Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Easing into the Big Easy

New Orleans, Day 2!

New Orleans, N'awlins, Nw'ollins, the Big Easy, what have you, I love it here.

We woke up—you guessed it, bright 'n early—and decided to take the streetcar around New Orleans. It was like $1.25 per person each way, so it was basically a really cheap tour (sans actual tour guide) around the city. Then we took the free ferry ride across the Mississippi River, just to say we crossed the Mississippi River. On a boat. Free ferry boat, but whatever, it still counts. I decided that I really enjoy the weather in New Orleans.

After all that we went to the Shops at Canal Street, it was a mall but Mika and I didn't find many things interesting there. We skipped on over to the Riverwalk Shops, which is like a mall full of gift shops and a few big name stores (Gap, Ann Taylor Loft, etc). It's a mile long! Mika and I walked the whole way while my dad played slots at Harrah's across the street and my mom stuck to Ann Taylor Loft and Gap. It was pretty awesome, but all my sister and I bought were a few postcards.

Afterward we were dead flipping tired so we went back to the hotel to take a nap.
When we woke up, we decided to walk around Bourbon Street and look for something to eat!

To our pleasant surprise, we chanced upon this place called Preservation Hall. I recognized it because it was on a few postcards, and I knew the history behind it: In the 1960's it was established to preserve the integrity of New Orleans jazz, which lost popularity to modern jazz and rock'n'roll. They were letting people in at 8 PM, so we waited in line outside. It seemed really cool, but I wasn't entirely sure what to expect.

Inside was really small and had a few benches, so my family and I stood just behind the last bench. The setup in the front consisted of a few wooden chairs, a drumset, an upright piano with the front opened up exposing the insides, and various jazz paintings and posters of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Apparently they're really popular and tour the U.S.! Unfortunately they were not performing tonight, and instead the guys who played were the Preservation Hall-Stars lead by trumpter Leon "Kid Chocolate" Brown. They were pretty damn good! Not only did they play, but they sang songs like "Margie" and "Mama Don't Allow No Music Playin' 'Round Here." I really liked that one :D It was like a 45 minute set, and we could come back in whenever we wanted, but we were pretty hungry so we left. Before we did, we gave 'em some money, and then some more money by buying T-shirts and a CD. But hot damn, did I love them! I love how utterly legit the jazz scene is here, I really, really do!

I mean, when we were walking down the streeth we saw a bunch of big black guys in baggy jeans and baggy shirts and do-rags and hats and such... in Los Angeles you might find them suspicious at best, but what were they doing here on the streets of New Orleans? They all had instruments and were playing New Orleans jazz!! It was so, so awesome, I loved it, I loved it all! Why the hell didn't I bring my sax!?

After the Preservation Hall show we went a few stores over to the Old Coffee Pot Bistro, one of the oldest restaurants in New Orleans (est. 1894). It was very quaint and cute, we had HUGE slices of corn bread (me: "Okay, no beignets tonight...") and Mika and I shared a plate of Southern Fried Chicken. Hot damn, it was so delicious. It was breaded with several spices, you can see them. I definitely wanted more after that, but combined with the corn bread I got full enough.

The last stop we made was at Café du Monde. Since we were pretty full we didn't eat any beignets, but instead we bought about a bazillion boxes of beignet mix XD Might as well, right? We also stopped by a gift shop on the way and I got myself a keychain (I collect those) and, surprisingly, Mardi Gras masks! I guess it's another "might as well" thing, since we don't know when we'll be here next.

And I am definitely planning on a "next time."

Perhaps Mardi Gras? ;)



Jolls out, up, and awaaay!
No, I will not flash you for beads.

Monday, June 29, 2009

From Neil Armstrong to Louis Armstrong

My breakfast in Houston. YUP, STILL TEXAS WAFFLE.
What can I say? It was another Courtyard Marriott.

So yesterday was my mom's birthday! We were still in Houston, and we spent the day at
  • NASA's Johnson Space Center
  • Galveston
  • Del Frisco's
Today we drove from Houston to New Orleans, and I've got a few pictures for you! Yaaay!

A detail account of these travels await you under the cut!


THE CUT! Click me twice!

Houston Day 2

We woke up bright and early to eat breakfast downstairs. Since it was still a Courtyard Marriott, it was pretty much the same, including the Texas waffle XD Except they had a strawberry waffle mix this time. Mmmm.

We left for NASA's
Johnson Space Center!

I WAS SO RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED. I felt like a wee lass again, geekin' out hard over space space space. The place was rather obviously geared toward children, with a lot of play places for kids and such. I was rather sad that I wasn't like 10 years younger so I could fully enjoy all of it... but oh well. If I ever have kids, I'll be sure to take them there when they're good 'n young.

We did get to take a tour around the NASA facility though... we toured the Astronaut Training Facility where we got to see all the equipment the astronauts and engineers used to simulate acitivity in space. They had full scale duplicates of shuttles and parts of the ISS so astronauts can practice doing what they need to do. All their time up in space is pretty much scheduled to a tee, so they have to be super precise. To simulate moving heavy objects in zero-G, they have this special floor that works almost like an air hockey table: bursts of air make the objects float. We also got to see the Saturn V rocket that took the first batch of men to the moon! It was pretty damn sweet.

Afterward we hit up
Galveston
which is an island about an hour from Houston. We crossed the bridge over there and didn't actually stay very long, we just walked along the beach... GULF COAST! First time, woohoo! It was very warm, and my dad kept messing with this one crab lol. It then buried itself into the sand, waiting for us to step on it so it can have its revenge.

Later that night we headed back to Houston and ate at
Del Frisco's
for my mom's birthday. It was a fancy steak house, and although I'm not one for steak, I've got to say theirs was SO DELICIOUS. I had mine "medium-well with no pink," and it was charred on the sides, the way I like it. I like'em charry. It was so good. We had them with spinach and potatoes. We mentioned that my mom was the birthday girl, but wasn't sure if they'd do the free-dessert thing since they were all fancy... but they did! They brought a big slice of 6-layer lemon cake that was asdfkasdjf so good, but we were already so full that we couldn't finish it, and we didn't take it home. Sadness. I wanted some more.

We spent our last night in Houston and then left this morning to...

New Orleans!

The drive took about 6 hours altogether, and I drove for about and hour of a half through the portion of the I-10E that was suspended over the swamplands of Louisiana. It was really weird because it rained huge raindrops, really hard for a few minutes and then stopped. Rain is so big here. When we got to our hotel (two blocks away from Bourbon Street!!) it was raining, but only lightly. We walked around Decatur Street and at dinner at The Market Café. It had a live band consisting of a trombone player/singer, keyboardist, drummer, and bassist. It was all really chill and fun! There was this one guy (hobo?) dancing around with a broom, and he was so interesting that Mika and I took a picture with him and gave him money.

