Archive for the 'General Business' Category

Backup Backup Backup

Last week, the hard drive on my iMac died. Died completely. Couldn’t even get it to boot from the system install DVD it was that bad. Took it to an Apple Certified Repair store and they got a new drive in there and had it ready for me for pickup yesterday (4/14: I am pre-dating this blog to keep Steve’s on top). Right now, I am restoring my system in its entirety from a Time Machine backup I made the day before the hard drive died. With any luck, I will be using my iMac with all software, settings, files, etc. as it was before, as if nothing had happened.

I was lucky. My hard drive was making strange sounds that I thought were suspicious and after looking up some threads on the Apple Boards, I knew that I needed to make a complete backup of my hard drive immediately. Most of the time, a drive just dies without warning….

So for those of you who work on computers on a daily basis (and that’s pretty much everyone here), let my experience serve as a very important reminder to make a complete backup of your hard drive–not just your work files and such–using Time Machine or other Boot Copy software at least twice a month. There’s lots of good articles and suggestions on software and hard drives that serve this function well. It’s one thing to loose your work, but there’s also all the software you use, all the preferences and plug-ins and other support applications/functions you use on a daily basis without thinking, your mail threads, address book, photos, music, etc. Should you lose these, I doubt any of us can really recall the stuff on our drives well enough to go and download them again from the web. Can you remember all the sites you’ve bookmarked on your browser(s)? Backing up your entire drive for possible system restore purposes is the best insurance against loosing everything.


As part of my recent introspection, the one thing I realized is that I was spending an inordinate amount of time thinking of ways to help people become successful while completely ignoring my own…”success” for lack of a better word. Well, I decided that it was time to be a little selfish. Afterall, they say if you’re on a plane with your child and there’s an emergency that causes the oxygen masks to come down, you should first put your own mask on first; the logic being, that if something happens to you, you definitely will not be able to help your child.

Well, my child is this thing I have been trying to start with friends to assist Japanese indie filmmakers. Unfortunately, it’s been slow going, and has been occupying way too much of my time without any real benefit for me other than to fulfill a desire to get more films seen by a wider range of people. That is going to take a backseat for the interim as well as the translation/design thing…which is a spotty affair at best—very seasonal, and prone to being blown around by financial winds.

To secure a more stable and at least guaranteed month-to-month work/pay, I have gone back to funnies. Don’t get me wrong, I wish I didn’t have to, but after months of looking for other types of work, it was becoming apparent that finding a job at my age and skills (for stuff desired in Japan which doesn’t involve teaching English), would be close to improbable. So, I went back to the industry where at least I knew I could trade on my name for something. I contacted Marvel because the company has its shit together and I know a lot of editors there with whom I have had good working relations in the past. Even asking specifically for one-shots and mini-series because of the nature of my translation work, it didn’t take long after I contacted them to be sent an offer, the legal stuff to sign, access to their FTP to receive and send work, and clear technical specifics and operational procedures. Like I said, they have their shit together. I’ll actually be working for a writer/illustrator with whom I worked in the past so it was a pleasant reunion of sorts. I should be starting on the project this month, taking me through to May.

I’m coloring again. A necessary evil, but one that will at least let me feel a tad bit more secure about my situation until I can get bigger and better things going.

More Macross Pachinko

Here are two more spots in long version. I think these truly put to shame Michael Bay’s whole idea to transforming robots. His edict to “make it real” is completely rendered worthless when viewing how the transformations are handled in these spots, particularly the first one. No one cares to see where every nut and bolt goes. Give the audience hints at the mechanics, and just let it happen quickly enough to keep the action going.

Murphy’s Design Laws

More here, but some of my favorites (and unfortunately personally experienced):

  • Speed. Quality. Affordability.  Pick two.
  • If three designs are shown to a client, your least favorite will be chosen.
  • If two designs are shown, a third will be requested.  If provided, then one of the first two will be chosen.
  • Doctors, astronauts, and plumbers need training to do their jobs, but anyone with a copy of Publisher is a graphic designer
  • The client’s disk won’t run on your equipment
  • Your client won’t “get it.”


Domo for Target

Japan is here.

I thought it was weird enough to see teenage girls sitting in the aisles of Barnes and Noble reading manga, but now Target is using an obscure Japanese Television Mascot as the symbol for their Halloween seasonal offerings.

Domo for Target

The days of traversing the seedy back rooms of comic shops to find anything Japanese are over.

