Sunday, September 14, 2008


[I don't know why this didn't show up for a month. Some screwing around with Blogger fixed it though. Except almost all the photos are gone. I can't seem to fix that. I'll certainly post them if I can.]
For the first time since March, a second post during the same month. Wow, I need to update more often. I'm getting along with the webcomic I've been working on, I should be ready to post the first batch of pages in a month or so. I'll link to it when it's ready.
But, in more important news, yesterday I was the competitor in IRON ARTIST 2008! This, my friends, is one extremely insane Portland contest. It's funded by SCRAP, a local reuse and recycling center, and basically the goal is to create (with your team of 5-10 others) a sculpture, based around a certain theme, in four hours. This year the theme was alchemy. Your materials are random pieces of used junk (they try to give each team similar items) like bicycle wheels, computer parts, several hundred yards of ribbon, etc. You don't get to hear the theme until 20 seconds before the contest starts, and you can't look at your materials until it starts, so there's really no way to plan ahead. It's on the spot creativity, so there's a lot of spontaneity.
Once the competition gets going, it's basically a no-holds-barred rush to make the most awesome sculpture. The patrolling referees, dressed in a bizarre mix of completely random black and white clothing, will give teams demerits for anything from too many people working at once to ugly usage of pom-poms. At the same time, teams can earn extra points by bribing the judges in various ways, and it's perfectly legal to cheat--if you can get away with it. At one point, the refs caught us with our entire team working on the sculpture at once, and we all had to go in the "Penalty Box", essentially a giant cage with ribbon wrapped around it. We had to moonwalk to get out. O_O
Admittedly, I wasn't too happy with the outcome. We came dead last. Yes, it's true, out of eight teams, we got the least votes for our sculpture(see above pic). Frankly, I think it was pretty ugly too. Someone had suggested we mosaic the base, which took way too long and ended up looking like crap. Not very alchemical either. If we'd had more time, we could have worked harder on the more kinetic elements of the sculpture and actually GOTTEN THE DAMN WHEELS TO TURN. Oh well. We still won the award for "Best Collaboration", whatever that means, and I had a hell of a lot of fun anyway. I'm going to do it again next year if I can! Woot!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

End of summer...

On the last day before school started (Tuesday) I went to the Portland Japanese garden. I haven't been there in almost four years and it was nice to finally go back. I took a few nice photos, although my camera's getting older and my 1gb memory card is gone, so I had to use my crappy little 64mb one that only holds about 20 pictures. I'm going to have to get a new camera soon if I want to keep taking good pictures. Anyway, here are a few of them.
Koi. The reflection looked cool here.
Buddha statue along the path. It was really easy to miss; unless you were right next to it it just looked like a rock.
I also happened to run into the poorest cosplaying ever. What these three were doing here dressed as Naruto, Kiba, and Sai from Naruto I don't know, but I found the sheer randomness of it hilarious. Kumoricon, Portland's big anime convention, ended the day before, so there was really no explanation.

In other news, school started the next day and I'm now a sophomore, whoop. I have a good lineup of classes--all the easy ones on one day and all the nasty ones on the other--and I'm taking guitar, advanced video, and Elements of Art as electives. They've all turned out as pretty decent classes but not very exciting.
My political views are generally leftist, but to be fair, I watched John McCain's acceptance speech Wednesday night. He went on and on about how he was a POW and how he came to love America and all that. People say he'll be a great president because he survived a prison camp in Vietnam, but really, how does being a prisoner give you the experience to lead a country? I sympathize a little, because it would suck for anyone to have to experience something like that, but being a POW forty years ago doesn''t automatically give you the credentials or the skills required to be the president of the United States. It makes no sense, and I really, really hope the guy doesn't get elected. The last thing we need is a Bush clone. Just a little political commentary on my part.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

New computer...

