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Monday, July 14th, 2008

Brevity Remix

I was visiting my brother’s family in LA last weekend, and they were hosting some old family friends from Australia, and I really enjoyed the company. We paid a visit to the Getty Villa in Malibu and I surprised myself by really enjoying it.

Rodd, on my request, presented me with a signed copy of his latest book, Brevity Remix:

Brevity Remix cover

Click on the image to buy!

As an expression of his fraternal sentimentality, his inscription asked why I wanted a copy when I’d seen all the included cartoons at least three times. Well, duh, dummy! So I can show it off to other people! Start thinking of me less as a brother and more a minor cog in your marketing engine, if you must.

Also, this book has comments written by Guy and Rodd about some of the cartoons. I thought the commentary was great, and would have loved to have seen even more. Plus, the cartoons are all in color. It’s like Brevity has been Ted-Turnerized!

Posted by Greg as Family & Friends, Travel at 18:56 PST

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Sunday, April 20th, 2008

Letter to Pat – Re: Can’t put the guitar down

Pat,

It’s 2:00 am and I’m trying so hard to put down the guitar and go to bed, but I keep picking it back up again.

I’ve heard you talk about the experience of breaking through a barrier and suddenly you reach a whole new level – well, I’ve just had my first one tonight. I haven’t been playing much, and I had decided that it was time for me to learn some songs, just to learn chord changes. I have been tinkering with a few – Solsbury Hill is too hard, and it’s too much finger picking. I was trying Tonic’s If Only You Could See, but that is probably too depressing for me right now – and then I found Jack Johnson’s Flake.

It’s all barre chords, and it has a complex (to me) strumming pattern (down, down, down up down up) – and I haven’t even learned strumming yet! But I’ve always liked it. I found a great YouTube instructional video (with a fingering chart superimposed!), the YouTube Jack Johnson music video, and lyrics with chords. Unfortunately, the lyrics and chords were a bad job of matching, and the chord diagrams just wrong – they didn’t match the barre versions in the video lesson, so I was rewriting it myself, and trying to imagine sheet music, where the lyrics are spaced to match the measures, not the other way around. (BTW check out http://www.musictheory.net/). After I figured it out myself, I finally found a lyrics/chord chart that was right.

Every time I set the guitar down, I’d just take a look at one more thing in my notes or online, or thinking of the tips you’ve given me, and I had to pick it up again. And boom, boom, boom – one element after another just came to me. That tip about keeping the pace and not worrying about getting the chord perfect before the first strum is genius! When it doesn’t sound right on the first strum, it’s so easy to make the minor corrections and get it right for the next ones. Once I concentrated on pace, the strumming came naturally. Since it’s late, and I don’t want to disturb my roommate, I wasn’t using a plectrum, and I learned a way to hold my right hand that allowed me to strum both up and down without slapping the body below the sound hole. Coincidentally, it’s the “right” way to hold a plectrum – curling your hand up and bracing against the thumb – not thumb and first finger together.

The barre chords are in the formation you showed me – for major chords, the whole fret with the first finger, second finger next fret on the third, third finger next next fret on the fifth string, fourth finger just below on the fourth string. I’ve always struggled with an F major chord in that formation – so I thought it was a hard formation to assume – but I found out that F major is the hardest one to because of the wide spacing of the frets at the top of the neck. The other ones are easy in comparison. There’s only one minor chord, that just involves moving the second, third and fourth finger down a string.

So I finally got to the point where I was playing the song almost at speed and having it sound almost right. It’s awesome. I feel like I have broken though that next barrier, and am ready to practice it, master it, and tackle more. My fingertips are so sore and it feels so good.

Just thought you’d like to know.

Regards,

Greg

Posted by Greg as Family & Friends at 00:20 PST

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Saturday, May 19th, 2007

I’m Not Dead

“Well, he will be soon. He’s very ill.”

I’ve been very busy handling a lot of important personal stuff. I did get I little bit of enjoyment recently, though – I went to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, to attend a graduation. The son of one of my old Army buddies had chosen to follow us and become a combat engineer. In my day, that was MOS 12B, but nowadays it’s 21B. Turns out he had been staying in my old building – Delta Company, 35th Engineer Battalion. I was very proud of him, and looking around, I found myself wishing I could do the whole Army thing all over again, even if it meant starting from scratch at Basic training.

I also got myself a cool Sapper hat to show off my tab.

I’m going to bed early tonight, and am planning on hitting the road around 3 A.M. I aim to make Las Cruces, New Mexico, before it gets too late. It’s about 1800 km (1100+ miles) in one day. I should have left today and made it a two-day drive.

I’m going to be extremely busy for at least the next two weeks, and probably won’t get to blog.