After dinner we walked over to Café du Monde to eat some famous beignets—French doughnuts that Scott, Melissa, Kat, José, and Chelsea highly recommended to me! Not only that, but Scott and Chelsea actually recommended going to Café du Monde for the beignets, so I was pretty excited. They were pretty cheap, and I ate mine with hot chocolate. To be honest, while they were really good, I think it didn't live up to the hype I got. It could be that I was already kind of full from eating jambalaya for dinner, or that I'm more into lighter pastries while the beignets were a little heavier, but either way, it didn't like blow me away. But I could see myself eating them like every day :d I do love my pastries! And I plan on buying the boxed mix. California friends, get ready for a beignet party!

We walked back, happy and satisfied and saying hi to all the strange people, to our hotel.
More adventures await us tomorrow, but for now, comment and enjoy these random pictures!



Hot sauce from one of the many quaint shops down Decatur Street XD
SLAP YA MAMA!


Okay, we didn't bring the cord for the camera, so I couldn't post most of the better pictures. But when I get home, I promise I'll make a photo post of this road trip! I'll only post some, because I don't want photospam and everything is going on Facebook. Keep your eyes peeled for them in the future!


Sunday, June 28, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOMMY!

YES, 'tis I, Jordan, and I totally have internet hahaha.

Happy Birthday to my mother :)

More later from me!

Jolls out, omg two posts in a day what?!
But it's okay, only one is from me.
Also, Justin is awesome.
Also also, free internet access is confirmed for our hotel in New Orleans. I'm lovin' it.

Attention, please. This is your new pilot speaking.

Heeeeey everyone! Name's Justin, and I'm the guy Jordan mentioned a couple days ago, over at Random Ramblings of a Rational Mind, and I was asked to do a guest blog today! I was gonna write something random and potentially fun, but then I saw some updates come through on my Twitter program, twhirl.

Lo and behold, the morning after I write a blog about celebrity deaths, Billy freaking Mays goes and kicks the bucket! I swear, I'm innocent.... But seriously, though, how bad is that timing? "'Oh yeah, these people died and they were famous.' *NEXT DAY* '... Another one bites the dust?'"


Some of ya might not know who Billy Mays is. Not sure how that's possible, given how ungodly loud and boisterous he was during his informercials, but he was an infomercial salesman, as well as one of the two guys on the show "Pitchmen". A couple of the products he's really known for are Orange Glo and Oxi Clean (both of which work great), and I was pretty shocked to hear that he was dead.

I'll be honest, though -- as much as I feel for his family, and know that his death sucks... I'm a terrible person. As is evidenced by my Twitter over the last few days. I respect their work, but Billy Mays and Michael Jackson are great targets for my horrible sense of humor, so I'll feel more than free to make jokes. Like I said, terrible person.

It is a sad thing to see so many people passing within such a short amount of time, though. Within the last week, we've lost three icons and a man with the devil's voice (Mays)*. It's kinda weird, really. Let's hope that no more pass on, or it's going to end up being blarg-ers like Jordan and I who end up being noteworthy..... Then again.... Bwahahahaha!

Oh, sorry. Evil twin moment there... Yeah, that's what it was.... (I plead the fifth)

Well, I suppose I've rambled on enough, probably more than you guys wanted to put up with. I thank Jordan greatly for giving me this chance to guest-post, and under penalty of severe punishment (I'm afraid to ask :P), here's a little promotion of my blog and Twitter. Jordan kinda made it clear that if I didn't promote my blog, there would be consequences. Eep! :P

So, feel free to come on over and check out my blog, and follow me on Twitter, too! Here's the link-ity links, and a link to the article about Mays.

LINKS:

*EDIT: Forgot to explain the "devil's voice" bit that I asterisked. The man could sell freaking anything. It is entirely possible that he had the voice of the Devil. Just me being both blasphemous and halfway amusing lol. :D

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Austin, Houston!


So this was a part of the breakfast I had this morning at our hotel in Austin, where we stayed last night. By the way, I totally had internet there, ha!

Austin

When we got to Austin, we checked into our hotel and napped for a shorty short bit before heading into town. We hit up 6th Street, which apparently had a lot of stuff to see. They were mostly bars and clubs and restaurants, which we weren't too interested in at the time, although we did get to stop by this eclectic music shop with a chalk drawing of Michael Jackson in the front. We also stopped by this smallish modern art gallery before bolting out of there in favor of a different mall and a movie.

We didn't do much at the mall that was already closing. We did eat at a Korean BBQ restaurant though, and then hit up the cinema nearby to watch The Proposal. It was really good, actually! Kind of predictable, but sometimes, predictable is very nice.

We stayed the night, then got up and had breakfast! That Texas waffle was SO CUTE. We went to the Texas History Museum and walked through three floors of Texas history. Damn, these Texans sure are proud. You can see where it comes from in their history, though. After all, they DID fight long and hard to keep this place!

Afterward we drove over to

Houston
where I am now blogging from! As a city, Houston is a lot prettier and bigger and more-LA-like than Austin was. I suppose state capitols aren't as interesting as other big cities. We also have free internet for a day here, since it's the same kind of hotel (Courtyard Marriott). We went over to another mall, which was bigger n' better than the one in Austin. Hell, despite that, Mika and I pretty much stuck to one store only called A'Gaci.

THEY HAD SO MUCH GOOD STUFF IT WASN'T EVEN FUNNY.
It's kind of like Forever 21 ("XXI"), but better quality, and about the same (if not cheaper) price. I ended up getting leggings and a dress, even though I kind of wanted to buy the whole store. Shame it isn't in California :(
Afterward we ate at a Japanese restaurant/bar called Sage 400. Really good stuff, my sister and I shared a huge serving of chicken katsu and we ate tempura ice cream at the end. Mmmm.

My dad moved our trip schedule around, so we're actually staying here for two nights and leaving for New Orleans on Monday. That way we get to see more of Houston, like the Johnson Space Center (coming tomorrow!) and Galveston and such.

I'm not sure that I'll be able to get online and blog tomorrow, or the rest of the trip—we'll see how the internet situation is in New Orleans. If that's the case, ya'll are gettin' a guest blogger ;)

'Til next time!




Jolls out!
PS: I just realized that this blog still runs on California time. Even if I try to adust the time, it won't actually post it until it's that time in California. So uh, FYI, this was posted 2 hours ahead, in Texas time. So, around 10:40PM-ish. All right.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tour of the Texas South

Howdy, ya'll!

I'm writing this early for Friday SUPER early because I'm actually going to wake up super early with my family so we can start our trip down to Austin.

We'll stay a night, then head over to Houston.
I'm
I don't know how long we're staying there, but from Houston we'll cross over into New Orleans!
going to try
I'm ridiculously excited, especially for New Orleans.
I've wanted to go there for a very long time. It's the birthplace of jazz! How could I not?
French Quarter! Jazz! Everything!
not to let myself
I will be bringing Galaxy, so I'll try my darndest to look for internet and update when I can—after all, I still am on NaBloPoMo. If I can't do it, I'll have a few guest bloggers for ya'll to look forward to—such as my friend and fellow blogger, Justin! Hell, I'll probably make him blog even if I CAN do it. Ya'll should visit his blog, he's got this neat little weekly setup that's not getting much love! He's got How-To Mondays, Tech Tuesdays, Review Wednesday, Advice Thursday, Food Friday, and Spotlight Saturday! (Sunday is a free day for him)
miss you too much.
You can visit him at his blog, Random Ramblings of a Rational Mind.

