Saturday, April 30, 2011

Maui Ocean Center, Part 2

(Part 1 is here.)

I was going through my phone looking for a picture of something or other when I found photos that I had taken with my phone at the Maui Ocean Center. The luminous jellyfish were hard to take pictures of, but they showed up a little better with my phone.


And bonus, I had taken a video of those God rays that had so beguiled me. Not a great video, but the point comes across- the sunlight going through the water is gorgeous, even at crappy resolution with bad color.
video

Saturday at work, as usual. I'm breaking out my sweaters and coats again because of the weather, so I'm thoroughly confused. I keep thinking it's still winter, which then depresses me because I know I'm working on a summer movie, which means I'll be working for a long time.

In actuality, it's not too much longer now. A month more and I'll be going back home, I think (I hope). I miss California, but I really miss the people I left behind there. Just a few ... more ... weeks!

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Snow?!

It might snow on Monday. In May.


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Friday, April 29, 2011

Pacific Whale Foundation

More late Hawaii posts. As in the aquarium post, I'm lazy and I didn't touch up this pictures. I should at some point, because I can see some of them as black-and-whites that would be quite pretty. (Yes, I just complimented my own photographs, don't judge me!)

During our time in Maui last year, we decided to go whale watching on an eco-cruise with the Pacific Whale Foundation. They seem to be a very dedicated and hard-working organization, and we had read good things about their whale-watching cruises.

Like pretty much every day in Hawaii, it was beautiful, though the weather was quite mercurial. We saw an incredible amount of whales (even the captain and the guide were amazed) and heard even more of them (the boat had a microphone that was lowered into the water, and we could hear tons of them calling to each other). It was a fun day, though surprisingly tiring.
Before the barrage of photos begins, I know all my pictures are crooked. I don't have the software to tweak them (I'm at work right now) and I don't have the time. It was super windy when we set out, so holding the camera steady was not as important as keeping myself on the boat, without falling into the water.
There are little turbines on the top of this mountain. They were so cute, like little toys all lined up. And though they lead to inclement weather, the clouds in Hawaii were gorgeous- puffy, white, soft-looking cotton balls.
I have a strange fascination with God rays, light moving through clouds. I almost blinded myself taking some of the pictures this day, but I will always take pictures of skies, no matter where I go.
I also really love the way clouds nestle between mountains. I never saw it as frequently as I did while I was in Hawaii. The best example, of course, was when we went to Haleakala Crater to watch the sunrise- it was stunning (and I have better pictures of that morning ... somewhere ... and I'll get to them someday).
A whale! Spouting off! Isn't it cute?? I thought the whales, while ENORMOUS, were really just so cute. They seemed playful, in a way. Some of them got really, really close to the boat, close enough that the captain turned off the engine (there's a law that if whales are within a certain distance from the boat, you must turn off your engine) and we could watch them play and frolic...
... And flip up their tails. I know, crap photos of the actual whales. They're actually hard to take pictures of because they move so fast. I mean, really fast. I tried, and these are the best I could come up with.
Cloud of water after a whale had breached. I think this one was from an adult whale- the babies left much smaller, cuter little poufs. The most giant, cute babies ever.
Blinding sunlight, blinding water. I love the ocean for how changeable it is. Never constant, never still. The colors change in the blink of an eye, too, especially in Hawaii, where there are always clouds and they are fast-moving. The color of the clouds and sky instantly change the water, which looks almost black here but looks so blue in the other pictures.
Mid-motion. This was a baby, I think, and he got really close to us. Didn't make huge splashes because he's little, but did move gracefully and beautifully. I wanted to take him home and put him in my bathtub. Except he wouldn't fit.
Waving goodbye with his tail?
Waving goodbye with his fin!
Clouds moving in. I loved these clouds because of how they were colored by the setting sun with that pale orange. The ocean turned much darker and grayer as the sun started to set.
Clouds tinted pink as the sun set even further. I love the color of the sea in this one.
Sunset and the wake of the boat as we sped back towards land, seawater in our hair, faces windburned, but so happy with all the whales we had seen and heard.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spring

I'm told that this is "spring" weather. What a load of malarkey.


