Thursday, September 29, 2005
Today's big event was the German class I went to. I thought this class was literature in translation, but I was clearly mistaken. Still, I stayed just to see how much German I could pick up. Did I succeed? Nien. Consider that class dropped.
I don't intend to tell boring stories on this site, so rather than no writing for a long time, I need to figure out something amazing and story worthy to do while I attend classes.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Anyway, the results of the slideshow come later in the story of my weekend, the story of which begins on Friday. So on Friday I drove to Berkeley to pick up Cindy so the we could visit Masa and take him to Alcatraz. Cindy showed me a little more of Berkeley, we got some sandwiches, and she kindly bought me a tapioca pearl drink. Then we drove to San Francisco. As expected, we became lost, finally finding Masa after an hour and a half of searching, and reaching the boat to get to Alcatraz at 3. Here they are at fisherman's wharf.
Few people are ever prepared for my photos, which I tend to prepare when they are not looking and snap as they look at me. Photos of me are always the exact opposite, as I pose like a 10 year-old in every picture I possibly can. I am rarely caught off guard. Here is another posed picture, taken at Alcatraz.
Alcatraz, by the way, is less fun the second time. I was also feeling a little sick to begin with, and cold wind blowing through stuffy, moldy cells did not help this. I probably rushed Masa and Cindy a little but, which was too bad. But the audio tour just takes so long, and it has all these crazy sound effects that are supposed to make you feel more like you are actually in the prison, but I mostly was distracted by them. Well, we finally left and went to Fisherman's Wharf for some clam chowder and crab. Both the crab and the soup was good, but the crab cost $18. While that is a lot less expensive than the last crabs I had, it was much more delicious. Here is the guy that worked in the crab stand.
And of course, afterwards we went to Ghirardelli square for some expensive, delicious ice cream.
With our day concluded, we took Masa back to Noel, who he was staying with, and said our goodbyes. We then drove off with his dictionary, contacted him, returned it and said our goodbyes again. As I drove Cindy home our conversation suddenly got really deep, really fast, and she was able to show me another way that I can look at my life up to this point. "Being shy in high school gives you the advantage now because you are more familiar and patient with shy people and their way of thinking." was the gist of what she said.
And then I drove to Napa. A day passed. I am not really sure what I did for that day. I spent some of it with my cousins.
Well, so then Sunday was Grandpa D's birthday. Here is Grandpa D with one of his gifts, a HUGE bottle of sparkling wine.
For most of the party I found that I was going around visiting with my close relatives, since I really don't know any of my grandparents' friends.
So the night went on. Dinner was nice, and Grandpa seemed to be having an alright time. However, I think he has never really liked having parties in his honor, and I imagine a huge celebration for his 90th birthday would normally only have made him feel old. However, then my sister and female cousins performed a hull for him, which everyone enjoyed and grandma called for encore. And then I set up my slideshow.
My Grandfather is a stoic man. My mother tells me that she has only seen him cry once in her entire life, when my uncle Steve passed away. Well, when the slideshow finished my grandfather was crying.
After that, for the rest of the party, my grandfather seemed 19 rather than 90, as he danced with my grandmother to the songs they listened to when they were young, and at the end of the night he went to bed in the happiest mood I have ever seen him in.
All the work I did on that slideshow was worth it.
Monday, September 19, 2005
On a related topic, while I was waiting for my project to render in the computer lab on campus today I decided to click on all the ads that were attached to this site just to see what kind of products I am inadvertently supporting. Well, since I used an IP address that was not mine, Google's AdSense program read my browsing as legitimate hits. I returned home to find that my 15 minutes of random clicking while bored had earned $5.07!! I am very pleased by this because, since I decided to put ads on the site and donate the proceeds to charity, the site had only made $0.99. I was regretting placing the ads a little, since making an average of 4 cents per day for Habitat for Humanity is kind of pathetic, but $5 is actually no small sum.
So, in conclusion, I encourage you to click on the ads in the right column. Google will only print a check after you have made a minimum amount (I think $10), and when that happens I'll cut an equivalent check to Habitat.
Enough of me boring you, though. I encourage you to get on with your life.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Something I have always wondered is, are the stories that people tell you on the street really true? A man could ask you for money saying he is starving, but then use the money you gave him to buy booze. But if you distrust everyone who you meet outside of a conventional social setting, you will only ever meet basically the same type of people. Living a life full of distrust doesn't seem like a good way to live to me. On the other hand, trusting every one is quite naive and dangerous. I guess the most functional answer to this conundrum is to give people conditional trust. Believe their stories, but be prepared to change your mind if something goes amiss. Still this does not seem like an ideal solution to me.
