shirenomad: (memorable)
Yes, it ended two weeks ago. I've been gathering my thoughts. Or something like that. Anyway!

Saturday was mostly just seeing the sights and hanging out with Allen and Christina. I ducked into a Geneon premiere for some short films that were mildly interesting, and I did a preliminary check of the sales floor, but much of the day was spent getting photos of cosplayers (I'll put them up tomorrow. Probably.) before we left relatively early. I did, however, get a couple compliments on my obligatory geek cred shirt.

Sunday was planned mostly as just the shopping day. I got several Trigun manga from the same booth that sold me the Akira last year (extremely discounted for the same reasons: 4 for $10), the GitS: Stand Alone Complex soundtrack from the official booth (discounted to $12), and for the wallet-breaker, about $160 worth of DVDs for about $130 (20% off across the board for Haibane Renmei, Spirited Away, and Howl's Moving Castle). Also took a long, hard look at the Haruhi DVDs but ultimately passed.

I hadn't even arrived until past 4pm Sunday (missed the Mushishi premiere, grr...) so I'd figured my chances of getting a ticket for the masquerade at 7pm were completely shot, given the effort Allen and I had to make to get in the year before. But as I'm walking around near the line around 6, I see staffers going around saying "remember, you can't get in without a ticket! get your tickets!" Wait, you're still handing out tickets? Turns out they had gotten use of a small arena this year, the largest room in AX history, and yes, they still had seats by the boatload. Sign from God; I was practically on my way out at this point, but I took the ticket, got in line, and was seated in less than 15 minutes. Not great seats -- I was in the balcony area -- but I still had a clear view of both the stage and the screens.

Elaborations on masquerade (with video!) )
shirenomad: (memorable)
The past week or so was busy... mostly with Christmas parties, which apparently come in packs. It started last Wednesday with the office party, and we've really stepped up from last year: rented out a conference room, catering, and open bar at the local Hyatt Regency. About 60 to 80 guests (I think one nameless director brought eight family members *smirk*) I actually prefer the food from the year before, though -- it's hard to go wrong with pasta, whereas this year we got an odd combination of fish and chicken (with some admittedly delicious lobster bisque to start us off, though Allen said it was too buttery for his liking). Also, no fabulous prizes to be won. But the mood was great and so was the company.

Prizes waited until Saturday, when the 20-somethings at church got together for some honey-baked ham (a good amount of which I got to take home and make sandwiches out of for a few days). Also spiced cider, conversation (both spiritual and otherwise), and a present exchange at the end, in which I wound up with $15 of iTunes music I still need to spend.

Apparently that wasn't enough for these party-holic Presbyterians; the bible studies got together Monday for yet another dinner, this time at Troy and Nora's (with some INCREDIBLY good potatoes). And just to round things out, Thursday morning the office complex had a Christmas brunch open to everyone working in the building (pineapple... YUM). So in short, these were the two weeks where everyone conspired to fatten me up.
shirenomad: (memorable)
This Saturday was spent at the Orange County Fair with Allen, Christina, and Cindy. I went more for the company than for the activities, but the animal exhibits were enjoyable (and sometimes cute), the glass-blowing demonstration was fun to watch, and the food was surprisingly high-quality (if heavily priced). Also, Allen and Christina purchased a skillfully rendered lake scene... made entirely out of pressed flowers. More of this artists work is on her website gallery (try not to back out to the main site if Java applets annoy you). Although I couldn't afford anything myself, it was all very impressive.
shirenomad: (memorable)
I'm overdue to put these up, but here's some of the fun scenes from AX:

Cut for large images, duh. )
shirenomad: (informative)
Here's your answer. I didn't have the endurance or the cash to spend all four days there (much less cough up for a hotel room), so I decided to go Monday only, which had the masquerade, less crowds, someone who could transport me, and absolutely nothing else going on that day that could interfere with my ability to attend. Naturally, to try to ruin that last factor, as of Sunday I was still recovering from feeling sick and groggy all the past week, and it wasn't until that evening that I was sure I was feeling well enough to attend the next morning.

Those without interest in anime won't care about or understand most of this; the rest, read on. )

B!