I'm gonna go get ready now, but I'll be sure to update you on my travels when I can!

Jolls out, like the late, great Michael Jackson.

R.I.P., you P.Y.T.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

You Spin Me Right Round, Baby

From http://www.thebrickhousegym.com

Today I woke up bright 'n early to attend a spinning class at the nearby LA Fitness my dad signed us up for. It seemed rather interesting, the woman who gave us a tour told us that the class was good for building endurance. It sounded fun.

Boy, did I ever forget that building endurance (or anything for that matter) also meant breaking down my current endurance.

I came in 10 minutes late and I was still dying. I was trying to start in a hurry, but I didn't know how to operate the machinery, so one woman and then later the instructor stepped off to help me. We had a resistance lever on the bikes that we'd manually change up and down based on her instruction, like we were climbing up hills and such. I had to take everything down a notch because I was a beginner... maaaannn, it was so difficult for me. Whenever I ride my bike, I ride easy, nothing crazy strenuous like what we did in the spinning class. We also alternated between riding positions—seated, standing tall, standing with hips over the saddle, and getting low.

So most of my thoughts throughout the class were along the lines of,
  • asdfkjasdfos
  • Kill me now asldfjkasdf
  • Why didn't I bring any water asdfskdlf
But I got out okay, I left for a drink of water in the middle and generally made it through the workout. I may do it again another day... with water, this time.

Jolls out, like a fat kid in dodgeball.
I had another dream last night. I don't remember it exactly, but I think there was some chasing involved. There's always some chasing involved.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Strange Dreams

Last night I had three strange dreams.

--

In the first dream, I had just returned to California from Texas and was with José and our friends at some restaurant for dinner. None of them acknowledged me, and José didn't seem to care that I was there either.

--

In the second dream, a short man (about as short as me) was giving me flowers and attempting to woo me. He gave me flowers, chocolates, the whole nine, and told me that he loved me. I felt a bit sorry for him, because I kept thinking about how I was still with José.

--

In the last dream, a tall white man was teasing and taunting me. I kept throwing punches at him and missing. Finally, I threw a left hook and it connected. Right cross, also connected. Every punch I threw suddenly connected with his body and with every blow he lost a little more breath. It was greatly satisfying.

--

I feel like that last dream was very significant. See, I often have dreams about being teased, attacked, or otherwise abused, and whenever I attempt to fight back, my punches and kicks suddenly slow down JUST when I get close to the guy's face, as though some needle were penetrating me and sapping the strength from my limbs. I get weaker and weaker with every attempt, until my attacker just laughs in my face.

This is the first dream I had where I actually faught back.

And it felt good.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lost in Texas

Today my sister and I got lost.

We woke up rather late (hey hey, it was before noon in California! jet lag sucks) and went to a nearby mall. Then I decided that we should check out this place called Cici's Pizza, because a friend who used to live in Houston told me I should. I punched the address into the GPS and started going. Now, I don't want to blame the GPS, but it really sucked. It wouldn't properly locate where we were, it didn't specify which section of an exit I should take... and all right, I could have been better at reading the map, but really? It doesn't know our location sometimes? A little scary. Good thing I'm starting to just memorize where a lot of the hot spots are so I don't have to rely on that thing all the time.

My sister and I were getting pretty delirious due to the sun and all the wrong turns. Where we ended up was equivalent to getting lost in like, downtown LA from Torrance. It was pretty sad, but kind of funny at the same time.

So we ditched the pizza idea and just went straight to LA Fitness for our first day of the trial membership. I wanted to attend a Latin Dance class at 5:45, and we got there JUST in the nick of time, but because of some other complications I was too late to attend.

Instead, my sister and I worked out on the ellipticals (I love those things) and some of the strength training machines. I used to work out a lot at the YMCA back home, and working out at LA Fitness kind of made me miss it again. Although I personally believe doing strength training with your own body weight (i.e., sans machinery) is better, strength training machines are rather fun, like games.

After about an hour we went back home and went to watch The Hangover with our dad at Movie Tavern. If you guys have never been to a Movie Tavern, go someday! It's awesome! It's pretty much dinner while watching your movie. You get tables in front of your cinema seats and such, you press a little button on your table whenever you want service. I had a chicken quesadilla loaded with vegetables and such, my dad got a salad, and my sister got a pizza. It's pretty cool, and the movie itself was hilarious. It was fun just to follow all the crazy shit that went down! XD

Aaaaannnnd now I'm back home.

Jolls out.

Because I only feel like you read my blogs if you care.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Home Away from Home

My sister and I arrived in Texas at midnight last night and our dad picked us up in Mika's new car! It drives so nicely, it's a Rav4. I really like it, and so does she.

When we got to the house, we were SO giddy.
Daddy had added a bunch of other stuff to the house since we last visited, including a bunch of random nice chairs around the house. We were having fun with them :P



Photos continue BELOW THIS CUT!

This is where we sleep, my bed's on the right. He had washed the sheets before we got there and bought us slippers for the house! He's so sweet :)

See that stained glass thing at the top? I made that last year. I started it in California at Alex's house, where he, his mom and I picked out the glass, cut the glass pieces together and whatnot. I glued and grouted the thing in Texas, and my dad now proudly displays it! Yay!

And that's a bust of Beethoven on the lower right. No idea why he has that.

My sister and I thought this was SO ADORABLE.
These are salt and pepper shakers shaped like little cats, and apparently my dad made them face that way like they're looking out the window. How cute is my dad?!

When we asked him why they were like that and if he did them, he said, "Yea, I was just bored."

He has a lot of time to himself, I suppose.


Today he had work, so my sister and I slept in til noon (I normally wake up at 10AM, but that's California time, and well, Texas IS 2 hours ahead). My dad came home shortly after and we went to get lunch at Whataburger (my dad claims it "the In-N-Out of Texas"). It was pretty good, and also HUGE SERVINGS. Guh.

My dad went back to work (he just came home for lunch) and Mika and I went to Wal-Mart to pick up some forgotten essentials (razors). We drove around and reached a little shopping plaza with Borders. I read Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, which I also saw recommended somewhere good, and it was pretty quirky and interesting. I'll keep reading.

When we got home, I took my dad's bike for a ride around the neighborhood. His is a mountain bike, way different from my easy-riding, semi-recumbent cruiser back in California. To be honest, I liked it better. I felt like I had better control over it. It felt good to bike in the humid heat, with the slight cool breeze blowing past. But when I got back inside, I was covered in this fine layer of sweat! I totally didn't even know. The sweat didn't evaporate for a long time, probably coz of the humidity. This prompted me to buy a black UnderArmour shirt from Sports Authority when we went there later, I remembered it because José bought one for himself. It's wonderfully tight-fitting. My dad bought a badminton set!

