FILTHY PEASANT

I apologize for the lack of a post yesterday as my web host, GoDaddy, was down for several hours without any explanation. As a suggestion, think twice about using them, at least from a web hosting perspective.

Anyways, so this afternoon I had to call the Hilton hotels people. I needed some clarification about a reservation I had made for next month. I’m going to London, which I’ll write about later. They didn’t really solve my problem to my complete satisfaction but whatever. The woman I was speaking to wanted to know if I was willing to answer a short survey at the end of my call. She said that by participating in the survey I might be eligible for up to $200 of my next Hilton booking, discounts at Hilton resorts, and at a minimum 500 Hilton reward points. As I wasn’t in a hurry, I said yes to the survey.

I got switched to another woman who was going to conduct the survey. She double-checked some of my info and then told me that all my answers would be multiple choice ones, either A, B, or C. Then she started with the first question. She wanted to know what my total household income was and proceeded to give me three ranges of income, to go along with the A, B, and C multiple choice answers. The lowest range, the A answer went from $0 to a crazy high six-figure dollar amount. Obviously the ranges for B and C went even higher. I’ve seen a lot of surveys relating to household income but never where the first range was so high.

I obviously belonged to the A answer as I barely make over $0. There was a slight pause on the other end before the lady told me I wasn’t eligible to continue on with the survey. I had to stifle a laugh because I found the situation quite hilarious. I guess they were looking for high-rollers and millionaires for their data points and not some idiot like me. There was no $200 discount on my next hotel booking nor was there a mention of a resort discount. I did however, get my 500 Hilton reward points which qualifies me for absolutely nothing.

I can’t remember the last time I experienced something like this for being poor but it certainly was an eye-opener. The thing I don’t get is what about people who don’t make a lot of money in a calendar year but still are rich? Like what if I won the lottery two years ago? I technically wouldn’t have any income this year yet I’d have millions of dollars in the bank. I guess those people are out of luck too?

I’M BACK

I have returned from San Diego where I had an amazing time. This was my third time to the city and I was slightly afraid that I’d get that “been there done that” feeling but I was wrong. I had a fantastic time during my week there. I saw and experienced something new everyday while having a level of comfort and familiarity at the same time.

I booked a hotel that was in the downtown area of San Diego, near the Gaslamp Quarter which is the happening part of town (at least for tourists). This hotel is just one block over from the hotel I stayed at when I first visited the city way back in 2012. In my last post, I mentioned how I got upgraded to a suite so I’ll explain in detail what happened. The room they initially gave me was small but workable and cosy. I was ok with it, even if it overlooked a parking lot. When I turned on the air conditioning (which is needed) though, it made a huge racket. I’m not talking a low hum, it was a thunderous rattling noise. There was no way you could sleep with that on and without having the A/C on, the room got hot because the windows didn’t open!

I went downstairs to the front desk and explained the problem. The lady working the desk seemed genuinely concerned and said they’d have two options for me. First, they’d try to fix the A/C unit and if they couldn’t they’d move me to another room. She advised me that she’d get her maintenance dude to come up to look at it first but he was on his break. I told her it was no problem and that since it was early afternoon, I’d be out and about and then return to see what they decided on. I went back upstairs to get some stuff and when I stepped into my room the phone was ringing. I picked it up and it was the lady from the front desk. She had already talked to the maintenance guy and he said that it would probably take a long time to fix the A/C unit so they decided it was in my best interest to be upgraded to a suite for my entire stay! Someone was already on their way up to give me the keys to my new suite. Awesome! I purposely turned on the A/C again so the hotel employee coming up could hear how bad it was. I mean it didn’t matter anyways since I was already upgraded but I didn’t want to seem like a diva to this guy. I heard a knock on the door and when I opened it, the hotel employee had a strained look on his face. He said, “wow, that is really loud”. I took the keys from him and thanked him for upgrading me immediately.

I packed up what little I had already unpacked and went down three floors to my suite. What a difference it was. The suite was almost three times the size of my original room. I had a large living room area that had enough space for a couch, two sitting chairs, a desk and flat-screen LCD TV. The bathroom was double the size. Instead of a tiny bathroom with just a shower and toilet, I had a large one with a full bathtub. The bedroom was also more spacious, with another flat-screen LCD TV mounted on the bedroom wall. Instead of a view of a parking lot, the suite overlooked Broadway instead, the main thoroughfare outside the hotel, a much more interesting view. I was completely satisfied with having this as my home base for the whole week.