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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tentpole

I've worked on several tentpole movies. This is an insightful article about them, in Variety:

Biz battles crunch on tentpole vfx
By David S. Cohen

The visual effects budget for Warner Bros.' "Green Lantern" has risen by $9 million, with new vfx houses recruited to bolster the team that's been working overtime to meet the film's June 17 launch.

The Warner Bros. pic will no doubt meet its date, but other effects-heavy films continue to scramble. In fact, the kind of sturm and drang that's swirled around "Green Lantern" is actually par for the course on most visual effects-heavy tentpoles these days -- and the problem's growing.

Such pics now routinely fit the description of a "troubled" project, with "troubled" the new normal. And key players in the f/x biz say that with crunches mounting, it's only a matter of time before some f/x-heavy tentpole can't meet its delivery date -- a nightmare no studio has faced since "Titanic." Should a tentpole be forced to change dates, the ripple effects on a studio, its rivals, exhibitors and tie-ins will be widespread and injurious to bottom lines.

"I think the day (the system) breaks is the day everyone will revise their thinking," said Marvel exec VP of visual effects Victoria Alonso. "Until that day comes, filmmakers are going to push it to the limit. I think it's sad that we will have to watch one of us fail to learn our lesson."

The stresses that studio tentpoles are creating for the vfx industry are not new, as Variety reported in its May 28, 2007, issue. But they have worsened across the board.

Warners isn't the only studio grappling with these issues. Alonso said Paramount's "Captain America" is on a shorter schedule than Marvel prefers, and "We are feeling the heat for it." On Par's "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," at least one vfx studio has gone to seven-day weeks, 12 hours a day, and canceled the Easter Sunday holiday for its vfx artists.

"Green Lantern" fell under heightened scrutiny after an early trailer showed little in the way of vfx. Fans grumbled, but that was a calculated risk by WB: Rather than rush some shots for marketing (a common practice), the studio held back the vfx for the second trailer. That gamble seems to have paid off, as footage shown at WonderCon and Cinemacon was well received, and buzz is building.

Chris de Faria, Warner's exec VP of digital production, animation and visual effects, defended "Green Lantern" and Warner's process on the pic. "There is no problem on 'Green Lantern,'?" he said. "We try to add things to make the movie better until the 11th hour. That doesn't mean we're risking the movie up to the 11th hour."

Whispers about problems on the production grew louder after schedule concerns early in the new year triggered high-level meetings to get the project back on track. The cost of its roughly 1,400 visual effects is more than $9 million over the $45 million original f/x budget. That budget is on the low side for a vfx-heavy tentpole, but 3D hadn't been taken into account in the original budget.

Sony Imageworks and Rising Sun Pictures are the primary vfx studios on "Green Lantern," and both say they're delivering on schedule or according to contract. De Faria said one all-CG pre-credit sequence had been cut in development, then added back once the studio saw an early cut, so Pixomondo was brought on late to complete it.

Even de Faria said management practices are still catching up to the reality of tentpole production, where effects have to be built before the picture is tested, then vfx have to be added and/or changed as the picture comes together and in response to audience testing, all while marketing demands shots for the campaign.

All of Hollywood seems to be still figuring this out, and as a result, the tentpole pattern is now well established:

• A movie demands you've-never-seen-this-before visual effects both for marketing and story;
•Ambitious plans and a short schedule leave little margin for error;
•Inevitable schedule problems trigger urgent meetings among studio execs, vendors and filmmakers to get the project back on track;
•"911" emergency calls go out to almost any vfx shop in the world that can take on some last-minute work;
•Everyone runs a harrowing race to deadline despite all the extra help.

Collapse, rest, repeat.

