For the last three months, I’ve played tennis about once at week with three other co-workers. We usually play doubles. My partner is SL, a producer in the world/environments area. SL is known for his natural ability as an athlete and also for his smoke breaks, which at times he finishes while continue playing. Our opponents are GT, an SE on single player (where I work) and SP, a front-end artist whose art I get to see in some of the stuff I work on.

Everyone started off pretty poor in their tennis skills. It had been nearly two years since I had hit a ball. Perserverance paid off though and as the weeks went by, everyone got better. Fortunately, we all levelled up at the same pace. We’re all quite decent now and as our skills rose, so did the competiveness.

Though we’re all good sportsmen, there have been some subtle ways to raise our abilities a bit. We’re not doping or anything but it’s still kinda amusing. One of us decided to buy Rafael Nadal’s racquet. Out of all the tennis-related purchases one can make, this is the one that affect your game the most. I’ve bought new racquets before and the first day you use it, I don’t know a single person who doesn’t get a temporary +5 on skills of tennis. Depending on how good the racquet fits with the player, there can also be a permanent raising of skill.

Another one of decided to get new court shoes. Mobility is a big part of tennis and getting to a ball a split second faster can mean the difference between losing a point at Stanley Park or winning the US Open at Flushing Meadow. Yeah, you heard me right.

Still another of our group decided to start wearing a head band. This was clearly the least effective tactic as from a practical point of view, it can only absorb sweat and keep hair away from the eyes. None of those were really problems to begin with. I suppose one could channel the skills of Bjorn Borg with the head band but didn’t really happen.

I did none of the things I mentioned above. Last week, I decided to finally upgrade my gear. I didn’t really need a new racquet. My shoes are two years old but they’re not falling apart. I don’t like head bands. What did I decide to get? I settled on a Nike tennis polo shirt, as made famous by the classy Swiss player Roger Federer.

It would seem like a fairly easy thing to find in Vancouver. I was wrong to think that. The Nike Store downtown doesn’t carry these shirts in my size. If I was a massively overweight serve and volleyer then I’d be in luck. None of the sporting goods stores I’ve visited carry this shirt. Most stores barely have tennis balls in stock let alone tennis clothing. Nike sells it online but won’t ship to Canada. Other retailers do ship to Canada but I’m responsible for the stupid duty at the border. If all my options run out (as well as the summer), I might just have to bite the duty bullet.

If anyone knows where to get Nike tennis gear, you let me know. For now, I’ll be still wearing a ratty old t-shirt on the court.


I will admit I do not have a very positive view of the practice of buying real estate. After last week’s shenanigans, I really did not think about buying an apartment or real estate in general for a few days.

I have never been more acutely aware of how much money I have until now. When you’re looking to buy a place, it’s a good idea to know how much you can (or in my case can’t) afford. Since I’m kinda down on real estate I’ve been day dreaming with that I could do with my down payment money. One of the things I keep coming back to is buying a car. I explored this in a previous post but I’ve let the possibilities play in mind once again.

I still think it would be a dumb idea to buy a Porsche Cayman but man, that is a hot looking car. On the other hand, once I sign the purchase agreement, I doubt the dealer would refuse to sell the car to me and then ask me how much more money would I be willing to pay for it. Yeah, that would suck.


For dinner, I was uncertain whether or not to have the lemon chicken with coconut rice or the assorted seafood with linguine. For some reason, I chose the lemon chicken. I wish I had chosen the linguine.


Like many of you, I am a pedestrian for part of the day. I walk on the sidewalk and cross streets to get to places I need to be. In particular, in the morning I need to cross a busy street to catch my bus into civilization.

The street has a crosswalk and the light is somewhat pedestrian controlled in that a button can be pressed to trigger the walk signal. Many times I’ve arrived at the crosswalk and pressed the metal button, which elicits a sharp electronic chirp. This indicates to the crosser that the system has received the signal to change the light so that crossing may commence shortly. Now at this crosswalk, there is a lengthy wait of at least 40 seconds before the walk signal is given. During this time, there is nothing for me to do but stand at the edge of the curb and wait.

Now here is the interesting thing. On several occasions, people have come up behind me and pressed the exact same button that I did just a few seconds ago. For some people, I’m absolutely positive that they were close enough to hear that I pressed it already. For others, I know they probably didn’t hear my button activation. In any case, several questions run through my mind.

1. If this person did hear me press it, why the hell are they doing it again? What, did they think I did it wrong? How many damn ways are there to push a button? Do they think they can get the light to change faster? No! The only reason it seems like the light changes faster is because they were still in the 7-11 buying a damn doughnut when I pressed it the first time around. Who the hell do they think they are? The Fonz?

