Monday, May 31, 2010

Breath of Fresh Air

I first discovered India.Arie at a Cultural Olympiad event and have been glued to her work ever since. All her songs are so pure and real; she sings with warmth and passion. Most of India's songs are on the playlist I fall asleep to every night. Her music is calming and is the ultimate stress reliever. She's just a breath of fresh air.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It's Crunch Time?

The push and the drive are no longer present.

Well we're now into the home stretch of this school year, and as the weather is growing warmer, I can feel summer creeping around the corner. Each day I'm finding it harder and harder to stay motivated and stay focused. I know this is the time that really matters, the crunch time before exams but I just feel myself having more and more reluctance every day. My school work is no longer the top thing on my mind, and I'm not finding the time or the energy to put effort into my work.

In a perfect world, I would suck it up and be done in only a few weeks. But these weeks feel like they're never going to end. The unit tests, rap-up projects and crunching to finish a course are the stories of my life. I've just returned from a wonderful vacation, but why does it feel like I've been in school, endless-with no break for months? I'm in need of this summer break!

Does anyone know how to speed up time? And lend me a complete "Tenth Grade Study Guide"?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Final Day

It's always been said that you learn from your mistakes.

This morning I learned that riding a tandem bicycle is a lot harder than you may think. After a change of plans, we ended up on single bikes, and took a nice bike ride around Coronado Island, which is directly across the inlet from San Diego. The bike path was much like the Sea Wall, and took us along the beach, along the golf course, viewing some spectacular houses, and past the Navy Base, where I learned pictures of the Navy Base are prohibited.

A beautiful ferry ride took us back Downtown where we caught a trolley to SeaWorld. We learned yesterday that you really don't need to follow the bus schedules because they really don't follow them. This morning we caught ourselves sprinting in a direction we weren't even certain of, and watching our bus pull out just as we neared. Half the fun of discovering other cultures is by riding public transit, to add to our interesting people encounters today a homeless man asked us who the President of Canada and if we were "buds" with him.

SeaWorld was outstanding! It blew my expectations, and the shows were incredible. We caught the Shamu (orca) show, the Pet Rocks show, and two seal/sea lion/otter shows. All of the shows were funny, entertaining, and the animals were mind blowing. I've never understood how a whale can be trained to do such amazing things, but did you know even a walrus can be tamed and trained? Besides all the amazing shows, the penguins were probably my favourite exhibit, penguins always look so happy, and are always having a good time. The polar bears were great to see, I've never seen a live polar bear, but they sure didn't seem as happy as the penguins. The flamingos reassured my love for the colour pink. An interesting fact I learned today; some sharks lay eggs and some give birth to live babies. SeaWorld is a must see in San Diego!

We bussed back from SeaWorld to Old Town where we looked around, went olive oil tasting, and caught some Mexican dancing. By now we're experts at public transit, so we headed off to Little Italy for some dinner. Highlight of my night: we ordered a delicious pizza but couldn't quite finish it so we took it in a box to go. We don't have a fridge in our hotel so we decided we were going to give it to a homeless person. There were none near our hotel so we wandered farther into Downtown, it took us a while but we finally found a man sleeping in a doorway, as we walked by he was coughing and he woke up, we asked him if he wanted the pizza and his face lit up. Just a simple gesture like that can make someone's day, and it made mine too!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The World in a Day

I'd like to say we saw the world today. In a single day we covered the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, we safaried in Africa, we saw the Egyptian Pyramids, we saw the Golden Gates Bridge and we visited Mount Rushmore.... in Lego that is. Today we were at Legoland California.
In all of the travel books it says Legoland is recommended for ages 12 and under, but I don't know about that, at age 16 I still had a blast.

