Tag Archives: Trip 2010

You know what’s weird?

It’s weird to realise that I now own a bike that’s worth as much as or more than some people’s cars. And it can still be considered cheap. At least I have proper bike insurance. I really should get a Bicycle Victoria membership as well at some point. And a name, I still haven’t come up with a name that’s sticking. I’m toying with Dale. I have heard of a few girls called Dale and she is a Cannondale so it fits. (What is it with me naming inanimate objects and assigning a gender to them? My car is Mr Bingles and then there’s Lisa.)

Got a bit of a surprise today when I pulled the rear wheel off and discovered I have SRAM cassette on the back. I thought the bike was sporting a Shimano 105 group set (excluding the cranks which I knew was FSA) but no. Still, if I’d read the specs on the Cannondale web site I would’ve already known this as it clearly states the rear cassette is SRAM.

I realised today that I didn’t link to any of the art I picked up in Seattle, so here’s my CAF gallery for Seattle 2010. And of course my favourite.

Having so much art now, I’ve started to think about what would happen to my collection if something bad happened to me. Not a nice thought but it is worth a fair chunk of change so I really should try to work out what’s to be done with it.

Home to reality

Sigh. It’s always so disappointing that holidays must come to an end. I’ve been back just over a week now and I’m still kicking my butt kicked by jet lag. I thought I’d recovered from it but I’ve been exhausted all day today. Which is bad considering I picked up my super purdy new bike today. I found it very hard to get excited about it when all I wanted to do was have a nap (which I did while I waited for my new Garmin to charge up).

Anyhoo…. a few final photos from my trip that weren’t taken by me.

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See, I wasn’t kidding when I said the “Great Wall of Chocolate” was nearly as big as my head. The look on my face is one of there’s no way I’m eating that (especially considering it’s a fake on that the wait staff take around to show people the dessert menu).

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See, I really do know Barry Kitson! He’s currently working on Amazing Spider-man and is a super nice, wonderful, generous man.

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Hanging out at Von’s. L – R: DJ (who took the prior two photos), Me, Barry, Veronica and Sven.

So, yes. New bike. New bike computer. New shoes. The shoes are giving me an endless amount of grief. I simply can’t find the right place for the cletes and they’re hurting my feet. Well, my right foot is okay, it’s my left foot that’s causing all the trouble. I really want to make them work because I spent so much money on them. It’ll really suck if it turns out I can’t actually wear them.

Getting back on the bike after such a long time away is actually a good deal harder than I thought it would be. I managed to ride half of Kew Boulevard on Thursday night and it was so hard. It feels like I’ve lost so much strength. I’m starting again but that’s okay. I can set myself goals and work towards achieving them. The first one is doing the 120km version of the Fruit Loop ride that’s held during September in Shepparton. I want to work towards breaking 100km and I think that’s a reasonable target by September.

I can’t make an assessment on my new bike just yet, having only ridden her for just over half an hour. Jet lag sucks! I should’ve gone out for a ride today but I was so tired I couldn’t get motivated to actually do it until after I had a nap. Even then I didn’t really push myself. My first observation (apart from needing a name) she sounds different on the road. My next observation is that seat is more comfortable and that I’m sitting much better. Then we move to I think that handlebars are a smidge too high. I won’t be able to form any definite opinions until I’ve gone out for a long ride, which might be tomorrow.

Anyhoo… I’m being terrible rude as we have company and I’m sitting in the front room on my computer in the dark as it’s Earth Hour and we’ve got the lights off.

That’s all she wrote

Well, I’m home.

I think it took me a whole day to get home. Barry and I continued the tradition of traveling to the airport together and wandered around trying to find the first class lounge but didn’t succeed. Hanging out with Barry at the airport kinda extended the con experience right up until I leave, which is really nice. He’s a great guy and we always seem to find interesting things to talk about. We parted ways when I headed to my gate to start my journey home. The flight from Seattle to LA was uneventful. Arrived at LAX at about 4pm and wandered around trying to find the V Australia check-in desk. But of course, I couldn’t check in because I was there way too early.

