Sunday, August 5, 2012

From the Mind of the Folf - of Entertainment, Creativity, and Productivity

There's a saying I heard before that goes "There are those who want to entertain, and there are those who want to be entertained" I find myself in the middle leaning evermore to the former. If something fails to amuse me, I make amusement.

Essentially, I've developed a mindset where the less I spend idling and/or watching something when I could be spending more time creating and making something that may be of potential enjoyment, the better.

I guess I pretty much have the feeling and/or urge to be active, busy, and the like; a strive to be productive, to always be doing something. Granted, I'm easily distracted, and can very easily loose track (which is why I tend to work better when collaborating, if not for reminders then to just be able to bounce of ideas during a creative process).

Anyways, 'tis 2 in the morning, and I should be heading to bed. To all who have bothered to read this random rambling, I thank you and bid you all a goodnight.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Bayside Adventure

So, with the week be coming to a close, I have concluded my travels and have returned back to the little village/encampment known as the People's Republic of Davis. Overall, I'd say my time there would be best explained as... varied and quite the adventure.

Day one - Tuesday

To begin, I left Fresno all prepped and ready to go... save for one thing - midway through the journey to San Jose, I realized that I had left my phone charger with relatives back in F-town. With the Blackberry blinking yellow, I shut it off setting forth to get a replacement charger once in the Silicon Valley.

I was completely unprepared for the upcoming weather - bringing only a light jogging jacket, so upon arrival (and purchasing in advance a ticket home), I walk through the streets unprotected from the pouring rain, going through my options. I first stumble upon a CVS, which, much to my disappointment, only carried Apple products. So then I set my direction to downtown and grab a ride on the VTA train, and proceed to walk around, looking around, and starting to feel a bit delirious (most likely from the rain, either that or mild dehydration), so I take a quick refuge in a Pizza place, grabbing dinner in doing so, and checking out the bus routes to my relative's place in adjacent Santa Clara.

After grabbing a quick bite, I continue my trek under the now-dry skies and discover a Walgreens, and gleefully purchase a $10 phone charger. Realizing the time, I walk to the street where, Ideally my bus would be, and quickly board it... going in the wrong direction, ending up by a sandwich shop next to San Jose State(?), and having to wait 30 minutes for the next bus in the right direction. Seeing opportunity to try and charge my phone, I walk into the sub shop and do just that... for 5 minutes when the charger I bought blew out, barely even charging my phone as it starts to pour again. After a while, and seeing the bus arrive and stay motionless, doors closed, for 10 minutes, before allowing me in. The bus ride itself was rather uneventful, and I miraculously arrived into my relative's place safe and sound.

 Day Two - Wednesday

I guess, you could say that my first day was... rather unlucky. I ended up blowing 1/3 of my budget, and instead of exploring more of the area the following day, I mostly stayed put in my relative's tiny, highly-cramped studio.

Well, okay, I didn't stay inside the whole day (I never can stay inside for long periods - I get cabin fever easily). I walked 30 minutes to a shopping center to see if I can get a replacement to the replacement charger (redundant, I know). First, I stop by a Sprint store, covering the 'AT&T' insignia on my Blackberry. They offered an 'all-in-one' for $40; too rich for my blood, so I head over to the AT&T to see if they had a better price, which they did... $10 less but still costly. I head on over to a Safeway across the sea of parking lots to see if they had anything for phones (They did - Go phones, but no chargers). As a last resort, I walk to the adjacent Marshall's for the off chance that they'd have something relevant. To my luck, I had found a better charger for a ridiculously cheap price ($5) and gleefully walked back to my temporary place.

 Day Three - Thursday

Thursday was the big(ish) day for me. I have heard about Chicken (one of the major meets in the Bay) for months and have been wanting to go for a long while, but given my distance and that is fell on a School night, I have been unable to go. Since this was Spring Break, I took advantage to get, pardon the pun, a taste of chicken.

After a quick research through on Google maps for bus routes and ride arrangements back (thanks again if ye be reading this), I was on my way, and quick! Running to catch the bus, and missing my intended stop by several blocks. No worries though, as I was on the same street, was well early, and hey, there's nothing bad with more exercise!

