So, the last two weeks…

…have been insane.

On Oct. 17, I started a new job. I moved two offices west and became the director of Bemidji State’s Office of Communications and Marketing. It’s technically an interim appointment; I’m filling in for my former boss, who resigned in August and left on Oct. 14. The appointment lasts until June 30, 2012, or until a permanent replacement is hired for the position, whichever comes first. I intend to apply for the permanent appointment, but for now this is a temporary position. I’m just trying to figure out everything my former boss had going on, and try to stay afloat. Eight days in, and I think I’m doing OK so far. Not great, but OK.

I’m getting into a comfort zone, but I’m finding that my biggest challenge is going to be getting my to-do list worked through while dealing with the dozen people every day who want/need my attention for something. Sometimes those requests for attention are legit; sometimes they’re not. It’s going to take some more experience to learn how to sort them out on the fly.

Take today, for instance. I sent 50 emails, had four meetings, was on the phone for a significant chunk of the afternoon, met with both of my student writers, worked on a budget situation with our office manager, and during all of that I checked off exactly zero items that were on my to-do list at the start of the morning.

Between this job keeping me busier than I’ve been for years for the last week and a half during the day, having kids-wife-family, etc., in the evenings and then grad school stuff to worry about once the kiddos are in bed, I haven’t had much time left over for, well, much else at all.

Grad school has been particularly difficult. For the last few weeks, I haven’t been as good about as I need to be – I’m doing what needs to be done to get my grades, but it’s becoming difficult to make it a priority. It’s just difficult to muster the energy for it. I am probably getting back to the point where I need to take a day or two off of work on a Friday sometime so I can concentrate on getting caught up again.

TL,DR version: I’ve got a lot going on, and I’m finding things difficult to balance. I’m keeping up for now, but I sense that Christmas break is going to feel like an actual “break” for the first time in a long, long time.

Comic Review: “Cobra Civil War: Snake Eyes” #6

Cobra Civil War: Snake Eyes #6
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011
Cover price: $3.99

Cover A: Robert Atkins, with colors by Simon Gough
Cover B: Agustin Padilla, with colors by Simon Gough
Cover RI: Robert Atkins, with colors by Mark Roberts

Written by: Chuck Dixon
Pencils: Casey Maloney
Inks: Juan Castro
Colors: Simon Gough and Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Letters: Neil Uyetake

Snake Eyes #6 focuses entirely Vargas’ Kariba retro-virus, and primarily on the mission by Duke and Snake Eyes to track down Vargas and find a cure. A four-page prologue shows another example of how deadly the virus can be, but the bulk of this issue is the battle surrounding Duke and Snake Eyes’ infiltration of Vargas’ base in Italy.

Rightly guessing Vargas would likely not just willingly give up the antidote, Duke decides to give Vargas a compelling reason to give it to him.

The cliffhanger for this issue features a character we haven’t seen in comic-book form since G.I. Joe #19, from January 1984, sporting an interesting new look.

Snake Eyes #6 is an action packed issue, but doesn’t do much beyond move Vargas from point A to point B and get Duke a step or two closer to a cure for the retro-virus. The cliffhanger is where things get interesting with this issue; Snake Eyes’ relationship to this new player in Marvel’s series is one still talked about today, despite the fact that it spanned less than 20 issues of the classic series and the character hasn’t been seen in G.I. Joe media in some 18 and a half years. Hopefully this reappearance is the start of a meaningful role for this character in IDW’s universe.

ART
Casey Maloney takes over penciling duties, giving Snake Eyes its third different penciller in as many issues. He has done work for IDW in the past, including 2009’s four-issue “Rise of Cobra” movie adaptation mini-series.

Some things are awesome – upside-down airborne Snake Eyes on page 6. Some things are strange – Page 7 shows a posed Snake Eyes with some guys falling down behind him, and we can guess what happened to them. But the panel feels like an ’80s ninja movie pose, where people are dying everywhere but there isn’t really a clear indication why or how. It’s just a “good guy enters, bad guys die” scenario. And some things are just plain bad – the first panel on page 17 is newspaper comic-strip stuff.

Two things that were great to see — appearances by an honest-to-goodness helmet-and-bandana-mask Cobra Officer, and Vipers with the action figure’s helmet.

In general, though, this is a tough issue to look at, and it gives a whole new level of appreciation for the work Robert Atkins did on the first four issues.

COVERS
Typical trio of covers for this issue; Robert Atkins on Cover A and Agustin Padilla on Cover B, with Atkins providing the retailer incentive – another of IDW’s tribute covers.

