Sunday, January 10, 2010

Road Tripping Around Phoenix

I'm on a break from Facebook, but not from blogging :-)

Anthony and I took a little road trip today toward the southeast of us, first taking a trip to Casa Grande (the ruins of a large 4-story Hohokam pueblo house) and then to Biosphere 2 (former "failed" self-sustaining biodome experiment, now a research center of the Univ of Arizona)

Friday, November 13, 2009

In Reverse Order: Leaving California, Yosemite Adventure, and Leaping out of a Flying Airplane

After 1.5 years, it's time to move on for greener pastures! Actually, the pastures will be quite a bit *less* green. I've been offered a job transfer to the Phoenix, Arizona area. As one of my mentors explained to me when I spoke with him regarding making the decision to leave: "When you see the leaves coming down from the trees, get ready for the fall." In other words, make like a tree and get out of here!

I love working for my company, they're helping with the move, and the new location has many more opportunities for a burgeoning mechanical engineer - so, here I go! Unlike when I left Ohio, however, I'm taking somebody with me this time. Anthony's coming too.

Two weeks ago, we picked out our new apartment and aside from planning yet another Awesome Roadtrip to commemorate the move, we're good to go.

You have to admit, this doesn't look like a bad place to live (at least in November):

One of the things I've wanted to do for a while was visit Yosemite and had never gotten around to it. Last weekend, my good friend Kathleen journeyed with me to Yosemite National Park. She's an experienced Yosemiter, and was able to show me around most of the big sights in the span of a day, as I needed. We did the whirlwind tour - Kathleen has been many times so she knew how to fit in the most in a day. Bridalviel falls, Happy Isles, Vernal Falls, Curry Village, Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite Village, Lower Yosemite Falls and driving to the big vista points where we could see Half Dome and the rest of Yosemite Falls. It was probably only about 4 miles of hiking but was still so exhausting!

Also, on Halloween I did this in Monterey:

Sunday, July 26, 2009


The Scooby Doo live action prequel was delightful. Yay!

Lack of Sleep

It is difficult to do important things like eating and sleeping during Comic Con. Matt joined our group on Friday and last night, after he supplied the room with an ample amount of beer, we stayed up telling stories and being silly.

I succeeded in meeting Randy, Jeph and Aeire (pronounced Eye-ree I learned) just a few moments ago, though my mind has reached a critical loss of functionality. Difficult to type. Difficult to remember questions I wanted to ask them, forgot to take Jeph's picture but I got Randy trying to eat Aeire's brains and I got signed drawings or purchased something from everyone. Kit bought me coffee. Delicious coffee.

We went to dinner last night at a place called "Cafe Diem" which was really a small Hard Rock cafe in the Gaslamp district that they covered all the walls with Syfy (HATE THAT NEW NAME) swag. It was pretty neat, and I had the best ham & swiss sandwich of my life.

Now it's time to watch Scooby Doo!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Webcomicsing at Comic Con!

After the Meet the Guild Panel yesterday, I did my rounds at Webcomics Alley. I met Jennie Breeden - Devil's Panties, Lar DeSouza - the artist for Least I Could Do and Looking for Group, and my favorite: Richard Stevens of Diesel Sweeties. He was every bit as funny and smart as his comic makes him seem (plus he's a cat person!). We chatted for a while about Ohio, Amtrak and traveling the country and he was kind enough to sign my book and draw me a picture.

The other artists I wanted to see (Jeph of Questionable Content, Randy of Something Positive and Aeire of Punch n' Pie) were not at the booths (like they have to eat or use the restrooms? *please*)

Kit and I sat in on the Syfy panel in the evening and saw the next episodes of Warehouse 13 and Eureka as well as some promos for Ghost Hunters and I don't remember what else. Eureka seems like a fun show, I may have to watch it. Maybe it's on Hulu?

This morning, I met Ryan Sohmer, the writer for LICD/LFG, who was also pretty awesome.

The panels have all been pretty packed and we've not had a lot of luck. We couldn't get into the Futurama Panel, but we lucked out on the Ray Bradbury panel, for which I am waiting right now (inside the room). Apparently the Green Lantern panel before it wasn't very popular, and there were a lot of seats open.

Now I'm going to eat my granola bars. I'm hungry, and I'm glad Kit advised me to bring snacks to the con.

