The Shiny Pen

Friday, September 04, 2009

Moving to a New Spot

The TGAPGeorge personal blog will no longer be here on, the blog itself isn't going anywhere--this thing has been on here for years!--but updates, new stuff, and actual blog happenings will be found at:

Feel free to come take a sneaky-peaky.

Write like you don't have a backspace and edit later...

First Novel... Check!

After many late nights and much gnashing of teeth, Under the Gun has jumped through all the hoops and is now a real book!How cool is that?

Of all the things I've written, it's unique.Actually, as a business novel, it's one of only a few in the genre.

Under The GUn

Under the Gun: How to Start and Lose a Business in Six Months

I still can't believe it sometimes.Head over to Barnes & Noble and treat yourself to a copy!

Write like you don't have a backspace and edit later...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

TGAPGeorge on Sweet Success Radio!

There are a lot of things in life that most people don't get to do.Of all those things, there are a lot that people either don't think about, or simply take for granted.I believe being on the radio is one of those things.

I mean, it's not like TV.That's still pretty big... like how radio used to be.In any case, I never really thought about being on the radio as an item on my "must do" list.Then my friend Bill Byrd started his own show, and nationally at that on Sirius radio.Suddenly, radio was cool again.

But it was still just, well, radio.At least, that's how I felt until Bill invited me to be on the show.In seconds, radio went from being a quaint medium from a bygone age to "Oh man, my voice will be heard across the nation!What am I gonna say?"Yeah, I was a little nervous.

To combat the angst, I started writing.I wrote down topics that I knew pretty well.I wrote questions I wanted to be asked.I wrote down the answers too, for my questions and any Bill might throw at me.I practiced in the mirror.I practiced in the car.I gave long orations and lectures for the dogs -- and they seemed quite impressed with me.

Saturday arrived and I was feeling fine... about half the time.It took awhile to leave the house, not because of the jitters, but mainly because of the question, "What does one wear to a radio debut?"

I found the recording studio without a problem (it is in a Seminary School).On any other day, I would have described the room as small, cramped even, with archaic oversized microphones, and that funny pyramid foam padding nailed to the walls.

With my interview looming, the room that day seemed to be the height of technology.In front of Bill's chair were two computer screens, and the room was divided in half, with steps leading to a hi-tech booth that overlooked the "talent" from behind a huge pane of glass.

I was greeted warmly and shown to my chair opposite Bill.As a distraction from my from my nervousness, I began to fixate on little details.I noticed they had provided a small Styrofoam cup filled with water, resting on a gold-plated coaster that was stamped with the seal of the school and inlaid in the surface of the table.I noticed that the arms that held both Bill's and my microphones were bolted to a wide wooden divider that ran the length of table, and their positions constricted my view so that I could only make eye contact with Bill one eye at a time.The room was cold.

They ran me through the few but important rules of being on the radio.Get comfortable then don't move.Lay out your papers so you don't have to move them; the rustling noise is easily picked up.Position your mic so that you don't have to move your head, then don't move your head -- not even to look at Teresa the Co-Host on my right when answering a question from her.

We chatted a bit about what we would talk about on air and I felt fine.We got the 30-second warning from the techs in the booth and I felt fine.The intro music swelled in my headphones, Bill began to talk and, yes, I felt fine.

Then Bill greeted his radio audience, "Going out live across the country... with my guest, George," and suddenly I wasn't fine.My hands became cold and clammy.The pre-show conversation about how Bill had a "cough-button" to mute himself and I didn't flashed before my eyes.Of course, right then and there, more than any other time in my life, I felt the urge to cough.

I knew the first five minutes was all Bill's, that he wouldn't even ask me to say hi, but still, I was poised -- heh, catlike -- ready to jump in instantly.I had my notes laid out before me -- positioned of course so that I wouldn't rustle the papers -- and I reviewed them carefully, only moving my eyeballs and not my head.

Finally, I could tell Bill was building up to my first words.He was introducing me, telling the national audience who I was, what I've done, and why they should care.He didn't pause for me to say "hi", just moved seamlessly into the first question.

It was an easy question, a lay-up.It was simple, basically asking me how I became a writer.I've told the story, the summary, and the synopsis of this tale thousands of times before to thousands of people so this was one of the things I didn't write down in my notes.Of course when Bill stopped for my answer, my mind went blank.

I pictured truck drivers across the country smirking at their radios.I pictured Ma and Pa sitting in the parlor of their farm house, leaning toward the large, wood-paneled radio while muttering, "City boy."I even had a flash of that movie scene where everyone in Times Square, NYC is still and hushed, all peering at the jumbo-tron and waiting.

