Monday, April 28, 2008

Bike Ride with Moishe House

Maaan today was siiick. Fun and late night last night, and the awesomeness continued this morning. Headed over to Moishe House at about 11:30 this morning to meet up with everyone there. Good times! We met up there, packed some lunch, and biked through the Panhandle and then into Golden Gate Park. I didn't realize but it looks like Golden Gate Park closes the roads to cars on Sundays, so it makes it totally ideal for bike riding. Amazing!!

We headed down to the cool windmill and had a huge picnic lunch there. It was fantastic!! Awesome times, and awesome people. It was a gorgeous day too, and the weather was so good it was insane!!

After lunch we headed to the beach for a bit, got some sun and then I headed home and had a 4 hr nap all afternoon. Orion was in town chillin' with Matt and friends so he came over this evening and we chilled and talked about a whole bunch of important stuff. Good times. What an awesome day!!

At Moishe House!!

A bit of mid-afternoon swing dancing in Golden Gate Park, anyone?!

Me, Aliza and Mark in Golden Gate Park

Sweet windmill

Parking our bikes


Looking slick in our biking gear!!

Awesome group photo

Haha, Aliza excited about lunch


Mark at the beach and the upside-down bikes

The beach and the bikes

Good times!!

Video Post: Jazz Hip Hop in the Mission

Some video from the Jazz Hip Hop show we were at last night in the Mission in San Francisco. Sweeeeeet.

Good times!

Sushi and Felonious Show at Elbo Room

Saturday night, I met up with Joelle Faulkner, all the way from London, Ontario!! Super crazy, turns out she is at Stanford now for Law and her and a bunch of her friends were in the city!! Totally awesome times, and I met Joelle's friends including KyungRim who is visiting from Korea and who graciously recommended such an amazing Sushi place to us!!

Since it was still Passover, I didn't eat the rice but managed to get by no problem ordering just Sashimi. So yes, it was just raw fish for dinner. :) It was very fresh!! Good times!

After this Julien and I headed to the Elbo Room for an awesome hip hop concert by Felonious. Dan Wolf, the organizer for the JCC Hub group is one of the rappers in Felonious and it was sooooooo good! It was a great time, we really enjoyed it, and ran into lots of friends there. Hannah came which was awesome, and then we ran into Ben from LucasArts and totally psyched that Liz and Marielle made it out too! Good times, and lots of great music and nice people. We had a ball and I got back at like 4am. Just enough time to get enough sleep to get up at 11 this morning and zoom over to Moishe House for a bike ride... which ROCKED. More details in the next post.

I also learned how to say not only "Arigato", but more importantly, "Arigato Gozaimas"!!

Sushi time!!!!

One of the opener bands, also awesome

This girl was suuuch a good singer

Julien and Hannah, hip hop style

Me, Ben and Liz

Me, Ben, Liz and Marielle

Friday, April 25, 2008

Yeah for Tax Returns!!!!!!!!!

Tonight was awesome. Stayed at work pretty super late, but managed to finish up what I was trying to get done all afternoon, so that rocks. Then went over to Matt's desk and played a video game for a bit, and then we took off and got some Indian Food, talked about work, and then watched Beowulf the movie and it was pretty good.

Tonight just catching up on email and so on and just found out that my USA Federal Tax Return just got deposited into my account!!!!!!!! Yeeehhaaaaaaaw!!!!!!!!!!

It is huuuuuuuuuuuge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Haha, I knew already how much it was, but man it is sure awesome to see it all at once. Good times! :) I also still have a decent amount coming in a cheque from the California State Return too. SO awesome. This is great. I have finally paid off my Europe trip and moving to USA expenses, and only about 8 months later! :) Crazy!! That's so awesome, and also best part is that this has also helped a lot with my South Africa trip costs. I wasn't necessarily expecting a huge tax return, but it has been really helpful with sorting out all these travel costs. So awesome.

Anyway, great news!!