Posted by Greg as Family & Friends, Posts About Me, Travel at 18:37 PST

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Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

F**kin’ A, Bro!

It’s not everyday that your little brother makes it into the showbiz trade rag, Variety: Ant Farm Plants Trio at Top.

Webwire, Market Wire, and dBusinessNews (Los Angeles) also picked it up, with more detail:

LOS ANGELES — Mike Greenfeld and Barbara Glazer, co-chairs of The Ant Farm, one of the entertainment industry’s leading advertising firms, have announced a new management team. Rodd Perry, Amanda Edwards, and Andy Solomon have been elevated to co-presidents, creative directors, audio/visual. Perry will also take on the title of Chief Executive Officer, joining Chief Financial Officer Melissa Palazzo, who will also assume the role of Chief Operating Officer. Together Perry and Palazzo will manage day-to-day operations and corporate duties of the agency.

According to Greenfeld and Glazer, Perry, Solomon and Edwards, who have been with the firm for ten, eight and six years, respectively, have been key to the growth of the company from a small boutique to a full-service advertising powerhouse.

Together at Ant Farm they have worked on hundreds of motion picture marketing campaigns ranging from “The Lord of the Rings,” “Shrek,” the “Harry Potter” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchises, to many independent successes such as “Sideways” and “An Inconvenient Truth.” Along with Greenfeld and Glazer, they will continue to help expand the scope of advertising services to the entertainment community.

(emphasis and link mine.)

And yet he still finds time to crank out daily the cartoon Brevity, syndicated to 130 newspapers in the US and Canada.

Way to go Rodd!!

Posted by Greg as Family & Friends at 00:07 PST

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Sunday, January 14th, 2007

The Lost Boys

In my entire military career – three years in Active Reserve as an 11B, Combat Infantryman; four years on Active Duty, 12B, Combat Engineer; and two years in Individual Ready Reserve – nothing was every so right in the world as when I was stationed at Fort Devens, MA, assigned to 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, A Company, 39th Engineering Battalion (Combat). Other people came and went, also fondly remembered, but the core of our group was the squad leader, SSG John Dionne, myself as SPC, SPC Jonathan Crockett, and PFC Juan Estrada. The last three of us were roommates in the barracks, but we often hung out at the home of our squad leader. I was the Not-John.

Gods, the stories we have to tell about those times. We worked hard, played hard, excelled in our profession and got into plenty of trouble. We called ourselves “The Lost Boys”.

We were an eclectic group, with hometowns from Boston, MA, San Diego, CA (born Tijuana, Mexico), Fargo, ND, and West Chester, PA (born Ferntree Gully, Australia). Two of us earned our US citizenship while serving together. The bonds we formed shaped us and the rest of our lives.

Those bonds have proven themselves over time. Although this took place more than seventeen or so years ago, we’ve all still stayed in touch. But one of us, Crockett, whom by nature played the real wild card, and spiced up our adventures by his unpredictability, held out as the prodigal son – the hardest to keep in touch with, though no less loved.

Segue.

A couple of weeks ago I got a lot of hits on an old post that someone had shared with his/her community. I noted the activity, but nothing came of it except that one person seemed to keep coming back, browsing through the rest of my blog. This person was coming from an IP than could only be resolved by geolocation to somewhere in the US, but I traced the IP to an ISP that served Montana and the surrounding states.

Now I, like all diligent webmasters, have to deal with the frustrations of lurkers – those strangers that hang around, keep visiting, but never pipe up through a comment or email. I’ve learned, like so many others, to put aside the wondering – the lurker will either finally speak up, or just disappear. But this time I was in for a pleasant surprise. Checking my logs, I saw a visit that terminated in my Contact Me page, and forlornly trotted off to check my email in case the link had been used.

This time I is was in for a pleasant surprise. The link had been used – there was an email!

And what an email. It was from the long-unheard-from Crockett. Son of a bitch! You better answer my reply, and soon.

P.S. Anyone who stumbles across this post who was a member of 1st Squad or 2nd Platoon, hell, anyone from my past, I’d love to hear from you. I’ve had abortive attempts of contact through Classmates or Military.com (Montenguise, Shadowen), but I never get anything from my replies. Keep trying! I’d especially love to hear from the honorary Lost Boy, Johnny Saalfrank, but since he followed my lead, went to SFAS and didn’t break his foot, he’s probably either in Afghanistan, or making a fortune as a mercenary (oops, private contractor) in Iraq.

Posted by Greg as Family & Friends, Posts About Me at 10:16 PST

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Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

What the Hell…

In for a penny, in for a pound.

