Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Something Profound... RIGHT NOW!

After flying, we got some wicked good Mexican food, and I discovered the video function! Behold: My cousin Christa, forever immortalized in the interwebnet.

Atagirl... BTW Space Travellers, we're at aver 500 hits! Thanks!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Chapter 4, Verse 5: Cars, Copters, and California Pie.

Hey Space Travelers, here's the scoop! I am going to be hard pressed to beat this adventure, so listen up. My Cousin Christa works for a company that used to be a part of the government and now is privatized. She basically is an investigator and does critical background checks on all sorts of people in the government. If you are receiving a large military promotion in the Navy, or if you are getting a higher grade security clearance of any sort she'll check you out and by the end, she may know whether you have stripes or hearts on your underwear. Anyway, she got this brand new Dodge Charger as a company car, to which I say... dude. Awesome.

This Morning in particular we, being my Aunt and my Cousin and I, were going to go hiking in the Torrey Pines area. However when I woke, I learned that plans had changed and that My uncle Gary's Friend Lyle had offered to take us all on a helicopter ride. This is excellent news to wake up to; news being on par with waking up to find you had superpowers. For me, a pretty big deal.The Helicopter that we would be flying in was a Robinson 44, or R44 for short. A small personal aircraft with seating for 4 people. When we arrived and I first saw the helicopter, I was irrationally excited. Honestly, it was a struggle to contain myself. The worst part was that I had to just look at it for so long. As you can see above, the morning fog had yet to burn off and visibility was low. We were grounded for some time.Today I would be riding shotgun. I'm not sure if it's still called shotgun in aircraft, but what is known is how awesome it felt to be up near the controls. I should tell you about Lyle. Lyle is a retired Electrical Engineer. He worked many years for several companies in the aerospace industry, the most recognizable being General Dynamics. He also worked on the Voyager space probe, so needless to say, this guy has done and seen some really amazing things in his life time. Today he was treating us to the helicopter ride because he loves any excuse to fly and he wanted to show me, and aspiring young aerospace engineer, a fun time. I hope I will be able to offer this kind of experience to someone like me in my later years.

Now that the fog had gone away, we did all final checks and took off. Our first destination was the beach. We flew low and the surfers almost always waved at us. From the air you can see all sorts of fish under the water that you would never be able to see from the shore. Most notable was the gigantic school of leopard sharks near La Jolla shores. We few over the seal beach too. You can see many of the seals just lying down in the sun. As we flew inland, we came across a large dam. What might not be terribly obvious is that this dam is actually located at a really high elevation. The water does not naturally arrive here from run-off, it is actually pumped up to it.Aviator sun glasses actually make aircraft fly better, who knew? I may be one of a very limited population who has taken a my-space-at-arms-length-self-portrait-with-your-own-camera-shot from the cockpit of a helicopter. Hardly relevant I know, but then again, what is these days?

Hey Space Travelers, here's the useless thing I photographed for the post today! This is the Governator's house in San Diego county! It's best described as fucking redundantly huge! Out of frame is the hot tub, which is on the other side of the mountain this is built on top. The noteworthy thing about the hot tub is that there is a 30ft water slide into it. Can you imagine the potential?Eat some soap Space Travelers, and while your at it clean behind your ears! We flew up a mountain later and got something to eat. No, I didn't eat soap. I got baked goods! Baked goods...on a mountain...helicopter ride...you dig? Is this setting in yet?The mountain had really funny cars. JFK would have kicked this cars ass in a machine fight!
After retrieving our mountain prize we flew back over great metropolitan San Diego and guess what? We saw our house from up high! Johnny Freedom Car must have heard the helicopter and came running outside! My uncle was elated to see the overhead photo of the neighborhood because his pool was the cleanest. This reminded me of my own father and how he has become strangely obsessed with our lawn since moving to the suburbs. Honestly, I think moving the lawn is the way suburbanites exercise their aggression or competitive nature towards each other. Vicious devils.All jokes aside, it was an awesome day, and perhaps the biggest adventure thus far in my journey. I am so fortunate to constantly meet so many extraordinary people in my lives (I'm already on my 3rd by my count). Days like today make me excited for the future.

