Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Some Q&A About My Tattoo

Hey, Andrew!

Emboldened disembodied voice! Hello again!

Hi! I thought I needed to come around to make you talk about your tattoo.

You mean this old thing?

How old is it?

....A week.

Whatever. First question.


Why didn't you tell us beforehand? Why did you keep it a surprise?

Well, I didn't want to make it a complete surprise. That's why I made those little teaser posts. I didn't just want to come out and say "HAI GUYZ I GOTS TEH TATOOO LULZ!", but at the same time, I wanted to keep it fun and surprising.

Fair enough. But what about your parents? Were you doing this behind their backs, as an act of youthful aggression?

Actually, they were the first people I told, er asked for permission. I respect my parents more than you think, Voice. I wasn't trying to be rebellious, just expressive.

That brings me to my next point: why the Hell would you want a tattoo?

*Shrugs* I've wanted one for a while now.

What's a while?

Seven years, roughly.

You lie!

No, it's true. In fact, my early rendering of the design was drawn in my freshman year of high school.


Yes. In fact, I still have it.
Wow, so you really have had this in your mind for seven years?

Yep, and I've done multiple variations of the idea over the years. Such as...

(That one was done in crayon, if you can't tell.) Other variations had the Chinese/Japanese symbols for "Faith," "Hope," "Love," and "Will" in each of the four quadrants.

But you ended up going with angel wings...?

I like angels. And wings go well on the back.

So you were always planning on having this on your back.

From the very start. And I always meant for it to be big. Quite big. If you're going to go for it, I thought, go for it.

And the back?

Well, the back is a place that I can look at when I want to, and not look at when I don't want to. Should there ever be a day I totally regret it, I just need to make sure not to buy a three-way mirror. Plus, unless I have one of the most awkward interviews ever, it can't possibly hurt my ability to get a job.

Okay, back to the design. What's so special about this symbol? Does it mean something?

Indeed it does, and indeed it always did. Here's my description:
"It's basically a combination of symbols of unity and balance.
The Ankh: Itself a symbol of unity/balance between the male & female, masculine & feminine, this was a symbol used by the ancient Egyptians 5,000 years ago. Since then, it has been adopted into other belief systems, most prominently Christianity, which I see as a union between the Old and the New.
The Yin-Yang: Obviously, a symbol of the balance between light & dark, good & evil, passive & aggressive, and every other pair of opposites you can think of. The fact that it is at the crux of the ankh is to show a union between East & West.
The Wings: I am a big fan of angels. And I've always thought that this kind of perfect balance and unity is what separates the angels from humans."

Okay, truth be told, the very last line on there was a retrofitting of the description. The wings began mostly as a flourish, but in the end, they make it look better.

Well, you couldn't have made the final design yourself. No offense, but your early drawings aren't exactly...good.

Right you are!


Oh, yeah. So, I hired somebody online. There are plenty of resources out there for people to make custom tattoo design requests. I happened to come across an artist who was trying to build her rating on one such website (she was an established artist, just new to the site). So, I was offered a discount as an incentive. I then gave my description, and was later told I gave some of the best instruction of any client she's worked with. From this step one, I ended up with the following:Well, we played art tennis and volleyed ideas back and forth over the course of a week. Of these initial sketeches, I had the following thoughts:
-I did not like the first wings; or rather, they wouldn't work for my purposes. They look too much like faerie or even demon wings (which was the exact opposite of what I was going for). The second pair of wings was much more too my liking.
-I'm a symmetry whore. I looooove symmetry. That's why the first ankh stood out to me so much more than the second one. However, I wasn't much too fond of the head/hoop. Too busy; almost looks like a lion's mane. And when you combine it with the wings, it definitely doesn't work.

So time when on, and I got another version of the "final" sketch, but there was something I wasn't too hot-to-trot about: the wings were too enclosed, too relaxed. I felt they needed to be spread out a little more. The artist tried various ways (I didn't like the second one; looks too much like claws), but in the end, we finally settled for what was essentially a final design (minus some ever-so-slight adjustments). And that was that!

