Holiday Gift Results

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We opened holiday presents last night and let's just say things went well.  Actually, let's not just say; let's elaborate.  Here are the things I got for the holidays:

  1. $15 gift card to Sharper Image
  2. $25 gift card to Borders
  3. Box of chocolates.
  4. $50 in cash.
  5. AN IPOD TOUCH!!!

Yes, that's right.  I got the touch.  I've already loaded it with tons of music and podcasts, and I've bookmarked all kinds of webapps for productivity, travel, entertainment, reference, etc.  This iPod will not only serve as my PMP but also my PDA.  It has all kinds of cool features beyond just playing music.  Of course, I'll almost never be bringing it out of the house, except for long car rides and vacations.

Now you might be thinking: Why didn't Eric get any Star Wars stuff?  Well the truth is, there isn't much Star Wars stuff that's out right now that I either a) don't already have or b) can't buy on my own.  An example of the latter is a Star Wars novel, which I would never ask for as a holiday gift unless it was insanely expensive.  Soon enough, there will be a new Star Wars game and several expensive books for me to ask for.

Anyway, the presents listed above account for most of my family.  My aunt is always a little late in sending gifts, but my mom told me that she has plans to get me something anyway.

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Back from Vail

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Oh boy, am I tired!  Our flight yesterday was supposed to take off at 3:45 PM MST, but because of the weather it kept getting delayed.  First it was pushed by to 5:00 PM, then 5:30, then 5:40.  Luckily we were at DIA, which has free Wi-Fi.  Unfortunately, the signal strength was very low and I wasn't able to get a very good connection.  That, and it was ad-supported; it's got to have some catch, right?  Finally we left at 6:00.  I was terrified that we'd slide across the ice on takeoff!  Luckily, we made it to Washington okay and I'm safely ensconced in my room again.  I only have a few more days of school-free, care-free, and homework-free enjoyment.  Then I have to start working on a major history class debate for which I'm barely prepared.  And it's next Friday!

Tonight we're opening holiday presents since we haven't already.  I expect great things to pop out of those boxes...

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Nothing new to report

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Surprisingly, not a whole lot of news in my life since the first day we got here.  Every day is the same routine.  Anyway, tonight is our last night and we're going out to a pizza restaurant for dinner.  Tomorrow we have a 3:45PM (mountain time) flight which gets in at 8:56PM eastern time.  Maddie will be at home by then, having been picked up tomorrow by our housekeeper before we arrive home.  Every time we get back from a trip, Maddie is, to say the least, ecstatic to see us.  This time around, we expect things to be no different.

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Arrival at Vail and a Technical Difficulty

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We just got to our hotel room in Vail.  To my knowledge it is the exact same room as we had last time (same building, same room #).  We had an initial fiasco with the Internet when my travel router appeared to cause connection problems.  Attempting to browse the Internet when using the travel router (as opposed to just plugging in) caused the browser to go back to the hotel's landing page every thirty seconds.  I called the front desk and must have scared them, because minutes later it was working fine.  (Knock on wood!)  Anyway, my mother and sister went out to rent their skiing equipment and we are deciding on when to buy groceries.  Exciting stuff, I know.  I plan on relaxing tonight, as I still have to adjust to the new time zone (two hours behind D.C.).  Look for more updates as the trip rolls on.

UPDATE: A few hours after posting this, the Internet failed yet again.  I called the tech support department of the hotel's ISP and they told me to spoof the router's MAC address to that of my computer.  I tried that and it didn't help, but a few hours later I got a call back from a different technician, saying that she had no idea why they would've told me to do that.  She promptly informed me that they were switching us over to the residential section of their network because it was more router-friendly.  And the Internet's been working fine ever since!

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Winter Break Plans

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For Winter Break this year, my family and I are not breaking tradition one bit.  We are going back to Vail, Colorado, staying in the same hotel, and doing pretty much the same things.  My mother and sister are avid skiers, so they will be going out on the slopes daily.  My father and I do not ski, but as was the case last year, we will be keeping busy regardless.  I am bringing my laptop and a travel router, because our hotel room has complimentary wired Internet access.  In addition, my sister and I will be going up to the ski resort's mountaintop "Adventure Ridge" at night.  The mountain has tubing, snowmobiling, and ski biking activities.  I did tubing last year with my sister and my mother's friend's son (who was also at Vail at the time).  I liked it a lot, so I will be going back.  Adventure Ridge also has some restaurants where we'll be eating.  The gondola ride up the mountain is especially beautiful at night.  Don't be surprised if I link to some pictures after I get back.