...and it's about time too! I finally scraped together the money for a new computer. I got an excellent deal on it too, and got the monitor and printer along with it. It's got a good graphics card and excellent memory, perfect for movies, photos and video games. I'm writing this post on it right now. What this really means is that I'll finally be able to pick up on my animations again. Expect to see new movies soon! Yeah!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Well, a couple things...tomorrow, first of all, is my birthday, at which point I will turn 15. I should really be taller.
Secondly, on Saturday I hiked up into the Cascades with my grandpa, who--even at 67--has the energy to hike all over the place and probably a higher level of stamina than I do. He belongs to a hiking club that recently built a lodge halfway up Larch Mountain in the Cascades. We went up there, and it took all morning.
We began at the base of Multnomah Falls, and after making our way up steep, punishing switchbacks, reached the top of the cliff and continued inwards, up a long trail that wound through the forest, through several small streams that cut directly across the path, across a river, up many slopes, down an unpaved road, and finally to the lodge at about 1800 feet. Going up took about two hours and was a good three miles or so.
I found the lodge was quite well-stocked, with a gas stove, refrigerator, and electric lights. We hung out there for about an hour, enjoying the scenery and eating my grandpa's patent Slimy Noodle Soup, which is basically instant ramen with all the ingredients removed except the noodles and broth. It's actually pretty decent.
The way down seemed to take even longer than the way up, and by the time I got back I was only semiconscious. It was 4:00 pm, and we had been at it for five hours. I was totally worn out, but nonetheless, it was a nice way to spend a Saturday.
Here are some pictures I took.
Multnomah Falls. Cloudy days are awesome.
A rock overhang above the trail. I stood with my back to the rock wall and took this picture, which ended up being awesome.
The forest is so very green.
A stream and a log, directly across the path.
There was an impressive viewpoint near the lodge. We were this high up. The picture blurred a little, unfortunately.
You could see for miles.
There was one place where two creeks joined together at funny angles, and it was one of the most amazing places I've ever seen.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Finals, animation, and machinima!

Yo people. It's coming up on finals week, so I'm a little stressed. I should be fine with plenty of preparation though.
Also, I've started a new animation about a slug monster. I was sick and tired of waiting to finally save up enough money for a better computer before I started animating again, so I just began animating on the other computer. It's a Mac, and Flash for OS X is inconvenient at best, rage-inducing at worst. But I've progressed pretty well, trying out a new style of animation and art, and hopefully it should be done in a few weeks. Look out for that. Also, on a similar note, the comic anthology I and my friends were doing is at the printers, so we should get the finished books back soon...very exciting.
Finally, I'd like to mention a interesting new artform I found out about that's quite innovative. Machinima--as it's known, for those of you who haven't heard of it--is a filmmaking technique in which people create movies in real-time video game environments.
Basically, this usually works out as one person playing the "Cameraman" character, who uses his character's view of the game and recording software to "film" events in the game, while other players act out various roles, creating a sort of virtual live-action film. I had heard about it before, but never really had any interest until a few weeks ago after reading a book on the subject. If you don't understand what the hell I'm talking about, the video below is a humorous machinima film created using the game Half-Life 2. It's worth watching anyway; it's hilarious.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Photos from the bay.

Whoops. Looks like I procrastinated too much and didn't write the second post I said I would. Not much else happened during that trip, except that we went to San Francisco. I think this can be better described with pictures. I'm also going to include some photos from the rest of the trip.

The ocean under a pier in Santa Cruz. The waves were the same size there as anywhere else along the beach, except that here the water ran between the columns in an immensely cool way. There were also a lot of pigeons there, and pigeons, being the most photogenic birds in existence, often find themselves in front of my camera. However, due to the unbelievably long delay between me pressing the button and the shutter snapping, I didn't get any good pictures of them. I'm surprised I got any good pictures at all this trip, with that damn delay. Can't seem to fix it, either.

One of my favorite photos for this trip. The rail bridge over the river that runs through Santa Cruz--don't know what it's called. The sign, apparently, had no meaning for this gentleman.

Palms in downtown SC. They made a nice composition with the traffic light.

A field of yellow flowers on Highway 1, somewhere in the insanely scenic stretch between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay.

More of the same, except purple. It was one of the most amazing places I've ever seen.

Aah, San Francisco. Such a great place.

The famous TransAmerica tower. The funny thing is, standing across the street from it, it looks about five times taller than it actually is (and it's already about 800 feet or so) due to the fact that the tapering shape messes up your perspective.

Chinatown. My favorite part of the city. I went there with over forty dollars to buy whatever the hell I wanted, and for some unfathomable reason, all I got was a box of candy. Shops overflowing with stuff, and just one little box of candy. That still really, really bugs me.

More of Chinatown. The streets were as packed with people as the shops were with souvenirs. Just about the only place in the United States where a white person feels like the minority.

Oddly enough, while wandering through Chinatown wondering why I didn't want to spend my money, I ran into Sabra, an eight-foot-wide Israeli restaurant tucked between two Chinese places of business. Highly random...