After Sports Authority my dad took us to the nearby LA Fitness—he'd been talking about it since he picked us up from the airport, he was really excited to show us and he wanted to get us a trial membership. So we have one for the week, we get full access to the facility and its equipment and classes. I'm planning on taking the "Latin Impact" class tomorrow (Latin dancing!), and probably using the free room for free boxing. There are other classes too, like spinning and hip hop dance and boxing, and I'll attend those. Might as well, right? This is gonna be great!

I'm really happy to be here with my dad. He really is the best, I love all the little random things he does and the way he sometimes does things on impulse.

I'm having fun at my home away from home :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Quick Post Before I Leave

This may be the only chance I get to update today, since I'm busybusy with finishing up packing and leaving to TEHAS and whatnot.

Yes, I will be bringing my laptop with me.

So I'll see ya'll next time in Texas!


Random picture of Kyle and I doing Asian Poses! "Nyan-Nyan" and "Peace!"

Saturday, June 20, 2009

ALMOST DIDN'T MAKE IT

ALMOST
Thanks Justin for totally havin' my back, yo.

TODAY
I went to charch with de pamily. That is all of FSK, Amah, Kong-Kong, and auntie Jing hurray! And my mother of course. After that we rendez-voused with our other aunties and Sammy at Noodle Planet in Westwood, which is ALWAYS delicious, always. I swear, FSK was so dang retarded right then, laughing at every single thing ever.

Auntie Jing: *moves bit of leafy garnish to the side* Excuse me.
Jordan: *laughing ass off for about 5 minutes*
Rest of FSK: The hell are you laughing at?
Jordan: She... she said "excuse me" to the garnish!

I had a birthday dinner for the Great Jason Tadeo to attend at 6PM, so we were all hustlin' to get outta there. I got Diddy Riese cookies then we rendez-voused (it's a verb I swear!) at my auntie Lovey's house to raid her old junk and claim some of them for our own. I got red sneakers! Yay!

We left at around 5:45 and I was getting all fretty because I thought I'd totally miss out if I was late, since it was semi-formal and had six courses for dinner.

I ended up getting there at 6:45 and they still didn't eat! I was surprised and happy. I saw some people I'd met at Jason's Christmas party, and José of course. Turns out that the dinner actually had NINE courses, but some of them were tiny portions so it was bearable. I mostly interacted with José, Rex, a woman named Salmay (sp?) and this one other girl whose name escapes me. Good times and gravy, that was pretty fun. I had a wee bit of bubbly as well, just a tist-taste of the white, the red, and the champaaaagne. The champagne is the best. What was it? ALLEGRO MUSCATO. I need to remember that for when I am legal and can drink whenever the hell I want, because that was delicious.

After the long, LONG dinner (I was fit to bust by then, in my tight blue dress with the silver sash I had to loosen to accommodate my food-baby), I stuck around for a wee, then I had to skipper on home.

And now I am home.
And I have to finish packing for TEHAS.

...TEHAS!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

I'm PACKING

T-minus 2 DAYS TO TEXAS!

I'm so excited, I've already started packing!
Sort of. I'm doing laundry so I can have all the clothes I like to wear, heh.
Since my family and I travel a lot, we know the art of packing light.

Do you?

Pack Light!

I've seen people pack differently, but the key is to only pack what you need.

For clothes, this means two things:
  • Don't pack by outfits,
  • Don't give yourself too many choices!
I've seen people pack a week's worth of clothing into a weekend trip solely because they wanted "different outfits to choose from," just in case they didn't like what they already picked. A good rule to go by is to pack a bunch of basics that you can mix and match into any sort of decent outfit. Don't pack exclusive outfits! If you have a blouse that you can only match with one skirt or pants, then toss it! This is, of course, unless you're going on a business trip, in which you would need to have a special outfit for whatever your occasion is.

When it comes to bottoms, the most basic choices include denim, khaki, and some neutral colors like navy blue or white. If your wardrobe centers around unconventional colors, then by all means, pack those too! The key here is to pick clothes you can use multiple times and mix-and-match with your other clothes in different ways. This is different for everyone, so take a good look at your wardrobe and decide!

If you're staying somewhere for a month or more, try to find out if you can wash your clothes at some place. That would make light packing much easier and more practical as well. For example, my sister and I are saying in Texas for 5 weeks, but I'm only really going to pack for maybe about 2 weeks, since we're staying at our dad's place and he has a washer and dryer there.

Another very important thing to consider is your dirty laundry.
Don't ask me why, but somehow, even if you try folding them as neatly as you did before, used clothes always seem to take up more space. Most people put their used clothes back in the suitcase in a plastic bag, which is fine, but could take up more room, so save a bit of room when you pack. Don't literally pack it all in!

Another reason why you shouldn't pack to the brim is because you might come back with extra clothes and/or souvenirs. C'mon, who can resist it when they travel? Plan to come home with more stuff than you left with, generally speaking.

Okidokie!
I think I got it all in.

Hope ya'll found this useful! ;)

I think I may need a little more...


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mini Photoshoot with Kat

Oh yea, ONLY hot ash for Scott.

Today Scott, Kat and I had a mini photoshoot at Redondo Beach!
I say mini because Brent, Aaron and Livia were supposed to show up but didn't. That made us sad, but we still had fun. It's scientifically proven that a camera makes everything about 10x more fun. Don't quote me on that.

Anyway, I decided to post up some of the pictures!
All with Kat's permission, of course.
ONLY SOME. All of them are on Facebook, and if you're friends with me I can direct you to the album there. I just don't want to flood this entry with all the pictures.

Remember that I did not take these, my friend Kat did with her magical camera of joy. And if I catch anyone taking these pictures without permission, I will punch you in the face. :)

With that said, enjoy the pictures under the cut!

More...


Aaaww, I love you too, Kat!

Rollin' on the grass, boop boop boopBOOOO!

HAHAHA, I love how it looks like Kirby = Scott's face.

Taller than Scott? YES.

Together, FOREVER.

KIRBY'S FLYIN' AWAY

KAT'S FLYIN' AWAY

That was one FIERCE-ASS PELICAN.


Trying to baby freeze, uh, UUUHHH...

Fail.

I made a daisy chain, then put it on Scott's head.

Kat's series of Asian Poses were the best :D

Climbing trees in turquoise jeans.

Who's that Pokémon? IT'S SCOTT!

YAY ASIAN POSE!





To learn more about Asian Poses and how to do them, Visit AsianPoses.com!
I want all my followers to post a photo of themselves on their blogs of them doing at least one Asian Pose from the website. Do it. Even if you're not Asian. In fact, ESPECIALLY if you're not Asian.

If you do it, I will draw you something.
Anything you like.
Really
.

You have two weeks to do this. GO!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I really did run out of juice

All I can seem to think to write about now are my days. But I suppose those are good... to me. And you, fellow reader? Well, that depends on whether or not you care.

I've recently developed the assumption that readers who don't know me personally will just not care about any post I make that has to do with events in my life, or as I like to call them, diary-like entries. So I try to make helpful, compelling posts that present my research and opinions on things more relevant to a passerby's interest than just my every day life. Yet when I visit random blogs (by surfing NaBloPoMo blogrolls), I am often intrigued by the very posts I refuse to write—the ones about every day life.