In fact, the only negative aspect of the whole trip is that last year, the Internet in our room was not very fast.  I hope it's different this time around!

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Holiday Gift Wish List

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As the holiday season is practically here, I would like to take a moment to be completely selfish and write all about me and what I want.  After all, this is my blog...what's stopping me?  What I'm trying to say is that the second annual Headlines from my Head holiday gift list is here.  I've already submitted this to the gift-buyers, and with all the poking and prodding I've been doing, I expect good results.  Check out my list below:

  • MOST WANTED: Apple iPod Touch
  • Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii
  • Wii Zapper with Link's Crossbow Training for the Wii
  • Logitech ClearChat Comfort Headset
  • Sony LF-V30 LocationFree Base Station
  • LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga for the Wii
  • Sony DRX840U 20x External Dual-Layer DVD Burner
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The Day After Thanksgiving

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Overall, Thanksgiving break was fun.  When my cousins came over with Zelda, Maddie went crazy and they started sniffing each other.  They weren't allowed to run around in the backyard because Zelda has hip problems that aren't conducive -- to say the least -- to running.  But they still had fun meeting each other, although they seemed to be fighting during dinner.  The adults maintained that it was just roughhousing, but I was concerned for both dogs' safety.  They didn't seem to know their own strength.

My sister and I went downstairs with our cousins to play the Wii.  We started with Wii Tennis.  Me and my younger cousin played against my older cousin and a computer player; my team won.  But then my sister joined my older cousin and they beat us.  Then we played Wii Baseball.  That got boring after three innings of no scoring, which I attribute to both my unstoppable pitching and my terrible timing at bat.  We then went on to play Wii Bowling.  I got a few strikes and spares, but the shocker of the night was that my younger cousin was either terrifically lucky or tremendously skilled.  She would pull back and release the ball, but she did it wrong and the ball proceeded to crawl down the lane slower than a tortoise.  Still, almost every time the ball hit the pins, she got a strike!  If it wasn't a strike, it was eight or nine pins, followed by a miss on the spare opportunity.

We then went upstairs for a while and joined the adults.  After a while, we went to the foyer outside our rooms where our desktop computers sat.  My sister and I had a fun time showing our cousins all the cool tricks we could do with our webcams, and my sister showed us a cool website that takes faces and puts them on elves' bodies and animates them in a dance.

We had a nice dinner featuring chicken and homemade mashed potatoes that my sister made, followed by pumpkin pie and apple pie for dessert.  After dinner, my cousins went downstairs to play Mario Party 8 on the Wii and I played my sister in ping-pong.  Eventually, it was time for my relatives to leave, but not before lots of hugs, kisses, and (for our dogs) profuse licking.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I had lunch with my grandmother yesterday. She called me at 9:30AM to ask if I wanted to come over; turns out my mom's side of the family was also joining her. My uncle said that while the drive down here was long (eight hours, though my youngest cousin said it felt like "forever"), it was very manageable. According to him, my cousins read books and watched DVDs during the ride, and Zelda slept in the back of the car on her portable bed. We had a nice lunch together, after which we inflated the air mattress that my mother bought for my grandmother. My cousins had fun lying on the mattress and adjusting the firmness. My grandmother needed it because my cousins were sleeping at her apartment with her and she only had one extra bed.

My family and I will be leaving at 6:00PM to go to my father's brother's house for our official Thanksgiving dinner. There will be several other people there in addition to the six of us, but I'm confident there will be enough turkey, gravy, and pumpkin pie to go around. I say official dinner because as you know, we are having my mother's brother's family over tomorrow.

I'm going to be waking up early tomorrow, because at 11:38AM I'm hosting a server in my gaming league's first session. The game is expected to last up to two hours if everything goes as planned, so I will have little time between the game and my relatives' arrival. Luckily I received no homework over the Thanksgiving break, so I will have nothing of import to do during that time.