Apr. 18th, 2006 11:00 pm
shirenomad: (memorable)
Brian invited me to a Ducks vs. Flames match last night. I'm not a fan of either team -- the only hockey team I care about our my hometown Sharks -- but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy the sport, so I tagged along and watched the blood hit the ice. >:D

Tensions were high throughout the game, a) because it was so late in the season, and b) because if the Ducks beat the Flames, they would face off again in the first round of the playoffs. Among other things, this led to a fight breaking out on the ice about every five minutes (except in the last eight minutes, when they broke out every two). At least one the refs just stood back and watched for a while -- so long as it stayed clean, I guess...

But despite the interruptions, it was a nice tense game, with neither team gaining an obvious lead. Final score: 4-3, Ducks, which netted them the sixth slot in the playoffs.

It being the last home game of the season, a lot of prizes were given out to random seats. One of our number, Krysta, actually scored one of the "Shirts Off Our Backs" prizes; that meant she got to come out onto the ice after the end of the game and get handed an autographed jersey by one of the players. (Krysta got #23 -- Francois Beauchemin -- if you happen to follow the team.)

Part of the reason Brian went to this game is because he and some friends won a contest of some kind that let them play hockey on the rink after the pros had left. Brian and Blake were the only two people from the office who actually went out on the ice (I knew better than to go out there; it's all I can do to stay upright with ice skates on), but it was still mildly entertaining to watch them... it was far more entertaining, though, to watch "B". See, "B" had his own cheering section: four boys about 10 to 12, all up front, pounding on the plastic, and having a blast humiliating the poor guy at the top of their lungs. "Go B!" "B, you're our hero!" "We love B!" "Give the puck to B!" "Put B back in!" "Great line change, B!" "Gimme a B! (B!) What's that spell? (B!)" (It's all the ref could do not to crack up at times.) At one point, someone nearby asked what their life was like before B, and one of the kids replied (straight-faced) that "it was a dark and meaningless world." After a while, some other people in the stands started getting into it, and before long there were several people cheering for B without having a clue who he was. That alone was worth staying until 1 am to watch the end of.

Though I'm paying for it now. *yawn* Think it's time to catch up on that lost sleep...
shirenomad: (memorable)
The entire office went out for a (very early) Christmas celebration today. Big heaping portions of Italian food. Contractors like me did not get paid for time spent at the restaurant, but the food more than covered lost salary.

There was also a drawing of sorts. If you're familiar with white elephant gift exchanges, this was sort of like that, but not quite. Everyone put three slips with their names on them in the bag. First person to get drawn opened a present. Second person could either open another present, or "steal" what the first person got. Third person... and so forth. There were four changes from the standard gift exchange:

1) All presents were purchased by the company CEO, instead of the various participants.
2) The game did not end until the bag was empty; that is, until everyone had been drawn three times.
3) If stolen from, you didn't get to choose another present immediately; you had to wait for your name to get drawn again.
4) Forty people, six presents.

Ah, now you're getting the picture. All six prizes were nothing to sneeze at, but the pick of the litter was an iPod Nano, which for several draws after it was opened could not stay in one person's hands for more than thirty seconds. The next person would get drawn, and they'd immediately claim it, only to have it snatched by the next person after them... Amusing to watch, really. We all started chanting "Nano!" with each draw. (No, there was no alcohol at the table; who needed it?)

But after several minutes of this chaos, it became apparent how pointless it was to chase the Nano if you weren't literally the last person drawn from the bag. Someone would just take it from you, leaving you with nothing. So as each person got their third and final slip drawn, they decided to settle for some of the "lesser" prizes in hopes that they'd actually be able to keep them to the end. (Again, still good stuff, so even those got stolen more than a few times just for variety.)

But I will admit to being lucky... I was drawn fourth from the end and grabbed the iPod Shuffle (yes, two iPods in the game). Third and Second Place both decided they'd rather have something besides a music player anyway, and then the last draw-ee snagged the Nano for good. Which left me still holding the Shuffle when the smoke cleared. Score.
shirenomad: (God moment)
I've been running the projector for the church for a couple of months now. This being the most important service of the year, not to mention involving a few extra features we don't normally mess with -- live camera projection, DVD -- meant our Audio/Video department head (Jerry) was running around the booth beforehand to make sure we understood absolutely everything we needed to do. By golly, we were going to do this flawlessly, and nothing would stop us!