As for the many awesome things about the trip, it started with the weather. It was sunny but not too warm the entire time I was there. There was no overcast weather like that plagued my entire Hawaii trip. Just stepping outside the airport terminal, I felt the direct kiss of the sun right away, something that really didn’t happen when I was in Honolulu.

During the week, I made my way up to La Jolla which is north of downtown, which I’d never done before. It’s so beautiful up there with seemingly hundreds of picturesque beaches. I saw sea lions in La Jolla Cove and spent time at Pacific and Mission Beach.

One evening I decided to go to a San Diego Padres game. Being a midweek game and early in the season, it was easy to get tickets. Every other time I’d gone to San Diego, the baseball season had already ended and this was the first time I’d been there while games were on. As luck would have it, I was there during a four-game homestand. I saw the Padres play the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was my first MLB game since around 2000 when EA sent the whole Triple Play Baseball QA team down to Seattle to see the Mariners play.

I also booked a helicopter tour of San Diego for one afternoon. I’ve become quite fond of touring cities from the air. I think this was my third time seeing a city in a helicopter. Anyways, this particular tour visited the major landmarks of the city plus the northern parts near La Jolla, including the famous Torrey Pines golf course. My pilot also made sure to fly along the coast line, showing me many more beaches, including San Diego’s only clothing optional beach. We unfortunately did not get close enough to see any shriveled old wieners and/or boobs.

Those were the highlights of the trip and I had a fantastic time. I finally got the real tan that I was hoping I’d get in Hawaii. You might think I’d be wary of a fourth trip to San Diego but I actually can’t wait to come back again. There’s still so much I’d like to see about the city and surrounding area. Honestly, everyone should think about visiting San Diego if you never had the chance, what a great city!

SAN DIEGO

Whoops, I forgot to mention I’m in San Diego this week. It’s way sunnier here than it was in Hawaii. I think I might actually get a tan here. My favourite hotel here, the Manchester Grand Hyatt is all booked up for a conference so I had to choose another place. The room I received had a super noisy air conditioning unit. It was like a jet engine. I told the front desk this and they fixed it by upgrading me to a suite! Sweet!

I may post infrequently during the week. I hope everyone is enjoying the sun in Vancouver!

WOMAN GETS DUPED INTO GETTING JEREMY LIN’S NAME TATTOOED ON HER

Apparently a woman named Holland Christensen from Tennessee wanted a tattoo on her ankle. Like many other unoriginal white people she wanted her ink to be some Chinese characters. I’ve written about this before but I think it’s absolutely stupid for people to get Chinese character tattoos especially when they have no idea how to read Chinese. For the most part, these type of people think it just looks “cool” without having any idea about the language or the history of the Chinese people. There’s a certain irony behind white people who have Chinese character tattoos that then go and order “chop suey“.

Despite her claim of being “smart”, Christensen said she used the Internet to provide her the characters she wanted plastered on her ankle and didn’t bother to authenticate the results. Someone who gave her the translation deserves a lot of credit for trolling this lady in the best way. As you might have guessed, instead of giving the correct translation, they gave her the characters for Jeremy Lin’s name. For those who don’t follow basketball, Jeremy Lin is an NBA player for the Charlotte Hornets.

Christensen went ahead and got the tattoo and only afterwards did she check the translation. She states that when someone told her it was actually Jeremy Lin’s name, she had never heard of him before. The whole story is described to the world in her video above.

Weirdly, instead of scheduling an immediate tattoo removal procedure, she decided to research Lin’s career. She wound up deciding to attend one of Lin’s games. Christensen went onto Reddit to find someone who would accompany her to the game. She did wind up going to one of his games though she was not able to meet Lin as she had hoped. To everyone’s surprise, Lin himself made another post on Reddit where he addressed the wayward tattoo.

While all of this sorta worked out in the end, it does nothing to change my mind about these type of tattoos. Like do you think there’s some Chinese woman in Shanghai right now who has Curt Shilling’s name inked on her shoulder?

