THE HAIR SITUATION

I’ve written about my hair quite a bit in this blog. As some of you know, when I get a haircut, the freshness date on it lasts about two and a half weeks before my head starts looking like I have a pile of hay on it.

My last shortening of hair happened on June 23, now five weeks ago. At that time, I didn’t get it cut very short, so its been five long weeks of hair growing. If you’ve seen me in the last week or so, you can tell I’ve given up trying to figure out what to do with my hair. There’s a big wall up front that has pretty much no where to go, other than perhaps up. I look very awkward.

I tried getting an appointment with my haircut lady early last week. I was told she didn’t have an appointment open until the 7th of August! I had to wait another two weeks! So while I wait, I look more like “the Donald” as each day passes. Please, if you see me before the 7th, refrain from making comments.

AFRICA BIKE TRIP UPDATE

In a previous post, I detailed the journey a few of my friends are currently taking. They are riding motorbikes from Europe to the southern tip of Africa. While in Africa their travels caught the attention of a reporter from Agence France-Presse. The reporter wrote a story which wound up being published on Yahoo! News. It’s a good read.

The group was in Ethiopia where they encountered an extremely serious situation. They were riding with two fellow Canadians whom they had met earlier in Africa. Unfortunately, one of the new riders hit a young boy who had darted out in front of the bike without looking. It was an unavoidable accident but the boy sustained serious injuries.

Tyson’s blog post describes the incident better than I could, so if you’re interested, please read it there. Stay safe boys.

THE HEAD TAXI DRIVER

Near the end of my vacation in Hawaii, I decided to hike up to the edge of the Diamond Head Crater. I’d been to Diamond Head eleven years previously but my parents weren’t interested in the hike up to the crater summit, leaving my sister and I just to take in summit floor. This time around, I wasn’t going to miss the whole deal.

Joining me on the hike was John, my travel partner, the best man for the wedding, and fellow EA software engineer. The hike itself was great and I recommend it for anyone who’s into hiking. It’s about a million times easier than the Grouse Grind with a view that’s about a million times better too. I’ll post picture when I get the chance.

To get back to the hotel, we decided to take a taxi since we didn’t feel like waiting for the bus nor did we have exact change on us. Since it’s a pretty touristy area, there’s always taxis waiting for people, so we jumped into the first one in the line.

After getting our destination out of the way, our cabbie asked us where we were from. We said Vancouver and he mentioned his fondness for Canadians. He also immediately launched into what would become a fully narrated ride back to our hotel. He started giving us statistics about the ethnic breakdown of Oahu. It sounds plausible but I didn’t check his numbers afterwards. Did you know Asian ethnic groups outnumber white people on Oahu?

By this time, I knew this guy was no ordinary cab driver, so I looked at his taxi license on the dashboard so I could get his name. Our tour guide for this trip was named Rudy. He was older, perhaps in his 50s and had salt and pepper hair. As with most locals, he had a pretty nice tan. Rudy went on to give us a rundown on the great influence the Japanese had on Hawaii. He listed the number of Japanese colleges on Oahu and what each one specialized in teaching (mostly tourism related areas). Rudy then said that most of the large hotels in Honolulu were owned by Japanese companies with they Hyatt, I believe, being the only one not Japanese-controlled. I could be wrong about that.

I was rather amused by Rudy as he was clearly the most entertaining taxi driver I’ve had on the island. Rudy then gave us a glimpse of his own personal life. I believe he was born on another island, Maui I think but then moved to Oahu when he still young. When he was four years old, he climbed a mango tree just outside his home. A neighbour, a woman, saw him up in the tree and yelled for him to climb down. Rudy fell trying to adhere to her wishes. He hit his head badly. Help was summoned but as he put it, there was very little to no signs of life in his young body. They were about to declare him deceased when one of his relatives began a prayer to a Hawaiian god. Now, as Rudy tells the tale, when the prayer was finished, Rudy began to stir. I’m sure he took him a long time to heal but I’m just relaying what he said to us.

Now the story of his fall doesn’t end there. Rudy then had a most odd request for me.

“Give me your hand.”

Without taking his eyes off the road, Rudy had reached back behind his seat with his right hand, just behind his head. I was speechless for a second and I really wanted to say…

“Um… no.”