It seemed like an eternity of delay before I managed to get something out -- I've listened to the podcast, it's not nearly that long.I began talking, trying to sound intelligent, trustworthy, or at the very least, coherent.While I told my tale, I -- and you can as well -- pictured a little Me, running frantically around the suddenly messy library in my mind, grabbing handfuls of papers containing descriptions, stories, and anecdotes and rushing them to the harried stenographer whose machine was wired directly to my mouth.

I finally stopped talking.There was a slight pause, and Bill nodded "Okay."I had done it!I don't think I really answered his question and I may have sounded like a deranged cockatoo that's just learned to repeat some phrases, but dang it, I made it!Of course there was still 54 minutes left in the show...

Which went fine.After that, I calmed down and just had a chat with Bill and Teresa about business for an hour.It was a lot of fun.I wouldn't want to do it every week, but I'll definitely go back.If they want me to, that is.

Check out three parts of my radio debut will be posted this week.There's podcasts of Bill's show every week so even if you don't have Sirius radio, you can still listen in.

Tune in next week when our intrepid hero confronts the evil doctor...

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Craft of War: Blind

Now, I've liked machinima since right before it got the label "machinima."(Machinima is animation using a video game's engine.)I used to watch RedVsBlue all the time, and still do occasionally.If you haven't seen a RedVsBlue episode, please stop breaking big rocks into small rocks and ask the warden if you can visit the computer room.

Yesterday, I came across something that blew my mind.It's a machinima short made with the World of Warcraft game engine, but... well, it's just incredible.It's The Craft of War: Blind by Percula.Here is his triumph:

The Craft of War: BLIND from percula on Vimeo.

Percula admits he used to work in animation -- it's pretty obvious by the quality -- but says this is only his second creative endeavor for public viewing.(The first is lost forever apparently)He has also said that he's been between jobs for a few months now.

After seeing this video, there is no way that this person will lack for money anytime in the near future.

Grats, Percula, for this mesmerizing video.The music choice and usage were perfect, and your storytelling impressive.Please keep on making these videos.If it's more about the two rogue characters, great!If you plan to do a mini story on each class in turn, even better.

My only request is that you do warriors next.

Thanks again, Percula!

Yep, I'm gonna have to watch it again...

Friday, December 05, 2008

Twitter Me This!

To be perfectly honest, I read a bit about Twitter over six months ago.I went to the site, read their information pieces, and just didn't get it.Not really sour grapes, but their home page -- for non-account holders -- is sparse on details, and not a little cryptic.

Five days ago, I was working on a business blog entry about communication and conference calls, and I came across an article written by the CEO of the international shoe manufacturer, Zappos Shoes.In it, he clearly explained what twitter is, what it does, and what it can do for me.Curious, I signed up.

What I found was the honesty of emails, mixed with the playfulness of instant messages, constrained by the limits of text messaging.It's easy to start, easy to use, and easy to get addicted to if you're not careful.

I spent the first day occasionally checking in, browsing and "following" interesting people.I was thrilled when I saw that I had around 50 people following me.This meant that anything I wanted to say in 140 characters would be seen by these 50 people... if they were at their main screen... or even signed on to twitter.Nevertheless, everything I write is stored so they could scroll back and take a look -- or go to my profile and see all my posts -- if they so desired.

And they probably would.I found myself reading a lot of the older posts of people I found particularly interesting.Am I interesting enough to get the same treatment?Of course I am!A lot of people seemed delighted by the fact that I live near a camel here in Texas.Well, I'm delighted about that myself.Good ol' Cactus the camel!

A highlight of my first day was locating the man who got me into Twitter, Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.I clicked to follow him -- his tweeting that is -- and sent a personal note, thanking him for his insightful article.To my surprise, this successful and busy person took the time to write back, twice.How cool is that?It really reinforced his "twitter and business" message: Companies and their executives can become more accessible to their customers for great customer service benefits.

Also that first day, I came across the twittering of Greg Grunberg, the actor who plays Matt Parkman in the TV series, Heroes.I followed him, Brea Grant (Daphne Millbrook), and David H. Lawrence (Eric Doyle - one of the creepiest villains ever). I even had a little conversation with Lawrence!

It's come in handy with my work too.I tweeted a question about webinars to my followers (800 at last count) and got a few interesting responses.I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of reaction I'll get when I ask for input on a fiction story.

There is one blemish on the Twittering scene, for me at least.Sometime on the third day, I hit 2000 for people I'm following.Suddenly, I couldn't follow anyone else.I've been blocked from following!It's not the amount, Guy Kawasaki has 33,228 followers and follows 31,938 people!It's not the ratio of followed to followers, I was pushing 4 to 1 most of the time and now I'm almost 2 to 1.

