ENVY

A few days ago I went downtown. For poops and tee-hees, I decided to take Skytrain and got off at Waterfront station, thus mimicking my old commute. Upon exiting the station, I was at 250 Howe Street, where my whole team used to work. I saw a young couple, tourists, who had a video camera out. They were pointing the camera towards one of the smaller EA signs that was still there. I didn’t have the heart to tell them we no longer had a presence downtown and that we had retreated back into the wilds of Burnaby. Out front, the large metallic EA sign that was beautifully neon back-lit at night was now gone. I half expected to see some faded paint where signed used to be but you couldn’t even tell it was once there.

To really drive home the point, I then headed over to Yaletown. My destination was the Yaletown Brewpub or more specifically what was on top of it. The top of that building is now the home of United Front Games. Now it wasn’t supposed to be like this. About a year and a half ago, when the world was a much, much happier place, the skate team was told we were going to move to that space. Then the world economy took a bad stumble and EA’s finances followed suit. To make a long story short, I’m now working in the ‘burbs and UFG is in that prime location in Yaletown.

Now UFG has only been there for a few short months. The addition to the Yaletown Brewpub building only got finished recently. In fact, I had not been to Yaletown since UFG moved in. So as I walked down Helmecken, I was not prepared to see what was to come. As I got to the corner at Mainland, I looked up and saw, in all its glory, two big United Front Games signs, towering over everything in the immediate area.

I was impressed and then overcome with envy. In an alternate universe, those signs would have read “Black Box” and I would have been working upstairs somewhere in that building. Instead, I had to settle for a few drinks at the bar at the brew pub. My bartender was even nice enough to tell me the beer that they named after UFG was a pilsner. Yep, a pilsner.

So for all you UFGers out there be thankful for what you have.

THE COST OF FUN

When did video games get so expensive? In the past two years or so, the top end of a console game was usually $60. I’m now seeing games at $65 and in some cases $69. I know first-hand that budgets for games have been steadily rising for many years now but it seems odd that in this type of economy, games have gotten more expensive.

The majority of the people who work on a game have absolutely no say in how much people should be paying for it. At least where I work, it’s up to the marketing guys to decide price tag to slap on the box. I remember when I was working on skate., I was in a team meeting when the marketing people told us our title would be priced at a premium which back then was $60. We were told it was because the work we were doing was worth it. I maybe biased but it was hard to argue that point.

PC games are indeed cheaper and sometimes by 50%. Unfortunately, playing a PC game means playing it my 24″ monitor versus my 50″ TV. It also means there’s no community involvement since the game isn’t on Xbox Live or PSN. So while it is cheaper, it’s not exactly the same experience.

I should go ask the marketing peeps why the top end pricing has creeped up lately.

BALL TOUCHER

When I was a kid, doctors were nothing but total authority figures to me. They were super smart people who helped others recover from or prevent illnesses. My parents also told me doctors made a lot of money, which was probably a hint from my Mom that she would not have disagreed had I chosen to become a doctor.

Anyways, once I was in undergrad and more so while I was in grad school, I started to meet a lot of med students. These were exceptional young men and women who had the intelligence and tenacity to tackle the work required to become a medical doctor. Now that a few years have passed since I left grad school, most of my med school friends are now finishing up their training or are just starting their careers in doctorology as a doctorologist.

Now that everyone has had some experience in seeing and treating patients, I’ve been privy to some really interesting stories. Keep in mind, in all cases, doctor-patient confidentiality has been upheld. My doctor friends never give out any details that would allow me to identify a patient directly or indirectly.

With that in mind, let me relay to you a story one of my doctor friends told me. My friend, let’s call him “Rajneesh”, has a private practice and sees patients in his own office. I won’t give away what type of practice he has but Raj sees both males and females in work. For some of the males, it’s unavoidable that he needs to examine their testicles.

He is, of course, very professional about it. He asks the dudes to drop them pants and underwear so he can have a look and yes, so he can have a manual inspection as well (with gloves on). Now most of the time, the males are very good patients. Once their junk is exposed and ready for inspection, they just wait for my friend Raj to do what he needs to do. Unfortunately, there have been a few dudes who stray from the standard operating procedure.

Some dudes, start manipulating their twig and berries with their hands for whatever reason. Raj can’t figure out if they think they’re actually helping by moving their junk around or if they’re just nervous. In any case, it’s of course no help to Raj. Personally, if I were in that situation, I’d think the doc would know more about the examination so why the hell would I go start messing with stuff? You don’t see me sticking my hands in the engine of my car while my mechanic is doing work on it!

So while the junk manipulation is just a small annoyance before the actual examination, the bigger problem is that these dudes now have junk residue on their hands. Raj tells me that only one of the ball touchers he’s had in his office has ever asked to wash their hands once the exam was over. The rest just carry on as if they didn’t just touch their penis and testicles in front of another man. Raj said that some even go to shake his hand when the appointment is over.