Here's one more. Walking between two buildings, I saw a great photo opportunity...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Saint Joe

This is the first post I've written away from home. I'm writing this from a friend's house in San Jose. My mom and siblings and I decided to take the trip down over spring break, starting Friday the 21st. It took two days of driving, not because we couldn't make the trip from Portland in one day, but because my dad wasn't coming and they couldn't trade places driving. Mom was quite worn out by the time we made it to Redding, where we stayed the night at a Super 8 Motel. We had a not-too-greasy dinner at the Black Bear Diner, although I would probably just fine if I never saw a bear again. The decor in that place...

The next day, the morning of the 22nd, after a delicious "Continental Breakfast" of cheap donuts and watery coffee, we continued. Traveling through relatively flat countryside in central California, I realized I could never mistake it for Oregon. Everything is different. The trees are shorter and look quite different, the other plant life is far more colorful at this time of year, even the grass is a different shade of green. And there is, of course, the presence of palm trees, and farther south, entire woodlands of eucalyptus.

We also briefly visited the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge, where we saw all manner of birds. My mom quite enjoyed it. Jonah was convinced he saw a four-eared rabbit. If anyone else had said it, I may have believed them, but Jonah...

We finally reached our destination, my friend Arjun's house, at about 3 PM on the 22nd. Several hours of driving on poorly maintained bay area freeways had left us all rather worn out. Jonah and I gladly kicked back for a little while on Arjun's Wii, we had quite a bit of fun doing that. Mom frankly pointed out we looked ridiculous waving our arms around, which was probably true, but eventually even she tried it out--something I'd never thought I'd see--my own antigamer mother in front of a console.

That was yesterday. Today we went to Santa Cruz, with Arjun and his family.. As far as I'm concerned, it's not all it's cracked up to be, due to the fact that the entire town seems to be designed for the sole purpose of attracting tourists. The beach is wasted by a massive amusement park a hundred feet wide and a half mile long. I escaped from the rest of the group as quickly as possible, and managed to find the part of the town where real people lived, not just colorful facades. I took some great pictures.

The others finally tired of the amusement park, and we left to find a less crowded beach. We ended up in Half Moon Bay, a nice coastal town about twenty miles south of San Francisco. Along the way, driving forty miles up Highway 1, we were treated to a beautiful view.

The ocean was on the left, about a half mile off, with fields and old wooden buildings in between. I'm not sure what could grow in fields so close to the ocean, but there they were. On the right, massive hills were present, covered in scrub and punctuated by the occasional grazing cow. Eucalyptus forests dwarfed the surrounding trees, reminiscing to a Southeast Asian jungle, and ancient barns stood in the middle of fields of yellow flowers. It wasn't all pretty, however. The winding highway was the site of a horrible car crash.

Half Moon Beach was very windy. None of us had come very prepared for wind, so we hunkered down in the coarse sand and tried to protect ourselves from the cold. Jonah and Arjun dug a shallow pit with a wall against the wind, which proved to be quite windless and warm inside. Eventually, the wind became too much, and we left for home after a long day. We'll be in San Jose all week, so I'm going to write at least one more post from here. I'm currently using Arjun's computer, and am therefore unable to add photos, but will do so as soon as possible. I only took 286 of 'em.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Here I am again!

Woot.  Almost five months and finally another post.  There's a lot to say.  Second semester started last month, giving me three new classes:  Advanced Animation, Basic Piano, and *shudder* "Future Focus".  Animation is extremely fun, except I'm the only freshman in the class, as the normal prerequisite is the beginning animation class.  I've had prior training in animation, however, so they let me in.  Piano could be better, the teaching methods aren't all that great, but I've still learned quite a bit.
Then there's Future Focus.  This may be the dumbest waste of time ever conceived by the education administration.  Basically, we sit in front of five-year-old computers using ten-year-old software to give us some sort of plan of what to do with ourselves.  For the intelligent people who think ahead, and have a good idea of what they're going to do with their lives, this class is mind-numbingly stupid.  We spend fifteen minutes using a program written in 1996 to practice typing, which is rather ironic considering most of us have been typing quite well since around age eight.  The teacher has a personality similar to a reanimated corpse with his facial muscles frozen in a manic smile.  He actually knows very little about current technology, and secretly watches episodes of "Lost" on YouTube when he thinks no one's paying attention.  And it's a REQUIRED CLASS.  AAGH!
That's the end of my little rant.  In other news, I've joined a manga club at the high school whose goal is to create and publish an anthology with several short stories, and sell it at local stores.  It's run by the animation teacher's 30-year-old son, and is great fun.  I recently spent several hours penciling and inking an extreme wideshot of a desert city, drawing 700 little buildings individually.  I'm probably insane.
And finally, my craptastic computer finally died, so no more movies in production until summer when I can buy a new one :(
See you all soon.