Not much to say about the covers that hasn’t been a repeat of this group’s work on previous months’ covers. Atkins’ Cover A is surprisingly probably the least interesting of the three; it’s a straight-forward shot of Snake Eyes diving toward the camera; the textures that colorist Simon Gough adds to the background are the most interesting thing about it. Padilla’s Cover B is awesome; it’s dirtier, darker and more detailed than the A cover. For the first time in a few months, the B cover is just a nice posed shot of Snake Eyes rather than an alternate view of some event from inside the issue.

Atkin’s retailer-incentive cover is another tribute to “Crisis on Infinite Earths” #5 / “Uncanny X-Men” #136, continuing the theme started on G.I. Joe #6. Rather than a straight homage, Atkins changes things up a bit here and comes up with a significantly different image. He’s got a lengthy look at the process for this cover up at his Blogspot blog.

BODY COUNT
G.I. Joe: 0 (Total: 35)
Cobra: 11 (3 CCTV-room operators in Vargas’ base; 8 randoms killed by Lighthorse via helicopter) (Total: 87)

CONTEST UPDATE
No Joes killed; Satori and Baroness tied for body-count lead with 11.

So, this came across our faculty-staff email list today

Andy Bartlett has been named the Interim Director for Communications and Marketing.

Andy began his career at Bemidji State University in May 2001 as the Sports Information Director.  In March 2007, Andy was named the Associate Director for Communications and Marketing.  He will now assume the role vacated by Rose Jones, Director for Communications and Marketing in an interim capacity.  A search for a permanent replacement for Dr. Jones will begin soon.

Andy will continue to oversee athletic media relations as well as licensing and royalties.  More information regarding the staffing of the Office of Communications and Marketing will be forthcoming.

Please join me in welcoming Andy to his new role!

Thank you,
President Hanson

Totally metal. 🙂

Renewal time

It’s renewal time for andybartlett.com and andybartlett.net, domains I’ve owned through Hong Kong-based ICDSoft for well over a decade.

If you’re looking for a web host, consider them. They’re very inexpensive and the service I’ve received from them over the last decade has been stellar. I haven’t needed to contact their customer service people often, but when I have, they’ve responded within two minutes, every single time. They’ve even helped me work through a couple of issues related to a domain name I didn’t even have registered through them at the time. I can’t recommend these guys enough.

Comic review: “Cobra Civil War: G.I. Joe” #6

Cobra Civil War: G.I. Joe #6
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Cover price: $3.99

Written by: Chuck Dixon
Pencils: Will Rosado
Inks: (none credited)
Colors: Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Letters: Shawn Lee

Cover A: Tom Feister
Cover B: Will Rosado, with colors by Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Cover RI: Robert Atkins, with colors by Mark Roberts

ROLL CALL
G.I. Joe: Flint, Beachhead, Tripwire, Roadblock, Tunnel Rat
Cobra: Baroness, Major Bludd

The G.I. Joe arm of IDW’s three-pronged approach to the Cobra Civil War story has been primarily focused on the Baroness, and she remains the focus of this issue as Flint and company try to decide what to do with their new prisoner. Ultimately, they try a “hide in the last place they’d ever look for us” approach that could lead to a disastrous end for the Joes. Without spoiling what happens, if you haven’t read the very good two-issue “G.I. Joe: Infestation” mini-series, now might be a good time to do so.

Chuck Dixon’s dialogue in this issue is great; there is a genuinely funny moment on Page 8 where the Joes are having some fun with the Baroness, trying to guess who else they know that might be in Cobra, and the Baroness ends it by calling them all morons. The way Dixon has written the Baroness during this entire Cobra Civil War story arc has been fantastic, and he just continues to develop her here. She was somewhat of a screwup in Season One, never quite able to deliver on the things she promised to Cobra, but throughout this story arc she’s been a bad-ass. Even now, in captivity, she’s stayed calm and collected, has no apparent fear for her safety or security, and even finds time to throw around plenty of insults. The Baroness still doesn’t feel like a Cobra Commander, somehow, but the reader gets a sense that she’s inching closer to that goal by the time this issue wraps up.

Major Bludd’s storyline crosses over out of the pages of the Cobra book for the first time, as he begins to use the intelligence he received from his mole agent, Blacklight, in Cobra #5. There’s no action here; just Bludd stalking his prey, and setting up what will be a devastating attack on the Joes over the next few issues in this series. With the events of this issue, Major Bludd is now in position to make a significant push upward on the Cobra Commander contest leaderboard.

