Tuesday, August 23, 2005

5 Men...

I don't know how long this link will be active, but I highly recommend downloading the QuickTime video at the link below...

Brilliant intro for the Hollywood Reporter Key Art Awards

As a movie buff, it had me smiling!

Thanks to Dean for the link!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Slow and steady...

As I was out running errands on Saturday, I saw what I thought to be man playing with his radio-controlled toy. Sure enough he was out there again on Sunday, only this time I got a better look and it definitely wasn't a toy on the sidewalk...

Tortoise Walking Photo 01
A nice long sidewalk is the perfect place to stretch the ol' legs.

That's right. It's a man taking his pet tortoise for a walk. Hey, they need exercise too right? A perfect time to do so while we're having beautifully warm temperatures (finally) in Edmonton. I stopped by with my digital camera to talk to owner Jeff Billyard about the fascinating scene and learn more about his pet.

Tortoise Walking Photo 02
Easily mistaken for a radio-controlled car from a distance.

Jeff, who graciously took a portion of his time (the tortoise wasn't racing away anywhere), told me that 'Franklin' is a 3-year-old African Spur Tortoise (or Geochelone sulcata as it's known in scientific terminology) and that he's cared for Franklin since he was smaller than the palm of his hand. Though, he wasn't a cheap purchase, Jeff and his family consider 'Franklin' to be an excellent value for a pet, who will probably live longer than most of us. Apparently, Tortoises can live an average of 60-80 years, with some living over the ripe age of 100! Astoundingly, he already weighs in at around 25 pounds but can grow up to 200!

Purchased at a city pet store, Franklin is a treasured member of the family, attracting interest from all who see the pair. Jeff said he doesn't mind the company of strangers when he's taking Franklin for a walk, and educates the guests on the difference between a tortoise and a turtle. He finds it relaxing to take Franklin for a walk after a tough day at work.

Tortoise Walking Photo 03
What some of the local (and puzzled) dogs saw.

Surprisingly, Franklin moves quite fast. Not as speedy as an average dog or cat, but at the pace of a smaller canine. He had already moved forward several feet before my camera had a chance to focus on the hard-shelled creature.

It was also quite amusing to see parents walk by and say "Ohhh, you're the man with the turtle! My son/daughter told me about you!" as if they didn't believe their children.

Tortoise Walking Photo 04
Owner Jeff Billyard and Franklin.

The tortoise is a herbivore, meaning he eats fruits and vegetables. While Jeff had fed him lettuce and strawberries when I was there, Franklin found the grass and clover patches to his liking, rapidly devouring any tiny, white blossoms.

Tortoise Walking Photo 05
Stopping for snacks...

Tortoise Walking Photo 06
...of tasty clover...yummm!

Tortoise Walking Photo 07
Franklin seems pretty content. Who couldn't love a face with a smile like that?

I got a chance to experience what Franklin's legs felt like and they are quite unique. Though the 'spurs' look rough and sharp, they're actually more like cartilage and feel rigid, yet soft. He has quite a long tongue as well with which he uses to get at vegetation.

I've seen Tortoises and Terrapins before, and even went snorkeling alongside Sea Turtles in the waters of Hawai'i, but this was certainly an interesting sight you don't see in Edmonton, Alberta everyday. A welcome change from the usual four-legged friend! Ironically, I had saved 2 frogs from death by lawnmower earlier. It would seem that reptiles and amphibians were on the universe's order of events for me that day.

You can find more about African Spur Tortoises here and here.

Note: Geochelone sulcata or 'African Spur Tortoise' is often confused with 'African Spur-thigh Tortoise.' From what I've just briefly researched, it seems that using the scientific name helps to distinguish the different reptiles.

Update: I've displayed some of the tortoise photos readers have sent me at this other posting.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

In Memory: Joe Ranft (1960-2005)

Joe Ranft and Wheezy from Pixar

Pixar Animation Studio's Joe Ranft passed away in a tragic car accident last night. Truly sad news. Please see my post at Luxo.

U-Haul SuperGraphics

U-Haul SuperGraphics Sample

I've always been fascinated by the colorful graphics on the side of the U-Haul vehicles. From the vibrant Giant Squid of Newfoundland, to the little green alien of New Mexico, to the Happy Face Spider of Hawai'i, the graphics are an excellent way to keep the U-Haul brand name 'out there'. In my opinion, a very smart marketing move that really hasn't been matched by others. I've also wondered if there was a website with photos of the graphics and today, I finally discovered it.

The U-Haul SuperGraphics website features not only the current series of graphics, but wallpapers, coloring books, and some fun, Macromedia Flash-based subsites. For example, the New Mexico section uses a file folder theme with fairly detailed information about the alleged UFO crash in 1947. Not all states and provinces have current graphics, but you can also find press releases and photos as new ones are unveiled on the website.

The 'Classic SuperGraphics' section is devoted to older vehicle illustrations, and though more simplistic, are definitely worth viewing.

Fun stuff!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

System Crash

I recently suffered a nasty hard drive crash of which I'm still trying to recover from. The day I was going to backup data, I woke from my slumber and decided do the same to my Mac. However, it seemed to freeze. After a restart, the computer could not find the system. I suspect the thunderstorm the night before had something to do with the data loss even though I do use a surge protector. So I stupidly used disk recovery software that was incompatible (yes, I did know better but was too tired to remember) with the current Mac OS (10.4) and further damaged the b-tree structure of the drive. Not only did I damage the data, but damaged the majority of it to the point of unusability (as I found out after later recovering it all but not being able to open most of it), forcing me to reformat the entire 120 GB drive, reinstall the operating system, all of my applications, and personal data.

My last 'proper' backup was in March, so needless to say, I've lost a few months of calendar data, e-mails, projects, and updated contact information. This is not the first time to happen to me, and like other computer users, it's as frustrating, if not moreso when it happens again. I've got 3 other hard drives but they're all full with other project files. The last two weeks have been time I would have much rather spent on current projects instead of unsuccessfully trying to recover my files.

So if you happen to be reading this, I urge to you stop and perform a backup on your system now. At least on your most critical data. You never know when a crash can occur and it will save you weeks of fruitlessly trying to recover your precious projects and personal information.

Aside from that nasty incident, I recently completed the Set Etiquette and Protocol 1 course at Mount Royal College (a requirement for some Film and Stage unions), spent some time with my good friend, Dr. Michael Ryan of Palaeoblog during his time uncovering dinosaur bones in the great badlands of Alberta, editing/writing for the other blogs I collaborate on (see the sidebar), and filming a few weddings. I have yet to finish the wedding video editing, personal paperwork, tackle a few graphic design projects (including rebuilding one lost in the crash), re-scan images also lost, and start the research on a few new projects, but I suspect I'll get through it all.

I also just enjoyed a relaxing weekend out at some friends' lake lot where we watched the annual Perseid meteor shower. Though I've previously seen more meteors in one night, I've never witnessed streaks as bright or as long as a few of those this past weekend! It was great to get away from the technological disasters and into a more 'natural' setting. Truly amazing.