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Do you feel like I do?

Last night I saw Peter Frampton in concert, it was one of the best live shows I've ever seen for a couple of reasons. A lot of people might not be all that familiar with Frampton unless you have to listen to classic rock radio stations. That's partly because while he was not a "one hit wonder", he was a "one album wonder."

His "Frampton Comes Alive" was one of the hottest selling rock ever at the time it was released and set a standard for live recordings. Today he is mostly known for live versions of his songs, "Show me the way," "Baby I love your way," and "Do you feel like we do?" as well as his innovative use of the "voice box." In his heyday he had a look that landed him on the covers of teen idol magazines, with a flowing mane of blonde hair.

Now I didn't have to look any of the information up, it's all from memory, because you see "Frampton Comes Alive" was released in 1976, the year that I graduated from high school. I was not much of a fan back then, he was much too popular, something I've always rebelled against. However I will always be a fan of the style of music from that era of which Frampton was most certainly a part. In that style of rock, the vocals are only just another instrument, and quite frequently it's the guitar which is the true star of a song.

Back in the day, it was quite a common thing to hang out with friends, stereo cranked up, no one saying a word, all just getting into the groove of the sound. Increase the volume and the music only gets better, oh how we wished there was an "11" on the volume dial!

The concert last night was a little surreal for me, because when I think of Frampton I can't help see the vision of him back in the 70's, reinforced by the images shown on the screen at the back of the stage. However when the show started out walks this guy mostly bald and the little hair he did have was no longer blond but now white. He certainly appears to have aged more that many of his rock peers of the era.

It hit home for me, because I am self conscious of age and mortality, especially as I get older. Mentally though, and my passions don't always reflect my age. I frequently joke that I haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up, however there is some truth to that statement. I feel there is so much more to learn, so many new experiences to be had, and so much more life to live.

While Peter Frampton's appearance may suggest otherwise, it certainly didn't show in his performance. He was up there smiling, cracking joke, demonstrating a passion for what he does. And the music was truly brilliant. While there were only a handful of songs that I recognized, I more so recognized the style. Long instrumental breaks with the guitar as the star, and loud, the audience getting into the groove, it was awesome!

I cannot claim brilliance in my own art, but the other things, the passion for the things that I do, the relationships I have, the ability to enjoy life by the moment, those things I feel that I can share with Mr. Frampton. I learned something about myself last night and it was all positive.

Shock and Awe in Florida

It's not so much the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial that I find shocking, rather it's the aftermath. Yet upon reflection, perhaps not so shocking at all, speaking volumes about where we are as a society. It is perfectly reasonable to either agree or disagree with the outcome of any case such as this, as well as to express rational thoughts about why an individual feels the way they do. What troubles me though, is the way the jury is being attacked for their verdict.  

By some stroke of fate I found myself following this case very closely since August 2008. Due to the Florida "Sunshine" laws, which provided that nearly all the investigative documents to become publicly accessible, it was not such a difficult to follow it as closely as I did. I read transcripts, listened to audios, and watched as many of the court sessions as I was able, including much of the trial from jury selection to final verdict.

Now here is something about me that I don't speak about too often. That is that I have first hand knowledge of what it feels like to be falsely accused of something. That is not to say that I feel that Casey Anthony was falsely or justly accused. It is to say that because of past experiences in my life, I tend to be slow to judge others, and I most certainly keep a very open mind until I know all the facts. In other words, I did not form an early opinion in this case. It actually wasn't until after the closing arguments on Monday, that I finally allowed myself to reach my own personal verdict, that she was guilty of first degree murder.

The strange thing about that, when I tried to go to sleep on Monday night, I tossed and turned for several hours, thinking about the case. Even though I felt at that point that I could say she was guilty, I still found something in my mind, troubled about not knowing the true circumstances of Caylee's death. Even though I was able to connect a lot of dots, I was unable to convince myself that it could not have been an accident.

It wasn't until the verdict was read and ironically listening to the comments from the State's Attorney and the prosecutor that I finally understood the meaning of reasonable doubt. It was reasonable doubt that kept me awake Monday night.