Overall, I enjoyed Chicken - both the meat and the meet. It was fun meeting all (or most) of the furs in the area, and frankly, I was a bit surprised with how many new me despite me barely knowing them - one of the most common responses I got after greeting was more or less "I've heard of you from BAF" despite me seldom posting on the mailing list. All-in-all, 'twas a great time socializing beneath a fierce lightning storm.

 Day Four - Friday

The final day, Friday the 13th, more-or-less lived up to its name. I slept in and missed my original 9 am train, a minor setback, just go on the next one around noon. After much packing and double-checking to make sure nothing was lost in the clutter, I catch the bus with an hour to go until departure.

Slow bus be slow, I arrive 5 blocks from Diridon Station... with 10 minutes until departure. Instinctively, I ran -- nay, I sprinted, rushing across the the parking lot with the boarding announcement of my train blaring out. Despite severe pain surging thru my sore legs, I dashed thru the station, under the tracks, and right onboard, literally at the last minute, and crashed, exhausted, onto an empty seat.

The rest of the trip went uneventful. Having skipped breakfast I grabbed lunch in the Cafe car and rested in my seat, up until Oakland, where we were all told to evacuate the train and head into the Station. Apparently there was a standoff in Jack London Square a block north and police were on the scene, blocking the tracks in the process. We were held inside the station (simply put, because it was cold out) awaiting for buses to carry us over to Emeryville and continue our journey on a train parked over there. After an hour of waiting, and hearing of the scene being cleared, the buses arrive and we were safely and swiftly transported to the stuck train, continuing the journey rather (thankfully) uneventfully and eventually arriving back home, safe and sound.

Overall, I'd say this week has been quite the adventure. Frankly, I think I'll stay put for now; I be tired of traveling... at least for the near future.

Anyways, if you've managed to go through this huge wall of text, then I must congratulate you! And until next time...

Hasta Marfle!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Folfdate #3 - Breaktime Primavera!

Next week is my Spring Break, and I shall be taking advantage of my travels. Well... to the best of my budget.

My initial plan was to purchase a CA RailPass (apparently they exist and seem like a pretty good deal) and visit furs and friends across the state. However, the added cost of computer repair borked that plan.

Granted, I have formed an alternate plan - I shall be heading around, though severely downsizing. Per suggestion of Family, I will be spending much of the week in the Bay Area (Specifically South Bay/Santa Clara/San Jose Area) and will be exploring the area and possibly attend a meet or two. Later in that week, I'll be heading down the Central Valley to visit more friends, furs, and Family.

'tis all a last-minute idea, so this shall be a fun, exciting thing to do :-P

Folfdate #2 - Personal Stuff

Plenty of things be abound these past few days. I originally was gonna wall-of-text this, but I figured summarizing is better =P -

First off, that one tech issue I had with my Laptop returned... permanently; the screen blacked out completely. I brought it to a local repair store on Monday and discovered that the issue was something different than I thought (the screen itself and not the inverter - LED and not LCD). Nevertheless, just got a call today that the problem has been fixed (screen replaced) and I shall be picking it up on Friday.

Second, I have been feeling varying amounts of Chest pain as of late - from soreness, to a slight sting, to a dropping feel, to even a grinding/itch along the center. While I'm technically a bit young to have a cardiac arrest, I'm gonna be getting it checked tomorrow. Hopefully it isn't anything major.

Third, just a reminder, I am open for commissions - and all proceeds will be going towards my school and the Senior trip. If you're interested in art of varying kinds, or your character drawn in my style, do send me a massage sometime soon!

