Experience the wonder of Japanese Animation!
Warning: Unmarked Spoilers Lie Within These Pages!
We need anime profile submissions and character profile submissions to help us grow. Do you have the knowledge, passion, and desire to write one?

Hello, my name is Ken Innes IV, and welcome to The Story of My Life. This page is really just a continuation of My Life in Redding, California From 1999 To 2001. That page just got to be too big, so broke it into two separate pages. Okay, and so the story continues....

My Life in Redding: Arc the Lunar 2?

After I got over the jetlag from my trip to Japan, and got over being dellusionally sick during the New Year's holiday, and my girlfriend returned home to Canada, things finally started returning to normal. At the office, I started working on Arc the Lad while at the same time finishing up Vanguard Bandits. I had the first Arc the Lad game up and running when we got the news Tim would be leaving the company in pursuit of working on an original game with 3DO. And what timing! We just took on a humongous four-game project (which already had me working six days a week) and we had to get the Lunar 2 demo ready for release with Vanguard Bandits as well as for E3 (the Electronics Entertainment Expo). So with Arc the Lad on hold, I took over the Lunar 2 project.

Although it meant the delay of Arc the Lad Collection, I am extremely glad that I had the opportunity to work on Lunar 2. Along with being able to fix some pre-existing bugs, it gave me the chance to add many enhancements that otherwise may have not made it into the game. Some of these changes include adding a maximum total of 30 save games per Memory Card, color coding the effectiveness of attacks, fixing the prevalent slowdown of the background music, adding support for a second controller, and changing the text windows to have an elegant bordered style.

Plantella There was one problem that I was unable to fix to my satisfaction, however. This dealt with the death of Plantella (in the Illusion Forest), which was where the Lunar 2 demo was supposed to end. The problem was that, during her death animation, only corrupted looking sprites would show up. The death was supposed to show her being engulfed in flames, and although the sprite animations seemed to execute correctly, the sprites themselves were just showing up as garbage. Because this was supposed to be the end of the demo, we originally thought that the problem had something to do with the code that ended the game at that point. I found, however, that there had not yet been any code added to end the game early. So it seemed that this bug had been in the game since it was first built on our computer. In the end, I was unable to fix this and had to change Plantella's death animation to that of any other normal enemy. So far, I've never seen any mention of this on websites or message boards, which I suppose means either no one noticed or no one cared.

I was quite happy with the results of the increased number of total saves allowed on one memory card. Originally the game only supported four saves per a two block file, with only one file per card. Once I saw this, I figured that I should be able to fit two saves in one file that was one block, and could then allow the user to save up to fifteen files by using all fifteen blocks of the memory card. When I looked into it further, I found that there was additional information besides the saved games in these two block files. Luckily, I was able to fit this information along with two saved games into a one block file, so I then went to work on allowing multiple files. Actually having and displaying a list of thirty saved games was too much to display in the standard method, so I had to come up with something else.

What I came up with for selecting the up to thirty possible Lunar 2 save files was a "page" system. I would scan the memory card to see how many Lunar 2 blocks existed, how many free blocks existed, and how many blocks were used by other games. I would then display this on screen by using little green, yellow, and grey colored rectangles to represent the memory card blocks. The user could then scroll through the horizontal display of blocks, and when a green one was selected, the Lunar 2 saves on that block would be displayed in the window below for the user to select. I thought it worked out quite good, and everyone else around the office seemed to like it.

Working with the graphics in Lunar 2 wasn't as hard as it was annoying. This is because all graphics had to go through a program called Gaudi, which is a Japanese-only program with no real documentation that we could find, and would only run on a computer with Japanese DOS installed. Existing graphics had to be edited in Gaudi, and any new graphics had to be added through Gaudi. Of course, once I got used to it, actually changing and adding graphics wasn't so bad. The most annoying thing about it was the transferring of the graphics back and forth between machines, because the Gaudi machine only had DOS, and thus no windows networking. So, every single time I had to transfer a graphic, I had to zip the graphic up and smack it onto a floppy disk.

My Life in Redding: Honey, I'm Home!

