even check out what other State Parks have positions open then) but in the meantime I need to find interim work. I do have unemployment to fall back on but I don’t want to get too used to not working; as history has proven, that’s dangerous for me. I should probably call M_____ at Manpower™, who called me twice for job offers while I was working. Hopefully she won’t think I’m like the Boy Who Cried Wolf.

    So sorry for the outstanding gap in Movie Explorer reviews but on top of work fatigue, internet has been down at home for over a week now. It should be back up within the week so I’ll at least be able to upload it...assuming it will be ready this week. Progress has been glacial. Each night, I think, “Tonight, I’m going to really buckle down and get some serious editing d—Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....” And right after the Blipocalypse; my show was saved when so many others lost theirs. Ben Minotte, the talented creator of The Oddity Archive, got the chop. I’m feeling serious survivor’s guilt, as I think his show is a lot more unique and imformative than mine. He’s still going on Youtube, though, check out his channel. I highly recommend it.
    progbear: Major-General Progbear (My handlebar)
    This week’s self-portrait taken in front of the water feature at the Bridgewater apartment complex in Emeryville:

     photo IMG_1280_zps28b4008d.jpg


    For several reasons, the new Movie Explorer review is going to be delayed a bit. Another Aural Report will be in the pipeline instead. Incidentally, I recently got access to a couple of boxes of tapes that had been in storage for a year or two, so I’m slowly digitizing those for future review fodder. And I neglected to mention the haul of free videotapes I found at the El Cerrito recycling center, including a few rare movies and some vintage 1988-1997 commercial breaks. Oh, and [livejournal.com profile] albadger (happy birthday!) and I watched a couple of future Fairy Tale Matinée subjects on Friday. But more than that I cannot say.

    Something technological seems to be changing for me this coming week. And I have an interesting job prospect on the horizon. I don’t quite want to talk about either development yet until we get more...um...development. Watch this space.
    progbear: Major-General Progbear (Default)
    This week’s self-portrait from Kennedy Grove. As you can tell, I got sucked into the whole Dolly Madison Hostess-mania:

    Zinger Zapper


    I hadn’t planned on joining in the Hostess madness, but I saw a single package of chocolate Zingers™ at the convenience store I stopped into, so on an impulse I bought it. (I also noted there were still tons of the raspberry Zingers left, more or less proving my hypothesis that no one likes the raspberry ones.) Is it the last package of Zingers I shall ever enjoy? Well, Dolly Madison was “rescued” by Hostess back in the day, and Mother’s Cookies were revived by...someone, so who knows? In the meantime, roll your own.

    My big project for the week was to get new video editing software. I was sick of my videos looking as though they were made on Windows Movie Maker (because they totally were). It was a project I entered with some trepidation, as I seriously did not want to suffer “buyer’s remorse.” So after researching the subject, I asked [livejournal.com profile] albadger to meet me in Concord where we dined on Vietnamese food before popping into Frys to get said software.

    Well, what can I say? Buyer’s remorse? There is none! I definitely made the right choice. The only problem is the one I knew I was going to have: adjustment. The new Movie Explorer video is all shot and I have all of the raw materials* but I’m still feeling my way around the new controls. Stuff that was easy on...that old software I won’t mention again is not necessarily so easy on the new one. There was a certain amount of frustration in the sense of “Why do they have to make this so complicated? I just want to move the overlay over there! I just want to make the audio fade out!” But there’s always a learning curve with new stuff like this. And it’s a relief to be able to do all this on a single piece of software (to do image overlays before, I needed to transcode a file, open Virtualdub, do the overlay in a process that’s far too complex to go into here, transcode the file again so I could use it in WMM), and use the raw files from the camera rather than transcoding them and have WMM squash and compress the hell out of them.

    I don’t know for sure what my plans for Thanksgiving are, but Liz has invited Carol and me up for “non-Thanksgiving dinner” at her place on Wednesday, so there is that. There is the possibility of a camping trip over the weekend but I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll be going.

    *except for a voice I asked a friend to e-mail me, which he’s still yet to do. Probably busy. I’m gonna ask someone else and hope I don’t need to do it myself, as I’m already playing four (technically eight, as I’m also voicing Oscar’s four unseen children) recurring characters on this show, I’d like a little diversity.

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