I'm sitting in the bottom floor office of my house right now, on my mom's laptop. Jose is next to me, using my Macbook to type up his blog entry. He's trying to do it every day in Japanese so he doesn't lose his chops over the summer. I really should get back into French. Hell, I don't even know why I'm so compelled to learn that language. I guess I just like it.

I'll put up another drawing soon. It's on my Macbook, and needs to be sliiiightly edited so I'll do that before putting it up here.

Oh, remember what I said in my last post about wanting to find more books in the style of George Bridgman's Book of a Hundred Hands? Yea, I found out that he wrote more: on heads and faces, figure drawing, drapery, and more. Needless to say, I ordered some... like a boxed set. I hope it comes in before I go to Texas, I'm so excited for it.

On Monday I watched Amélie with Scott. I really liked it (and no, not just because it was in French :P). I was never really interested in indie films like that, but it is rather pleasant in its every-day-life-ness.

Kind of like the posts I so hesitate to write.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Today was a good day, plain and simple.

It was just a very plainly, very simply good day, void of major worries, concerns, and annoyances. I bet days like these is what heaven is filled with, where and whenever that is.

In the morning I took Mika to school as usual, but I think the trick to my uplifted mood was the fact that I slept another 2 hours before picking her up (yea, she only had 2 hours of school). I was a lot more energized, so I was in a good mood by the time I got to work with a free small drink from Borders in hand (I do love coupons).

Work was teetering on the edge of boring when Kristina, a fellow coworker, arrived to take over the computer, but instead I filled the time by drawing a bunch of hands.


I referenced these off of a copy of The Book of a Hundred Hands by George Bridgman that my boss had. I love that book. I want to find one like it, but encompassing the entire body. That'd be just swell.

Afterward, I met up with G and Jose at our usual Starbucks to talk about our comic project. They're writing, I'm arting. And throwing in ideas. Jason New and Natalie Lockwood, some old high school classmates, were there as well. I had to leave to do a favor for Kyle, but all in all, we got a LOT of work done. We got the characters finalized (the first few, at least), and the groundwork for the first two chapters. That's pretty awesome. Afterward, we went to L&L to get dinner. Love that place.

We split, then Jose and I went to Borders. I was looking for a decent anatomy reference book, but I wasn't satisfied with the collection. I think I'll do some searching online, see if I can't get it for cheaper there. I want reference, not instruction. We went back to my house, played some Wii Fit, then he biked on home. Y'know what's crazy? He usually takes about 20 minutes to get home by car, but it only took him 27 minutes to get back on bike! 7 minute difference? Damn, that's pretty good! Then again, he doesn't have to sit through traffic and whatnot. He said it really made him happy. I'm happy for him :) I can't wait til I start biking around more!

Sorry most of my posts have been largely self-indulgent ones of little use to the general public, I guess I used up a lot of my juice in the beginning.

Oh yea, I did my first day of the pushup challenge yesterday. I felt the burn. It felt good. I'm ready to go tomorrow >:D

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hero of the Day

The only thing that sustains one through life is the consciousness of the immense inferiority of everybody else, and this is a feeling that I have always cultivated.


Oscar Wilde

Sunday, June 14, 2009

They have Star Trek on Youtube Shows.

Thanks, Jose!
Now say good-bye to any time you hoped to spend with me.

;P

Ay my goodnesss nako anak pancit.
Party party naman!
Yesterday party party for Kelly's graduation. Congrats, Kelly! You are now entering the real world! Boldly go! Don't get eaten! We moved from the park to the house and I sort of wished I biked there, but then I got home at 10PM so nevermind that. Crazy times.

Today party party for my great-grandma's birthday! She's... oh goodness, she's 83 years old now! What a trooper. It was also at a park, and there was so much food. There must have been about three boxes of croissants, I have no idea what you would bring that much. I suppose it was a potluck, and when everyone tries to bring an item in excess, well, that's what happens. Word to the wise, yous guys: when everyone is bringing some'n some'n to a potluck, make it medium! No go large!

Afterward FSK (me, Kelsey, Mika, Alexa) hung out at a swank little plaza in Redlands to eat ice cream and bug Kelsey's muscular man-friend Adam. That didn't last too long though because he sort of holed himself away. Whatever.

Ever notice that ice cream makes you feel like eating more things?
After I have ice cream, I somehow always develop an appetite for something warm and meaty, or warm and salty. So we got two half-pounder french fries at Baker's and ate it in a flash.

Went back to Kelsey's house, took a few pictures, talked, and basically collapsed on the couch. Aaaww. I had a stomach ache too. I wonder which one did it: all the food at the park party, the ice cream, or the fries. Or the little chocolatey Hostess cupcakes I had straight after. Don't judge me.

Elitist Pricks

If there's one thing (out of many things) that bugs me, it's elitist pricks. The brand of head-up-the-hole-hipster that thinks that s/he's the best at whatever s/he does or likes—and it's usually likes, as in, pertaining to interests. You see them a lot when it comes to music, movies, TV shows, and other such forms of entertainment.

It's the hipster who thinks you're a poser for liking the obscure band he likes, because he's like them longer, and knows more about them before anyone else did ever.

It's the same hipster who says, "Yea, I used to like them, but then everyone else started liking them."

It's the girl who says, "Everybody who likes Nightmare Before Christmas only now is a poser, because I've liked it ever since it came out!" (Granted, there are a lot of people who only like the aesthetic appeal of the movie, but that's something they genuinely like about it, right?)

It's the snub-nosed film major who looks down on your taste in movies, the sneering music-lover who laughs at what you listen to, the hardcore geek who thinks you'll never appreciate the show/movie/band/game/book/culture the same way he or she does, ever.

And let's not forget the Apple fanboys and girls who damn all other forms of hardware and software, because Apple didn't make it.

I have a problem with these people, and that's that they're very closed-minded.
When someone self-righteously asserts their 'superiority' or 'expertise,' it's so many levels of annoying. It's like you're not equal to them unless you share their experiences with whatever their interest is, and if you do, they make you their enemy. It's common enough to follow through many groups of people—Sung-Jae down in San Diego thoroughly expresses his hipster hate (that sort of inspired this section of the post). I think that these hipster-elitist-prick types are most common in high school and college. I have yet to meet someone older who is like that.

I hardly rant like that on this blog, but I felt it comin' along, so who was I to deny it?

This has been a relatively subpar post by yours truly.

Jollity, out.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

How many pushups can Superman do?

Probably more than me—I clock out at about 10 consecutive pushups (unless you count the sad little halfie that made me collapse). That was my result for the initial test of the hundred pushups challenge.

The concept is simple: follow the program until you eventually get up to being able to do 100 consecutive pushups.

I know what you're thinking: who the hell does that??

Well, I the hell does that.

Although I detest pushups, it's probably the most basic form of strength exercising you can do without equipment. I personally always preferred strength training using the weight of your own body as opposed to external weights, like lifting and ridiculous machines and whatnot. It's more practical, because what're you going to be lifting the rest of your life? Yourself.

