DREAMS

Several times before I’ve fallen asleep in bed I’ve thought of some interesting ideas for blog posts. At the time, I realized that I would never remember them and made me wish I had a pad and a pencil next to my bed.

I’ve also woken up and realized I had some crazy dreams that would also make for some great blog posts. Again, I never seem to remember them as well. I believe your brain does that on purpose because it doesn’t want you to remember dreams and think those things really happened.

This is a bit of a tangent but it’s kinda interesting. A few weeks ago, I was asleep but I regained consciousness while my body was physically still sleeping. When you sleep, your brain prevents you from controlling your arms and legs to a certain extent to protect you from acting out your dreams. When your mind is awake though and your body refuses to move, it can be a bit unsettling. It felt like being underwater and I was fighting to get to the surface and break through.

All I knew was that I was in this black fog and I needed to desperately wake up so I could control my limbs again. There was this urgency that I needed to wake up immediately. For several moments I willed myself to move but my entire body wasn’t responding.

After what seemed like a minute, the blackness disappeared in a quick snap and the world came rushing into focus. My eyes were open and I could see the room. I was awake and I could move my body again.

It was a really weird feeling. I’ve only had it happen to me a few times in my entire life. When I thought everything was ok, I went back to sleep.

DOWNTOWN FRIDAY

I don’t know how many people start a new job on a Friday before going on the weekend but that’s what I’m going to do this Friday. After reading various conflicting documents, I was definitively told today that boot camp at EAC ends this Thursday and we’d go back to our respective teams on Friday. For some, this will mean going upstairs but for me, I’ll be heading downtown to EAX where I will meet my new team for the first time.

Beyond the weekend, I’m also looking forward to “beer and cake” on Friday which is something of a tradition at EAX. The event is supposed to celebrate any birthdays that happened during the week. I’m not sure if there’s a birthday every week but beer and cake is served nonetheless. I’ve been told I can even invite guests if I want. That’s pretty cool.

So, starting Friday, I’ll be in some office tower like all those other business people… except I can wear t-shirts…

WEEKEND WRAPUP

Last week, we only had four working days before the weekend rolled around but it sure felt like a six day week to me. Coming back to your regular job from vacation is tough at best but try doing that when it’s a new job.

On Friday, I was happy to go home and basically nap for an hour before grabbing some dinner. Then it was off to UBC to say goodbye to my good friend Tyson. Bone is off to Toronto to start med school in the fall. He’s driving across country to his new home. Good luck Tyson! Slowly, but surely, all the people I’ve met at SJC are moving away.

I didn’t do a whole lot on Saturday, I was just happy to sleep in and get some rest. Well, I did get a haircut. It’s been six weeks since my last one, so I really needed it. The weird thing was that I had to get my hair cut by someone other than my regular haircutter lady. My regular was all booked up until the start of her vacation and if I wanted to wait, it’d have to be until September 3. By then, my hair would have been an afro the size of the moon. The lady who actually cut my hair is someone who I’ve seen around the salon for literally years but who has never touched my hair.

She did an awesome job with my hair but it did feel a teeny bit weird having someone else cut my hair. It’s amazing how stylists do the little things just a bit different. I wonder if this is what men experience when they cheat on their wives for the first time after like a decade. Anyways, I’m pleased with my hair and I’ll have to thank her again when I see my regular stylist.

I went shopping today but no one wants to hear about that. I also went to Dairy Queen which was quite pleasant. Ok, so that’s a post!

ONE MORE

Yes, I said no more work related posts but hell, I spend nearly eight plus hours in a classroom these days, what do you expect?

I had another Cam sighting today. After passing him on the staircase on day one, I saw him stroll through the cafeteria at lunch with his food on his way to Phase II. I was at a table with Chris D., Barr star, and the Gunq himself, Garrett. I saw Cam from afar and mentioned to everyone that he was going to pass our table. As he walked by, everyone looked at me as if they expected me to say something. I did not.

Everyone then laughed at me. I didn’t want to change this perfectly weird way that Cam and I communicate together. We have never met formally in person. Our entire set of exchanges occurs purely through comments on this blog. What could I possibly say to the man in person?