Seeing the world was no problem; getting to Legoland however was an adventure of it's own. Today was my first real train ride, what I mean by "real" is non-sky train or subway. It was a beautiful train ride out to Carlsbad, California, most of the trip was along the water where we watched surfers in action. We saw the gorgeous Beverly Hills looking home like the ones you see in the movies. All was smooth until we get off the train. From there we had to catch a bus that headed up the hill to Legoland. We found a bus in the right direction, but of course it doesn't run on weekends. From there we looked for another bus in that direction, we found it, and thought everything was good, until we got on the bus and discovered that there is no such thing as a bus to Legoland at all. After all that we got a bus which took us part way, and then we just had to wait for a taxi. It was a bit of a hassle, but we eventually arrived!

The whole trip so far, we've been quite impressed with the public transit, but I'm beginning to change my mind. In downtown it's awesome, with frequent trolley stops and clearly marked bus routes, but as soon as we headed out of town, the buses no longer run with the schedule, and at the train station, we didn't even know which way we needed to go.

Back into San Diego we headed to get to Body Rocks, a hip-hop dance competition. I have never been to any sort of big dance competition before so I didn't know what to expect, but my mom thought she made a mistake in buying the tickets. Her thoughts changed moments after we walked into the theater. The music was blasting, the crowd was pumped and there were people dancing on stage like I've never seen anyone dance before. To give you an idea, it looked somewhat like "America's Best Dance Crew" but in my opinion the teams were better. The theatre was filled with local teens, and everyone was having a great time. As a new crew went up to compete, we couldn't even catch their name because the crowd was so loud, but they all seemed to know who was up next, and for each group, they had different hand signs.

The crowd might have even been as entertaining to watch as the dancers. As the routine grew to the climax, you could see people getting more and more excited, and when a big trick came up, everyone was out of their seats, pumping their fists. It was quite an experience, and I'm glad we got to see a new form of entertainment which I hardly knew existed. You can tell by the way everyone acts and even just by the way they dress that hip-hop is huge down in San Diego, and I imagine all along the West Coast of USA. Everyone seems to dance, or at least are a fan of it. I guess you could compare it to the hockey in Canada; except I think dance is more of a culture and a lifestyle than just a sport.
My mom brought up a really good point; she was wondering if these amazing dancers ever actually took dance lessons as kids, or if it's something you just do with your friends until you're really good.

Interestingly enough, this competition has been going for 10 years, and today was the first time an international team has won the competition. It was a crew of 4, by far the smallest team there, coming all the way from Japan who took home the gold. They may have been the smallest team, but they deserved that trophy, no doubt.

Here I am with Nino Magzoon who sang at Body Rocks. He is a rapper/songwriter from Los Angeles. To be honest, I didn't really know who he was, but I recognized his song, "Miss LA".

Day 2, San Diego

Day 2, San Diego: I can now say I have ridden a Segway, I have been to Balboa Park, I've seen where Anchorman, and Step Brothers were filmed, I've seen the worlds largest organ, I've road on the San Diego trolley, I've had dinner at a Mexican Restaurant in Old Town, and I've learned more than I've ever known about the US Navy in my entire life. A big day it was in a beautiful city!

What better way is there to cover 5 miles of a foreign city than on Segways? I was nervous about not being good at riding it, but after a few minutes to get used to it, it was a piece of cake.On this tour we saw everything from the world famous Cafe 222, to the home of the San Diego Padres, to a view of Tijuana, Mexico. There was nothing more fun than weaving through the trees on your Segway, and feeling like you're skiing.

I was amazed by the fact that Petco Field which we wheeled through took 10 and a half years to build, while most stadiums take 2, and that the stadium had not sold out until this year. San Diego is not a huge baseball city, but I was surprised to learn that at most games, there are more away team fans than Padre fans. There is a grassed area behind the score board where families can sit, picnic and watch the game. Back in Vancouver, you could not even get a Vancouver Canadians ticket for that cheap.

This statue was very neat: this man was a sailor in World War 2, he was so happy when the war was over, that he grabbed the first person in sight and gave her a nice big kiss. These two did not even know each other. A photographer just happened to capture the moment and it became a very famous picture. People searched for years to figure out who the people in the picture were, no one was ever successful until the sailor himself saw the picture and turned himself in.