The problem doesn’t end there. Because these dudes now have junk residue on their hands, they must be tracked as they leave Raj’s medical office. Raj keeps an eye on everything a ball toucher touches in the exam room. Once a ball toucher starts to go back to the waiting area to exit, Raj will quickly instant message his receptionist with “ball toucher”. This is a signal for the receptionist to keep an eye out for everything the ball toucher makes contact with in the front of the office. Once the ball toucher leaves, the receptionist then knows what to go and disinfect.

Let this be a lesson to all of us. If you must touch your own genitals at the doctor’s office, at least ask to wash your hands before leaving or you’ll be labeled a “ball toucher”.

BINOCS

I have quite an interesting view from my apartment. Though my view is essentially unobstructed, there are four or five apartment buildings near me that are shorter than my building. Thankfully, they are at least a block away so there’s no feeling of being too close. They are, however, close enough to somewhat notice what’s going on in those apartments.

I’ve been meaning to pick-up a pair of binoculars just to satisfy my own curiousity but wasn’t sure where to get them that also wouldn’t cost a lot. The answer came in the form of a co-worker who also lives in my building. He told me that the local Army & Navy store had a decent pair for only $10. So today, I went and bought the pair he was talking about.

I waited until the sun had set before I casually trained the binoculars towards some of the windows. What I saw (or didn’t see) brought nothing but boredom. Most apartments seemed empty with the lights off. The ones that did have lights on mostly had nothing going on at all. I saw perhaps one or two people on their patios smoking. Watching people smoking is not very entertaining I have to say. I spent another five minutes looking for something interesting but never did find it.

Maybe this voyeurism thing isn’t as exciting as people make it out to be.

BETWEEN TWO FERNS

[funnyordie id=d14fdef4f2 width=512 height=328]

The web site FunnyOrDie.com features many re-occurring skits and one of my favourites is something called “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis”. Galifianakis maybe familiar to some of you as he was in this summer’s comedy hit The Hangover.

“Ferns” is Galifianakis’ own show where he interviews guests between two ferns, thus the name of the production. All of his interviews are conducted a humourously awkward manner and at least for me, I find it hi-lar-ious.

In the video you see above, Zach interviews the beautiful Charlize Theron. He’s at his awkward best in this one. Also, in this segment, look for a new sponsor for the show that has relevance to me! Zach ensures that you can’t miss it!

It’s all good stuff!

THE BRIDE

On Friday evening, I got home from work around 9pm. Having partaken in beer and cake at work, I also stopped off at Wal-Mart to get some stuff. By the time I actually got off the Skytrain, I was starving since I hadn’t had dinner yet.

When I got within half a block of my apartment building, I knew something was going on. There were lots of people in the dog park across from my building, lots more than usual. There were also lots of people on the street near the dog park. They all had one thing in common though, they were all looking up. They appeared to be looking at an apartment building one block north of where I lived. I walked near the large group of people I looked up myself but couldn’t see anything in the darkness. Not wanting to stop or even really bother to ask anyone what was going on, I kept on walking because I was in dire need of food.

In the twenty steps to my building, a couple who had been watching the proceeding joined me in going inside. We all took the same elevator up. The lady then said something interesting.

“Maybe she didn’t like the sound of a pre-nup.”

So now I had a few more details. It was probably a woman threatening to jump from a window or balcony. I wondered though how this lady knew it was marriage-related.

The elevator got to my floor so I went inside my apartment and put down all my stuff. I went out onto my balcony to see if I could see anything. I instantly saw that whatever was happening was very serious. The police had blocked off the street just north of my street. Yellow tape prevented both pedestrians and cars from entering the area. A patrol car with lights on was stationed at each end of the street. An array of fire trucks of various kinds were parked at the western edge of the scene. I could also see an ambulance parked nearby. From my vantage point, I could also see many more people out on the street corners, watching whatever drama was unfolding. The building in question in actually the building you see on the far right of the first photo.

At that time, what I couldn’t see, despite seeing so many things, was the actual window or balcony in question. That is, I didn’t think I could see the actual person in danger. Seeing all the drama below me, I quickly remembered I was starving and I had my own needs to attend to. So I put some leftover pasta in my toaster oven and then noticed my garbage and recycling overflowing. I decided to take care of that while my dinner was being re-heated.

I went downstairs to the ground floor to take care of my trash and recyclables. On the way back up, I heard the security guard on duty, explaining what he knew of the situation to a girl in the lobby.

“She hanging on the balcony and she’s apparently wearing a wedding dress.”

So that’s how the other woman knew it was marriage-related. Whatever the lady in distress was going through, she decided it was going to go down while she was wearing a wedding dress. The situation appeared even more dramatic now.

Once back upstairs in my apartment, I still had to wait a few more minutes before my dinner was ready. So, I went back out onto my balcony to take a look. Thinking I couldn’t actually see “the bride” from where I was, I casually let my eyes wander to where everyone was looking. It was then my eyes finally allowed me to see what was in front of me the entire time.

Though it was dark, her pure white dress stood out in the night. She a few floors lower than I was but she was nearly in front of my balcony. Standing on the wrong side of the railing, her feet resting on the very edge of the balcony, the bride held onto the situation with two hands on the railing. The light wind rustled her dress like it was out of a movie. It seemed almost serene except for the fact that her life was very much in danger.