Okay, so you then got it done!

Not so fast, buster. This is a major thing; I wasn't going to do it immediately. I actually waited a month before even telling my parents, and then an additional month before I got the tattoo in henna.


Yes, henna. It's really useful for getting a good idea of what the final product is. And when you live in Berkeley, there are several henna artists around campus. So, I went to one. And I ended up with this:Because it was made with a goop, it ended up kinda scabby. But you have to admit, this looks pretty good for being done by hand. And after a week with it (and after the scabby goop fell off and left me with a birthmark-like impression), I decided that I would get it.

And you did right then and there?

Nope, it took another two weeks before I even made the appointment.

Where did you go?

I went to a place called Zebra. It's a pretty famous, popular place. It had also been named "Best of the Bay" by the SF Guardian one year, so it's pretty legitamite. I ended up choosing a tattoo artist named Sonju, who had over 11 years of experience. So I was in good hands.

So, how long did it take to get it done?

Three and a half hours.

Ouch. Did it hurt?

Yes. I'll be honest; it hurt quite a bit. It felt like someone was pinching me with their sharp fingernails, and then dragging it along the skin. But the thing was, it was a very ephemeral pain. When they took the needle off my back, no problem. But when it was on (especially for the fill-in), hoo-boy!

What did you do to cope with the pain?

Most effective: breathing. Focusing on my breathing, and nothing else.

Did you bleed?

A little.

Do you have any pictures?

I do. Here's me with the outline but not the fill-in. If you look closely, you can see some blood in the arm on the left.
Here's me with the bandage on afterward. I'm not exactly sure if that red stuff near the bottom is blood or just the goop they put on afterward.
Here's the first picture with the bandage off.
And here's the picture of the bandage itself.



Soo, how are you feeling about it now, a week later?

Good. It's healing pretty nicely so far, and I've been taking good care of it. And I still like the look of it. So that's good. And the majority of reaction I've gotten has been positive. So that's good.

Okay. How much did this good tatoo cost?

It was hourly, so it ended up being around $350. But when you're dealing with your body, you should be willing to pay the monetary price now to avoid the non-monetary price later.

Good point. Now last question: you've gotten one; are you going to get any more?

If I ever did, it won't be for a while.

I see. Well, that's all I have.

A pleasure to see you again, emboldened disembodied voice! Bye bye!

Monday, July 21, 2008

2 Minutes of Giddiness

I saw The Dark Knight the other day. (Great movie, by the way.) Between trailers for such drivel like Death Race and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (2!), I managed to see one of the most exciting trailers I've seen in a long time.

Don't fully understand? Well, the book is some of the best $11 you'll ever spend.

Hey, Andrew, this has nothing to do with your tattoo.


Friday, July 18, 2008

$$$? >:(

You know, I was hoping on my Community Coordinator stipend to help me with some out-of-pocket expenses at Comic-Con.

...However, absolutely nobody knows how to pay me this stipend. They just keep bouncing the responsibility around from division to division.

Well, it's better than it was before, when absolutely nobody (except me), even knew I was supposed to be paid a stipend.

Remember, kids: read your contracts! And make sure everyone else does!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Well Now...

Okay, I've been giving you little teasers, little oddities, but I suppose I should just show you the final product...

(Note: This picture is completely unrelated. I just thought it would spoil things.)

I'll be explaining later, but you can just digest this picture for now.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

François! NOOOO!!!!

He grew too much for his own good...

He couldn't support his own weight...

Not even my pencil-turned-brace solutions could help...


The other arm didn't last much longer. And he was this close to blooming beautifully!!!


I'm sorry, François. I tried to take good care of you, to keep you watered, to keep you growing. In the end, I may have killed you.

R.I.P. François Schnorr
June 13, 2008 - July 16, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Button-less Shame

Oh, I forgot to mention this.

Remember how I was going to have buttons and postcards for Elderly Apple at Comic-Con?

Well, long story short, it ain't going to happen.