Folfdate #1 - Commission Changes

So, just a few changes I've been meaning to implement with commissioning. First off, my computer is, as of typing, in shop (will explain this later) so all owed art that involves digital work (all but sketches) will be put on hold until Friday. Nevertheless, here be the changes implemented beginning this Friday:

 - Free sketches removed. This was an error on my part, reasons be rather obvious from a monetary standpoint
 - For the month of April (and I've been meaning to announce this earlier), in a fundraising effort all proceeds from commissions will go to my school's Senior Trip (SoCal - Disneyland, Beach, Foothills - we're short several in funds); reason for this month only is, simply put, all has to be paid for come May. So, if ye would like to help in funding, feel free to commish!
 - Prices are negotiable; all you see on this chart is just the base price. Depending on the content, we can set the price to a more appropriate level.
 - Content is also negotiable: contact me for more details on this, I reserve the right to refuse select content for any reason.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Caffeinated Speech

The following is a speech done on the importance of coffeehouses (all tongue-in-cheek, of course) for a class assignment. All you see below is the actual written 'script', word-for-word, copypasta -

My fellow classmates, how was your morning? How did you wake up today? Perhaps you woke up with a nice warm cup of coffee. How did you get this coffee? Perhaps you made it yourself, perhaps you went to a Starbucks along your way here, perhaps you don't even drink coffee. For all that matters, there is no wrong time to have a nice, warm, drink in your hand, and there is nothing like going to a coffeehouse at the end of the day.

But coffehouses are more than just places to grab a warm, tasty, overpriced beverage. Coffeehouses, are ideal places to gather, share ideas, and commune well before green sirens took over every street corner. Way back, centuries ago in Istanbul, the first coffeehouse was established to much popularity. People began to gather around as these places of coffee expanded throughout the Ottoman Empire and beyond. In these warm, welcome places, people talked. They talked of the news, of criticism, of anything without regard or fear. A brief moment where one had a freedom of speech in a time of massive control. As expected, countries attempted to ban the coffeeshops with success akin to that of the brief prohibition period of the United States.

In 1600s Europe, coffeeshops became commonplace with 3,000 shops in England and a near-monopoly and Paris. Again, attempts were made to surpress the coffee culture, again to no avail and infact causing the opposite effect – more people flocked to them. Much more so that by the 1800s the coffeeshop had nearly replaced clubs in England as common meeting places, with some being a precursor of sorts to a stock exchange. The coffeehouse had effectively become a hub of information.

Over here in the States, however, this hub of information, until very recently, did not exist in the same way. Coffeehouses were near-nonexistent until the 1950s, when immigrants from Italy brought forth a style of cafes common to their home region – espresso. Even then, this wasn't widespread. The hub of information was more of an entertainment venue common mainly in art districts and college towns like the very one we're in.

Slowly, but surely, the concept changed. Youth started to copy the concept of the coffeehouse, and small organizations communed in these cafes, sharing information once again. However, to much Americans in the 20th century, a coffeehouse was a mere diner where coffee was an afterthought, and the overall intent was a place to dine. Then in the 1970s and more rapidly a couple of decades later, the coffeehouse in the original form was finally made widespread by a Seattle chain started by the aforementioned youth. Starbucks enacted a catalyst – suddenly coffeehouses, independent and otherwise popped up across the nation. And as in the early times, people began using these coffeehouses to gather, meet, and more recently stay connected to one another. The coffeehouse was finally a hub of information in the new world.

So next time you enter a Starbucks, a Peet's, or Mishka's, don't just grab a cup of coffee, take a seat, socialize, hang out, or even go online if you wish. As you do so, take note and think – you are taking part of one of the oldest hubs of free communication, expression, and information, a type of place that has so much history and culture behind it. A place of influence.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekend of Bizarre Dreams

I am not quite sure what's been going on in my mind lately, for these past two nights I have been having the most random of dreams. Perhaps it's something I ate... Nevertheless, it all started on Friday evening, a little bit past midnight, little after snoozing off...

I find myself in the middle of the night at this british-looking row house (oddly enough in Los Angeles). It was raining (or looked like it just did). I walk around the corner and enter the house through a narrow wooden door. The interior turned out to be in sharp contrast to the exterior: modern, big (seemed bigger than the house itself), high-class and well-lit. I find myself in the small, yet quaint kitchen for some-odd reason when two dogs (and a cat) suddenly walk in. I follow them around, and then up a randomly-appearing staircase adjacent the kitchen. As I turn around, a party suddenly happens, almost as if it were happening all along. I walk down, back to the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired living room, joining into the party and suddenly seeing half my school there, in a near-uncanny experience. Then once I begin to enjoy myself, all of the sudden...

