Category Archives: Other

European Vacation – Paris, France

After visiting Bruges, Belgium, we boarded a train to Kortrijk, Belgium as the first leg our day’s journey to Paris. Going to Paris was the motivation behind the whole trip – to visit our friends Jessica and Andrew in Paris. There transportation strikes happening in Belgium, but we checked in the morning and the trains were still running.

The train ride gave a little more time for some Papers, Please, but our luck ran out when we got to Kortrijk. By this time, the strike caught up with us, and trains were no longer running out of Kortrijk. And because we already used part of our tickets, we couldn’t get refunds. We ended up taking a taxi from Kortrijk, Belgium to Lille, France. Once in France, we took a train to Paris. We were late, but we got there!

I’m guessing we went to our AirBNB first, but I honestly don’t remember that. I just remember heading to Frame Brasserie where Jessica was waiting for us. Andrew was in the kitchen, preparing awesome food. For my friends who don’t know, the two of them used to live near me in California, but Andrew accepted a head chef position at Frame Brasserie, a restaurant in Paris inside the Pullman Paris Hotel.

Here’s Chef Andrew hard at work in the kitchen!

Here’s one of the dishes he prepared – foie gras on banana bread. I didn’t know those flavors would go well together, but it was amazing!

I don’t remember what each course was, but I know that I was impressed with all of it. So good!

After dinner, we went upstairs to a little balcony where we were able to watch the light show on the Eiffel Tower. It was pretty breathtaking. I wasn’t expecting to be as amazed at the Eiffel Tower as I was. It was beautiful.

Andrew gave us a little tour of the rooftop garden as well, including the chicken coop. The chickens were sleeping.

Jessica walked us back to our AirBNB, and we stopped to admire the Eiffel Tower more on the way.

Only gem and I were interested in Disneyland Park Paris, so we spent the day there.

We stopped for breakfast in Main Street, U.S.A. where I got a croque monsieur. (That’s not normally found on traditional Main Streets in the States, but I’ll forgive them. This little bird wanted some too and took a piece right out of my hand. Disney magic!

After eating, we went straight to Discoveryland, which is like Anaheim’s Tomorrowland. Instead of being purely futuristic, it’s themed after historical French figures’ visions of the future, making it retro and steampunk. It was awesome.

We rode Space Mountain Mission 2, Disneyland Paris’ Space Mountain, twice in a row. It had a great steampunk feel to it and was one of my favorite rides there. The wait was seriously just a few minutes. Yes, it was a weekday, but I don’t think we ever needed to wait longer than 15 minutes. I think the one-day, two-park ticket was only about $50 (US), which is nuts. I guess Disneyland Paris isn’t as popular as the original.

Next we went on a walk-through attraction called Les Mystères du Nautilus based on Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Apparently there was a similar attraction in our Disneyland in the 1950’s.

After a submarine, it was time to hop in some cars for Autopia. I’m completely uninterested in the Anaheim Autopia but enjoyed the Paris Autopia!

When we heard that Buzz needed our help, we rushed to Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast to defeat the Evil Emperor Zurg!

gem even found a planet with her name in it – Gemkurnz!

After finishing with Discoveryland, we went to explore Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

I like this photo of gem and the castle despite the people in the background.

The castle had many stained glass windows. I prefer the one of Maleficent, one of my favorite Disney characters.

There’s a little balcony area on top that you can explore too!

It’s a Small World’s tribute to America started with the old west. I really enjoyed seeing this.

It also included the New York skyline, the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Hollywood sign (among other things).

For lunch, we stopped at Cafe Hyperion. I believe this was the Dark Vador burger. I couldn’t resist it. That’s also how I learned that Darth Vader is Dark Vador in French.

After riding Pirates of the Caribbean, we rode Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril. Unlike its California counterpart, this is more of a traditional rollercoaster. It’s also the first Disney rollercoaster to feature an inversion! While I enjoy our more story-driven rollercoaster, this was an awesome ride!

Frozen had a little section in the park with a photo-op and some sort of performance. We didn’t stay for the performance, but we did get our photo taken before we had to rush to the second park, which we didn’t realize was closing soon.

Walt Disney Studios is Disneyland Paris’ second park, and it’s based on a movie studio.

There were a number of neat things to see in the park, especially walking through the Toy Story section that was built to a scale as if you were a toy.