So, of course, God taught Jerry humility by blowing the circuit breaker to the projector. ^^;;;; We missed an entire song getting it back up and running; thankfully, it was in the hymnals, so the worship leader was able to direct the congregation (that's church-speak for "audience"!) to dust them off and read from there. (I knew we still had those for a reason.) Our screw-up for the day complete, we handled all the more complicated tasks without incident... though that may have been partially because Jerry got paranoid and didn't leave the booth again until the very end of the service.

-----

The church also did a "Journey to the Cross" on Good Friday, which was open for the entire afternoon: people would enter the church and move from station to station, each depicting a scene during Christ's last day before His execution. Inspired by the Catholic Stations of the Cross, but we aimed for something much more physical and interactive. We had at least 20 potted plants in one corner for the Garden of Gethsemane, a path with bloody footprints to walk down, and an actual casket at the end.* The most effective, though, was a wooden cross... and a box of nails. It becomes very real to you when you take a nail and a hammer and pound it into the wood. Visual, auditory, kinesthetic, all at once. Having the station there also meant that you could be at some other location in the room and suddenly hear, in the distance, the WHAM! WHAM! of a nail entering the cross. Very powerful.

Oh, and of course the Good Friday service that evening had to have its own glitch... The church has a large but empty cross engraved on the wall, and during the entire afternoon we'd had Jesus projected on it (my contribution to the "Journey" project: getting that set up). We intended to keep Him up there through the evening service, but we'd neglected to take into account that we'd had to restart the projector multiple times over the afternoon because it was beginning to overheat. Sure enough, midway through the service, Jesus suddenly had "High Temperature" flashing next to Him... about ten minutes later, the projector had performed an emergency shutdown and Jesus had bugged out entirely. The pastor, ever on top of things, merely pointed out at the end of his sermon that although Good Friday is a time to be mournful, the best part was ahead, because (and here he gestured to the empty cross to much chuckling) "as you can see, He's not on the cross anymore!"

* Interesting story behind that one: we wanted to borrow one from a mortuary, but apparently they can't sell a coffin once it's been "used". No, it didn't matter that no one was actually in the casket at any time, or that it would never be buried. However, after further discussion, the mortuary decided to simply give us the casket. Well, hey, we're a church, we do funerals, so sure. The staff figure that they can offer it to use for "in state" viewings of people who are eventually going to be cremated and don't need it permanently.
shirenomad: (memorable)
But it's National Procrastination Week, so I'm par for the course.

We arrived late and helped the girls move into their cabin first. It had some shelves, areas to hang clothes, two sinks, toilet, and shower. Then us guys moved into our cabin... know what we had? None of the above. The men got community restroom/showers. In a separate building. Through the snow. Ain't that always the way...

Along with paintballing (in which I'm not sure I actually hit a single person, although I did learn the fine art of crawling under fire), there was something called the Screamer. Which is basically strapping yourself into a harness and stepping off a 40-foot platform. Best way to do this is to close your eyes before jumping and not open them again until you feel the rope go taunt; at least, that's what I did. Anyway, Jerry had his camera handy to record me doing my swan dive, and Daniel recorded Danijela's method, which was to take a step forward on the "plank", scream, repeat steps 1 and 2 until you reach the edge, then scream LOUD as you step off completely.

Broomball tournament! Jerry was quick to sign the guys up as soon as he could: "Santa Clara" was the first team on the list. But if he had been a little slower on the draw, he might have noticed that no one else was actually using their church for their team names; competitors included groups like "Sis Broom Bah", "Hotcakes", and "Old Lady Diaper Rash". We could have easily used "Impact" or "Edge" (the names of our church's college group and evening worship service, respectively) if we had known. As it turned out, another team took "Impact" themselves... and then faced off against us in the first round. So we destroyed them, earning back the title. >:D Too bad we got spanked in the second round. ("Diaper Rash" won the tourney.)