With summer and holiday release skeds already crowded and so many tie-ins for these pics, it's unlikely a studio would let a movie actually miss its date. But the alternative may well be a picture coming to release with far less spectacle than the filmmakers and studio had planned upon simply because there wasn't time or resources to finish it. That is essentially what happened with "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 1" when it couldn't be converted to 3D in time for its theatrical bow.

There are several explanations for why the studios persist in an approach that regularly leads to cost overruns and inspires dire warnings from their f/x vendors.

De Faria said that in order to remain competitive, studios must be very responsive to the audience, and that means condensing the time from the inception and development of a project to its release.

"Movies this year, like the movies last year, are more spectacular, the vfx are more ambitious than ever before," de Faria said. "The stresses that it places on production management are very real. I feel them every day, but our job is to develop new tools and new systems for dealing with that."

He said post skeds that used to be 21-26 weeks are now 36-40 weeks to accommodate visual effects, but in order to keep that responsiveness, they can't get longer.

Alonso said Marvel tries to do its movies in a 32-36 week post. The short post schedules, he said, are dictated by release dates announced before there's even a shooting script. "So you are always chasing your tail. You work backwards from that release date, then you add production not being ready to shoot or location complications and you shave the weeks you push from post."

Paradoxically, these pressures arise in part out of an attempt to save money. Studios and producers don't want to pay for vfx that will end up on the cutting-room floor. So they prefer to have a cut before handing over shots to vfx. If the editor and director spend a long time cutting, vfx work piles up, which forces the artists to work overtime and drives up the costs per shot.

A less generous explanation, from the anonymous vfx expert, is "visual effects is just another way to not make your mind up." The can-do attitude of vfx companies and vfx artists have brought these projects in on time -- somehow -- and that has given studios and filmmakers the sense that they can delay or backtrack on decisions almost indefinitely.

Alonso's advice for anyone seeking to avoid these crushes is "have a shooting script before you announce the release dates. If you push the shoot due to any reason, do not compress the post schedule. Don't take the time from post, because chances are the post needs will double, not shrink."

De Faria regards that notion as somewhat utopian. He said the challenge is "to continue to deliver mind-boggling high-level visual effects in an environment where scripts are constantly changing, stars' availability is constantly changing and release dates are changing."

Even pushing a release date, he notes, wouldn't necessarily ease the crunch or cut costs, since that time will inevitably be used to improve the film, adding extra work to the schedule.

Over the next year, films that will be angling to avoid a last-minute crunch will include Warner's "Superman: Man of Steel," Disney-Marvel's "The Avengers," Warner's "The Dark Knight Rises" and Sony's "The Amazing Spider-Man." Beyond that, Weta Digital will certainly have its hands full with Warner-New Line's "The Hobbit," in 3D at 48 fps.

All of these movies aim to give audiences something they've never seen before, and as de Faria said, "When the bar is raised, we can't refuse to jump over it." So the movies are bound to get more complex, especially with higher frame rates and 3D, and this pressurized process isn't likely to change.

"Nor should it," said de Faria. "This isn't applicable to a Mike Nichols film, but this is the business of the tentpole film."

I will not be adding my two cents. This is the business I'm in, and this is its current state. Things change more rapidly in post-productions than they do at any other stage, and that's just how it is.
That's Tomar-Re. Behind him is Oa (a planet). The movie comes out in less than two months. And we will get it done, just like the article says.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

WellBeing

There are a lot of strange Korean colloquialisms, particularly the adoption of English (or other language) words or phrases and twisting them just slightly.

Some of my favorites are: "handphone" for cell phone, "skinship" for touchy-feely-ness (skin + kinship = touching), and "arbeit" from the German for 'work,' which means part-time job or after-school job in Korean (it's really pronounced "aurobeit" or "au-lo-bye-eet-uh" in Korean). There are a plethora of others, since Koreans are constantly studying English and incorporating English into their vocabulary (not always correctly, but still- it's an effort).