Post Script Space Travelers - I learned my camera can do some video, so I may be able to put some video up soon, assuming ti doesn't just drain my batteries.

Chapter 4, Verse 4: Midway Home

Salutations Space Travelers! I'm a bit behind in my posts I know, but I've had lots on my schedule.

Right now in San Diego, they have what they call "June Gloom." Before the emo kids stick a flag in the ground and claim SD for the nation of Sadness Forever, I should tell you that "June Gloom" is really not that bad when compared to the mind-altering heat and humidity of the Midwest. Humorously enough though, my Aunt keeps apologizing for the weather.My Uncle was really excited when I told him, that I'd go kayaking with him in the bay, so we woke up unnaturally early and drove to Coronado Island. We put the boat in on the bay side of the island, and at that time, the fog still had yet to burn off.At first we paddled around the sheltered side of the island, but then we crossed over to the city side and maneuvered about the Maritime Museum. Above you will note your favorite Space traveller in awe of the famous USS Midway, which is mothballed here in the the San Diego Bay. It has been converted into a museum since it was decommissioned in 1992, but more about that later.I wanted to stick around the Midway longer, but it was awkward. Their were giants making out on shore.The "Star of India" is a old ship here in the bay. It is actually fully functional, and once a year, they sail it, to keep it certified. Barely out of frame on the left is another ship. The ship that you can't see very well is actually owned by Fox studios, and is the ship from "Master and Commander." I decided that I would claim both boats for the Ninjas of the world, just to enrage the Pirates that are land locked. Also out of frame is a old Russian Submarine that is being repaired and turned into a museum. I claimed that one too, but for other reasons.My Uncle took me under several piers in the kayak. I played it cool, but secretly I am terrified of anything I see underwater. The notion of tipping the kayak while under these creepy piers made me sweat pure terror. Every time we would pass a old wooden pillar under the water, I would imagine every type of horrifying creature crawling up it with malicous intent for yours truly. Magnificently creepy says me.Later after the bay, I connected with my long time San Diego friend Drew. Drew and I were introduced as children by my Aunt and his Mother. Every time I come out to San Diego, I connect with Drew, and we hang out. Today, we went to a Padres baseball game.A padre, for those who don't know is a friar. San Diego is home to several missions that predate the city. they were built by the Spanish in early colonial times. I learned a few things about the padres mascot.

1) He sometimes wears a Pope costume, complete with hat.

2) No matter what direction the mascot is facing, the eyes seem to look at you.

3) Mascots are creepier than underwater spooks.

I thought that he was going to start pulling children into the field and start baptizing them with Powerade. I stayed clear of the wall during batting practice.It was a day game, and the sun was wicked intense. By the 5th inning the shade had finally blessed us. Being that I went to my first professional baseball game last summer, I now have seen two stadiums: Busch Stadium ("Baseball Heaven") and PetCo Park. Not that I'm really into sports but I'm going to comfortably say that the Cardinals have a MUCH better stadium.

I begrudgingly report however that I am slowly becoming a fan of a sport. I know. I'm betraying all that is being a nerd, but going to a baseball game is enjoyable on many levels. It's a interesting place where people interact. It's very exciting and wherever I end up post grad, I hope they have a baseball team. My apologies.Like any downtown stadium, as you leave you are immersed in the oddest of characters. Seeing the man above, I had to remember that JFK doesn't actually eat bicyclists for energy, that JFK like 87 octane unleaded fuel.

I was however inspired to join Drew on his 4th of July plans. As we were leaving the downtown area we stopped and bought tickets for a 4th of July celebration on the USS Midway. I found it to be a delightful coincidence that I had been to the ship twice in one day and it seemed like a very unique opportunity to take advantage of. The coolest thing about the event is that I will be on the actual flight deck of the Midway during the fireworks and I'll get the chance to touch several Naval Aircraft that are on display there. Too cool right?