The words didn’t escape my mouth however and all I could do was look at John briefly with a WTF look. A second later, I realized I was on vacation and this would probably wind up to be an interesting anecdote, so I thought why not. I placed my open right hand into his. He took my hand and moved it onto the back of his head. I felt my hand mat down his hair and then I touched his head. With my palm and fingers, I felt a sizeable depression in his skull. It was not deep but definitely noticeable. It must have measured almost four inches square or so.

“Wow.”

With that, he released my hand.

“You, you give me your hand as well.”

Having seen my hand returned to me safely, John decided it was ok, so he outstretched his hand as well. John got the same feel as I did.

Moving on, Rudy extolled the virtues of noni juice, crediting it with enhancing the health of all who drink it. He also quoted the prices of noni juice for both on and off the island. It’s much more expensive on the mainland by the way.

In an extremely rare lull in the conversation, I asked Rudy if he had any kids. He pointed to a picture on the dashboard. He was a father of several children but the picture showed a grown daughter with her own daughter. Rudy was a grandfather as well.

Soon afterwards, we arrived at our hotel. Since Rudy had been such a pleasant and memorable taxi driver, I decided to tip him well, perhaps around the 30% mark. He wished us a pleasant rest of our stay and we returned the gesture.

If you’re ever in Honolulu and you get in a taxi with a Rudy, ask him about his head.

A HAWAIIAN WEDDING RECEPTION

In a previous post, I detailed what it was like for my friend Ron to get married in a church in Honolulu, Hawaii. In this post, I chronicle what went down at the wedding reception.

After the ceremony was over, John and I headed back to the touristy area of Waikiki. We then had lunch at an excellent Italian restaurant. We had time to spend since the reception didn’t start until 8pm. I forget exactly what we did for the rest of the afternoon but John had to depart early for the restaurant since he had best man duties to attend to.

The venue for the restaurant was Roy’s Restaurant at their Waikiki Beach location, just a block away from the sand and surf. Not only was it just a block away from the beach, it was nearly next door to our hotel. As such, I was still sitting on my hotel bed in my underwear just ten minutes before the 8pm start time. After a short stroll of less than 100 paces, I arrived at Roy’s.

After a short delay in setting up our private room, we were led to our dining area. The reception party was only about 20 people so we needed just three large tables. I was graciously seat at the table with the married couple Ron and Miho, the best man, the maid of honour, two of the Miho’s friends, and Miho’s cousin. The other tables were split along family lines.

I would soon discover the service was phenomenal at Roy’s. We have several waiters dedicated to just our party for the entire evening. Not only were they dedicated, they were attentive, professional, and nothing short of impressive at taking care of us.

Unlike many wedding receptions, this one started off right on time. There was very little delay in waiting for the food. In short order, the dim sum style appetizer plates began arriving. In no particular order, they were: lobster ravioli, ahi tuna poke, crab cakes, beef shortribs, and sea scallops. The appetizers were absolutely incredible. Each plate was so good. You can view pictures of the plates here. I admit that is a public Facebook gallery but I can’t help it, their uploading and interface for pictures is top notch.

Anyways, it was during the appetizers that a somewhat humourous event occurred. Ron was trying to pass the plate of shortribs to his new wife when I don’t know what the hell happened but the end result was that he tipped over a glass of red wine with the plate. Red wine spilled all over the table cloth and more importantly, over Miho’s dress! She jumped up in horror and her friends came over to lessen the damage. Somewhat fortunately, she had something in her lap that took a bit of the wine. The waiters came outta nowhere with towels and napkins to absorb the wine from both her dress and the table. Miho had a choice word for Ron, while I could only say, “this is an excellent start to the marriage.” Ron himself just sat there stunned.

Luckily, the dress survived without too much staining and the waiters were amazing with their repair of the tablecloth, you couldn’t even notice anything had spilled. John, the best man, then got up to say some nice words about Ron. It was a good speech that he wrote in a short amount of time. Sadly, the speech did not contain the phrase “true love is hard to find, some times you think you’ve found true love but then you catch the early flight home…”

Anyways, the salad came soon after. It was the best salad I’ve ever had. It was this fusion of Hawaiin cuisine with traditional caesar salad. I’m not sure if I can describe it properly. Just look at it! Then came the main courses. It was a real struggle to choose mine. I chose the scallops. They were tasty but in retrospect, I shoulda had either the rack of lamb or the filet mignon. You can see the menu here. After the mains, Miho and Ron got up to address the whole reception. They thanked us for coming all this way to celebrate their special occasion. Miho gave everyone a set of lovely gifts. They were all nicely wrapped and consisted of peach tea, a tin of delicious cookies from Japan, and a Japanese bowl and chopstick set.

