Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Tag: San Diego

Month of Letters: Day 27

First up is a postcard from the Earth and Space postcard box going to someone in Italy for a space tag. The second postcard is one I actually purchased at the San Diego Zoo going to someone in Taiwan for a zoo tag. And the third is also going to someone in Italy who likes bridges. Well, bridges is actually one of their minor preferences. They actually collect postcards with naked ladies on them and since that’s a subject I have no interest in accumulating in my stash, I had to find something else. Also, this person specifically said no cute things–hence the lack of decorations on the back of this postcard. I had to use the plainer stamps because this person also didn’t like flowers. I suppose I could have gone for the ship stamps, but they’re not the specific type of ships this person likes.

Honestly, I feel that my interest in postcards and an old dude’s interest in postcards only intersects at a very technical level.

At the San Diego Botanic Garden

What I don’t understand is why this place is not named the Encinitas Botanic Garden because it’s actually in Encinitas, not San Diego. Is it because it’s still in San Diego County? Or branding? Or some historical weirdness that no one bothers to talk about?

Ultimate Dinosaurs!

Ultimate Dinosaurs – one of the current exhibits at the Museum of Natural History in San Diego. One thing I found particularly clever: some interactive/virtual reality displays. Short kids, though, may need a parent’s help with those. Accessibility: in English, French, and Braille. Unfortunately, this won’t help the significant Spanish speaking population here. (The rest of the exhibits in the museum are in English and Spanish.) This exhibit was created in Canada, though, so it’s kind of understandable that nothing is in Spanish.

Some Notes from the Museums

I love going to museums, but sometimes the other museum patrons drive me nuts. I thought today would be a great day to go to the local museums because most people would be staying at home due to the iffy weather. Unfortunately, that didn’t help me avoid the lady who glared at me as if I should just crawl back into the nearest ghetto even though I wasn’t bothering anyone while I was looking at a painting. Or overhearing some old guy loudly complaining that one of the latest exhibits was “dated”. Seriously, dude. Everything in that exhibit was made before 1973. What did you expect?! Pictures of Justin Effin Bieber?

Anyways, aside from that, I saw some new art exhibits at Balboa Park. As I’ve mentioned on Twitter, the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) is a really interesting gem that not many people pay attention to. Currently, they have some Ansel Adams photographs as well as an exhibit of contemporary Californian photographers. It’s fascinating contrasting the two–Adams is well known for grand nature in black in white which can, in turns, evoke timelessness and nostalgia (although these days with the destruction of the environment, it feels like Adams has documented a past that will never be any more). The contemporary Californian photographers have also documented nature, but in color, abstraction, and scarring by humans on the landscape. It’s as if nature is not simply nature any more but some kind of idea that humanity has marked, transformed, and destroyed. There’s a sort of beauty to that, too, but it’s also stark and terrible.

At the Mingei International Museum, which specializes in folk art, I’d like to point out one of its newest exhibits on tools and utensils. There’s all sorts of interesting tools there, everything from rug beaters to betel nut cutters (as well as the usual saws and hammers and mixing spoons). An entire section is devoted to Japanese lacquer tools. Apparently the hairs on the brushes are made from human hair–specifically of Japanese women. Which is pretty creepy if you think about it for any length of time.

The major new exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Art is a retrospective of Louis Kahn, an American architect. I think the only work of his that I’ve seen in person is the Salk Institute in La Jolla. He primarily worked in Philadelphia and transformed urban planning in that city. Kahn’s style is very geometrical. There’s a lot of evidence that he drew his inspiration from nature and science, yet at the same time, his structures don’t feel quite comfortable–they are too perfect to fit into the landscape. Postcard aficionados out there would also find this exhibit particularly interesting because a number of Kahn’s postcards to his family are also on display. It’s less about the message than his choice in postcards, though. He always chose postcards that showed the ancient architecture of the places he was visiting. And the classic lines of these ancient buildings also influenced his style.

