Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day Hiatus

The blogathon is on hiatus until after Mother's Day weekend. You should all be spending time with your mothers rather than reading awesome blogs. If you can't spend time with your mother this weekend, spend time with How I Met Your Mother and celebrate vicariously. Kudos go to KTP for recommending this show to me. I like it a lot more than I expected I would. I'll pick up the blogathon on Monday.

Fun Fact: this update will mean I've already updated the English Muffin Power Hour as much this year as I did in 2010 or 2009. Hurray blogathon!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Blogathon Day Twelve: Don't Stop... Updating! Hold on to that blogging!

The lesson I learned today is I can only wait until 10:30 pm to consider updating my blog for about 11 days before I run out of topics that I can write about sufficiently in under an hour. So, I've decided to talk about fans who are less fortunate and have content providers who are less committed to updating their material (such as my fans, March 2008-April 2011). Here's my list of great websites that update less than I do.

1. Homestar Runner

Yeah, pretty much everyone who went to high school with a computer lab knows about the superlative comedy of Strong Bad E-mails, Teen Girl Squad, and the rest of the hijinks of Homestar Runner. I can honestly say that Teen Girl Squad is the most influential and inspiring series of doodles in my life. But what you might not know is that there have only been two new videos over the past 16 months. This is a sad day for the internet at large, because Homestar Runner is pretty much the only comedy site on the internet that is not only funny for all ages but also has the broadest appeal of comedy out there. The good news is I realize there were about 5 Strong Bad Emails that I somehow overlooked from 2009. So at least it's new to me. In fairness, they have a decent excuse because one of the brothers had a baby in 2010. I suspect his wife may have been involved in that process as well. Anyways, that's a pretty legitimate excuse to decrease production.

2. Freeman's Mind

This is my favorite non-Red vs. Blue machinima (that is to say, using video game engines as the filming engine rather than other forms of media). The premise is the videos are about the thoughts of the character Gordon Freeman as the events of the 1998 game Half Life unfold. But, here's the twist: Gordon Freeman never says anything during Half Life. He's a blank slate. All you know is he works at a science facility in Black Mesa. I think the series does a great job of humanizing the events of a video game and never gets bogged down in the endless killing (like I do when I play shooters). Unlike Homestar Runner, this series got derailed for much less legitimate reasons.

Back in the fall of 2009, the guy behind the series (I forget his name, so I'll call him Steve) got hired by to make more episodes of the series. This is hitting the internet jackpot because it means a company was willing to pay him legitimate wages to do videos Steve was making for fun beforehand. As a result, there was an astonishing increase in the number of Freeman's Minds that came out. I believe there were 8 in one month at one point. Unfortunately, Steve had another series: Civil Protection. You can check it out, but I wouldn't recommend it. They're generally longer and less funny than Freeman's Mind. Unsurprisingly, those videos were also much less popular. Furthermore, the process for filming that series is much more complicated and takes longer to produce. Reasonably, wanted him to focus his efforts on making the much more popular and simpler to produce Freeman's Mind. Steve wanted to focus on this one episode of Civil Protection and didn't like the way other people were working on it. So Steve decided to stick to his principles and quit his job making funny videos so he could make the funny videos he felt like.

The problem was the episode of Civil Protection he was working on was waaaaay too ambitious for its own good. I haven't seen it yet, because I had given up hope on it ever being done. However, I know that he left to work more on this one episode in October 2009. It finally got posted in late March 2011. In the meantime, this created a gigantic bottleneck for Freeman's Mind. Not only did Steve not have as much time to produce new episodes (since he left his paid job as a producer of funny videos), but what time he did have was going to a pet project. That's to say nothing of moving back and forth between places and transitioning into a new job.

I would go on with this list, but it's almost midnight and I won't stop the blogathon just yet!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Classiest T-Shirt

Back when the blogathon first began, there was a series of natural disasters which struck the South. Dozens of people were killed and thousands of lives were changed by the tornadoes. In Ancient Greece, the only way you could respond to a tragedy of this magnitude was to offer a sacrifice to Zeus, Poseidon, or possibly Boreas and hope that the oracle saw good things coming your way. But luckily, in the modern age, you can buy a classy t-shirt instead. They are only $20 and the proceeds all go to the Red Cross.

Now for the cool part: this t-shirt (and t-shirt website) was designed by my friend and colleague Joanna Jones (whom I shall henceforth refer to as the JoBot). Now, while I was putting one foot in front of the other for two and a half hours last weekend, the JoBot was putting together an entire relief effort. They even have classy facebook badges and ways to pretty up your twitter (if only I tweeted). It blows my mind that I have friends who can do stuff like that.

Now, I'm going to go way out of my element and actually comment on fashion. This is for you, sassy fine readers. This is a classy t-shirt. It doesn't try to grad your attention with any flashy logos, crazy colors, or dudes riding a dinosaur (always a sign of high fashion), it just stands there and acts awesome. It's a nice basic color that would be real easy to accessorize to (if you are a fine honey) and won't show pizza grease that badly (if you are a dude). The simple logo means that the t-shirt can make a graceful transition to quilt form once you get tired of wearing it. Most importantly, the simple design means that less relief money is spent manufacturing the t-shirt and more money makes it to the hands of the Red Cross. Truly, this is the tuxedo/black dress of charity t-shirts.