Do I think that Casey is guilty of something beyond they lying charges she was convicted of? Yes, probably. Do I feel the jury performed the duty they were tasked to do and that the jury system worked in this case? Yes, absolutely. Thus far I have not see or read the opinion of legal professional with any standing that disagrees with that assessment, including the prosecution team. 

None of the jurors asked to be on this case. Their lives were interrupted with very little compensation, yet they took on perhaps one of the most important tasks of US citizenship. And yet people are calling them names, saying they failed, and even in some extreme cases making unconscionable threats. How did we get to this place where someone gives up a portion of their life to perform a civic duty and we as a society treat them this way? A few hours ago I watched a hearing, the local news media in central Florida have petitioned the court to have all the names and addresses of the jurors released to the public, for what purpose? Haven't their lives been interrupted enough?  I have to believe that it's emotion and perhaps other experiences that have caused otherwise good people to act this way.

I also have to think that if the jury truly did attempt to shirk their responsibility, the verdict most certainly would not have been "not guilty." I mean when was the last time there was public outrage because someone was found guilty? I'm trying hard but I can't think of a single example in recent years, certainly not to this magnitude. Would not a "guilty" verdict been the easy way out?  I personally think the jury showed courage in being true to themselves. Everyone wants justice for Caylee, but unfortunately this jury did not have the ability to provide it. The sooner we accept that, the better in my mind.

One final point which concerns the topic of Casey now being able to profit from her celebrity. It remains to be seen if that happens at all, from what I see now with boycott campaigns it may be doubtful. The ironic thing is the source of most of the outrage. The cable news shows, message boards selling advertising, and the media, have they not enjoyed their own gold rush the past three years?

The Gods we Serve

A couple of weeks ago I was having dinner with a companion in the small hole in the wall cafe not far from my home. I have been there a few times, it's generally low key and quiet, the food is not too bad and the prices are affordable. However on this occasion the normal relaxed setting of the cafe was being somewhat disrupted by a rather animated and vocal gentleman sitting a few booths away.

As the lady sitting with him sat quietly with a rather embarrassed look on her face, the gentleman appeared to be addressing the two elderly women, who were politely nodding, in the booth across from him as he spoke. Mostly I tried to zone him out as he complained about the county preventing him from building a dam that happened to be running along side his property. Then he said something that caused me to pull him into focus.

"Did you hear what Obama wants to do now?" he said with a rather sarcastic tone in his voice. "He wants to raise the taxes on the oil companies. And you know what that's going to do? We'll be paying $6 a gallon before too long."

How ironic I thought, both in his expressed opinion as well as not quite getting the facts straight. The truth is the administration proposed cutting back on the subsidies given to the oil companies by the Federal government.

It also caused me to reflect back on the events of this past December. The Bush era tax cuts were set to expire, a proposal was on the table to extend the tax cuts for all except the group of most wealthy Americans. If you are reading this, it is highly unlikely you are in that group of wealthiest Americans because we are talking really rich, these people have some mega bucks.

As most who pay attention know, an opposing view was expressed about the tax cuts. The argument being if we do not extend the tax cuts to the super rich, companies will be unable to hire new workers and therefore unemployment will continue at a high level. Again if you have been paying attention you know the tax cuts were indeed extended and they were extended to all Americans including the super rich. This was in December, it's now June and unemployment has remained fairly flat at 9% nationally.

Most have heard and read stories of ancient tribes who performed rituals such as sacrificing virgins to please  their gods. The legends go, these ancient peoples were fearful of displeasing their gods and therefore being subjected to famine and severe weather as punishment.

I cannot help but see history repeating itself here and therefore must pose the question, have corporations and the super rich become our gods in the modern day? Have we become so fearful as a people that we vote against our own best interests so as to not offend our gods?

Those tax cuts I spoke about, they were initiated at the same time that the United State began its involvement in two wars. Wars are expensive both in human life and economically. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that less money coming in and more going out is going to lead to a deficit. Yet it has only been the past year or so that the federal deficit has made it to the radar screen of public consciousness. 

