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Browsing Posts tagged Bloomington

2012-2Q

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Inadvertently, my blog posts are now coming out at about a rate of once per quarter, which kind of sucks but hey what are you going to do?  I’m sure of the at most three people who still follow this blog (myself included), only one might be annoyed.  Oh well, let’s take a recap at what exciting and not-so-exciting things have happened to The Leong since our last episode.

 

. . .

 

Uh, surely something happened right??

Well I guess I should mention work, since that is what I have to do every day.  We had our busy season through April, which was pretty hectic but I’ve become a lot more comfortable with the job since last year’s busy season.  Of course once that was over things got much better and I don’t have to go in on weekends anymore to grind away at the sheer pile of excitement known as accountingologymatics.  That’s a word right?  Sorry I’m new at this stuff.  But really, I didn’t find the season to be that bad this year, although it was a lot of hours and a many times where sifting through paperwork and starting at a computer screen all day really got tiring.

Because work was busier, I only took one class during the fall semester, and it was an 8AM class – and yes, it was as awesome as you would imagine.  Especially fun was the 30-40 minute rush hour drive towards and through downtown St. Louis.  I suppose I am really fortunate now that my normal commute to work is less than 10 minutes, while only a few years ago it was more like an hour and a half, mostly on disgusting, crowded Tokyo trains and subways.  There is not much else to share about this past class (primarily because it would be too much excitement and you would probably be really jealous of me) although I am happy to say that I destroyed it and earned the grade “You’re the man now dog.”  I think this is worth a 4.x on the standard grade point scale.

Not soon after tax season ended, in April I took a weekend trip out to Bloomington to meet up with some friends.  It was awesome to see everyone, and going out in Bloomington with friends is still a lot of fun.  I don’t think it would be a lot of fun if you were by yourself, because the population has definitely stayed the same average age while I have aged a bit in the past 6 years.  OK so that last sentence is unnecessary, because 1) who would go out by themselves? and 2) of course it is more fun with friends.  Never mind.  And in case you haven’t noticed by the lack of coherence in this post, I am just typing as fast as I can, with little to no editing or care given to trivial matters like “paragraphs,” “writing flow,” or “engaging readers.”  But yes Bloomington was a lot of fun, and as proof of the kind of misfits I was hanging out with, I would like to share this photo of the infamous Nikolai “Hold Button” Roberts7000.

I took another vacation last month, but that will have to wait until my next post.  It should not take me another 3 months to get around to writing it, I swear.

Recent travels

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Last month I headed to Vegas for a sort of mini family vacation. Well I guess it really was a family vacation, although it seems weird to say that considering my brothers and I are all grown now, and the primary reason for the trip was to gamble.  My brothers, parents, and I flew out to Vegas on a Sunday and met up with my uncle who drove in.  We were originally supposed to leave on Saturday, but due to “mystery electrical events” that supposedly occurred at some airport in Minnesota, every flight in the Midwest was held up or cancelled.  That excuse might sound fake and ridiculous, and I totally agree.  But that’s what Delta was telling us as the reason why we couldn’t be rerouted on another flight to Vegas, even though we were at the airport at like 8AM.  We were rebooked for the next morning, having to fly through Atlanta (going the opposite direction from St. Louis, mind you) in two separate groups.  Thanks Delta, I really appreciate your customer service not to mention you shortening my Vegas trip by an entire day.  We weren’t even given free flight vouchers or anything, which I honestly kind of thought they had to do in this kind of situation.  Maybe the rules are different for those mystery events that they can’t explain.  Meh.

So once we got to Vegas and waited in a taxi queue that literally wrapped around the airport building, we checked into our rooms at the Luxor and it was time to go big.  And by that I mean In N Out Burger.  Oh yeah, and gambling.

This beautiful scenery was paid for by a bunch of losers' money

Overall I’d say while the Strip is great for the flashy experience, party atmosphere, and buildings shaped like monuments, I think I preferred gambling off the strip.  Minimum bets on the strip are just way too high and money goes too fast.  After getting the strip experience the first few nights, we went to a decent number of off the strip casinos like Silverton, Green Valley, “M,” and the whole downtown area and it was a lot more relaxed and fun for me.  Also not to mention that you can bet less money and play games with better odds, like 2 deck Blackjack as opposed to the 8 deck electronic shuffler ones on the strip.  You’re surrounded by a lot more locals and old people when you go off the strip, but for gambling (as opposed to partying, etc), it definitely seems like the way to go.

