elwen: (Default)
Wow, I guess it's been a long time since I posted about something other than anime or manga.

So for Labor Day I went to South Lake Tahoe with my family. As James puts it, we always want to go places at the same time as other people want to go. (I don't think I ever posted about Christmas at Disneyland. Such. a bad. idea.) Traffic was not as bad as I had feared, by which I mean it only turned into a parking lot once, for maybe 15 minutes, but there were a lot of crawling sections.

Most of Saturday was spent driving. We walked down to the lake shore, played on some swings, and then made a first pass at the casinos before a late dinner. I think this is the first time any of us three "younger generation" people had been to a casino since we were old enough to gamble, so a lot of it was just being wide-eyed and giddy. We tried some random cheap slots and lost maybe a couple dollars. We went back after dinner and experienced utter gambling fail: it was so crowded we couldn't find a free machine, and whenever we found one we kept finding out that our vouchers wouldn't work. Stupid paperless systems. So in the end we couldn't even manage to lose any money, much less win.

On Sunday, we drove out to look at more scenic parts of the lake, including Emerald Bay. We took some cliche pictures at the vista point and tried to hike to one of the falls that feeds Cascade Lake, but my parents gave up early, and James and I turned back a bit after because we didn't want to keep them waiting. I was amused that the other fork in the trail goes to Desolation, the most-used wilderness area in the U.S. (You need a permit to go.)

After that, we went on to the Vikingsholm trailhead, whose parking lot was totally packed. We got into a fight with a car full of Indian people who backed into the parking row we were squatting and tried to snipe our spot. We were in a stalemate with us standing in the parking space and their car right in front of us, but fortunately a couple minutes later another car left. (And this Chinese lady in the passenger seat of that car yelled at us for standing behind their van even though they had tons of space to back up.)

In the evening we had a dinner cruise out on the lake. It was very pretty, but not that photogenic. The clouds were gorgeous. I'm not sure if I've ever seen clouds tinted pink from below like that. Maybe you need the altitude?

One of the main reasons we took the cruise was that there were Labor Day fireworks (since when?) and the boat gave us front row seats. And it really was the best fireworks show I have ever seen. It was pretty long, and it was synched to music in a very artistic way, and there were a lot of different effects. My two favorite parts were: (1) to "Rocketeer" by Far East Movement, when they sing that drawn out "fly", they had these very gently cascading fireworks that perfectly capture that soaring feeling; and (2) to "Blow" by Ke$ha, whenever she sang "this place about to blow-oh-oh..." they had these super-cool fireworks that had the usual initial burst, and then all the sparks would suddenly expand out again, timed to the word "blow".

On Monday we went back to the casinos and failed a bit less at gambling. We found a giant slot machine that let you play 5 lines for a nickel, and we stayed there being all giddy and excitable. Two of us would sit in front of machine and one of us would pull the big lever. We had a really good round of free spins and were up for a while, but in the end we lost it all again and stopped when we ran out of money. Our excitement during the free spins caused people to come over to see what was going on -- they probably went off rolling their eyes when they found out it was a bunch of kids oohing and ahhing at winning $5. But man, those little add on things make it so exciting.

In the end, I'm not really a casino person, and I knew this all along. For starters, I'm risk averse. And I'm an intravert, which pretty much rules out the table games -- interacting with people is not my idea of entertainment. I could probably get stuck on slots, but I'm too risk averse to play the expensive ones, and after a while the small size of any possible gains drives me away from the cheapy ones.

So that was my Labor Day. All in all, a good trip despite the crowds. Never would have foreseen that fireworks would be the highlight, though.
elwen: (Default)
I have been trying to return to a semblance of normal life (to the extent I even know what "normal" means anymore). But it's hard.

Since I last posted, here are some things that have happened:

We finished the trial on April 7. After flying back from DC, we dove straight into post-hearing briefing, which was 3 weeks of probably worse hell than the trial itself. I definitely set records at the end for least amount of sleep in a week.

Then I spent the first week of May hovering around at work not really getting anything done. On Friday, James and I drove down to San Diego. We spent two days at the Solamar lazing around and getting to know the Gaslamp district. Then we went to the zoo and Sea World. The weather was deceptively cool, and now I have a really stupid-looking tan -- the remnants of a sunburn. I went to the zoo with my family in December, but it was much nicer with more daylight hours and fewer crowds. Last time we skipped the pandas because there was a four hour wait, and didn't get to see the tigers because it had gotten dark and we kept getting lost on the Hippo Trail. This time we could walk right in to see the pandas, and over two days managed to wander the entire park. The only thing we kept visiting but never saw was the kiwis.

I took lots of pictures in San Diego, but I have been horrible about pictures this past year, so I won't try to predict when you'll ever see them. I still need to organize pictures from (1) trip to Disneyworld and Universal Studios Florida (including lots from the World of Harry Potter) and (2) trip to SoCal in December with my family.