Then came the dessert which combined two of my favourite things: chocolate and ice cream. By now though, you must know I was extremely full. Having had so many appetizers and the main course itself, I was having trouble mustering the courage to start my dessert. The chocolate souffle begged to be eaten though, so I managed to devour all the ice cream. Then came the chocolate cake part. I busted it open to reveal this “chocolate lava” which was this warm chocolate sauce.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, then Ron and Miho cut the wedding cake, which served up to 40 people, double the number we had. As one of the waiters placed a piece in front of me, I had no idea how I was gonna eat it. I was busting at the seams. It was their wedding cake though, so there was no way I wasn’t gonna at least try it. I tasted a bit of the sponge cake and some of the whipped cream before nearly collapsing at the table.

By this time, it was getting late and people were getting lethargic from all the food. We packed up our gifts, said our goodbyes to everyone, and left. On our way out, we thanked the staff for a wonderful evening. After arriving back at our hotel, I briefly thought about hitting a bar with John but both of us were so full, all we could do was get changed into our jammies and watch TV. John is a complete lightweight when it comes to staying up late so he fell asleep almost immediately. I managed to become fascinated by a few A&E shows before I decided to hit the hay myself.

And that’s your Hawaiian wedding reception.

A LOSS OF BACK BONE

I’m going to have to be discreet and tread carefully with this post. The subject of this entry is slightly weird in that the press hasn’t been told about it, yet its common knowledge locally in the industry that I’m employed in. Notice how I didn’t actually write out the specific industry I work in. The reaches of Google know no bounds, even here in the Outer Rim. If you’re even remotely familiar with this blog, you’ll know what I do for a living.

So the news is that earlier this month, the previous company I worked for told all its current employees that the company was shutting down and everyone would be out of a job. Most people were let go almost immediately. Some were retained to finish off a project that was nearly completed. Once that was finished, those people would be let go right away.

The odd thing is, the parent organization of my former company has chosen, so far, to not publicize this matter. I guess I can understand but keep in my mind, my current employer had to close down a similar entity last year and we were very forthcoming with the news. I suppose they only want to announce good news. Like I mentioned before though, the entire local industry knows about this shuttering. It didn’t take long for other companies start sending out feelers for some out of work people.

Now I don’t want to sound like an asshole but when I heard the news, I wasn’t all that surprised. While I will always give them sincere gratitude for letting me get a foot in the door in the industry, it’s telling that I worked there barely a year before leaving for some exceptional adventures. To put it bluntly (others would agree with me), there were some serious problems with the company. It was poorly organized and the upper management made some curious decisions that sent the company astray.

I find it horrifying that I even considered staying with them when I received my first offer from my current employer. I was told that I’d work on more interesting projects if I stayed, rather than some “yearly iterations” with this “other company”. If you look at the projects now, side by side for both companies, they were essentially asking me to stay to make Pauly Shore movies while The Dark Knight crew wanted me onboard (to use one of the worst analogies I have written in recent memory).

Again, not to sound like a dick, losing their jobs might have been the best thing to happen to a few of my former co-workers. Some of them are really talented people who were just stagnating at their old jobs. Now, they’ll be forced to find new jobs where they will really have a chance to shine.

So, I hope I haven’t been too specific with the details but if you know even a little about me, everything about this post will have made sense.

BADGE REELS

Because EA is super paranoid about security, I have to carry my ID badge where ever I go. If you work in an office building you probably have to do the same thing. Without my badge, I can’t take the elevator to my floor nor can I open the doors. Without the badge, I am useless. It’s also the place where I slip in my transit pass. On a daily basis, along with my wallet, it is an indispensable item.

There are several ways to ensure one keeps their badge with them at all times. One is to keep it in your wallet. This means all your important stuff is isolated in one spot. Unfortunately, sometimes your wallet is too thick for the card reader to read your access card inside of it. Second is to use a lanyard and put it around your neck. While this certainly works, I dislike having this thing swinging around your neck all day. Also, having to lean into card readers is annoying. A third option is to use a badge reel and that’s what I do. You can clip a badge reel into one of your belt loops. The badge then just dangles from your waist in retracted form. It’s much less noticeable this way. When you need to put it onto a card reader, you just pull the badge and it will unwind from the reel. When you’re done, you just let it retract automatically back into place.

