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Life in O Lando

How many times must I say it ” its been a long time ” not even sure how long what i do know is a lot has changed. Since returning to USA in May of 2015 I have
* Taken a full time position at universal Creative ” Just had my year anniversary in March ”
* Sold the house in Louisiana ” made a slight profit and probably avoided a bullet ‘
* Moved to Orlando Florida and purchased a great house
* And last but certainly not least, convinced my wife to live with me on the same continent 🙂

UniPano2

Some cute chick I picked up at City Walk 🙂

P1230662

Gators love O Lando…

B3

Lookin good in Blue Fuzzy

ME4

Oh Yeah!

I am going to try and get back to recording events here again, maybe even finish up some of those entries from the China life… Currently trying to organize my photo library which suffered a  meltdown thanks to Apples completely inadequate ” Photos ” APP and a dead Hard Drive

When I started ecstatic Pixel 7 years ago the idea was to document my life and experiences while in China. I wanted to share with my family and friends a look into a world most Americans know nothing about. In that regards I feel it has been successful, in fact many of the events recorded here would have been lost to my memory without it.

Life inevitably moves on and now I am focusing on my career here in the states and with the shut down of Meag U ” Fanny’s work since 2008 ” we ” once again back for the foreseeable future.

Over the next few months I will be addressing what the future holds…

Quick before I forget again

Just this morning had a technical issue with my 20 WSX  Wacom Cintiq tablet  ” again ” and realized ” again ” maybe I should just write this down so the next time I might remember how to fix it instead of every time having to search the forums… Probably much better for my spirit as well since will mean less cursing and hand waving.

This will be short and maybe even helpful to someone, as there is nothing more frustrating then a sophisticated ” read expensive ” piece of tech that mysteriously no longer will do its job!

For those who are not aware Wacom makes the best graphics tablets for use by digital artist. They are indispensable tools for anyone wanting to create art on a computer. The flagship of their long line of products is the Cintiq which is essentially a monitor that you can draw directly on, using a highly sensitive ” pen ” stylus. Expensive but well worth the money… This is what I am talking about, although this one is brand new and way nicer then mine.

Maybe someday can get the new one...

Maybe someday can get the new one…

Looks like they finally decided to upgrade the monitor to HD… Interestingly enough thats right around the price I paid for mine 6 or 7 years ago…

Mine is not quite as sexy but still gets the job done. Having brought it over here to China for work this time maybe when I return to states can justify the new one 🙂

The Beast

The Beast

So Wacoms are cool, and Cintiqs are the coolest kids on the block. That being said I have had much experience over the years with them when, ” for no earthly understandable reason” simply stop working. Both my 20WSX and my smaller 13HD will do this. My favorite issue is when the stylus does not register on the tablet but rather on some other monitor in a completely random fashion making it completely useless. The Cintiq has a calibration utility that allows you to make sure that your stylus will be accurate when you draw.

calibrate it

calibrate it

When you open it the screen goes black and you get a series of cross hair points to touch in sequence. This is supposed to calibrate the pen. All fine and great  when it works…

Crosshairs

Crosshairs

Many times, ” usually at the 11th hour on a deadline ” it decides to not work. You may get the crosshairs on another monitor, the pen may not register at all or I have even had it tell me that no such device exist. This of course is after I just finished using it and I am holding the pen which doesn’t exist… Its technology so who knows what causes it, I am actually pretty careful with my equipment but maybe my ” energy / Chi / Fung Shuei is off ” whatever the cause its frustrating and makes me feel like finding out just how far I could throw this expensive non existing thing. My guess about 15 to 20 feet its quite heavy 🙂

It happens on Macs and PCs, it happens on all of my computers so I know this is not a hallucination or something specific to my computer its a problem with Wacom. Sometimes when you produce great products the tendency is to get lazy, Adobe, Apple, Wacom are all guilty of this…

Enough talk here is the best solution I have found.

Lets assume you are not an idiot and the cables are still attached. Go to your application folder and find the wacom folder open it.

findit

Find the Wacom tablet utility open it.

findit2

You will see a window that looks like this.