For those of you who know what I look like, you're probably laughing harder than the rest: you know that I'm a tiny little Asian girl standing at 5'2" and weighing in at around 102 lbs. So if I can grow the ovaries to do this challenge, so can you!

Will you join me?
To be honest, I'd be perfectly fine if I ended up doing like, 50 consecutive, but hey, why not go all the way?

Check out the site at hundredpushups.com!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Y: The Last Man



So for the past few weeks, I've been reading this great graphic novel series called Y: The Last Man. I've been seeing the title crop up in several places, most of them being recommendations, but my last recollection was its mention in a GQ article on graphic novels you should read after Watchmen (because that spurred it, right?).

As the title suggests, Y: The Last Man is about the adventures of the last man on Earth.
It took me a while to come to this conclusion, but most of the best ideas are born from the simplest, and this is a shining example. The way the concept is handled and developed is the work of some beautiful storytelling and artistry.

Summary


One day, every mammal on Earth with a Y chromosome suddenly drops dead, almost instantaneously... except for one young American man, Yorick Brown, and his pet capuchin monkey, Ampersand. Yorick Brown is a goof—he's interested in magic (not the gathering), he's a decent escape artist (he escaped the 'man plague,' after all), and he's got a fiancée in Australia.

The comic basically chronicles his (mis)adventures through a world without men, and it gets pretty crazy. A gang of women called the Daughters of Amazon, happy that the men are gone and bent on destroying anything that could serve as their reminder, find out about him and (surprise) want to off him. Social commentary on gender equality everywhere: society can't function properly because some of its industries were still run by over 80% of males—not to mention dozens of women everywhere are mourning the losses of fathers, sons, boyfriends, grandfathers, brothers, friends. Women everywhere, no matter their stance on the disappearance of men, cope with the loss and more importantly, the aspect of total extinction of the human race. The world is illustrated so vividly, so realistically, and from so many points of view.

Eventually, Yorick teams up with a government agent and a biologist in order to reach the biologist's alternative lab in California to find out what the plague was, and more importantly, how he and his monkey survived it.

But that's only the beginning.

Why I Like It

They say that great design is often invisible.
Y: The Last Man exhibits excellent design for its medium.

Its art is simple and as realistic as it gets without any distractions. It's "cartooned down" enough to let expressions and characters shine, and the dialogue isn't too wordy or disruptive as to overpower the images. It's a beautiful marriage of image and text. I have read about nine of the books out there, and it feels like it's been a breeze.

When past events or people are referenced to in later chapters and books, I can still remember them (me, of the horrid memory). I haven't been able to stop reading since I picked up the first book. I actually feel the intensity during scenes that are supposed to be intense, and I get annoyed with characters that are acting annoying.

It's beautiful.
I can focus on the story itself.

That isn't to say that a graphic novel cannot be appreciated for a unique style of art or writing—it all depends on what the creator is trying to get across, and it is his and/or her job to find the right way to do it. If the creators of Y: The Last Man were just trying to put out a great story with some great messages behind it, then they damn well succeeded.

Because great design is often invisible.
Design is about usability, and Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra used their art well to deliver an awesome story.

So what're you waiting for?

If you're into graphic novels and comic books, read Y: The Last Man.
If you're not into them, but you like reading something good, read Y: The Last Man.

You won't regret it ;)

More Info...

If you're one of those people impressed by awards and such, then you'll be pleased to know that Y: The Last Man won the Eisner Award in 2008 for Best Continuing Series, and that its last set of issues, Whys and Wherefores, "was nominated for the first Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story" (both from Wikipedia article).

And here are some more links for you:

Wikipedia: Y: The Last Man
Amazon: Y: The Last Man, Volume 1
Entertainment Weekly: Y: the Last Man Review

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bicycles, Star Trek, and Vampires

I went biking again today! It took my mom a bit of convincing and assurance, but eventually she let me bike to the nearby Barnes & Noble and Borders. It's so different. I don't think I know quite yet how to "think like a cyclist." I end up combining the thoughts of a motorist and a pedestrian. It's been working for now, but I'm definitely not going to bike too far with that little experience.

Didn't stick around Barnes & Noble for too long. I like Borders better. Stayed there for about an hour and half catching up on Y: The Last Man. It's so good, one of the best graphic novels I've read. Check it out!

The Star Trek bit will be small today. My mom told me that a channel called KDOC will be rerunning Star Trek: The Original Series nightly at 9pm PST. Yaaay! You can bet I'll catch that!

Oh, and Vampires?
Melissa and I were discussing how hilariously bad Twilight is, and that lead to how predictable vampires in a lot of fiction are. They try to fit in with human society, try to deny their true natures, and always end up getting found out because they aren't careful enough. Usually this is because they get too close to others, and then tell them about how dangerous or different they are without actually saying it (Say it. OUT LOUD.), that they're vampires.

So I thought I'd write a little story about a true vampire.
Then it occurred to me that I hadn't written fiction in a long time, and after a few horrible attempts, I gave up and decided to make it a diary sort of thing.

You know.
Like a diary of a "true vampire."
This is just an experiment, I am by no means a writer and should not regarded seriously as one! This is just for gits and shiggles, and I hope you will laugh at me!

UNDER THE CUT!


More...

Today there was some sort of bicycle race in the city. Cyclists are delicious... clear arteries, healthy, easy to digest... but for the life (ha!) of me, I could not snag one today. Life is a bitch. Undead life is even bitchier.

Had to settle for a little lost girl in the dead (undead?) of night.
How cliché, how beginner. I feel queasy. Not sure if the little girl was unhealthy (she looked fine) or it's just my conscience. You'd think after a few hundred years of being a vampire would desensitize you to these things, right? Nope, I still get a little sad when a child has to die. Oh well.

More of "my kind" are coming into the city. And they're not just passing through, either, they're setting up permanent residences here. Why? Not that I don't occasionally enjoy the company of my fellow undead, but I mean, why delusion yourself into thinking you can live a normal, human lifestyle, when you're not even human?

I guess I can relate, I've been through that stage. Still feel human, still want to socialize and be accepted because us blood-feasters are so few and far between. Totally me a few decades back. Or maybe some people want to try to keep up the vampire lifestyle, under the guise of a human. They like the artistry of murder. Not my style, but I'll give 'em props.

I feel like I'm the truest vampire ever. I don't bullshit around, don't play these huge elaborate games. I don't enroll in school because I LOOK young, and I certainly do not tell potential friends that I'm "different," "dangerous" or "unique." What a rookie move. If you're still brooding about what you are, go sleep in a coffin for a few centuries and grow up.

I know what my endgame is, and I know the quickest way to get it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bicycle, Bicycle

I want to ride my...


So today I got started on riding my bike around places other than just my complex. Equipped with my bike and my helmet, I set off and biked to the nearby Borders. I also biked down the street that leads to the nearby mall, staying on the sidewalk. It was a little scary because the sidewalk was so narrow, especially when it came to the lightposts. I kept slowing down and hesitating, I felt like such a n00b XD

But I didn't die, so that was good.

I later got a huge U-lock for my bike. I had a dinky little cable lock before, but after talking to Jose, Brent and my dad, I decided to upgrade.