It must have been around February 2000 when Treeses, who was now my girlfriend, and I started looking for a house. And why not? After all, I had a great job, a wonderful girlfriend, I had experienced my dream of visiting Japan, oh... and the new car was pretty spiffy too! Things were just going fantastic, so I figured why not go for a house. We drove around on the weekends, checking out the houses that were on the list we obtained from some real estate office.

We looked at a lot of houses from the outside, but only went inside for a few of them. One house we were interested looked really nice from the outside, but the inside wasn't very appealing at all. This was disappointing, as it was a hard house to find, and the outside was one of the best we were able to find. The house was set up for central vacuum, which was a plus, but overall we just didn't think it was right. Another house we checked out was in Victor's old neighborhood. It wasn't bad, but the living room was extremely small, and didn't seem worth it for the price, even if it was negotiated down.

The one house that we were most likely going to get was small, but very pleasant. It looked good both inside and out. It had a really nice rock garden for the lawn, and had plants hanging around with an automated watering system. The inside had a lot of really nice display cabinets built into it by the owner. The living room was quite small, but had a neat looking wood burning heater. Although this is the one we almost got, there were a few downfalls to it. The first is that to get there, we would have to pass by this very ugly house that had giant dinosaurs painted all over it. We cringed every time we passed by it. The other downfall was living room. It was small and cozy, but there was really no place to put an entertainment center. The couch could go against one wall with the heater to the left of it, the opposite wall was mostly taken up by the sliding glass door to the back yard, and to the right was the kitchen counter.

The house we finally decided on is the one we are living in now. We both really like it, although I regret that we did not try to negotiate the price down just a little bit more, because I really think we could have. But at the time, neither us had bought a house before (although Treese had refinanced her parents' house several times). Oh, and let me also say that we were not too happy with our agent, Kay Downing. I didn't notice until after the fact, but she seemed a bit pushy. Another thing that we noticed after we signed the papers was the for sale sign in front of the house had "Sale Pending" instead of "sold" on it. She told us that it was common thing to do now, and that they rarely ever put the "Sold" sign up anymore. Hmm, really? So far, just about every house for sale sign we've seen since then has said "Sold" on it... even on signs from the same company. What's that all about? This was my first house, and I wanted to have a picture of the sold sign. A picture of "Sale Pending" just isn't the same. Also, she was supposed to have several things with the house fixed before our final walkthrough, and they weren't fixed. She then said it was all right, she would send her handyman over to take care of it. That was February, 2000. It's now April, 2002. Somehow, I don't think her handyman is coming....

When it was time to move, we rented a big U-Haul truck to take everything all at once. It was hard work in general, but moving Treeses' entertainment center was by far the most difficult thing to move. But we did it! We got everything into the house by the time we had to return the truck, so we then went to do that... but when we got to where we were originally told to return it, we were told that we were told incorrectly because they didn't have room for another truck. Can nothing go smoothly? Okay, so we just drove it to the U-Haul center, parked it out in the lot, and threw the keys through their mail slot. Let them deal with it!

My Life in Redding: E3 Expo- 2000!

Attending the Electronics Entertainment Expo, or E3, is often a video game fan's dream... and I got to go! This particular year it was being held in Los Angeles, California, and I ended up flying down with Victor the day before it started. We still had to get up quite early to catch the plane, so Victor came by and picked me up at my new house, and off we went to the airport. The flight wasn't too bad, as Victor had brought his portable DVD player, although I don't remember what we watched. I also believe that we had to switch flights in San Francisco in order to get to Los Angeles.

To get into the building, everyone needed to have badges showing they worked for the company. But because bringing me along was not part of the original plan, I didn't have one. Fortunately, Victor had a bunch of extras, and I thus became "Irv". Once inside, we had to finish getting the booth set up. A lot was already done, but there was still quite a bit more to do. I don't remember much of what else we had to do, as just being there was so overwhelming. All the other companies were still working on their booths as well, although they all seemed to look pretty much finished.

