Lauren In Tokyo

Friday, June 30, 2006

One Rat Short

A friend of mine spent the last year or so huddled over her computer as Lighting Technical Director for the computer-animated film One Rat Short. It looks great and has received quite a bit of attention from the industry, including Best of Show at SIGGRAPH 2006.

It really looks great. The site includes a trailer, so take a look!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Some mobilization going on here

So I was driving back to Tokyo from Narita Airport after dropping my mom off for her flight back to Seattle. What do I notice is different than usual?

A whole lot of US Navy vehicles and servicemen driving alongside me.

Well, not the whole way, after all, they are following the speed limits while I'm barrelling down the ToKanDo. Still, lots more military than usual making their way to Yokota, Yokosuka, Sasebo, or wherever they are stationed here.

Probably something to do with those crazy North Koreans and their missile.

National pride

According to a poll done by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, of all Asian nationalities Filipinos have the most national pride.

Here's the report. Page 10 gives the breakdown.

You know, pride rice, pride chicken, pride eggs.

I'll go crawl back under my rock now. :-p

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

How not to treat guests

American immigration policy has been a terrible scar on what would otherwise be a relatively unremarkable national foreign policy. Where it's already failing in making friends with its international diplomacy, the American government implements an immigration policy that ensures that immigrants (both resident and non-resident immigrants) are made to feel unwelcome and unwanted.

For immigrants seeking green cards, the process begins and ends pretty much staring down a mountain of paperwork and about $500 in fees. Don't forget about the new law that requires you to submit a fingerprint sample! And after that ordeal, you spend the next 12-18 months unable to travel waiting for your permanent resident visa to arrive in the mail.

Unfortunately, that's only the Conditional Resident Visa and is only valid for 2 years. The conditional status can be removed for another couple hundred dollars by petitioning for its removal. If you forget to do this, you are no longer a legal permanent resident and you will be denied re-entry into this country the next time you try to cross an immigration port of entry.

The reasoning behind making things this strict is to prevent ephemeral visa-marriages and to keep out less than ideal immigrants. In practice, though, it simply puts immense pressure on already-difficult international marriages and near-insurmountable barriers to anyone else attempting to migrate otherwise. The people who would be prime candidates for permanent resident visas are exactly the type of people who aren't especially prone to migrate from their home countries in the first place.

But permanent residency petitions are only a drop in the bucket compared to the numbers of tourists that trudge through the lines of each of our ports of entry. They sit on the airplane filling out their customs declaration form and try to figure out exactly what kinds of things they need to declare. Are personal items required in the declaration? What about prescription medicine? What about baby food?

If our imaginary tourist friend is smart, he's already put checks in the correct boxes and fully declared his declarable items. He's read the entire CPB website and knows, for example, that meat is a prohibited item for import. He knows that they'll be taking his fingerprints at the immigration officer's booth. And he knows that being courteous to the officer (even in the face of outright rudeness and incivility on the officer's part) is his best bet to avoid being sent to the life-draining secondary processing room just out of view of the main immigration counters.

God forbid he forgot to declare something and suddenly risk having to pay a large fine. Or pity the poor American citizen who is forcefully separated from his non-American wife by zealous DHS officers who demand that "Americans must be in this line and everyone else must be in this other line!" Or imagine the shame of the tourist having to walk the red line to the secondary inspection room in full view of everyone else waiting in line.

It's enough to persuade someone to never visit the United States again. After all, there's always Canada, eh.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Viva! Las Vegas!

Tomorrow I'm taking a long-needed vacation with my wife and kid for a week of desert fun in Las Vegas. We'll be staying at the Bellagio and have tickets to see Mystère on Thursday evening. Other than that, our schedule is wide open.

I'm thinking of taking a trip out to the Grand Canyon while my wife takes Julian to the outlet mall. Friday looks like rain, so it could be a good chance to spend some quality time with the blackjack dealers.

Hopefully I'll take some nice pictures. I'm still debating whether to take the film camera (FM3a) or just stick with the old reliable digital camera.

Well, it's late and I've got a big day of flying and watching Julian on the airplane for hours and hours, so I better get some rest. Maybe more to write later. Probably not until I get back, though.