Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ever since I got back home to Minnesota, I've been hearing this song ALL THE TIME. I have no idea why, maybe it's because while I was gone, this was officially declared the Minnesota Anthem. I mean I heard it on the car ride home, then I heard it on the radio a couple times, then over the span of about a week I heard it 3 times in the health club I go to.

Then I looked up the music video and it's hilarious:

Look at that badass go. I still laugh out loud when he actually knocks down that one person.


It's really dark outside today, I think it might rain. Yesterday and the day before I went to the Twins games. That was fun.

Baseball is fun.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

It's Delicious

If anyone likes ice cream, my sister discovered this pretty amazing topping:

Smucker's Magic Shell

It's like regular chocolate syrup, except after you pour it on the ice cream, it hardens!! So, when you dig your spoon into the smooth ice cream, it breaks apart the now solid chocolate. And then you eat it! I think science has truely come a very long way and as a human race, we are making incredible advances in the world of culinary desserts. I approve.

press release: part II

Me and my friend and former roommate, Tim, have begun talking about what we want to make for our next animated short. It looks like this time Tim will be more in charge of the story aspects, although I think we'll have another situation where we can all through in ideas and hopefully take the best of them. We hope to have a script in the next couple weeks and then start storyboarding from there. But we all want to do much better than before.

We're calling this Project: DBall.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Our Civic Duty

This past week I had jury duty. I thought that I would like to take a few moments to look back and reflect on this week of my life which I was forced to dedicate to these United States.

I first got the call a little over a year ago. I think when I went in to apply for my passport my name was thrown into the pool and then randomly selected a bit later for jury duty. The problem was that I was in Japan at the time, so I had to delay it until December, but I was taking a class then, so I managed to delay it again until now. I had to go downtown and sit in this huge room along with the other 60-70 poor souls who were called in. When it was time to start, we were shown a video entitled "ALL RISE: Jury Service in Minnesota" which I thought might make a better name for the action shoot-em up courtroom drama sequel to Fargo, but oh well. After that began the waiting.

It was 10am at this point. They call groups of us upstairs to courts based on whether or not we are needed. I guess 80% of cases never get to the point of needing a jury since most are settled before that, but we all need to be there waiting just in case. It eventually became about 3:00pm and I had almost finished an entire book. Then I, along with 23 of my newfound peers were called in upstairs.

We walked into the courtroom and met the two attorneys, judge, defendant, bailiffs, and all those other guys you see on TV. We sat down and the judge explained that this case was about a guy who was accused of stealing a car. Then the lawyers got their chance to ask us a bunch of questions. They went really in depth with some people, especially those who had relatives who were cops, etc, trying to make sure that we could all judge the case unbiased-ly. I told them that I was a recent college graduate and currently unemployed, and when he asked what my major was I gave him the long winded asnwer of "Digital Cinema with a concentration in Animation and a minor in Japanese Language." He flinched a little bit and then responded "Oh. No wonder you're having trouble finding a job."

So I got selected as one of the 14 finalists who had to report back the next morning to hear the case. So I got to get up early and do the whole thing over again on Tuesday. The case was actually not very interesting at all. The car was found stolen, but it had the GPS OnStar system so it was tracked right away, pulled over, and this guy was driving it. He was wearing weird clothes, like a sweater and rain jacket (on a hot sunny day) and black socks pulled over his shoes. That was the testimony of the prosecution's 4 witnesses. The prosecution was then done and when the judge asked the defense to give their argument, the defense just goes "defense rests." and that was it. We were thrown into deliberations which really didn't last to long.

The case was to prove that the car was stolen, this guy was driving it, and he knew that it was stolen. When we began talking about it in the jury room, we decided right away that weird clothing is not evidence or proof of anything, which then left us with nothing to work with. So, we had no choice but to all vote "not guilty."

After that, I got to go home and I didn't need to go in for the rest of the week. I guess I lucked out on that one. And, reflecting on the whole experience, I can say that the trial process is interesting, but I can definitely see why people dread getting called in for Jury Duty. Most of it is waiting in a big waiting room with nothing to do, and then listening to a boring case.

I will write about something more interesting next time. I promise.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Something very dear to us all, I'm sure.