Removeit

You want to choose all users and hit remove. Go back and calibrate again…

Easy as pie when you can remember to do this. Nothing else works for me. Even uninstalling the drivers and reinstalling them doesn’t work if you don’t first force it to remove its current user data. I have no idea why, I don’t even really care… You can also remove the software from here but so far this has fixed my problem every time. This is of course how you would do this on a mac, There are other issues dealing with PC usage but I no longer use them so… If you need that info or just want to know more here is a link to the place I found the solution, ” this time “. Surprisingly its actually on a Wacom site in the past I always found it in some obscure place maybe wacom is finally trying to address the issue…

Hope someone finds this useful, I know I will again, as surely the problem will return.

Thanks…

 

Fireworks Tonight

Chinese New Year has many very interesting things about it. Its based on a totally different time keeping system then the current Western calendar, truth is its based on the original calendar one all out ancestors would recognize, the movement of the night sky specifically the moon. It’s considered the largest human migration, every year on the mainland millions of Chinese stop whatever work they are doing and travel as far or as long as it takes to return home and celebrate another turn of the cycle with their relatives. Around the world any place with a substantial Chinese population, ” thats pretty much the whole planet ” there are similar festivities. One of the main recognizable traditions is that of fireworks. Everybody know the Chinese invented gun powder and have been using it for fireworks since ancient times.

Fire Crackers

Fire Crackers

This year in Taiwan I found out something new ” to me ” and very interesting. I had always assumed that the fireworks which go off in Taiwan right around midnight on New Years Eve are in celebration  much like our 4th of July in the states. Turns out theres more to this…

Bottle Rocket Chinese Style

Bottle Rocket Chinese Style

The old stories say that the ” New Year ” is actually a terrible ” Monster, Demon , Dragon ” that comes down from the mountains in search of its favorite food at the beginning of every New Year, or as its also know “Spring Festival”. That food of course being unwary Chinese especially children. The early people would then come together to help protect each other during this dangerous time, making lots of noise, wearing the color red and lighting fires to keep the dragon ” Nian ” at bay. Maybe this is why everyone must return home to family… Safety in numbers.

Nian

Nian

Once the discovered gunpowder it makes sense it would be utilized for such an important function…

A few nights ago we were treated to this bit of fun. While most people fire off the fireworks right at the New Year you will actually hear it for many days afterwards as well. I have been told people do it at times that are auspicious either for their family or their business, much like in Taiwan the burning of Ghost Money or the offerings you see on alters in front of office buildings. Officially there is no religion in mainland China  but even here you can still see strong hints of their cultures spiritual history.

Hope you enjoyed…

 

Been a Loooooooong Time ( Chinese New Year 2015 )

Well now its 2015, been a really long time between post. A lot has gone on many changes happy to say mostly for the good. More post will follow on some of these new developments but for now I will spend some time on most recent events. Having just returned from Taiwan and Chinese New Year it seems thats a good place to start. 2015 is the year of the ( Ram Goat Sheep ) haven’t been able to get a consistent answer on this from Chinese friends and since they are all pretty much the same thing gonna go with Goat…

Here is my latest New Years Card, I try to do these every year depending on work load. As usual this was done pretty fast last minute, I think if to do again I would change the orientation of the mountain but otherwise I like it… Unlike most of my other cards, Christmas, New Year, Halloween etc… this was done all on my Samsung tablet using Sketchbook Pro. In a way this makes it more like a hand done piece of art as I don’t have all the fun toys Photoshop offers and for this no 3D…

Xin Nian Kuai Le

Xin Nian Kuai Le

This yeah had me heading to Taiwan straight from a job in Beijing for Themetech Culture and Creative. They are a relatively new company ” attended their 2nd annual office party ” serving the Themed Entertainment industry in China. Specifically Disney Shanghai… Themetech has potential especially if they continue to satisfy Disneys quality standards; no easy task that, but so far they are doing it well. My old friend and boss from Gameworks, Mark Stutz is heading up their design effort as VP of Design so they are in good hands… More on that for later.

I can’t really discuss what I did there yet as the projects are still in negotiation but I am proud of what we accomplished and really hope Themetech gets the jobs green lighted as they are both quite cool…

The area I was in was in Bejing’s 6th ring Changping District. Its really far out there and not much like the other places in Beijing I have seen. Very little to do and quite dingy even for China. I was put up for the month at The Thaishan Hotel, which is supposedly a 5 Star Hotel. I am not sure how they came to that conclusion. Maybe its the amount of marble used in the lobby because it sure isn’t the service or accommodations… Anyway I was there to work not sightsee so it is what it is…

One Sat I wandered around the hotel neighborhood to see if there was anything interesting. I think these pics capture the environment  pretty well and offer a nice contrast to where I went next…

Would love to know what this beauty is doing here.