According to the Federal Reserve and the Bureau of Labor Statistic, between 2007 and 2009, Wall Street profits rose 720%. During that same time period unemployment rose 102%, and home equity, the primary contributor of net worth for the average American, dropped 35%.

We are at a time when corporations are enjoying record profits and sitting on record amounts of cash. Yet because we are fearful of displeasing our gods, extreme budget cuts are being enacted which will directly impact the most vulnerable of Americans. You and I, we are among this group with will be negatively impacted. I see something very wrong with this picture, do you?

Intro to 3D Modeling with Maya - Done

Tonight was the final session of my Maya class. Our final consisted of turning in a DVD with all of our work from the semester and an animated scene with all of our models together. This was mine:

Then in turn we each got to go to the front of the class and display our animation for the instructor and other students. Up until this point I hadn't really seen much of anyone else's work, so I didn't really know how my own was stacking up. I found out that other students had struggled with some of the same things I struggled with, and some did very well. I feel good about where I fit in with everyone else, and considering that modeling has always been my weak area, I learned a lot and feel that my skills progressed well. The instructor seemed to like my tugboat of all my other models, the best. I agree I think that it represents my best work. Also considering that I started it well before I learned a few modeling techniques, it would probably be a little better if I were to start on it today.

There were a couple of people in the class that just did exceptional work. One guy in particular I want to mention not only because his models just completely blew me away, but also because he is a member at dA. I exchanged a couple of messages on dA with him but never really knew who in the class he was until tonight. So go check out ~penguin09 He only has a couple of pieces in his gallery from the class, but they are stunning. This guy is going places, no doubt! :nod:

I am so happy that I took this class, it was worth all the time and effort, no question. It really taught me not to be satisfied with the work that I had been doing and the fact there is SO much more you can learn beyond watching Youtube videos and lynda.com classes. I had a great time, and I am most certainly looking forward to next semester doing texturing. I plan to stick with it and finish the entire program, it's excellent!

Intro to 3D Modeling with Maya - Final

About ten minutes ago I finished the last required model for my Maya class. This one was fairly simple, especially considering the last several models I worked on. Yesterday I finished my toy tugboat model. This was the semester long project, so I've been working on it off and all for a good part of the semester. Yesterday I worked on it from the time I woke up, around 9am to 9pm at night, I barely got out of this chair. When I got in bed last night it was like my whole body was sore, and today I felt a little sick. I've worked long hours like that before in some of my 3D stuff, but not with the same level of stress. I HAD to have it done yesterday. Mostly I worked on adding additional detail and then a lot of time trying to make sure the mesh was a perfect as I could make it. Overall I'm very happy with the way it came out.

When I turn it in, I'll apply the gray AO shader the instructor gave us, because we're supposed to use that on all of our models, but I rendered it for show with these shaders because it makes it look a lot like the actual toy I modeled it from.

The only thing I have left to do now before the final on Thursday is set up my scene with all my models in it. I hope to have that done tomorrow night, so I have time to do a few renders to get one I like. It's animated, 120 frames, and when I did a test it took a little over an hour to render, so I want to have plenty of time.

I haven't made an update to my journal for the past few classes because we haven't really leaned anything new, it's all been mostly lab time working on our models. I'll make one final one after the class is over. I'm so happy I made the decision to take this class, I have learned so much, and next semester should be very cool, it will be a texturing class, which is my favorite part of 3D and will have the same instructor which I'm happy about too because he's awesome!

The most challenging models, the ones I learned the most, and I would say most proud of art the cat (absolutely the hardest), the tugboat, the killer whale, and the teapot. Each of those required multiple weeks to complete with both anguish and joy. I want to keep at it, keep improving my modeling skills because I most certainly have not arrived at the level I want to be.

I want to say thank you to all my friends who have supported me with your encouragement and kind things to say about my work. I have to say I feel as though I barely deserve it. This class has taken so much of my time that I have been mostly anti-social. I have so much art in my watch, I've made a few comments but certainly not what I should be doing to show my appreciation. I have a long todo list for the summer, one being to get back to reconnect with my great friends here. I would have given up on my art long ago if it wasn't for some awesome friends at dA. So Thank you!