After San Diego, we went to Pasadena for our five-year reunion. Only three people were at the dinner on Friday. At first they tried to squish us into a room with the class of 2001, which would have resulted in, at best, one of us at each table, and more likely with one person still seat-less. So they put us with a couple 1996 people instead. It was kind of funny because we were like mirror images (a Mole, a Rudd, and a Skurve). Fortunately the third person was Andrei, the only other person from Lynbrook my year, as well as a fellow ChemE, so we had a good conversation. They took pictures of each class before the dinner, and I wonder where they will show up. Us holding a check that none of us had contributed to...

Associates Tea on Sunday had better turnout. Plus there were people from classes above and below us -- not just multiples of five -- whom it was good to see.

Then we drove back up, and the fight for normalcy began. Today's the first day I managed to get up and drag myself into work before noon. But I'm still struggling to bill even one hour a day. Fortunately, the ITC case gave us enough buffer that we could do nothing for May and most of June and still be okay.

Also, I decided to clerk for the judge, which I will be starting in September. People seem pretty supportive, but I know I disappointed people at the spinoff firm, and it's hard not to have regrets. But like every time I make one of these decisions, I just have to stick with it and not look back. I will wend my way to a brief writing-filled career yet...
elwen: (Default)
How does it compare to the text blog, I wonder?

I'm on a boat! )
elwen: (Default)
My first go with Scrapblog. See the previous entry for a short review of the site -- I highly recommend it.



Okay, it was kind of sad that, because I never blogged about the trip, I couldn't remember the place names anymore and had to look up a bunch of stuff on tourism sites. -_-;;

Click here for the original page, where you can view it larger.

T_T

Jan. 3rd, 2008 08:42 am
elwen: (...)
We are stranded in our hotel with nothing to do because of strong winds. We were planning to make it a light day anyway -- swim a bit in the water behind the hotel, then take a submarine in the afternoon -- but they've put up a red flag meaning we can't swim behind the hotel, and the submarine was canceled. (The last time I took a submarine, a long time ago in Hawaii, the seas were pretty rough, too. But when you're down deep, it doesn't make a difference, so I don't see why they had to cancel.)

Yesterday we took a ferry from Cozumel to the mainland, and it was just as windy as it was today. I was pretty miserable the way there, and then on the way back I threw up twice. T_T I have to put up with the same thing tomorrow so we can go play around in a park with underground rivers. I guess I'm okay with it -- it just kind of sucks that the suckiness comes at the end. (I like getting unpleasant things over with.)

So today, I guess I should get more of my paper done.

I kind of wish I'd ordered my textbooks before we left, but I'm a bit leery of doing it over the hotel wireless...
elwen: (Default)
We're currently trying to decide on a place to go over winter break. Naturally, I voted for Japan, but I wouldn't want to do a package tour, and I'm too lazy to plan out the itinerary myself. But I figured I'd look into things a bit anyway.

So while I was in Japan, I'd kind of wanted to go somewhere over Obon (?), and I collected a few pretty brochures from various travel offices at the train stations. Of course, Obon is one of the most expensive times to book a tour package, so I ended up not doing any of them. [Instead, I got a 3-day Kansai train pass and went to Hieizan, Nara, and Kouyasan, which was pretty awesome, too.] Anyway, the destination that ended up sticking in my head was Yakushima. Actually reading about it (as opposed to just looking at pretty pictures), now I really, really want to go.

I still wouldn't know how to plan a trip there, though, and there aren't exactly a lot of English-language tour packages. This sounds really awesome, though. Too long for winter break -- plus it falls on their black-out dates and would probably be super-expensive -- but something I'd like to do someday. [You might say it's overkill to book a 14 day packages to spend a day and a half on Yakushima, which is partly true, but I conveniently have never been to any of the other destinations either. :3] Maybe when I'm a filthy rich lawyer, I'll do it with the hotel upgrade -- the descriptions of JR Hotel Yakushima are pretty enticing. :D

Winter probably wouldn't be the greatest time to go anyway. But I might start trying to decipher some Japanese travel sites over the weekend anyway. I just can't pull myself away when an idea seizes me like this. Plus, the travel wiki says there's scuba -- and my dad seems set on finding a destination with a snorkeling component.

ETA: While digging through my textblog from Japan to figure out what I'd done over Obon (I remembered Hieizan -- though not the name -- and Kouyasan, but forgot about Nara), I ended up rereading my entry about Himeji, and it reminded me just how awesome I found that trip. So I posted the textblog entry about it (which also talks about the Yodogawa fireworks festival, and various other things in passing). Ah, if only my other textblog entries were as detailed or as fit for public consumption. ^^;;

Hawaii.