Jose and I went to lunch at Red Fort's lunch buffet—we'd been meaning to go ever since we went for dinner one time, it's an Indian restaurant and it's fabulous! The lunch buffet was great, there was a lot of food, and I got full so fast.

Afterward we went biking around—er, rather, I went biking around, Jose just kinda walked along. Whenever he and I walk together, I always walk faster than him for some reason. So having to think about him and his slow walking pace while biking didn't make for a smooth ride XD Eventually we'll get to ride together, either when he gets his bike or when he borrows his mom's. Then I won't be so afraid of biking around on the streets.

My dad has two bikes in Texas, and told me that we can bike around the streets there too! Yaaaay!

I like biking, I really do. When I was little I didn't really use it as a mode of transportation, which probably explains why I'm so hesitant now that I'm actually starting to. Biking is fun, and I definitely want to do it more around town. I realized that my bike is a little weird...
It's an Electra Townie, as pictured above, and it's not exactly like all the regular upright bikes. It boasts a "flat-foot technology," which means that you can put your feet flat on the ground while you're still sitting (I can't though, because I'm short XD). It's a hybrid cruiser, but my dad calls it an "easy rider" because the handlebars are significantly higher than the seat, and the pedals are not directly below your seat. This makes for a very different riding experience, I've found (rather the hard way).
In a way, it's almost a bit of a recumbent bike!
Not exactly, of course, but the main differences are that you can't rely entirely on shifting your center of gravity for turns: you have to use your hands, too. Since the pedals aren't directly below you, when you first pedal off you're pushing yourself back instead of pushing your weight down upon the pedals—forward pedalling. Big difference, big big difference once I found out.

So I've started consulting wikihow's "How to Ride a Recumbent Bicycle" article for help. That's where I got the above tips.

Whew! I'm totally going to apply this next time I bike around. Apparently this hybrid bike promises a greater amount of control, but I do suppose it takes a bit of getting used to... I know I've got to get used to it!



And now, to make this relevant to the Heroes theme...

BIKE HERO!
Watch it to the end, it's SO worth it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Hero's Journey

What's this, I'm actually sticking to the given theme?
Don't count on this to last, friends. ;P

Behold, Star Wars! Best example of the tried-and-true Hero's Journey.

Joseph Campbell popularized the concept of the hero's journey (formally known as the monomyth): a formulaic pattern supposedly all great myths follow. It's been applied in comparative mythology to religious and classical myths. After that, it began to be applied to popular works of fiction such as Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Ender's Game.

The Hero's Journey generally consists of the following stages (pulled from source):
  1. The Departure/Arrival
    a. The Call to Adventure
    -Refusal of the Call
    -Answering the Call
    b. Supernatural Aid
    -Guide/Talisman
    -Companions
    c. Crossing the Threshold
    -Threshold Guardians
    d. Belly of the Whale
  2. Initiation
    a. The Road of Trials
    -Battle with the Brother
    b. Meeting the Goddess
    c. Abduction/Night Sea Journey
    d. Dragon Battle
    -Death of guide/companion, injury to hero
    e. Apotheosis (basically the Climax)
    f. The Ultimate Boon/Magic Elixer
  3. Return
    a. The Refusal of the Return
    b. Magic Flight/Pursuit
    -Rescue from Without
    -Crossing of the Return Threshold
    c. Master of Two Worlds
    d. Freedom to Live
There are many iterations of this, and because of it I had to consult different sources to get the general outline in. All the titles and subtitles seem self-explanatory, aside from allusions such as "belly of the whale," which, in a story, is supposed to mean some sort of dead-end or actual death of a character, and the reference goes to the biblical Jonah in the belly of the whale. Characters come out of the belly slightly changed.

The belly of the whale, as well as any other bit here, does not have to occur. Often, characters cross the first threshold (challenge) just fine before moving on to be "tested" by the road of trials. I'll provide some links below for you to look more into the hero's journey and its applications.

The main criticism for this formula is just that: it's a formula. It's a surefire and "safe" way to get the thumbs up. It's praised because it works. It's criticized because it tempts writers to fall right into its trap. But is it really the formula's fault? After all, it is the writer holding the pen. The next time you want to write a nice little epic, you can pull inspiration from this, sure; just don't rely on it all the way.

Here are some links if you want to venture more into the hero's journey:

Wikipedia: Monomyth
Hero's Journey Defined
Hero's Journey in Star Wars
io9: New Proof that Every Scifi Epic is Based on Joseph Campbell
io9: Eight Reasons Why the Hero's Journey Sucks

Here's a fun little exercise

Think of the last book you read or movie you watched, and try to apply its plot to the Hero's Journey. Does it work? Post your comparison in a comment! Match up each of the stages with a specific scene or part!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Childhood Heroes

I totally had a "Bulls 23" jersey as a kid.

My childhood heroes consisted of Michael Jordan, Leonardo da Vinci, Jack Skellington and Mickey Mouse.

Michael Jordan because he shared my name, and I was into basketball at the time. My dad really got me into it, I used to shoot hoops with him sometimes.

Leonardo da Vinci because he did everything there was to do under the Sun—he drew, painted, wrote (backwards!), invented things, engineered, studied astronomy, all sorts of things! I wanted to be just like him, beard and all. Maybe not the beard, actually.

Jack Skellington because The Nightmare Before Christmas was my favorite movie and I loved singing the songs. I thought Jack was awesome and imaginative and even though he kind of failed at Christmas, he was still cool.

Mickey Mouse because... cripes, I don't know. How do you not like Mickey Mouse, right? I loved the movie Fantasia, and can't wait til it gets "out of the vault" next year.

Do I have any heroes now?

I'm not sure.
I see them more as people I greatly admire for the moment... like Jason Santa Maria is my current design hero, Michelangelo is my figure drawing hero, and Michio Kaku is my physics hero. I like them all for separate reasons.

But what is a hero really?
Is it necessarily a person who saves?
You can say Jesus is a hero.

I can think of a number of friends who have "saved" me, and their love and support is never forgotten. I'm looking at you, Mika, Lauren, Justin, Kat and Jose.

All in all, a hero is someone you admire, someone who inspires you to, in one way or another, be better than yourself. A hero could be a rival, a teacher, a friend, an example.

Who's your hero?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Giving us a break

To give both you, my dear readers, and me, your dear blogger, a break, I won't write up a huge entry today (cheeeers!). Instead, I'll give you this amusing chart I found over at io9.



Yes, it's huge. You're going to have to click it to get the big picture.

They even have Wall-E, Ender Wiggin (Ender's Game and the Enderverse), Claire Bennet (Heroes) and Yorick Brown (Y: The Last Man)!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

NaBloPoMo makes me a superblogger

Look at me—I posted an entry with a memory and a call for opinions, and the other day I wrote this beast of an entry on religion. Is this what NaBloPoMo does to me? It's a gift and a curse: I write all my best stuff, AND THEN IT GETS PUSHED BACK IN A MATTER OF DAYS.

I suppose that's what the LinkWithin widget is good for.

