Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The Year in Review

Ah.. the year in review. Well I guess it can be summed up as a lot happened and a lot didn't happen but I guess that's like every year. This was my first year as a fulltime stay at home dad. Maybe this is cliche but taking care of 2 kids has been a lot of work but very rewarding. I have really grown to feel a lot of love for them. When I first had these kids it was like "ugh babies", what do I do, when can I sleep? But now I feel that they actually want to learn, play and be with me. They will be two years old soon and they are growing fast. Watching over the twins all day has taken a lot of patience. I used to be mad when they would get into things like getting a pen from the table. Now I take the stance that it is not their fault and I should've had the pen put away. They also sap all my energy and that is my excuse for not doing blogs on a regular basis. Sometimes the days would be long, especially when they or I were sick. But a day care dad has to work no matter the condition. In general the days have gone by fast and I always look forward to their nap as my break. And sometimes I take a nap too. A lot of my nights consisted of being on the computer or life drainings from the tv.

I was luckily enough this year to have a lot of freelance illustrations from HP to keep me busy along with an Identity and business card design for a relative's financial company startup. I did all the freelance stuff through the night. I can't believe I made it through some of those jobs. I seem to do my best work under pressure. I learned a lot with the multiple illustrations and because of time deadline, with each job I had to work smarter to be faster. I miss being a fulltime paid creative and those jobs were the only thing keeping me sharp. I still read a lot of design magazines for inspriation and draw as much as I can but nothing takes the place of actually focusing on a job on the daily. Yes, my friend Erik has been encouraging me with a sketchbook exchange that we swap back and forth keeping us competitive on a creative level. I've done some good stuff that I wouldn't have done just sitting at home staring at a blank sketchbook.

THANK YOUS. I would like to thank Google for putting my name up on the search engines. I had a great run for my online store with a big sale coming in at the beginning of the year. I think it was for a last minute Christmas gift. Sales became frequent after that like one a month and I did it with virtually no advertising. Of course when I updated my web, I forgot to put in the code that the web crawlers search for and I did notice my store sales go down through the end of the year. Sometimes I wonder if my customer base's demand is smaller than the supply. I do plan on hyping my store a bit more in the future or retiring it fully to focus on art. Or maybe I'll sell to a totally different market with something else.

WEB. My other source of income is from my favorite website, Ebay. I don't remember selling anything for big bucks this year like I have in the past. But I don't think I tried to. My mission was sell stuff I got on the cheap and try to flip it back on Ebay for like 3 times my cost. I was pretty successful on some things but it's usually a give and take situation. I probably broke even in the end, because some things didn't sell or sold low. I had an idea to sell rare music CDs but they were hard to find. Duh. I guess that's what makes them rare. I had a strategy focusing on a certain niche with a search list too. But it is always hit or miss, I gave up on that idea.

TECHNOLOGY. Big hi-tech purchases I made this year was the DVD recorder, laptop, and digital camera (which technically Nichole and I got for each other as an Xmas gift). The SONY T1 digital camera is awesome. Small, compact design with great quality pictures. Sure I can pick out little things that could be better with the camera, but I have no problems with SONY, the company. They rock computers, electronics, video games. Man, I think it was them that popularized the VCR if they didn't invent it. All I need to say is WALKMAN. I heard someone say the 5 megapixel Fuji camera is better because it has more features. Hello, that is Microsoft's argument. Microsoft says their software is better because they have more features. But the features have to be something we need and use and that work. SONY has not failed me. Aspire Digital is another story. The Aspire Digital DVD recorder has given me headaches but I guess it works. Their DVD recorder is like an old PC trying to play a new game. Sometimes it works, most times it don't and sometimes it struggles and I can't figure out why. My laptop computer was from Cyberpower, kinda like a boutique shop which makes machines for gamers. My laptop was custom built, got great power at a great price but it took almost a month to get it. If you order from them, always check the status when they build it, normally takes a week. Mine originally had a hard drive problem when it was built then they ran out of the processor I needed and delayed it more. I don't hate them I was so excited to get my laptop, it turned in to a bummer waiting and waiting for it and I wanted to work on my zine.

MUSIC. Two musicians who impressed me most this year were: Kanye West and MF Doom. I bought every mix CD of Kanye West plus his live show in Amsterdam. He is awesome. Some of his rhymes about his family and his mother have actually brought tears to my eyes. MF Doom on the other hand has taken the indie/underground world by storm. His rhymes, samples and beats are unorthodox and not about the chains and bling. His latest album's theme is food. I just got the latest Vanessa Carlton CD at the end of the year. It has slowly grown on me. I loved the last album.