Scarlett also gets one page to get an update from Doc on Duke’s condition, which doesn’t seem to have any place in this issue at all. For the most part, the storylines for the primary Cobra Commander candidates stayed contained within one of the three series for the first four months or so of this event; starting with the issue fours of each book, there started to be more crossover — and there doesn’t necessarily seem to be any reason for this crossover. Major Bludd’s story has been limited to the Cobra series; now it gets three and a half pages in G.I. Joe. The Vargas story with the Zimbabwe plague has jumped around from G.I Joe to Snake-Eyes, and having this single-page interlude with Scarlett talking to Doc in this issue not only is another example of random title-jumping, it also does absolutely nothing to advance that storyline. It’s just here. You could delete that page, give it to extending Krake’s getaway in Maine or to the BAT fight in Springfield and not only is this issue is no different at all, the Vargas story is no different at all. It’s filler that doesn’t add to the storyline it covers, and it steals precious page space from the storylines that are advanced in this book.

ART
Will Rosado steps in on penciling duties for Javier Saltares, who drew the series’ first four and one-half issues. His work isn’t bad; the facial expressions on the characters don’t vary much throughout the issue, but the characters are drawn consistently and the flow of the book is easy to follow even with a pagethrough. He draws a great Baroness, too. The first-page splash showing Tripwire surveying the results of Krake’s appearance in Issue #5 wasn’t a particularly great page – the series opened with Baroness and Crimson Guards carrying the dead body of Cobra Commander; we got a full page of Storm Shadow in action in issue #2, and even the last issue with Baroness meeting Zartan in Paris was a very good opener for the book. Tripwire peeking out of a hole and seeing a dead Viper didn’t seem to have the same kind of impact. But, the way the events covered in this book played themselves out, I’m not sure what could have been done differently. At first, I didn’t like the decision to back-light the character in the book’s final panel, leaving most of the detail hidden in shadows, either; but that’s grown on me, and hopefully that will lead into a more dramatic reveal of that character next month. Overall, a nice job by Rosado. His work here is a nice change of pace from Javier Saltares.

COVERS
Tom Feister’s Cover A with Roadblock and the nuke is *fantastic*, but I wonder why this wasn’t the cover to GI Joe #5, when Roadblock actually used this in the comic. I got this sense during the previous issue, but it’s hammered home here – this looks so much like the mortar that came with Doc. Roadblock lit up on all sides by laser sights gives this image a Predator vibe, too.

Will Rosado’s Cover B continues the trend of the B cover for these issues capturing another view of a point-in-time for a particular event that happens inside the book. This is a great composition, although the lighting seems weird; Flint and Tunnel Rat are laying in a shadow that looms over both of them, but are also being lit from the same direction.

Robert Atkins’ retailer-incentive is a tribute to DC’s iconic “Crisis on Infinite Earths” cover, and he did a fantastic job with it; there’s not much else to say. This is just an awesome cover. Atkins talked at length about the process he used when working on this cover over on his blog; you can read it at his blog on Blogspot. Awesomely, he’s also opened a discussion thread about the cover on the Terrordrome forums. His blog post is well worth the time to read. After reading it, there shouldn’t be any question as to why Atkins has been doing such great work on G.I. Joe through the entirety of his involvement with IDW’s universe – he just gets G.I. Joe and loves working with the characters.

BODY COUNT
Revision from G.I. Joe #5: Sneak Peek and Mooch survived their injuries suffered in the previous issue; they’re portrayed here as alive and in serious need of medical attention. They have been removed from the body count.
G.I. Joe: 2: Ripcord, Crankcase (Total: 35)
Cobra: 0 (Total: 76)

CONTEST UPDATE
No change in the contest; assuming Ripcord and Crankcase are dead, it would make sense for them to be attributed to Baroness, which would give her 13 kills and the lead over Oda Satori in the “dead Joes” column.

PREVIEW
Terrrodrome has a preview of G.I. Joe #6 here.

My history with Apple

Earlier today, Apple announced its next iPhone, the iPhone 4S. To me, the most significant part of this announcement is that the iPhone is finally coming to Sprint. Melissa and I have been on Sprint for many, many years; and she longer than me. I only had a work-provided cell phone until we added a line to her plan somewhere around 2005. Since 2005, I have had a long list of cell phones that I have absolutely hated, culminating with my current Samsung Intercept. My Intercept is an Android-powered phone, and it often crashes when I try to use the slider to answer a call, or gives me messages like “android.app phone dialer has unexpectedly quit” or just turns itself off for no reason whatsoever.