We didn’t gamble the entire time we were there of course.  We also checked out this awesome “museum” called the Pinball Hall of Fame, which has tons of pinball machines set up to play.  They’ve got machines going way back to probably at least the 1950’s, all the way up to machines that are still being manufactured today.  As a big pinball fan from when I was a kid, this place was better than Disneyland.  (I mean that literally, since even the tea cup ride makes me want to puke).  It also helps that I bought a pinball game for PS3 earlier this year, and have played it a lot.  Not as much as my dad, mind you, who plays it probably every day.  It has a lot of old Williams machines, very accurately recreated in HD.  After playing that for a few months it really makes you want to play a real pinball machine.  The Vegas Pinball Hall of Fame was the perfect way to take a break from gambling but still getting to do something different and fun.Las Vegas Pinball Hall of Fame

While we only had like 4 days in Vegas, it was a pretty solid trip and I didn’t lose as much money as I had budgeted for, which is always a good thing.  I’ll have to keep an eye out again for cheap airfare/hotels to head out there again.  Also my god we ate at so many buffets, ranging from decent to ridiculously amazing.

A few weeks after the Vegas trip, I drove out to Bloomington for a weekend to meet up with some friends.  It is definitely getting a little stranger every time I head back to good ol’ B-town, primarily because I don’t have many (any?) friends who actually live in Bloomington anymore and I am about 6 or 7 years older now than your typical undergrad student.  Not to say that Bloomington isn’t still a great trip.  I had 4 of the best years of my life there and it’s worth the drive to go visit old friends, see the old and new parts of campus, and eat some good food.  A certain SOB did end up bailing out on us at the very last minute, though, which was disappointing.

Instead of getting a hotel like last time, I tried out AirBnB for the first time – it’s basically a website where individuals rent out rooms in their homes or even their entire home for prices usually less than what a hotel would run.  I had heard about it a while back since a friend from college now works there apparently, and this seemed like a good chance to try it out.  Surprisingly even a college town like Bloomington had a decent number of available places, and we were able to rent an entire house for the weekend.  It ended up being a great way to stay comfortably without paying as much as what a hotel would have been.  I’ll have the try it out again sometime when I have the chance.  There are ratings, feedback, etc. on the site so you can get a decent idea of where you’ll be staying, hopefully avoiding any creepers and such.  But my first experience on there was pretty good, even though I don’t know if I’d really want to stay with someone I didn’t know.  Getting the entire house for our group worked out really well though.

New Bloomington

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I am in Bloomington for the weekend.

Came out to visit people here for the weekend. It’s been good to see people, especially since I’ll be leaving the country for a year or more within 2 weeks, and even after that who knows when I’ll get to see people again. I’ve already gotten to see pretty much everyone who is a “close friend” and still in Bloomington, and I’ve only been here a little over 36 hours. That is good. I’ll be hanging out with people tonight and tomorrow as well, then driving back home. Hopefully I’ll see some other people tonight out on Kirkwood or something, because it’s always good to see people you know, even if you’re not really good friends.

Bloomington sure is different though. It’s been just under a month since I moved out, and it felt to me like even less time than that. Sure I had a two-week excursion out to Japan, but still. I had to check a calendar to see how long it’s been since July 28, and I was pretty surprised myself. But anyways, mainly because the fall semester here at IU starts on Monday and thus all the students are back, good ol’ Bloomington is a lot different from the town I drove away from at the end of July. For one thing, it’s crowded as balls. Summer is always nice in Bloomington because the majority of the campus population clears out and goes home to work or enjoy their summer break. After living in an empty Bloomington all summer, it’s weird to come back and see cars lined up on the streets. It’s weird to see the parking lots full. It’s weird to see people walking around on sidewalks that were less than a month ago still under construction.

But most of all, it’s weird to see all these new students who, in my eyes, look like they are about 12 years old. I mean, really, what happened? A lot of the new freshmen I see walking around campus definitely do not look like they’re only 4 years my junior. I went to the Steak on Thursday night and the restaurant was full of kids who looked younger than my youngest brother, who is 16. I remember the new class of freshman last fall looking young, but not this young. All the better to make me realize I’m old, graduated, and it is rightfully time to move on. Japan here I come.

Not having my own apartment is also throwing me off. For the most part, I am living like some kind of homeless person out of my car. I’ve got a laundry basket full of stuff and clothes in my trunk, and I’ve slept at a different friends place each night thus far. I think I’m going to sleep at the office tonight, mainly just to say I did one last time. I think one of the reasons I wanted to come back to visit Bloomington, besides to see my friends, was that I subconsciously wanted to go back to my old apartment in Fountain Park. I don’t have my own place anymore. For the past month, I’ve been either at my parents house or a hotel. It’s been nice, but there is definitely something to be said about having your own place. I spent an entire year building my nest in that apartment and unfortunately it no longer exists. Can’t wait to move into my apartment in Ichihara next month. Time to build a new nest and mark my territory*.

*Metaphorically, that is. I will not be peeing on the walls.