ASHTON AND JIMMY REVEAL THEIR UBER RATING

In the clip above, Ashton Kutcher and Jimmy Kimmel reveal their Uber rating to the world. Both are pretty high but not a perfect five. After ten trips in Hawaii, my rating is still a flawless 5.0. Of course, their sample size is much larger than mine so who knows what mine will be after more trips. The real question is, will Uber ever return to Vancouver?

I HAVE RETURNED

I have made it back safe and sound from Hawaii. Overall, it was a great trip. I tried to make my third time to Honolulu different than my two other trips. I believe I succeeded. If I had to summarize what new things I did it would have to be: going hiking in new places, finding new beaches, and eating new things.

Previously, I had only done the touristy hike up the rim of the Diamond Head crater back in 2008. I was determined to find some other places to experience the natural setting of the island. To that end, I wound up doing two different hikes, both ending in waterfalls. The first was Manoa Falls which was recommended by my guide-book. I suggest going early in the morning because this trail gets extremely popular during the day and it sucks to be constantly dealing with trail traffic. I got there about 10am and I start the hike any later than that. When I arrived at the trail head, there’s a sign outlining the hike. The trail difficult is listed as “novice”. When I read that I was ready to crush this thing. I realize I’m no Bear Grylls but I think I’m in reasonable shape and living in this province, I’ve been on a hike or two. So I was feeling pretty confident about the whole thing. Now while the elevation change was easy, I actually thought the technical aspect of the trail was not for “novices”. The way the trail is laid out in certain spots actually calls for a high degree of skill as you decide how to take the next step. Some portions have rocks laid out so that each step is quite high, so you need to be sure you’re on even footing and know when your foot is going to land. Depending on how much rain the trail has received, the trail can also get very muddy and thus slippery. Going down the trail is probably the most difficult portion of the hike. Because of the high steps, rocky nature of the trail, and presence of mud, it can actually be quite dangerous as you descend back to the trail head. I saw Moms with babies strapped to their front in canvas shoes on the trail. I was afraid I’d break a leg descending a few parts and I can’t imagine having to worry about a baby at the same time. The waterfall at the top of the trail had water flowing over it when I got that day. It looks great but no one will ever get it confused with Niagara Falls.

I much preferred the hike to Aihualama Falls. The trails leading up to this waterfall are way less crowded as people do not seem to know about it as well. I hiked this trail in the middle of the day and I saw maybe four people at most the entire time I was there. The trail system here also features much more variety in vegetation than the Manoa Falls trail. I also like how you need to sign a waiver before attempting these trails, which is done at the visitors office at the Lyon Aboretum. There wasn’t really any danger though as I felt safe the entire time. You can just do the main trail and scoot right up to the waterfall but there are many other smaller trails that offshoot the main one. On my way back down, I did more exploring and it’s well worth it. I found a group of feral chickens in one area. In another, there’s a fantastic outlook the surrounding valley. One fellow visitor said she thought seeing that was worth the whole afternoon.

As for beaches, I tried staying away from Waikiki Beach for the most part. It can get crowded during times and while that might be ok for some people, I was looking for a bit more tranquility. I discovered Queens Beach is just down the road from the touristy part of the area but way less crowded. It also has this cool finger of land that juts way out into the water. When I walked out there I saw a whole bunch of crabs were right at the end. This is a great place to hang out if you want to be back at your hotel in minutes but still want some peace and quiet. Another day, I ventured way farther to a place called Sandy Beach. I was warned that this beach has high waves and dangerous rip currents but was not crowded and very scenic. Indeed, it was very scenic as the high waves and breaks made it a postcard place to hang out for a few hours. There a lot of surfers and bodyboarders out the day I went. I was really amazed at the skill of some these dudes as they were riding massive waves.

