Saturday, March 27, 2010

Santa Cruz, dude!


For those of you who may not know, my cousin Evan is now eighteen years old. Not only does this means that he is in his last year of high school (God, I'm old), it also means that he is applying to college (I'm really old). Even though Evan I are are only five years apart it's weird to see the kid you used to play pirates with when you were ten years old all grown up and going off to college.

All sentiments aside, though, Evan has managed to get in to several universities. One of them being UC Santa Cruz, which is about two hours away from San Francisco. My aunt gave me a call a few days before Evan and I were scheduled to leave and asked if there was anyway we could make a stop there on the way to my dad's so Evan could check out the campus. So Evan and I moved the trip back a few hours to Friday morning as opposed to Thursday night so he would have enough time to walk around the campus for a couple hours.

I packed up my stuff Thursday night and got a few hours of sleep before heading off for Evan's house at about 5:20 Friday morning. I got there right at 6:00 am and called Evan's cellphone to wake him up. He got dressed and threw a couple last minute things in his bag and we were all set to go. We stopped at Noah's Bagels and Starbucks for breakfast and then at the gas station to top off the tank. By 7:00 we were on the freeway and on our way to San Francisco!

We made it through the Grapevine shortly thereafter without any traffic, which was quite nice. Even nicer was that the Grapevine was actually pretty to look at. Usually it's all dry and brown and ugly but because it's spring time it was all nice and green. In fact...do those hills remind you of anything or is it just me?

Aaaaaaas youuuu wiiiiiiiiish! *tumble tumble*

After we drove past all the pretty hills we made it to the flatlands. Good ol' boring agriculture country. We saw lots of cows, but they were kinda boring, too. After a few hours on the 5 we got on to some other freeway for a while that took us westward towards the coast. Then we got on some other freeway that took us through what I call Steinbeck country (i.e. Salinas and Monterey). Then finally after much driving through flat and hilly places Evan and I were finally reunited with the ocean. In that moment you could tell we were from the coast. The minute Evan and I looked out the window and spotted the sea over the horizon we both burst into shouts of "OMG ocean! Sweet, blessed ocean! It liiiiives!"

Yeah. I don't think either of us will be moving to the middle of the country any time soon.

We made it to Santa Cruz by about noon and it didn't take us too long to find the campus. But we did get lost trying to find the admissions office.


We drove past these historic ranch buildings right at the entrance to the campus and figured the admissions building would be somewhere in the middle. Excuse me just a moment while my inner history major indulges in a brief moment of joy at these historic buildings on campus property. Squee!

Ok, moving on.

We drove down this one path looking for some kind of administrative building until we ran into a wall of trees.

Why, hello, wall of trees.
....wait. What?

That's right. Wall. Of trees. When my aunt told me the campus was built in the middle of a forest I thought she was exaggerating or speaking figuratively. But nope. Turns out she what she was telling me was the 100% literal truth. Holy crap. This isn't UC Santa Cruz, this is UC Endor!

We turned around and continued driving, still trying to find the admin. office. In the process we drove past campus housing, which looked like a bunch of condos in the middle of the woods. Later, I tried to explain how the campus was laid out to my friend Scott over the phone. When I said the campus was built in the middle of a forest, his reaction was, "Oh, you mean where a forest used to be, right?" No, no, no. In the forest. As in: BUILDING, trees, trees, trees, trees, BUILDING, trees, trees, trees cont.

We eventually circled back to the campus entrance and realized that the admissions office was right out in front next to those historic ranch buildings we passed by earlier. The reason we'd missed it before was because it was so tiny. Really, it looked more like a post office than the office of admissions. Once we found it, Evan and I parked outside and went in so he could talk to someone about what the campus had to offer.

We stopped inside to use the bathroom (cause we'd been driving for a good five hours) and then went upstairs to this loft area which actually had a lobby, a bunch of pamphlets, and a guy at a desk who could help us.