... I woke up. I guess I was having quite a lot of fun in that dream, as I woke up rather depressed. Seeing the time - 6 AM - I decide to go back to sleep.

Not surprisingly, the entire setting changes - I find myself in a utility cavern which turns out to be part of the Submarines from Disneyland... only there is no water, yet the subs are still running. I grab hold to the back of one of these surprisingly short submarines, and go through the increasingly-industrial 'tunnel'. Out of fear of getting caught 'backstage', I jump out of an open manhole in the ceiling and enter what I first thought were lockers. I look around, and see backpacks and random items scattered about this vast hall. Looking to my left, I see rows of open doors and what looks like the park itself. As I walk out, however, I find myself stuck in a weird portion of backstage, with all of the park's icons scattered about, all behind vague, grey buildings (point of reference for those who can recognize these - I was facing east with Grizzly Peak in front of me, Space on my Right, and Matterhorn to the Left). I do a quick turnaround to find myself in an asphalt lot next to railway tracks, with plenty of grassy fields, and what looks to be a widely open Frontierland in the background. I proceed to walk towards this land, seeing a line for some random attraction, hopping right over the line, and get told off in Spanish by a random cast member. I try to explain my situation, and she decides to escort me across the park. As I pass by the hub/castle, the perspective suddenly changes to third person, and everything appears as if it were an anthropomorphic cartoon made by DC Simpson, which involved something to do with rabbits and shopping. Shortly after this, I wake up, two hours later.

Moving on to last night, the Disney theme was (albeit to a lesser extent) continued, as I find myself on a CGI lego highway en route with my class to California Adventure (I presume this was the upcoming senior trip). Suddenly our lego-looking bus driver, and the bus itself, disappears; forcing us to walk the way to the park, as day turns to night, and everything becomes more 'real'. Evidently, California Adventure seemed to have become just Paradise Pier by the sea, with Screamin' (the big coaster) replaced by a giant steamship which we later found out was just a small, compact prop for reality shows as well as a parking garage. I explore around a bit, finding myself on the boardwalk wearing my tail, and then along this hilly, palm-tree lined road lined with condominiums on the right and an open-field park to the left before inevitably waking up.

Frankly, I'll admit, these have all been a tad bizarre. I guess that granted, that is how dreams typically are (yay rhyme!). But 'tis still odd.

Granted, I have had stranger dreams in the past, like that one time where my school held a combined 'furry and flower/gardening convention'. =P

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Of Furry Sites

So I was talking with a friend-turned furry earlier today. Earlier this month he created a SoFurry page to upload his writing. In doing so, in considering the idea of getting an FA (as his stories weren't getting much notice on SF) he and I pointed out an interesting correlation between the two sites and their respective purposes -

Post art on FA, see it fly off the front page in seconds, but post a story and it'll be up front for days.

Post a story on SF and see it fly off the front page in minutes, but post art and it'll be up front for a long while.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Trip Planning, Folf Style

Step 1 - List out all the places you'd wanna go in the upcoming months that isn't a day trip ( e.g. LA/SoCal/DL, AC, WDW, TDR, Seattle)

Step 2 - Downsize and focus on one, then figure out ways of getting there (e.g. Train or Plane)

Step 3 - Compare the costs, see both choices have the same price, and opt the more fun option if travel time allows (Overnight train) with the belief that you can save up for it.

Step 4 - Proceed to ponder and add extras (aka onboard sleeper), see price increase, and start to worry a bit.

Step 5 - Add essentials to the added price (food, lodging, emergency, roughly $150), proceed to panic and faint

Step 6 - Do either of the following: a) crawl to a corner and permanently cringe at sticker shock or b) realize the impracticalities and just opt to fly, or severely downsize and go thrifty.