After everything was finally set up, we got Zach suited up in the Borgan costume and had him walk around to practice for tomorrow (okay, technically that's wrong because it was well after midnight, but so what). The plan for the show was to have him walking around while someone else would take Polaroids of people posing with Borgan, then they'd put the picture into a specially made slipcase and hand it to the person. As we soon found out with a small crowd of security officers, we needed to have two people behind the camera, one to snap the shot and one to put the picture into the slipcase. "Irv the slipcase guy"... doesn't really have a nice ring to it.

The next morning we once again we had to wake up early. The doors to the show would open soon, so we had to get everything set up that we couldn't leave out last night, like the PlayStation and headphones. We seemed to have everything ready just as the doors were opened and people started flooding in. We weren't going to bring Borgan out for a little while, so I got to just walk around experience the show. For about an hour I wandered around, watched people play some games, played other games myself, and just checked out all the booths in general. My, were there were a lot of fine looking booth babes to gawk at... too bad I can't same the same about the games. There was really nothing that I had to have or couldn't wait to find out more about.

After a while I was tired of looking around and came back to the booth. We had six flat screen plasma monitors hooked up to PlayStations for people to play. We were displaying Lunar 2, Vanguard Bandits, and RayStorm. Unfortunately, there was a bug in Lunar 2 that forced us to reset the game every time someone got to a certain point. I was very bummed about this, as I was up working on this game the night before we left for L.A., and thus it wasn't able to get a good testing. Sorry, but I don't remember what the bug actually did.

On one of the nights after the show, Sony had a party as they typically do. There were not enough tickets for us all, so we split up into two groups, one going to the party and the other going to Speed Zone. It was rumored that the Red Hot Chili Peppers would be performing at the Sony party, so this helped some of us choose. I went with Victor, Don, and a few others to the Sony party where we proceeded to wait for the Chili Peppers. Then Macy Gray came on stage. At first we thought she might just be the warm up act, but we soon realized that she was the guest performer for the night. She wasn't bad, but it was a bit disappointing.

Goliath We broke down the booth as fast as we could after the doors closed on the last night of the show, as we wanted to get out to Magic Mountain to ride some roller coasters before it closed. Victor, Don, Kelly, Zach, Ryan, Casey, Josh, and myself all squeezed into one van for the ride over. I believe that Brian had procured his own ride down. The first coaster Victor wanted to ride was Goliath. Oh man, did that thing look big! I was never a real fan of roller coasters, and that one freaked me out, as it did to some of the others. So from here we split in two groups. I think Victor, Kelly, Zach, and Ryan went to Goliath, and the rest of us went to wussier coasters, like the Ninja. As it started to near closing time, we decided to head back to the front gate. Along the way we met up with the other group...

Although I was still frightened of Goliath, I was ready to it. And lucky me, I get to ride with Victor in the very front seat! He warned me that there was a camera at the bottom of the first gigantic drop, as he also warned that at the start of the first drop, it would feel as if the track is not going to straight out but continue to go concave. Neither of these warnings helped. At the start of the first drop, I let go of the bar, but as the car continued to tilt ever forward, I could not help to grab for my life. OH... MY... GOD! Plunging face towards the ground at speeds that forced my body flat against the seat, all I could do was grip that bar like an iron vice while my eyes remained eyes wide open, causing tears to streak back along my petrified face. As we reached the bottom, I saw the camera and realized what it must have seen. But after that first drop, I was no longer scared. Not at all. The rest of the ride was a piece of cake. I would have gone on it again, easily, had there been time. But alas, there wasn't, and it was time to leave.

The next morning it was time to head home, and we once again we had to wake up early. We returned our vans, and took a shuttle from there to the airport. While there, we learned that many flights had been delayed, including ours. As we waited in line, we saw one by one the word "delayed" morph into the word "canceled". So after finding out that they could only get one of us back home that night, we decided to phone the rental car place and procure us a couple of vans for a road trip back to Redding. While Victor was on the phone, Ryan picked up a giant pylon code and used it to amplify his rendition of the "Goliath" speech we had heard over and over the previous night. Anyway, we got the vans reserved, headed on over to pick them up, and we were off!