Movie Review: Beowulf

I finnnaaally saw the movie Beowulf!! It was cool and since it's a landmark film from ImageMovers Digital, I thought I should write up some comments.

I see this movie as being sort of a proof-of-concept for Robert Zemeckis's idea of the future of digital filmmaking. There is a lot of stuff that could have been better - sure. But the point is NOT to focus on the little errors in animation, or really intense long-zoom-out camera moves... it is important I think to look past those details and see the underlying technology itself. This is more of a proof of what CAN be done, and therefore what kind of technology can be used for future films and storytelling.

The extra features were AWESOME - really showed some crazy stuff about how they motion captured the characters. I can't believe they motion captured like 30 horses in their studio, that's INSANE! Anyway great concept, and script was pretty good, but this feels more like a "holy crap I can't believe they can do that" movie. It definitely shows major technical improvements over Polar Express from 5 years ago.

Extrapolating forwards by 5 years, I can imagine the future of the IM Digital work is going to be pretty phenomenal. This is really some of the hardest stuff to get "right" in CG - and pretty cool that they are tackling this problem head-on. I think it has a long way to go. But this certainly was a good "stab" at it, as it were. :)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

More South Africa news

So I don't have a whole ton of stuff to report for South Africa yet... just that it's gonna be AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So excited for the trip, and so glad that my Sister and I finally got it organized, sweeeeeeeet. Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is gonna be AWESOME.

It would seem that now I'm an Adult

Ok so technically I've been an Adult since I turned Bar-Mitzvah age wayyy back in my awkward days as a 13-year old Canadian with a thin upper-lip mustache living in Oxford, England.

But really maybe it's more like the day you START SAVING FOR RETIREMENT?!!!!!!!!

Haha, it's funny eh?! Well anyway as of about an hour ago, I have now started saving for my (eventual) retirement!! Lucasfilm has a great plan, and so I've just signed up and now I'm on my way. Seems like I need to do a lot of reading about which plan is better than others and so on, but this is obviously a super long-term investment so you can do well to be riskier in the earlier years of saving, and more conservative in the later years of saving.

Anyway this is all pretty neat stuff. Most of my buddies at home, Matt and Alex and others have been saving money in their RRSPs for quite some time already, that's amazing. Now that I've got my first full-time job after graduating, it was time to start my investing too. Pretty cool stuff!!

Well anyhow got it rollin' now! Exciting times.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I'm going to SOUTH AFRICA!!!!!!!!!!!!


After several long months of planning and trying to get decent flights and decent prices on our tickets, we FINAAAAAAAAAALLY sorted it out, yeaaaaaaaaaaah!!!!!!!!!!!

My Sister and I are going to South Africa!!!!!!!!

We are going to see our Grandma and all of our 1st cousins, most of whom we've only met once when I was 10 years old and Norma was 13 years old!! This is super amazing and it is going to be the trip of a lifetime!! I can't wait.

More details soon. Great news, and so excited that we finally got this all sorted out.

Simpsons... Ride?!??!!

Check this out. Looks like there is a new Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood (and Orlando) that replaces the glorious Back to the Future ride. Thank goodness I finally got to go on the Back to the Future ride a few years ago!!

Anyway, this looks AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!


The great Matzah Shortage of 2008?!

No wonder it was so hard to find Matzah for Passover around here!!!

Matzo in short supply for Bay Area Passover

(04-21) 21:02 PDT San Francisco -- The talk at Passover tables this weekend wasn't just about Moses leading Jews out of slavery. Jews also discussed the shortage of matzo.

Around the region, grocery stores reported having completely run out of their supplies of the essential staple for Passover, the weeklong observance that began Saturday evening.

Safeway, Whole Foods, Lunardi's, Lucky and Mollie Stone stores were among those that reported selling out of their supply of the unleavened bread. A reporter's calls found matzo-less stores in San Francisco, San Rafael, Oakland, Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Berkeley and Palo Alto. Even stores that specialize in Jewish products, such as Afikomen Judaica in Berkeley, said they'd run dry. Most grocers said the shelves emptied Friday or Saturday.