On an unrelated note, I've spent an unusual amount of time lately talking about greater causes and charitable work. If this keeps up, people might start thinking I am a mature and socially responsible individual. I'd better start talking about video games and/or funny internet videos before I develop a reputation.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Blogathon Day Ten: Half Marathon Post-Mortem. Or is it a Post-Marathon Half Mortem?

It's been a half week since the half marathon, so I figure this is the most fitting time to do a post-mortem on the race and wrap up my coverage of the Country Music Marathon.

Biggest Mistake: I definitely made some missteps on nutrition the day of the race. Mostly, I brought entirely too much with me. I used all three shot bloks I had (which is, incidentally, one serving), but I only used one of the elctrolyte pills, one of the Gu's (because the the plural of Gu can't be Gus, that's a name), and maybe two of the fig newtons. I didn't even touch my power bar until after the race was over and even then it was just to make sure my keys were still in my pocket. It's not a mistake I regret making. I didn't want to hit the wall and have nothing up my sleeve. That would've been a disgraceful way to end the race and would have cast a pall over the entire half marathon experience.

Proudest Moment: I'm not going to say "crossing the finish" line for two reasons. One, it is cliche and everyone says that. Two, as you could tell from the video, I was strictly business when I crossed the finish line. My proudest moment was when I got the medal shortly after crossing the finish line and I realized that I had really done it. To paraphrase Lonely Island "This ain't Sea World, this is as real as it gets. I ran a Half Marathon, don't you ever forget!"

Biggest Surprise: The biggest surprise would be how many people I had to pass during the race. Part of this would happen naturally since my strategy left brief windows for nearby slowpokes to pass me. But I did not expect to pass nearly as many people as I did (since passing people was something that never came up during training). The downside is I may have rubbed elbows with people in entirely the wrong way near the end. I'm starting to suspect people might exaggerate their corral time so they can leave sooner. It's a smart move really. Get more of your run taken care of before the day truly begins. It's not like there's a bonus prize for beating your corral time. If there is, then I did not receive it on the race day and would like to inquire how I might claim my prize.

Second Biggest Surprise: That would have to be Miles 9.5 through 12.5 simply because any specific details about that stretch of road would be a surprise to me. I sincerely do not remember what happened there besides the fact that it was starting to get hot and there was no shade except for a few bridges. Special shout out goes to Sharon Perry for bringing a cold towel to me (and a rousing speech) as I passed Mile 9. The towel helped a lot, but mostly I appreciate having a clear reminder of what was happening during Mile 9.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Blogathon Day Nine: Oh Boy

So the next wave of donations has come through and it looks like the Blogathon will last at least 24 days (possibly 29 days if two people who made precise promises of donations follow through). I actually need to take some time and plan out some ideas for that many updates. It's a good problem to have but, in the short term, it means I don't have anything of substance to post tonight. So, instead, I'll leave you with five random facts which I may or may not flesh out into full blog posts at a later date.

1. Jake Locker could be this generation's Ryan Leaf. To be fair, he only has trouble hitting moving targets. If the NFL would adopt Pokemon-style rules and allow for turn-based tackling, then Locker could be the best QB ever.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Blogathon Day Eight: Not Done Yet

So, before we dive into tonight's blogathon, I'd like to talk about the blogathon itself. While the Music City Half Marathon is over (and was a huge success at that), you can still donate money to Special Kids here, and it will still go to help a great cause. I'll also continue to honor any and all donations made in the blogathon. Currently, the blogathon is staying strong at 14 days of consecutive content due. Remember, you have the power to keep the streak of awesomeness going! A special thanks goes out to everyone who has made this possible. I don't want to spoil anything, but I can confirm that there will be YouTube humiliation/hilarity because of a generous donation. It'll be a while before it's up, but it will happen.

On the topic of the blogathon, my only regret is not having this idea sooner. It's been an excellent experience not only in raising money for a great cause, but also in holding me accountable for making regular updates to the oft-neglected English Muffin Power Hour. That, in turn, has led to me actually developing a following. I won't bore you with Google Stats, but I will say that I've already had over 100 unique visitors in May alone. You know, the month we are two days into. For frame of reference, I had 107 unique visitors for the entire month of March. So whether you're one of my loyal, patient readers who put up with countless "I'll update more frequently, pinky swear" posts or a new reader who has enjoyed this Golden Age of Blogging, I appreciate your patronage.