Good praise music at the worship sessions, including one I hadn't heard before: "Undignified", which is a good song for those who forget praise shouldn't be so formal as some make it out to be.

Saw Jeremy (former roommate of my brother, JW), who works at the facility. I pointed him out to everyone who knows my bro; not sure if anyone pumped him for juicy gossip or not.

And the food was surprisingly edible!
shirenomad: (celebration)
Long day yesterday (and the day before), so I'll fill you in now...

In case you didn't get the news, Navy went to the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco this year. In case you really haven't been paying attention to my journal, my brother Andrew goes to the Naval Academy. Which, in addition to having a game to go to, led to a nice side effect. See, the academy will pay airfare (and two nights hotel) for any midshipman who wants to attend. And it's really irrelevant whether they fly into SF or another airport, so long as they arrange transportation to the event. And it costs about the same to fly in a couple weeks before the game as the day before. So to cut a long story short, the academy covered Andrew flying home for Christmas break.

Also provided: free food! The "tailgater" took up an entire pier warehouse, with live music and a selection ranging from shimp to hot dogs. Only two guests per mid, but one of Andrew's friends didn't have anyone to bring, so we were able to get the other half of the family in under his name.

I've been to only two Navy football games: this one and Army/Navy 2003. Army/Navy was spent on the tail end of a snowstorm in Philly, so why should this year be any different? This time, rain. (I'm surprised there weren't more turnovers.) At least we had some breaks in the clouds from time to time.

The Navy fans were as rowdy as ever. 1700 mids flew out to see the action and stretched the length of the field, so the players could hear them wherever they were. Sadly, some academy officer vetoed chanting "the ref beats his wife!" whenever a bad call was made, so they settled for "the ref hates America!" ^^;

As for the game itself, USNA-Net can fill you in on the details. It didn't hurt that their lead rusher (Moore) was taken out of the game with a solid hit in the first quarter, but the game-breaker was Navy holding the line one yard from the end zone when New Mexico was down by 12. That was with 1:41 left in the third quarter. Navy then marched down the field, slowly but surely, but had to settle for a field goal in the end... just before the two minute warning. Total drive time: 14:26. We passed once during the entire drive.

Final score: Navy 34, New Mexico 19.
shirenomad: (memorable)
Roman army, that is. They needed some more legionnaires for Bethlehem and I was all too happy to volunteer: everyone knows the Romans are the real stars of the show. :D In fact, over the course of the show we picked up more and more "recruits", to the point that we ran out of uniforms on the last day. At which point Tim, who was the smallest and least impressive of out number at a mere 5'8", was "fired" to let the taller troops have their time in the spotlight. ^^;

Romans are largely present to provide crowd control -- making sure that Mary, Joseph, and the donkey (and later, the wise men and their procession) have a clear path through the audience so that no one gets kicked. Of course, we're also a great photo op. Larry, at over 7 feet, got the most requests when he was present, but the rest of us had our chances as well. (The proper answer to "Can we take your picture?" is "Depends. Have you paid your taxes?") We also got to harass a lot of people at random, which they enjoyed way more than they should have.

We didn't get our usual camel this year. Instead, we got stuck with Roxie, who's younger, smaller, and (at least for the first three nights, before she warmed up to the crowds) more ornery. Riding her was out of the question from the start, and we quickly learned that we couldn't put her at the front of the procession either: the crowds were parting fast enough for the sentient members of the procession, who could walk a straight line, but not a camel who liked to turn sideways to see what was going on behind her. So we stuck her in the rear of the pack, where she had more room to manuever (and where there was less to see behind her anyway).

Script tweaks since last year:
- Last year, when I was playing a shepherd, the guards halted us when we tried to enter the city and we had to plead our way past and promise not to make trouble. This year, when I could have been giving it out instead of taking it, that scene was cut. Figures.
- Those who remember last year's commentary may be amused to know that during the exchange between Reuben and his wife, after "if I were with child, would you be putting ME in a stable?" Reuben now pauses for a moment to think about it. Sadly, it rarely got a reaction from the crowd, maybe because most of them couldn't see his face.
- The big change: while Mary and Joseph are looking for a place to stay, the wise men and their entourage are breaking camp on the other side of the church, in preparation to enter the city. The entourage even does a bit of a dance number. This unfortunately means that when they DO approach the city, they've got a large crowd of people who were watching that part of the show following them. Which means more work for us guards.

