Alright, some personalized pictures from Monday’s event! Even though I didn’t really get my picture taken “with” LeVar Burton, I am IN a picture with LeVar Burton. I count that a win! (You can see my head to the left of Chris’s face.)
Heres a more thorough (although somewhat pessimistic) run-through of the acts at the Activision party, from my favorite game website, Kotaku. Also, I forgot to mention earlier one of the best parts of the evening: free beer, wine, and concession stand food! You could just walk up to any counter, order what you want, and they would ring you up for it. But then you could walk away without paying, with no fear of being tackled by a security guard! Later in the evening I think the Staples Center staff was anxious to charge Activision for as much food as they could, because they were literally walking up to people and handing them pretzels and boxed candy.
Last night’s Activision E3 party in LA was pretty freakin’ awesome. Usher, will.i.am, a bunch of renowned DJs, Tony Hawk, Jane’s Addiction, Soundgarden, Travis Barker (the drummer from Blink-182), the lead singer from Tool, an intense set from Eminem, Rihanna… and those are just the artists I recognized!
They also presented the best game trailer-watching experience I’ve ever had, with massive real-life pyrotechnics accompanying the gunfire and explosions as a helicopter blew stuff up on-screen for Call of Duty: Black Ops (all to a riveting score performed by a full live orchestra).
But the best experience of the night was shaking hands with LeVar Burton, famous for his role as Geordi La Forge on Star Trek and as the host of Reading Rainbow!!! We knew he would be at the show from a Tweet he posted earlier yesterday, and while at the show we found him standing on the dance floor directly in front of us! After causing enough ruckus, he came over and gave us handshakes and fist bumps. When we failed to take a picture with him due to the iPhone’s lack of a flash, he hand-signaled FOUR-POINT-OH to us as he melted back into the crowd (the soon-to-be-released iPhone 4 will have an LED flash built into its camera). Amazing.
Amanda, Teddie, and I went camping at San Clemente State Beach last Friday with a few friends. The best part was when Teddie got skunked. We had him off his leash, and he was behaving very well. Then we saw a dark critter run across the road next to our fire. Amanda and I both saw it at the same time, and we grabbed for the dog. But he had already taken off. He darted after the animal, sniffed at the bush that it dove into for a split second, and then just as quickly did a 180 and ran back towards us. Once he got off the road, he started rolling on the ground, rubbing his face and side in the dirt. At the same time, this weird smell like garlicy onions began assaulting our nostrils. Luckily there was an unoccupied campsite nearby, complete with running water. Amanda and I grabbed a bottle of shampoo and dragged the dog to the hose. Luckily the skunk must have only gotten him a little bit, because it wasn’t too difficult to get the smell to go away. Oddly enough, it didn’t smell like onions or skunk on the dog. It smelled like burnt rubber.
And, speaking of burnt rubber, I melted the sole of my shoe that evening as well.
It rained a lot this morning. Then it stopped, and got sunny. Then I drove to work. And then I saw the most amazing thing ever.
You know how cars kick up a cloudy spray behind their wheels when driving on a wet road? Most of the cars on the road were doing that. But this one car was spitting out a rainbow cloud as it cruised along Bake Parkway. Not just a rainbow in its cloud – the cloud was a rainbow. It looked like something straight out of Care Bears or Rainbow Brite. I pulled up for a closer look and sure enough – there was a unicorn behind the wheel.
And the best part of all this is that it’s true! Except for the bit about the unicorn. I lied about that.
We got a RAV4!? We bought it from a private seller that we found on Craig’s List. When we first looked at, we couldn’t agree on a price with the seller. But then it turned out that he needed to get money that night for the down-payment on the new car he was buying, so he was willing to negotiate. We ended up running around last-minute to finalize everything. We dropped Amanda off at a Wells Fargo to pick up thousands of dollars in cash, while the seller and I drove to a local mechanic to have him give it a go-over. Everything looked good, so he signed the title in the parking lot and we were off! All in all, it was a rather exciting evening.
I don’t know if it’s important to cover up the license plate in these pictures, but it seemed like a good idea.
Also, we got Teddie shaved this past weekend, because we were tired of all the hair in the house. The hair is gone, but now he looks ridiculous. So ridiculous, that we’re too embarrassed to put up pictures of him. He’s currently in hiding until he regrows his decency.
So, this year for our kind-of anniversary trip (4 years already), we went to Catalina Island for Easter weekend.
It was crazy… There was almost no one else there.
First we took a ferry-boat over (Jason got seasick)
When we got to Avalon, which is the the main city in Catalina Island, it was virtually deserted. All the buildings are little, and there are only compact cars and golf carts. I felt like we were in Oz or Munchkinland.