Well Space travellers, It's been a long day, and I still have another day's post to get you all caught up on my adventures. Stay strong, and wash your hands frequently.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Chapter 4, Verse 3: The California Sunset

Sorry for the tardiness on post as of late. I've been thinking about what to share. I have a few stories, but I thought I'd start spreading out my information a little more. I've been on many small sorties lately. I've found great pleasure in my independence and grabbing the keys to my car and getting "lost" seems to be a favorite pass time, specifically if that involves going to the beach and just wandering.
As I wrote this in the sand I was approached by a young boy. Naturally I thought he was curious about what I was writing and stepped aside. Judging by the boy's age, I would guess he had some reading ability and was excited to practice his skills. However, as I moved to give the youth a better view of my scribe, the boy simply told me in a voice that a child talks about his favorite toy that he had peed in the ocean. Shortly after we parted company.
As it turns out after several days of beach going, i had found that the cheapest activity on the beach was to simply walk on it, which I enjoyed. I realize now that because I am someone who enjoys long walks on the beach, I have increased my stock. I am now more attractive to about 99.99% of the worlds population.

the 0.01% of course representing the computer scientists.

As my trip continues, my thoughts have started to return to what comes next. I find that SoCal life style makes me dream of what can happen in the future, but the problem is that I can't dream of the future, without thinking about the future as a product of my past. This has caused me great anxiety.
However times like the above, make me feel at peace. I feel that some day my life may return to a pace where I can take friends and family to eat cake on the cliffs and watch that golden globe extinguish in the sea.
I know that where ever I go, there will still be boats exploding out of buildings; that life can continue as normal; that I don't need to be so anxious about the future.

But despite all the comforts of this trip, I still feel haunted by what is to come. My career which is yet to start seems to be so important. This honestly kind of pisses me off. I never wanted to have to be so concerned, but with my grades and no professional engineering experience, I just don't know what is going to happen to me. I wish (and I hate wishing) that I could have some security. I wish that I simply knew that I'd be employed come next May, so that I could take my final year at school and be more of myself.

I feel like the sunset is coming on my college life, and as I enter my twilight hour in Rolla, I want to be able to enjoy it as much as I've enjoyed these beautiful sunsets.

So as I enjoy my wine, I share with you the lyrics which have haunted my mind ever since I first heard them.

They took your life apart, and called you failure's art, but they were wrong though, and they won't know, until tomorrow.
~Elliott Smith - "Tomorrow, Tomorrow"

So here's to tomorrow. Cheers.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

An Endorsement too Good to Pass up.

I hope all you Space travelers remember the breakfast of champions.

Energy drinks and peanut butter crackers!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Chapter 4, Verse 2: Drugs are Awesome!

So my ear hole went on the warpath today. I was awoke by the unearthly throbbing pain that was my left ear. I know I've reported that it was getting better space travelers, but listen hear (<--good pun, no?) when ears attack, we lose. I'm talking unreal pain. the kind of pain that interrupts sentences, and talks during the movies. How rude.I tried many methods to cure the pain. The first, passive aggressive: Ignore the pain. Next, I tried to use positive reenforcement, and focus on those moments when the pain was not so bad. At one point acceptance: I simply reminded myself that eventually the pain would go away, I'd just lose my hearing. I walked around imagining being def in one ear. I imagined a life holding my phone to only my right side.
As none of these methods worked, I began to lose hope. The self medication of ear drops for swimmer's ear and a 600mg Ibuprofen every 6 hours just wasn't cutting it. I tried to sleep but I was awoken. As I lay twisted in pain on my bed; prisoner to each stab that was the pain, I looked on the dresser and there was the house cat, Daisy (a male cat...) lounging.

My motions on the bed as I rolled around must have reminded the cat of what other cats look like rolling around. Occasionally, I'd let out a small moan. I'd look to see if the cat showed any sympathy for me, but Daisy only laid in wait. His expression as if to say: "pet me."

After what seemed hours of nonstop agony, the small hurdles that was the weekend and me not having health insurance seemed trivial. Fortunate for me, my cousin Krista had a doctor friend who was able to get me some prescription medicine. I'll be on antibiotics for the next few days which means no swimming; sad panda, Chi.

