After a month of hard work, Henrieke and me finished Willie Wasbeer, the new mascot of GaiaZoo in Kerkrade, Netherlands. As with every costume we make, there was a lot of new things we tried, such as padding for the legs made out of foam strips to allow good airflow, lasercut eyes and padded arms. Everything worked out perfectly, as you can see in the Video of Willie's first performance!
Not quite what I usually post and oddly specific, here is a PersonalJava tutorial to help people getting started with developing Java applications for old Handhelds.
Here's a poster I did together with my friend Eligecos for Audiodile's dance at BLFC, an 80s themed con. I did all the lineart and a rough background, Eligecos did the shading and some more of the background since my PC couldn't handle the giant file anymore!
We stuffed our stuff in the car, sent our phones back to Chorca, filled it up at the gas station and went to the airport around noon. This day could've been terrible, but it wasn't thanks to lots of nice people we encountered. At the rental car return we discovered that the car wasn't filled up completely despite my best efforts to do so. I would've had to pay 12$ for the missing gas, hadn't it been for the nice guy working there who believed me that I was at the gas station 15 minutes ago and did my best to fill the tank. Out of the car, we were on our own with a giant box, a travel bag and a giant suitcase with a completely busted wheel. And no luggage cart anywhere. Another nice guy from the rental company came for help and offered us a ride to the terminal with one of the rental cars he was parking, that was incredibly nice and saved us so much trouble! At the check-in counter we discovered that our first flight was 30 minutes delayed, which was a problem as it would only give us around 10 minutes to catch our next plane in Salt Lake City. After the lady there made lots of phone calls and couldn't find a better connection, we agreed on trying to make it and getting a hotel in SLC in case we didn't make the connection.
Well, we did, thanks to the gate for the next flight being just a few meters from our arriving gate and us sitting all the way in the first row thanks to the helpful flight attendants. The second flight from Salt Lake City to Paris was much more relaxed as we didn't have to worry much about missing our next connection. We were very impressed by the leg space and the entertainment system in the Delta plane and time way flying by. We watched "The secret life of Walter Mitty", and at one point I noticed some weird cloud outside. It was way past sunset, so I was confused by such a bright cloud. Since we were over Greenland, I thought it could be Aurora Borealis, and the camera confirmed it! We totally saw northern lights, lots and lots of them! We spent quite a while taking photos as a team, Henrieke operating the camera and me holding a jacket over her each time in an effort to block any light coming from inside the plane that would ruin the 6-second exposures we took. The photos turned out quite nice considering we didn't have a tripod and the plane was moving! The rest of the flight we dozed off and ate some tasty plane food.
The rest of the trip was uneventful, we arrived in time in Vienna and to our big surprise our luggage did as well! Johannes picked us up, we went home, unpacked and tried our best to fight the jet lag. The End. Thanks to all our friends for making it such a great trip!
I think today is the least eventful day as we spent most of it trying to stuff everything we brought into 3 pieces of luggage. 60 Artistic Visions books, 7 yards of fur, a ton of CDs and Laserdiscs, lots and lots of Japanese food, Oreos, it all adds up. Before noon, Chance, an avid photographer, invited us over to have some professional photos taken of Baseball, Dog and Kiki! We squeezed it into our schedule and got some really nice shots! Thanks again Chance! The only other thing we did outside was going to Jamba Juice with Croc and getting some lunch at Panda Express, then more packing. In the evening Chance and Furahi came over and we ordered some Pizza and watched Cosmos together. Can't say no to Neil Degrasse Tyson! After that, more packing and eventually trying to get some sleep!
The plan today was to go to JumpSkyHigh again, my favorite place in San Jose! I waited with going until the weekend so friends could join, sadly everyone flunked out so me and Henrieke went by ourselves. Sadly the prices were also higher and there was a big birthday party going on.
I did some flips and after about 45 minutes we left again to make sure we're in time to watch Timduru's last episode of FTV. We watched together with Croc and Jimmy and the whole IRC audience!
Later that day we were invited to come to TK's birthday party up north, but also made a stop at Rasputin Music! That store was indeed amazing, having ridiculous amounts of used CDs, VHS Cassettes, LPs, and even Laserdiscs! Guess where I spent most of the time!
After around 1.5 hours we decided to stop buying stuff as otherwise we'd need a 4th piece of luggage and Henrieke paid her giant stack of CDs and I paid my stack of Laserdiscs. We went on to the party, hoping we wouldn't be out of place too much as we didn't know many people there, but it was really fun! Croc DJed, I met awesome people such as Doryuu, Diggy and TK of course and Baseball had some fun too! I was also proven that tasty sausages exist in the U.S. at the BBQ. We left past midnight, thanks again for the great party guys!