The San Diego office of Corrpro Companies, Inc. decided to have a dress-up day for Halloween. Funny how they never did that in the eight years that I was there. Well, you fools, you sent me a picture, but you didn’t say that I couldn’t post it on my website! With any luck, you’ll soon be the first thing that shows up whenever anyone does a Google Image Search for Corrpro!

Corrpro San Diego Halloween 2006

From left to right: Rick, Pat, Rob, Teresa, Cade, Derek, Peggy

MIA: Nelson, Michael (of course, Greg); Janet, the HR goddess – and the entire Coatings Section!

I could make further comments, but I really have to resist the temptation. (Notice that Pat tucks his shirt into his underpants. Oh! Did I say that out loud?)

Posted by Greg as Family & Friends at 17:44 PST

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Timeout for Levity

I’m currently going through a very, very serious life change on the domestic front. I haven’t wanted to write about it much on this public place, and at the same time I haven’t wanted to disrepect the seriousness of the situation by flippantly continuing on writing about other things that normally I would have found to be worth comment. Judging from at least one email, I have failed in that regard, but you can’t please everybody.

So I may as well throw this into the pot. One of my former Corrpro San Diego coworkers attempted to throw a little levity into the situation. I’ve often found that, in very serious situations, it can help to step back and take a little laugh. So without further ado, I present to you the Greg Perry milk carton:

Greg Perry milk carton

I don’t know where this photo came from, but man I need a haircut. That’s the longest I’ve seen my hair in quite a while.

Posted by Greg as Family & Friends, My Website, Posts About Me at 17:14 PST

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Sunday, October 29th, 2006

Freaky Day

The plane pulled into the gate. I turned on my phone, which has auto update on the time, partly out of habit and partly to make sure I had got the change on time zones right on top of the passing of daylight savings. I nervously scanned the faces as I walked into Lindbergh Field out of pure paranoia. This was my first time back in San Diego since I left.

I was almost to the men’s room when the phone beeped. Voice message. John had called, and the message just said to call him as soon as I landed; it was important. John doesn’t exaggerate. I feared the worst. I called him back right away.

“Guess who just called me from a payphone in Kansas City?” he said.

“Who?”

“Raquel.”

Son-of-a-bitch. We discussed the possibility of whether she knew how to fake caller IDs. I can do it, which means I know how difficult it is. I didn’t think she could do the same, but then, she might have found traces on the home computer. Still, the odds worked out that she actually was in Missouri.

John admitted that he had lost his cool. “Remember the worst chewing out I ever gave you?”

I cringed. “Yeah.”

“Well, I topped that talking to her. Sorry. That hasn’t happened in along time. As soon as I realized that I had lost it, I hung up on her.”

Well, that was probably for the better. If the two of them really got going over the phone, it would probably lead to either bleeding from the ears for both parties, or a cascading shutdown of phone systems on half the continent.

So she traced me to Missouri. That’s not good, but thank the gods for double and triple cutouts. The irony is that at that very minute, I was back in San Diego, at least for an hour or two. And everybody was worried that I would break down and go drive by the place, just to see how things were, and end up sucked back into the morass. I briefly considered stopping by to pick up some things, and maybe hook the computer and phone system back up, but I realized that seeing the kids would probably lead to a breakdown. “That’s not fair to them,” said Mum, “You can’t just stop in and leave again.” She was right. Besides, I still didn’t know if it was a trick. I stuck to the plan.

Almost a hundred klicks later, I got an update. “She’s definitely here,” said John. “I’m going to go meet her at her hotel. Who do you know who drives a white Honda Civic? There’s one here in the parking lot with California plates.” Nada. Who knows? Juan could run the plates for me, but what difference does it make?

I don’t know how that conversation at the hotel played out exactly, but I hope she was convinced of the truth. I wasn’t in Kansas City. Yeah, I was in San Diego today briefly, but I’m not anymore. Not even in California.

This must change things on how I figure the situation. I haven’t had time to consider all the implications, but I always figured that if it came to it, I would just throw a dart at a map of the world and go wherever Chance dictated. I have a passport, and I figure you can get by any place in the world today speaking English until I could pick up the local lingo.

So much for a freaky day. Tomorrow I’m on the road again, moving on. Call it tactical maneuvering.

Posted by Greg as Family & Friends, Posts About Me at 20:49 PST

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Saturday, October 14th, 2006

The Door into Summer

I discovered science fiction in 1974 in fourth grade at the Karingal Primary School in Frankston, Victoria, Australia; soon after I had become such an avid reader that I was searching the shelves of the school library for anything and everything that might prove to be entertaining. I distinctly remember the first book – it was Catseye, by Andre Norton – a hell of a great introduction for the young reader to the genre. It was a natural fit – my fourth grade teacher (damn, I wish I could remember her name) had undertaken to read The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien to us all over the year – and she succeeded.