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Upcoming Thanksgiving Plans

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With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I couldn't be happier.  Because you see, Turkey Day has some of the best food all year long.  You've got turkey and gravy--the latter of which I love so much, I could drink with a straw.  And you've got pumpkin pie.  I once had six slices of pumpkin pie in one night.  My sister was contemplating making three pumpkin pies instead of the two we'd need for our party, and I said, "Go for it.  I'll have the third one myself."

But this Thanksgiving isn't just about giving thanks or eating a lot, it's also about seeing my mom's side of the family whom I haven't seen in forever.  My aunt and uncle, as well as their two children and their dog, live in Michigan, and I've only visited their current house a few times in my life.  Granted, I visited them at their old house several times as well, but either way I haven't had a chance to catch up with them recently.  Another positive is that their dog, Zelda, will finally get to meet her cousin Maddie.  I wonder if they'll tag-team to steal some Thanksgiving table scraps.  Maybe like a 50-50 split.  No, Maddie would definitely want at least 70%.

They will be joining us for a Friday night dinner, but on Thanksgiving itself my family and I will be joining our other aunt and uncle for dinner.  I did the math on the numbers at both dinners, and let's just say that if all goes well, I should be having a lot of turkey, gravy, and pumpkin pie.

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Problems with the Driver's Ed Routine

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Seeing as I'm halfway done with my driver's ed classes, the time has come for me to start thinking about getting my learner's permit.  Initially, I had thought that the permit was actually the highest driving certification I could get before a full license.  That is wrong, however.  First I need the learner's permit, which is good for a year and enables me to complete the sixty hours of in-car practice required for my provisional license.  I must hold the permit for at least six months.  Unfortunately, in order to get my provisional license, I would need to wait at least half a year from now (remember: minimum six months) in order to use those sixty hours towards getting my provisional.

This means that from the time my class hours finish in late December, to the time I can submit my in-car hours, it will have been ... let me just pull up Google Calendar ... five months!  That's a long time, and I'm worried that my class hours, both in the classroom and in the car, won't count by that time.  For this reason, I am scrambling to find a weekend when I can go down to the Motor Vehicle Association to pick up the study materials for my permit test.  Then I need to find time to actually take the test.

It's funny; I always heard my friends talking about "getting their permit" and it made me so jealous.  But the way I'm going about this whole driving thing, I'll overlap permit and provisional license certification, so I'll have a higher level of qualification before the rest of my friends.  That's pretty much the only good thing about my whole "training routine!"

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Halloween Semi-live-blogging Extravaganza!

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As all of you hopefully know, tonight is All Hallow's Eve.  My sister has about a dozen friends over for a party, which will culminate in a quiet evening for me as they depart on a trick-or-treating spree.  In keeping with my annual tradition of live-blogging the entire evening (which I just started this year), I present you with the live-blogging extravaganza...

6:48 PM Just finished greeting my first trick-or-treater of the night.  We saw them come up the driveway, so we opened the door.  But the little girl (who couldn't have been older than five) wanted to ring the doorbell.  So we watched as her mother lifted her up to reach our doorbell and waited the customary three seconds before opening the door again.  The girl promptly grabbed two Kit-Kats, but her mother said, "Only one, dear!"  My mom, who had bought way too much candy, insisted that she take two.

6:50 PM There's another group of trick-or-treaters at the door.  The dad is waiting by our front steps with a dog.  I bet he/she would love to meet Maddie.

6:54 PM I wonder how many Star Wars characters I'll see tonight.  My guess (which I will not change in this post once the night is over) is seven.

7:00 PM Another trick-or-treater rings the doorbell as my sister and her friends prepare to leave.  The upstairs slowly gets quieter as the procession files down the stairs in pursuit of candy.

7:04 PM Aaaand they're gone.  My mom is taking -- or at least, trying to take -- a group picture of them outside.  While I agree with the need for documentation of our teenage years (as much for my parents' benefit as for ours), I can't help but sympathize with my sister and the embarrassment she must be feeling.

7:05 PM I'm moving my laptop downstairs so I can be "closer to the action."

7:10 PM I'm now sitting in the kitchen eating leftover pizza from the party.  It's uncannily quiet in here; the only sounds are those of little trick-or-treaters screaming and squealing outside.

7:14 PM The father of a recent trick-or-treater, laughably, had to answer his blackberry as I was giving his son some candy.  To his credit, the father seemed annoyed that someone was disrupting his quality father-son time.

