It's a Charlie Brown Halloween

On Tuesday, I got an instant message from the recruiter that hired me at my current job. Part of me thought he wanted to fire me but the reason for his message turned out to be quite innocent. He wanted to know if I was willing to judge the pumpkin carving contest at work.

I thought it was interesting that he wanted me to be a judge. I’ve been there less than two months. While seniority at a company has no bearing on how well you judge a jack-o’-lantern, I thought they’d pick someone who’s been there longer. Perhaps they couldn’t find any other fools to do the job.

Nonetheless, I accepted the job. I’ll be judging and inspecting carved pumpkins tomorrow along with two other trained sets of eyes. I’m hoping to see some creative cutting.


For whatever reason, I started buying some lottery tickets earlier this month. On average, I’ve spent about $3 a week, so it hasn’t been breaking the bank. I am acutely aware of the odds for lottery I enter in, which is a typical six numbers out of forty-nine. The odds are not good at all. I have one chance in about 14 million to get the big prize. Statistically speaking, it’s better just to save my money for something else. Life, however, is sometimes not best lived from statistical point of view.

Though it’s quite easy to buy lottery tickets in the traditional way, I still found myself missing out on draws. I’d be out and about or still at work before the 6pm deadline. I discovered you can buy lottery tickets online. I immediately thought this was either super awesome or super bad. Now I can buy lottery tickets anywhere and at anytime. I can set up a direct link to my bank account to transfer funds. If I had a problem with gambling, this would be the equivalent of hooking up cocaine directly to my veins via IV.

So far, it’s been nothing but convenient. I bought one ticket for tomorrow’s draw and that’s it. In fact, that ticket was free since they had a promo going on. I got $5 worth of lottery tickets for free by going through the web site.

There is one interesting I learned. If I win some amount for a ticket, the winnings are automatically deposited to my online account. I’m sure this is just for smaller amounts but it’d be interesting to see a grand prize winner have his or her millions deposited directly to an online lottery account. I hope to personally see if that’s the case tomorrow.


So next week, my studio has decided to take my team out to an event, most likely to build camaraderie and cohesiveness. Some studios go go-karting, paint-balling, or to the movies. We get to go take a three-hour bartending class.

It should be fun since I don’t know how to make many drinks. The video above shows what Conan O’Brien did when he went to a similar class. I hope it’ll be half as fun.


On Friday evening I had no plans after work. I was thinking I’d go home, get some dinner, and then start relaxing for the weekend. Before I was about to head home, a friend of mine invited me to have a drink with him and another game developer we both know. They were the two Chrises.

They were at the Hastings Warehouse which I’ve been to before. It was a somewhat regular destination for a few us at PopCap Vancouver. I quite enjoy the place. The food is alright and the establishment has a bit of character.

After a few drinks, one of the Chrises got up from our table, walked to the back of the bar, got on all fours, and then proceeded to look into a small hole in the floor. He told me there’s a small peephole on the floor and if you look into it, you can see a lit diorama of sorts with dolls. The other Chris got up and did the same. By now, the two tables on either side of the hole were really curious as to what my companions were looking at. They said it was my turn to go look.

I got up and walked over to where they were getting on all fours. Sure enough, there was a small hole with a beam of light coming out of it. I kneeled down to look into the hole. There was this weird scene with dolls in a small space. I picked myself up from the floor and went back to my table.

A bit later, a young lady from another table also bent down to take a look at the hole. The whole thing was a bit weird.

If you’re ever at the Hastings Warehouse, look for the hole in the floor.


So I received a notice in the mail today which informed me that I was selected for jury duty. I agree that acting as a juror is part of everyone’s civic duty, just like voting. Had this summons come in during the “summer of me”, I gladly would have done it. Unfortunately, I’m working now and the trial that I might be selected for will last ten business days. Legally, my workplace does not have to pay me for those ten days. That’s two weeks of pay lost. As you might imagine, that’s a significant amount of money to anyone.

If the circumstances were different, I would not hesitate to serve on a jury. Unfortunately, serving that long does have a financial impact on me. I’m not sure what I’ll do at this point but I am considering asking to be excused from duty. If I had a lot of money, like Tom Hanks does, this would be less of a problem.

This is sorta like the opposite of winning the lottery.


For the last week or so, the great Vancouver area has been covered in a thick fog. On most mornings, I’ll wake up look outside my windows and see nothing but white fog. The apartments just across the street seem to be gone as they are cloaked by this soupy mess. It’s particularly foggy where I live since I’m in a low-lying area, right next to the water.

The weather actually has been “sunny” for all of these days but it’s impossible to tell since the fog sits on top of the city, hiding the sun from us. If you were able to get higher, it’d be a very nice day.

To document this, I got my old video camera out for another time-lapse. I started it before I went to bed when I could see nothing but white outside my windows. The fog lifted sometime in the afternoon, partially burned away by the sun, making it a sunny end to the day. You’ll be happy to know I cleaned the lens of my camera after this video.


When I wake up in the morning, I don’t jump out of bed right away. I take my phone or my tablet and I check my e-mail. I’ll also take a cursory glance at some social media. This morning I was reading some tweets when I encountered one that said Skytrain was a mess. For those who don’t know, Skytrain is the local automated rapid transit system, comprised of three lines. I live over one of the Expo stations, which is the oldest line at over 25 years. This also happened to be the line with the huge problems today. Huge as in about 70% of that line was down to a single track, which takes forever to get trains along. The good news was that the other lines, Millennium and Canada, were still working without problems. Even better, a Millennium line station is just a five minute walk from my place.