Sorry for the philosophy, but that is what happens durring long lonely car rides.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
After all the shopping in the bookstore had been finished, we decided to take Masa to one of the most characteristic American places we could think of: Costco. For this purpose, we drove to Vacaville. Costco was as impressive as I thought it would be. When we saw the guy with the 60 rolls of toilet paper Masa was dumbfounded. The 5 gallon bucket of shoyu (soy sauce) was also impressive.
We didn't stay too long at Costco, and afterwards the gang split into boys and girls for a reason I am not yet at liberty to disclose. Hee hee. Anyway, Adam and I took Masa around to the factory outlet stores in Vacaville, then returned to Davis and showed him some of the interesting shops downtown, like Armadillo Music and Bogey's Books. At 6:45 we met up with some of the girls again for pizza at Woodstocks. Suprisingly, pizza went down easier than Dining Commons food. After pizza we took Masa back to Noel, with whom he is staying, and we all (with the exception of Adam who left his camera in the Yolo County Courthouse and had to go get it) went over to Kerrie's house to do the thing which I am not yet at liberty to disclose. Here we are doing it.
So when we were done we made plans to meet in the morning to drive down to Great America together, and Mary came over and stayed at my place. We woke up at 7 the next day, gathered at 8 and drove down to Santa Clara. I had taken down some instructions from Google Maps before I left because I had never been to Great America before. However, I soon learned that Google Maps has the same problems that Mapquest and Yahoo Maps have. The program will pick the shortest route, but not the easiest and most logical. Thus, after a mid-trip course change, we reached Great America.
Now, the minute I got to the park and heard the screaming of the people on the roller coaster I remembered that I hated roller coasters. Thus, slightly, well, maybe more than slightly nervous, I began to board the first rollercoaster of the day called "Top Gun". Here are Mary and I about to board. Often I will make strange facial expressions for my pictures to make them more interesting. In this case, this facial expression pretty much shows how I felt.
I got on the ride, it started, and I don't really remember the rest. I remember that it was really scary. But the specifics of the ride are all a blur to me. Regardless, I got off, well, staggered off, and took about 5 minutes to recover. We went on the bumper cars next, for a change of pace. Here is the gang in line.
After bumper cars I convinced everyone to go on the rapids ride. Water rides are a favorite of mine for some reason. I don't find them as scary as rollercoasters. Maybe because I am used to kayaking. Who knows. Well, this rapids ride was a little different than I expected since at places there were submerged firehoses that people on the side of the canal could pay a quarter and use to spray you. This resulted in us all getting far more wet than I expected. But afterwards, I took Masa to one of the controls so that he could do the spraying. Here he is waiting with his hand on the trigger.
Masa missed in his first shot, and began to walk away but I thought there might be three shots so I pressed the button once just to test it and ended up soaking a young, unaware couple. Hee hee. Next Mary, a former employ of the park, took us to the Spongebob Squarepants 3D ride. Yup. I am not a fan of Spongebob Squarepants, so I was moderately impressed. The polorized glasses did look cool though, especially on Masa.
And then we went on this ride. It was actually not all that scary. Mostly fun.
Then we went to lunch at In and Out. Since I don't like beef, and I have not eaten fast food in months, I was pleased that my meal did not cause me any discomfort. On the way back, however, we walked by a burrowing owl sanctuary which was right next to a parking lot. I look for owls, but I guess they only come out at night. I saw the burrows, though!
Upon returning to the park we visited several more roller coasters. I was starting to completely lose my fear of rollercoasters by this point, proving once again the adventurous spirit that got me to and through Japan is still present and helping me become a better person. And then we went on Invertigo, a roller coaster with an outside loop in which you face your friends. Well, I loved the rollercoaster. But as we started to go on the second outside loop everything got a little black and when color retuned a second later I realized that many of my muscles had loosened. Daniel and Alice who were sitting across from me remarked that I had turned very pale and for a second my expression had gotten really serious, like I had just remembered I left the stove on at home. In conclusion, I blacked out for a second. It was great, but I don't think I'll do that one too much. Here is the rollercoaster that I blacked out on.
We rode on one more rollercoaster and decided it was about time to leave the park. Then I took this picture, which I think would make an excellent movie poster for a movie staring me, with everybody else as supporting actors. Every single person you can see in this picture was in our group, by the way. What luck.
And finally, we went on the ride I had been advocating since hearing the screams of the people on the rollercoasters.