The park had an excellent rollercoaster based on Finding Nemo – Crush’s Coaster. Two seats face one direction and two face the other direction, leading to awesome drops in which you’re falling backwards!

While we were inside Disneyland Park, we were wondering where the statue of Walt and Mickey was and just assumed they didn’t use it in Paris. We were wrong! It’s in Walt Disney Studios!

My notes also mention salsa, rock, and line dancing in Disney Village, which is like Paris’ Downtown Disney. I don’t remember that. Did we do it? Did we just see it?

I wanted to stop for a photo with the magic broom on the way out.

And we got one of gem as well!

Next it was back to Disneyland Park to talk to ticketing about our tickets. We had purchased tickets online in advance, which means we had printouts and not physical tickets. She was hoping for physical tickets as souvenirs. At first they said they couldn’t do it, but when gem got sad, the man got creative. He printed out one of each ticket variation and voided them before giving them to her. How nice of him!

Back inside Disneyland Park, I took a photo of gem with the greeter at Phantom Manor, which is their version of the Haunted Mansion. How spooky and cool! We actually went through Phantom Manor twice.

gem also had an encounter with Abu, who ran up to her and surprised her!

We did some shopping while in the park too. I picked up some gifts for people, but there was one gift that was just too big – a blue Buzz Lightyear figure. I have no idea why he was blue, but I wanted it for Henley. Eventually, I knew I had a solution. I purchased a big Disneyland Paris duffel bag and the toy. Now I could definitely bring it home!

We ended our Disney evening with a fireworks and light show. It seemed like a combination of Disneyland fireworks and a show like Fantasmic or World of Color. There were fireworks, but there were also plenty of lasers and projects. It was awesome!

When the park closed, we walked through Disney Village to the train, where we waited at least an hour or so for the train to leave. We were really packed in there. Then it was hard to find our way home because of construction causing street closures. We eventually found a McDonald’s with Wi-Fi that allowed us to contact Antonio and Anela. We had a key to get into the apartment, but we forgot the code to the front gate! I told Antonio what time I thought we’d be back, but we ended up taking much longer. This could have been problematic, because without Wi-Fi, my phone wouldn’t work. Luckily he happened to see my message way late – just when we got to the gate. Great timing 🙂

The next day we headed to the Eiffel Tower. The base was much bigger than I expected.

Here’s a shot looking up through the tower.

Unfortunately, we could only reach the second story that day because the rest was closed.

That didn’t stop us from enjoying the view anyways.

After we came back down from the Eiffel Tower, we met Anela, Andrew, and Jessica at the FRAME Truck where we purchased some tasty tacos. Jessica did a lot of planning for us so we could squeeze as much in as we can. Her help was invaluable!

gem looks quite thug. I don’t know what she was doing here, but it’s great.

They also brought us these delicious macarons!

After lunch, it was time to jump in front of the Eiffel Tower! Here’s Antonio, Anela, me, and gem.

And here’s Jessica, Anela, me, and Andrew. Andrew looks a little derpy.

Lots of people seem to lounge near the Eiffel Tower.

Either Jessica or Andrew took this photo of the four of us.

Here’s all six of us in front of the Eiffel Tower!

What do you do after appreciating the Eiffel Tower? Explore some creepy catacombs, of course. We played some Heads Up on our phones and variations of charades while waiting in line, but then it was time to enter.

The descent! Jessica looks too happy.

gem looks scary in the catacombs.

Jessica, don’t be mean! Don’t worry; she didn’t touch.

Lots and lots of bones.

After emerging once more, Andrew took us to She’s Cake. They use She’s cakes at Frame Brasserie.

We split a few different delicious desserts.

After eating, we visited the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris at Montmarte, which was beautiful.

Even the drinking fountains are beautiful in Paris!

When it was time for dinner, we stopped at Le Consulat.

We shared an order of escargot, which tasted very similar to typical shellfish. I enjoyed it a lot!

I did, however, have to figure out how to eat it.

After dinner, we walked past the Moulin Rouge.

We finished our day with a visit to L’arc de Triomphe.

The next day, we visited the Eiffel Tower so we could climb all the way.

It was a foggy day, but I had fun.

Here I am enjoying that view, but I felt I needed a closer look.

That’s much better!

Just look at that amazing view! Okay, the view was nothing but fog, but it was still cool.

