Christmas 2018 Decorating

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It’s Christmas time again, so again this year I put up my Christmas decorations. During our going-over of the too many Christmas decorations we had I found a few that would work in my little studio that Dad didn’t want to use and added them to my own set. There were a few I wouldn’t have minded having but we had no place for, like the big snow globes. I did find a small snow globe that fits, so that was good.

I forgot to take a picture of it, but the flying rig for that Reindeer display is getting worse than when I first reviewed it, and I’ve only been using it to keep the sleigh team standing. The part Rudolph connects to broke off of the rig completely. and I really hope the company has redesigned the thing by now because it’s otherwise still a nice display. As for the new decorations I put together a gallery to show them off.

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Christmas Decoration Overload

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The amount of Christmas decorations I have are fine; just enough to make the studio room festive. For the whole house however, we had way too many Christmas decorations. We had decorations we hadn’t put up in years even before my mom got sick and a few we never put out at all. Now that she’s gone and he’s gotten older he doesn’t want to put out all those decorations, just a small tree and a few things to make it look like Christmas. So this week my Dad and I went through the decorations and lightened our load.

The pictures you’ll be seeing in this week’s report is not from that project. I didn’t take any. The dishes project was a rarity. Usually when I help my dad out I don’t take pictures because he doesn’t really care about the blog so much as getting it done. Instead, to break the text wall, I’ll be using images of my own Christmas decorations for the benefit of your eyes.

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Quick Report: From Vinyl To Digital

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In a rare commentary for this site I talked about the return of vinyl records and made a defense for physical media not necessarily being clutter. I stand by that. I still enjoy playing records. My dad still enjoys playing records and has been going through all the old records he and my late mother collected over the years. I have a few but by the time I had regular income cassettes and CD had taken over. Records are great. I also like cassettes and CDs but most of our old 8-tracks are in too poor a shape to even play anymore so I think we got rid of them. That’s the problem with magnetic tape. It doesn’t last as long as vinyl and compact disks, and those don’t even last forever.

However, few people have a record player alarm clock (if that even exists) and good luck playing one in your car. I think they did make travel record players that you could use in a moving vehicle without it jumping but those were pricey and didn’t last long. I used to have a Mickey Mouse travel record player when I was a boy but I don’t remember if that was battery-powered or if you had to plug it in. I was sad when it stopped working. At some point in more recent years my parents were without a record player at all and needed a new one. Having a job at the time I was able to buy them a record player but couldn’t afford a decent system. Then I came across a device you could connect to the computer to record the vinyl to digital format for burning to CDs and I bought them that. My mother passed before I got it working, just another regret I have.

Not wanting to do that again to my dad this week I decided to forgo the clutter cleaning and get the player working so he could record music to the CDs to play by his bedside or in the car. At home he can use the regular record player he bought some time later (didn’t need a computer or extra speakers since it came with them) but not by his bed to wake up on days he needs to get up at a certain time, and certainly not while driving. I still don’t know why the music won’t play through the speakers but I found out where the recordings were saving to. I do have a problem with how it auto-separates tracks in an instrumental that takes a long enough pause in the song but I can always re-edit that in Audacity. The point is the thing works and I can make recordings of the records for use when he isn’t by the record player. It won’t replace the record. The sound isn’t the same. However, I do like having options and I have an old Doctor Who sound effects record I can digitize for use some time in the future. Now I just need to test the cassette tape set-up. We both have tape decks in our cars (I don’t have a CD player in mine) but he doesn’t have that by his bedside, either. It’s not as important to do right now, and I need to get ready for Christmas decorating next month. Someday though.

Quick Report: Drives And Media Libraries

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I was going to dust in the bathroom today but for some reason I was really tired all day. But I did get some stuff done. My dad recently purchased one of those external floppy drives because we both have floppy disks from the days when those mattered, and there are still some fun games on them. Not all of them will work in his Windows 8 computer but they’ll work on my XP laptop and maybe even his 7 laptop if we can get it running again. So I had to see if that was working. Seems to be okay.