Jan. 4th, 2007 07:38 pm
elwen: (Default)
For people who want the pictures without narration, the gallery is here. (Flocked, as previously noted. But some of the pictures (any whose link in the entry ends in g1) are not locked.)

Our beloved 50th state. )
elwen: (Default)
So last night, figuring I wouldn't have time to go through the Hawaii pictures, I played with LJ's gallery by uploading some older pictures I'd been meaning to share. This ended up taking a long time in itself, and then I spent several hours reading Gokusen... -- but anyways, the point is that there are now 3 galleries of old pictures for you to peruse, with the Hawaii pictures still forthcoming. ^^;;

First, I put up some more pictures from our trip to Europe here, which aren't the same as the ones in my original entry.

Similarly, I put up some pictures up here from our earlier bus trip to Yellowstone, which also included other places in the southwest -- or whatever you call the area -- including Zion and Bryce Canyon. Someday, I will also repost the journal entry I wrote back then, which had mini-collages of many more pictures than I put in the gallery.

Last of all, I finally put up pictures from various conventions in a gallery called Cosplay. For some reason, I decided not to scale down any of these pictures as I did the other ones. [In case the subjects want them . . . or something . . . I don't know. ._.] But yeah, there's lots of coolness there, including the awesome UCLA Bleach cosplay, Shounen Bat, Sakaki being bitten by Kamineko, and more. :D

P.S. The travel galleries, including the Hawaii one, are flocked for reasons of nonspecific paranoia. I'll probably post some non-locked highlights in the entry, though, so no worries.
elwen: (*smile*)
Or, as they say in Hawaii,

Mele Kalikimaka!



Today we're driving the winding, evil road to Hana, supposedly the most scenic part of Maui, with lots of waterfalls. (I guess I've never had much opportunity to express it here on LJ, but I am obsessed with waterfalls.) There are actually a lot of tourist outfits still operating today, but we figured it was better not to have to bother to check while putting together our schedule, so we're doing our own drive. [You can replace "we figured" with "I, being incredibly J when it comes to vacation planning, figured". :P]

Anyhow, lots of pictures and a more detailed account of things forthcoming after I get home tomorrow night.

Enjoy your December 25th!

Europe.

Jan. 23rd, 2006 04:41 pm
elwen: (Default)
I guess the trend that's been going on for a long time now is not so much that I am less of an online journaller in spirit, but that I write all these entries in my head and less often make it to the computer to preserve them. Maybe I need less of the self-validation that comes from having the words immortalized? Or I'm just too busy and lazy. :P

But it's somewhat unsettling, especially since I just read a section of the social psychology book for class today that talks about how you reconstruct your memories and how inaccurate that can be.

Anyways, yeah. I went to Europe over break. We spent an afternoon in London, then flew to Venice and bussed around Italy a lot, then went to Switzerland, spent two days in Paris, went to Brussels, and ended in the Netherlands. The first thing that struck me was that you really do need to take your time when visiting countries so steeped in history. I guess I knew that from the start. My desire to go to Europe -- mainly England -- was kind of misinterpreted by my dad, I think. I wanted to go see the countryside, and castles, not drive around London and go to the British Museum to see, of all things, Chinese art. We had lunch in Chinatown, too. And this is why I hate Chinese tour companies. It's a lot like how, whenever my relatives visit, we tend to take them to San Francisco's Chinatown. I still do not understand this interest in flying more than 10 hours just to see some other place's pale imitation of where you came from.

Anyhow, I don't want to go through a laundry list of the places we visited, and it's been a bit long for me to do so anyway. There were a few things I wanted to talk about, though.

I guess the first thing people ask is, "What was your favorite city?" I liked Amsterdam. Possibly this is because it was the last place we visited, I don't think so. We took a cruise through the canals, and I just really liked the feel of the city. The canal-front houses were very . . . quaint, I suppose you could say. They were neat and orderly, but still retained their individuality. The canals made the city feel more open and fresh, I think, in contrast to Venice's canals, which were all narrow and made the place feel claustrophobic. [It's kind of scary. I went to talk to Flagan about my senior thesis, and he asked me about Europe, and when I said I liked Amsterdam, he started telling me about the good universities in the Netherlands and suggested that I consider a postdoc there. o_O I wasn't that serious about it!]

Cut for length and pictures. )
elwen: (Default)
[This is copied from a plaintext log I kept while I was in Japan, so there's no formatting. For reference, Caroline was a fellow intern and Parita was a postdoc.]

Been in a rut lately, haven't felt like writing nor doing anything at all after getting home. And I only have two weeks left...

Anyway, went on an awesome trip to Himeji on Saturday. Although I was the one who originally thought to go to Himeji, Caroline ended up planning it all. I went with her and her friends Bernice and Allen.


Himeji, Koko-en, Oshiro Matsuri, and Kobe Chinatown. )

Fireworks festivals. )

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