A long, boring drive it was, but part of the time we kept busy playing with the walkie-talkies between vans, or we'd watch movies on Victor's portable DVD player, although by that point we were running out of good stuff (specifically Xanadu, which I could not even bear to continue watching). Along the way, we stopped off at a truck stop for lunch. Here we got a pizza, had a bathroom break, and checked out the pinball machines. One of the machines they had was called Medieval Madness, and it was cool! With its castle gate that had to be knocked down, its dragon hovering over the ramp leading to the damsel, and its trolls that popped up out of the play field, we knew we had to get one... and shortly after, we did. Then it was off again... except for the constant pit stops we had to make because someone in our group who obviously had never been on a road trip before kept drinking giant sized sodas (*cough*Ryan*cough*).

It was late when we got into Redding, and we were all exhausted. When I arrived home, Treeses was worried about me, and I told her the whole story. I really should have borrowed someone's cell phone and called her to tell her I'd be late, but I didn't think of it, and felt bad about that. But since then, I've remembered to call whenever plans change so she'll know what's going on. Anyway, I showed her all the little things I got from E3, and the giant Goliath cup I bought her at the gift shop, which she really loved. And then sleep. I was so tired... and it was good to be home.

My Life in Redding: Killing Time With Fed-Ex

While in the midst of working on Arc the Lad Collection, I volunteered to take on a small project originally intended to be one of the first tasks given to the new programmer... except that we still had not hired one yet. The basis behind the project dealt with the printing out of signatures from the Fed-Ex website. Doing this manually, signature by signature, was very monotonous and killed a lot of time, so the challenge was to find a way to automate the task.

The first thing I did was to test whether or not I could submit the Fed-Ex signature form from my local computer, because I know that some setups only allow submissions from forms that exist on their servers. This was a crucial step in laying out a solution, and luckily I was able submit the form from my computer. This made things much easier, as I could now use JavaScript to loop through all of the tracking numbers, bringing up each signature one at a time. So first I made a web page with this JavaScript code and an HTML form with the required Fed-Ex elements. Then I made a Microsoft JScript file that would convert a file containing a list of tracking numbers (output by our Fed-Ex computer) into a JavaScript array which would be included by my web page upon loading.

From here, the only real challenge remaining was how to make the web page with the signature print out. To accomplish this, I called upon a program I found while trying to convert extracted VAG sound files from Silhouette Mirage into WAV files. Called WinBatch, it is a program that allows batch script to be written in order to manipulate Microsoft Windows components. Specifically, for my needs, it allowed me to write a script that would switch to a specific window and execute a combination of keystrokes. This let me automate the task of switching to the Fed-Ex signature, pressing a key combination that would print out the web page, switch back to the window with the list of tracking numbers, and advance to the next record where the whole process would start again.

After testing out the script for a couple weeks, we found that it worked really well. Shortly after, new versions of JScript and VBScript came out from Microsoft that would allow similar types of batch controls, so I did a test with JScript to see if it could replace WinBatch. The test was a success... but only on Windows 98. On Windows NT, which is on the machine that runs the batch script, Microsoft's scripting language would not recognize window titles correctly, and thus wouldn't switch windows when it was supposed to. So instead of trying to find another machine to run the script on, we just went ahead and registered our copy of WinBatch. The script has been working well ever since, and has saved hours of manual, monotonous labor.

My Life in Redding: By the Power of TiVo!

It was almost Christmas, 2000, which would be our first in the new house. I had gotten Treeses her gifts, some of which were a cell phone, The Fifth Element DVD, and a box set that I put together containing two large figures of Jack and Jill Skellington with the Nightmare Before Christmas DVD. I was set! Then as we were driving somewhere one day, most likely to the store, Treeses told me what her gift was going to be... a TiVo. Victor had already gotten one, and had nothing but good things to say about it, so I had been mentioning about it around the house.

Anyway, she told me about it because she wanted me to choose which model TiVo to get. After some consideration, I decided on the sixty-hour unit. So Treeses ordered it, and when it arrived I hooked it up. Two days later I sent it back. Apparently it was broken, as it wouldn't even get past the opening screens. In another week or two, we received another unit, and this time it was operational.