Another Korean slang term is "wellbeing," one word, pronounced "well-bing" (yes, two syllables, not three), which encompasses anything healthy. "This organic green tea is wellbeing!"

I decided to wellbeing my life a little while ago, after my nosebleeds. I'd never been in the emergency room before; I'd never felt quite so helpless before. Thanks to the nosebleeds, I was forced to deal with something that I knew was a problem- high blood pressure (hypertension).

I've always had high blood pressure, but I ignored it. I don't like doctors or hospitals, and I didn't want to be told what was wrong with me. When I had my nose stuffed and packed, my blood pressure rocketed to insane levels. I was told that the constant pain and stress my body was under would continue to raise my blood pressure, but my pressure got so high that at least one doctor mentioned the word "stroke," which frightened me.

So I started doing my research. What causes high blood pressure? How can I control it? What changes do I need to make?

Turns out, it's not difficult. I cut out red meat, added brown rice and oatmeal to my diet, started eating breakfast, stopped eating past 7:00, consciously started drinking more water, and forced myself to go to bed earlier, so I would get at least seven hours of sleep. It sounds like a lot of drastic changes, but since I started after my nosebleeds, and I had stopped eating altogether when I had my nose packed, it wasn't difficult.

It upsets me that I needed such a big reality check to become concerned about my health, but I'm very good at denial. I think a lot of people are, especially when they know that something is wrong and they don't want to face it.

It's been over a month, and I am much better. I think the water and sleep have made a huge difference in my energy and my skin. I was never a good sleeper (I had relied on melatonin for a couple years when I was sleeping really, really irregularly) because I'm a complete night owl. I love nighttime. I love not being in the sun. I love the lights, the mood, the way things look. I hate mornings.

It took a few weeks, but I'm now on a more regular sleeping schedule, and try to be in bed before midnight. I find that actually sleeping has helped my stress levels and made it much, much easier to actually get out of bed in the mornings without wanting to punch puppies.

I also started taking vitamin B complex (it includes all eight of the vitamin B types), which seems to help me fall asleep and sleep well. I was never a vitamin taker, other than vitamin D while I was taking melatonin, but I'm sticking with the vitamin B complex for now, as it does seem to be making a difference.

I'm turning 29 this year, which is not a good number. I want to be healthy (or healthier, at least) and not plagued with sleeping problems and stress-related issues by the time I turn 29 and officially enter the last year of my twenties, after which I will have to deal with turning 30 (shudder).

At least if I blog about it, it will hold me (somewhat) accountable for what I do. I hope it will, anyway. It's been a struggle for the past six weeks, but it's gotten a bit easier now, so maybe I'm over that initial hump. Just wait until I plateau....

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Friday, April 22, 2011

If I Were Korean...

... I would probably not be working in movies.

... I would be more likely to already be married and have a child (or more).

... I would be thin, or at least less fat.

... I would be paler than I already am.

... I would still be incredibly passive-aggressive, rather than mildly and sporadically passive-aggressive.

... I would probably play the piano a lot better than I do currently.

... I might resent my parents more.

... I would have gone to college for four years, rather than two.

... I would not be me.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Steam

Angry. Irrationally, inexplicably, steam-roilingly angry. I really can't stand some people.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kkokkokkokkokko!

The Easter basket that I received from the family included lots of snacks from my sister (as well as one stingy tube of Korean pre-mixed instant coffee).

I had the Yan Yan yesterday, which is a delightful but achingly sweet snack of crisp cookie sticks and a flavored dip. The dip in my Yan Yan was strawberry.