2. If they didn’t hear me press it, do they really think I’m moron who’s just standing there waiting for this light that will never change? Oh yeah thanks, even though you don’t have to know how to read to decipher the “walking man” symbol on the post, I had no clue what it was for and was hoping a genius like you would come around and press that damn button for me.

I am extremely interested in what is going on in those people’s minds when that happens. A few times I’ve come so close to turning around and starting a conversation.

“Excuse me, I don’t mean to be rude but you did hear me press the button right? If you did, I just need to know for my own curiosity why you felt the need to press it again. Do you have some certification or training?”


“Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice you pressed the button. What made you think I hadn’t pressed it already? I’m just curious, I really would like to know. Does it look like I need to wear a hockey helmet in public?”

For the record, I need to point out two things. The first is when the roles are reversed, I have never ever pressed the button behind their back. While I maybe a cynic when it comes to parts of society, I have a very romanticized view of certain aspects of people’s behaviour. In this case, I refuse to disrespect people in that manner. I would rather wait two minutes for a light that will never change and know for sure that they didn’t press it than assume that from the beginning.

Secondly, none of this applies to people crossing parallel to me on the other side of the street. Where I am, each side needs to trigger their own walk signal. Though it’s the first to press that determines how long we’ll wait, each side needs a press to get the little white walking dude to appear. So if you’re parallel to me, we’re cool, you do what you need to do.

I cannot wait for this to happen again. I am going to ask the question the next time around.


Now that we’re doing some OT at work, people need to be fed at dinner time. When nearly the entire team is staying late, they usually just have a big communal dinner with big serving trays of food. When the numbers are smaller, it’s possible to have individual choices from one or two restaurants.

When we’re given a choice, a team wide e-mail is sent out with the options. You’re supposed to send your choice back to the production coordinator. Unfortunately, there are two buttons one can click when answering back: “Reply” and “Reply All”. Yes, the dreaded “Reply All”.

Last year, there was a guy who sat behind me, a senior SE with the last name Kester. Out of the entire team, I believe he hit the “Reply All” button more than anyone when ordering food. One time, I heard him say “oh crap” and when I turned around, he had his head on his desk. My new mail notification tone went off that second and I saw he had sent out his dinner order to the entire team of over 100 people.

It became quite amusing each time he did it and we called such an act a “Kester” from then on. Doing a “Kester” invariably sets you up for ridicule. People will reply to the person who did the gaffe with various responses:

“Oh that’s a good choice, I had that last week.”

“Hmmm… I was undecided until I read your e-mail. Thanks!”

“Sounds delicious!”

There’s nothing like over a dozen messages in your inbox, all commenting on what you’re about to eat in two hours. The worst are the ones where someone makes requests on the meal like hold the lettuce, no mayo, crusts cut off, double the veggies, replace potatoes with corn, and the like. People then think, wow, that’s a diva right there.

This year, it took a whole two weeks before someone did a “Kester”. It turned out to be an artist friend of mine who wanted the beef dip. The next “Kester” also happened to be another beef dip order but several days later. Then it was a “Kester” where a request was made to hold the tomato on a burger.

As you can tell, it doesn’t take much to amuse me.


For the last few days I had been negotiating with a seller for the purchase of his apartment in New West. The unit is less than a year old, the 16th and top floor, a beautiful view of the Fraser River, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, a parking spot, and storage locker. The asking price was $249K but after some offers and counteroffers, the seller approached me with $238K. I accepted on Wednesday morning and within the hour my realtor had faxed me the contract, which I signed and faxed back in less than ten minutes.

It took about ten hours to contact and locate the seller, as he apparently keeps some odd hours or is hard to get a hold of. By 10pm, some ten hours after I had signed the contract, the seller was finally reached and contract presented to him. Unfortunately, because so much time had passed, another offer had been presented to his realtor. Though I had verbally agreed to his offer and actually had signed the contract, the seller instructed his realtor to tell me that he was not going to sign and that he would be entertaining the other offer. I was free to up my offer if I wished but he was going to look at both offers one after another and then immediately take the one he liked better. I was given a little over 12 hours to decide how much more I was willing to give him.

My own realtor was pretty choked about this as it was a pretty much a dick move on the seller’s part. He was totally within his legal rights to do this as verbal agreements mean nothing, even if I had actually signed a document, agreeing to his offer. My realtor told me I could do three things: walk away from it, stick with my original offer of $238K, or increase my offer to what I felt comfortable with.