RESTAURANTS. The best restaurant I've been to this year has gotta be E & O Trading with locations in San Francisco and San Jose. We got a gift certificate from friends. Everybody recommends the fried corn fritters. I had a review of it in my blog earlier this year. The restaurant is like American? / Asian fusion with Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian and Indian influences. I think Aloha Restaurant in Milpitas is second on my fave list. I love their menu and I probably drove out of my way about 4 times within the last 3 months to eat there. I usually get the bento box to go for $7.95. It is a sampling of various dishes on the menu.

DVD. On the DVD front, there are so many DVDs I wanted to see. I got 4 seasons worth of FOX's The Family Guy for Christmas. I can't tell you how many times I laughed out loud at the crazy situations that go on. I'm into disk 2, season 1 and I think the show has gotten funnier. I would almost call them a lewd Simpsons. Their jokes are not explicit but very suggestive. I got a great price on the Terrahawks box set. Gerry Anderson of Space 1999 and Thunderbirds fame produced this show in the early 80's. It was Andersons last fully scifi puppeted shows. I watched a few episodes with my friend Jeff. The show is aimed at kids but I gotta say the show is entertaining and I got a few laughs from the characters.

BUSINESSES of the year. Of course if you know me, I am Mister Ebay. But I bought a lot of CDs and books and the digital camera from Amazon.com. For being online and automated, I get good service and they have a great return policy with free shipping on items over $25 (from them not their partners). Great prices too for new and used and you can listen to song samples of CDs. Ebay seller Ebuys77 sold me some phat retro looking Adidas and service was so smooth. I got confirm emails letting me know status of bids, payments, shipping, etc. Sure it was all computer automated but it was more than I get from some online places. I bought the Terrahawks DVD set and some design books from Hamiltonbooks.com. Their prices are low on used books and they have a pretty big art / design book selection at least until I started shopping there. Ha ha.

ZINE. A great thing I did this year was a ZINE. I did zines before but there were learning experiences. I don't even have any original pages from those old zines. The San Jose Museum of Art was having a show on ZINES. I procrastinated on the deadline big time confusing show date with due date. That's not good. So basically I had a week to throw it all together and luckily it was in San Jose that I could drop it at the door beyond the due date to the curator. I had fun, interviewed cool people and learned a lot. Like try not to go to Kinkos. I spent about $100 renting their computer, making master print outs, and then making copies to make the five zines for submission. My laptop would not print through their computer so I had to rent theirs. Long hours wasted. Long story but no customer help from them. I found the employees to all have an elitist attitude. My feeling is they think they are too good to help and everybody who comes in is stupid. The guy even told me my computer probably had a virus. Uh, I got my laptop brand new like 2 days ago and it printed fine at home. I had to download their driver and XP said it did not support it and warned me, but what else could I do but lad it. Kinkos has old drivers and no customer service. Bottom line of the whole experience was I had my work in a Museum. Not to mention the opening party was all that with hi end food and drinks. I hope to do another zine and upgrade the quality. I will try my best to skip Kinkos and probably buy a laser printer and maybe a copier too.

MOVIES. Between having a free moment to do something without the kids, I've only been able to see 3 movies in the theatre this year. They are Daredevil, Big Fish, and The Incredibles. All the movies were great especially the Incredibles. I can't wait to see the Daredevil DVD director's version.

MEMORY. My wife's grandfather passed away last year. We had a lot of family outings and Sunday night dinners with him. Tony was the most kindest, generous man I ever met. I think about him and the trips or special occasions that we spent and really it feels weird now that he is gone.

BOOKS. I can't think of a book offhand that I got this year worth mentioning other than the new Barry Mcgee book was nice and so was the debut book by Neckface. All I can tell you is if you buy a computer book at Fry's Electronics with a rebate, you can only use one rebate per publisher. I bought 3 computer books (of the same publisher) just to look at since they would technically all be free with rebate but then after submitting, I get 2 postcards in the mail that say something like "reached maximum of rebate". What gets me is Fry's advertisement mentions all these free books with rebate, but that is if you only buy one, and you had to get the rebate form by buying the book to even probably read that "one per" clause. But oh well, live and learn I say. I am very cautious with rebates now. Something to watch out for.

ART. I bought some art this year, luckily nothing too pricey. The main 3 I can think of are framed piece by Andrew Schultz, little wooden piece by Ezra Li Eisemont, and painted paper bag by David Choe. Maybe I will put pics of them on my website some day.

RESOLUTIONS for 2005. I hope to exercise more this year. Ain't saying much compared to what I did this year but I did swim a lot in the summer and I did stretching and lite warm ups everyday. Yes, I say warm up but never a full work out of anything. I also want to clean out the garage this year. You can barely walk inside of there - wall to wall stuff, but I know where everything is. Look out for my online garage sale coming soon. I hope to be more regular on the blogging but so far not good. I am thinking about keeping my blogs on my artchemist site for the future. Keeping the blogs at home seems to be a trend I noticed.

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