Several days ago, I wrote about how one of my surround speakers fell on the floor and no longer worked. It simply just gave out static.

Since that time, I’ve dropped the speaker on the floor twice more. You know what? It’s gotten better. It’s not all the way there yet, but I sure do hear a lot less static. Strange but true.

The moral of this post? If an action causes something to go wrong, doing it again might fix it.


…a Lord of the Rings day on one of the in-house movie channels. They were showing all three movies back-to-back-to-back all day.

After unpacking and exploring our stateroom, it was time for our 4:30pm safety drill. This involved each of us taking our life vests and moving to our pre-determined “muster” station. This was our rallying point should there be an emergency. Our station was the theatre two decks down.

About two hundred people could fit in the theatre. For over 30 minutes, we listened to safety procedures and were shown how to don our life vests. When it all ended it was about 5pm and the ship was scheduled to leave dock at 5:30pm. Great, you’d think it’d be time to get out on the upper decks and wait for the ship to leave. You know, the traditional waving to people, the confetti, and watching as ship sailed underneath the Lions Gate bridge. Hell no, that did not happen!

Recall that my Mom is a travel agent. Well, she was an unofficial tour guide on this cruise for dozens of people that bought the cruise through her company. They had scheduled a “happy hour” in one of the bars at 5pm. Before that though, my mom had to hand out about 200 brochures and pens on the bar tables. Guess who had to help? Yep, good old Bart and Lisa Simpson.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind helping my mother out, but I thought the timing of the whole thing was poor. After handing out the swag, I had to help take photos during the prize raffle that was being done by my Mom.

To further irritate me, the people who came to this happy hour were the most impolite people I’ve ever met. This one guy was being very belligerent to my Mom. He was very rude with his questions and demanding unreasonable things. He was sitting down at his table and I stood right over looking at him. He looked up at me once, kinda wondering who I was, but he looked away. I was this close to telling him to fuck off, but hey, you know me, I’m a lover not a fighter.

Luckily, my Mom had co-workers on this cruise with her, and this one guy stepped in and told her she an important call to make. By the time this whole thing ended, my sister and I rushed outside. We looked behind the ship and we could make out Lions Gate, but we had passed it already.

The next few hours are kinda of a blur to me, but I’m pretty sure my sister and I did some exploring of the ship. We visited every deck to see what it offered.

We then went back to our stateroom and met up with our parents. Everyone came to the decision we’d try the steak house dining room for dinner. Our ship had four different dining rooms, each with a different theme: steak house, southwestern, Asian, and Italian.

The steak house dining room was quite nice with a lot of dark wood. It reminded me of Gotham downtown. The service was alright, we had this waiter who liked to get “involved” with his guests. He called my mom and dad “Mama” and “Papa”. My mom is not a humourless woman, but she has no patience for these things.

Nonetheless, I had an exquisite meal. I skipped soup and salad, but I did have an excellent scallop appetizer. For the main course, I had prime rib, medium rare from Nebraska. It came with some sides but I forgot what they were. This piece of prime rib was a monster. My sister estimated it at nearly 20 ounces of meat. I felt the meat sweats coming on, but darn it, I finished the damn thing. For dessert, I chose a sorbet. It was light and cleansing.

After dinner, my parents rushed off to catch the 10pm show at the theatre. Sis and I were too full, so we headed back to our stateroom to change into pants with elastic waistbands. After sitting for a bit, we decided to head off to one of the many lounges onboard.

We chose a really laid back one that played music you might hear from the classic Sinatra and Dean Martin days. We were the youngest people there by a longshot. From where we were sitting, we could see a couple ballroom dancing to the music. They were awesome. Because of some chairs, we couldn’t see the couple below their waist. It looked like they were skating on ice, their moves were so smooth. It was impossible to tell when a step was being taken. It was at that point, I promised myself, that someday, no matter how hard it would be, I’d watch about five minutes of ballroom dancing on TV.

My sister and I must have been tired because we barely got through our one drink. After finishing my Shirley Temple, we headed back to our stateroom. By that time my parents had come back from the show and our beds had been turned down. It was decided that my parents would each get a single bed, I’d get the sofa bed, and my sister would have to climb the damn ladder and sleep in the bunk.

Everyone got into their jammies and went to bed. I stayed up for a bit and watched some TV with the sound off. Their movie channels were actually decent. Soon, I turned off the TV and went to bed myself, but not before chucking aside the chocolate on my pillow.



I read this on another site, but there are apparently people going on Ebay and selling Google Gmail accounts or invitations to sign-up for one.

Gmail is Google’s entry into the web-based e-mail world. It features 1 Gb of storage space, which is quite a lot.

Gmail is currently only in beta testing, so not everyone can just sign-up for an account. Because I’m on Blogger (which is owned by Google), I’ve had a Gmail account for several weeks now.

I can tell you right now, it’s not worth the $50+ US that people are bidding. Is Gmail bad? No, it’s actually quite neat and has a lot of features I haven’t seen before. I don’t think I’d switch over to Gmail as my primary account, but it’s nice to have.

If you want to see all the crazy bidding, click here. If you want an invitation to beta test Gmail, just tell me, I’ll send out as many as you want.