I spent the rest of the day finally getting back to my other site’s media library, filling in the descriptions to better find an image I might need. It’s a nice trip down memory lane as my 10th anniversary running that site is this month. I got through all of 2010’s pictures, and if that took most of the day you can imagine how many images I had to go through, taking time away to avoid eye strain of course. Next time I have to work on 2011. It’s not much but at least I did something today.

Doing The Dishes…Cabinet

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This week’s project is dusting and that’s hardly interesting. However, I did so something with my dad last week while filing the book report. We used to have parties and people coming over. We weren’t party central or anything but we did celebrated birthdays and some other holidays. If not here, then we went other places and some of this week’s clutter would be used for that. Or would have been if most of what was up there was anything we used.

You know how you get plates as presents for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, or Christmas that you don’t use? We had a big collection of that. Some plates were also bought thinking we’d use them and maybe we did for some gathering but there were more plates than three people, sadly now two, would ever dirty even on Thanksgiving. So last week we decided it was time to start making room in the cabinets.

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Book Report: The Death And Life Of Superman

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Let’s talk about comics for a moment. This isn’t a comic but it is a novelization of one of the biggest storylines in comics. It’s one maybe you heard of: the death of Superman. During the 1990s there were four Superman titles (not counting miniseries, one-shots, and specials plus his appearances in other titles), each with its own writer. The writers would get together and hash out story ideas. But one was rather bold–let’s kill Superman!

At the time there few villains who could stand up to Superman on a physical level. The only one most of you have probably heard of is Darkseid due to recent live-action TV and movie appearances, or maybe you know some from the various cartoons over the years like Bizarro or Metallo. (There has never been a good live-action Metallo but the animated ones can really kick hero butt.) Most of Superman’s foes would have to challenge him mentally. For all his great powers there are ways around them, which is something I discussed in a vlog once on my other site. This is why Lex Luthor (a mad scientist with an obsession with proving his intellectual superiority above every one in the old days and an evil businessman wanting power and respect even if he didn’t deserve it nowadays) is Superman’s arch-enemy despite lacking even a quarter of Superman’s physical power. He challenges Superman to use his superbrain as much as his supermuscles.

But what about someone who could not only go Mano-a-Mano with the Man of Steel but win in a fist fight? That intrigued the writers and they eventually came up with Doomsday. While his origin would wait for a later story I’ve already reviewed, he was a brute of a monster whom Superman would defeat but at the cost of his own life. Of course he wouldn’t stay dead because at the time he was DC’s most popular superhero, and even today when Batman appears to have the top spot he’s still what people think of when they think of a superhero. His power set is almost clichéd at this point. But the story doesn’t end with Superman’s death, and his resurrection would only come after mourning and the debut of new heroes.

We aren’t looking at the actual comic however. This is the novelization by Roger Stern, one of the writers of the three arcs and already known for his novels as well as his comics. While I haven’t read most of the comics in question, I do wonder how the novelization compares to the original. If you want to read the individual chapter by chapter reviews I have them on my other site. This is an overall look at the book itself.

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Quick Report: Updating My Media Library part 2

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Recently in my virtual clutter projects I talked about organizing the media library of this website, so I could more easily find a photo that would work in a current article that I used in a past one. Well, I run another website, the one I occasionally borrow media reviews from. This one usually updates every day, barring life issues, instead of weekly and has been running for a lot longer. So there are a lot more images on that site to go over. This collection of files on the site is referred to as a media library, so don’t confuse it with me doing things with my videos or comics or something. Since this week included buttoning up and disconnected my air conditioners as the weather in Connecticut gets colder I decided this would be an easy project.

“Easy” does not mean quick. In the time I had, with a few extra hours taken from the day before, I only managed to get up to 2010. That includes the first two months of 2008 the site was running and all of 2009. This being 2018 and not counting the large amount of time off took in 2016 or when I had a service called Zemanta (later named Sovrn) that I could use for images (the service no longer exists and I don’t know where to find a replacement service for images and external site links connected to a topic, which also hurts this site), there is still a whole lot of work. Comic reviews, images used in articles, logos…it all has to be gone through. As I get closer to modern-day there will be more images with searchable descriptions I can use to find what I want (I’ve gotten better at that recently) but I have to put those descriptions on years worth of pictures.

