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.