Let me start off by saying that getting on a cruise ship is a big pain in the ass compared to airplanes.

You’d think that boarding about 2000 people over the course of four hours isn’t that bad, but it is. By some unheard or unseen signal, it appeared almost everybody arrived at Canada Place around 1pm.

This is where I got in my first line-up. I waited approximately 20 minutes to clear security. It was your usual metal detector for the bags and the arch for your person type of security checkpoint.

Everyone walked about 50 feet down this wide hallway, where we were faced with several different line-ups. This was for checking-in with Princess Cruises. They had an array of wickets set up based on what deck you were staying on. Our ship had like eight decks or so, so there were eight different line-ups. We were on the Dolphin deck. It is in this line-up that you get your cruise card.

Now you think with eight different line-ups, it wouldn’t be that crowded. Nope. They had placed the wickets so close together that the line-ups were smushed against each other. Imagine everyone with their pieces of luggages. It was crowded. The real kicker was this: once you made your way to the front of the line and checked-in with the cruise agent, you had to fight your way to the back of the line, because that’s were the customs and immigration line-up was.

So behind the check-in line-up was another line-up for clearing immigration. It was very poorly laid out. So after we checked in, we stood in line again to wait to get cleared by American immigration folks. This was another 20 minutes.

All told, it took over an hour to get onto our ship. Once I was on the gangway though, I was quite eager to see this mammoth beast of a ship. As you board the ship, someone takes your cruise card from you and swipes it. Then a quick digital photo is taken of you.

At this point, there’s cruise personnel at every step of the way to lead you to your stateroom. Someone directs you to the elevators, someone is in the elevator, someone is there when you get off the elevator. It took us less than a minute to get to our stateroom.

Inside, I was quite impressed. We were in a mini-suite and it had a small living room area and a private balcony. We even had two TVs! Our bathroom was cozy but there was a full-sized tub. The balcony was large enough to have two deck chairs and a small plastic table with two matching chairs.

After unpacking a bit of stuff, all of us were really hungry, so my mother herded all of us to the 14th deck 24-hour buffet. It was there that I got my first taste of cruise cuisine. The selection was quite nice and it reminded me of some of the buffets in Vegas. If you wanted beef, chicken, rice, soups, salads, fruits, desserts, and other sweets, it was all there.

The dining area of the buffet was not too shabby as well. It was tastefully appointed. The prime seating areas were the tables next to the large bay windows. These seats offered an unobstructed view of the seemingly endless blue ocean.

After we had finished our first meal on the ship, we headed back down to our stateroom because there was a safety exercise at 4:30pm.

With my hunger out of the way, I had more time to explore our stateroom. One interesting piece of material I saw on our desk was the shipboard publication called the “Princess Patter”, a daily ship newsletter if you may. It listed the daily events that would be happening on the ship for that day and beyond. To my surprise, I saw on Friday that there would be…



So, I’m not sure anyone out there is geeky enough to know this, but there’s this guy out there who made a pretty cool costume from the movie TRON. It was from the early 80s and it featured the very first uses of “computer graphics” in movies.

Anyways, this guy made a half-working suit from the movie. Here’s the photo below. The blue lights on his suit? That’s not a Photoshop trick, it actually lights up like that. Pretty neat. If you want to make one for yourself, click here.


The pics from my cruise are now up. I did them in a hurry, so there might be a few errors. Take a look at them here.


For those keeping score, yep, I’ll get that post up about my cruise soon. It won’t be long now.

So, I’ve been anticipating that I would have the month of May off before I had to start my summer job working for an instructor on campus. I’ve been calling this “the May of Erwin”, after a well-known episode of Seinfeld.

It turns out, I won’t be starting my job until the second week of June, which makes for a slightly more complicated title of what to call my vacation.

Part of my vacation calls for seeing a lot of movies. Tonight, three carloads of people went to see Troy. Adam and I tagged along but we went to see Van Helsing instead. Our movie started at 8:10pm and by 8:05pm, we were still the only people in the auditorium.

We were so hoping we’d be the only ones in the theatre. We came up with two things that we’d do if that were to happen. First, we’d sit on opposite ends of theatre, and then stand up and yell things during the movie.

“Oh my God Adam! Did you just see that! That was awesome!”

“Oh don’t go opening that door Van Helsing! Them vampires behind that door!”

Second, we’d thought it’d be pretty cool to sit through the rest of the movie in our underwear with our shoes off. Adam came up with that one.

Unfortunately, like at 8:06pm, twenty people came out of nowhere. Plans denied.

Overall I enjoyed Van Helsing. Sure it was mindless action, but I was entertained.

After the movie let out, we had nearly 50 minutes before Troy finished, so we had a beer at the brew pub next door.

When we met up with the other group, this was the most interesting quote I heard about the movie:

“That Brad Pitt is as golden as a french fry in that movie… and just as delicious too!”

Adrian then drove us home and here I am writing for you fine folks. Here’s to the rest of May and the first week of June!


About two weeks before I was scheduled to leave on my cruise, I found out that I was not going to be the only SJC resident to go to Alaska in May.