Holding down the B button

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I don’t know exactly how to describe my current state of being, although it could be likened to the end of a Mario level where the music starts speeding up, yet you’re only at the beginning of the stage because you accidentally got up to use the can and forgot to press pause. It’s a feeling of realizing time is quickly running out, you still have a lot to do, and while you’re pretty sure you’ll get to the flagpole, you wish you had more time on the clock to enjoy the level. That sounds about right. I realized this past weekend that I now have less than 2 weeks in Bloomington. It’s not like before where I have to go back to St. Louis for a weekend, only to return to my apartment to lay on the futon and watch TV for hours on end. I literally have less than 2 weeks to have all my stuff packed into boxes ready to be hauled off. Then after that, I have less than 48 hours to pack up my stuff to head to Tokyo for 2 weeks of hanging out in the baby aisles of Japanese department stores. I’ll be honest, I don’t really want to leave Bloomington, at least not just yet.

But I must!

It feels kind of strange to be getting ready to leave Bloomington, because I’ve been here for roughly 4 years and have gotten used to living here. I’ve gotten comfortable to things here. College was a good few years; I feel like I got a good deal accomplished while finishing up my schoolwork, and also met a ton of people along the way. A small percentage of these people that are friends, I’ll be in touch with probably until I’m old and grey, but aside from that there are a lot of people I’ll never talk to ever again. But that’s like anytime you move on from something. I guess the closest I’ve ever had to this was leaving high school life behind to come to college, and then on a smaller scale, leaving Japan after living there for a semester at IES. It’s not like I’m feeling all sappy or anything stupid like that, because I’m really not, but it’s definitely weird to be moving on to the next stage of life. Working a real full-time job, leaving the country for a while to work said job and whatever other jobs I end up working along the way, things are going to be different from here on out. I think you all understand, and I hope so, because I don’t know how else to describe it.

I have about a week and a half to pack up all my stuff, get ready to go to Japan for two weeks, wrap up my work at IUSTV, work on baby bottle research, and say goodbye to the people around Bloomington. I also feel like there are things around Bloomington that I should do just to say I did it, within the 4 years of being here, like going to the Upland Brewery, Oliver Winery, and maybe even going up to Indy for something other than the airport. There’s a chance I’ll come back to visit sometime in August, but that’s not for sure and even then it will just be a visit and not really a return to business as usual. From August 14-September 7 I’ll be packing and taking care of stuff back home, then off to Japan for probably more than a year. I need to get out of my recent summer routine of being really lazy and relaxed everyday, because there really is a decent amount to do. I’ll have some more deep thoughts like these as the next few weeks unfold.

Kamen Riders on the Storm

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After driving through what seemed like a typhoon, I am now back in Bloomington. Started off a pretty lazy day, ate lunch with the fam (Cecil Whitaker’s pizza), then packed up and got ready to hit the road. Would have left earlier but there was some show on G4 about the history of MegaMan, which was sweet so I stayed and watched. Left my house around 4PM central time, and things seemed to be smooth sailing from there. About an hour or so passed, or the time it took me to listen through most of Ludacris’ Red Light District, it started to drizzle. OK, I can deal with that. Then it started to rain. Then it started to pour. Oh, and add that to the effect of any car or semi in front of you spewing water towards your winshield at 80 mph, and visibility was now cut to almost naught. The greatest moment was when I was behind a slow-moving semi, who was exactly side by side with yet another semi, both of which were spraying water at me. My winshield wipers couldn’t keep up; this was no longer a fun drive on highway 70. It reminded me a lot of my brother Alex’s common complaint in high school, when you’d have 2 or more HUGE fat chicks slowly walking down the hallway, blocking not only any hope of passing them but all artificial light as well. As if the two non-passable semis in front of me weren’t enough, soon after yet another car gets up in my space, and starts tailing me. This one was a weird looking bronze car that had a handicap tag hanging from the rearview mirror. Great, just great. I’m flying down the wet highway with a pair of semis in front of me, and some jerk handicapper (yes, just because you’re handicapped doesn’t exempt you from being an ass) decides it would be a great idea to tail me. Great idea PAL.

As fun as the highway party was, I pulled off in a nice little town called Casey, Illinois before the cars ended up doing a roadway mosh. I ate a McDonald’s cheeseburger while I waited out the storm. The rain seemed to let up and the sun was starting to come out a bit, so back onto 70 I went. Drove for about a half hour until I realized that the storm must have been following my eastbound path, and I had driven back into it. Luckily it wasn’t as bad this time, so I made my way from Casey into Indiana and to the town of Cloverdale, where I turn off of highway 70. Nothing really interesting happened during that leg of the trip; no fat high school girl semis to block my way, and no handicappers to tail me. As I started driving down 231, the rain pretty much let up and I was home free. Nothing like speeding down a 1-lane highway in the peaking sun. By the time I got back to Bloomington (around 9PM eastern time) and unpacked the first load of stuff into my abandoned-smelling apartment, I opened the door to get more stuff. Somehow in the 15 or 20 seconds it took me to set down 1 box, re-open the door and look up, the huge storm had found my apartment and did it’s stuff. The Japanese term 雨男 seems oddly appropriate here.