A fantastic day. I basically managed to remove from myself the fear of rollercoasters and can now say that I actually enjoy them a lot. Masa and Noel are driving down to LA at the moment, so that is all I will see of Masa for now, but I am still not done visiting with Mary and Cindy (who couldn't come today) so I am going to visit them in Berkeley tomorrow.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
From left to right: Daniel, Alice, Me, Masa, Noel and Kerrie. Clearly, this is not the best shot of Masa, but don't complain to me. I can't possibly have taken it, after all.
Anyway, food was good, but made my stomach hurt. Luckily the ice cream we ate later fixed that. I felt kind of bad that I talked to Masa the entire time and didn't really let anybody else have a chance. That was a little rude of me, perhaps.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
But then I tried to find my way back to the freeway in San Francisco...
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
So, here is the update from day two of my sister and I’s road trip to and through
And also the most exotic looking squirrel
The zoo cost $21. However, I was willing to pay it. After seeing the Himeiji Zoo, I will never again begrudge a zoo for charging high admission provided they care for their animals well, and the San Diego Zoo has a reputation for caring for its animals very well. The first thing we saw were the pink flamingos.
Now, we walked around for a long time and saw many things. But I already have so many pictures of wildlife from last year that I just didn’t care to take any more. After about your 400th picture of an elephant, you start to think that it may be time to stop. So I only took pictures that, to me, represented the zoo experience. And this was the best. The creatures on both sides of the glass were equally curious.
And I see this species a lot, basically everywhere I go.
Now, the most famous critter in the San Diego Zoo is the giant panda. The female just gave birth, apparently. However, I am not a huge fan of pandas. They just sit and eat. It is like a tree sloth, but cute and from
Like this Kudu. Now by the time Kira and I got to the Kudu exhibit it was nearing lunchtime. When we went to
And I think this pig looks like me! Look at the white moustache! Just like mine. What a stylish guy.
When we saw these snakes we thought of you, mom and dad. They were cuddling. Happy 29th anniversary!
This was probably the most beautiful reptile I have ever seen. This python looked like it was made out of ivory and gold. Stupendous. But it would have never survived in the wild.
So basically, yesterday we did everything that Kira would conceivably want to do. After the Zoo we went to the IMAX theater to see “Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag”. She enjoyed it immensely, I believe, and I sat there moderately interested. But, since the IMAX was in a science museum, after the show we walked around a bit. This museum was not nearly as good as the Exploratorium in
And here is another picture of Kira.
This is some building in
Next, we went to the
Again, I mostly wandered thinking “Oh, well this is sure interesting.” While Kira ran around and closely inspected all the aircraft for “wear patterns”, whatever those are. Planes just aren’t my thing, I’m afraid. But this way when I want to stop by Japantown on the way back to
And this was nice church near the Hillcrest neighborhood. Greek Orthodox.So today’s plan is to hang out in
Monday, September 12, 2005
So, I have been longing for another adventure. After going on a two month trip to places you have never been, sitting still can be difficult. But this week, there is another adventure that I have embarked upon. Yesterday, my sister and I began our trip down to visit our cousin Lisa in
I arrived to pick up Kira, my sister, yesterday morning at . I had been trying to figure out how to get down to
This is Kira, after first getting in the car. She was not exactly in a cheerful mood. Getting up that early in order to go on what looks to be a 9 hour drive through mostly boring scenery is not the kind of thing that excites most people.
This is me driving. By the way, I have always wondered what the deal with my nose is. I mean, I really like my nose, but I can’t figure out why has that shape. I have theorized that it is the only part of me that actually shows that I am, in fact, partly Native American. We have no idea which tribe.
So, after almost 4 hours of me driving (with Kira mostly sleeping), we arrived at the “town” of Buttonwillow. It was actually just a huge truck stop on Interstate 5, but I guess it was so big it was considered a town. I needed to refill the tank, and did so. Unfortunately, I accidentally filled the tank with premium gasoline rather than regular. I pressed the wrong button and didn’t even realize it. After pumping the $3.31 gas, Kira and I went in to the store shown in the picture.
