Summer Road Trip 2009 – The Prep

Sometimes you just have to get away. In a car. With beef jerky.

So here’s the deal. My wife’s cousin Sarah is getting married on July 25th and we’re going. The only hitch? It’s in Eagle, ID which is just outside of Boise, ID. Melissa, my wife, offered to simply fly up there alone and said I didn’t have to go if work did not allow. But forget that! I know an opportunity when I see one! My suggestion? Road trip.

I just wrapped up several web projects and have been overworked and stressed (about deadlines) so there is nothing like a cramped car and thousands of miles to help improve my spirits. 😉

We’re still trying to piece everything together exactly and we’re leaving tomorrow. We’re about 90% sure the trip will be SB to SF to Sac to Bend, OR to Boise, ID to Portland, OR back to Bend, OR to Sac to SF and back to SB. *see map below

View Summer Road Trip 2009 in a larger map

We’re keeping costs down as much as possible by staying with friends whenever possible. We’ve already got a car rented (I pick it up tonight) and a hotel in Boise while we’re in town for the wedding. Other than that we don’t have a lot planned out. We’re couch hopping up the state of California and Oregon and will probably end up stopping at a hotel here or there if necessary. No idea what will happen.

I went a little over board at the grocery store in anticipation of the trip. There’s a big bag of trail mix in there behind the two bags of jerky. What? Don’t judge me!

So I am still working this all out but I was hoping to share our trip with our friends and family. There will be at least three posts on this blog about the trip – The Prep, The Journey, and The Follow-up. The Journey post will have pics and updates via my iPhone as we go along and The Follow-up will have the nicer pics and probably a more deailed wrap-up.

Stay tuned!

Don’t forget to follow my Twitter feed @alandowling


The Times They are a Changin’

I heard that Micheal Jackson died today.

It didn’t/doesn’t really strike me on it’s own since he’s always been more of a caricature of someone famous and eccentric in my mind than an actual person.  What did strike me is that it was sudden and out of the blue.  And I heard about it via Twitter several hours before it was on the major news outlets.

Farrah Fawcett died recently too.  And so did Ed Mcmahon.

And I’ve been watching the chaos of what’s been going on in Iran via youtube including the death of Neda, a young woman who was shot and killed on the streets of Tehran while protesting the recent election in Iran.

Today, while trying to avoid thinking of any more death after reading more about Iran, I inadvertently came upon an Iranian indie band named Hypernova.  You can check out several of their songs and videos at their myspace page.

The video below seems to be their major “single” that is being pushed and it’s pretty catchy though there is some language so be forewarned those with sensitive ears.

While watching this video I suddenly flashed to when I first tried watching video on the internet.  It was way back when I was in junior high or so (which I suppose wasn’t THAT long ago relatively speaking but now that I’m 27 it sure seems like a long time ago).  Anyway, the video was choppy and I was lucky to see every 5th frame of a fifteen second clip.  Now I rely on web video entirely (I don’t have cable) and it’s all set up to play on my Xbox 360 in my living room.  I can even watch video on my new phone.  Forget that… I can even RECORD video on my phone and then immediately email it to anyone in my contacts. – I’m finally THAT guy.  I’m now that guy who starts to talk about the past when things were this way or that.

I remember when…

  • 56k modems were considered fast
  • Betamax players were still sold
  • LaserDisc was brand new (as an interesting side note, I’ve been told that UCSB – where I went to college – has one of the largest collections of LaserDisc of any university or college.  Way to pick a winner UCSB!)
  • Going to the movies cost $5.00 and $3.50 for matinee.
  • A gallon of gas cost less than a buck (sometimes much less).
  • All my siblings were either not born yet or were mere toddlers (I’m the oldest by several years).
  • 1 Gb was HUGE
  • I wanted to be an astronaut, or a doctor, or a lion tamer, or a lawyer, or a roller coaster engineer, or a radio disc jockey.
  • I didn’t get paid to design stuff – it was just wasting time back then.
  • The internet, facebook, youtube, hulu, myspace, twitter, and cell phones didn’t exist.
  • I never thought about death or growing old.
  • I would have never made a list like this.

I’d love to read what things other people remember from their childhood that seem random or interesting or funny now.



For the few of you who actually read this blog at all consistently, you have my apologies on the incredible delays and gaps between posts for the last few months.  As some might know, I have my own web/graphic design business called Immersus Media and the last few months have been… productive – at least as far as paying jobs are concerned (which is awesome and I have absolutely no complaints but I wanted to explain my online absence).  Since the last time I posted at the very end of April I started and unsuccessfully finished at least 4 blog posts but every time ended up not having enough time to actually do what I’d wanted because of piling up deadlines for work.  I’ve even hired an assistant for the summer.

I’m launching several sites for clients so stay tuned for those updates and I’m going and try and relaunch this blog with a much better design and layout later this summer if possible (oh man…).  I’m pretty sure the new design is going to kick butt (it already does in my head so let’s see if I can make that happen).

Oh, updates… got a second monitor a month ago.  It’s so nice having two screens again! (I used to have two behemoth CRT monitors and eventually replaced them with a 24″ LCD and now I’m finally back up to two – crazy screen real estate for me to look at all those projects that are due any minute).

I just got the new iPhone 3G s and so far it’s awesome.  I upgraded from an ol’ Samsung flip phone so it’s weird suddenly having what amounts to a small computer in my pocket.

I also FINALLY got Lightroom 2 and have it all set up to export directly to both my Flickr account AND directly to my blog (which should hopefully force me to actually get some consistent stuff up on here).  Thanks to all those that helped me decide between LR2 and Aperture.  I tried out both versions via trial editions and although I liked Aperture 2 more initially (it’s more integrated with Mac stuff, easier to use off the bat, less intimidating layout in my opinion), I decided LR2 was better overall.  It seems a bit more robust in it’s editing capabilities (you can edit specific parts of images more than you can with Aperture) and integration with other Adobe programs (which makes sense).  Plus I like how it handles the files (it’s basically a documents tree and you create a catalog whereas in Aperture it’s in a ‘Library’ which seems more restrictive to me – a small difference but could be big long term if Aperture loses any support while the way LR2 handles it, the files can presumably be handled by other applications in the future (in case LR ceases to exist or something).  For those of you that are interested, I’ll write up a quick little post sometime soon (cross my fingers) about plug-ins for LR2 that I recommend.

Melissa, my wife, is busy with school stuff so we’ve both been kind of haywire in general lately but I’m looking forward to spending plenty of time with her next month (road trip!).

I think that’s it about it really – lots of design work and a few new gadgets.  Good times.  Now I need a break from this computer.  Peace!


A Dog and a Yard Someday

Currently, my wife and I live in a nice little two bedroom apartment in Goleta, CA.  We pay rent that is probably higher than the lowest in the area but we still feel like we’re getting a deal for the area.  The average price, we’re told, to rent in the Santa Barbara area (the more well-known city immediately south of us) is some amount between ridiculous and absurd.  We have no children or pets.  Our second room serves as my place of business and I sometimes find myself barely even leaving the apartment for days at a time.  I often fantisize about what the future will hold and what it will be like ‘when’.  ‘When my business is more established’, ‘when my wife finishes getting her teaching credential’, ‘when I can afford a new car or bigger tv or nicer cell phone’, ‘when I have children’, ‘when we move to another town’.  The list goes on. Continue reading A Dog and a Yard Someday