GRADUATED

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I finally hit the end of the road, so to speak. Yesterday morning, I woke up at the crack of dawn (7AM, which is insane for me) to get ready to go to Commencement. finally done!I didn’t really even plan on actually going until the day or so beforehand, but I suppose it was good to at least be able to say “I went to my college graduation.” We were told to get there an hour and a half before the actual ceremony started. Also, I somehow took a wrong turn in the parking lot, and unknowingly parked right next to the Fieldhouse where we were supposed to be lining up. At the time I thought I was just lucky for finding literally the closest spot possible, and I knew I wouldn’t have a problem since I have my handy DP parking pass. I found out later from Pat’s family that these were actually the VIP spots, which would explain why one of the attendants gave me an odd look as I parked. I didn’t get a ticket though, probably because they were slacking on the lot watching, or my DP just scared them off. Either way, I probably shouldn’t have parked there, but I did. So I got out of my car and strolled in.

“Lining up” for graduation was something that didn’t really require us to be there 45 minutes early, but I suppose it was just to play it safe. It basically just involved everyone getting into the Fieldhouse track area and getting into the correct roped-off areas according to the school they’re in. Not very tough. Sort of like wrangling cattle or some other equally dumb farm animal. I went to go to the business school corral, talked to some people I knew, and eventually they started sending us inwards to Assembly Hall. Graduates filled up almost 2/3 of the court/floor area, with the rest being an orchestra or something and the actual stage area. There were two large sections of graduates on the right and left sides of the seats as well. The rest of the place, pretty much to capacity, was filled with guests, other students, etc. I was pretty surprised that so many people were there for this. The 2006 graduating class is apparently somewhere around 7,500 people, although we were split up into 2 groups. I math would tell you there were a bit under 3,750 students there. I’m not sure what percentage of students actually come to commencement though.

As cheesy as it was, I kind of liked the whole procession and all the stupid costumes that people had to wear at the ceremony, especially on stage. I’m not exactly sure what all the different outfits and hats mean, but I swear it looked like I was watching either a really nerdy renaissance festival, or some kind of Harry Potter LARPing contest. But it was cool nonetheless. Michael Uslan, an IU grad and executive producer of all the Batman movies, gave a speech which was pretty typical I guess of a “graduation speech:” talking about stuff to do in the future, have high goals, believe in yourself, knowledge is power, blah blah blah. But I really did like his speech. I wish I would have tried to meet him or at least went to hear him speak when he was doing various things at TCOM this and last year. You can’t help but feel at least a little inspired by an IU grad whose entire life goal was to make a sweet Batman movie, and then he did it (let’s not think about Batman & Robin though). Also seeing the formality and all that of the Trustees, President, Provost, and other “high ups” from the University made me think that it wouldn’t be bad one day to come back to IU as an administrator or something. Probably not though.

So graduation is over, and so is school pretty much. I now have a BS in Business and a BA in East Asian Languages in Culture, with which I suppose you could call me edumucated. I have a somewhat big report I still need to wrap up (um..), then IUSTV work over the summer, and then I am completely done with this stage of life. I’m not completely sure what I’ll be doing in the summer besides living in Bloomington and working at the station until the end of July, but I’m thinking of getting a part time job somewhere to start saving up money for when I go to Japan in September to work as a teacher for AEON. On Tuesday, me, Pat, Brian, and Kyle are going to LA for almost a week, to bask in the glory that is E3. It’s odd to sit here on a Sunday afternoon, not really having anything to do but think about video games.

I’ll likely write more posts this summer looking back at IU. It will be weird next year living a completely different kind of life. Obviously just being in a different country will be a big change, but I’m talking more about working an actual job during the day (well, AEON is more like 11AM to 7PM), but then being done with work for the day. No having to work on stuff at night, no homework, no dealing with work-related stuff every waking hour of the day. As much as I loved school (I suppose) and IUSTV, it really was pretty taxing on me. The first thing I did in the morning was wake up to take care IUSTV e-mails, I would do IUSTV stuff pretty much all day every day, and on the rare occasion that I actually had school stuff to do I would usually cram it in somewhere in place of things like sleeping or eating. The last year has been one of the best and most fun years of my life ever, but I do have to admit that it will be nice to have a change of pace in the future.

Note: I just found out a reason why Michael Uslan is even cooler. I looked at his IMDB profile, and found out that in addition to Batman, he was the executive producer on Where in the World is Camen Sandiego?, the one that had Rockapella and everything. He now has my vote for the most successful IU Alumni EVER.

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