Sitting in an airport for about seven hours isn’t that much fun but I did get some photos prepped and uploaded onto my blog. I also had time to watch The Boat That Rocked for the umpteenth time. When I could finally check in, I discovered my dinner choices were either Starbucks (gag) and Burger King (double gag). So I settled on clif bar and a kit-kat, washed down with a bottle of water. At least LAX has power outlets and wireless available.

The flight home was also uneventful. It seemed to be a bit bumpier than on the way over but I once again got a row to myself. The flight was only about a third full so just about everyone got a row. The plane was full of slumbering people and it was incredibly quiet (for a plane anyway). I managed to get about seven hours sleep in chunks.

So, Lauren’s traveling trips…
1. Take tracksuit bottoms or PJs to change into. My brother gave me some Qantas bus class PJs and I took the bottoms this time to change into. Such a good idea. So much more comfortable.

2. Skip breakfast. Breakfasts on long haul flights are usually totally disgusting unless you manage to get cereal.

3. V Australia don’t give you the fluffy socks that Qantas do so a pair of warm socks in your carry-on is a good idea. (I didn’t have them on the flight out and I ended up with very cold tootsies.)

4. Dress in layers. Get too hot, you can remove some. Get too cold, you can put it back on.

5. Drink loads of water.

6. Take moisturiser and heavy-duty lip balm. The air on the plane will suck all the moisture out of your hair and skin. Hair you can’t do anything about but skin you can help. You’ll probably need a heavier moisturiser than you normally use too.

7. Really make sure you have everything before leaving the plane. I didn’t and as a result, I’ve lost my iPod. I opened my backpack to put it in but changed my mind in the process. I went to slip it into my laptop bag but I wasn’t paying proper attention and slid it down the side of my bag. Sigh. I have very low expectations of seeing it ever again but I have reported it to V Australia so they know I’ve lost it. Hopefully one of the cleaning staff picked it up and did the right thing. Still, I’m not holding my breath.

And surprise, surprise… I’m already thinking about next year’s trip.

Monday – Sightseeing in Seattle

So, yes. Words to explain the pictures in the prior post. Monday was about doing touristy things with Barry and his entourage. I’m not usually into doing that sort of thing but it is fun when there are enough of you to make it interesting.

I’ve decided that this year, I liked Seattle more than San Francisco. It was great to be able to walk around and actually see things. Plus it was simply nice to be outside after spending the weekend inside. Our tour of Seattle took in Pike Place Market again but this time for lunch along with a visit to Golden Age Collectibles which I visited last year. The next step was a trip to the Space Needle. This meant a trip on the monorail (which had me breaking into the monorail chorus from that Simpsons episode which has been on tv so many times it’s not funny).

The monorail trip took all of about five minutes but it was either do that or walk ten blocks. Monorail laziness won out.

Right next to the Space Needle is the Science Fiction Museum which is architecturally much more interesting then the Space Needle. I have a feeling it may have been designed by the same architects who did the Walt Disney Centre in LA. It’s all curved, lusterless metal that in this case, bulges out rather than sweeps up but it’s still beautiful.

We didn’t go straight to the Space Needle. We took a detour to a photography supply place that sell Wacom Cintaqs as Barry wanted to get one. This meant a meandering walk around the streets near the Space Needle as we tried to negotiate our way across what looked like a freeway. This meant a trip down a pedestrian underpass that I refused to use on the way back because of the overwhelming smell of urine. I was given much stick about that. And after all that effort, the photography place didn’t even have the damn tablet.

Anyhoo… we meandered our way back to the Space Needle which we then went up. I wasn’t too keen on the lift. The jerk when we started and then went past the restaurant was decidedly unpleasant and made it really obvious we were going to be far, far above the ground. Heights don’t usually bother me at all but that lift really did. I was fine once we got to the top, which is 520 feet above the ground. That’s a long way to fall. The comment was made about wondering how many cameras had been dropped which I replied “that’s why you wrap the strap around your wrist” whilst looking at Barry who doesn’t have a strap on his nice, new Canon DSLR.