Short story long (or maybe medium length), I sent in my finalized designs several weeks back to be approved as family-friendly, and to receive the address to which I would send the materials to be put on the freebie table. I had no doubt that I would pass the family-friendly test, as I don't use profanity, don't have graphic violence, and would be completely lost on kids, save for the pictures. So it was just a matter of them looking at my pieces so I could get some confirmation.

As such, I waited.

And waited.

...And waited.

And heard nothing. Not one word. Neither one way or the other. Days, a full week passed. I was becoming concerned. So, I decided to call their Press Relations department (who were in charge of the approval).

Him: "Hello?"
Me: "Hello, I was hoping I could speak with Christopher Jansen, please."
Him: "May I ask what you're calling in regards to?"
Me: "I had sent an application out a while ago to put some promotional materials on the Comic-Con freebie table, but I hadn't heard back."
Him: "Okay. Your name."
Me: "Andrew Schnorr"
Him: "And your company?"
Me: "Elderly Apple Comics."
Him: "Ebony Apple?"
Me: "Elderly Apple."
Him: "Okay, so you have a question about the freebie table?"
Me: "Yes."
Him: "Okay, you're going to want to speak with our press relations department."
Me: "Yes, I know. I was hoping to be patched through to them."
Him: "And you're going to want to speak with Christopher Jansen."
Me: "Um...yes. That's who I asked to speak with."
Him: "Okay, give me a second."
[Three minutes later.]
Him: "Sir, I'm sorry, but Chris is currently busy. Would you like to wait, or would you rather me take a message."
Me: "I'll wait."
Him: "It may be a while."
Me: "I'm willing to wait as long as necessary."
[Ten minutes later.]
Him: "Sir, I'm afraid Chris is in a conference meeting."
Me: "I can wait."
Him: "Sir, a more expedient method of contacting Chris would be through email. He answers immediately."
Me: "I sent Mr. Jansen an email regarding this situation well over a week ago. He has not responded in any way."
Him: "Oh. Well, you see, Chris is currently backed up with email. It may be some time before he responds."
Me: "My promotional materials publisher has a strict turnaround period, and I need an answer soon."
Him: "You may want to call again later."
Me: "Will he actually be available?"
Him: "He should be."

And so I called back later that day. Another conference meeting. I called again the next day. Twice. Two more conference meetings. And again and again for seven days! I'm pretty sure Christopher Jansen is a Patrick Bateman-like slacker in the office, always making excuses to get out of phone calls and meetings.

So, after a full week of calling, I finally get hold of one of Christopher Jansen's underlings. After a lengthy conversation, I was basically told that it was pretty much too late at this point, and if I didn't get an email in the next couple days, there was no chance (needless to say, I didn't get an email within a couple days). My favorite part of the conversation was the end:

Him: "Sir, you really can't blame us. You should have sent in your materials at least a week ago."
Me: "I sent my materials in two-and-a-half weeks ago."
Him: "Oh. Sorry."
Me: "...Thank you." [Click.]

So...yeah. You're not going to see people walking around the Con wearing buttons of a bar of soap slipping on his own residue. It just wasn't meant to be. On the bright side, I don't have to pay the hundreds of dollars to get it all printed, right?

...Am I right, folks?

My Back...

You know, I have a pretty okay back.

Perhaps a bit too freckled for my taste, but for the most part, it's nice, clean, and untainted.

...Just, um, just throwing that out there.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Well, It Took 5 Months...

But it's finally over! I have an apartment! A nice one! And as of today, I can walk into it! It's all done.

(Yes, my roommates and I still have to get utilities set up.
Electricity, cable, internet, etc.
And I have to buy/borrow/steal furniture.
And move it all in.)

...But still! I've got the room! Drinks are on me!*

*No drinks will be provided.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I Need to Make Sure No Agents Knock on My Door

On July 5, 2008, at 2:03:52am, I received a message on my cell phone. Sender? No name. Sender's phone number? "3729". The message? As follows:
jmagok@jillfeinbaker.com / / just take a look at this smallcap
Symbol-chgy, China Energy Corp
Hand off

After some searching...