Many Jews said it was an unprecedented shortage.

And there are still five or six more days, depending on tradition, before observant Jews are allowed to eat any leavened bread.

"I've spoken to a lot of folks who are kind of at their wits' end," said Aaron Rosenthal, communications manager for the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. "It appears there's been a huge disconnect between the Bay Area grocery community and the Bay Area Jewish community in terms of supply and demand."

The reasons for the shortage are not entirely clear. But theories abound. A jubilee year in Israel, when some fields lie fallow, might have depressed production. Others believe that grocery stores may have underestimated a rise in Jewish observance.

But basic supply and demand may come into play. And supply is down. Safeway spokeswoman Teena Massingill said the company ordered more matzo than in the past. She suggested that shortages at other stores led people to raid Safeway stores.

Costco stores in the Bay Area didn't stock any matzo, store operators said. Company spokespeople didn't return calls. Trader Joe's decided to not stock matzo nationwide - though the shortage appears largely restricted to the Bay Area.

Trader Joe's is taking the year off to "re-evaluate" matzo, according to Alison Mochizuki, director of national publicity for Trader Joe's, which has 41 stores in the Bay Area. "We want to hear from our customers and what they expect from us."

They're not happy.

And demand is high. Passover is the single most widely observed Jewish holiday, drawing in the full spectrum of American Jewish life, from the ultra-Orthodox to those who never attend synagogue and view their Jewishness as a cultural heritage. The fact that it is celebrated in the home - and not the synagogue - encourages the wide observance. And matzo is essential.

On the first night of Passover, which was Saturday night, Jews are required to eat wheat-based matzo. And for the rest of the week, they can only eat unleavened bread made from wheat or four other grains: barley, oats, rye or spelt.

The ritual requirements make it very difficult to make matzo at home, said Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, scholar in residence at Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco.

"It would be impossible to make matzo unless you had a kitchen dedicated for matzo - and for the rest of the year it would be unused," he said.

And the actual preparation is painstaking.

The grains have to be guarded from the time they are harvested to the time they make it into the kitchen to make sure the grains don't come into contact with any moisture, which would allow the grains to rise. From the moment it is mixed with water, the baker has only 18 minutes to get it into the oven.

"Passover is an alternate gastronomic reality," said Kushner.

The bread symbolizes what enslaved Jews were allowed to eat, earning it names like "the bread of affliction" or "slaves' bread." The fact that it is unleavened is also a reference to the fact that in Jewish slaves' haste to flee Egypt, they didn't have time to bake leavened bread.

What lessons are to be learned are up for debate. As with all things Jewish, there are many opinions.

Several Orthodox Jews wryly noted that waiting until the last moment to purchase matzo didn't treat Passover and its rituals with due respect.

"For somebody truly observant, they're not out shopping on a Saturday," said Mark Cohen of Oakland, who attends Congregation Beth Jacob. Those who didn't buy well ahead of time "are not planning as wisely as the holiday would dictate."

But Rabbi Stephen Pearce, who heads San Francisco's Temple Emanu-El, said the holiday is about sharing. And those who have should give to those who do not.

A woman who came to the community seder Sunday night at the synagogue asked if she could take some of the matzo home - a wish that was granted.

Part of the seder liturgy includes the invocation "let all who are hungry come and eat and share in the Passover," said Pearce. "Well, let's put this into action."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Cool Wired article, Simpsons Season 6, Travel Plans

Lots of stuff going on lately. I've just got a subscription to Wired Magazine, which is really pretty sweet. I was kinda surprised by how much of the magazine is advertising... I guess I forgot how much advertising there really is in magazines. Kinda crazy, but I guess that's why my YEAR SUBSCRIPTION on Amazon was only $5?!?!?!? Amazing!