It was a beautiful day so we could see right to the mountain ranges that surround Seattle. The sun was starting to set so the bay had been turned gold by the sunlight. It would’ve been great to watch it set completely but we had to get back to the hotel so Chad and Mickey could get to the airport. It really was pretty so I’d thoroughly recommend going there at dusk to watch the sun set if you’ve got a clear day.

Dinner was a fun affair at P.F. Chang’s, a fusion Chinese restaurant chain that just happens to have really good food. Barry and I shared a very good bottle of American Pinot Noir and I got decidedly rosy-cheeked. The company was excellent and the conversation lively. The boys tried very hard to get me to order a dessert called “The Great Wall of Chocolate” but I flat-out refused when I discovered it was nearly the size of my head. I’m sure it’s delicious but there was no way I could eat it after polishing off appetisers and a main meal. But the boys were very mean to me and insisted on taking photos of me with the sample dessert in front of me. I will be curious to see the photos as I’m certain I don’t look impressed in any of them. We shall see.

More drinks were consumed. More conversation had. Gossip shared and hilarity did in fact, ensue. It was a very late night and I woke up this morning with a manky mouth from drinking too much red wine but it was totally worth it. It was a perfect ending to my trip. I’ve discovered that touristy stuff can be fun if it’s with the right people.

I had a really great time on this trip. It’s been really rewarding. I met some new people who I liked very much and caught up with ones I already adore. This is why we should work to live and not live to work like so many people do.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling a little antsy because I haven’t been on my bike for eleven days (but who’s counting?). I am looking forward to trying out my new bike shoes and seeing if they make the longer rides more comfortable. If nothing else, they’ll look really swish. I’m excited about getting my new bike so I’m going to try to organise that on either Thursday or Friday. But all this talk about bikes reminds me that I must sort out the TAC stuff for my accident. I’ve got two bills that need paying and I didn’t really do anything about it before I went away. I’m hoping there’s nothing demanding payment when I get home. Still, the antsiness is a good sign as it means I’m eager to ride. New shoes, new gloves, new bike – all stuff to look forward to.

(Mostly) Monday – sightseeing in Seattle

This is going to be a photo post. I have the photos prepped so I might as put them up. I’m supposed to be boarding my flight home at 10:30 and it’s 10:15 now so I don’t think I’ll have time to write that much anyway. Also, it’ll give me something to do on the plane.

So pic spam it is!!

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Jedi Knights at ECCC. The guy on the far right actually threw me because he bore a striking resemblance to Alec Guinness.

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My peeps! L – R: Jared, Gay, Brian, John and Tim.

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I kinda look happy in this photo. Kinda. Still hate having my picture taken.

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Arty-farty shot of the lights at the convention centre.

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A variant of these in San Francisco gave George Lucas the idea for the AT-AT walkers first seen in The Empire Strikes Back.

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Seattle skyline as seen from Pike Place Market.

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Part of the roof of the Experience Music Project, Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (EMP|SFM) that’s right next to the Space Needle. I’m wondering if it was designed by the same architects who did the Walt Disney Music Hall in LA. (And indeed it was – Frank Gehry designed both buildings)

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Shiny, pointy gold sticks next to EMP|SFM.

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This tickled me. It rotated and little lights lit up to mimic water falling from the elephant’s trunk.

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The Space Needle.

Views from the observation deck at the Space Needle, 520 feet above ground.
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This is the roof of the Experience Music Project, Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame building as seen from the observation deck. Pretty wild!

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So I might’ve tweaked the colours a tiny amount but not that much! The wall of the Sci-Fi museum really was that gorgeous purple colour.

And that’s it. Now I have a really long flight. My, won’t that be fun?

Sunday – ECCC

Very slow start to the morning as the boys and I dragged our feet. Everyone was still tired, even after a few hours sleep. It switched to daylight savings overnight so we lost an hour.

We switched hotels and made our way to the convention centre for day two. We ambled on in and immediately noticed that it wasn’t as crazy busy as it had been the day before. Definitely more laid-back. And the particular nerd funk that occurs during cons wasn’t as strong as the day before. I know some people can’t help it but jeez, could they at least have some deodorant with them? On Saturday it was really bad. You’d walk past a group of guys in line for someone and nearly be bowled over by the smell. There are some nerds who really need to work on their personal hygiene.