Evan got in to see a counselor and I sat in while he answered Evan's questions. It became somewhat amusing when Evan asked what kind of sports the university offers. Evan's been playing baseball, rather well I might add, through most of his high school career so it made sense for him to ask about their baseball team. The counselor just shook his head and said, "Yeeeeah, we don't have one of those." I've never really been into team sports, like, at all. Evan is and that's fine. It's just never been my thing. So I love that UCSC is kind of anti-college sports. How can you tell? They're also anti-college mascot. Banana slugs don't exactly bring to mind images of athletic prowess. Come on, I dare you to tell me that this logo isn't awesome:

But not to worry, UCSC does have two sports for which they are well known: tennis and inner tube water polo. That's right, inner tube water polo. Go Banana Slugs!

I figured I might as well ask about graduate studies while I was there, so after Evan got all his questions answered I asked the counselor if he had any information about the university's graduate programs. It turned out there was actually a separate building for graduate studies, so Evan and I decided to go seek it out and take in the campus in the process.

The campus was huge, so we took this shuttle that makes a loop around the campus to get us closer to where we were trying to go. But we overshot our stop and wound up no where near where we had intended to get off. So we took a shortcut through a patch of forest and emerged on the other side to find...deer. Which were totally cool with all the students walking past them on their way to class.


Hey, dude. What's your major?
I wonder if they cared what kind of pants we were wearing.

After the deer we somehow wandered onto this meadow. Don't ask me how we got there, cause I still have no clue. But damn, it was pretty.


I should make this my new desktop, shouldn't I?

We saw all sorts of wildlife while we were there, including lizards, birds, and bugs I didn't even know existed. The best part was that even though the campus was huge, it really wasn't unpleasant to walk through at all. Most of the time we spent walking was through forest, giant redwoods towering above our heads. Honestly, I wouldn't have been surprised if an Ewok dropped down in front of us. But then I'd have to explain how it's against my programming to impersonate a deity and we all know what a mess that would have got us into. But the weather was perfect, it was a beautiful day, and I didn't even mind too much that my skirt kept trying to fall off because it no longer fits me.

We finally did find the graduate studies building we'd been looking for, only to be told that I should go talk to the English department across campus because they could give me more specific information on the grad program for literature. By this time Evan was starving since we hadn't really eaten since breakfast and I decided that we'd go get something to eat rather than traipse back across campus (even though it was a very nice campus) trying to gather basic information about the program, which I could probably find online anyway. And I did. But we did spare a few minutes to play on this bridge that stretched across from the Graduate Studies Department to the main street.

:D

After that we took the shuttle back to the front of the campus, got back in the car, and drove towards the ocean where we knew all the food places would be. If we'd had more time (and money) I definitely would have taken Evan to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, which is where much of The Lost Boys was filmed. One of these days I'm gonna sit Kyra down and make her watch that.

We found a Jack in the Box and decided to get drive through food. Which was kinda weird o.O The guy had us pull around to the front of the restaurant and then he carried our food out to us from the front door. Maybe the window was broken? I dunno. As long as I have my chicken strips and buttermilk dipping sauce (I swear that stuff has crack in it) nobody gets hurt.

We stopped at the closest gas station we could find a refueled before getting back on the freeway. It took us and the GPS a few minutes to figure out where the hell we were going, but once we did we were fine. We got on this really windy freeway that cut through more of the forest and it's a good thing Evan's a good driver and I was sitting in the front seat or I probably would have been sick. We made it to the 580, which is the freeway into San Francisco and almost immediately ran into traffic. I kept offering to drive throughout the entire trip, telling Evan to let me know if he started getting tired, but he kept insisting he was fine. That is, until we hit traffic and he admitted he was starting to get sleepy. "That's it, pull over."

So Evan got off at the next exit and I took over from there. I got on the 80 from the 580 as Dad had suggested, which turned out to be a major life saver. The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful. Aside from the dog on the freeway. I didn't stop to take a picture of it because a) I'm not stupid, and b) What the hell is that dog doing on the freeway?!

Traffic started slowing down for no apparent reason, which was how I came to notice the dog in the first place. A bunch of people had stopped their cars in the middle of the freeway and were trying to herd this poodle to safety but the dumbass kept running into oncoming traffic! Even my dog isn't that stupid and trust me, that's saying something.