I feel bad because part of the reason for my high following number is I believe anyone who follows me is worth following.My following list is filling up with a lot people that are not followed by me.Seems rude.

What makes this incredibly frustrating is that I was not told of any limits when I signed up, nor is there a "Click to Read Limits" button anywhere on Twitter.In fact, to find out WHY I was getting reined in, I had to do an internet search to find a cryptic, general info page -- inaccessible from the Twitter site -- to find out my infraction.Apparently, you can't follow more than 1,000 people in a certain time period (and no the time period wasn't clear.)

I felt bad at first because I had broken a rule.The fact that I didn't know the rule didn't really alleviate the guilt -- I figured I had skipped over that important part when signing up.Skip to now; I'm not mad, but I am... miffed is a good word here.Isn't it the POINT of twitter to follow and be followed, and connect with as many people as possible?

I'll be fine as soon as the limit is lifted -- whenever that is -- but what about someone else?What if someone's exuberance is squashed by a similar experience?What if they were excited about Twitter and all the interesting thoughts they could read, only to be smacked down."You like our site too much... stop it."They might never return again.

Despite Twitter's rolled up newspaper to my nose, I'm still pretty excited about the site.I'll continue to follow more people when Twitter allows me to, but I'll keep my enthusiasm muted.If you're on twitter, find me!I'm @tgapgeorge.If you're not on twitter, sign up -- it's free -- and find me!

I'll probably be talking about the camel.

Wondering if Ryan Reynolds tweets...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Changing Widths

I've got to get this off my chest - I almost left blogger for wordpress.

You see, I've always like the simplicity of blogger -- and I have been here for so long -- but it was the size of my posts that were getting increasingly annoying.When I saw wordpress blogs, I noticed that they were typically about 40% wider than my narrow blog.Sure, narrow is great for small posts, but I find myself being verbose every time I try to do a quick post.It's a problem, I know.

I spent quite a bit of time looking over the templates at blogger, and all I could find was either too narrow templates, or ones whose width filled the screen.Neither was satisfactory.

Enter the wonderful internet and the simple search query, "How do I change widths on"Through this, I found a great blog called, The Blogger Guide, The Illustrated Blogger Guide.

There I found step-by-step guides on changing the widths of some of the more common templates for is the list.

If you are not satisfied with your girth... I mean width -- heh -- go there and do something about it!

Thank you, IDS, for helping us out,

Now to figure out how to put in a counter...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TGAPGeorge, the Escapist

Woot!Today is a good day.Today I join the ranks of fine authors and video artists at The Escapist Magazine.

I came across the Escapist by way of a post on Digg.It was about the new video review of Army of Two by Zero Punctuation, a game I was thinking about playing.(Never did)

Here's his latest review:

I had never heard of Z.P. or Yahtzee, but one minute into the video clip I almost crapped my pants in laughter.

Since then I have eagerly waited for Tuesdays to read the Escapist's feature articles of the week, and for noon on Wednesdays when they post the new triumph from Yahtzee.So,when it came up, I jumped at the chance to contribute.

So go check out my article Aggro Management at the Escapist magazine.Let me know what you think!

Waiting for server maintenance to be done...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

100 Formula One Grand Prix Winners... Ever

On August 3rd of 2008, Heikki Kovalainen won the Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix.

This was a huge day for Heikki.It was his first Grand Prix win ever.The race itself was exciting.There were upsets on the leaderboard, but afterwards the rankings stayed about the same.So other than for Heikki, it was just another Grand Prix.Actually, there was one other special thing about that day.

Heikki Kovalainen’s win made him the 100th driver to win a Formula One Grand Prix in its 50 year history.

That doesn’t seem like a big deal to you?An average Grand Prix season has 20 races.However, only four or five drivers win those races, and they do it year after year.

Let’s put Heikki’s win into perspective.

Worldwide, an average of 2,000 people get struck by lightning in a year.That’s 100,000 people zapped in 50 years.

70 people are attacked by sharks -- again worldwide – in a year.That’s about 3,500 shark attacks in 50 years.

You, me, and everyone you know is more likely to get hit by lightning or eaten by a shark than to win a Formula One Grand Prix.I don’t know the odds on getting hit by lightning WHILE being eaten by a shark, but I’d still lay odds on that happening before I win a Grand Prix.

Almost 50 years ago, Yuri Gagarin was the first man to leave earth and orbit the planet.Since then, there have been over 450 more people that have made it out of our atmosphere.

Can you believe it!?You are more likely to be shot into space than you are to be a Formula One Grand Prix winner.

Congratulations, Heikki!You are 100 out of 6.7 billion.

Drive it like you stole it...
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