I've had Yan Yan before, and I'm sure I'll have it again, but the thing about this particular package was that the cookie sticks had funny sayings on them, with cute little pictures of animals. According to Wikipedia, they say:

    * Balloon - Goes Pop
    * Bat - Only In The Night
    * Beetle - Lucky Colour: Brown
    * Cat - Say Meow
    * Chick - Lucky Color: Yellow
    * Chicken - Kokekokko
    * Chicken - Kokekokko
    * Cow - Muuuuu
    * Cow - Muuuuu
    * Duck - Go For A Swim
    * Elephant - Jumbo
    * Fox - Beware Of Lies
    * Frog - Amphibian
    * Giraffe - Tallest Mammal
    * Goat - You Are Lucky Today
    * Golden Egg
    * Golden Log
    * Horse - Gallop Away
    * Kettle - Goes Ssss
    * Mole - In A Hole
    * Mouse - Do Not Be Timid
    * Octopus - Lucky Number: 8
    * Owl - Active At Night
    * Panda - Go for More
    * Rabbit - Eat More Carrots
    * Rhinoceros - Think Big
    * Seal - Loves To Sun Tan
    * Sheep - Wool Sweaters
    * Snail - Snail Mail?
    * Squid - Black Ink
    * Squirrel - Your Best Friend
    * Stag Beetle - Love It
    * Starfish - Star+Fish
    * Tam Ho Yan - Baaaaaa
    * Whale - Biggesy [sic] Mammal
    * Zebra - Herbivore

You do not, of course, receive all of the messages. There aren't that many cookies in the package. I cracked up yesterday because of my favorite one:

Due to an inside joke with my sister, "kkokkokkokkokko" means any type of bird, squawking or calling. We're crazy, yes.

I'm going through some sort of weirdness right now, as is usual for me near the end of movies. I can't sleep, I have no motivation, and I want to leave Albuquerque.

I'm done with this city, and really am ready to move on with my life. I don't yet know what I'm going to be doing with said life, but I do know that my future is not in Albuquerque.

Time for something new. I wish I could discuss my various options here, but since I can't, I've been asking my family their opinions and going through a variety of scenarios in my head. I'm sure I will figure it out, and hopefully figure it out soon.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Maui Ocean Center

My brain is soft and woozy lately because of work (yes, the long hours are getting me all loopy), so I'm (slowly) going through some old photos that I never looked through.

I love taking pictures, but I hate editing. And since I'm short on time lately, I didn't even bother color-correcting these, I'm just posting them as they are. Some of the pictures are really saturated, some of them are very washed out, but all of them are exactly what my camera saw at the Maui Ocean Center in Wailuku, during my trip to Hawaii last year.

As it turns out, it's very difficult to take pictures through thick Plexiglass aquariums (and then all that water), so there were only a few that I could even stomach. 

So very blue. It was a very small aquarium, but had a lot of tanks and a lot of fishies.
The little fishy in the first photo. It was crazy trying to get this picture- the warping caused by the refraction of the glass, the intense blue lighting- but I really liked this fish.
Cartoony fish. This one was in a tank with natural lighting, so no more deep blues.
It's Gill from "Finding Nemo," otherwise known as a Moorish idol!
A rather evil looking fish, but his colors were so pretty. I love that so many fish have underbites, it makes them endearing to me somehow.
We called this one Pinocchio. Doesn't he look like a smiling alien? So cute, and so ridiculous. And we're back to the blue tanks.
Lovely, beautiful coral and sea plants. They have an unreal quality to them, and the fact that they move and sway is calming and ethereal.
Seahorses simultaneously fascinate and repel me. They're cute, in a sense, but also gross, in a sense. There were a lot of little horsies in this aquarium and this was the clearest photo I got of one of the suckers.
Looks like one of those sesame covered filled tteoks (떡) that I love ... that sounds delicious right now, actually.
Starfish. I love the color of many sea creatures, they can be so vibrant and unreal.
Our buddy the turtle! He was swimming around and I kept taking pictures of him, but the glass was very reflective and, for something that moves so smoothly, this guy was fast.
More turtles! Our buddy is the one swimming with his head sticking out of the water. And it was a gorgeous day in Hawaii, of course.
We nerds in visual effects call this effect "God rays," because it's that holy moment when the "Hallelujah" chorus rings out and the clouds part and you see rays of sunlight with particles dancing in them. This effect, rays shimmering in water, was beautiful. I took a video on my phone, but it doesn't do the rays justice.
More rays and some other rays, of the swimming variety. I love rays, I think they're beautiful and sleek and friendly. I got to feed some manta rays at the Monterey Bay Aquarium once, and they were so fun.