Today we had a slow start again, not being sure what to do we decided to check out Little Saigon, the largest Vietnamese Community in the U.S., just down the street from Croc's house. What we found was an abandoned shopping center, which hopefully looks abandoned because shops didn't move in yet, otherwise it would be pretty sad. We went into one of the few shops there and tried beef jerky.
Next to the shopping center was another purely Vietnamese mall, this time not abandoned. We found strange shops selling endless amounts of bootlegged toys and another tiny arcade with a very busted but working DDR machine. I can't say no to DDR of course, so I played a round.
We also tried our luck at the Pokémon card vending machine, but were out of luck since the machine was empty and got our money refunded at least. For lunch we pondered getting something at the food court, but since we couldn't read anything and had absolutely no clue what anything was, we ended up going to "Saigon Kitchen", which at least had an English menu and got some very tasty spring rolls and sugar cane juice.
Since we had some time until meeting with Mitti later, we went to a UPS store downtown to look for a box, since 2 pieces of luggage wouldn't be enough for all the stuff we'll bring back home. No luck sadly, since the store was already closed. We decided to walk around a bit downtown, giving me a chance to be nostalgic about 2010, when we were at FC in the Fairmont. I remembered every single place where we were, Henrieke didn't, but apparently I'm one of the most nostalgic people on the planet. We walked through the Fairmont and past the Johnny Rocket's where I first had some really tasty burgers in a 50s ambiente back in 2010, then back to our car. After some searching, we found Mitti's place where we met up for an art jam. Kyell Gold and Kit came too and we went to have some really tasty Pizza at Pieology. We spent the evening chatting, playing Super Amazing Wagon Adventure and drawing. I fell asleep on the super comfy American carpet at the end, they really know how to make their carpets soft over there!
Today was packed! We went to get some breakfast and other food at Safeway in the morning, then we drove up to Emerlyville on the other side of the bay to Pixar Studios where we met Cat Hicks, who gave us a tour of the Pixar Studios. Awesome! We got to see all the offices of the animators, some work-in-progress stuff, the apparently-famous breakfast room and the wide outside area with swimming pools, basketball court, etc.. We also had lunch in one of the cantinas, and after that we ran into Jeff Pidgeon by accident, it was great to see him again.
Sadly everyone had to continue work so after about 1.5 hours it was time to leave again after getting some photos with Kiki. Cat told us that there was a brick-and-mortar store of Mendels, a popular shop for buying for, so this was our first stop in San Francisco after crossing the Bay Bridge. The store was in the middle of Haight-Ashbury, making parking very expensive, so we couldn't stay too long in this really interesting part of SF. Since we parked right at a Ben&Jerrys store, Henrieke finally was able to get some Colbert ice cream. Way too sweet for my tastes, that stuff. We ended up getting 7 yards of fur at Mendel's and went to park our car in the Westfield Mall garage.
From there we walked up Powell street and watched some cable cars.
Then we took the bus to Japantown. It was of course much bigger than in San Jose, with it's own very authentic looking shopping street and even a completely Japanese mall! We spent quite a while there, looking around in stores, playing on weird machines in the arcade, buying a Polar Bear's Café book in the bookstore and getting more stuff from the 100 YEN shop.
We walked around a bit afterwards and ended up in Lafayette park, a beautiful park in the heart of San Francisco with a wonderful view of the city. Henrieke was busy spotting birds while I took a break.
Since it was getting late, we took the bus back and stopped in Chinatown. In hopes of some tasty Chinese food, we stopped by a restaurant, but the menu was in Chinese and the waiter barely spoke English, so we ended up not taking the risk of eating something weird and went on. We walked pas Union Square, back down on Powell street. An Urban Outfitters store sparked my interest as they were selling both Impossible and Instax instant film. They also had a wide variety of records for sale, sadly out of my price range.
We still didn't eat, so we stopped at Panda Express before getting back to our car and driving down to San Jose again for a meeting at a place everyone just calls "Chicken", apparently due to many changes in ownership. We spent a bit there, had a nice chat with some people and went back to Croc's house at around midnight.
Henrieke suggested going to the Big Basin Redwood State Park today, seeing some of the biggest trees on the planet. According to Google, a 1.5 hour drive. It took a bit longer, but we got to enjoy some very scenic views! Just 40 minutes from where we stayed there was a beautiful barely touched wilderness! At the state park, we made a terrible discovery: both the snack bar and the gift shop were closed. Being hungry, we chose to only walk the short path, which luckily included all the biggest trees in the park. It was very impressive to see those incredibly old trees and we got some nice photos!