7:26 PM It's times like these I wish we could trust my dog to just stand by the door unrestrained and greet trick-or-treaters.  She's even wearing a Halloween bandanna!  It's too bad, because she gets along so well with little kids.  Sadly, when she sees kids (especially those in scary costumes), she seems unable to control herself.  We're considering therapy.

7:35 PM I'm surprised at how few trick-or-treaters have come to our house.  I mean, we haven't seen many kids on our street, so it can't be intentional avoidance of our house.  It's weird, too, because one of our neighbors was hosting a haunted house, and one would think that we'd get more kids then we usually do.

7:50 PM It's quiet.  Too quiet.  We haven't had a trick-or-treater in quite a while.  There must be some over-the-top house down the street that's absorbing all our prospective "costumers." (get it? customers?)

7:54 PM Now we're back in business!  We just got two older-looking teenagers (~17-18), followed by two matching "female Frankensteins" who politely asked, "How much [candy] are we allowed to take?"

7:56 PM Well, I just looked outside and our pumpkin -- which I had not seen in its final stage -- is indeed an original emoticon!  How geeked out is that?

8:15 PM We just got three groups in a row; two of the groups didn't have very memorable costumes, but one kid in the last group was Episode II Anakin!  That's 1 Star Wars costume sighting so far!

9:15 PM Sadly, we've not had a single trick-or-treater since the Episode II Anakin, and with the night drawing to a close, I doubt we'll have any more.  That also means that my estimate of seven Star Wars costumes was way off.  Our total is...1.  Oh well.  I'll keep updating this blog with more of my life, and I'll also see you this time next year for more Halloween semi-live-blogging!

DSCN2937

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For all you 24 fans out there, let it be known that the season 7 trailer is live! And by live I mean here. This really does look like the best season so far. I mean, season six was good, and season five was ridiculously good, but the plot for this new season will certainly be better. Seriously, just watch the trailer and tell me that January 2008 won't be the start of edge-of-your-seat, jaw-dropping Jack Bauer goodness!
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Yesterday I took the PSATs. I had to wake up at 6:30 AM, because they started at 8 AM. Now, my school is only fifteen minutes away, but I wanted to leave a lot of extra time before I left. The test wasn't that hard per se, except for the second math section. In this part, half of the questions were multiple choice and we were supposed to fill in the numerical answers for the other half. We were given 25 minutes for this section, but by the time the teacher called a ten minute warning, I still had lots of questions left. I had to rush to get to the last question, and I ended up skipping about six problems! I still think I did well overall. Last year I took the SSATs and got into the 89th percentile. I did perfect on the writing skills section, but I basically flunked the math section!
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I was browsing the CNET Forums this morning, when I came across a hilarious video. It's a spoof of the PC vs Mac ads with the makers themselves, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. The video's about four minutes of hilarity, but at about three minutes and forty seconds, it gets inappropriate for about fifteen seconds. Regardless, a great watch for those of us who get the jokes.

Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHO8l-Bd1O4.
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Driver's Ed was fun today. It was my first class--I need to take ten 3-hour classes in addition to my actual driving sessions. I already had a quiz (a simple one, on requirements and restrictions for different license types) and I got a 90%. Not too shabby. I just hope I score better in the car, when the time comes.
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I have updated my blog over at StarWars.com with some new entries. Check it out if you're a Star Wars fan!
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Start your engines!

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Well, this is it.  In five days, I start taking classes for Drivers' Ed.  While I won't be getting on the road [with an instructor] for quite some time (about 10 weeks), I will be going through the mundane process of learning about turn signals, car proximity, and how to tell if it's a three-way intersection or a four-way.  So wish me luck!

Oh, and I do have something on a more technological note.  I'm going to a preliminary meeting at my school for their Film Festival.  Now, you might think, given my love of (and proficiency at) filmmaking, that I might submit something.  Well, you're wrong.  There's actually a spot available on their team to design the official Film Festival website.  And yours truly here is going to volunteer.  Because who else would dare to challenge me to an HTML, CSS, XHTML, or JavaScript coding contest?  With my use of templates and online tutorials, I'd kill them! :-)

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I just realized--you guys reading this blog might think that all I use it for is to complain about life, and, well, stuff. Well, I submit to you that that is untrue.