It saves my entries from being forgotten; I guess you can say it's my blog's hero. ;P


Hm, if I'd known that the June theme was Heroes, I would've saved my Jason Santa Maria post for now. After all, he is my design hero of the moment.

And now, for our topic...


SAVING YOUR MONEY

I don't need to elaborate on the state of our economy, everyone else does that. I just know that you and I need to start spending smarter. This not only means saving more than spending, but it means thinking hard about where your money goes and if there's some alternative as to the 'why' and 'how' of its exit from your wallet or bank account. For example, during school I'm guilty of spending on food all the time. It's such a tough temptation to overcome: classes make you hungry, there's all kinds of food within walking distance right on campus, and food is relatively cheap... until it all adds up, and you need to buy some art supply for your next project and suddenly it's "Where did my cash go?" and "Damn, I need to withdraw again... I was saving that up" and "Do I really have to dip into my savings??"

For being born to two financially and economically smart people (I love you, Mommy and Daddy), I sure missed out on the money-smart gene. I'm pretty stingy, and up til now I thought that not spending at all ever was a good thing... but that only meant that I sucked when it came time to actually spend money. I'm slowly learning how to manage my money better by eating out less (home has free food, after all) and setting goals. I've learned these both from my parents and my own experiences.

One of the best and often forgotten ways of spending smartly is by using coupons!

Well, it doesn't really get past typical Filipino families and college students (both of which I am associated), but the vast majority of others, for some reason or another, simply don't use coupons or discounts.

But they're wonderful and save you money, therefore you should use them.
But how do you get these mystical coupons?

It can be as easy as finding them in your mail—often disregarded as 'junk mail,' countless pages of grocery and restaurant coupons get tossed out. It isn't hard to just give the page a once-over and decide if you're going to need any of those coupons, nor is it hard to clip it out and use it!

If you're a fan of a specific store, you should find out if they've got some sort of membership or rewards program, or a mailing list through which you can receive coupons and discounts galore. I'm a Borders Rewards Member, and I get weekly coupons ranging from 25%-40% off items in the store, and even greater discounts for specific items, not to mention details on in-store events. Every time I brandish my Rewards card upon payment, I get points, and those points add up to 'Borders Bucks'—basically, in-store credit, and it totals at the end of the year (which means all your holiday shoppings go straight into that, ooh~). I thought I'd have to spend like crazy to get any of that, but I actually got $5 on my card at the beginning of this year. Sure, it's only $5, but $5 is enough to have its own bill. And I'm cheap, so it counts. Borders also has Borders Rewards Perks, where they relay to you a bunch of member-exclusive deals from other stores. I've yet to use it, but it's still a good deal.

The Borders thing is just an example, you can find these kinds of things virtually anywhere!

Speaking of virtual, let's not forget the wonders of the internet. Here are a few websites that can help you cut down on costs:


  • SlickDeals.net - As the title suggests, the website is chock full of funderful deals, discounts and coupons from all over the internet. It's archived by date, and lets you know if the deals are already expired. Sweet deal!
  • RetailMeNot.com - Another site for coupons and coupon codes. Searchable and archived by subject and popularity.
  • FatWallet.com - ANOTHER COUPON SITE! Note that you might find a lot of the same deals across these three sites, but that's okay. This site also has a "cash back shopping" feature, check it.
  • eBay - Do I really need to say it? Online auction site, you can find a lot of things for really cheap here. You can sell them, too!
  • Craigslist - This one's also pretty obvious. Find people in your area who are not only selling things you want, but also job opportunities and even personal ads, oooh~
  • SwapTree - Now, this one is interesting. You get to swap whatever you have, with any other person for whatever they have. It's the ultimate P2P network. I'm a member, but I've yet to actually get to swapping. Tell me if you're there!
  • Joongel Search - This is more of a nifty search engine than anything else, but I've used it to shop for things and compare prices using their Shopping Search.
There you have it! A whole list of goodies, ready for you. You can bet I'll be using them while searching for a camera.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Computers aren't so hard!

Well, sort of.

Today at work I got to experience the joys of trying to fix up a complicated software on my boss's Macbook Pro. He was using the program Parallels to run Windows right on his Mac OS—I know, CRAZY, right?!—but it was slow and kind of buggy, because he was using the bit of his harddrive partitioned to Boot Camp... which was also running Windows. He wanted the program to use more than 2GB of RAM (the laptop itself had 4GB, he upgraded it), and I was trying to figure out how. It took a lot of uninstalling and reinstalling and reformatting, and I actually got it all together, until I had to update the software at the very end. Then there was nothing. I was quite pleased with myself for a while, then I failed. Ugh. I feel so bad. I hope I can find a way to fix it.

Before all that, he actually got the software and everything set up at a local place called PC Mall. Despite seeming to specialize in PCs, they claim to also do Macs, and I believe that. But they told my boss that his Macbook Pro didn't have a CD drive. So my boss went out and got an external one.

The CD drive is on the front end of the damn thing.

I was baffled. Really, PC Mall? Really? Cripes. Someone should fire them.

On the Up side...



Today I watched Up with Mika and Jose. The verdict? It's really, really good. Disney/Pixar, you've done it again. I don't think I liked it as much as Wall-E, but it's a really fun little adventure.

Spoilery thoughts on the movie BELOW THE CUT!


More...

It was really fun, and kiddishly fantastical with some surprisingly adult elements. Like the first tem minutes? Boy, what an exposition! Cripes, I was tearing up when Ellie died.

The issue of Russell's dad not being there anymore was really sad too, and very subtle—if I were a small child, I wouldn't have caught on much. Perhaps I wouldn't have felt the effect as strongly.

I love love LOVE the way Pixar styles humans. This style was very similar to The Incredibles, particularly the handling of the face. I love the way all the humans are caricatured with the big weirdly shaped heads and everything. The bright colors, very noticeably textured clothing and caricatured characters really gave this a story-book feel. It matched well with what it was.

The story was pretty tight as well, I loved the tie in from the beginning about that explorer character, to his creature and the 'Kevin' bird later. Did anyone else laugh when Russell named him Kevin? I did. I don't know why, but I did.

Pixar has a tendency to take some of the things I'd find cheesiest—talking dogs, a house floating away by balloons, robots falling in love, a rat learning how to cook—and make it work. Hell, I thought that Kevin bird was outrageous, but for how colorful and funny-looking it is, Pixar really made it come to life: its calls were frightful, and later desperate when calling to its young. I remember hearing about how Pixar animators observed rats all the time in order to really get a feel for how they move and behave so they can translate it to the rats in Ratatouille.



Cripes, I want to work at Pixar. My Typography professor told me that her friend worked at Pixar, and that place is like an creative haven for all kinds of artists: sculptors, painters, graphic designers, musicians, writers, and animators. They have free screenings for various animated films, not just their own, but basically anything animated—to keep their employees artistically stimulated. How awesome is that?

Oh, Michael Giacchino graces yet another film with his musical mastery. That man sure knows how to set a mood. He's my hero ;P

So Disney/Pixar's Up = highly recommended. Go out and see it, you won't regret it!