As I watched stunned at what was happening in front of me, I could see her move here and there as the wind continued to make her dress flow. It was then I noticed it was eerily quiet on the street. There was no shouting, no sirens, and no panic. For a Friday evening, it was strangely quiet.

At that moment, I became self-conscious. If I could plainly see the bride, then she could see me. What was she thinking at this moment? Was she bothered by all these people looking and staring at her? What if me watching her like some sorta show was the one small thing that caused her to jump?

By now my dinner was ready, so I headed back inside to get my food. With my plate in hand, I decided to eat my dinner on my couch. There was no way I was going to sit on my patio chair and eat dinner while watching this woman go through this. The weird thing is though, from where I sat on my couch, I could turn my head and see her balanced on the edge.

I kept on eating my dinner but I couldn’t look away for long. Every few minutes I’d look over to see if the bride was still there. Every time I looked, she still was. Then, as I was down to my last pieces of Wonder Bread and hot dogs, I heard loud cheering and clapping from people around the street.

I put down my plate and headed back outside. The bride, who had been on that same spot on her balcony for so long, was no longer there. For whatever reason, she decided to climb back over and went back inside. I felt a wave of relief wash over me. People were now leaving their spots and going back to their homes. Within minutes, the police cordon came down. The police didn’t leave though, nor did the fire department. The ambulance stayed as well.

It was well over an hour before all the authorities left. I don’t know what the law is in BC but I’m probably sure the authorities didn’t just wave goodbye to the lady and let her go on with her Friday evening. There must be some mandatory mental health assessment that needs to be done and I’m sure she spent the night somewhere else where she could be monitored.

The three pictures you see above were taken before I knew where the bride was. I thought about taking more pictures after I saw her but I decided against it. Though the whole drama was very much public, I don’t think she would want the incident immortalized in a picture I took and shown on my blog.

I wonder what caused that woman to go out there and put herself in that much danger. I’ll perhaps never know.

ALI G REVISITED

Though Sacha Baron Cohen is now better known for his Borat and Bruno characters, let us not forget he was once Ali G. For many, myself included, this was his first character that many people knew him by.

In the clip above, the man from Staines interviews formerly important politician Newt Gingrinch. Stick with the clip past 1:25 when Ali G gives us a pretty good motto to live life by. I remember watching this episode with my good friends Bryan, Sarah, and Adam at SJC. It was good times. Oh and congrats to Bryan and Sarah on producing baby Liam.

One more bit about Sacha Baron Cohen. You may not know this but Baron Cohen was actually the person who portrayed Internet legend “Super Greg“. I didn’t find this out until a few weeks ago despite knowing about “Super Greg” for nearly a decade now. It’s amazing how much Baron Cohen can change his appearance.

THAT'S DEDICATION

So I originally booked the next week off from work. Being a long weekend, I thought I’d just take the rest of the four days off. I haven’t had any time off so far this summer other than other long weekends. I figure this is my last opportunity to take some holiday before the weather turns crappy and work gets busier.

Well, it turns out there was an unfortunate oversight at work which only got discovered about two weeks ago. Who knows how these things happen. All I’ll say publicly is that there’s going to be one hell of a post-mortem when the work is done. Oh wait, we’re supposed to call them “retrospectives” now, since post-mortem is too morbid.

Anyways, someone scheduled a big meeting for Tuesday morning to discuss the situation. That day also happens to be the first day of my “vacation”. Since I’m not going anywhere, I decided to push out my vacation one day. Instead of coming back on the Monday, I’ll come back the day after instead.

I was planning on just sleeping in, playing Xbox 360, eating, seeing movies, and seeing friends anyways, so delaying all that for a day is fine, especially given the serious nature of the meeting. I can tell you if I was going to France or something, I wouldn’t be doing the same thing.

WAFFLE WEDNESDAY

When I first started working in Burnaby I thought eating breakfast from the cafeteria might be a problem. I had visions of me eating bacon, hash browns and sausage links every day, leading to even more portly self. Luckily that hasn’t happened.

I think I’ve had bacon, hash browns, and sausage maybe four or five times in the last three months. I actually only consistently get breakfast from the cafeteria on Wednesdays and Fridays. On Fridays they usually have french toast though occasionally they might pancakes. I’m a big fan of both so I have either one slice of french toast or single pancake (I’m reasonable with the portions).

My favourite, however, is on Wednesdays when they serve freshly made waffles with your choice of two fruit selections and whipped cream. The cafeteria has these waffle-making machines that makes a waffle from batter to finished product in about two minutes. They make it right on the spot for you. Then you get a choice of two fruits from cantaloupe, honeydew melon, strawberries, and pineapples. I think I may have forgotten a fruit or two. Anyways, I always pick strawberries and pineapples. I know I shouldn’t but I also choose to have whipped cream. Once you’re given your waffle with fruits and whip, you can add maple syrup and a berry compote.

When I walk back to my desk with this monster of a waffle, it’s usually towering with fruit, whipped cream, berry compote, and syrup. It’s my favourite breakfast item. I’m wondering how much work it would be for me to make it at home. It’s probably a lot of work.