I also use it to talk about pictures like this one:

It's a tiny camera inside what is ostensibly a maple seed. But instead of free-falling, this thing has jet boosters--jet boosters!--to keep it in the air while its wireless communications equipment sends data back to its controller. Apparently the military will be using it to monitor hostile territory, scout out enemy troops, and detect chemical or biological weapons.

I wouldn't be surprised if individuals on the CIA watch list find their houses bombarded with maple seeds.

(image from CNET's Crave Blog)
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Got my laptop back a little while ago, but until a few days ago I've been very busy packing for an overnight "bonding" trip with my schoool. Almost everyone in my grade went on it (it was mandatory for everyone in my grade, but some people got out of it), and...well, let's just say it wasn't fun. We got rained on all night, during which time everyone kept me up by talking, yelling, and generally being nuisances. Mind you, they didn't do it with the intent of keeping me up, but that was one of the results. As if the trip wasn't bad enough, we were also forced to do all kinds of activities that, let's just say, I wouldn't prefer to do. Overall, not a good way to spend Thursday and Friday. But I'm back now, and everything's right with the world again.
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It's like the technology gods hate me or something. I sent my laptop and the new optical drive back to HP so they could replace it themselves, as you know. Although I sent it two days ago, I just checked its status today, and apparently it has STILL not arrived at the HP service center. That makes me worried that it may not get there; it's a very expensive laptop and I'd hate to wait for another one to be made (on HP's money, of course). In other news, I also need to send in my old Dell RAM that went bad, but the UPS truck that I scheduled for a pickup a few days ago has STILL not arrived.
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The bad news just keeps coming, as I found out yesterday. Turns out I partially stripped (ruined) the screw on the underside of my laptop. So now I have to go through a lengthy process of sending the laptop to HP for them to replace the optical drive. A process which, at the worst, involves me being without a laptop for up to ten days! HP says once they get it, it will take 3-5 business days for me to get it back, or 7-9 business days at the latest. But I have my doubts about the HP service centers, especially after both the optical drive and the screw holding it in place proved unacceptably shoddy.

More later as the situation unfolds. Except I'll be posting from my old desktop. *sniff*
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Got my HP optical drive replacement! Unfortunately, now I can't find the right screwdriver to get the old one out. Oh well, to the hardware store...
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Just a quick update on the HP optical drive issue. I received confirmation that my replacement will arrive by September 4th at 3:00 PM. If only that precision extended to their actual repair jobs. Oh, well...
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Drat. My new school starts on September 4th, giving me only a few more days of freedom. And I still don't have school supplies! As if things couldn't get worse, the DVD drive inside my laptop suffered a hardware failure. I called HP and surprisingly, they said I could get it replaced for free. Most likely it's because my laptop is quite new and under warranty.
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California was great! We had a nice hotel room with a view overlooking the hotel's jacuzzis, which we went to on the last night. We also had a partial view of the beach, which was connected to the hotel property through a bridge. We went to the beach on our first full day. We also went into Laguna Beach during our vacation, and did a lot of shopping there. We went on a full day excursion to Catalina Island, off the Californian coast. There, we went on a rafting trip around the island looking for wildlife. We found a group of dolphins and got some great pictures! A few days later, it was time to head home again. Unfortunately, our plane was delayed an hour, so we ended up getting home well after midnight!

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Just a quick update: the family crisis was partially abated and we made it to Orange County, California. The hotel is very nice, with a partial ocean view. Speaking of oceans...the beach is great! It's our first full day here and we managed to get a good spot on the beach. Unfortunately, the hotel was all sold out of umbrellas so we had to get one from a different store. The sun was merciless!

More after the trip.
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Free at last! I'm now posting to this blog from my new laptop, the HP Pavilion dv9500t. The Wii is all set up, as is the new 46" Sony Bravia HDTV. Our new family computer, the HP Pavilion m8100y, and my sister's new computer, the HP Pavilion s3100y, are on the way. We are supposed to be leaving for Orange County, California, tomorrow morning at 5:30 AM! Unfortunately, an unexpected family emergency has arisen and we might not go. I'll post again after the trip or with any other updates.