Anyhow that's all pretty cool stuff. Last night I bought Simpsons Season 6, and pretty psyched to get that in the mail soon!! And I pre-ordered The Art of Wall-E a while back, so that should be coming soon too.

What else, hmm... well I am trying to re-start my Virgin Mobile phone because Metro PCS doesn't work outside of major cities and it's good to have this other phone for guests too.

Anyway good times, lots of stuff going on, but it's allll goooooood.

Barack Obama was on The Daily Show tonight and it was hilarious, and he is awesome. I hope he does well tomorrow in the Pennsylvania Primary.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Mike Jutan video blog: Stuff to sort out, Australian taxes, Passover

Another video blog about what's on my mind today. :)

All the stuff on my desk that I need to sort out

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Video Blog: Ocean Beach and Mt. Tam with Alex

Here are a couple of videos from Alex and my trip to Ocean Beach and Mt. Tam last weekend. Good stuff!!!

Alex at Ocean Beach

Alex at Mt. Tam

Muir Woods and Mt. Tam with Alex

After hiking at Tennessee Beach, Alex and I took off to Muir Woods. It proved to be a fantastic day for hiking there too, it was really hot but the shade from the trees cooled it down a bit, basically it was just plain glorious.

The view from Mt. Tam was awesome (sorry again, Matt), and although we lacked the moody mood of fog blanketing the drive up Mt. Tam (that Matt got to see instead of the view), we did still get some fog on the way home! :) After Muir Woods and Mt. Tam we headed to Toys R Us so I could meet my Disney/Pixar Cars toys collection needs, and we did actually find one that I didn't have yet. Nice. Then off to a mall in Corte Madera just to take a break from driving, and we ran into old of my old friends from Pixar. Then back over the bridge, and down Lombard St ("The crookedest street in the world"), then parked in Chinatown and I got a custard bun. Then off to House of Nan King for dinner. Busy day!

In the evening we went back to my apartment, backed up all the photos and Alex got packed for his early morning departure.

Amazing greenery in the forest

Me at the Muir Woods gate

Mt Tam

Me on top of Mt. Tam

Sweet view of the ocean


Loved the hills too


Another cool pic of the mountains

Alex and the hills


What a view!!!!!!

Some more mountains


And... some trees

Word up

The fog rolling in as we drove back over the Golden Gate Bridge

Whooooa Fog!!

Alex at House of Nan King for dinner

Hiking at Tennessee Beach with Kol Shofar group

Sunday was totally awesssooome!! Alex and I got up insanely early again, had some breakfast, made some lunch and checked the weather report. The internet weather page claimed it was going to be 27 on Saturday and 25 on Sunday (still not sure what that means for you Fahrenheit kids out there, hehe), and it seriously said in the weather report that we should expect "Abundant Sunshine" :) Sounds like a glorious start to the day, n'est pas?

After the abundant sunshine report, we took off in the rental car over the Golden Gate Bridge (good times). Then we headed to Tennessee Beach where we met some of the people from the Kol Shofar group, Kendra and Scott who I met before (and are super awesome) and Adam who I didn't know and yes, was also awesome. We hiked down to the beach, chatted a bunch, and chilled out on the beach with some good food and good talk. It was a really super nice hike, fantastic weather, and it was really fun to meet everyone more in-depth and get to meet people on a deeper level than the usual "meet a bazillion people and talk to them each for 2 seconds" kind of events... fun times!!

It was also good that the hike wasn't insanely long 'cause Alex and I took off afterwards for more hiking at Muir Woods right afterwards. :) See the next post for sweet Muir Woods-y goodness.

Start of the hike

Off we go!!

Word up

Alex taking photos

Group photo!!

And another one

Sweet cliffs

Waves crashing near the shore

Me and Kendra at lunch

Adam and Scott at lunch

Two people on top of the cliff

Trying to get a candid photo of Kendra, but she noticed :)

Chillin' at lunch

Walk back


A deer we saw on the way