I forget if it was this day or the previous Eiffel Tower visit, but we talked to some of the soldiers at the base. Side note, it’s still very weird to me to see soldiers with huge guns just walking around. Anyways, we asked for Anela to get a photo with them. Their reaction was strange. Some seemed to say no, some to say yes, and one walked away. After a moment, I realized what was happening. They were smoking when they weren’t allowed to be smoking. Some of them put out their cigarettes and one just walked out of view of the camera. We got our photo!

We went to a market to get some lunch. This pastry was super good.

We also sampled some pink cheese. That doesn’t look like my hand though. Whose hand is that? Anela’s? Oh well.

I managed to purchase cherries in French! It was terrible French I’m sure, but a bit of Rosetta Stone helped. Here’s our haul that we ate in Jessica and Andrew’s apartment. Not shown was the McDonald’s that we bought as well, including the Le Croque McDo. How French! Man, I’m getting hungry.

Just look at this pastry! We stopped at Le Moulin de la Croix Nivert for tarte aux pommes et Paris Brest, two amazing desserts.

With full stomachs, we visited Notre-Dame.

Next we quickly saw the Fontaine Saint Michel.

By that time, we definitely some crepes, so we stopped at Creperie de Arts.

The best part of Creperie de Arts? Le chat! This cat was just chilling.

We also stopped at Amoroso Gelato because apparently we just can’t eat enough.

Of course we visited the Louvre, but we were unable to go inside. Due to the flooding happening in Paris at the time, they were moving all the works to higher floors in case the water got into the Louvre.

That didn’t stop us from having fun and goofing around!

Look at these two lovebirds. <3

Here’s a closer shot of the building.

Speaking of the flood, here’s a look at the water. You might not be able to tell just how much water there is from this photo.

I wouldn’t want to go sit on one of those benches.

Those are cars. The Seine rose so much, cars parked along the river were now under water.

May gem present to you… the Statue of Liberty!

Here’s a shot she took of me in front of it too!

According to the journal I kept, which was just a list of things we did, we also visited L’arc de triomphe du Carrousel, but I can’t find any photos of it. I can’t believe I wouldn’t take photos, so maybe I just got them mixed up. Oops.

Edit: I did just get them mixed up! I added a photo 🙂

For dinner, we went to Frame Brasserie a second time. On this visit, Andrew ate with us rather than being in the kitchen. He had his staff keep bringing us additional dishes until we were full. Amazing. As I’d expect, everything was so good. Here’s a collage of everything we managed to eat. Keep in mind there were six of us please :0

Look, FRAME has a foosball table! I don’t know who won, but I know we had fun – probably because gem and I were both terrible.

Sadly, this is where we said our goodbyes to Jessica and Andrew.

Before heading to our apartment for the final time, we walked around the Centre Georges Pompidou, which was near where we were staying.

It looks like it’s inside-out! It’s definitely an interesting piece of architecture.

While we didn’t go inside, we were able to appreciate it from here.

I’ll end this post with a final shot of the Eiffel Tower. The next morning we left our little apartment and traveled to the airport to fly to Rome. Thanks so much to Jessica and Andrew for spending time with us, showing us around Paris, sharing delicious food, and everything else. I wish I could see you regularly, but Paris is just a bit too far to visit for a weekend!

Prince Peach: Genderswapped cosplay

I saw this cosplay and had to share. Steven Heath, a.k.a. Kirix, comments “I always loved being Princess Peach in the Mario Bros. Games so I decided to genderswap her to pay my respects to this wonderful and fabulous princess.” More information and pictures can be found on his DeviantArt and Facebook.

I really love his costume. The pink suit and shoes make sense, but the accessories are even better. I’m not surprised that he has a crown, and the necklace is a nice touch, but the walking stick and cape with the chain clasp across the front are great.

The photograph also contains Maria, a genderswapped Mario, a cosplay by MaddyPointer Cosplay (DeviantArt, Facebook). The photograph was by Ron Berg Photography.

Of Justin Bieber and prescription drugs

What kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t give my readers what they want?

I don’t really know much about Justin Bieber. I don’t particularly like his music, but it’d be immature to hate him for no reason. For a long time I had heard his name but not known his music at all.

And then my friend showed me this video.

It’s a parody of Justin Bieber’s Baby involving banelings from Starcraft. I don’t play Starcraft, but I found it amusing. Later I had it stuck in my head. What does it say about the Bieber’s original if the parody, using the same general tune, could get stuck in my head? I guess it’s not so bad honestly.

What about prescription drugs?