The single greatest weakness about a badge reel is the filament that connects the badge clip to the reel. In the picture above, you can clearly see how thin it is. For cheap badge reels, the filament is generally made out of thin, synthetic thread. Since you’re constantly unwinding and retracting the reel, the filament gets pulled on constantly everyday. It doesn’t help that sometimes I unwind the reel and then whip my badge around in a circle. The badge always becomes useless because the filament breaks. I’ve never had one last more than three months, if that. In just under two years of working at EA, I’ve had at least seven badge reels break on me.

I usually buy my reels at the EA store but I think it’s time for the heavy-duty stuff. Apparently, they make badge reels with a steel wire filament. I wonder where I can buy these locally.

So there you have it, an entire post on a plastic card holder.

THE WRONG IMPRESSION

In a previous post, I lamented the loss of five years of blog comments, dutifully and beautifully written by you, my faithful readers. While I understand the loss, I was going over some of my archived posts and for a new reader, it seems like I have quite the sad little blog. To someone new, it looks like I went five years of blog writing before someone wrote the very first comment on this post. Though it would be weird to think I had no readers and then suddenly developed a small but devoted group, as if I added water to a packet of Insta-Audience(tm).

It’s hard to believe no one commented on classic posts such as “The Udon Experiment” and “Cover Me“.

POOPED ON

I have over three decades of experience in being outside. Oh sure, I may not have done a lot of extreme sports/activities in those three decades but it was still outside. The outside which I have shared with birds, among other animals. The birds which have been known to poop no matter where they are or what they are doing (as in flying).

So this evening I was on my way back from getting some Somali take out and headed back to work. Given that I had a five-day weekend last week from the power outage, I wanted to catch up on some work. I was crossing Cordova towards Waterfront station when I was half way through the crosswalk. I then heard a light smack on the pavement to the left and slightly ahead of me. It could not have been more than three feet from myself. I looked over to where the noise was and saw a big splat of white, like someone had dropped a bottle of correction fluid on the ground. I immediately knew it was bird poop because I’ve had numerous close calls throughout my life. I’ve seen birds fly right above me, only to drop their poopy loads not a foot from where I stood. Each and every single time, I’ve dodged their bombardments.

Seeing the splat next to me, I was relieved that I survived another close call. Not a second later, I realized I was not so fortunate this time around. I was hit on my left hand, specifically it was confined to the ring finger. It wasn’t too bad, it must have been trailing bit of his birdy dump. Size wise it couldn’t have been more in volume than three or four drops from an eyedropper. Area wise, it didn’t cover more than the nail on my pinky perhaps. I looked at it on my finger. It was mostly clear fluid mixed in with some milky white crap.

I was half a block away from the studio which meant it was the closest place to go wash this thing off. I resisted the temptation to fling my finger wildly and wipe it on the nearest tourist around me. I made a concerted effort to not let the large drop of poop on my finger get on any of my other fingers nor my shorts. Luckily, I was holding my dinner in the other hand.

I somehow navigated my way up to the 12th floor just using a single hand. I arrived at the kitchen area, put down my food, and calmly proceeded to the sink. At the sink, I turned on the water with my good hand. Gingerly putting my poop finger into the stream, I washed off the poop as best as I could. I then pumped out a baseball sized ball of foamy hand sanitizer and rubbed it into the as beforementioned poop fingers. I must have ran the finger under water for a good minute before I noticed the bottle of dish washing liquid near the sink. Thinking there isn’t a way to overdo a “poop cleansing”, I proceeded to pour the dishing washing stuff all over my poop finger. I did another lather-rinse cycle. I finally dried off with some paper towels.

If I ever catch that bird (which I did not get a good look at) that pooped on me, I’m gonna hold it down and poop on one of its feet (while it was trying to get a worm back to its nest).

A HAWAIIAN WEDDING

The main reason I went to Hawaii last week was to attend the wedding of my good friend Ron. An interesting thing was that I knew I wouldn’t meet Ron’s wife, Miho, until probably after the ceremony was over. Even though Ron, Miho, and I both live in Vancouver, I never met her in the three years they’ve been dating.