As I go to sleep tonight, I wonder if I'll need my alarm clock or if'll be awoke by the pain again. It will be a game; a sport. I hates sports. anyway, goodnight space travellers, I hope all your ears feel good. Love them. Love your ears. Listen to them... only.

Chapter 4, Verse 1: Bloodlines

Yesterday I went to see my grandfather in his residence. He currently is staying at the Villa la Mesa, a small home for about 20 residents. It's a nice place and they even have a cat running around. The cat's name is Felix.
Yes, my Grandpa has a black eye. This is because my aunt threw a ball at him. No it didn't hit his face, but in some spectacular display my Grandfather jumped out of his Wheel chair and tried to catch the ball. This ultimately resulted in him falling down.
When we arrived at the home, Qui Qui was there. Qui Qui is my older brother; a body piercer in Springfield, MO. As you can tell by his look, Qui Qui is thrilled to have his photo taken.
Meet Irene, see lives in suite 11. My Grandfather lives in suite 12. She is a sweet woman, and she told my mother that she would be his friend. It was very kind of her.

Above is picture of my Grandfather's dresser. On the left there is a photo of my grandparents wedding, and on the right, a picture from their 65th anniversary. This summer would have been their 70th together, but after a long few months after injury, my grandmother passed recently.

It may be of importance to some space travelers to know a little more about my family. I as many of you know am half Japanese. I may have also told you I am half Scot, which in recent history, I learned is not completely accurate. With My grandmother's passing, many details about my family have arose.

The first that I find most interesting is that I have had family on this continent since circa 1630. apparently I have a bloodline to the Bakers, and early colonial family that helped establish the Massachusetts Colony, and build it's fort. Apparently my grandmother never threw anything away and one of the items in her possession was letters from and old relative trying to investigate if our family had inherited land. The letters were some 50 years old, and the end result was that, no, we did not. The investigation did however discover the said connection to the Bakers.

The next interesting thing is that many of the artifacts suggested that perhaps three of the four original immigrants on my mother's side were indentured servants. I learned that I have a lot of British blood, as well as French too.

I did not know my Grandmother well. I have lived in Missouri my entire life and for the time we had together it may not have equaled an entire year over the 24 years we shared on this planet. It is hard to learn so much about a person after death, because you can never ask questions. What I do know is this, had we known each other better, I think we would have both shared a great passion for family history.

This photo is from my grandmother's High school graduation, circa 1935. She was very beautiful.

Madeline Kerr, 1918 - 2007

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Chapter 3: Negitive Altitude, Radiators, and The Border Patrol

Being that I had many days of rough exercise, I choose to sleep in a little today before hitting the road. sleeping in was no problem as Chapter 4 is one for the shortest in my entire trip. I only had a 370 mile drive today. Starting in Phoenix, at an altitude of about 1000 ft I proceeded south down a barren stretch known as HWY 85. Along the drive I saw a prison in the middle of the dessert and was reminded of the movie "Cool Hand Luke."

Once I got to Yuma, I was below sea level and of all things to see on the sea floor I saw airplanes! I love airplanes. Said little creatures looked like they were tied to the ground. What a shame.
Very shortly after Yuma, I enter a small mountain range. The mountains were really cool, but I knew I'd see better before the day was up.
After the small mountain range, I entered and large area of sand dunes. The photo above shows the tire tracks of local off road vehicles as they climbed the dunes. I could tell JFK wanted to stop, but I knew that getting to San Diego was top priority. that and I told my Pops I wouldn't go off-roading.

The dunes soon faded and I entered the lower mountains in California. Going from what was below sea level earlier in the day, to now what was above 4000ft. And as a special surprise, guess what? Earth propellers! Keep the world spinning California!

The mountains weren't all fun though. The bummer police A.K.A. the border patrol had a checkpoint set up. I had to answer a bunch of questions.

BP: Are you traveling alone?

Chi: Yes.

BP: Who owns all the stuff in the back [of the car]?"

Chi: I do.

BP: You sure?

Chi: Yes.

BP: You have any cocaine or marijuana in there?

Chi: Nope.

BP: You sure?

Chi: Positive.

BP: Where you headed? Are you from in state?