Anyways, onto today's news. Top headline is that the finish line photos from Saturday's run are finally up! There's also video of me finishing. I have to admit, I'm surprised at how I'm all business when it comes to crossing the finish line. The first thing I do as I cross the finish line is to check my watch for my time. Then I stop running altogether, because I agreed to run 13.1 miles and not one step further. Also, it's worth noting that I started that race with my name written on some packing tape so that strangers would know who the awesome guy was. I don't really know when that fell off. I suspect it might have happened some time during the haze that is miles 9.5 through 12.5. I can't remember exactly what I did during those miles, but I'm almost certain I ran them. Just don't ask for specifics like where I was or what I was wearing. My favorite picture would have to be the close up of right after crossing the finish line (3rd & 4th picture on the first full row). I did not think I could look that cool after running that over 13 miles. I have some other marathon thoughts, but I'll save them for tomorrow's blogathon. Just like in a real marathon, a blogathon is all about pacing.

But I've still got one more treat for you. After much frustration in the computer lab, I've managed to get the remastered version of my resume tape onto YouTube. A resume tape, for those of you new to the inner workings of the news industry, is my way of demonstrating that I could cut it on TV, by showing off my writing, speaking, and shooting abilities. My first few efforts were good, but there were two stand ups I couldn't tolerate any longer. The first stand up (the part of the news story where the reporter is on camera) was removed because I didn't own a microphone at the time of filming and the audio was absolutely terrible. The second stand up didn't have any technical problems, but it was shot on the morning of the midterm project and I was scrambling because my main story had fallen through. In my haste to film a stand up, I neglected to realize my zipper wasn't all the way up and my shirt was pulled through the zipper opening. It didn't matter how clever what I had to say was, that shirt/zipper thing was all people noticed! Anyways, I finally was able to reshoot and re-edit those stand ups and make a new, improved resume tape. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bin Laden stole my Blogging Thunder

Well, here I was all ready to talk about my experiences with the half marathon when Bin Laden was confirmed to be dead as a doornail. I'll still talk about the marathon and post what few pictures there are, but I feel it would be negligent to ignore the issue. Some of my peers have called this one of the biggest events of the modern day, others have said that it changes nothing. While I'm not sure if it'll be one of the biggest events in modern history, it is a gargantuan event now. Even if you ignore Bin Laden's role in the leadership and organization of terrorist activity, he was still a major symbol of defiance against the United States. His continued survival as Public Enemy #1 showed the thugs and murderers of the world that there were limits to the strength of the United States military. In the words of Johnny Cash, "You can run on for a long time, sooner or later, God'll cut you down."

This look is triumph. And a little bit of agony. Mostly triumph!
Now, on the marathon side of things, I'm extremely pleased with how I did at the race yesterday. I made my share of rookie mistakes but I'll talk about that later. I have to give credit where credit is due, I hated every moment of hill training (even the downhill minutes, because they filled you with false hope) but it paid off in a big way for the Country Music Half Marathon. I actually didn't know that the hills had begun until they were almost over (my other coach, Sharon Perry, had to tell me that during the race). The only hill which was a bit daunting was the final ascent around mile 12. But I believe that was more a product of having run 12 miles than of the hill itself. The next big surprise was how well organized the finish line was. After I crossed the finish line, I was greeted by a person handing out medals, followed by a person handing out water bottles, and then a veritable grocery store of recovery snacks. I'm also pleased to announce that I beat the historic mark and was not half dead after the half marathon. I may have been 40% dead, but that's still better than half! I was also surprised by how much I recovered today. I certainly wasn't 100%, but I was able to move around all right and still managed to fit in a thirty minute bike ride today. . Even though my legs were killing me at the end, I couldn't help but smile as soon as I got my medal. Even now, it feels so unreal that I actually ran a half marathon.

The medal is so very, very cool.
Now onto the less good. I did make a series of rookie mistakes, but nothing was too crippling. First and foremost, I definitely got caught up in the adrenaline of the start of the race and ran faster than I normally would. My first mile was completed in 10:30 and I would finish with a pace of 12:20/mile. Nothing too bad, but I definitely was running at a pace I couldn't sustain. Next, I definitely should have used the bathroom right before the race even though I didn't feel like I needed it. Around mile six, I was reminded about the cost of being very well hydrated. Luckily, I'm a guy so all that I needed to take a bathroom break was a well located tree around mile 6. Unfortunately, the ladies had to wait in a line for a port-a-john that was at least 8 people deep. That detour only cost me a minute. The last mistake is a bit hard for me to pinpoint. This is because miles 8-12 have blurred together for me. I remember running them and seeing Sharon around Mile 9, but the exact locations escape me. But I digress. By this point, we had left dawn and were dealing with full-fledged day time. This meant less shade and higher temperatures on top of the fatigue of having run 8 miles already. My strict pace of run 9 minutes, walk 1 minute had slipped to run 8 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Then it slipped to 7 and 3. There was one stretch that was 6 and 4 due to a well placed series of water tables and the need to replenish electrolytes. It was hard to start running again at that point. But I didn't fold to the convenience of walking a mile or try to convince myself to rest and get back up to full strength. I persevered and I finished strong.

I sprinted all the way down the last hill and across the finish line. The easiest part of the half marathon was getting my medal right after the finish line. The hardest part was walking back to my ride. But all that is in the past now. Six months ago, I would never have thought I could do this. But now that it's over, I've achieved my goal and no one can take that away from me

Behold! The Bumper Sticker of Destiny! It was all worth it!