One final thing, EA has very strict policies on accessing personal e-mail from work. This policy extends to webmail. I’ve been told by the IT guys that we’re not supposed to check our own e-mail from the studio. Informally, someone has told me people do it nonetheless. Now since I don’t want to get in trouble less than a week into my new job, I’m going to adhere to that policy… for now. That means if you send an e-mail to my et.com account, I won’t read it until I get home. If you need to get ahold of me during the day, leave a message on my cell phone or feel free to e-mail me at etang at ea.com and CC me using the et.com address as well. Thanks!

BOOT CAMP

I swear this is will be the last post about work for the next little while. Man, going to work is tiring. I’m in training until next Thursday and each day begins at 9am sharp. Don’t get me wrong though, I thought the first day went really well. We all got a big binder full of lecture notes and reference material. We also got a schedule of what we’re going to cover for the whole course.

I have to say that this is the most comprehensive on-the-job training I’ve ever seen for any company I’ve worked for. The training is quite impressive. It also nearly guarantees that any software engineer starting at EA will have a known set of skills when they complete the course. This way, managers know exactly what each engineer is capable of even before that engineer starts on a project.

Now that I’ve been spending full days in the Burnaby studio, I’ve had several instances of deja vu come over me. For example, parking my car in the back outside lot this morning (like I did hundreds of time before) made me wonder if this was really 2002. Sitting in the cafeteria eating my lunch today made me realize how many countless hours I’ve spent inside that building. It was all very weird.

Adding to all this was that I actually talked to two people whom I worked with when I was a tester. In the cafeteria, I ran into Cindy who was my lead when I was testing FIFA. She still recognized me and asked me what I was doing here. I told her I was here for training but I’d be at EAX when I was done. She seemed almost relieved when I said I was a software engineer now. She also told me she’s out of QA now and into the production side.

At the end of the day, I was walking to go see Garrett when I heard someone yell out my name. I looked over to my left and it was old Petey himself, the man with the infectious laugh. Peter and I tested Triple Play Baseball together back in 2001. He said that he thought he saw me earlier but didn’t believe his eyes. He went to his desk and checked his Outlook address book, and sure enough, there I was. He tells me he sent me an e-mail but who knows when I’ll get it since I can’t even check my e-mail while I’m EAC. Peter is now a producer on some unannounced game and he invited me to check it out sometime. I will take him up on that offer.

Alright, I gotta try to get to bed a little bit earlier tonight, the operative word being “try”.

FIRST DAY OF WORK

I arrived at EA Canada bright and early this morning for my 8:30am orientation. I decided to drive and it took me less than 20 minutes to get there from Port Moody. It was a far cry compared to the one hour plus commute I had before. It was my first indication that perhaps it wouldn’t be that bad to work in Burnaby.

I did orientation six years ago and they’ve streamlined some parts and added other things to the process. For starters, orientation is an all day affair now. That may see too long for some people but I actually think it’s a good thing and they do present some relevant material to get you started on the right path.

They keep things lively by mixing in presentations with filling out forms and going on a studio tour of the facilities. I was given a tour earlier when I interviewed but they were still able to show me things I hadn’t seen before. For example, the cafeteria has it’s own designated person to explain the many, many different choices available to EA employees. I also found out that the new fitness facility is offering a dodgeball league. I love dodgeball! I would be so there if I was working at EAC.

It was during the tour that I believe I spotted Cam, a frequent reader of this blog. I think he was going up the main staircase in Phase II while our group was going down the stairs. I also spotted many people that I had worked with when I was a tester. It was kinda weird seeing them again.

The orientation group was given a lunch voucher so we could sample the culinary delights at noon. During the tour, we were told one of the features offered today was roast turkey. I decided on that. It also came with mashed potatoes, salad, broccoli, stuffing, and strangely, a piece of bok choy. The meal itself was alright. The turkey had a bit too much gristle for my liking and there wasn’t enough gravy. Had there been a generous helping of gravy, the entire meal would have been elevated to a higher status. I then saw what the stir fry station was offering and that looked like it was an awesome meal. Somewhat like Mongolian BBQ, it had me thinking I would have that next time around.