I was left with that to think about and sleep on. The next day, I elicited some opinions from some people at work whom I respect. The most popular sentiment was for me to ask myself how much did I really want this place? Indeed, that was the question that I had to answer. A lot of people told me to stick to my original offer and that was what they would do in my shoes. One or two people suggested something I had already thought about. I would actually submit a new offer of $100K as a big “fuck you” to the seller. Only one dude said that if I really like the place, I should go completely balls out and give it another $11K, giving him the asking price. On the other hand, many people said listening to that dude might not be the best idea.

I didn’t actually know what the hell I was gonna do until about 15 minutes before I had to phone my realtor. In the end, I told my realtor I was willing to pay $242K, knowing full well that probably wasn’t going to get me the place. Realistically, even another $7K more wouldn’t matter that much on a 25 year or 35 year mortgage in terms of monthly payments. I just didn’t like how things went down in the last 24 hours. Had this been a traditional multiple offer, escalating price bidding war, I would have been ok with it, since that’s just how real estate goes. This was different.

It took a few hours but my realtor finally phoned back to confirm that I indeed had lost out to the single offer the other party had placed. She didn’t know what the offer was but she did find out the other party had absolutely no restrictions or conditions on the offer. They didn’t want to inspect building nor read any of the strata council minutes. Those kind of risky propositions are hard to compete against. It is possible, though I don’t believe it so, their offer might have been lower than mine. Such is the lure of the condition-free proposition.

I certainly feel disappointment at the outcome but not because I lost out on the apartment but because the manner in which business was conducted. It was law abiding in the strictest sense but ethically, I’m still unclear how proper things were there.

This was my first real foray into buying real estate and even this small skirmish has taught me much about the whole business. My only consolation is that I’m wiser going forward.

If I had the foresight to know my offer was dead in the water, I really woulda given him the “new and improved” offer of $100K.


So the other day I was upstairs at work in the reception area. I was on my way back down to my floor when I passed by the EA store. I noticed there were a line of hoodies out on display. Now I hadn’t seen the hoodies out for a while but from where I was standing they looked like the same old ones we had last year for skate. and Need For Speed. Nonetheless, I went over to check them out.

The first thing I did was to grab one of the sleeves. I immediately saw the skate logo and the familiar font but I then also saw a big ass “2” after the skate. On the back near the bum was the logo for skate it. So these were the new hoodies for the sequel and the spin-off game for the Wii. This was the new hotness, as it were.

I went back downstairs but I was now thinking, can I still wear my old skate. hoodie (picture above)? Yes, of course I could but now it’s not the latest and greatest. On the same day, one of the other software engineer I work with bought the new hoodie immediately, while wearing his original one! He has two now, both the same colour.

For a guy that didn’t own a hoodie a year ago, I probably don’t need another one (I also have a Black Box one) but I’ll be keeping an eye out on what the cool kids are wearing.


Nothing to report on the home purchase yet but I’ve recently thought about how much furniture I’ll have to buy. At the very least, I need a new bed, sofa, and bench for the TV. Oh yeah, I guess I’ll need to buy that new TV as well.

The amount of money I have will dictate what I can buy but should I go the cheap route? Should I buy all my furniture from Wal-Mart? Maybe I won’t care about a unified colour scheme. Perhaps a purple couch goes well with a dark birch TV bench. I’ll sleep better on my white bed frame next to my green bedside table.

It’s a pain in the ass buying a place!


The whole OT thing at work has started again. I’m not at liberty to disclose what stage the game is at, suffice to say it needs a bit of love for the next little while. What it does mean is I’m getting free cab-rides home again, which also means another roll of the dice when it comes to my cab driver. So far, it hasn’t been that bad.

With my extended work day, I’m warning you that it leaves precious little time for blog posting. Sometimes it means the difference between writing this or going to work with clean underwear the next day. Don’t ask me what other sacrifices I’ve made.

Keeping with the gaming theme, I’m sure some of you know the guys and gals on the floors of above me work on a franchise called Need for Speed. Sadly, I have not seen Maggie Q at the Slurpee machine on 19th. What is interesting is a split second of footage in the trailer below. It shows the Black Box logo after the EA one. I’ve mentioned to Rory, our studio head, how we should be distinguishing ourselves from the other EA studios. We should be known as our own studio first and being an EA studio second. The fact the logo has made into a trailer means we might be heading towards where Criterion and DICE are in terms of studio image.


It just occurred to me tonight I don’t know everything I should about buying real estate and/or a new home. I have no idea about lawyer fees, land transfer taxes, Johnson rod inspections, or closing costs. I research every single spec about a $100 piece of computer equipment but when it comes to a $250 000+ home, I’ve got some blind spots in my knowledge. I’m not sure what I’m feeling is pure exhilaration or just pure terror.