Conundrum (Update)

So, over the weekend, Rumiko and I drove down to my director acquaintance’s home. He lives to the south of us, a little passed Kamakura which we all went to (the place with the big seated Buddha) when you guys visited. It’s a kind of summer resort town, very quaint and somewhat well-to-do. There’s a kind of Soho or Hillcrest kind of feel to it (minus the gay community). He lives in a modest, but stylish home with his wife (an actress), two sons, his mother and his grandmother.

We talked about films, his upcoming trip to Cannes and just got to know one another better. It’s funny that a lot of conversation was on the topic of being a freelancer and the pratfalls of trying to survive in an industry notorious for not sharing the wealth with its ancillary support roles. Ahem. Well, this ultimately made bringing up the sticky subject of our dilemma much more natural. And I am happy to say that at least in this case, I can believe in the goodness in men. He was very upfront and open to the way Rumiko brought up the subject of what to do about invoicing for the work I had done so far. He apologized for never ever really discussing the matter in detail and suggested a way we could proceed from now on. He also acknowledged that he, too, was thinking about how to bring up the subject matter and had it not been brought up on that day, it would have made our working relationship a bit more tense. And though I certainly was glad to hear that from his end, that little voice in me said, “Well, then why didn’t you say something first…”

Anyway, things are sorted out, as the British say and it looks like we can continue our working and personal relationship without that anvil hanging over our heads. On a sidenote, his wife also handles much of his business affairs, kind of like how I have started entrusting Rumiko to handle mine. Why? Because it seems we both just accept work without really discussing compensation with the customer. We both seem to like to work, but have really poor business sense.

Carry on.

Sorry, I’ve been AWOL

Nothing interesting of note in this post, just glad to be back on the Cadre — my tower died and I didn’t save my bookmarks, and then I couldn’t remember my username…how sad when the memory starts to go.

So, a quick update of  all the excitement going on here:

As I mentioned, my seven-year-old G4 flipped out, so I found a Mac Pro and an Apple Cinema Display on the refurbished section of Go me! I’ll have to put up with the jury-rigged laptop and dying monitor until the new machine arrives. The old machine’s in the shop right now and, if repairs aren’t too pricey, it’ll be resurrected as a scanning station for Randy’s art sales business.

Yesterday morning, a tree fell on our house. Small tree, didn’t have far to go, so it didn’t do a lot of damage, but it did poke a 1′ x 3′ hole in the roof over the carport, and crimped the water heater’s vent. This is the second time a tree has fallen in my neighborhood in four months. The first tree (a huge oak that crushed a house) was termite-damaged; this one was dry-rotted and filled with carpenter ants. Even though we’ve been getting regular rain about once a week, the long drought has done its damage. I wonder how many more trees will crumble?

I have not seen any movies lately. My deadlines have been back-to-back, and this week will be the worst. Ouch. But Astonishing X-Men is now finished and off my plate, so at least there’s that. Secret Invasion is frickin’ KILLING me. Why did I ever think a big summer crossover would be cool?? There are like fifty bozillion characters!! AUGH.

The book: “Telling Stories with Color” is still in draft stage. I think it’s supposed to be on the stands in September, but that may have changed because I needed a lot more time on the drafts than originally planned. It feels like I’m rushing through it; the design is a bit crap and I’m having to cram a lot of information into not-enough pages, but whatever. I just want it finished, but carving out time in my schedule to dedicate to it has been impossible. Next week I should have time to get chapter 2 under control, and fine-tune chapter 1; then it’ll feel like I’m getting somewhere.

Cat update: we have four now, officially. Mina, whom some of you know, is still kicking, but slowing waaay down; Frankie, who joined the family right after the Japan trip; and we adopted two strays, Mei-mei (an unbelievably affectionate and vocal Russian Blue, who is currently an indoor/outdoor cat) and Gracie (also very friendly, but hates being indoors).

Well, that’s about it. I’d better get back to work — I gotta get through 15 pages of Thor by tomorrow morning, then 15-17 pages of Secret Invasion by Friday morning. NO FUN.

Hey, anyone wanna go on a Geek Cruise in November? It’s basically a Mac conference on a cruise ship. The Mediterranean; Egypt; Greece; Italy Turkey; Cyprus. – parties of 4 or more get 10% off both the conference and the cruise. Trish Mulvihill and the Hories are already signed up… and it’s a tax writeoff, since it’s all about training!

Okay, gotta go. Sorry this is such a me-me-me post. ;)

– Laura


I am in a bit of a professional crisis. No, nothing drastic as what am I going to do with my life or any of that. However, a recent event is forcing me to reevaluate how I have and should be conducting my business.

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