Friday, July 24, 2009

San Diego Comic Con! Day 1

After a somewhat-comedy-of-errors experience, I am finally inside the vast halls of the San Diego Convention Center!

I arrived at the San Jose airport yesterday afternoon to the devastating news that the flight had been overbooked and that I did not have a seat. Luckily, somebody that had checked in online never actually showed up, so I ended up with a seat after all! Plus, it was in the front row.

Due to my lack of being able to understand the concept of time and directions, I ended up getting in line for registration just moments too late. I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried. Okay, I am ashamed to admit it. Now the internets know.

After complaining to my mom and the boyfriend, I discovered a friendly-looking wine bar across the street from the convention center - The San Diego Wine & Culinary Center. For $7, you could taste 3 local wines, and the portions seemed generous enough to me. Shortly, I was joined by my friends (Kit & Chris) and we entertained ourselves by reading through Kingdom of Loathing's Choose Your Own Adventure novel.

Now, I am in line for the Meet the Guild Panel so that I may meet my favorite actress, the very lovely, smart and funny Felicia Day.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Chrysler Cirrus!

This is a the story of my car, but it is also a love story.

I take you now back to the summer of 2005. Young Emily is a sophomore at the University of Toledo and is working at her first mechanical engineering internship at an automotive insulation manufacturing plant.

The sun beats down mercilessly as Emily climbed into the Chevy Lumina. Bright cherry red. 1991. Bought off one of her boyfriend's old friend at a reasonable price several months prior. This was the second year in a row that her income tax returns went to buying another old car. (The story of the Mazdmacrapmobile was still fresh in her mind, but that's a story for another time) Shortly thereafter, the exhaust would split open completely, causing the car to roar frightfully at each ignition. It was perfect for scaring small children.

Unforgiving Toledo winters and a neverending cycle of rain and salt and grime had let a spattering of rust claim the car's body, frame and undercarraige. It was expected that any time work needed to be done on the car, it was because rust had choked out and shattered some vital component.

Today, the front windows didn't want to work. The odomoter didn't want to work. The speedometer didn't want to work. Emily flipped the switch for the rear windows. Success. Time to hit traffic. Three miles past the manufacturing plant, she ran over a set of railroad tracks.


Smoke began pouring from under the hood. Cussing. Emily pulled over to the side of the road and grabbed her cell phone. "Well, it finally happened. It's dead," she spoke into the reciever.

It really was dead this time. With a week of pay and borrowed money, she headed to the car dealerships. Briefly tempted by a brand sparkling new Mitsubishi Eclipse, Emily thought she'd go for a more practical car and headed to the local BAD CREDIT? No CREDIT? NO PROBLEM?! lot where the nice folks at J. D. Byrider promised her she'd drive home with a shiny pretty car that very same day.

It was pretty shiny. It was white with a black leather interior. It even SMELLED shiny. Her engineering senses perked up at the ergonomic flourishes. Every button, gear, switch all within a flick of her fingertips. She test drove it, steering it over the bumps and ruts in the road. There was no violent rocking or clanking; this car floated.

Gave them the money, signed papers. They put it all on film in a little room in the back of the building.

For one whole month, Emily and her car floated along the highways to and from the manufacturing plant, to and from downtown, to and from college, to and from parties. At night, the seats were a cold shock, and by day, they burned with fire of a thousand suns... but that car sure could float over those bumps.

The next week, some mysterious anonymous miscreant tried to pry open the hood and smacked the front of the hood with what must have been a crowbar. It was sad and frustrating on such a shiny pretty new car, but not worth the cost of repairing.

One night a month later, she shared beers with her boyfriend at one of their friends' apartments downtown. When it was time to leave, boyfriend begrudgingly agreed to take the keys. Emily drowsily curled up in the passenger's seat. The cold seats felt comforting. As they pulled out of the parking garage, they were met with what appeared to be a wall of water. The rain was so thick, it was as if being underwater. No matter, they drove on and reached the highway.

Traffic was sparse, but the puddles were plenty. "If I drive fast enough, I can get through this one," boyfriend announced as he approached what will heretofore be referred to as Lake Toledo.

The engine revved, the car sprung forward and a tremendous and muddy tsunami-like splash enveloped them. Suddenly and silently, the car glided to a stop. It just floated.