Just BTW, I won't have Internet all that much in California if we go, so don't expect too many blog posts.
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My school has a summer session. I know, it stinks. But it'll be over in five weeks, and then I start at a new school in September. As an end-of-the-year present, I'm getting a laptop. And that's just the start of the new electronics that will be making their way into my house in the next month. I'll tell you all about it when I'm home again, which will be on August 15.
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Bermuda was great! I've been back for a while now, but I've been too busy to post here. I'll be heading back to school for a summer session on July 10th, but then I'm out for good on August 16th! I expect to get a laptop as a congratulations present from my parents. That will be exciting for me, because this will be my first laptop and I'm looking forward to increased mobility in my computing. Among the other accessories my house will be augmented with during the summer are a Wii, a new kitchen computer (HP's Touchsmart IQ770), and a Belkin N1 Wireless Router.
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Just FYI, I will be in Bermuda from June 14 to June 19. Check my website for pictures of C4 when I get back.
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STAR WARS CELEBRATION IV RECAP

Well everyone, it's finally over. Star Wars Celebration IV has wrapped up at the Los Angeles Convention Center. I had a great time for the 3 1/2 days I was there, out of a total five. I bought a four-day pass a while ago (just around the pre-registration deadline of March 30) and with my Star Wars Fan Club membership, I was able to get in for the fan club-only day on Thursday, May 24. Here's an overview of my trip. At the end, I will detail my convention purchases.

DAY ONE: THURSDAY, MAY 24 2007
I arrived at the convention center at around 10:30AM, waited in line for about one and a half hours until the 12:00PM opening. When I got to the convention center, I was immediately overwhelmed by how massive everything was. I had heard good things about the Exhibit Hall, which at the time I had assumed was the area where costumes, props, and the like would be on display. Upon arriving, I discovered that it was actually an Exhibitor Hall. The huge room was full of different toy, book, comic, poster, costume, and prop merchants, some big-name and others that no one had heard of. I checked out the Exhibit Hall for a while, then I went to the Fan Club Lounge. This was probably the most useful room for me. It had comfortable couches and chairs, a game area, and a section for buying food and drinks. Even though the latter was highly overpriced, I accepted my fate as that of a convention traveler and decided to meet some new people.

Little did I know
that the crew of my favorite Star Wars podcast, called The Force-Cast, was hanging out in the Lounge. I walked over to the hosts, Jason and Pete, and asked, "Is this the Force-Cast crew?" They responded, "Yes. Are you Eric?" I was shocked. They explained that they had heard the voicemail message I left them and assumed that it was me. They said it was because I was one of the only young Star Wars fans to call in and tell them I would see them at Celebration IV. At this point, two of the other podcast crew members walked over, and we talked for a while.

After leaving the Fan Club Lounge, I headed over to the LucasFilm Archives. Here, I looked at real costumes, unused props, and actual concept art from the six movies. I stayed here for about 20 minutes and then I went down the hall to the R2D2 Builders Room. In this room, over thirty droids were on display that had been handmade by real fans. When it was about 4:15PM, I left the Builders Room and walked to the Behind the Scenes stage to listen to a panel by The Making of Star Wars author J.W. Rinzler. The man had some fascinating stories to tell, and after his panel, he went to the Barnes and Noble booth in the Exhibit Hall to sign copies of his book--which I promptly bought and had signed.

When I was done in the Exhibit Hall, I left to go to the Fan Fair Hall. In this area there were several booths and items of interest that related to the celebration of Star Wars fans. There was a life-size X-Wing on display, and several prominent groups--the D.C. Star Wars Collecting Club and the 501st among them--had booths in this room. This room also had the Jedi Training Stage, where younglings from around the world came to fight a man in a Darth Vader costume.

At about 5:45PM, I went upstairs to get in line for a special presentation of Star Wars Trilogy In 30 Minutes. Unfortunately, the line was so long that it snaked around several hallways, and I didn't make it into the first showing. Luckily, though only one was scheduled, the cast and crew decided to do a second show. The presentation was hilarious! The cast meshed so well on stage and managed to pull together the entire trilogy in just over a half hour. A funny moment I remember was that when Luke gets out of the X-Wing on Yavin after blowing up the Death Star, he screams "Carrie!" as he sees Leia, which is an homage to an old rumor that Mark Hamill said Carrie Fisher's name instead of his scripted line.