So, with today’s announcement of Sprint getting the iPhone 4S – which all but guarantees that Melissa and I will be shedding ourselves of these damnable Intercepts and getting said iPhone 4S at the earliest moment available to us – I thought it might be fun to recap my history with Apple products.

I started using Apple computers at work around 1996; I used a Performa to do page layout for my tennis media guide that year, even though I had a Windows 95 machine on my desk. I finally caved to my boss and replaced my Windows machine with a Mac — a Power Macintosh G3 desktop model running MacOS 8 — in 1997. I also had a Dell Inspiron laptop that I took on the road and used for in-game statistics, which I actually liked quite a bit. I upgraded to a Power Macintosh G4, which I still think had a pretty awesome case, in 1999 when I became the Internet coordinator at K-Sate. I also bought a G4 for the house in 1999, as well, to replace Laurie’s Performa.

I moved to Bemidji to become the head SID at Bemidji State in 2001, and had one of the fantastic new titanium Powerbook G4s waiting for me. I used my first Powerbook G4 for three years and beat the absolute hell out of it, and it just kept right on ticking. I got a new one when our school’s laptop program rolled over in 2003; I had the new one for a year, then passed it down to my assistant and bought a new one for myself when his computer quit in 2004.

Also in 2003, I went insane with a sense of post-divorce euphoria and sprung for a dual-processor PowerMac G5 with the 24″ Cinema Display. I had absolutely no business buying that computer, but I did it anyway. And y’know what? I still have it, and I still use it multiple times weekly (if even only to move files back and forth from it to my laptop). It’s been a fabulous machine.

I got a MacBook Pro through work in 2006 and replaced it a year or two later when I again passed it down to an assistant who needed a new machine and got a new one for myself. I changed jobs and left sports info in 2007, and had an iMac to use on my desk. It was the first time in more than 10 years I didn’t have access to a laptop, and I didn’t much like it. 🙂 I traded my plastic iMac in for one of the beautiful aluminum models in 2009,  but only had that for a year before I moved it to one of our design students and got a MacBook Pro again. I’ve had this computer for two years now, and it’s pretty great. I would imagine I’ve got another year or two on it, and I’ll trade it in for a new MacBook – by that time, I’m hoping they have a 15″ form factor for the MacBook Air.

So, to recap; here’s a timeline of my usage of Macs and other Apple products; in total, since 1996 I’ve had at least 14 Macs that have been “mine” either personally or through work, and I also have an iPod and an iPad; additionally, I’ve bought an iPod and a 14th Mac for Melissa. Beyond that, I’ve probably approved the purchase of several dozen other Apple computers in the last 15 years through work; for example, we have 18 Apple computers in our office and in our Athletic Media Relations office, and I believe I have been involved in the purchase of every one of them — there may be one exception.

• 1996-99: Performa
• 1997-99: Power Macintosh G3
• 1999-2001: Power Macintosh G4 (at work)
• 1999-2002: Power Macintosh G4 (at home)
• 2001-06: three Titanium Powerbook G4s
• 2003-present: Power Macintosh G5 (this beast still sits in my office at home and I use it pretty frequently as a file server)
• 2006-08: two MacBook Pro 15″
• 2008-09: Intel iMac, white plastic case
• 2008: bought Melissa an iPod Touch for our anniversary
• 2009-10: Intel iMac, aluminum case
• 2009: bought Melissa a 15″ MacBook Pro for her birthday
• 2009-present: 2007-model MacBook Pro (Melissa’s hand-me-down)
• 2009-present: MacBook Pro 15″
• 2010-present: iPod Touch 2G
• 2010-present: iPad

Busy few days

It’s been an incredibly busy week at Casa del Bartlett, and this weekend in particular has been packed full of fun and excitement.

I had a chance to go out and meet up with some friends late Thursday after I finished up an assignment for grad school, which ended up being a lot of fun. Friday, I took the day off work to try and get ahead on some work for school. Mel and I had a seven-hour date on Saturday, when our regular babysitter called and said “I want to steal your children” — which we immediately agreed to. She took them out to dinner and bought both of them stuffed animals; it was so awesome of her. Mel and I went out to dinner, went and caught “Contagion” (which is an incredibly creepy movie), then went out and met up with some friends. Today, Mel and I took a walk with Millie all the way downtown, which was fun.

Busy busy.