Anyhoo…

I shall be going home with 13 pieces, significantly less than last year but that’s okay as I got some pretty sweet stuff. (And well, I did spend a lot more before I’d even gotten to the con.)

So I have:
1. Joelle Jones – Dr Horrible
2. Chris Moreno – Batman
3. Moritat – Nightwing
4. Dean Trippe – Batgirl
5. Dustin Nguyen – Nightwing
6. Derek Fridolfs – Batgirl
7. Alex Maleev – Daredevil
8. Phil Hester – Nightwing
9. Phil Hester – Green Arrow
10. Green Arrow Issue Eight Page Eleven
12. Green Arrow Issue Eight Page Twelve

and this:
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I finally have my Tim Sale Batman and I’m overjoyed at how well it came out. It goes without saying that the photos don’t do it justice.

Dinner with Tim, Jared and Brian. That was when Tim put the finishing touches to the page. At one point he was slathering the ink on and I was thinking “Noooo! It’s going to be too dark!!!” but of course Tim knows far better than I.

Saturday – ECCC

This will be quick as I’m absolutely exhausted and should be curled up in bed. I took exactly one photo. There was a bunch of people dressed up as jedi knights and they looked incredible. So I managed to take a photo of them and that was it. The camera stayed in my bag for the rest of the day.

I had productive day art-wise. Got pieces from the artists that I really wanted and I picked up something extra from Chris Moreno. I even managed to get on Alex Maleev’s list for tomorrow so I’m getting a Daredevil from him, something I’ve always wanted. I think I’m getting my page from Tim tomorrow so that’s exciting. It’ll be something to anticipate as I haven’t seen it yet.

I was quite shocked when I got to Phil Hester to discover no one there except for a guy who was thinking about buying a page. I thought he would’ve had a bunch of people around him but nope. He was kinda hard to find as he was all the way down the back. So he started on a Green Arrow for me, only to be hustled away by someone from Hero Initiative. I went back to pick it up and he’d lost it! So he promised to start it again. Then when I went back later, turned out he’d given it to a guy who was only there today. He looked so guilty and has promised to do it tonight. I’m also getting a Nightwing from him as well. I have no idea when I’ll be at a con that he’s attending again so I figure I might as well.

Must get into bed now. So very, very tired.

Random picture post

Three random photos that I forgot to add to other postings.

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Squirrel!! There are some very fat squirrels at the Disney Studio in Burbank. There are also loads of signs around saying “Don’t feed the squirrels”.

On the way to the studio, the way we went took us near Big Bear. It’s a quite impressive mountain range. At the moment it’s possible to go surfing and skiing in the same day if you’re willing to do some serious driving.
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I should be about half way to Seattle right now but I’m stuck at SFO because my flight was delayed due to bad weather here. There’s a guy behind me talking on a mobile phone. I saw him in the line for customs and he was on his phone. He’s kinda obnoxious and apparently doesn’t care that everyone can hear him talking. For example, I’ve just learnt he’s going snowboarding somewhere around Vancouver. Did I need to know that? No, I really didn’t.

Thursday – Pixar Animation Studio

Yup, you read right. I got to visit Pixar. Squeee!!

I was invited by Anthony Christov, who teaches some classes at CCA and just happened to be the Art Director (sets) for Wall-e. Intially, it was for a visit on Friday but of course that wasn’t possible so Steve and Erica wrangled it for Thursday. I didn’t get to see too much as much of the place is a closed set as they’re still working on Toy Story 3 but I did get to peek into the dailies room and their theatre. We had to be super quiet when we peeked into the theatre as a video link to a recording studio was in process, meaning scoring for something was going on.

Down one hallway, a bunch of art had been hung from Up! which was amazing to look at. All the character development, texture work and marquettes. Just magic! It would’ve been great to see animators at work but it was a privilege simply to be there.

The building itself is quite remarkable. The main foyer is enormous which adds to a sensation of openness and space. The cafe is located there and we were there right on lunchtime so the place was humming with conversation. Mostly it just made me wish I was a much more talented artist so I could work in a place like that. The atmosphere of the place was one of a great place to work.