If I was able to do two months a day I could do a year a week, but considering I failed to do something similar with the emails I will be happily surprised if I pull that off. I found images I didn’t remember I had and images I knew I had but would never come up because they weren’t titled or described right. With this problem solved things will run smoother, as hopefully they will with the site you’re currently reading which I also organized. I’ve still got time to go through the physical clutter before I decorate for Christmas, a time where other projects will dominate. I may return to the virtual clutter then when I don’t have other projects to do first. But the image organizing has to be done. It’s one of those projects I put off for too long. Add to the list I guess. This one is more “professional” than other clutter projects but it’s still clutter and fighting clutter is what this site is about. So onward I press.

Organizing The Cables

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Some time ago I went and organized the drawer I keep various cords and other things for my computer or TV/VCR setups. (Twice as you can see from the links.) Over time it got a bit disorganized (as things do), but it was because I was trying to find something specific and had to dig around to find it. This week I decided to try to get it back in shape. Plus I wanted to get rid of that box you see in the corner since it’s hard to go through as well. Baggies were the answer to my problem. (It’s usually baggies or cardboard with me, isn’t it?)

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Comic Report: Batman Chronicles–The Gauntlet

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I got back the laptop I use for the art corner but I haven’t had time to work on my comic or do some other stuff I wanted to set up on the old thing. That was my project this week, but probably not very interesting to you guys. So here’s another recent “Scanning My Collection” article from the other site so you have something worth reading. And in light of the recent Titans streaming series on DC’s new streaming service even more appropriate now than when I first posted it. Enjoy.


 

The art of the sidekick is dead or dying. Merriam-Webster defines the sidekick as “a person closely associated with another as a subordinate or partner“. Often mistaken for just being comic relief the sidekick is learning from the hero or is there to provide back-up for the hero. In the world of superheroes, sidekicks are…or were…receiving training from the hero but not yet good enough to go completely on their own. From Robin the Boy Wonder to Kid Flash to Bucky Barnes, the sidekicks can graduate to take over a mantle or become their own hero, but they start out aiding their mentors.

Nowadays that doesn’t happen. The Robin of today is already highly trained by assassins and an equal to Batman despite his young age. If he’s learning anything, Damien has to respect others, including and especially his teammates. But as Tim Drake noted, Robin also served another purpose. He keeps Batman from going too far over the edge, from falling into the proverbial abyss. Meanwhile, Batman chose the first Robin before the memory of his parents’ murder ruined Dick Grayson the way it did Bruce Wayne. We all know how Batman trained Dick Grayson to become the first Robin, but do you know the story of his final exam?

Batman Chronicles: The Gauntlet isn’t some huge, Earth-shatteringly epic story. It’s a one-shot story in a short graphic novel. It’s the story of Robin’s “final exam”, the last step in proving he’s ready to become Batman’s partner. It’s one of my favorite Robin stories. So why does it stand out for me?

“Shadow puppets? Really, Bruce?”

Batman Chronicles: The Gauntlet

DC Comics (1997)

WRITERS/ARTIST: Bruce Canwell & Lee Weeks

COLORS/SEPARATIONS: Matt Hollingsworth

LETTERER: Albert DeGuzman

EDITOR: Darren J. Vincenzo

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Quick Report: Updating My Media Library

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One problem I’ve had with doing article is finding the right image from my media library. I don’t always have to upload a new image every time, when the old images I have can work to showcase what a project was, especially a quick project like this one. However, there are a number of times when I enter something to search my media library and even though I’m sure I have it I can’t find it. When I just need an old picture to make a point it’s not to be found, although sometimes I can dig into my library and find it. Nowadays I’m pretty good at naming photos for tracking down later but in the old days especially I didn’t really think about it. So this week I went through my old pictures in my media library and updated the descriptions and in a few cases the title for better exploring. This may also solve the problem of the same handful of images coming up for a topic when I know I have more. This is something I was going to while taking time off from my other site (which also needs this project done, but more so because there are more images) but then my computer went down the same time as the laptop I use for my art corner which could in a pinch act as a back-up for making content. So I had nothing to work with. Now the images here at The Clutter Reports should be easier to find. I know this doesn’t affect you much but it will make things easier for me, which is the whole point of this project.

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