When I initially got word that the wedding was going to be in Hawaii, I immediately had thoughts of a beach-side wedding with a reception that would have guests gazing a brilliant ocean sunset as we dined on super fancy cheeseburgers. As it turned out, Miho wanted to get married in a church, miles away from any beach. The reception was to be held in a restaurant, though fancy, it was not next to the beach but certainly close to it. It puzzled me for a second but then I realized that some women dream about their weddings for many years and if they want to get married at a Star Wars convention in Arkansas, then that’s what they should get.

I arrived in Honolulu on a Thursday night. The wedding ceremony was at noon on Saturday. The reception would be at 8pm the same night, followed by a buffet lunch at 12:30pm on Sunday. Thursday night was pretty chill as we had flown for about six hours. Friday was eventful, especially Friday night but that’ll have to wait for another post.

On Saturday morning, I took a cab from my hotel to the church. I arrived early at 11:30am. I walked around the grounds a bit. It was a nice church on a somewhat big piece of land, with decent groundskeeping. John, the best man and my travel partner on this trip popped out of one of the side rooms and invited me in. Inside I saw Ron in his sparkling white tux. I think both of us shared some nervous chit-chat. Also there was the minister, who would be conducting the ceremony. Neither the bride and groom are remotely religious, so I found this part of the wedding a little odd. Again, it wasn’t my wedding, so who was I to question it. Ron, John, the minister, and myself chatted for a few more minutes before it was time for me to find a seat outside. I wished Ron good luck and left the waiting room.

Inside the church I took a seat on the groom’s side. There I met Ron’s family for the first time. There were his parents Anna-Belle and Hank who graciously thanked me for coming all this way. Actually, those aren’t their names but it’d be cool if you played along. I also met his sisters, one of which brought her husband along. I quickly learned his siblings were merciless when it came to poking fun at Ron, even his parents were like that and this was minutes before the ceremony.

Across the aisle were Miho’s parents, Johan and Natasha. As you might guess, those aren’t their real names but let’s continue. There was also Miho’s brother, his wife, and their two well-behaved daughters. Miho’s cousin and some of her friends were there too.

As the church organist wound down her spiffy version of “Louie Louie“, the minister took to the front and addressed the dearly beloved who had gathered here today. He told us how it was gonna all go down, when to sit, when to stand, and when to take pictures. He did so in English and then again in Japanese, which surprised me because he was a white dude. I would later find out that according to some of Japanese people, his Japanese wasn’t so great. Shhhh… don’t tell him that.

Then John and Ron emerged from their waiting room to take their place at the front. Also waiting at the front was Miho’s maid of honour. Then the familar wedding march started. I looked back to see a flower girl. Behind her was Miho, looking lovely in her wedding dress, flanked by her father. As they made their way down the aisle I thought, “How is it that this is the first time I’m seeing Ron’s soon-to-be wife?” The thought passed as I could see Miho weeping slightly.

When Miho joined Ron at the front, it became a pretty much standard ceremony at that point. The vows were not weird like you hear at some weddings. Though afterwards I did find out that the minister snuck in several religious references during the ceremony, even though Ron and Miho had specifically asked him not to do that.

The end of the ceremony was signalled by a kiss between the two newlyweds which was also the first time I’ve ever seen Ron kiss a girl. Deep within my mind I heard, “Ewww! Cooties!” Brushing aside the thought, I saw the lovely couple turn to us with a big smile.

After this, it was pictures galore. The wedding photographer that Ron and Miho hired seemed like a super cool guy. He was Japanese, a bit older and he had a pretty cool ponytail (as far as ponytails go). He appeared to be very good at his job and quite personable. I’m betting he has no trouble convincing young women to let him take naked photos of them.

By this time, the blazing heat of the beautiful day was taking a toll on everyone. Even though I looked completely awesome in my suit and newly purchased shirt and tie, it was quite uncomfortable to be in so much clothing. After a million pictures were taken, Ron and Miho took off in a limo took to get more pics take on the north shore. John then graciously called cabs to ferry everyone back to their hotels. Of course, our cab, the one that would take John and I back to our hotel, came 10 to 15 minutes after the last one left. By that time, I’d loosened my tie and unbuttoned a few buttons of my shirt which really made a difference.

The reception was fabulous but that’ll have to wait for another post as it’s getting late and I kinda want to watch another episode of Beauty and the Geek I downloaded.

I’d like to publicly thank Ron and Miho for inviting me to be a part of their wedding ceremony. I shall enjoy every single time that I tell your kids about it.