Step 7 - Give up all hope, or skip to Step 8

Step 8 - Proceed with plan and start saving

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Essay on Transit (or I be Railin' Part 2)

I recently had to do an essay for as part of class, based on anything, as long as I be comparing. So, on a whim, I thought of going to SoCal, and comparing to near-similar ways (car and train) of getting there from my town. Also, to kill to birds with one stone, I'll double this essay as a conclusion to an earlier entry, as this adequately describes the 'California' trains as well. Save for an added image, everything is exact from the aforementioned essay -

Stuck in Davis, one wants to escape. One wants to possibly escape to someplace like Southern California. However, one has a dilemma: how to get there in a cheap, convenient, and enjoyable way? Flying is out of the question as cost is high, time constraint and added travel to Sacramento International isn't all that convenient, and the entire process of flying – from check-in to arrival – isn't all that enjoyable. So for the sake of this passage, I will be focusing on the two land options: Road and Rail. Driving down south, one has two options beyond the default I-80: Either go through the Valley via I-5, or go along the coast via 101. Granted, one would most likely choose the former for time's sake. However, assume that one has the time and takes the more casual route, hence the inclusion of both in this passage. From Downtown Davis to Downtown Los Angeles, going through the Central Valley takes roughly 6½ hours at the highest, safest possible speed, with absolutely no stopping complete disregard to the inevitable traffic. Total gas used on an average (25 mpg) vehicle would cost around $27.44 – roughly 14 cents a mile for 396 miles. Going down along 101, of course, will take 1½ hours longer with the same conditions, with a higher gas cost of $68.04 for the 486 mile-long journey

One of the best perks to driving is the mere fact that one is in the privacy of one's own vehicle. In theory, one doesn't have to endure the inconvenience of others' nuisance. In addition, from being able to literally go from Point A to Point B, going on the road allows improvisation. One can immediately change their destination – make a bee-line to Disneyland instead the original plan of Santa Monica, for instance. Also, if one chooses to go on the very scenic 101, one can opt to detour onto Highway 1 and enjoy an even-more scenic view of the California Coastline.

Despite all these conveniences of going south behind the wheel, one has to factor in the ever-costly gas prices, which may be higher than the average previously listed ($3.50/gallon). Also, while the trip on land can be easily completed in less than a day, keep in mind that the times do not count the time spent on stopping along the way for any reasons, such as for gas, food, or potential problems. Also uncounted, as previously mentioned, is traffic, which is inevitable in Southern California. A slight inconvenience to road travel is that one is stuck in a seating position of long periods of time, leading to a buildup of fatigue upon arrival at the destination. While this is a side-effect to any kind of travel, fatigue is more apparent in road travel due to limited ability to move. Another inconvenience is that, in some instances, particularly on the repetitive I-5, there may not be a rest stop of any kind for several miles. Also, if one takes the coastal route, odd are one may opt to detour onto a roadside tourist stop and/or a beach, which inevitably adds-on an additional delay to the final destination.

If by now driving doesn't seem so appealing, but a trip to SoCal still does, the next best land alternative is America's Rail System: Amtrak. From Davis, like the road option, one has two choices for rail travel south: the San Joaquin which travels down the Central Valley, or the self-explanatory Coast Starlight. The San Joaquin, at a cost of $57 (if booked well in advance), requires a bus trip to Stockton before boarding a train to Bakersfield, where one again transfers to a bus heading towards LA, however, this route has the most frequent service with 8 trains south a day for the 8-hour-long journey. The Coast Starlight, while only offering one daily 15-hour trip, is direct from Davis to Los Angeles, at a cheaper cost of $46. Both routes require advance reservation.

Click image to enlarge

Overview of a typical 'California Train' Experience, similar to the San Joaquin

The best, and by far the most-promoted perk of taking the train is that it gives the most personal freedom of all the transportation options – no need to go through a complex check-in/security process, or fill-up on gas beforehand. One has the ability to freely walk about the entire train for exercise, with seats allowing enough room to stretch legs. Also, each and every seat has the convenience of a wall outlet for electronics, with the San Joaquin having complimentary wifi services, giving opportunity to spend useful time that would otherwise go wasted. Rail travel also promotes better socialization potential, as most passengers tend to be easy-going and relaxed, often not in a hurry. If one is traveling on the Coast Starlight, one's seat is essentially a recliner, with the coach lighting being dimmer than the San Joaquin, allowing for better relaxation. The Coast Starlight also has the added amenities of a Dining car serving full meals, a lounge with wide windows to better take-in the evermore scenic view, and the ability to book a sleeper, the equivalent to a first class with the added perks of a private 'parlor' lounge car and free meals.