JillFeinBaker.com - Jill FeinBaker is a licensed clinical social worker in Skokie, Illonois.

jmagok@jillfeinbaker.com - No hits, recomends "jmagick@jillfeinbaker.com" instead. Still, no hits. Why don't I ask Jill herself, you say? Well, Mr. Smartypants, I actually did that. Her response: "I am sorry, that address is not affiliated with me." However, I don't believe it's a completely bogus email, because I actually sent a message to it, and though I received no response, I also didn't receive a Mailer Daemon response.

jmagok - By itself, the only hit seems to be a misprint in some book written in God-knows-what.

smallcap - Either referring to a typography type or a company which has less than $2 billion of market capitalization. My guess is it's the latter.

chgy - A legitimate stock symbol.

China Energy Corp - The name is pretty self-explanantory. I looked up CEC to see if there were any recent news articles relating to it, and found one. The article is an investment one which suggests that oil prices will continue to rise, and any speculators calling their stocks now are mistaken.

Hand off - This one really gets me. We all know what "hand off" means, but in what context? Perhaps it has to with cellular communications...(I'll admit, most of that article went over my head)...or perhaps it has to do with a stock handoff...though I don't entirely know what that entails...

Now, I was thinking back to the number that sent the message to me...3729. Could it mean something more? So, I downloaded this numbers-to-words program. In the end, I ended up with 81 different jumbles of letters, the only two words being "draw" and "fray". But the rest, they looked so much like...stock symbols?

Hence, I took all those 4-letter messes and pasted them into Google Finance. I found that some were indeed ticker symbols.
DRAX - "Drax Group plc is a United Kingdom-based company that is principally engaged in the power generation business operating in the commodity markets of power, coal, biomass and carbon." (!!!)
DRAY - "DrayTek Corporation is a provider of network security, remote access and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) solutions for residentials and small and medium-sized enterprises."
DSCY - Discovery Oil Ltd. (!!!)
EPAX - "Ambassadors Group, Inc. (Ambassadors) is an educational travel company that organizes and promotes international and domestic programs for students, athletes and professionals."
EPAY - "Bottomline Technologies (de), Inc. is engaged in providing electronic payment and invoice solutions to corporations, financial institutions and banks around the world."
ERCX - E.R.C. Energy (!!!)
FRBW - "Frederick Brewing Co. is a specialty brewer that brews, kegs and bottles at its brewery in Frederick, Maryland, for wholesale to its 140 independent distributors, more than 20 styles of flavored beers under the brand names of Blue Ridge, Wild Goose and Brimstone."

Three energy-related companies! Now we're getting somewhere. The latter two are small potatoes (in fact, Discovery Oil Ltd.'s company profile on BusinessWeek says "Discovery Oil, Ltd. does not have significant operations."), but Drax seems to be on its feet, with a stock price of over $760 (or are they pounds?).

In fact, according to some news articles, it looks like Drax is growing, and is even thinking of expanding.


I think I may have figured it out. Now, bear with me...

In order to extend Drax Group's growth, China Energy Corp will "hand off" much of its stock to the British company. Being a smallcap company, they can more easily do this, and by doing this, their stock price will increase dramatically! This J. Magok, even if they're not associated with Jill FeinBaker, is one of the few people who are willing to go and put this information out there.

What does this mean for me?

It means...it means...it means I sure know how to waste an afternoon.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Worst. Fireworks. Ever.

Damn you, mother nature!

You and your clouds have ruined America!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

30-Minute Therapy

All related videos have been taken off of YouTube. All that's left are parodies.

Any attempts to find episodes is either prohibitively expensive or questionably legal.

It airs on TV, but only once a week (and, inconveniently, in the middle of the day).

Still, one way or another, I will watch my Bob Ross/Joy of Painting relaxation session!

...Even if I have to watch this one episode every time!

(Ed. Note: Here's a bonus clip, for the hell of it!)