Rays and fish. I love the dappled pattern that the fish got because of the sunlight and the ripples of the water.

I miss traveling. Okay, to be honest, I miss being on vacation.

There's something so great about traveling- the memories, the new things to experience- but there's something awful about it, too. I never missed Hawaii until I had been there. Now, I miss having fresh pineapples for breakfast. I miss that sticky sweet smell that seems to linger everywhere. I miss Waikiki. I miss doing nothing, going shopping for nothing, rewarding the nothing with a fruity umbrella drink.

I certainly want to experience other places in the world, but Hawaii is temptingly located between here and Korea, and I fear that I will always want a long layover in Hawaii before making my way to Korea.

Speaking of Korea, I'm trying to figure out if (when) I will be back there. It's only been a little over a year, but I miss my family and my grandfather (maternal) is turning 90 (Korean age) this year. I'd like to visit for that, at the very least.

More updates as I have time. I'll probably try to get through my backlog of photos from my trips to Korea and Hawaii last year (now that I think of it, I think I have some good ones of my aunt's ill-tempered cat).

Back to "Green Lantern" for now.

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Overheard

From my work husband (the dude I spend most of my waking hours with):

"You're not pulling your weight in this relationship, you never hang up on me."

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mildred Pierce

HBO aired its miniseries, "Mildred Pierce," over the past few weeks.

A five-part miniseries with Parts 1 and 2 aired together, Part 3 the week after, and then Parts 4 and 5 aired together. I think it was a total of six hours.

It felt like a total of about 15 hours, let me tell you. HBO has a reputation of having high standards and great quality, and I generally agree. "Sex and the City," before its sad decline into two farcical films, was a great show. "The Sopranos," "Boardwalk Empire"- all good shows, with great production value and generally very thoughtful scripts.

"Mildred Pierce" is, of course, a book by James M. Cain. That book was made into a 1945 movie starring Joan Crawford in the role of Mildred, which won her the Oscar.

Kate Winslet had some big shoes to fill. To play the same role as Joan Crawford ... and to play a role that has already won an Oscar? That's no easy task.

The filmmakers behind the HBO miniseries always said that they would stick closer to the book than to the 1945 film. As I've never read the book or seen the movie, I figured that this would be a good introduction to "Mildred Pierce," right? And I could watch the movie someday, knowing that it was made in the 40's and that it wouldn't be just like the miniseries.
It was a good, solid plan. Except for the fact that I never took into consideration that I would not enjoy this miniseries. Frankly, the only actor that I even marginally bought was Guy Pearce, who seemed to really sink into and relish his role as Monty Beragon, polo player and playboy.

While both Kate Winslet and Evan Rachel Wood were beautiful and physically well-suited to their roles, they both seemed somewhat stiff and had weird voices. It's like they were trying to find that 1930's inflection and enunciation, but it ended up sounding like two Belgians were trying to speak Southern English. It was bizarre. If Guy Pearce, Australian extraordinaire, can sound like a pitch perfect 1930's snob, then why can't Kate Winslet, divine Englishwoman? Or, worse still, Evan Rachel Wood, who's American?

Those accents distracted me at every turn. And I knew that the plot was slow / non-existent / not interesting me when I realized that I wasn't pausing before getting up to get a glass of water. The clothes, the scenery, the interior design all interested me more than what was "happening" with the characters.

I say "happening" because not much happens. Though I've never read the book or watched the film, I found that it was a predictable, boring plot. It's the plot that a lot of Korean dramas use, but much faster. Is there a reason that this rather simple tale was told over so many hours?