Granted, taking the train isn't entirely a picnic. Both lines require advance reservation for the best price (last minute-purchases can raise the prices up to $90). On the San Joaquin, a 'reservation' doesn't guarantee a seat, and the trains are often crowded come Stockton. Fortunately, this isn't the case on the Coast Starlight. As Amtrak does not own any of the tracks they run on, both routes can be delayed by freight traffic, and depending on the route and the cars used, the trip can potentially be a bumpy one. While dining the Coast Starlight, waiters try to fill up the Dining car, often leading to be seated with a random group, which, depending on whom one's seated with, may potentially lead to an awkward dining experience. Also more apparent on the Coast Starlight but not at all on the San Joaquin is the abysmal choice of cafe food in the lounge car – akin to a poorly-stocked truck stop. The San Joaquin, while quicker, has by far the most unappealing view, showing the worst of the Central Valley. Also, the Coast Starlight is a misnomer as one only sees the coast for 3 hours out of the entire 15-hour trip through mountains. In addition, the Latter route is often subject to numerous delays when approaching Southern California due to the higher-priority commuter trains around rush-hour.

One has several options for breaking from Davis into a getaway to Southern California, both having their perks and drawbacks. While one may choose the road for convenience, I will have to side on the other hand, Rail, also for convenience's sake. While it takes longer and costs more with no surefire guarantee of on-time arrival, I enjoy the ability to take care of other things while on the move. I enjoy the fact that all my services – food and rest – are available on board without having to detour. Overall, I find traveling by train to be the far more epic experience than going by car, and is worth the added cost.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Interesting Night (AKA the "First World Problem" Journal =P)

So I went out for dinner tonight, decided to eat downtown, and promptly took a bus there. However, upon arriving, indecision hit and I spent an hour or so mindlessly wondering figuring out where exactly to eat. Began considering the usual spots, eventually eliminating whilst walking around based on what I wasn't feeling for. Alas, nothing stood out and I settled for a usual place: Mikuni sushi. However, it became apparent as I walked there that it along with neighboring restaurants had sprawling waits at the door. Granted, dining downtown on a Friday Night and expecting little wait is a rather derpy assumption. After a few more walking (yes, I'm that indecisive, and downtown is fairly tightly packed), I remembered of a nearby Mediterranean place that I haven't been to in a long while, and promptly headed there. Surprisingly, it wasn't as crowded as everywhere else and the food was good.

After dinner, I started walking to a nearby bus stop when I saw a bus pass by in the opposite direction. Quickly, I texted the 'nextbus' service thingy. "No upcoming bus for this stop" was the response. How odd, I thought. I assumed it was a bug and walked to the Train Station to grab a physical bus schedule. As it turns out, much to my shagrin, all bus services end at 7 pm on Fridays ( for time reference, I had left the restaurant around half past that). After thinking for a bit, and realizing that a taxi wouldn't be all that practical, I decided to just walk the way home.

Now, at first I hesitated this, but then I realized my hesitation was just pure paranoia - I only lived roughly 2 miles away, which isn't really that far when I thought about it, and despite Davis giving off a ridiculously creepy feel at night, there was really no real danger to walking across town other than tired feet. So then I set foot, and began a long, yet surprisingly peaceful walk. Walking was rather refreshing, and almost soothing in a way. The weather wasn't too bad either with a slight breeze but otherwise clear skies; so clear that I briefly stopped halfway at a grassy area to look up at the stars, 'twas such a pretty sight. Alas, 40 minutes after I left the station, I finally arrived home, and spent the rest of the night resting up from that.

So yeah, had a fairly interesting night. Now I have the urge to go see the stars at night whenever I can. That, and also make a DMV appointment ASAP. X3