Chi: San Diego, to see family. I'm from Missouri.

BP: Are you a citizen of the USA?

Chi: Blue blooded american sir.

BP: Welcome to California.

Phew... Good thing he didn't ask me if I was traveling with any Afghan black tar heroin. I'd sure be in a pinch. Just as a side note, I wasn't asked to provide any documentation either. May I also bring to your attention, I drive a station wagon. In the back I chose to cover up my belongings with a black blanket. I look pretty suspect, yet no fifth degree? I kinda wish I had picked of an illegal just for sport. I guess I'll save it for the next road trip. Or I can smuggle a Canadian over the border when I'm in Washington.

Take that system! Remember the name! I am Chi, space traveler to the internet bored, and nerd alike. I am the trouble maker on the interstate. I'm so cool I stop at green lights and I'm not sorry!

Well, all shenanigans aside, I made it to my aunt's in San Diego, and I'm enjoying the luxuries of the SoCal life, see above picture of back yard and canyon cabin. My aunt and uncle have the most amazing home. I'll post more photos soon. I have glass of wine with my name on it, goodnight space travelers.

Road Kill: Seiichi Tagami.

So I forgot. I'm losing my hearing. Certainly an odd casualty of this trip. I think it is because the day I drove from Flagstaff to Phoenix I change altitude rapidly and my left ear didn't equalize correctly. Further, I think that my Blutooth ear piece might have something to do with it. I've been taking OTC painkillers to help with the swelling and ... the pain, but it's been a few days now, and I'm getting a little freaked out.

I will say that it is feeling a little better today though. Send me your prayers in the form of moneys. <3

Monday, June 11, 2007

Chapter 1, Verse 3: Freefalling Down the Clown Highway

After purchasing some gas and a bad ass satanistic energy drink. I hit the road. Almost immediately after leaving Albuquerque, the landscape again changed. I enjoyed the view and ate my breakfast of champions: My terrifying energy drink and two packages of peanut butter crackers.
I started to see more mesas and large rock formations. The road itself passed through several large valleys and each time I went over a hill it seemed to e even more beautiful than before.
Being that the crackers and demon energy drink wouldn't keep me going forever, I pulled over in Gallup NM, at a local restaurant. As luck would have it, Baked Chicken was making an appearance. Baked Chicken of course being the multi-platinum recording artist famous for that one song about that girl with the thing in her head but then she dies and it's a mess but then the father reconciles with the son and everyone cries. What was the name of that song...
Between Gallup and Flagstaff, there is a rest area near Meteor Crater Park. There are giant boulders and I love stopping here. As a Child I remember climbing on top of these giants and chasing little lizards around while my family rested from the drive. It was fun to stop and see it again. Maybe someday I'll bring my kids here.
Once I reached Flagstaff I was a little confused. Yet another sudden geographic change. I was driving through a forest? Flagstaff being west of the Continental Divide (Altitude = 7,250ft) may have had an effect on this. However, I would soon learn that what goes up, must come down and in this case going down meant braving the worst stretch of highway I have ever driven.
At first glance HWY 17 is a nice ride: four lanes, plenty to look at. But HWY 17 in truth is a terrifying roller coaster designed by Satan, wrapped in a hurricane, nestled in a box of tsunamis. First, allow me to qualify my disgust. I personally view myself as a good driver; I don't drive fast, I use my signals and mirrors, and I don't tailgate.


I was being tailgated by people who were being tailgated by four cars all while going down this mountain at a 6% gradient. I am being passed by crazed people on my right, so I can't even get into the right lane so that I can be legally passed. Finally, I get in the right lane and I think it's over. No. Not even close. I'm tailgated the entire way down this mountain. In case you didn't know Phoenix is close to 2oooft above sea level and as I said, I started at some 7000ft. I could barely pop my ears let alone keep myself safe from all the clowns on the road. The truly sad part is that this stretch although populated with the worst drivers was also one of the most beautiful yet on my trip. It would have been lovely to be able to just drive nice and slow and take in all that beauty, but it was a race for survival down I-17; the clown highway.

At least this clown drove a clown car.

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