It took a little while to get used to it, watching recorded programs whenever instead of when they aired. But once we did, it was great. We could now start watching shows that we never got to before because we got home so late. With our digital cable box, TiVo would occasionally miss changing the channel. This was a little annoying, but when we switched over to DIRECTV it never happened again.

My Life in Redding: Arc The Lad Collection

The Arc the Lad Collection project was an enormous task, and was the first project that I was able to start working on from the beginning. This time the responsibility fell upon me to figure out how to make the games build, and then how to get them to run in English. I was also able to once again add new features to each of the four games, which is definitely my favorite part of working on a project. These games all presented their own unique challenges, but by far the most difficult one to work on was Arc the Lad II. Why? Because, on top of severe memory constraints, there was just so much more to the game than there was in any of the others.

One of the more unique concepts in Arc the Lad II is that there was no counter to keep track of how many items or monsters of a certain kind that you had, because all items and monsters were completely separate entities. Each one could be used separately, would level up separately, had separate attack and defense points, and could be renamed separately. We eventually removed the option of renaming items simply because it caused too many problems with character and pixel limitations, especially when they were supposed to level up and get an extra word added on to the name.

Before I could add any new features to Arc the Lad II, I first had to find ways to get back some memory. I used several techniques in attempting to do this, some of which were text compression, source code optimization, and reducing statically defined buffer sizes. I even went so far as to change C "switch" statements into "if...then" statements, just because each one would often save a few bytes. But hey, I needed every byte I could get. It seems like a miracle that I was able to get back enough memory to fit in all the features that we added, especially considering that when starting out, I didn't even have enough memory to compile in the new controller library which allows DUALSHOCK and analog to be used.

At one point, while I was adding DUALSHOCK to the full motion video (FMV) animation, I actually did run out of memory in the source code. This sucked, as I still had several FMVs left to shock. What to do now? We couldn't leave only half of the animations shocked, and I didn't want to take out the vibration because it really added another dimension to the animation cut scenes. Besides, just shocking the ones I'd done so far took a lot of time and effort. I tried and tried to get back more memory, but it was like squeezing blood from a stone. So now what?

Then I had a thought. What if I could encode the vibration data directly into the FMV animations... if it was possible, that would definitely solve my problem. I mentioned my idea to Victor and got the go-ahead to try it, but he also said that Tim had actually tried it before, with no avail. Hmm, that didn't sound good, but I went ahead and gave it a shot anyway. And I got it to work! Cool! After that, all I had to was write a program that would read in frame and vibration data from a file, and encode this information into the FMV file. Yes! Victory was mine... except that I now had to spend several more days shocking the rest of the animations.

Oh yeah, and toward the end of the project I was asked to write about my game development experience for the project. I don't remember exactly what it was for or what my guidelines were, but I just recently found what I wrote at CVGames.com in an article titled Developers Speak Out: Arc the Lad Collection. I'll re-post it here just in case that site goes down (leaving any and all typos in tact).

Localizing the four games that make up Arc the Lad Collection presented a unique set of challenges from that of “normal” game development. The first task to accomplish is to get all of the data files and source code to build so that they match their equivalent files of the Japanese production discs. This was, as it tends to be with most localization projects, the most difficult part of the project. All four games were plagued by various degrees of multiple file versions, missing files, scarce documentation, memory problems, and bugs found in the original Japanese games.

Having different versions of the same file scattered in various directories made it difficult to determine which should be used. There would often be files in one directory that had a later timestamp from files in another directory, yet the older files would be the ones that match what was on the original production disc. Then we would see that the older directory would be missing files, while the new directory had them all, plus extras. And on top of that, we would end up with even another version of these files when we tried to build them ourselves. It was, at times, quite frustrating.

Files that were missing completely were another challenge to overcome. Requests for these files would be sent off as soon as we realized that they were needed, but in many cases the files were lost forever, or difficult to track down. In the end, it was usually quicker just to go to the original Japanese production disc and rip what we needed off of there. Although we had to use this technique on each of the four games, we relied on it most heavily for building Arc the Lad II. Obtaining missing files this way is one of the main reasons we had to get our build to match exactly what was on the game disc.