No vacation of mine is complete without eating lots of stuff, so I made sure I did a lot of that. After missing out on it previously, I had loco moco several times during my trip. I once had it in burger form and then with pulled pork. I also got into the concept of having a plate lunch. Not sure how this escaped me my previous trips but it’s a cheap and filling meal. A majority of my lunches came from a food truck parked next to my hotel. The “Cooking Fresh For You” truck was amazing. Coming from Vancouver where $15 gets you a tiny plate of food, the Cooking Fresh truck has all items less than $10 and you get a decent sized portion of everything. It was here that I tried Hebi, a type of spearfish, for the first time. It was freshly caught in the waters off the island and it was delicious. As for sweets, I tried malasadas for the first time. I guess you could describe them as Portuguese doughnuts. They can have various fillings in them. I wandered into a farmers’ market one day and they were selling malasadas at one table. You can’t really go wrong with fried dough stuff with things like cinnamon and custard. Finally, I went back to Roy’s in Waikiki. I did this for two reasons. First, the food is fantastic. Anything that lived in water that Roy’s prepares is going to taste awesome. Second, this particular location was where a friend of mine had his wedding reception back in 2008. I had not been back since then. My friend unfortunately got divorced thirteen months later but man, the dinner was so good. When I came back, I looked over to the spot where my friend stood up to thank everyone for coming to Hawaii to see him get married. Oh well. If it’s any consolation, he married someone else just recently.

Lastly, I have to address the weather while I was in Hawaii. As some of you know, I wrote a post where I informed you all that other than the first day I arrived the forecast called for clouds and showers the entire time I was there. This forecast was fairly accurate. It was the typical sunny Hawaiian day that you might imagine when I got there but I had about three hours of sunlight before the sun set. There was not a day where it wasn’t cloudy for at least part of the day. On one particular day, there were showers. In Hawaii, the rain usually lasts only for a few minutes but it actually rained for a good hour one time and then it just stayed cloudy. The sun would peak out for about five minutes but that would be followed by an hour of clouds. As such, I found it quite difficult to get tanned. On the days I went to the beach, it was cloudy for about 95% of the time. The day I went home, I was shocked at how little my skin had tanned. I was imperceptibly darker even though I was outside in shorts and a t-shirt for hours in the daytime for nearly a whole week. If there could be a negative to the trip, the weather would be it. This was of course, the earliest in the year I’ve been to Hawaii though and that might account for it. Last time I went in July and I came back looking brown.

Well, despite the less than ideal weather, I’d go back to Hawaii in an instant. It’s just so nice to be in a tropical environment.

YEAH OF COURSE

I’m headed to Honolulu, Hawaii on Monday morning for a little vacation. This will be my third time to Honolulu. The last time I was there in 2008 I went for a close friend’s wedding. He actually got divorced about thirteen months later but that’s ok because he’s married to another woman now.

Anyways, before I go off on a tangent, I’ve enjoyed both my previous visits to Hawaii. I’ve had nothing but sunny and warm weather as fond memories. I assumed it would be the same for this trip when I checked the weather forecast this weekend. I arrive on Monday and leave on Saturday. As you can see, those are the only sunny days for the duration of my trip. I get to Honolulu with half the day gone already and by the time I get to the hotel, I’ll have maybe two hours before the sun goes down. My flight out of Honolulu leaves around noon, so I won’t have much time to enjoy the sun that day either. All the days in between are going to be cloudy at best and rainy at worst.

Of course, this type of luck is very typical for me. I’ve had similar situations where luck, or the lack thereof, fails to smile upon me. Oh well, there is nothing I can do about the weather. Maybe I’ll just stuff my face with roast pig all week.

WRAP PARTY

Tomorrow is the wrap party for Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2. The last time I was at the studio was about February 19th, so it’s been a while since I’ve seen my co-workers. It’ll be the first time for me to see everyone since the game launched. I am looking forward to discussing how the launch went and what the players are bitching about right now (gamers are easily the most vocal complainers on the planet).

I’ve been to at least a half-dozen wrap parties over the course of my career and I still appreciate the effort that companies put forth in throwing one of these events. A company isn’t mandated by anything to do that. It costs time, effort, and more importantly money to book a venue, have it catered, pay for alcohol, and in most cases, pay for everyone’s taxi ride home. So when they do this, I understand they’re going out of their way to show appreciation for everyone’s hard work to get a game out the door and into the hands of entitled gamers. So thank you Electronic Arts for showing the PvZ: GW2 team some love, including those who have already moved on from the team and the company.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again and stuffing my face with free food.