They got out of the car, the water up to their knees. Emily walked around to the drivers side, and boyfriend pushed the car as she steered out of Lake Toledo. She turned the key in the ingnition. Click. Again. Click. They both sat in the car in silent frustration, the only sound the merciless roar of pouring ran.

"Hydrolocked," said the man at the repair shop. She'd paid for the extra warranty. J. D. Byrider charged her $20 to replace the whole engine. With an increased vocabulary and a fear of puddles, Emily and Chrysler were reunited one month later and were ready to engage in a long string of adventures.

Road Trips! Cincinnati, Ohio. Madison, Wisconsin. Chicago, Illionois. Killington, Vermont. Orlando, Florida. Some locations several times.

Emily moved from the suburbs to a big house close to the university with her fraternity brothers. The morning of Martin Luther King Day 2006, Emily woke up at 5am to get into work at her internship early. She'd left her purse downstairs, and when she went to retrieve it, found it spilled open on the floor. All the computers were missing. The house had been robbed while they slept upstairs.

The police arrived and had them make a list of everything that was lost.

"Did they steal any of your keys?" the officer asked.
"Let me check."

The keys were gone. Emily looked outside and finally noticed her parking spot was empty. The robbers had apparently made off with the car as well. She dropped to her knees dramatically.


Then there was the elation. No more car payments if the car is never returned! No more 22% APR we-screw-you-in-the-you-know-what loan!

It turned up seven days later. Toledo's finest had the car impounded before Emily could retrieve it from the street. Of course, the CD player was stolen. That was to be expected. Even though the robbers had had the keys, they still felt it necessary to bust out the front driver's side window. Against the cold black leather seats, the broken glass looked like handfuls of sparkling grains of rice. That wasn't the fun part.

In a bout of cruel irony, the police had parked the car in the impound lot in a puddle of water which was knee deep. Just like Lake Toledo. Emily didn't want her Chrysler to float again. They pushed it out of Lake Toledo, icy January water and mud seeping into tennis shoes. Feeling even more violated, she paid the nice Toledo police $150 to get her stolen car back from impound. The robbers probably only got $30 for the stolen stereo. The bill for fixing the damaged window and door topped $500, and Emily fought with her insurance company for months to get the repair done.

She got her insurance agent fired, but she'll never get insurance from Unitrin ever again.

For years later, Emily would vacuum little glass grains of rice from inside the Chrysler. They're still there, tucked in the seats and cracks of all of the doors. In three separate Toledo locations, the Chrysler would be broken into once more. One of these times, her TI-89 calculator was stolen (engineering nerdery ++) but the other times all the thieves made out with was spare change.

Three times there were attempts to pop her locks, but only once were they successful in more than just damaging the door. That time, Emily just gave up and left the popped lock to rust and fester. For less money, she bought a car alarm with a combination of remote key entry and remote start. There were no break-in attempts since.

The good times returned. More road trips. Cincinnati, Ohio. Madison, Wisconsin. Chicago, Illionois. Killington, Vermont. Orlando, Florida. Some locations several times.

One day, the air conditioner caught on fire. Emily lived without it for over a year, until eventually it was college graduation time and she decided to move to California.

She looked at other cars but couldn't bear the thought of abandoning Chrysler (and of having car payments again). Emily had the air conditioning fixed and prepped the car for the 4-day, 3,000 mile journey from Toledo to the Silicon Valley(with looping down through Amarillo, Roswell, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas of course).

Finally, they arrived. In the bay area of California, there were new sights to see: San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Berkeley. Unfortunately for poor Chrysler Cirrus, it will not live to see more.

My baby is dying.

She's leaking transmission fluid and oil heavily. Her Ohio origin shocks and bewilders the mechanics here. How is the underside so rusty? When people here are in the snow, they hose off their cars afterwards in fear of The Rust.

There wasn't much point to hosing off your undercarriage if one is constantly needing to park one's vehicle in a pile of slushy, salty snow-grime. That's Toledo! That's the midwest!

She was a good car for Ohio, and a great car to get me through innumerable adventures throughout my college career. She's in her last few days now before I sadly trade her in (because rust scares Californians - nobody would buy this car) for a newer, shinier, prettier car.

I think I will get a convertible. Chrysler will understand. It's the Californian thing to do.