As soon as she entered the store, Kira immediately began to be followed by a large trucker who really wanted to make conversation with both of us. He gave us some driving advice, and the conversation went downhill from there. By the end of it he had made the following claims: he was a truck driver for Wal-Mart, owned a P-51 Mustang that belonged to the Tuskegee airmen, was in the military in Hawaii at some point in his life but didn’t like Hawaii because he didn’t like being on the victim of racism (even though various things he said hinted to me that he was, himself, rather racist), had worked for Boeing as an aircraft test pilot, and flew a MIG 29 on the weekends. When he made the final claim my sister and I both looked at his 280 pound frame and said we had to be going. I have a feeling this fellow was very lonely and just wanted to talk to anyone, even if he had to lie. Of course, his aggressiveness in pursuit of such conversation made Kira very nervous. We took one thing that this man said as truth: we should not try to drive through downtown
Well, we finally reached
And here is Bobby cooking us a fantastic dinner of salmon, spinach salad, artichokes, and garlic bread. While he may believe that the salmon was terrible, I did not mind it. It is very good to see Lisa, by the way.
Well, today is probably going consist of a trip to the zoo. But who knows. Keep checking.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Still, I'm glad I am doing it. Even if I never watch any of this video again, knowing that it still exists will be a comfort to me. And there are some really great moments. Like the one where I am filming Sean and Brian trying to make a cheesy looking fight scene and somehow I end up squirting Brian in the eye with ketchup. Or the movie about the 2000 election that Oriana, Nick, Kira and I made. Or the one with mom and Zia singing "Percolator Coffee". Or the serious one where I explain how much I love cross country running before the night of my final race. And lots of video of Shadow and Shasta.
Still, this is taking a long time and I am ready to be done. But once again, it's time to change the tape.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
So, on to the stuff that you might be more interested in. Today Ralph and I went to the California State Fair. Now, since I went to the World Expo in Japan, some of you may be wondering "How do they compare?". Allow me to answer that question at the end of this entry. Here is the gate.And here is just inside the gate, looking over to the midway rides. We did not go on any rides because, you know, we just weren't in a ride mood I don't think.
However, we did go into the children's art show. We walked in looking for the insect exhibit, and when we found out it was art made by middle and high school kids Ralph said something like "Kid's art. I'm done." I agreed with his sentiments. I usually find children's art uninteresting, as it seems so much of it is contrived to please adults and win praise. Since the art in this exhibit had probably been created for the specific purpose of competing in the state fair, I was even more skeptical. However, as I walked for the door, this bizarre statue caught my eye. "What is that?" I though, and I walked back inside. It took us probably 45 minutes before we were ready to leave again. In fact, my assumptions were totally wrong, and the art in the exhibit was the best I have seen in years. Much of it was executed with skill equal to that of the artists in the professional exhibit, and the art in the children's exhibit, on a whole, was much more creative and less reliant on BS explanations than the art in the adult exhibit. Here is the statue that caught my eye.
After the art exhibit, we visited the "California Foods" exhibit, in which we encountered a professional beekeeper. Now, for those of you unfarmiliar with Ralph, he is an entomologist, which means he studies insects. But he is more than your average entomologist. Few people love what they study so much. However, what interested me most was that this beekeeper assumed that I was the entomologist. I wondered why this was, but I have my suspicions.
Then we went to the wild life exhibit. 見て、ふくろうです! Owls are sure patient.
Here is an indicator of some of the crowds. Not as bad as some of the crowding at Expo, but for CA standards, bad.
We finally made it to the insect exhibit. Ralph was quite disappointed by the quality of the mounting of the insects. I was a little disappointed by the fact that so many of the insects were dead. Even the cockroaches. Come on. You can't kill cockroaches if you try. Ralph is in the center of this shot looking rather displeased.
Well, then we went to see UC Davis vet students explaining about how cows give birth. This cow looked like she was about to pop, and had a very belabored expression on her face.
And this is the cutest picture I have ever taken. Nothing like having your brothers and sisters around you to help you sleep.
So, in conclusion. The Expo was bigger, with more displays, more people and cost a lot more. But there were no cute piglets at the Expo. Also, the Expo was a whole lot lonelier.
So, after the Fair, Ralph and I went to Costco, Fry's and then his house to pick up his brother. This is where an interesting story occurs. Ralph has explained to me that his house is in an area where police rarely go because it has occasionally been dangerous for them to be there. That fact is tangential to this story, but it does make it a little more fun. So we get to Ralph's house and are waiting for his brother to be ready out in front. I look up and I see one of Ralph's brother's friends playing with an airsoft gun. Not a real gun mind you, but one that looks VERY real. Well as he is playing with it, occasionally pointing it at the street, the police roll by. I can't tell you how fast I found a subtle yet effective way to make myself less of a target, just in case the police saw a gun pointed in their direction and decided to defend themselves. Once again, the squat I learned so that I could rest in Japan (where there are few chairs) comes in handy. Anyway, the police did see the gun I think, because a minute later they rolled by again.
Well, that's it. Time to change another tape in my camera. Only 24 hours of video left to go.