Posts Tagged ‘Santa Cruz’

I’ve had quite a lot of blog posts that I’ve been meaning to do. However, none of them are particularly long, definitely not long enough for a full blog post. So, I’ve decided to make a hodgelany of all of them together. (Hodgelany is a word coined by Patrick Rothfuss. It’s just what it sounds like: a combination of a hodgepodge and a miscellany.)

 

People often say that California has no seasons. Even people from California say this (as with my dad’s saying, “California has two seasons. One where it sometimes rains and one where it never rains.”). But this isn’t true. California has four seasons, just like anywhere else in the temperate zone. Our seasons are just subtle. The people who think that California doesn’t have seasons are just confused because there isn’t snow covering everything for five months out of the year (and, in fact, it does snow a lot in California, just not in the parts that people think of when they hear the word “California”: basically, everything south of Pasadena).

Right now, it’s springtime in the area around Santa Cruz. The hills around the city are bright green, so green that it feels like I’m in Ireland (well, sort of: Ireland doesn’t have eucalyptus or live oaks). When I take the bus home from class, it drives out along Empire Grade from the western entrance of campus, with the afternoon sun shining on the ocean. I hate the light– I often joke that I’m a vampire, since two of my favorite things are darkness and incredibly rare meat– but I can see why people like it, when it’s as pretty as it is on the bus rides home.

 

I got the first two Assassin’s Creed games for Christmas. They are INCREDIBLE.

Let me just put this out there: if Ubisoft were ever to make an Assassin’s Creed game set in 1600s Japan, that would be it. I would need no other games. Game development, as a science and art, would be over.

BALL’S IN YOUR COURT, UBISOFT MONTREAL.

 

It makes me feel like a traitor to my state every time I say it, but I’ll say it anyway: Five Guys Burgers and Fries is better than In-N-Out Burger.

I know, I know. In-N-Out Burger is a California landmark, and I should be proud to eat there. But honestly, their burgers just aren’t as good as Five Guys’ In-N-Out’s burgers feel too perfect. They’re neat and tidy and all pretty much the same. Whereas Five Guys’ burgers are enormous, drooling things that ooze grease and can be contained by no bun: just like a burger should be. Plus their fries are better. Plus they give you free peanuts.

Seriously: if there were a Five Guys in Santa Cruz, then my life would end. My arteries would turn into nothing more than tubes of grease, and I would die, fat and happy, with my face down in an enormous basket of Cajun fries.

NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM

If you don’t feel your brain exploding at the sight of this picture, I’m sorry. We can’t be friends.

 

Interestingly enough, I’ve gotten back into Magic: The Gathering.

What happened is that Gabby’s brother Julian and Calum’s friend Forrest came over for dinner last week, and they brought their Magic cards, because as you can imagine, they are huge goddamn nerds, as am I. Well, Calum and I have a box of Magic cards dating back to 2003 (yes, I haven’t played Magic seriously since Seventh Edition), so Calum brought it down so that Julian and Forrest could look through them, things continued to happen, I made a deck, and now Calum and I have been playing Magic regularly.

In fact, I’ve taken to making my own cards:

ianjohnsonmagic

 

I believe that if I ever need to make business cards, they will look something like this.

 

That’s all for now. Keep your stick on the ice.

~ Ian

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on naming

Posted: February 18, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Names are important. Every reader of fantasy novels knows this. And place names are also important, as I pointed out in one of the first posts I did on this blog.

But what’s more important is what place names reveal about the history of the land. The Danelaw as a political entity may be a thousand years dead, but it still exists, in the hundreds of Norse place names scattered around northern England.

With that being said, the place names in America are so chaotic that they’re almost schizophrenic.

Behind my childhood home was a creek. The creek was called Meder Creek (a Scandinavian name), and it flowed through a gully called Arroyo Seco (a Spanish name). Across the street from my house was another gully, which contained a creek called Moore Creek (English name). Both creeks flow to the Monterey Bay (another Spanish name), which is part of the Pacific Ocean (Latin name). There’s a nature preserve called the Pogonip (Costanoan name) which borders Henry Cowell Redwoods (Scottish name). You can find other Scottish names by driving up Highway 9 (Felton, Ben Lomond), and there’s dozens of Spanish names within an hour’s drive (Pasatiempo, Loma Prieta, Los Gatos, Gilroy, San Jose). And this is just within an hour’s drive of my house.

California has a stereotype of having towns with Spanish names. While this is true in some respects, it’s only really true in a narrow belt along the coast, beginning at Santa Rosa and extending south to the Mexican border– probably about ten percent of California’s area. This is because this is where the Franciscans established missions, and it helps that California’s most populous cities are located within this belt (Los Angeles, San Jose, San Diego, San Francisco, Pasadena, etc.). But when you look around the state, there’s so many more names than that.