Hello everyone.

I would like to take a brief break from the current world surrounding us, made up of stress coming from our lives, school, future plans or the trouble we are having making them, or anything at all that might be troubling you. And instead of focusing on all these things that really, when really given a necessary degree of thought are really superficial in the grand scheme of things, I think we could all benefit sitting back and appreciating one of the finer arts in life.

Of course, I'm talking about grilling.

When was is told the word "grilling" a broad range of mental pictures may come up. But probably not. The first thing you think is most likely the very topic I would like to briefly discuss today. And that is, of course, the grilling of meats.

Before I begin, I think that it would be beneficial to provide a little bit of background, as always. For the last couple of years, cooking has become quite the interest of mine. I think it started Sophomore year at college when I would occasionally get together with some of my friends from around the floor of our dormitory and I would bake a batch of cookies with a recipe given from my mother, who received most of them from her mother. Baking has since that time become my favorite form of food preparation. Whenever I have a friends birthday or similar occasion come up, I've long since accepted that I'm terrible at selecting gifts to give them, so I will typically bake them cookies, or a cake, or another likely sweet snack. Ive dabbled into cooking things like dinners and the like, but I really haven't practiced it much so it's tough to talk about. I had also never even attempting the long-time-thought-of manliest form of cooking: grilling.

This weekend, that all changed.

Yes, my sister has recently graduated from high school and in honor of this occasion, we needed enough roasted chicken and sausages to feed upwards of 100 people who were willing to come to the graduation party. I volunteered to be in charge of the grill for the dual purpose of both (1) learning the craft and (2) seeing what all this grilling business is really about. So, after a brief tutorial by my father on how to ignite the flames and commence the controlled burning of these massive amounts of meat, I was out on the deck and on my own (except for my mother who was sure to yell out her own pieces of advice from inside the kitchen, and for the purposes of making me look like more awesome shall no longer be discussed in this entry).

First up was the chicken. Now, the chicken had been marinating in Italian salad dressing for well over a day and as such was slimy, gooey, and smelled just like one unfamiliar with Italy would imagine it to. I through them onto the grill and created a little composition that looked a little something like this:

So the fires were roaring and the meat was heating up at a very rapid pace. This first batch of chicken was the first of another roughly 6 groups of 8 that were to follow it, totaling no less than 56 chicken breasts, which is a number that even the most humble can be proud of. As with any duty requiring these kind of numbers, I managed to form a system. Roast the chicken for 10 minutes, turn them over. Roast another 10. Turn down the heat. Then continue to turn them until they are done. They began to look as follows:

Looks pretty tasty, right? Well after all this chicken came the sausages. We had something like 60 Italian sausage links which were entrusted to me to heat until hitting prime deliciousness. Here we have the links in the state before they were cooked:

(Blogger has begun posting all of my pictures sideways. I'm not sure why this is)

And I have apparently mistakenly forgot to take a picture of them upon completion and for that offer my sincerest apologies. But people seemed to enjoy eating them, so I consider it a job well done.

And more than that, I would also like to express my newfound appreciation for these kind of slow moving activities such as mass-grilling. I was sitting out on the deck for a good 5 hours and in that time read a lot of stuff. It was the first time I've had the chance to sit down and read in a very long time and since I've finished grilling I've been reading more and more, even during times there is no grilling to be done. I also think that there is something almost meditative about the act, where you just lose your mind to it. It's the same sensation I get while drawing, exercising, or doing the dishes. Everyone out there, particularly those of you reading this should learn how to grill. It's quick, easy, and food prepared yourself always tastes much better than anything you ever buy in a store. And even for you vegetarians out there, there is little I can think of better than a potato or eggplant roasted on the fires of an open grill. Ready your appetites!

Next time: Alex's Adventures through Jury Duty!