My neighbour down the hall, Carolyn, was also booked for an Alaskan cruise. She leaves this Saturday. When I discovered this, we excitedly went over her ports of call. Carolyn is also going on Princess Cruise Lines and her stops include Ketchikan, the only port of call on my short four day cruise.

I thought it would be really neat if I left something in Ketchikan for her to find, retrieve, and then bring back to Vancouver.

I hadn’t really thought it out very much in advance. In fact, the morning that we got into Ketchikan, I still didn’t know what I’d leave, where, and how. After breakfast, I decided I’d use some Princess stationary and write her a little note. I stuffed it in a Princess envelope and left the ship.

My parents were doing a tour of Ketchikan by themselves, so I only had my sister with me. As we walked around town, we kept our eyes out for suitable locations. We certainly didn’t want a place to leave the envelope where it was far away from the dock. We passed by several phone booths, information stands, public buildings and the like, but none of them seemed right.

In the meantime, I remembered I had no tape to secure the envelope to anything. We passed by a drug store and I bought a roll of Scotch tape (TM).

We looped back towards the ship and that’s where I spotted a somewhat suitable place. It was this gazebo thingy with a plaque in front of it. I was going to secure the envelope underneath one of the benches in the gazebo. It was covered, so that if it rained, the envelope would stay dry.

My sister and I had to wait several minutes for some people to leave the gazebo. Time was well spent inside a souvenir store. When the location had been vacated, we sat down on the benches and I pulled out the envelope and the tape. I put several pieces of tape on the envelope and paused briefly.

How the hell could I do this without raising suspicion?

I decided I should do it quickly and without fanfare. Without missing a beat, I reached down and slapped it underneath my bench. Then I decided I didn’t have enough tape on it, so I slapped a few more pieces on it and the bench.

It was done and all I could do was hope for the best. We walked away and I was really tempted to just run back, get on my knees, look underneath the bench, and just tape the hell out of that envelope. I didn’t though.

Who knows what has happened to it now. Maybe someone saw me and decided to take a look. Maybe a dog ate it. Maybe the tape wasn’t strong enough and it fell off. Lots of things could have happened.

I really hope it’s still there. Carolyn has asked me for an intel report. I gave her one. You can read it here.


A few weeks ago, one of my speakers for my computer system fell off the ledge it was sitting on and hit the floor. It was the never the same again.

I shook it and didn’t hear anything moving inside the enclosure. Unfortunately, while no parts had been dislodged, the speaker began to hiss static. It was most noticeable when I played my DVDs. It would drown out dialogue. HISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

It was the right rear surround speaker in my 5.1 system. You really can’t have your right rear speaker dominating every other one and hissing noise.

I decided to open up the speaker enclosure to take a look. I was hoping maybe a soldered joint had broken or something. Alas, it was not to be. All the joints I could see were solid. There were no circuit boards to speak of. The damn thing was broken and I didn’t know how exactly.

I saw two, well three ways really on how I could deal with this situation. First, I could get a replacement surround speaker from Creative. I’ve sent them a request for pricing, but they haven’t gotten back to me yet. Second, I could just get a new set of speakers. This option makes no sense whatsoever. If I were to get a new set, I definitely would get a better system. I have my eye on a set from Logitech. They are the cheapest set of THX certified speakers on the market today. 280 Watts (RMS) of sweet sonic power. I can get them for about $200. If I were to get a new set, the best thing (logically) to do would be to purchase similarly performing system. In that case, I’d be spending around $85 for a piddly 50 Watt (RMS) system. The third option would be to do nothing. Just forget about doing anything. While watching DVDs, I’d no longer hear any ambience from the right rear. While playing games, monsters could sneak up behind me on my right and I wouldn’t even know it. While listening to music, I’d be down one speaker. I’d get a little less William Hung coming out of my room.

I’m still not sure what I’m going to do. In the interim, let’s take a look at another speaker system.

If I had money, this is the one I’d buy. Too bad it’s $650.


I had a big list of things to do today. To my great surprise, I nearly got all of them done.

The one thing I wished I had done today was to go get some groceries. I need to go to Safeway bad. I cleaned out my fridge before I left for my cruise, so I have nothing to eat at home. I did make a quick stop in the Village produce store, so I have a few apples and strawberries though. It doesn’t replace a full-on Safeway trip unfortunately.

I paid to use the bus today as well. After eight months of U-Pass, man did that ever feel wrong. There must be some way of getting a free bus pass… SFU students… I’m looking in your direction…

I also filed my tax return today. I’m getting a refund. I wish I could use the money to buy frivolous consumer goods, but every cent of it will go towards tuition. It’s just the grown-up thing to do.

I can now (legally) drive again. I got my driver’s license renewed when I was back home with my parents. It was the first time I’ve ever had it renewed in a shopping mall. Here’s a tip if you’re renewing your license: go to the ICBC Express Driver Services Centres. These places don’t offer written exams nor road tests. Because of that, the line-ups are a tiny fraction of the full service centres.

Before I end this post, I’d like to mention that I’m drafting a post on my cruise as we speak. You’ll find out soon enough what I thought about my vacation.