The fact that there was little documentation, and it was all in Japanese, didn’t make things much easier. We would send out any documentation files we found to be translated, but none were that helpful. There was never any file that gave an overview of the build process or project structure. For the comments found in the source code, we would write a script to extract them, translate them using a program called Atlas, and then write another script to put them back. The translations were nowhere near as good as they would have been with a human translation, but they got the job done.

Once each game was up and running, altering them to run in English was a simple process. The next major hurdle was reducing the amount of memory the game currently required, so that we could write full-length sentences and add new features. Many techniques were used to reduce memory, including text compression, source code optimization, and reducing statically defined buffer sizes. After getting back as much as memory as we could, we were able to add a lot of nice changes, such as analog support, DualShock support, and 24-bit (as opposed to 16-bit) full-motion video playback.

By this point in each of the games, there weren’t too many problems. Bugs would be introduced by changes that were made, but they were taken care of fairly easily. We did occasionally encounter bugs that also happened on the original Japanese discs, however, and those took a lot of time and effort to track down and correct. The worst bug we had was a lockup that only occurred on a certain model of PlayStation. That took several weeks and a lot of headaches before we got it ironed out, since it wouldn’t happen on the development system where we could take a snapshot of what was happening inside the machine. We had to burn a CD every time we wanted to test another theory as to how to fix it.

One situation that was unique to Arc the Lad III involved the Sony PocketStation, which is only supported in Japan. Since Arc the Lad III originally made use of the PocketStation, we also wanted to retain the support for those who owned them, although this became more involved than we expected. To successfully build the newly translated files, we had to borrow the complete PocketStation development system from Japan, and then quickly learn how to make it work.

I had worked on a few games prior to Arc the Lad Collection, but this was the first project where I got to start from the beginning of the localization process. It has been an amazing experience, and I have learned so much. I was even able to apply some of that knowledge to make an original creation - the DVD-esque style and interface found on The Making of Arc Collection disc. I hope you like it.

My Life in Redding: Once In A Blue Moon

On the morning of Cinco de Mayo, I proposed a question... what should we do today? But after that, I asked her to marry me, giving her a bright white lip balm necklace. She said I don't know... and then to my second question, she said yes. So when should we do it? Is Halloween too soon? Probably for most people, but not for us, as we just wanted a simple ceremony. Plus, then we wouldn't feel so weird having to dress up. Later we discovered that there would be a rare blue moon on October 31, 2001. Cool!

We decided to tell my parents while we were all in Reno celebrating my grandparents' anniversary. We drove all the way there without any trouble, but once in Reno we took a wrong road and had to turn back. It wasn't bad though, as I don't think it wasted more than fifteen minutes. We got to the hotel and checked in, then just waited for my parents to contact us before getting ready for dinner. The dinner was held on a ferry boat, but the party was a surprise so we all got there early. The dinner was good, but only lasted about 30 minutes of the three hour ride. When we got back to the hotel, there was some complimentary champagne in our room. Neither of us had tried it before, so we gave it a go... way too many bubbles. Anyway, the next morning we had breakfast with my parents, and this is when we told them about our engagement.

Treeses had a ball registering stuff for the wedding. She took the registration gun and went around the whole store shooting everything that even slightly interested her. She also went out to do it with my parents when they came up to visit, but I had enough the last time so they dropped me off at work. I think I picked out a couple things, but I don't remember what. It was just kind of hard when I kept finding myself over in the toy section. They also went to check out some hotels, and they picked me up when they were done and we all went out to dinner.

Wedding The morning of our wedding we went to the county clerk's office along with my parents to get legally married. Ann Reeds performed the simple ceremony, and we were both nervous... not really about the getting married part, just that it was in a strange place with someone we never met. After the ceremony, we went to prepare for the real ceremony. I went out with my dad to get alcohol and mosquito candles while Treeses stayed home and stressed. Later, Treeses and I went out to get a guest book and two goblets. We got a couple of glass goblets at House2Home, but when we found the guest book we wanted at this little wedding store, we also got this really cool special wedding goblet. It was made of metal, and was actually two goblets that fit together to make one. Shortly after that we got dressed up in our costumes and the ceremony began.