We also had our pictures taken for our ID badges. My picture turned out horrible but oh well. After lunch we had two more presentations and our ID badges arrived for us to take. I was thankful for mine since walking around the facility without a badge is nearly impossible since most areas are access controlled.

The day ended around 4:30pm but instead of going home right away, I used my newly minted access card to go talk to my former co-worker Tim. After chatting with him, I headed over to see Garrett. I told him I wanted to go back downstairs to visit my old stomping grounds, the QA department where we both used to work. He said he’d go with me. I hadn’t been in there since early 2002. The place was the same but different. There’s a lot more people in there now. I recognized three or four faces only. One guy I saw, I interviewed him for a tester position in 2002. I made the recommendation that EA hire the guy. He’s still there. I really wanted to talk to him but I forgot his name and I didn’t want to look like an idiot. Garrett and I finished our quick tour and left.

I’ll actually be at EAC for another several days since tomorrow I start some training specific to my job role. I’m looking forward to it and it means I’ll be able to see my friends for another week or so.

BACK TO WORK

Tomorrow, I begin another tour of duty with Electronic Arts. My much needed week off has ended. In hindsight, I wished I had at least asked if I could have two weeks off. When we were discussing start dates, they said it was mainly up to me. I’ll remember that for next time.

I will admit that I am kinda nervous about tomorrow. Of course, who isn’t nervous when they start a new job. I think I’m less nervous than I was when I was about to start at Backbone though. One reason is that tomorrow is only orientation. Even though I’m working dowtown, I’ll be at the Burnaby studio tomorrow. All the new hires for the week will be given a slick rundown on how things work at EA. A stack of forms will be signed. Our picture will be taken for our ID badges, which we should receive sometime during the day. That’s too bad since I really need a haircut right now and my hair looks like a bird’s nest. We’re also going on a tour of the facilities even though everyone should have had one already and I’m not even going to be working in Burnaby. Lunch will be on EA at the cafeteria, which I’m looking forward to since I’ve not eaten there since the big renovation.

My guess is that I’ll be more nervous for Wednesday, when I actually will be going to the studio I work at in downtown Vancouver. There will be another orientation there, albeit much smaller in scale. I’ll finally be meeting the people I’ll be working with.

I don’t think starting a new job is ever easy for anyone but it’s just something that needs to be done. I’m looking forward to a few months from now where I’ll be productive, happy, and well-loved (hopefully) at work.

I’ll leave you with one final nerdy note. My previous post was the 1337th post of this blog, which I think is quite an accomplishment.

UGH, PANCAKES

About half an hour ago I was really hungry but my culinary choices were limited at home. I didn’t want to go out either, so I decided on some frozen pancakes. I had two which were awesome and certainly hit the spot. Then I thought that I was too hungry for two pancakes to satisfy me, so I made two more. I regret eating four pancakes now.

In other news, I’ve come to the conclusion that my ears are witness to at least one police car chase a week. Please let me explain the situation. I live two short blocks away from St. John’s Street, a major traffic artery in lovely Port Moody. I’m also up on a hill, so sound travels from St. John’s quite easily to my place.

About every seven days or so, in the early morning hours, I always hear a distinct sequence of sounds emanating the major thoroughfare. The first thing I hear are several sets of police sirens off in the distance. They get louder and more distinct as the seconds pass. It’s clear that there’s more than one emergency vehicle, so it can’t be an ambulance or a fire truck. As the vehicles get closer, I then hear the whine and roar of engines from several vehicles. The sound of the engines indicate that all vehicles involved are travelling at extremely high speed. At their closest point of transit, I can hear them whip by.

I suppose it could be three or four police cars all responding to an emergency elsewhere but that seems unlikely. How often do three or four patrol cars all respond to the same incident while travelling together?

If I’m correct then, police car chases occur quite often in my neighbourhood. If this is actually true, I’m quite concerned then. If they have to happen, I wish I would at least like to know how the chase ends. Police chases never end up in a public crime blotter, unless something really bad happens.

I’ll end this post with a recorded police chase.

WHOA…

I like totally forgot to write a post last night. I am so sorry. Um, anyways… I hope to see some of you at the Frog and Firkin today in the late afternoon. We’ll talk about the good times on Shadow-Born!