Had a brief scare on the last day when our commanding officer didn't show until the last minute. He's got a speech to deliver from a balcony to all the "provincials" in the audience, so we couldn't just start without him. There was a bit of a debate among the troops about who would deliver the speech if he didn't make it at all, and at one point we briefly debated the idea of having all 14 of us crowd the balcony and deliver it in unison. (No, not seriously.)

David White was the most obnoxious of the troops and gleefully so. He was telling anyone who asked that Roxie was actually two guys in a camel suit (some people actually bought it!), and when he wasn't doing anything important, he drew his (plastic) sword and used it to pick his nails or teeth. I think he was also the one to suggest that for the last performance, we go out with a bang by storming the stable and killing them all. I preferred the idea of marching in to, instead of one of the usual marching chants, "Men in Tights".

Anyway, record attendance. Last year we were a couple hundred people under our goal of 10,000 people over the five nights. This year: 14 thousand and change.
shirenomad: (memorable)
Details within if you're interested. )
shirenomad: (Default)
CMZero: In Wheaton! )

Speaking of the flu, feeling better but still tired (which explains the delay in this post). Sleeping now, talk tomorrow.
shirenomad: (celebration)
Well, Bethlehem closed yesterday, and I'd consider it a success. The rain that was supposed to strike Sunday blew through at about 1am and was gone by 6, so we had a slightly soggy landscape but did not have to cancel or even delay the night's performance. Didn't quite meet our goal of 10K visitors, unfortunately, but I'd consider 9.4 pretty good.

The sheep pen is right outside the "city gate". We don't see much of the goings on in the city as a result, at least not until the angel directs us in (Bill Wright, on a rising platform that comes out of a rooftop). On the other hand, we get a lot of attention from curious folk who are just arriving, as well as those waiting for Angel Bill's announcement. Well, actually, the sheep got the attention. Most of them were mostly well-behaved, if shy; there was one, on the other hand, who was either trying to be social with all the people or probing the fence for weak points. Either way, he got a lot of scritches behind the ears for his troubles.

Had the occasional hazards of any large scale event like this, of course, but the only big one was our Gaspar (wise man number 3). He rides in on a person-drawn cart. Which lost the pull-bar and nearly sent him flying during the second-to-last performance yesterday. He wound up walking the rest of the way to the stable, while the royal announcer stayed in character by blaming the worthless servants pulling the cart. Somehow Gaspar delivered his lines with a straight face, then we all razzed him after the show was over ("you had to WALK? in the MUD?!?") ^^;

Speaking of the wise men, the city guards had WAY too much fun clearing a path for them through the crowds. Balthasar (wise man 1) rides a live camel into the city, so it's really a good idea to give him plenty of room, and the guards make sure of it! (See the entry title. There was also "You think this is enough room for a camel? I DON'T THINK SO!")

And the award for best dialogue in the show:

Reuben's wife: Tell these people we have no more room.
Reuben the Innkeeper: We have no more room.
Joseph: Please, sir. My wife is with child and could give birth at any moment. Anything will do.
Reuben: *thinking hard* We have a stable.
Reuben's wife: A stable? A stable? What kind of man would do such a thing?! If I were with child, would you be putting me in a stable? Your mother comes and gets three rooms, but to a pregnant woman it's a STABLE?!?

Now time for a seasonal meme. )
shirenomad: (Default)
Got back from the East Coast and our family trip to see Navy play Army on the gridiron, among other things. Time for a "how I spent my summer vacation" entry.

A little history, first, just 'cause... )

On to Annapolis! )

But enough about all that! The real reason my parents and I forged our way eastward was, of course, to see Andrew march out with the American flag on national TV. And there was that little football game afterward, while we were there... Read on... )

Anyway, 34-6 Navy. Go team. We flew back Sunday after celebrating and slept for half a day.
shirenomad: (celebration)
...but nonetheless, it is finally over as of today! Turned the tassle, walked across stage, shook the dean's hand, did my darnedest not to trip over the robes, the works.