On our way back we walked around a bit in Saratoga, a very nice looking town outside San Jose. The restaurants there looked a bit too pricey, so our curiosity lead us to "Harry's Hofbrau", an apparently German-themed restaurant. As expected, things were a wild mix of stereotypes, wrong translations and some dutch stuff, since Germany and the Netherlands are too hard to tell apart. We had a turkey leg with mashed potatoes, probably the most un-german food they had there. Hint: Turkeys don't live in Europe. It was pretty tasty though!
On the way back home, we stopped by Winchester Shopping Center as we always like checking out malls. All we got was some candy though. At 7, we met up at Paxti's with Yippee, Croc, Latte and Dax for some Chicago style pizza, yum! We had a nice time, but due to a long wait for a table, we didn't have time anymore to check out Rasputin Music across the street, a giant used shop. We vowed to do that later this week though.
Today we didn't have a lot of plans as we were still exhausted from the day before. Around 13:00, Yippee gave us a ride to the airport so we could pick up our rental car. We also picked up some flyers of local attractions in San Jose and San Francisco. There was absolutely no car available in the "Economy" category I booked us a car in, so the guy there tried to make us choose one of the - even for European standards - tiny compact cars that would've never fit our luggage. I insisted on getting what I paid for, and voila - he came back with a Mazda 3, meaning we were upgraded and got a fancier car than we paid for. In the evening we decided to check out San Jose Japantown, which was one of the things advertised in the flyers we took and just a 15 minute drive away. It was pretty nice, a whole street full of small Japanese shops and houses that looked like a nice mix of American and Japanese architecture. Even the plants were imported!
We spent half of the time in a Japanese Grocery shop, spending over 60$ on Japanese candy and other foods, both for us and other people. For dinner we went to a ramen place that looked very authentic and offered very tasty ramen. It rained while we were eating, but as soon as we went outside we were rewarded with a beautiful rainbow!
We slept a bit longer today as our Bus went in the afternoon from Downtown Reno, just 15 minutes from the hotel. We got some breakfast and sat at Starbucks. I spent the morning ordering some fur and reserving us a car in San Jose. We only paid 180$ for a week, pretty good deal! I also saved some money as I didn't have to get an extra liability insurance, my credit card already included one. We packed all our stuff together and took a cab to Downtown around noon. There we walked around a bit, got to see the more or less famous Reno sign and had a not-very-fresh lunch from a local McDonald's.
Our bus came about 40 minutes too late, which was the first of many delays on our ride. Unfortunately, today a snow storm was going on in the mountains that afternoon, causing all kinds of chaos. We had a wonderful view from the second story of the bus though and I was more than happy that I wasn't driving. We had about 70 minutes delay then the driver tried to put on snow chains, around 2 more hours of standing still due to traffic accidents, another 40 minutes for putting off the snow chains and an extended stop in Sacramento, all adding up to 5 hours delay.
We arrived in San Francisco after sitting in the same Bus for 9 and a half hours, feeling sorry for Yippee who had to pick us up in the middle of the night. Since there was absolutely no access to food and drinks on the bus, we had to stop at a McDonald's to get some calories, then we pretty much fell asleep.
Here are some impressions of BLFC, the second con we went to! The theme was 80s!
Kiki decided to explore the Dealers Den a bit as well as the video game room which was filled with old consoles and even an 80s Japanese Arcade cabinet!
Most of the day was packing. In the afternoon, Kanu brought us to the train station, from where we took the MARTA train directly to the airport. We had some Five Guys burgers at the Atlanta Airport, pretty tasty! Our next stop was a layover at the Las Vegas Airport where we spent a little more time than planned due to a delay of our next flight. It was pretty obvious that it was the Las Vegas airport.
Eventually we made it to Reno and caught the last Airport shuttle that day. The Grand Sierra Resort is conveniently located right next to the airport, requiring only a 5-minute drive to get there. We checked in and pretty much flopped onto our beds.
Fur lunch today we met up with Kanu at Willy's Mexican grill, then we went to Fry's Electronics since Chris told me about how amazing that store is because they sell single electronic components and all kinds of geeky stuff. We also went to the Northpoint Mall to check out the Lego and the Disney store.
In the evening there was another party, had a nice time and people also didn't leave too late, giving us enough time to sleep.
We got up at 10, packed our stuff and dumped it in Chris' room. We ran into a couple of people leaving and said bye to them, including FoxB and Kookie. We had one last breakfast at Starbucks, spent some more time in Chris' room and then left the Hotel along with some nice con-memories!
Back at Kanu's house, we spontaneously decided to go see the new Muppets movie at a cinema that also served food in the cinema, radical! We all enjoyed the movie too, both Henrieke and me liked it even better than the previous Muppets movie. In the evening we just relaxed and watched some Space Dandy.