DAY TWO: FRIDAY, MAY 25 2007
When I arrived at the convention center on Friday, I immediately proceeded to the Laser Tag arena. Once there, I was suited up and placed on a team with about fifteen other fans, including a group of four stormtroopers from the Japanese 501st (who gave me a souvenir patch from their garrison afterwards). We played three games for a total of fifteen minutes, and my team won each time. After the games were over, I walked around for an hour or so and then went to the Fan Club lounge. I arrived a little before actresses Amy Allen (Aayla Secura) and Michonne Bourriague (Aurra Sing) were slated to arrive for a meet and greet.

After they left, Steve Sansweet, LucasFilm's Director of Fan Relations, showed up for an unscheduled visit. He talked with fans for a while, and then gave out trading cards of himself as souvenirs. I got a picture with him, and then he left. I stayed in the Fan Club lounge because at about 3:00PM, some cast and crew from the upcoming LucasArts video game The Force Unleashed were going to come in for a meet and greet. I asked a LucasArts representative about the possibility of the game being released on the Wii; his response was uninformative, but that was about all I could expect seeing as they're not allowed to release that information.

I had to leave the Force Unleashed group early, because my most looked-forward-to event was at 3:30PM: the Legacy of the Force Authors' Panel. This event featured two of Lucas Licensing's publishers, and the three authors of the series itself: Aaron Allston, Karen Travis's, and Troy Denning. The event was just as I expected: funny, informative, and laid-back. Troy Denning made some great jokes--when asked what character romance he preferred, Denning responded: "I'm a Jaina/Zekk shipper myself; you should have read the scene they made me cut from Dark Nest." At the panel, the authors also released some valuable information: the title of the last book in the series, Invincible.

After that ended, I walked around for a while in the Exhibit Hall. There we so many fascinating booths to see--and so many freebies to get--that I couldn't possibly see it all. But I came close. At about 6:30PM I left the convention center and headed outside to wait in line for the convention's Opening Ceremonies. The line was so long that it was 7:25PM before everyone got in! And that was cutting close, considering that the event was supposed to start at 7:30PM. But it ran late and ended up start around 7:45PM. The Opening Ceremonies were pretty spectacular, despite the negative feedback they received from many fans. The show featured speakers such as the Mayor of L.A., a U.S. Post Office executive, the hosts of each major room at Celebration, and even Steve Sansweet in an Ewok outfit. There was a Celebration parade of celebrities, a birthday cake for Star Wars (which all the fans got to enjoy), a welcome video from George Lucas, and a short performance by the cast of Star Wars Trilogy in 30 Minutes performing "The Work of LucasFilm in 30 Minutes." There was also a preview of Charlie Ross' One-Man Star Wars Show, a memoriam for Star Wars cast and crew who have passed, and even a "not-so live" feed from George Lucas--which was actually a George Lucas sock puppet. The joke was that Lucas had decided to do the entire animated Clone Wars series with...sock puppets!

DAY THREE: SATURDAY, MAY 26 2007
This was the day that my dad came with me to Celebration IV. We arrived at about 10:30AM and got in with no problem. I showed him the Fan Club Lounge, we visited the massive amount of booths at the Exhibit Hall, and I answered his many questions including "How do you find your way around this place?" Then we went to the Autograph Hall, to get the ten autographs that I had pre-ordered. We got some of the minor people first (though only minor by Celebration standards; I was honored to get these people's signatures!) and then we waited two hours and twenty minutes for Anthony Daniels' autograph. We then got the rest of the minor autographs and proceeded to enter Carrie Fisher's line. Surprisingly, the line for Fisher (which was upwards of seven hours at CIII) was only about an hour and a half that day.

After getting the autographs, I showed my dad the Fan Fair Hall and we ate dinner there. We made it to the main entrance area just in time to see a parade of costumed 501st characters march by. Then we waited for a half hour until the Celebration Party was supposed to start. Not nearly as crowded as the Opening Ceremonies, this party was supposed to be a sort of "mixer" where fans could meet each other without missing out on events. It was very disappointing as I did not see anyone I knew and I was getting fairly tired. My feet hurt from standing for almost five and a half hours total, and I wanted to go back to the hotel and rest. I was not getting tired of Celebration, for that matter, but there was nothing else open at the convention center--the party was the only thing left.