It didn’t take me long to fall into the grasp of the science fiction classicists. Because my family couldn’t afford to buy a lot of books, a trip to the local library on Saturday every two weeks (the length of the loan time) became a staple of our family life, thanks to the dedication of my mother. I suppose it’s still true today, but when you’re maxing your loan limit on every trip (even if I went through the dozen books in three days or so), it becomes statistically more probable that you’re reading books that had been published 20-30 years ago. So I became well acquainted with the works of Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, the two granddaddies of a long list that, if I took the time to enumerate, would stifle any chance of me finishing this already drawn-out post.

Although I would later discover that I had mixed feelings about Heinlein and his entirely too-progressive social ideals, thanks to a twelve-grade English paper I set out to write (switched at the last minute to Roger Zelazny), early on I discovered a clear favorite that would endure – The Door into Summer. I’ll spare you the analysis, but a passage that struck an enduring chord in me was when the protagonist, Dan Davis, travels back in time to defeat his nemeses, and for some reason that I forget now, sees fit to draw the teenage girl Ricky, with whom he has some avuncular relationship, out of her girl scout camp and persuades her to leave everything behind in her own best interest. Putting aside the predatory nature of this summary (it seemed to make sense in the book), I was overwhelmed by Davis’ assertion that, in order to be true to oneself, one most be prepared at all times to forgo all worldly possessions and connections if circumstances dictate that doing so is the only way by which one can escape the influence of the manipulators that do not have his or her best interests at heart. (I hope I have presented this summary with the intent of the author.) I strongly remember this assertion as being one of the foundational principles to the most macho parts of my life – the time when I was encouraged to put my body in mortal danger, consider the lengths to which I would go to save to lives of my buddies (or recover their bodies), and, as best as I could, to face the volcano (catch the Firefly reference?) – in short, when I was in the US Army. So, with more elucidation than you could possibly desire, I have established the foundation for an otherwise quirky concept.

Thus we get to the point of my story.

On Sunday, 1 October 2006, my wife kicked me out of the house.

At the time, I was in shorts and a t-shirt, without shoes or wallet, but fortunately, I had some money in my pocket, about US$100. She locked me out of the house, and had just given me the key to the expired-registration truck that I had purchased for her a couple of years ago. Looking back, I would have to say that it was a maneuver on her part to try and make a point that I needed to look at our situation and rededicate myself to making the relationship work; in that instance, I evaluated the situation and decided whether the relationship was worth pursuing. I did not come up with the answer that she was hoping I would arrive at.

I left, and have not come back. Instead, I separated myself from our situation emotionally and geographically. No, I’m not in San Diego anymore. My meatspace coordinates can, at this point, considered to be classified. You may note that comments on my posts have become restricted to registered users – if you really want to comment, I invite you to register. It’s pretty easy.

My few regular readers and the search engines may have noted that my posting has dropped off of late. This is due to the crescendo that was building to this point and its aftermath. I hope to start writing regularly again about the same issues that I advertise in my blog’s subheader – Linux migration, security, corrosion engineering, surviving cancer, website construction, and life – in that order. I don’t see the benefit in publishing a “woe me” account of my travails through domestic separation – but I had to get some of this off my chest. If you are desperate for the other side of the story, my wife has started her own blog. For fans of my technical work, this can only mean that I have more time to dedicate to your issues.

(I can only hope hope that with this post, I have truly earned the appellation that I selected long ago. Ramblings. Be thoust forewarned!)

At this point in my life, just like Petronius the cat, I find myself checking all the doors, looking for the one that leads into summer.

Posted by Greg as Family & Friends, My Website, Posts About Me at 22:47 PST

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Monday, August 21st, 2006

Brevity in Wikipedia

Since I’m a big user of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, and also a fan of by brother’s comic strip Brevity, I decided to check to see whether there was a Brevity entry. There wasn’t – the page where it should have been was a redirect to a World War II operation – so I created it. This entailed a little read up on the Wikipedia help pages, some cribbing from the styles of other comic strip entries, and research into the fair use of copyrighted images. The page now is very brief (the irony!), but at least it has been started, and I expect that other fans and myself will have it fully expanded in short order. I also need to download, fill out, and send to Guy & Rodd a request for permission to use the image that I uploaded.

The act of listing the authors pretty much automatically generated a request to create entries for Guy Endore-Kaiser and Rodd Perry, so we might shortly see Wikipedia entries for them. It feels sort of funny instigating an entry for my brother, and I think it would be inappropriate for me to write a biographical sketch of him for public consumption, but I guess I’m available for interviews from other people who want to do it. Looking on the Comics Portal at all the other listings, Rodd, as a published artist, clearly deserves an entry.

Posted by Greg as Family & Friends, People at 05:57 PST

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