We walked around there all morning, ate lunch on the pier. It was a gorgeous day. There were even trees floating in the sky:
Then we took a bus ride to the other, even more deserted part of the island. The “Safari Bus” was a bumpy, crazy drive with gorgeous views of the inland parts of the island. We first stopped at Airport-in-the-Sky and watched some planes take off. Then we read about the Preservation of the Island’s plants and native animals, like the Santa Catalina Red Fox, Catalina Red Squirrel, deer, and buffalo. Oh, yeah, wait- native buffalo? Not really…. A few wild bison were brought to the island for a filming of a 1925 movie, “Zane Grey’s The Vanishing American”. They adapted well to the island’s climate, flourished, and multiplied. Now wild bison roam the island in herds- and when we left the Airport en route to Two Harbors, we got to see a herd along the road.
On the bus ride over, we were the only two people on this huge school bus- it was really creepy! Check out this video:
Jason alone on bus
Then, we arrived in Two Harbors, a very tiny town on the West end of the island. The town has a population of 100 people. You cannot own private property there. You must work for the Catalina Island Conservancy (who owns the town) to live there. Our Bed and Breakfast was called “Banning House Lodge” The Banning brothers originally owned the island until they sold it to Wrigley- the chewing gum tycoon, who then put 88% of the island into a nature conservancy (to avoid property taxes). Below are pictures of the view from our hotel (we even saw a solitary buffalo roaming from our window!):
Then Friday evening, we went on a Hummer “High Adventure” tour of the coast of the island. Our driver was the same guy that drove us across the island (in the empty huge bus)
That night, we went to dinner at the only restaurant on the side of the island (so, yeah, the prices were very high- I guess you can charge anything if there is no other place to eat!) The next morning, we got up bright and early to do a “Super Tour” which was Kayaking down the coast to Blue Caverns and back, with a stop in the middle to snorkel in a kelp forest. We got to see many fish, well only one type of fish actually- the bright orange Girabaldi- the official state fish of California. The water was freezing (58 degrees) and even my 7mm-thick wetsuit didn’t keep me warm enough.
Then, we rested all day. It was beautiful and sunny outside. We went for a little hike:
On the next day, Easter Sunday, we couldn’t go to church because there was no church in the small town of Two Harbors. We took the same rickety, scary bus back to the populated side of the island- Avalon. We had lunch there at Catalina Cantina and Jason ate a BUFFALO burger (made out of real buffalo meat). It tasted almost the same as a real burger. And I ate a fish:
And here’s a satellite image of Southern California. For a sense of scale, the fires stretch from North of L.A. down to San Diego.
The fires in our area aren’t as bad anymore. However, all schools in the area have been closed for tomorrow. I’m not sure of the reason, but it seems like a good idea. Dan Stark said it best, when he explained, “It’s like a snow day… but with fire!”
Some of you may have been more aware of this than Amanda and I were, since we don’t often watch/read the news. We knew there were fires burning in So Cal, but we didn’t realize any were so close. We woke up yesterday (Monday) morning to huge gusts of wind, and a strange mustard color in the sky. We had to pick up Amanda’s car from the shop that morning, and as we were driving further north we started to see ash falling from the sky. The sky was filled with semi-dissipated smoke, which caused the grey-yellow, hazy appearance.
I work in Irvine, twenty minutes north of where we live, and as I drove in that direction the grey sky became blacker. The road I was traveling on was blocked off immediately after where our office building is, and I could see black smoke, occasionally lit by a bright yellow flame, billowing from the ground ahead of me.
Those pictures were taken from in front of our office. I took some videos of the smoke, fire trucks, and helicopters, but they won’t seem to upload. Let me know if you’d like to see them.
It was a totally surreal experience. Ash was falling everywhere you go (kind of looks like the very light snowfall you get on a sunny but cold day). Everything was lit with an eerie yellow hue from the clouds. The air was thick with the smell of a bonfire. Irvine looked like Mordor. The air was very dry, and our fluff magnet Teddie kept shocking us every time we touched him. It was extremely windy, but the winds were warm; the Santa Ana winds come straight from off the desert.
In case you don’t know what’s going on, here’s some articles about the fires.
That second article is interesting because the Marine air base where they were filming “24” is right next to us, directly up the road in those pictures towards the fire. No wonder they had to cancel shooting.
Things have improved a lot today. It’s still hazy out, but not overcast with doom. Ash is still falling as much as yesterday though. We’re supposed to go to a friend’s company picnic down in San Diego on Saturday, but I just received word that it may be canceled, because so many of the people involved have been evacuated or are concerned for the safety of their homes. Please pray for those who have been injured, and those forced to leave their homes.