I sound crabby, but it's because it was so long. Time is precious while I'm trying to finish up a movie, and this felt like a colossal waste of time. It it was a TV movie, clocking in around two hours, I think I would've liked it. The pace would have been faster, it would still have stayed visually interesting, but the plot would have actually moved at a discernible speed.

Despite it all, I could see how this story would make a great book. Emotions don't come across as well on screen, no matter how amazing the actor or cinematographer.

I'll probably watch the Joan Crawford version, but I'm more interested in the book at this point. And I'm not going to be watching any more miniseries until I'm done with this movie, when I have lots of time.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Easter Basket

My sister and my mother sent me an Easter package (really, a FedEx box stuffed with goodies), including gim (nori for kimbap or sushi), shrimp chips, banana puffs, and a cute Easter basket full of candy and random goodness:

It's sitting on my desk at work, cheering me up every time I see it. Thanks, family!

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Santa Maria, California

During "Alice in Wonderland," I spent quite a bit of time in Santa Maria for work.

Doing some housekeeping today (okay, I'm organizing my work laptop and my file directories), I discovered a folder called "Santa Maria," created over a year ago. This is the trouble with digital files- they're so easy to forget about because they don't physically take up any room or catch the eye.

There were a bunch of photos, taken with my point-and-shoot, of random Santa Maria adventures. I had a weird rush of nostalgia, and then checked myself- do I actually miss that experience?? Good gravy.

Anyway- the photos I decided to post:

I always took PCH on my sojourns to and from the central coast, because I like to see the ocean. The weather wasn't warm, or anything, but water is always soothing and I love that drive.
Just a hop and a skip north of LA, the vineyards start to roll out. There are little hills and small patches of grapes right on the coastline, and this is a typical sight.
 My favorite street, always! "Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right down Santa Claus Laaaaaane" ... yes, I'm a child. And I love Christmas songs.
This tunnel was always a sign that I was getting close and should prepare myself mentally to deal with the anguish that always awaited me in Santa Maria. I do love these types of tunnels, I think they're fun, with a sort of persistent dusk that I find soothing.
The water tower at ye olde Orcutt, a teeny tiny little ... town? We used to hop on the freeway for about a mile and go to Orcutt for lunch, to get away, whine, and have a drink.
More Orcutt. They obviously like their old-time-y details, like that clock on the street. This is a gas station, all painted up and fancy.
This is just across the street from the gas station. This looks like a fake Hollywood facade, only the Hollywood version would have horses and carriages parked out front and no massage parlor. Such a cute little Main Street.
I remember taking these pictures on my last drive back down to LA. I took a leisurely, meandering drive down small streets and through vineyards because I thought, when am I ever going to come here again? I haven't been to the central coast since this drive.
Shriveled and dry vines, since it was winter (well, the approximation of winter in California) at the time. There is something pretty about the rows of crazy vines and the miles and miles of it.
The winery directory. I like Foxe and Fess Parker, Cottonwood's okay, and I haven't been to the rest. When I first started going to Santa Maria, it was only for two days at a time (one night), and we used to have a driver take us up there and then drive us back to work. We had the same driver a couple of the times we used the service, and he was saying that he does a lot of drives for people on winery tours. That sounded like fun, and I always wanted to do it ... but who has the time, really?
There was just once that I flew to Santa Maria (into the tiniest airport ever, with Fox News blaring from every single TV), and this was the view somewhere over the farmlands of California. I loved that flight, it was so fast and easy.
Sunset from my hotel room. We stayed in two different hotels. This one was the hotel that we "lived" in when I was there six days a week.

Santa Maria, for all the troubles that I had there, was quite beautiful. It's like a peaceful, slower LA, with people that take their time and a small-town vibe with city conveniences.

I have a feeling that when I look back on Albuquerque, I'll feel this way- a little nostalgic, a little bemused, and wondering if I'll ever be back.

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