I don't know what happened to the dog, but Evan and I made it to my dad's house in once piece, where everyone exclaimed how much Evan had grown since the last time they'd seen him. To be fair, Evan was about five the last time he was around anyone from my Dad's side of the family, so the difference was pretty striking.

My aunt and uncle hadn't arrived yet so Dad, my cousin Tim, Evan and I all went out for sushi. And it was awesome.

Here endeth our story.

Next time: Gasp! At the exploits of my cousin Tim as he returns home after partaking of too much vodka! Be amazed! By the amount of food six Italians can consume in one sitting! All this and more! Next time on this edition of San Francisco Road Trip!

Just so you don't get your hopes up too much, my Spring Break ends this weekend, which means I have to go back to school on Monday. Part two of these adventures will probably be posted the following weekend as I still have a bunch of catch up reading to do tonight and tomorrow before class on Monday. Have a happy Easter everyone, let me know if someone finds the body.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Happy Equinox

I was away for Ostara, so please enjoy this picture of my dad being adorable among some springtime scenery.

Awwwww.
Isn't he pwecious?


Thursday, March 18, 2010

You know what's weird?

Waking up with The Beach Boys stuck in your head and having absolutely no idea of how they got there.

Bizarre.

In other news, Evan and I will be leaving tomorrow morning at 6:00 am. There's been a slight adjustment to the itinerary. Evan got accepted to UC Santa Cruz so we'll be stopping to check out the campus first and then drive the rest of the way up to San Francisco.

Still deciding whether to take the 101 or the 5 up to Santa Cruz. Suggestions?

I'll bring my camera along and try to take pictures. But no promises with the way it's been acting lately :/

Monday, March 15, 2010

...O.o

As a future History teacher, this kind of scares the crap out of me just a little bit. That's right, Texas, just cut out a whole bunch of the nation's history because you think it's too "liberal". Nevermind that all of it actually happened. That's not important. What's important is that it doesn't correlate with the conservative mentality that you're trying to project. Thanks a whole bunch.

Replacing the term Imperialism with Expansionism? Are you fucking kidding me? We've been stealing countries from other people since 1607, the least you could do is bloody own up to it.


Yahoo News

U.S. history textbook could soon be flavored heavily with Texas conservatism
Mon Mar 15, 5:17 pm ET

The nation’s public school curriculum may be in for a Texas-sized overhaul, if the Lone Star state’s influential recommendations for changes to social studies, economics and history textbooks are fully ratified later this spring. Last Friday, in a 10-to-5 vote split right down party lines, the Texas State Board of Education approved somecontroversial right-leaning alterations to what most students in the state—and by extension, in much of the rest of the country—will be studying as received historical and social-scientific wisdom. After a public comment period, the board will vote on final recommendations in May.

Don McElroy, who leads the board’s powerful seven-member social conservative bloc, explained that the measure is a way of "adding balance" in the classroom, since "academia is skewed too far to the left." And the board's critics have labeled the move an attempt by political "extremists" to "promote their ideology."

The revised standards have far-reaching implications because Texas is a huge market leader in the school-textbook industry. The enormous print run for Texas textbooks leaves most districts in other states adopting the same course materials, so that the Texas School Board effectively spells out requirements for 80 percent of the nation’s textbook market. That means, for instance, that schools in left-leaning states like Oregon and Vermont could soon be teaching from textbooks that are short on references to Ted Kennedy but long on references to conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly.

Here are some of the other signal shifts that the Texas Board endorsed last Friday:

- A greater emphasis on “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s.”
This means not only increased favorable mentions of Schlafly, the founder of the antifeminist Eagle Forum, but also more discussion of the Moral Majority, the Heritage Foundation, the National Rifle Association and Newt Gingrich's Contract With America.

- A reduced scope for Latino history and culture. A proposal to expand such material in recognition of Texas’ rapidly growing Hispanic population was defeated in last week’s meetings—provoking one board member, Mary Helen Berlanga, to storm out in protest. "They can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist," she said of her conservative colleagues on the board. "They are rewriting history, not only of Texas but of the United States and the world."