Friday, July 11, 2008


This is already all over the internet and has been for a while, but I'm posting it because I think it's going to be pretty popular. Hayao Miyazaki's next movie "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea" seems to have hit levels of cuteness not yet matched thus far in Japan. More news as it develops:

G8 Summit

So I guess around yesterday the 34th G8 summit concluded in Touyako, Hokkaido, Japan. This is something that's been particularly interesting to me since when I did my study abroad in Hokkaido last year, I got to visit the Hotel in which the summit is being held. I stayed with a family in Touyouro-cho which was a couple hours away from Hakodate, and about 20 minutes away from this hotel. The family I stayed with was very rich. The man of the household was the president of a lumber company his father created, who was also living the the house. So they were very rich indeed. Here are some pictures of the hotel in question:

Yes, here we are, the Windsor Hotel. This was by far the richest, ritzy-est, most dazzling hotel which I've ever had the pleasure to visit.

And here we have me and the two other students I was visiting with, our host-moms and a couple of our tour guides (Notice how much more massive I am when compared to people native to Japan).

So, to give you an idea of how rich my host family was, I ended up going to this hotel about 2 or 3 times during my 1 and a half week stay in Touyouro-cho, and I went there for only the purpose of buying bread. Within this amazingly expensive hotel is an amazingly expensive little bread shop which sells amazing bread. By host family bought all of their bread exclusively from this little shop. I guess that really has nothing to do with anything, but just something that was pretty interesting about them. Anyways, this hotel has one of the most amazing views I've ever seen in my life and I'm not sure why I didn't take a picture of that.

I guess it's just a weird thought that all those 8 leader-people were standing around in the same place that I was standing. Funny thing is there is a lot of hilarity going on about the G8 summit in Japan. One such example I like is how the French president apparently doesn't care about Japan. Plus I see a lot of news reports almost daily about the crazy antics Mrs. Canadian First Lady also gets into, such as not soaking her feet in the hot springs foot spring thing despite everyone else doing it. She's dumb, I stuck my feet into one of those things while in Japan and it was super relaxing.

I guess there is also a lot of protesting doing on around Japan right now. I never encountered and protests while in Japan and it's tough for me to imagine active protesting in that country. They seem so easy going normally.

I miss Hakodate. :D

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I succeeded in putting up my website, and everything looks like it's running smoothly. I hope.

This website's purpose is acting as an online portfolio...which should help in applying for jobs.

Also there is a Japanese section, but it's probably really poorly translated since it's really hard to translate all these computer graphic technical terms. I pretty much just made them all into katakana............

If anybody actually reads my blog and any of you are Japanese and something stands out as being "Whoah! This Japanese is terrible!!" Please let me know!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


I like it when a new month comes because it kind of feels like a fresh start. I can forget about all that crap I did or didn't do last month and start again.

Having that said, I still wish I was in Hokkaido learning Japanese as I was a year ago, but I'm in Minnesota right now and am trying to keep myself busy. I'm testing out a bunch of different methods to both keep myself busy and also improve myself. Self improvement is becoming a pretty big interest of mine recently. So, here's what I'm doing now:

1) reconnecting with friends here. I have a pretty good number of old high school friends here in Minnesota who I try to keep in contact with. Because I love them. I've always loved being around them and enjoy every moment I get to spend with them. Many of them are working multiple jobs and/or spending extra time with the family now in the summer, so seeing them is seeming to be a maybe once a week thing, but it's still awesome.

2)Exercise! I got a student membership at my family's health club and have taken up swimming. I hope to go and exercise for a couple hours every morning. Starting tomorrow. And also I like to go on bike rides in the evening, since there's a really pretty pond to bike close to my house! :)

3)Animation. I'm going to enter this months 11 second club competition. I don't know how this is going to pan out, but I'm pretty excited about this month's sound clip. I just have to animate a character to that bit of dialog.

4) Drawing. More detail on this later...but I want to start sketching more and more.

5) Japanese. I'm continuing to plug through my goal to study all 1945 common use kanji by the end of the summer. And also, one of my biggest regrets about last year is deciding to not take the JLPT exam even though it was offered at my school and I had nothing going on that weekend. So I'd like to make up for it by working really hard and taking it this year. I know I would be able to pass level 2, but I'm wondering how close I could get to passing level 1 which is the highest level. I just ordered last years tests to practice from and see where I stand.

So yeah that's what I'm doing here in Minnesota. If anyone knows any ways for me to get out of this state and do something better...let me know! :D