Once again, we were nervous, but not because of the getting married part. For me, it was because I would soon be the center of attention for a crowd of people. For Treeses, it was more because she did not yet know what she was going to say. Pops, our minister, lined us all up in the order we were to walk down the aisle. When we were all set up, I hit the play button on our portable CD player which was plugged into my guitar amplifier, and we were off. Because my boots had not arrived, I had to wear motocross boots borrowed from one of Treeses' friends, and this made it extremely difficult to walk. I had to move slowly down the aisle, taking extra care up the steps of the gazebo. The ceremony went quick, we exchanged rings (although I gave her my right hand and had to swap the ring to my left hand later on), kissed, and drank our toast of sparkling apple cider. It was over in a flash, and we then found ourselves posing for pictures.

The catering wasn't too bad, and there was a variety to choose from, like teriyaki chicken wings, fried chicken wings, salad, shrimp, and California rolls to name a few. The one dish I made sure they knew I wanted was pizza and cheesy bread, but when I went to get some food I found their "pizza" was a stupid cracker with sauce and cheese... now this pissed me off, especially since my sister had asked me earlier if she could go bring back some pizzas when she didn't see any on the table. Another disappointment was the cake. I wanted a realistic looking castle cake, but what I got was a cartoon-ish style castle cake that wouldn't even stand up. The lady who made it brought it over in her car, and when I went to help carry it in I found it in her trunk, completely uncovered and pressed up against the back seat. I was in shock after seeing this, but after we had to remove one of the tiers and it was still falling, I just didn't care anymore. At least we didn't have to make the rest of the payment on it.

My Life in Redding: E3 Expo- 2001!

Well, it was that time of year again. Time to head on down to L.A. for the Electronics Entertainment Expo. Although this was my second time attending, it was Stephanie and Nicole's first. Nicole Huggins (our Media Relations Manager at the time) spent most of the time in meetings, while Stephanie (our artist) spent most of the time hanging around the booth handing out tokens for people to use at our crane game. That's right, we had a crane game this year! It was filled with Nall dolls, Omake boxes, videogames, and a special Omake box with a picture of yours truly inside. Why? I think it was that if you got my picture then you automatically received one of everything. I continued my duties from last year, standing behind the photographer who shot photos of people with Borgan, and putting the Polaroids into slip cases.

Late Night at E3 The content of E3 this year was mainly focused on the new systems, and not so much on games. I don't remember a whole lot standing out in my mind, except that Sega's once humongous booth was now smaller and closed off to the public. I enjoyed seeing what Nintendo had to offer with their Gamecube, but not with their Gameboy Advance. I couldn't believe that it's still not backlit! Hello?! We'd like to be able to see the screen! This was the first appearance for Microsoft's X-Box, and it had absolutely nothing to talk about. I did really like Sony's screen for the PSOne. It was small, yet with a big viewing area, and easy to see. I was able to play a two player fighting on it with no problem at all.

This year Victor, Don, Kelly, Stephanie, and I went to the Sony party, while Don Johnson and Nicole went to some other exclusive engagement. Everclear played at the party, which everyone seemed to like. I found it a bit lame, just because I've seen some really outstanding stage shows like Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, and "Weird Al" Yankovic. While at the party, I had a beer (which I still don't like), and Kelly got Stephanie completely wasted on a couple of mixed drinks. On the ride back to the hotel, Stephanie just kept repeating the same "I'm not drunk, I'm a lay-dee" speech the whole way, sounding just like a broken record. The next morning at the show, she had a hangover, and even threw up a couple times.

After the show was over, like last year, we headed over to Six Flags Magic Mountain. Of course we rode Goliath, but this time we also rode the rapids, thinking somehow that we would not get very wet. And even if we did get wet, our sleep deprived brains told us that we could just ride another coaster afterwards to dry us off. Yeah... ahem... shut up. On the way to the airport the next morning, Victor, Don, and I were riding together in the van when, in mid conversation, Victor opened the door, puked what seemed like a gallon of milk that he had drank before we left, and then continued in the conversation without missing a beat. Both Don and I were in complete shock, wondering if we really just saw what we thought we say. Hey, at least this time we got to fly back to Redding. When we arrived, Nicole was kind enough to give me a ride home.