I initially had to fight off the impulse to just rush out there and jump on the first train or bus I saw. Then I realized that was stupid. When transit breaks down, it’s a bad idea to just get on a train or bus without knowing where it’s going or what’s waiting for you when it gets to your destination. I’m sure some people just got on a train even though it took them right to those problem stations, where tons of people were already waiting. I knew I was going to be late anyways, so I took the time to get as much information as possible to plan my alternative route to work. I actually left about ten minutes later than usual, just because I double-checked that my new route was going to avoid all the problems.

To my surprise, it turned out to be not that bad. I definitely had to walk farther than normal to get to the station. I usually just go downstairs to catch a train. When my train did come though, it had very few people on it. I had a seat to myself almost all the way. I took a Millennium line train the farthest west I could. This is where my intel got a bit hazy and I had to just throw caution to the wind. I was depending on a regular bus to take me about five minutes west so that I could get to a Canada Line station where it would take me right to work. I didn’t know if there was hundreds or just dozens of people waiting for that same bus. My heart sank a bit when I saw the lineup for my bus. It was definitely long. A lot longer than I had anticipated but not so bad that it seemed crazy. I also began to worry when I didn’t see the bus coming for about five minutes. It did arrive though but now I wondered if I was far along in the line that I could get on this bus. I was almost at the front when something weird happened. There was a whole group of people at the front who didn’t want to get on the bus, it was almost full but still had a tiny bit of room. I waited two seconds for them to get on before I realized they were choosing to stay behind. I rush past them and onto the bus. The bus driver only let on about three more people behind me. I had made it.

It was a relatively uneventful five minutes to the Canada Line station. From there it was one stop to work and a short walk to the studio. The whole trip had taken about an hour and ten minutes which surprised me. My normal commute time is about 38 minutes. After I got to work, I found out I was extremely lucky. Other commuters took two to four hours to get to their destinations, way over their normal time. One of my co-workers even turned back, went home, and drove instead. Her total commute time was four hours this morning.

The problem turned out to be an incorrectly installed power rail. The whole messy morning was captured by many Twitter users.

Though I’m glad I didn’t have that bad of a commute this morning, I’m hoping for a normal day tomorrow.



One of my favourite actors, Keanu Reeves, used the power of the Internet to answer some questions on Sunday afternoon. He fielded questions from anyone on the web site Reddit. It’s not the first time a celebrity or famous person has done such a thing on Reddit but it was certainly one of the most honest and heartfelt sessions. Many were impressed by the genuine sincerity coming from Mr. Reeves. One person asked him why he chooses to live such a relatively simple life despite his fame and considerable wealth. His answer was direct and to the point:

“You know, I’ve been very fortunate in my life. Which I am grateful for. And I guess it’s just to my tastes to keep life as simple as I can.”

Keanu goes on to explain his love for hockey, his time in Toronto, what he likes to eat, and his memories of working with the late River Phoenix and Dennis Hopper. You can find all his answers here, just click on the “context” to find out what the actual question was. It was very refreshing to read what he had to say about a number of topics. I’ve always had a great deal of respect for the man and I will continue to do so.


During the first couple of weeks at work I discovered two of my co-workers have an interesting arrangement with the studio. These guys only work four days of the week. They work normal hours on those days so they are making 80% of their normal salary. It’s probably not a coincidence that both of them are fathers to young children.

When I first found out about this, I had several thoughts. First, I was really happy to see that the studio was accepting of flexible working arrangements like this. They could have said no and I am sure in the stone-age days of the 1950s, a man asking to only work four days a week so that they could tend to their children would have been laughed at. Second, I was instantly a bit envious of my co-workers. Having a four-day work week definitely has its benefits.

Now, I do understand it’s not a trivial thing to take a 20% pay cut. How many of us could afford to do so? Is that extra time off worth the amount of money you are giving up? For some people, such a thing just could not be a viable option. We’d all like to only work four days a week but that’s a lot of money to give up. I am guessing though, for these guys, the ability to spend more time with their kids is priceless.

On a personal level, I quickly asked myself if I could live with 20% less salary. Well, I didn’t have to think too hard about that because sometime in the last four years, I was making about 18% less than what I’m making now. I want to point out that I didn’t get a huge pay raise with my current job. It’s just that one of the jobs I took in the last four years didn’t pay as much as I was used to. I don’t hold any ill will towards that company because that’s all the money they had to pay me. Anyways, so did my lifestyle change drastically when I was at that job? Not in the least. I was still able to pay my mortgage, I went on a vacation, and I didn’t eat instant noodles every night. So if I magically made 20% less tomorrow, there would be no change in the way I lived my life. The only difference would be my bank account wouldn’t get as big at each paycheque.

At least for me, it would really just boil to down to the question of, how valuable would that extra day off be? Well, I have to admit, I value time off quite a bit. Every long weekend that comes along leaves me feeling really refreshed and re-energized. I can just imagine how great it would be to know that every week gave you that extra day to either rest, attend to personal errands, or hell, even take a quick trick somewhere. My approach is from someone who doesn’t have kids but I’m sure a parent could appreciate the extra day in their own way.

I don’t think I’ll be asking my employer to alter my contract any time soon but the fact that this is even possible has me wondering about how great this could be.