Sweet Ride

Seen better days

When the weather turns cold China ramps up the coal plants to produce the energy for heat, in many places you can see evidence of individuals doing the same…

and a pile of coal...

and a pile of coal…

"Not very well ventilated down there pop"...

“Not very well ventilated down there “…

Northern China has serious issues with air quality but I have to admit the air wasn’t too terrible most of my stay, of course that could be that I have gotten used to it and my standards have fallen.

I guess painting half the wall was good enough…

ran out of paint...

ran out of paint…

during my stay here in ChangPing I must have seen this 4 or 5 times, I guess when the car breaks down it becomes fair game

Pimp My Ride

Pimp My Ride

This poster was on a big board outside the little neighborhood I walked through, part of me wants to know what its for, part of me really doesn’t…

Seriously WTF is this about?

Seriously WTF is this about?

I am excited to get out of here and back to Taiwan.

Goodbye China Hello Taiwan...

Goodbye China Hello Taiwan…

 

Taiwan was beautiful as usual; clean air, great food, friendly peeps and of course my beautiful wife.

Arrived on the 14th of Feb with a good 5 days till CNY. Chinese New Year is based on the Lunar calender so it fluctuates every year this time falling on Feb 19. Not sure exactly how this is decided but I am picturing a monk somewhere in a room full of smokey incense.

Now thats a great way to welcome somebody home…

Famous Taiwan Beer

Famous Taiwan Beer

Taipei has great many Temples, this one is right next to another great Taiwanese feature, the night markets…

Temple Visit

Temple Visit

The temple was less crowded then usual as we came in on a weekday a bit ahead of the CNY rush, this calm will not last…

In the Temple

In the Temple

Beautiful carvings everywhere, this particular temple is around 250 years old, quite young by the standards of China. Taiwan still holds onto many of the cultural treasures of the  past, unlike the mainland where many of these artifacts have been damaged or even purposefully destroyed during the Cultural Revolution…

Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons

These lanterns are made by school children. there were a lot of them, quite creative and beautiful.

Cool Lanterns 1

Cool Lanterns 1

Cool Lanterns 2

Cool Lanterns 2

The traditional market near Fanny’s parents  house, it’s late in the day so the selection was a bit spare

Traditional Market

Traditional Market

Presentation is everything… CNY is all about family and food.

Hmmmm…

Hmmmm…

To the left…

Brother V

Brother V

Lao Ma and 2 of her grandsons…

Hangin with Lao Ma

Hangin with Lao Ma

The General and his ladies…

Fannys Ba & Ma

Fannys Ba & Ma

New Years fun… The kids tend to mess around and joke while the elders play heated games of Mah Jong…

Such Drama

Such Drama

Every time in Taipei we have to get some xiao long bao from Din Tai Fung, Best dumplings  ever…

Best Dumplings in Town

Best Dumplings in Town

During the New Year each family group will sponsor a dinner or activity, Brother V took us all to a great tepenyaki place excellent food, great presentation.

Great Steak Dinner

Great Teppanyaki  Dinner

Fancy Feast

Fancy Feast

Fancy Salad

Fancy Feast

Special Desert

Special Desert

This is a shot of another popular temple the day after New Year as you can see its a bit more crowded now…

Waiting to get in

Waiting to get in

This is my 5th Chinese New Year in Taiwan I really enjoy this time with fan’s family but I am also looking forward to heading back to Shenzhen and getting back to work

More to come…

I Know What You Did This Summer…

Well Its been quite awhile since I was able to post here. This is due to my having been working as Senior Designer on a Concept Master Plan for an indoor Theme Park  in Shijiazhuang China since June. Sitting here in Shenzhen I can finally put some of this down.

My internet has been an absolute joke both because of where I am in China and because I am living out of the Holiday Inn  There is no access to WordPress ( they seem to be on China’s no go list ) and even the VPN which I am using now to access WP will not work in a Chinese hotel.