My Life in Redding: Eye Can See

After saying that I could never do that Lasik eye surgery, I went ahead and had it done. The morning of the surgery, they have you take some pill to make you happy. So I took these pills, Treeses drove me to eye center, and I was informed that they would not be able to do the surgery that day because their laser machine was only working at something like 98% efficiency. Great, I was already freaked our about getting my eyes cut open, so that's just what I needed to hear. So Treeses drove me on to work, although it took a little while for the pill to wear off. I don't remember how I was acting, but apparently it was not like my usual self.

Once they got their laser working perfectly again, they set up another appointment for me on Friday, August 10, 2001. This time it actually happened, though. Sitting there in the chair with all those fancy instruments around me, it felt as if the pill was having no effect on me. Then they put this device over my eyes, which kind of felt like the thing you look through when they test your vision ("better... or worse... better..."). But this thing was completely black so I couldn't see anything. Next, there was a slight pressure, the device went away, and everything was blurry. There was someone lifting up that clear part of my eyeball like I saw them doing on the video, although this wasn't nearly as bad as watching it happen. Maybe it was the pill, or maybe it was because everything was extremely blurry. Anyway, they then had me stare into a flashing laser that made a loud, constant clicking sound. It didn't last for more than a minute, and they put my eyes back to normal.

The surgery wasn't bad at all, in fact it was pretty easy. But the worst was yet to come. Now I had to keep my eyes closed all day! That was awful. Sometimes I couldn't tell if I was awake or dreaming. Listening to movies helped, but only so much. The next day I was able to take off the bandages, but still had to wear the sunglasses, even in the house. Gradually my eyes got better and the sensitivity to light dissipated. They say now that I have 20/20 vision, but with cataracts which make things slightly blurry, especially white, lighted objects such as movie credits and subtitles.

My Life in Redding: Alone with Phones

One evening, as is typical for my schedule, it was dark out before I finally left the office for the night. But unlike most nights, this time I had my hands full with a set of new phones that I was taking home to try out. They were extras that Victor had and that we were interested in buying. When I got to my car, I kept the phones in hand while reaching for my keys. But my pocket was empty. So I set the phones down and checked my other pocket. Empty. That's when I realized that I still had on my shorts from going to the gym. So I headed back upstairs to the office, and as soon as I got to the door, I froze. All I could do was stare. As it stared back at me, I was slowly overcome with the sinking realization that I was completely locked out. No keys, no wallet, and three phones that I couldn't use. Crap.

So I headed back down to the car and walked around it, desperately searching for an idea. Nothing came. I went back upstairs and tried knocking on the doors of the other offices in the building. Nobody answered. I went back downstairs, but there was no one in those shops either. The only other action I could think of would be to walk over to the closest AM/PM and see if I could use the phone. So I started walking, with phones in hand. I considered crossing the street before reaching the crosswalk, as there were no cars on the road and the crosswalk went slightly past the store. But it was dark out, and I was in no real hurry, so I decided against it. I was only a yard or two away from the crossing when a white Ford Bronco pulled up. I briskly walked up to it and knocked on the passenger's side window. The woman driving looked absolutely terrified when I did this, but leaned over and opened the door when she realized that I was her husband. Talk about luck.

I hopped in and explained what had happened as we headed home. Halfway there she remembered that there was a key to my car on her key chain, so we turned around and headed back to the office. I believe that her heart rate finally started returning to normal once we both made it home. Oh yeah, and we really liked the phones after trying them out, so we went ahead and bought them. They've worked really well so far, and we even ended up canceling our voice mail service because the built-in digital answering machine works so great. There was one minor problem we had a few days after hooking up the phones where one of the phones stopped recognizing the base. To fix it, all we had to do was take the battery out for a few seconds and then go though the setup again. Apparently this had also happened once on the set Victor uses, and he had already warned us about it.

Additional Content