Monday, September 29, 2008

Extreme Home Makeover in my hometown

The Mister: Hey, did you hear that Extreme Home..."
Me: Makeover's in town? Yes, I did.
The Mister: (pouts)
Me: What's wrong?
The Mister: Your spies are better than mine

I heard through the gossip grapevine that Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was in my hometown of Holt, MI this week. Apparently they've got the entire block closed off for camera and construction crews.

The family story is thus: Dad, a nurse, died from Hepatitis C after a needle stick and a long struggle. Mom and kids are off to Disney World while the crew fixes up the house. It's a sad story, as are all the Extreme Makeover stories, and it will hopefully turn out for the best.

I don't know when this one is going to air, but the new season just kicked off Sunday, September 28th.

Michigan's been hit pretty hard by the economic storm that everybody's facing right now. Our economy and housing market has been slumped for longer than most. So it's nice to see a Midwest family getting some spotlight here.

However, Extreme Makeover isn't a free pass. The sad thing is some Extreme Home Makeover houses have gone into foreclosure recently. Usually because of not being able to pay taxes, change in family situation and that sort of thing. It's something to keep in mind that as much as the show can help people, it's entertainment first, and charity second. If the producers were really serious about helping people, they'd donate some seed money for taxes and would offer financial counseling and advice.

I mean, It's nice that the family gets to go on vacation while other people redo their house, but perhaps they should instead go to counseling boot camp. Or stay in town and help work on the house. To contrast, "Habitat for Humanity requires homeowners to put in "sweat equity," to work on the house with the other people who are volunteering their time. That gets them more emotionally invested in the house, I think. Also, Habitat's houses aren't so Extreme. They are modest, comfortable houses for families with mortgage payments and property taxes that the families can actually afford.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

You can't have Manga (or, maybe, you can)

Sometimes, I shall do reviews of things. This post is one of them.

Mahalo Page Review: How To Draw Manga

Context: I’m a writer, not an artist. I have read a couple books and drawn a few pencil sketches but had never gotten much further than that. I can draw a pretty decent Dalek, though.

Pros: Very comprehensive. Good info on the basic supplies that one will need to get started. Page is divided into 10 sections: 2 intro sections, 6 how-to sections and a conclusion. Lots of links to several different sites with good visual examples. Straightforward and well-organized.

Cons: A little too comprehensive. The “what is manga” info is unnecessary and could be shortened. Doesn’t work as a stand-alone, that is, without clicking on the links. Needs a section on using 3-dimensional models for people (like me) who have trouble visualizing. Maybe a troubleshooting section. I can draw a cube by looking at it, but not from memory.

Bottom line: Mahalo’s a content clearinghouse, not a content creator. If you use the how-to page as a starting place and a jumping off point, it’s a great resource that’s not limited to a specific web site. But you’re not going to go from stick figures to busty anime babes just by reading the guide.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New gig

I've been working for the search engine Mahalo for the better party of three months. It's been keeping me very busy.

Mahalo is a people-powered search engine that is half Google and half Wikipedia. Paid guides write pages on news, sports, celebrities and general interest topics.

I love the job, because I get to write factual blurbs about tons of different topics. I've written notes about the FDIC, presidential polls and Lindsay Lohan's ex-girlfriend's new girlfriend.

It's grunt work, not glamorous, but it's the type of work I like to do. And the people at Mahalo are pretty amazing. It's a fast-paced environment with high standards, but it's also very friendly and open.

And it pays. Now if I can just balance Mahalo with the day job with keeping my household running smoothly with spending time with friends, I'll be all set.

Look for a time management post coming sometime soon.