I think I look awful in these photos but I’m putting them up anyway!

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The Incredibles family.

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I was doing the pose but I felt stupid so I stopped before Steve could take the photo.

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Steve is apparently quite happy about the upcoming release of Toy Story 3. Terrible framing by me on this photo.

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Steve, Erica and I.

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Squee! Mike and Sulley.

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I really wanted to pat Sulley but I’m fairly certain that would’ve gotten me booted out of the studio.

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Luxo!

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More Luxo. I bought myself a Luxo keyring which is the ball. Very cute.

Anyhoo… it’s time for me to check in for my flight so I can finally ditch my suitcase that I’ve been lugging around for hours now.

Wednesday – San Francisco

Steve had classes so I took the train into the city by myself and did a little sight-seeing.

I visited the Cartoon Art Museum. There was a Batman exhibition on but I found it mildly disappointing. They could filled the entire gallery space with just Batman so I would’ve thought they’d be more selective in what they put up as I found it less then thrilling. But maybe I’m biased because I don’t like Frank Miller’s work in The Dark Knight Returns and they had a whole wall of that. The exhibit I really liked was Drawing the Sword: Samurai in Manga and Anime. It was really interesting as they covered quite a long timeline of art in a very small space. Plus they had some Usagi Yojimbo pages.

After spending about an hour and a half in the gallery, I walked up to a bike shop I’d found online. I promised myself that I wouldn’t buy anything else but I really wanted some new bike gloves and they had the Specialized ones my riding partner loves at about $25 cheaper. So now I have two new pairs of gloves – one short and one full fingers. I also discovered this particular bike shop is willing to ship complete bikes to Australia. Maybe next time I upgrade, I’ll investigate that as it’s much cheaper. They’re also willing to send group sets.

I did have a less then fun experience while I was ambling about. I went looking for an ATM to check how much money I had and I found one in a parking building that was right next to a counter. I went in and put my bag down on the counter so I could swap my sunglasses for my prescription ones when the guy using the ATM started abusing me for being too close to him (which I wasn’t by the way). I tried to ignore him at first, then turned my back so I was facing away from him and couldn’t see what he was doing but he kept going. As he walked away, he called me a bitch. So I retorted by calling him a wanker but later realised he probably had no clue what that meant. To a degree I felt sorry for him because if he’s like that every day of his life, he must be a very miserable individual. But he really upset me so I find myself unable to feel particularly sorry for him. It took me totally by surprise as pretty much every other person I’ve met has been incredibly friendly. I’m usually fine being on my own but at that particular moment, I felt really lonely.

He upset me so much that when I found the Levis store I decided to buy myself a new pair of jeans to cheer myself up even though I’d told myself no more spending. But it worked. It worked because I had to try on four different sizes to find the right one and the sizes got smaller each time. Not too long ago I had a 36 inch waist pushing towards 38. Now it’s 29. I left the shop feeling mildly better about myself but also guilty for spending even more money. Still the jeans were about half what they’d cost in Australia so I consider that a win.

Headed back to Oakland where Steve picked me up and treated me to In-N-Out, which also helped with the cheering up. The people who own the company may print bible references on their packaging but they certainly know how to make a really good burger. They treat their employees really well which I think helps enormously. It would have to be my favourite fast food. Just a shame I can only have it when I’m in California.

Anyhoo, I did take some of photos during my travels so let the showing of the happy snaps commence!

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First of three really weird sculptures in a building forecourt on Mission St.

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Number two.

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And number three.

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Fountain across the road from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

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There was lots of really impressive graffiti.

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A man-hole with steam rising from it! I didn’t think it really happened but there it is.

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American flags.

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Really didn’t expect to see this! But there is was – a crumpler sticker on a bike rack.

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Umm… I think this was on Mission St? Maybe. Not sure.

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Had to crank the exposure a hideous amount but look! It’s a W class tram!! The city of Melbourne donate a couple to San Francisco. It sounded just like it would if it was at home.

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Bike couriers’ trusty steads.

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Streetscape shot as the sun was starting to set. And yes, I was standing in the middle of the street. Got off it quick smart when I realised the light was about to change.

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Hey look, even more buildings!