Another new exhibit was one entitled “Visible Vaults”, where a section of the museum was transformed into a replica of its archives. Most of the museum patrons, I noticed, passed by this exhibit, too afraid to touch anything even though there were signs encouraging interactivity. Me? I was like a kid in a candy store–I looked in all the cases and pulled open every drawer to check out what was inside. I found some really cool stuff, like a nightmarish etching by Goya of men with bat wings. Or a drawing by Andy Warhol of butterflies.

Finally, at the Fleet Science Center, I went to see the world’s largest display of LEGO art by Nathan Sawaya. The start of the exhibit starts out pretty safely with replicas of famous art in those tiny plastic bricks. But then, as you wind further into the exhibit, things take a dark turn as Sawaya gets into his own art. The penultimate series of LEGO sculptures was probably my favorite because they were a nihilistic interpretation of traditional American postcards. In some ways, it was surprising this got exhibited at all. The science center caters more towards kids and you’d think that anything with LEGOs should equal happy fun times. But I’m glad this was shown because it’s a great illustration of the fact that you can still express some serious, adult ideas with media that society might arbitrarily deem “childish”.

Art in My Neighborhood

Most of this is located on just a couple blocks on one street in my neighborhood. There’s more art elsewhere, of course, which I may include in a future post.

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2016 NaNoWriMo Statistics for San Diego

I finished compiling the summary NaNoWriMo statistics for the San Diego region today. The statistics that I do not have are the yearly trends since I was only ML for the region since 2014 and San Diego’s ranking against all the regions in the world. I assume the stats for the regional rankings will come out some time in January after NaNo HQ has their holiday break.

If anyone’s curious as to which California regions beat San Diego in terms of total word count, they were 1) Los Angeles, 2) East Bay, 3) San Francisco, and 4) Sacramento. Sacramento beat San Diego by less than 200,000 words even though they have almost 50 more active writers. So I think San Diego did pretty well.


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Old Town Skulls

Old Town, San Diego, CA




















Crouching Kitties Hidden Sheep

The Lunar New Year Tết Festival last weekend was interesting and had some terrific food, but I’d have to say I had a lot more fun at the Chinese New Year Festival today. A lot of it had to do with the really great performances (the Naruwan Taiko group drew a huge crowd and they were awesome. I highly recommend seeing them if you have a chance), the energetic and personable MCs, and the somewhat intimate layout of the festival downtown which is really a feat considering the size of the city.

This year is the year of the sheep/ram/goat. (This isn’t clear because the Chinese character is inclusive of all these creatures. But “Year of the Horned Ruminant” doesn’t exactly have the same ring to it.) However, I saw few of these at the festival–only at a children’s puppet show and depicted on the t-shirts the local Chinese cultural association were selling. The big draw was mainly the dragon and lion dancers.














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A new cat cafe opened in San Diego last December. It’s not the first cat cafe to open in the US though. That honor goes to the one in San Francisco which opened last October. The cafe was on the same block as the festival so I figured I might as well pop in and see how it was like. I think this is a great idea to help cats from the local humane society to get adopted. So if you’re seriously thinking about adopting a cat, this is the place to go. If you’re a crazy cat enthusiast with grabby hands, however, this might not be for you. The employees really do look out for the cats’ well being and there are pretty strict rules for visitors.







On the 101 with a Quarter in My Shoe

Yes, there was a quarter in my shoe. Apparently the change I got from my morning coffee fell through a hole in my pocket. Anyways, here’s what I did on Presidents Day. Note of advice: get to the beach early or you’ll never find parking. (I got to Carlsbad at 8 AM and I thought I was lucky getting a space. The beaches open at 6 AM.)

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Carlsbad, CA









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Oceanside, CA







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Sunset Cliffs, San Diego, CA








Super Beach Sunday

Cabrillo National Monument, Tidal Pools