In the Central Valley (English name), there are the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers (Spanish names), but also the Tuolumne (Yokutsan) and Mokelumne (Miwok), as well as the American River (which sounds English, but in fact has a Latin name). And scattered around California, there are towns with names like Anaheim (German), Sebastopol (Russian), South Lake Tahoe (Washo), and Eureka (Greek). The names reflect California. Although I hate the term “melting pot”, it’s appropriate, although I’d describe us more as a gigantic multi-cuisine pizza.

So, your assignment for today: Look at the names in the place where you live. If you live in New York City, try to find Dutch names (Stuyvesant, Bowery) or Algonquian ones (Manhattan). If you’re in New England, find out something about the English towns that your cities are named after (Boston, Salem, Hartford, Concord)– or just find French names in Vermont. People in Spain could examine Arabic or Moorish names of your hometowns, Australians can find out about the Aboriginal words that went into names of suburbs of Sydney, and those of you (if any) in Scotland could find the Gaelic roots of your local place names.

History is all around you, in the words that you use. You just have to look for it.

~ Ian

l’heure de l’or

Posted: May 18, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Since I haven’t played around with my camera for a while, I decided that I’d run around Cowell, Stevenson, and the East Field today, taking pictures of things.

The light quality was kind of interesting: sort of a diffuse, white light. The fog’s rolling in off of the bay tonight, and you can tell by some of the mist in these pictures.

Here we go:

I’ve talked before about how the redwoods on campus are very small redwoods. Here is a demonstration of the size of some of these puny dwarves of the species Sequoia sempervirens.

Like I said.

Shrimpy.

If I were a Cowell student, then I assume that this would be the dorm where I would live.

I presume that this house is reserved for manly men with manly beards. Of which I am, and have.

Cowell College, with random students.

The deer were very obliging, and let me photograph them.

AAAAH A GIANT DEER IS MAKING ITS WAY TOWARDS THE BASKETBALL COURT

THE DEER HAS A LUST FOR BLOOD

OR SO I PRESUME

A Bases-Ball game.

I SAY, ANYONE FOR SPORTSBALL????????

This “pedestrian crossing” was so named not because it was a crossing for pedestrians, but because it’s really run-of-the-mill and dull.

A tree, aglow in heavenly light.

It tried to talk to me. But since it was not a burning bush, I paid it no heed.

The famed Goat Statue of Cowell College.

There are a lot of myths about this statue. The truth is actually rather boring. But ask any UCSC student to tell you the story behind this statue, and you’ll get a beautiful, poignant story that explains why one of the school policies came to be and is entirely made up.

I really like the composition of this picture. Something about the combination of the rigid geometry of the plaza, the off-kilter angle, and the organic chaos of the plants growing on the trellis makes this a cool image to me.

*ratatosk*

I also like the composition of this one. Very much a two-point perspective view, if I were a painter.

IT’S A SNAKE IT’S A SNAKE OOOOOH IT’S A SNAKE

I could not find a badger or a mushroom. Which is a good thing– badgers are friggin’ scary, man.

I don’t know about the mushrooms, though.

Any film buffs, Goths, or vampire aficionados in the audience should recognize this house.

It played an important part in the movie Lost Boys.

A tree, with some peeps.

Some light, shining through the mist.

I’m going to be going to Maker Faire tomorrow, so there will be more picture blogs coming up. In any case, here’s some pictures that I done took. With mah camera.

Love,

~ Ian

just an average saturday night

Posted: January 21, 2012 in Uncategorized
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So I was downtown tonight with my dad and my German brother, just heading back from seeing Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Thrones Shadows (my reaction: fun, funny, and violent in a non-violent, PG-13 sort of way). We were walking over to the Penny Ice Creamery on Center Street, and were just crossing Pacific, when about three dozen people on motorcycles came roaring up Pacific towards us.

It was only when they got close to us that I realized that they were all naked.

It wasn’t a gender-discriminating thing: the bikers were evenly balanced between men and women. Nor were they being unsafe– every person had on a helmet, gloves, and boots. They just weren’t wearing anything else. Just thirty people in the cold January night air out on a naked bike ride.

Have I mentioned how much I love living in Santa Cruz?

Scenes from a Day

Posted: January 16, 2012 in Uncategorized
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These pictures were all taken within a 5-minute walk of my dorm room.

Sometimes I feel really lucky to live in Santa Cruz.

~ Ian