I don’t know. They’re good when you need them, I suppose. I’ve had antibiotics, Vicodin, and ibuprofen prescriptions. I don’t really understand the point in getting an ibuprofen prescriptions. Sure, I normally can’t get 800 mg tablets of ibuprofen over the counter, but I could just take four 200 mg tablets. I’ve never tried to get a discount on them. Saving money is always good, but I’m not sure I’d trust discount prescription drugs. Health is just too important.

A Contest I Don’t Want to Win

[Company,] a leading video game developer and publisher, announced today the winner of the Win A Rim Job promotion…

No thanks. I’d rather not have a rib job from you.
Okay, want to know what that really is?

AGOURA HILLS, Calif.

Days Come Once

I like riding the bus. I don’t always needing to take the bus, but for some reason, it seems like a chance for me to reflect and to consider those around me. I like to wonder what the lives are like of the other passengers and the driver. Riding the bus isn’t the worst thing in the world by far, but here, you’re not supposed to be on the bus. You should have a car. If you’re on the bus, something’s wrong. I like to wonder what’s wrong.
For a portion of my bus ride, he bus is filled mostly with UCI students. For them, nothing’s wrong with this, but once they get off near UCI, then things have changed. Usually there’s a few asian girls who don’t speak English very well and have trouble figuring out how the bus works. They bother the driver slow us down. I wonder where they’re from and what they’re doing here. Then there are the senior citizens getting groceries. I like to wonder about their lives. They’ve been alive so much longer than me. Being old doesn’t inherently mean deserving of respect, but they definitely have a lot to tell me about if I took the time to listen. And then there are the everyday people going to work or returning home. I wonder if they’re happy in life and why they have to take the bus.
Yesterday I Was watching the date scroll by on the little sign on the bus. Suddenly the fact that the day’s date was unique and would never exist again after today popped into my head. March 4, 2011. It only happened once. What did I do with March 4, 2011? I woke up, rolled around in bed for a while, and generally fought the beginning of the day by trying to remain asleep as long as possible. Next I screwed around on the Internet. Man, what minor changes are being made to World of Warcraft? Yeah, there was something about ZG and ZA. I needed to know. Did my friends do anything interesting and share it on Facebook? Did I get any good PR announcements for Game-Boyz? No, I didn’t. Got to scroll through reblogged photos by Nicole and Blair to search for written posts. Did Alex share any sweet Back to the Future photos? I wonder if my favorite author, John Scalzi, has anything new on his blog (he always does). Okay, okay, time to shower. And after I shower, I go get greasy Del Taco with Andy. Del Taco, like I have four or so times per week. Then I walk to the bus, sit down, and watch people while reading my book, Zombie, Spaceship, Wasteland by Patton Oswalt. And finally I reach the bookstore, where I do the oh-so-important, irreplaceable job of ringing people up and telling them where books are. Good bye March 4, 2011. I should really put you down in the history books for what good use of you I made.
It just suddenly seemed strange and kind of sad that time is limited, but I spend it so worthlessly, like most people do. Not that I’ll change this. There are tons of unique, exciting experiences out in there world. And they’re ready to make my blood pressure shoot up, give me headaches, and cause me stress. Why try something new?

The Mathematics of Beauty – OkTrends

The Mathematics of Beauty – OkTrends

So this is our paradox: when some men think you’re ugly, other men are more likely to message you. And when some men think you’re cute, other men become less interested…
However, the variance you create is under your control, and it’s simple to maximize:
Take whatever you think some guys don’t like – and play it up.
As you’ve probably already noticed, women with tattoos and piercings seem to have an intuitive grasp of this principle. They show off what makes them different, and who cares if some people don’t like it. And they get lots of attention from men.
But our advice can apply to anyone. Browsing OkCupid, I see so many photos that are clearly designed to minimize some supposedly unattractive trait – the close-cropped picture of a person who’s probably overweight is the classic example. We now have mathematical evidence that minimizing your “flaws” is the opposite of what you should do. If you’re a little chubby, play it up. If you have a big nose, play it up. If you have a weird snaggletooth, play it up: statistically, the guys who don’t like it can only help you, and the ones who do like it will be all the more excited.

This seems really interesting yet at the same time not totally surprising when the conclusion is actually considered. Check out the article to see the data, but between two women who have same average attractiveness rating (based on others’ opinions), the one who has more people in agreement is less likely to get message than the girl who has more deviance in her rating. Very cool.

