Wrapping up Minnesota, '08

As any tourist should, I visited the Mall of America in Minneapolis. I didn't buy anything, but I did snap some sweet shots of LEGO dinosaurs. Made entirely of LEGOS. I played with LEGOS to no end as a child, and seeing this was, well, almost unreal. LEGOS combined with dinosaurs made me feel like I was three again.

Also I went to one of Minnesota's many lakes and went canoeing. Yay!

These next two shots were snapped at a store which I can only refer to as Tabletop Gaming Central for Minnesota and probably also Wisconsin as well as Iowa and North and South Dakota.

Bookcases full of Dungeon Master's Guides, bins filled with of dice of all sizes, colors and shapes, as well as kits for just about any game you can imagine. The first picture is just a wall full of WWII miniatures. In addition to that wall they had miniatures for the Civil War, Napoleonic Wars, and just about any other historical combat situation you can imagine. They even had non-historical sets for tabletop games of Starcraft and World of Warcraft. They also had plenty of Steve Jackson games, which I adore. And that was only half the store. They also had action figures, comic books, and a whole room full of translated manga.


Hanging out at Science Museum of Minnesota, '08

One day last week, I think it was Friday, I went with three friends to the SMM. It was a pretty cool place with lots of hand-on exhibits and dinosaur bones (though no Velociraptor skeleton - boo! One less dead Velociraptor).

The main reason we went, however, was to see the traveling Star Wars exhibit, priced at almost as much as general admission. It was entirely worth it. In addition to learning cool things about real science as seen in the Star Wars Universe, I got to see tons of models and props that were actually used in the films.

The highlight for me was seeing an actual thermal detonator, which I admit sounds kinda dumb if you have not played Star Wars Mafia (you probably haven't, but it is not dumb).
This is an actual Yoda puppet. He's posed next to a Jedi training device
Original R2-D2 and C-3P0, and half of Leia's dress.
An ominous-looking Imperial Interrogation Droid, just waiting to pwn you and your kids.
Darth Vader's helmet and also Lord Vader.

That abominable snowman dude from Hoth. Originally he was just a hand puppet, but for the remake they had an actual stuffed one. This guy is maybe three feet tall.
A Jawa, who appears to have more eyes thanks to the glass case he's in.

All in all it was a pretty sweet exhibit, and well worth going to if you're in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

Chicago '08

July 15th to the 21st was spent in West Chicago, visiting my parents. It was good seeing them again after nearly a year of being away in Pennsylvania doing my own thing. Most of the time was spent unpacking and repacking my stuff that had arrived from Japan, as well as showing my mom many cool features of her 15inch aluminum Powerbook G4 and setting up my dad's email on his new laptop. Other highlights included going to Mitsuwa to purchase cheap, authentic Japanese cuisine and groceries, which I hadn't had since January.

My dad and I also had the opportunity to go to a farm team baseball game courtesy of a local pastor and his wife. It had been ages since I had been to a ballgame, much less one that involved delicious pork chop sandwiches and roasted corn. The game featured the Kane County Cougars against the Lansing Lugnuts and was really more about the fans, between-inning activities, and promotion of local businesses than it was about baseball, which was fine by me. The "Lugs" hitting two homers in the first inning in the eventual 8-2 win only let us focus in the other goings-on sooner rather than later, and contributed to the the evening being less about baseball.

The evening ended with an attempt at the worlds largest pillow fight to be held in the outfield. They were hoping to get 4,000 participants, though I think they fell short. Whatever the total number, it was nonetheless an impressive quantity of people intent on beating the snot out of one another armed with sleeping accessories .

I managed to capture video of the fight it via my poor-resolution cellular device. Enjoy.

...And off to St. Paul, Minnesota, I go!