- Changes in specific terminology.
Terms that the board’s conservative majority felt were ideologically loaded are being retired. Hence, “imperialism” as a characterization of America’s modern rise to world power is giving way to “expansionism,” and “capitalism” is being dropped in economic material, in favor of the more positive expression “free market.” (The new recommendations stress the need for favorable depictions of America’s economic superiority across the board.)


- A more positive portrayal of Cold War anticommunism.
Disgraced anticommunist crusader Joseph McCarthy, the Wisconsin senator censured by the Senate for his aggressive targeting of individual citizens and their civil liberties on the basis of their purported ties to the Communist Party, comes in for partial rehabilitation. The board recommends that textbooks refer to documents published since McCarthy’s death and the fall of the Soviet bloc that appear to show expansive Soviet designs to undermine the U.S. government.

- Language that qualifies the legacy of 1960s liberalism. Great Society programs such as Title IX—which provides for equal gender access to educational resources—and affirmative action, intended to remedy historic workplace discrimination against African-Americans, are said to have created adverse “unintended consequences” in the curriculum’s preferred language.


- Thomas Jefferson no longer included among writers influencing the nation’s intellectual origins.Jefferson, a deist who helped pioneer the legal theory of the separation of church and state, is not a model founder in the board’s judgment. Among the intellectual forerunners to be highlighted in Jefferson’s place: medieval Catholic philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas, Puritan theologian John Calvin and conservative British law scholar William Blackstone. Heavy emphasis is also to be placed on the founding fathers having been guided by strict Christian beliefs.

- Excision of recent third-party presidential candidates Ralph Nader (from the left) and Ross Perot(from the centrist Reform Party). Meanwhile, the recommendations include an entry listing Confederate General Stonewall Jackson as a role model for effective leadership, and a statement from Confederate President Jefferson Davis accompanying a speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.

- A recommendation to include country and western music among the nation’s important cultural movements.
The popular black genre of hip-hop is being dropped from the same list.

None of these proposals has met with final ratification from the board—that vote will come in May, after a prolonged period of public comment on the recommendations. Still, the conservatives clearly feel like the bulk of their work is done; after the 120-page draft was finalized last Friday, Republican board member Terri Leo declared that it was "world class" and "exceptional."

—Brett Michael Dykes is a national affairs writer for Yahoo! News

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I hate snakes, Jock! I hate em!

My camera's still not working properly, but I managed to get some pictures off of it using different software. So without any further ado, I present to you, TIMMY AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM!


Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?


And of course I have to go run to class now. See ya!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Booooooooks

Are the major reason why I haven't posted in almost a month.

I had a picture of said books all ready to go, but my camera is having serious issues. I think it's been possessed ever since I took it to that cemetery in Victoria, B.C. Oh well, it's still less than a year since I bought it so I guess we're going back to Best Buy sometime this weekend or next. I'm kinda tired of having a possessed camera anyway. I even bought tech support for it, but I can't find the document that says I did :/ I do have the receipt though, so I'm hoping they can look it up based on the receipt number or my name or the serial number or something. They can do that, right? Right?

Anyway, Denise and I are going to Disneyland today (in the rain!) for a little decompression. Well, I am anyway. Denise is going because she got a free ticket for volunteering. Yes, that's right! You too can get in free! Take advantage of this offer while you can, it's probably the only time you'll be materially rewarded for doing a good deed: http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/disneyparks/en_US/WhatWillYouCelebrate/index?name=Give-A-Day-Get-A-Disney-Day

The other announcement I have to make is that Evan and I are totally going on a road trip. As the illustrious Bill and Ted would say, "Excellent!" It's only a weekend trip but trust me, it's gonna be craaaazy. Evan and I have assembled various tunes, energy drinks, and snacks. We are gonna rock this road trip like it's 1986.

Here's my playlist in case you'd like to shake your head at my weird taste in music.



Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones


Songs that are missing because I couldn't find them on Playlist.com but are definitely on my iTunes playlist:

Ticket To Ride--The Beatles
An Awful Lot of Running--Chameleon Circuit
Gallifreyan History 101--Chameleon Circuit
Type 40--Chameleon Circuit
Blink--Chameleon Circuit
Conventional Lover--Speck
Ricky--Weird Al Yankovic
Weila Waile--Young Dubliners