On a side note, Holiday Inn in China is actually quite nice. Much better then many of the other places I have stayed while in country and extremely reasonable by US standards I believe our rooms are around $60 a night…

I quite literally do not have the time or energy  to begin talking about the project yet, especially as its not over and I will be heading back in 3 days for round 3 or 4 not even sure anymore… I am enjoying the project as it means steady work and I am proud of what we have achieved so far in spite of the many – many – many issues…

Suffice to say we are designing the largest indoor Theme Park in the world its total area is right around 246,000 square meters, 7 Themed Zones and will hold over 60 Rides, Shows and Attractions. At some point I will post a more thorough explanation but for now these are a few concept pieces most of which from our first pass.

CyberWorld Entrance

CyberWorld Entrance

Whale Puppet - Concept Sketch

Whale Puppet – Concept Sketch

Enchanted Forest

Enchanted Forest

Kiosk Concepts - Stationary and MobileKiosk Concepts – Stationary and Mobile

Working in China is a blast but it is not for everyone…

Talk soon

D

On Facial Hair and Border Crossings…

This was something I intended to mention a while back. Its more of a notice to would be western travelers to mainland China then a real post.

Here’s the advice. If you are a non Asian  man and you wear facial hair be aware that the Chinese guards at the border will have trouble with you passport. This is from two sets of observation. One is personal and the other incidental.

I noticed a number of times in the past that when a non asian man approached the guards either inside an immigration area or even at a roadside checkpoint if he had facial hair they seemed much more intent on studying his situation. Nothing bad here I am not saying anybody will get in trouble for having some stuble but I am saying that they will look at you much more closely. The personal observation is from about two trips to mainland ago. My passport picture has a clean shaven mug

I sometimes will grow out my beard and or goatee when I am back in the States alone. I usually will shave it off as Fanny says it hurts her face and it probably does since my beard grows in like wire. This time however I didn’t shave it off before going to China and I was stopped 3 times by immigration people while trying to enter ShenZhen. There is something really disturbing about having a Chinese border security person take an interest in you, at least I don’t find it pleasant.

Again nothing happened I have no contraband I am not trying anything sneaky so they just stared at me for in one case really quite a long time and even called over a supervisor before letting me move on. When I finally arrived at The Shenzhen drop off point I was a bit puzzled by the behavior as it has never happened before. While waiting for Fanny to arrive one of the other passengers of the Limo Bus came and asked me if I wanted to know why they guards kept asking me to stop while they scanned me. he told me it was because with my goatee they could not tell it was me in the picture…

Having recently lost my passport ” actually pretty sure Fanny organized it for me ” I am in the process of replacing it and you can bet I will be shaving  before that picture…

Anyway will be back soon hope you enjoyed…

A change of place

Just recently while discussing life the Universe and Everything with my peers in the USA it was brought to my attention that we will not be able to make the permanent move  to Asia just yet. It seems that my clients in the States are not comfortable with my being 10,000 miles and the relevant time difference away. I am somewhat saddened by this as I have really been enjoying my time in Asia and would love to delve deeper into the culture and language. Fanny and I had been planning a move to either Taipei or Hong Kong for the next 2 years.

Unfortunately I am not independently wealthy so what the clients want the clients will get. I cannot really fault the logic, after all I get paid well for my services and when they need the work it usually means they needed it yesterday… In reality its not easy working all night long for days on end and there have been some issues with communication.

What this means for the future is somewhat hazy right now as I have to figure out where we ” fanny and I ”  would like to be… The obvious choice is back to LA ” thats Los Angeles not Louisiana ” where I sit as I write this. By obvious I mean that Los Angeles is a place I enjoy living and it also is where the lions share of my work comes from for the Entertainment Industry. Other options are to make a go of it in Las Vegas Nevada or even stay here in Louisiana but I honestly can’t see that last one being attractive so most likely its back to the City of Angels. Since Fanny Is Taiwanese, there is no doubt that we will be going back to Asia often, it just will not be a permanent move until I can establish a revenue stream that  isn’t reliant on my physical location.

Over the next few months I intend to finally organize my huge collection of imagery captured in Asia over the last 4 years and share some more of it here on ecstaticpixel. I also plan on finishing all those draft post I have started but never got to complete.

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