Notice the curve in the bridge? It's kinda hard not too, and you're probably thinking it's so ships can cross under it which is partially true, but there is another reason too. The government said they wouldn't fund a bridge that isn't at least 2 miles long, and since the gap between the mainland and the island wasn't quite that far, they decided to lengthen it as much as possible by creating the large arc, and they also lengthened the bridge so it is extended quite a ways on to the land.

USS Midway, Navy Museum was next on the day's to-do list. The ship and the museum was super impressive. There's no doubt that I learned more about the American Navy today, than I ever have. In fact, until today I hadn't realized how little I did know. As neat as the museum was, all the "Naval Aviation" information was at the least of my interest. What I was more interested in, was the 1000 loaves of bread, and 3000 pounds of mashed potatoes needed everyday just to feed the crew. I was more interested in the living conditions of the Navy members. They slept in tiny, tiny bunk beds, with no personal space at all, but they were fed very well. One of the many posters hanging on the ships walls' read "Payday means I can send $40 dollars to my wife to pay the bills and raise the kids." I was surprised to learn that of the 3600 people on board the Midway, not one of them was ever female.

These Navy ships were docked right across the inlet from the Naval Museum. They are the exact same type of boat except these ones are active. San Diego is where the ships come for storage and repair, and while the ships are being worked on they are covered up by tarp so that no spies can see what they're up to. It it kind of wild to think all this is happening right here in San Diego. Or course near the ports, there is super high security, but it is scary to think how dangerous of a place this could be for terrorists. Our tour guide said that she gets nervous when a whole bunch of ships are parked there at the same time.

I always encounter the most interesting people on public transportation, and today was no let down. We were trying to figure out how to get to Old Town, so we asked this man which stop we need to get off at. During our conversations, we happened to see a woman getting hand cuffed, so this man told us how he thinks the police in California are corrupt. He then told us, in Arizona, even today, someone can be pulled over for being Mexican, and they're trying to pass the same law in California. How ridiculous, this is the 21st Century. This is where a young father of three sitting behind us jumped in, and stated how that's never going to happen, and he pointed out that 80-85% of California's population are Mexican. To add to our list of interesting people on the trolley, a man walked on the trolley holding a pizza box, and he was a little on the large size. He sat down beside a very fit looking man about the same age, and for the next 20 minutes, the larger fellow was lecturing about how McDonald's and processed foods are terrible for your body, and how he tries to avoid fast food; all this while he's holding a pizza box, and the other man's drinking a bottle of water. Slightly ironic.

Then, just as I thought things couldn't get any more interesting, a transit security guard walked down the isle asking for peoples' passes. The lady across from me pulls out her transit pass and the security man takes a look at it, and begins to walk away. The lady then called back at him, "what if my pass is expired?" He turns around and asks says he'll get his partner security guard to check it, since he didn't have a scanner. She then begins to call him inappropriate names and says how she's going to sue him, and how he was putting words in her mouth. Confused? I was too.

This is the oldest still "sail-able" sailboat in the United States. . It now acts as a museum, but it is rented out for private dinner parties for a small price of $10,000 per night.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Beginning

Tonight I'm in San Diego. It's a brand new city, full of exciting discoveries.

As my mom and I sat on the patio of a pub-style restaurant, we discussed the cultural differences between here and Vancouver, the two cities are quite similar yet have their own unique characteristics. We noticed the fashion is almost identical, the climate's are not that different and the people and the mannerisms are quite alike too. (It's much hotter down here, but they're both located on the west coast.) I can definitely notice the "southern accents" though. And you don't find too many palm trees in Vancouver. I don't know if we just haven't ventured into the right areas yet, but I have barely seen any homeless down here, much less than Vancouver for sure. It's a very good thing, but you'd think they'd rather be here than up north where the weather's colder. My mom thought she noticed many more smokers here than in Vancouver, but I think I disagree.

Where we ate tonight was in the area of town called Gaslamp Quarter, much like our Gas Town, with nice old restaurants and fancy little shops. You can tell we're down south though by the number of Mexican restaurants.

The very first thing I loved about this city, was that the airport is literally right in the city. As we were landing, I was hoping our plane wings weren't going to crash into the sky rises.