Interview with Andrew Harris

Me: Between a Heroes hero, a Gunstar Heroes hero, and a Guardian Heroes hero, what do you think is the best kind of hero?!
Andrew: Well, Heroes heroes have been sucking as of late, and I have no experience with Guardian Heroes heroes, and Gunstar Heroes heroes are just plain awesome, so I’m gonna say Gunstar Heroes heroes. Final answer.

I Will Make You Something Chain Letter Thing

I got this from William, who got this from Allison.
The first Seven (7) people to respond to this post will get something made by me.
This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:
– I make no guarantees that you will like what I make.
– What I create will be just for you.
– It’ll be done this year (2009).
– You have no clue what it’s going to be. It may be a mix CD. It may be a poem. I may draw or paint something. I might bake you something and mail it to you. Who knows? Not you, that’s for sure!
– I reserve the right to do something extremely strange.
The catch? Oh, the catch is that you have to put this in your journal as well, if you expect me to do something for you!

I don’t have comments enabled, so just let me know any way you want.

Oh God

I’m so tired. Information overload in these classes. I think circuits class might actually kill me.

VLSI

I can’t focus on the lecture at all. The professor’s talking about switches and transistors. My notes are open, but I don’t know what to write down so I’ve written nothing. Twenty-three more minutes.

Penncro

Dear Penncro,
Thanks so much for calling me all the time! I know I’m hard to get a hold of because I screen my calls, and you don’t really leave messages. Luckily when I googled your phone number, 866-779-9279, I found this site, 800notes.com. It’s a great site; users can contribute information about annoying 800 numbers that call them all the time. That’s how I found out who you are. I’m very happy you call me all the time just like you call many other people all the time. It’s strange though that you are supposedly a collection agency working for Bank of America yet you’re calling me and I don’t owe you money. That seems to happen to a lot of people according to that website though. Other people also mentioned that you seem to call the wrong people. How idiotic would that be? I don’t understand that. You’re my buddy Penncro, and you wouldn’t do that. Plus, people say you call early in the morning, late at night, and sometimes multiple times per day! Technically that’s true. I know because you do it to me. And after all we’ve been through, this silent friendship finally found a voice! You left me voice mail! But you called me Nick Willus. Why would you do that Penncro? I’m not Nick Willus. We’re you joking? It made me think of “Willage,” which has to do with a funny anecdote by David Sedaris. Is that what you meant? You’re so funny Penncro. Alas, this friendship has to come to an end. You seem to bully me yet you don’t know who I actually am. You work for someone that I don’t owe money to as a collection agency! Idiotic! On top of that, you harass me far too often and obscene times of day! Lucky for me I’ve added you to my contact list so I can keep track of how often you call me and can reject your calls. If only I could autoreject. Too bad.
Your old friend,
Nick Willus
TheUser

Why I Hate Blowdryers

Whenever anyone uses a blowdryer here, all the lights in the room dim. Blowdryers get used quite often. Although everything seems fine, it makes me fearful for my computers.

Gary Gygax

Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons & Dragons and grandfather of all role-playing games, died today. He died at his home in Wisconsin, and his wife Gail said he had health problems for years.
Gygax created the miniatures wargame Chainmail with Jeff Perren. They later created Dungeons & Dragons together based on Chainmail through the company the founded together, TSR. When Perren died, Gygax bought his shares. He went on to make Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and many supplements for his games and the subsequent games the Dungeons & Dragons spawned even up through the D20 system. He created other miniatures wargames and board games and wrote fantasy novels as well. Chainmail and Dungeons & Dragons started many fundamental concepts to the role-playing game. He, with Jeff Perren, is responsible for the modern rpg as we know it. Dungeons & Dragons has also effected literature, movies, and common thought on the fantasy realm. He will be missed.
Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax dies at 69,” WKBT La Crosse
Gary Gygax,” Wikipedia.

D&D 4E

Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition was announced and is due out in May.
Although it kind of sucks, I’m excited.

Bah

Too much class, studying, homework and work.
And in free time, always taking in and never giving back.

Isaiah Triforce Johnson

The first buyer, Isaiah Triforce Johnson, had been waiting outside the store for more than a week. He wore a Nintendo Power Glove, a wearable controller that came out in 1989, while shaking hands with Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime. Johnson said he had legally changed his name to include a reference to Nintendo’s “Zelda” series of games.
CNN