DAY FOUR: SUNDAY, MAY 27 2007
Today I had to leave the convention at about 1:30PM, because my dad and I were taking a flight back to L.A. that day. So I got there at about 10:15AM and decided to wander aimlessly until I found a good activity to close out my C4 experience. I ended up running into two of the people from the Force-Cast and they asked me if I was going to the Clone Wars Behind-the-Scenes panel. I said yes without thinking, and then realized that it would actually be a good final event. So I went to line up, but as we got there, the podcast crew and I all realized that the line was too long--we weren't going to make the first showing. So I asked them if they would sign my Force-Cast T-Shirt while we waited to get in line for the second showing. They said yes, and one of them even called the rest of their group and told them I was here. The other two podcast guys showed up soon after, and they signed my shirt too.

We all made it into the second showing, and boy, was it awesome! The producer and writer of the team at LucasFilm Animation answered a lot of good questions. At the end, when someone asked a very specific question, the team "relented," and gave us a special, two-minute preview of the series, which debuts next year. I felt honored knowing that I was in a group of 900 that were the second group of people to ever see anything from this mysterious series. After the event, they gave out posters from the event that displayed the main characters in all their 3D animation glory. Feeling good about my last event at C4, I headed for the shuttle bus to take me back to the hotel. My dad and I left for the airport, and so ended my Celebration IV experience.


Now you're all obviously wondering what I bought at the convention, seeing as that is one of the biggest part's of a Star Wars fan's life--buying things, that is. Here's my list:

1 Lloyd autograph
1 Daniels autograph
1 Fisher autograph
1 Baker autograph
1 Bulloch autograph
1 Logan autograph
1 Mayhew autograph
1 Morrison autograph
1 Park autograph
1 Prowse autograph
1 McQuarrie Droids set
1 Celebration IV Commemorative T-Shirt
1 Celebration IV Baseball Cap
1 Celebration IV Keychain
1 Celebration IV Official Poster - hand signed
1 Celebration IV Official Program
1 copy of The Making of Star Wars - hand signed
1 copy of Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice
And MAD FREEBIES!

Well, there you go. I hope that anyone else who attended had a great time. MTFBWY!
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Just a few quick things:

1) I now have my own website, graciously hosted by Microsoft Office Live. You can find it at: www.ericjgeller.com

2) Wow! Only two weeks to go until Celebration IV! I have my convention packet (with my admission badge and fan club lanyard) and the receipts for all my on-site acquisitions such as autographs, photos, and collecting accessories. I have saved up tons of money, and my friends and family will be donating large sums as well.
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Hello everyone, from the tropical nation of Costa Rica! I am currently at my second of three hotels, where I have already done a river safari tour; a zip-line adventure over the treetops of the rain forest; and a hike across multiple bridges suspended way above the ground. At my first hotel, I went sightseeing at several powerful waterfalls and walked through hummingbird gardens, aviaries, and frog and snake rooms. Tomorrow I will be moving to my third and final hotel, which is on a beautiful beach. As the last leg of the trip, this hotel will provide rest and relaxation, with no commitments to excursions whatsoever.
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Just to let you all know, I will be gone on vacation to Costa Rica for nine days. I will be leaving on Monday morning at about 3:00 AM! Anyways, I think I will have an active internet connection at two of the three hotels where I am staying. If not, I will not be able to respond to comments until I return.
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It's confirmed, I'm going to Celebration IV! I already bought over $200 worth of celebrity autographs, and I've reserved a time to shop in the Celebration Store. I've also got plane and hotel reservations squared away. In fact, the only thing I haven't done is buy admission tickets to the convention. I am only waiting because I have an important question for the people running the convention.
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Sorry that I haven't updated in a while, everyone. I just found out that I'm probably going to Star Wars Celebration IV, the huge convention celebrating the saga's 30th anniversary. If anyone else is going, comment on this post and let me know! I am going to be meeting a lot of famous people, including the hosts of TheForce.net's weekly podcast. I'm sure it'll be lots of fun and I'll keep you guys updated. MTFBWY!
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Happy New Year everyone!











2006 was a great year for me, and I hope 2007 will be even better. I start school tomorrow, and I'm really excited to see all my friends and teachers again. My family and I watched the ball drop in Times Square, NYC. When the counter hit '0', we all cheered and my dog got freaked out!
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