It was warm, and so were the robes, so I was wearing a short-sleeved collared shirt and khaki shorts under the robes. Didn't realize until I got there that if anyone looked closely around my ankles, they'd see bare skin between my socks and the robe hem... Eh, let them draw their own conclusions, all who noticed. Professor Dourish was an open robe with a kilt underneath, so I think I was within my rights.

This was, incidentally, the first graduating class of the School of Information and Computer Science here at UC Irvine. Last year it was a department. A department that outnumbered three other schools. You see the problem. I actually learned a little history about the situation last night but I'll understand if you don't want to hear it. ) Anyway, the only shame is that I won't get to see any of the advantages of School-hood.

Mom, Dad, and Grammy (my grandmother) were in town to see me. So was my brother, Andrew, who was a bit of a surprise. He's going to the Naval Academy and had been assigned to serve on a patrol boat for the summer, so we figured he couldn't make it. But Andrew, thoughtful person that he is, broke two fingers a couple weeks ago just so he could get put on temporary medical leave! ...well, silver lining, anyway. Nice to see the guy again.

So lots of photo taking, went out to eat, watched Finding Nemo (fun flick, recommend to all), and now I'm finally back at the apartment... until tomorrow, when I head up north for a few days on business/pleasure. So just FYI, expect my online time to continue being sporadic until Thursday.
shirenomad: (nostalgic)
Campuswide Honors Program Banquet was last night. Graduating seniors eat free, so you'd better believe I was there. :D Commencing boring stuff no one wants to hear :p )
shirenomad: (Default)
All the yuugakusei in the Kantou area have been invited to ICU in Tokyo for some Thanksgiving dinner this evening. A bit late, but still appreciated. And it'll give me a chance to say hi to a couple Anteaters I haven't seen in a while. I also plan to swing by Shinjuku on the way; see if I can find anything interesting to purchase. Anyway, that plus the temple trip tomorrow should keep me pretty busy, so don't expect to see much of me this weekend.

Ja ne.
shirenomad: (Default)
No, I didn't actually graduate this year. (Too many classes I wanted to take, so I'm going for an extra year.) But enough of my friends got out in four that I attended a couple ceremonies yesterday to congratulate them (okay, and nab some food at the receptions afterwards).

They had the usual goof-offs and entertainers walking across the stage. Especially when they called up the drama department, of course. (Graduating members of the local improv group, Live Nude People With Clothes On, all gathered at the far end of the stage and struck dramatic poses before leaving as one.) Also plenty of signs and messages written on the mortarboards ("Hire Me," "Hi Mom!", etc.)

During the CompSci/PhysSci section, the seated grads started bouncing around beach balls. Two stick-in-the-mud ushers decided this was Improper Behavior and started confiscating them as they bounced into reach. This led to some impromptu entertainment as the grads played keep-away with the last beach ball (to the cheers of the crowd).

I do expect to get out next year, so this was also good advance recon, so to speak. Namely, I've got an entire year to plan my mortarboard message. ^^
shirenomad: (Default)
The Campuswide Honors Program Banquet was yesterday. Normally it's Friday ninth week, but they decided to do it Thursday this year, which sort of bugged me because the yearbooks aren't passed out until this afternoon so I couldn't get any signatures from the outgoing class. I'll have to track them down later.

The food was mediocre, as usual, but the DJ was actually early this year (the past two years we've had to stand around waiting for him to get set up, or ever arrive). The traditional "year's events" slide show went a bit overtime; Curtis's crossdressing incident got its own section (long story, and one I don't understand completely myself, but evidently it was some class assignment taken too far).

My roommate Allen showed up for once, to cheer on some friends who are getting out earlier than us soon-to-be "super-seniors" are, but bailed before the dance portion for some reason. So I danced with his girlfriend. ^^ Also my friends Cee and Andrea. (Sadly, no one was there that I'm actually interested in; no offense to those three.) The lot of us wandered over to the arcade afterwards, played Puzzle Fighter until they kicked us out, and then I went home and crashed.

Test results )
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